The Auckland Central race

I have blogged very little this year on the race. The reason why is I’ve got a lot of time for both the candidates. I would have rather they weren’t both competing for the same seat.

It is no secret that Nikki is one of my very close friends. I’ve known her since she was 18, and she is one of the most determined, and caring, people I know.

I also got to know Jacinda before the 2008 election, and like her a lot. She’s obviously one of the more capable Labour MPs, and a good person.

There’s been a huge media interest in their contest. They’ve had to contend with weekly opposing columns in the Herald Online, dinners with the Metro editor, profiles for the Listener, endless days being accompanied by journalists, the normal series of debates and public meetings and regular mentions in the Sunday papers. Few MPs who are not Ministers have had to endure the scrutiny the pair of them have.

Under such pressure it would be pretty easy for the race to get personal, or worse. But it didn’t. While they were both fierce competitors, I’m not aware of any situations where they really slagged each other off, derided the good intentions of the other or made it personal. They debated policy and issues instead. Now this is not to say that it was all love and roses. They’re competing for the same seat, and have very different viewpoints on most issues. It was a tough sometimes bruising  race. I recall seeing Jacinda at Wellington Koru Club and asking her if she was going to manage any time off between then (it was before the campaign) and the election. Her response was that if Nikki takes a day off, then she’ll do the same. The end result being I think they both worked seven day weeks for several months.

Unless specials do something very very very unusual, Nikki has retained the seat. I’ll be very interested to see how the votes were split when we get final results. The Greens got a massive 22% of the party vote. In 2008 only one third of them voted for the Labour candidate, while this time I suspect around two thirds did.

On the night Jacinda went around to Nikki’s celebration to concede, and she got a huge round of applause from the Nats gathered there. I am a huge believer that candidates should concede in person to the winner, and equally that they should get a good reception from the winning team. I recall going with Mark Blumsky in 2005 to concede to Marian Hobbs.It’s not something you ever enjoy doing, but it is a good thing to do.

I understand Nikki is still waiting for Judith’s concession from 2008 🙂

2014 is three years away. There will be a census in 2013, and new boundaries drawn up for the 2014 election. Until the boundaries are done it is impossible to be certain about how they will affect the seat. However I have a fair amount of experience with boundaries, and in my view Auckland Central is likely to lose some of its redder areas. Time will tell.

So my congrats go to both Nikki and Jacinda for their contest. That finally brings me to the name many have applied to the contest – the “battle of the babes”. Even now the election is over, Fairfax are still using the name for their video interviews with both candidates.

I am not exactly a campaigner for political correctness, but the point has come where that tagline should die a natural death. It is demeaning, as it makes it all about their attractiveness, rather than their political abilities.

For the avoidance of doubt, yes of course both Nikki and Jacinda are attractive young women. But, so what!

Did any media call the battle for Napier the “battle of the hunks” between Chris Tremain and Stuart Nash? No. They’ve only done it to the female candidates. It is sexist, and it should stop.

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