United Future

MPs in

None new

MPs out

None out

Result

4.0/10.

There were doubts over whether Dunne would retain Ohariu. Chauvel ran a very aggressive campaign (which may have backfired) and Shanks was far more visible than Goldsmith was in Epsom. After the 2008 election my prediction was that Labour would win the seat if National and Dunne both stood, as Chauvel would come through the middle.

However Chauvel lost Ohariu for the third election in a row. Dunne’s increased majority was probably a combination of the general collapse in support for Labour, and National voters in the final days realising (correctly) how important and ACT might be in allowing National to govern.

United Future got  12,000 party votes, around half the number needed to gain a second MP. Solid performances by Dunne in the minor leaders debates did not translate into increased support. United Future is unlikely to exist when Dunne retires from Parliament.

Challenges

The immediate challenge is negotiating Ministerial portfolios. Dunne is a very competent Minister, and presumably will be happy to keep his existing portfolios.

Beyond that the challenge for Dunne is probably when to retire, without heading into Opposition. I thought Dunne may retire in 2011 (due to the chance he may lose Ohariu) but he increased his majority instead. He can probably win it in 2014, but will he want to if it looks like there will not be a National-led Government? Labour now hate Dunne and will not deal with him (unless they have to) so if Dunne stands and wins in 2014, but National does not, then he’ll face being a lone Opposition MP.

Incidentially unless I am mistaken, Peter Dunne is now the Father of the House – the longest serving continuous MP. Dunne was elected in 1984, as was Lockwood Smith. But Dunne was sworn in first as it is in surname alphabetical order. Goff and King were first elected in 1981 but lost their seats in 1990, so the clock for them starts from 1993.

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