Dyson goes electorate only

Stuff reports:

Ruth Dyson, Labour’s longest-serving Christchurch MP, has decided not to take a place on the party’s list.

Labour general-secretary Tim Barnett confirmed Dyson, who holds the Port Hills electorate, had told the party she was withdrawing from the list selection process.

Dyson has dropped down the Labour Party rankings in a series of reshuffles, from No 5 under former leader Phil Goff in 2011, to recently being demoted by David Cunliffe to 28 (out of 34), behind the likes of Kelvin Davis.

Davis is not yet even an MP but will return to the Capital when Shane Jones leaves Parliament.

Barnett said it was “not unusual” for MPs not to chase list placings.

As the MP for Christchurch Central between 1996 and 2008, Barnett never had a list placing. Former MP Stuart Nash has also announced he will not seek a list placing as he pursues the Napier electorate.

Dyson’s move was announced at a regional list selection meeting in Christchurch on Sunday, which Barnett said was “relaxed”. He believed the move was tactical, with Port Hills always a tightly contested seat.

“It’s not unusual for somebody in a seat which is going to be a pretty tight, hard race to focus entirely on being an electorate candidate,” Barnett said.

National doesn’t allow electorate candidates to not be on the party list, as doing so can mean they campaign only for the electorate vote – and don’t have any incentive to campaign for the more important party vote.

Dyson not standing for the list (unusual for a former party president) indicates she is seriously worried she will lose Banks Peninsula, as it has got more marginal with boundary changes.

A candidate who doesn’t have a list place to rely on, can sometimes pick up extra votes by stressing that their opponent will be in Parliament regardless, but the only way to retain them is to give them your electorate vote.

So Dyson going list electorate only indicates she thinks she will need every single vote. It will be a seat to watch – depending on who National selects.

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