Let’s be clear about one thing: politics is about winning. There is no such thing as a ‘glorious defeat’, leaders who lose are not, as some may believe, ‘martyrs to the cause’, and ‘coming second but maintaining our principles’ is a ludicrous proposition.
Opposition is a complete waste of time as the opportunity to achieve anything meaningful simply does not exist, while the winners get to implement a political, social and fiscal agenda that is usually a million miles away from the one we would have rolled out.
In fact the week after I won Napier (the only seat won from the Nats in 2014), a friend of mine was speaking to a group of Labour supporters in Auckland; my name came up and my friend said ‘wasn’t it great Stuart won Napier back for Labour’, to which the Labour supporters replied: ‘no its dreadful. Stuart winning means that Maryan Street doesn’t make it back’. My friend was incredulous: so winning is now a sin in Labour. I would like to believe that such thinking is in the minority.
It is true that if you win an electorate seat, you get one fewer list seat. However electorate seats are important. A party does better with the public when it has electorate MPs in touch with their communities. A party that has no electorate MPs outside the three major cities will struggle to win Government, and be seen as relevant. So Stuart is right that people in Labour should not be upset he won his seat.
We love to hate Whale Oil and yet we give him strength, purpose, relevance and breathe life into every pore of his existence time and time again by publicly throwing metaphorical mud at those with whom we are supposed to have a political affinity.
Labour once had a blog for MPs called Red Alert, and the rumour around at the time was that Cameron Slater wanted this closed down. Then I found out the opposite was true: it gave him some of his best material due to the occasional ill-disciplined MP.
Red Alert was excellent for Labour for a couple of years, but it lost its way and yes in the end right wing bloggers were probably the people who most enjoyed reading it 🙂
Our supporters have the same impact when they squabble, bitch and back-stab on so-called ‘left-friendly’ sites like The Standard (a dreadful 21st century bastardisation of a once proud Labour broadsheet). Criticising your favourite Labour MP is not the route to victory, no matter what you think of their philosophies, hair or politics.
If you feel so aggrieved by something an MP has said, written or done, then email them personally and you are more likely to get a response and, just perhaps, an explanation. But ill-disciplined rants typed from an anonymous keyboard will only provide Mr Slater and Mr Farrar with a wealth of information and powerful ammunition to fire back with twice the impact.
So how do authors on The Standard respond to this request that you talk to Labour MPs, rather than attack them in public? Well with an attack on Stuart Nash of course!
Micky Savage writes at The Standard:
He then criticises the party because more than one Labour member apparently said that they preferred Maryan Street to Nash as an MP. He concludes that some in the party think that winning is a sin. Unfortunately for Stuart he does not understand that his vainglorious success in Napier probably hurt the party’s prospects.
Good on him for winning. If you look at the 2011 and 2014 election results in Napier you will see that his proportion of the electorate vote barely changed but National’s plunged by 19% points because of an energetic campaign by the Sensible Sentencing Trust’s candidate Garth McVicar. His success was directly due to McVicar’s presence but hey, in politics winning is all important.
This is simply untrue. Long before McVicar entered the race, Nash was seen as likely to win Napier. Why? He spent 18 months campaigning full-time for the seat. This is the work ethic decried by Mr Savage.
McVicar attracted voters from more than National supporters. And Nash picked up 13% of National party voters – because he developed broad appeal.
But the share of the party vote in Napier went down by 3.13% compared to the countrywide figure of 2.35%. It is the ABC of proportional politics that winning electorate campaigns do not actually help, the level of the party vote like winning is the only thing that matters.
A candidate should also of course campaign for the party vote, and Nash did (unlike Cosgrove). But I am unsure you can say the 0.8% greater drop in party vote is because of the candidate. Also you need to look long-term. Having a Labour electorate MP in Napier, gives Labour a far better platform to lift their party vote next time.
The discussions that occurred on the Standard arguably affected the last two leadership campaign results. David Cunliffe was the overwhelming favourite on this blog in 2013 and this was reflected in the result.
Yeah, and that worked so well, didn’t it.
Stuart Nash has responded to some of those attacking him in the comments. Some of his comments include:
- I don’t know of a Labour MP who does [read The Standard] (though no doubt there are some) because those I talk to tend to agree that this is a site mired in negativity and bile.
- This site doesn’t represent the moderate left voter – or the aspirational Kiwi who is looking for an alternative to the current government; but rather the embittered left dreaming of a socialist utopia that has never existed anywhere in time or place.
- I suspect that after tonight I won’t read this site for another 12 months. After all, why would I – it offers nothing I can’t get looking into a long drop in a DoC campsite.