My strategy would be to actually try and win the seat. There is no party vote at stake here – it is about the electrate only. No prizes for honourable second.
Mt Albert is already one of the strongest seats for the Greens. So how would they get Labour voters to vote for the Green candidate? Apart from the fact it won’t bring Judith Tizard back into Parliament?
You make two cases to the voters of Mt Albert:
- It is almost impossible for Labour to be able to form a future Government unless the Greens are in Parliament. Former partners such as the Alliance and NZ First have disappeared and United Future and Progressive and one MP parties now. The Maori Party is currently very hostile, but even with the Maori Party, Labour without the Greens would need more votes than it has ever got before. Bottom line is Labour needs the Greens in Parliament.
- The Greens need the safety net of an electorate seat. They are the only party in Parliament without an electorate seat. In two of the last four elections, they have just scraped in above 5%. If they drop below 5% with no electorate seat they are out of Parliament, and may never return.
Voters can grasp how to be strategic in MMP. They did it in 1996 in Wellington Central and 2005 in Epsom. No reason Mt Albert can’t do it in 2009.
So the Greens should go all out to win the seat. So who do they stand? The next candidate on their list, David Clendon, lives in (or near) Mt Albert I think, but he isn’t a heavy hitter. A by-election is like a mini general election in just one seat.
Normally I would say stand a co-leader. But we don’t know who the female co-leader will be in time for the by-election, and Russel Norman is too well associated with Wellington (and Australia!).
So ideally the Greens want a high profile Greenie, who has a strong association with Auckland. Someone who would appeal to more than their traditional younger and wealthy supporters, but also working class Labour supporters.
I think I have it.
Robyn Malcolm for Mt Albert!