The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

money meet mouth

Just a quick post as I'm off to Welly for a week in the morn (yep, I'm secretly one of the new National MPs ;-) ).

I'm after suggestions, so put on your thinking caps. I've been frequently told by those who mean the Left well that what the Alliance (or any similar party of the Left) really needs is to win an electorate seat. But whenever I ask which seat they think would be a Goodie there is puzzled silence followed quickly by a neat segue into another topic.

So here we go, so that no one can ignore it:

Which electorate seat(s) should a Left party (the Alliance or another) target to win in 2008?

I'd be particularly keen for suggestions, anonymous or not, from Labour people, as they are the ones who most commonly tell me this and yet I don't see them rushing to turn over any of their electorates.

Thanks dearies - I'll try to post from Wellywood, or at least respond to comments.


Blair said...

I would have said Auckland Central but there are too many National supporters there now. How about Dunedin North? A strong red seat with lots of students and lefty types.

Idiot/Savant said...

No matter which seat(s) you eventually target, its important to have a candidate in as many of them as possible. A quick perusal of the results shows most parties getting a boost to their party vote if they have a candidate (any candidate at all); the extra visibility is actually useful.

Michael said...

1. Pick a high-profile Labour screwup Minister (whose screwups are a betrayal of left principles).

2. You need a well-known, charismatic candidate. Someone the National Voters will respect and not be afraid to vote for to get rid of a Labour MP. (see point 1)

3. You need to start raising the profile of the candidate immediately, you never know when the election will happen.

As to which seat - Wellington Central springs to mind. But there are a number of urban seats you could target. Forget the rural areas.

P.S. Say Hi to Kane - I met him at the Petone Environment Centre - he's a good sort.

Anonymous said...

why not waitakere again?
akl central is a bad idea- i heard parnell may be added to it when they get redrawn

STC said...

I honestly think the left will have to wait for the Greens to go out, Labour to betray leftwing values (beyond redemption) or lose Government.

There just isn't enough room between the Greens (a safeish bet for those lefter than Labour voters) and Labour. (and the progs, for that 1.2% who beleive in helping people out, but are social conservatives)

The thing is, the Alliance is essentially a city based party, from what I can determine. The city electorates just can't be taken from Labour unless they willingly give them up, and they won't.

I'm not suggesting you do this, but it would probably be quicker to infiltrate Labour, select a candidate for an electorate, and then have them quit and form a new party, than try and win an electorate for an ex-parliamentry party.

Bren said...

These were the best 10 electorates for the Alliance this election...

1. Christchurch East - 0.29%
2. Otaki - 0.20%
3. Dunedin North - 0.20%
4. Mana - 0.16%
5. Wigram - 0.15%
6. Mangere - 0.15%
7. Dunedin South - 0.14%
8. Christchurch Central - 0.12%
9. Waitakere - 0.11%
10. Rodney - 0.10%

All of them except Christchurch Central and Rodney had an Alliance candidate running in it. (Just to prove I/S's point)

Dunedin North is a definite possibility. Victor Billot did recieve the most electorate votes out of all the Alliance candidates. But can we unseat Pete Hodgson? despite being the most likely MP to be an evil mastermind. He has a huge majority - not even Katherine Rich can do much.

Do you think a campaign much like Rodney Hide in Epsom could work somewhere else? You'd pretty much have to put all your eggs in one (or two) baskets. Especially since the Alliance is likely to have very limited funds next election.

Anonymous said...

i'd go waitakere. pillay is an unknown MP. go hard Rodney Hide styles. its the only chance and if you don't do it you never will. get a hundred people up there and pour every cent into it.

Anonymous said...

use the tactical message- pillay in on list etc etc

Anonymous said...

Can't you just accept that the Alliance is dead?

Long live the Alliance...

sagenz said...

ask yourself whether you can have more influence over the next 5 years trying to get voters to accept a small substitute party on the left or you are better off compromising some of your principles and working within labour/greens to move it in your direction. Better in the tent pissing out as it were. Greens have a much cooler brand than alliance will ever have. apart from peoples alliance of aotearoa or alliance of peoples of aotearoa difference there does not seem much between them.

Ms Vile File said...


The Doorman said...

Wigram once Jim disappears. It'll be a fight btwn you guys and Labour

Rich said...

Look for where you have Alliance councillors (within City Vision?) - and some engaging local issue like ARC rates or whatever.

Try and raise the profile there and look at striking out alone.

Target to run in 2008, run close in 2011 and have a chance of winning in 2014.

Nigel Kearney said...

Surely easier to persuade an existing MP to defect?

Under MMP, every minor party has got in by starting with a seat held by a defector from Labour or National. None have done it on their own. Why not go with a proven strategy?

Dalziel must be a little aggrieved. There's also Barnett, Hobbs, Benson-Pope, Carter, or even Phillip Field. Pick your favourite and work on them.

Ghet said...

