National will not stand a candidate in the by-election to replace outgoing Labour MP David Shearer, leading to claims the party is “running scared”.
Prime Minister Bill English has also confirmed the date for the by-election, with voters going to the polls on February 25. However, Labour has repeated its calls for an early election to instead take place.
Announcing the date, English said National would not stand a candidate as it was focussed on winning the 2017 election later in the year.
Jacinda will obviously win the seat easily. Not only has no Government ever won a seat off an Opposition in a by-election, but this is Labour’s third safest seat in the country. Only Mangere and Manukau East had bigger majorities for them. Add in their most popular MP, Jacinda Ardern, will be the candidate and why would National give Jacinda five weeks of headlines!
The seat has always been held by Labour MPs since it was created. In fact only three MPs have represented it since 1947. They are:
- Warren Freer for 34 years from 1947 to 1981
- Helen Clark for 28 years from 1981 to 2009
- David Shearer for 8 years from 2009 to 2017
Jacinda is aged just 36 so she could well represent the seat for 30 years or so. I expect she will spend some of that time as Prime Minister, as Clark did.