Roche beats Swarbrick

Isaac Davidson writes:

The Green Party is having a particularly strong year for attracting promising candidates, in particular young women.

Among the new recruits are Auckland mayoral candidate Chloe Swarbrick, broadcaster and sportswoman Hayley Holt, and high-flying lawyer Golriz Ghahraman. …

But there is a risk that none of the ’ new candidates will get winnable list places if the party follows a similar pattern to the 2014 rankings.

On occasion, the Greens have successfully refreshed their list. In 2008 and 2011, the party’s top 15 places featured six new faces. In 2014, however, the list’s top 15 featured only one new face – Marama Davidson.

To decide the party list, delegates draw up draft rankings and make a recommendation to the members. The members then determine the final list rankings. In the past, they have tended towards conservatism, placing sitting MPs highly even if they have not shone in Parliament.

This risk-averse approach was evident in the party’s decision last night to pick sitting MP Denise Roche over Swarbrick to run in the Auckland Central seat. It is a crucial seat for the Greens because it is a rich source of party votes – they received more votes than Labour there in 2014.

I’m of the view that if Swarbrick had stood, she would have got more electorate votes than the Labour candidate on the basis of her profile from the mayoral election. Arguably she also could have increased the party vote for the Greens.

There is now simmering discontent among some parts of the party about its members’ preference for experienced but unremarkable candidates.Swarbrick openly challenging a sitting MP for the Auckland Central nomination hints at this discontent.

Her challenge created the possibility of a rare, embarrassing deselection, and suggests an orchestrated move by some members to unseat Roche or at least rattle the established MPs.

Two of the party’s senior MPs, Catherine Delahunty and Steffan Browning, are leaving at the general election, but several others are staying on and on past form will get high list placings.

With six or more bright, young candidates on the list in 2017, the party could be more ruthless about giving them a shot at Parliament.

Will Swarbrick, Holt or Ghahramam be ranked above any current MPs or will they be ranked below fairly low profile MPs such as David Clendon, Kennedy Graham and Barry Coates?

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