Heh, I was going to say what Greg did. Jim isn't going to be around forever, and what's he going to do, groom a successor? Not likely, not Jim. Given Labour would have to drag the candidate vote back, not just keep it, they'd need to stand a high-quality candidate. Which they haven't done here, at all.

If you were going to do that here, you'd want to run for council, health board, etc, first. Last time round there were only TWO left-wing candidates for our ward, which meant voting for Mora when I despise him.

But... that could be six years away. I get equally frustrated when people tell the Greens to 'get an electorate', as if they're lying round in a goodie basket somewhere and it's just silly not to pick them up.

Commie Mutant Traitor said...

Someone the National voters will respect and not be afraid to vote for? Er, not likely. Any decent candidate standing on strong left-wing principles will terrify National voters and persuade them to vote Labour as a lesser evil. Dunedin North might be an option... we need an electorate that's overwhelmingly Labour at the moment. Mangere has the biggest Labour majority, and a problematic MP (Taito Phillip Field); even a dead heat between Labour and [indeterminate left wing party] would leave National in distant third, and they'd have minimal effect in tactical voting for Labour. Other options would be Christchurch East, Mt Albert, and of course Wigram once Jim is gone. Waitakere isn't such a good idea, since the Labour majority there isn't that big.

My advice is start targeting Mangere now. Leaflet the entire electorate on an ongoing basis on why Labour isn't left enough, why it's safe to give the electorate vote to a minor party, and why people should join the minor party. Get party members along to everything that happens in the electorate in the next three years, with party propaganda available (but not shoved in peoples faces). Get members involved in local groups/committees. Picking a candidate can wait a while.

Ranald said...

You need three things to be a good seat for a left 3rd party - you need it to be an electorate that's historically shown itself to be open to 3rd parties like the Alliance andthe Greens, you need it to be solidly left wing so you can benefit from tactical votes from Labour voters, and you need the electorate to not have a deep attachment to their local MP.

The best seats at a glance on the first two criteria seem to me to be Auckland Central, Wellington Central, Rongotai, Dunedin North, Christchurch Central and maybe Waitakere. Some of the MPs here are probably unlikely to be unseated however; but who would sincerely miss Judith Tizard or Lynne Pillay? Even Marian Hobbes might be vulnerable given the right candidate.

Ghet said...

I've been thinking about this all morning.

Ranald, CHCH Central is deeply attached to their MP, it's Tim Barnett, and while there'd be some uneasy about what he stands for, they're outnumbered by people who vote for him because he's Tim Barnett. More people voted Tim than voted Labour.

Going back to Wigram, however... I wonder if Jim's incumbency is disguising a shift right in the boundary redraw. A whole bunch of Addington etc is now Chch Central, and Wigram's taken in a hunk of the foothills of Ca$hmere.

Ranald said...

Ghet; I'm aware of this, Christchurch Central was in my list because of the criteria of being left-leaning and open to 3rd parties in general. But he was one of the MPs I thought would be too personally popular to be unseated. Still, no MP stays in parliament forever and it makes sense to establish a presence in case he retires or is felled by some scandal.

Span, have you ever had a look at the 'community politics' project the Liberal Party in the UK developed in the 70s when they were nearly wiped out of parliament? Basically, they ran a nationwide campaign for local government, emphasising principles like devolving power to communities instead of central government calling the shots, then used their local profile to springboard back into the national parliament. A model for the Alliance perhaps? After all, a high-profile Alliance councillor or mayor is more likely to win an electorate than some well-meaning unknown, but well-meaning unknowns often get seats in local and regional councils.

Ghet said...

Sorry, Ranald, my misread.

Comrade_Tweek said...

I don't believe that the Alliance should concentrate on winning a seat.

All of the seats that have been held by the smaller parties, with the exception of Coromandel in 1999, were orginally won under first past post prior to 1996.

MMP and the creation of larger electorate seats makes the situation more complicated because you need larger resources. In 1990, the NLP contested Sydenham with 500 activists and had undertaken detailed electoral surveys and polling. This was helped by the fact that Jim was the current MP and could place his resouces into the seat. It effectivetly took away resources from the NLP on the national level. The situation now is that you would need approximately double of activists to run a good campaign and double the money.

If you were going to target a seat then all the Alliance's resources would need to go into that seat. There is also a tendency for National voters to vote tactically and they would vote against a left wing candidate so the seat would need to be one where even if significant numbers of National Party did vote tactically, it would have miminal impact on the final result.

If I was going to do such a mad thing, then Dunedin North would be the best bet. There are several reasons; the Alliance still has a base in Dunedin; two, there is still support for the Alliance and its past support there has been good. Throughout the 1990s, the Alliance under Jim Flynn and later, Quentin Findlay polled exceptionally well in Dunedin North at least 6 - 8 percent above the national vote for the Alliance.

Finally, the electoral makeup of Dunedin North with its poor students, liberal workers and beneficaries makes it a good bet. The Left (the NLP and the Alliance) tended to poll well amongst academics and state sector workers.

Commie Mutant Traitor said...

The problem with Dunedin North is that a split left vote could lead to a National win. It's a safe Labour seat at the moment, but not an overwhelmingly Labour seat. Of course, there's no reason not to target multiple electorates around the country (Dunedin activists aren't going to do much good in Mangere), as long as there's only one in each region.

The first stage of an electorate campaign should be focused on attempting to recruit additional supporters in the area. Possibly this should be done as a non-party effort; build up a big local group that supports the principles of the Alliance first, and then let them decide whether they want to operate under the Alliance banner (with the advantage of an existing national organisation) or create a new party.

Comrade_Tweek said...

Yes, it could, as happened in 1975. But, the increase in the size of the electorate with the incorporation of some of the old Dunedin West electorate into Dunedin North offers some protection.

Plus, Dunedin North is the only seat that has retained a left presence that could be build upon. The NLP had a very large membership and a good group of activists there throughout the 1990s and ran a couple of popular campaigns.

The Alliance (and the NLP) tried valiantly in a number of other seats such as Managere and Otara, but with little success - the workers stuck with Labour.

Throwing the seat to National might happen in any Labour seat if there is a split in the left vote and if the National vote increases - which is what happened in 1975.

Dunedin North remains my bet.

Anonymous said...

Possibilities for the Alliance:

One of the Dunedin seats (Dunedin North OR South) - both recorded strong Alliance votes in the 1990s. Others have spoken about merits of Dun North, but note that Alliance polled very well in Dun South during 1990s.

Waitakere - Laila has contested there and did pretty well, it is left-leaning too. You would also get Auckland activists involved and this is the most likely Auck seat.

As others have said, you need a charismatic candidate with profile and preferably experience/ standing in local govt.

Anonymous said...

"All of the seats that have been held by the smaller parties, with the exception of Coromandel in 1999, were orginally won under first past post prior to 1996"
Wgtn Central in 96 and Epsom in 05 for ACT

jarrod said...

First Against The Wall would like to be the first to welcome you to our home town. Except someone else has most likely already beaten us to it. Never mind. We hope you enjoy your stay.

And on the seat front - why not Tauranga? Bob Clarkson should have well and truly worn out his welcome in 3 years...

Anonymous said...

john campbell in waitakere

Comrade_Tweek said...

I stand corrected. I completely forgot about the Association of Corporate Taxdogers.

However, ACT did not hold Wellington Central and it remains to be seen if it holds Epson in three years time. Getting a seat is one thing, holding it is something else. I seem to recall that after losing Wtgn Central, ACT then concentrated on the Party Vote.

All the Small Parties that currently have seats in parliament aside from ACT - NZ First, United Future and the Progressives won their seats under First past the Post prior to 1996. Plus, until this election, at least - they have tended to keep them.

That and the amount of resources that ACT pulled into the Epson and Wtgn Central campaigns - handy, if business and rich tories back you - proves my point. Lots of resources, lots of time, cannibalises party vote and no assurance, unless you have well developed machines in the electorate, that you are going to keep it.

I note that all the seats that the party votes went to the major parties. Maybe the Left should look at the hegemony of the party vote?

span said...

why thank you all for your suggestions and comments! i look forward to reading through them all properly on the morrow.

i think one thing that you all need to know is that Laila is no longer involved in the Alliance. I find it highly unlikely that she would run for the Alliance in the future, although she might for a new Left party that included many from the Alliance. i for one have been trying to build some bridges there in recent times (for a variety of reasons).

john campbell in waitakere would be MARVELLOUS! ;-)

Andrew Bates said...


I reckon Greg was right. How much longer has Jim Neanderthal got? You lot could infiltrate JAPC and be annointed by him then go back to your Alliance ways once you had won the seat. Of course, there is the possibility that he would ask Gillon or someone else to move then annoint them so perhaps you should start contesting the seat hard.

The thing is - what is it that prevents the Alliance joining other parties? I haven't kept track of the extreme leftists' schisms (to concerned with footy, fitness, Libz politicking, finishing my Master's, visiting the US and selling up then emigrating to Aussie). I wonder why the Alliance continues, separate from the Greens or Jim Neanderthal Personality Cult. Is it that you reject the social authoritarianism of JAPC but embrace it's government winner-picking policies? Is it that you are pro-technology and the benefits GE can bring and thus don't like the Greens or do you dislike them because you're socially authoritarian and reject their more liberal cannabis policies?

Andrew Bates said...

That should read "(*too* concerned ..."

Damn. More haste, less speed.

CutFoldGlue said...

I doubt Tauranga will ever swing left, National will just move someone new through the ranks next time.

Anonymous said...

Bates is emigrating to Aussie? Heaven help the Australians!

stef said...

For alliance to win an electorate seat it needs to:

Have a good name in local body politics in area with lots of poor and alternative lifestylers which is basically West Auckland.

Find a big name with big charisma from that team to win.

Number 1 is easy. However number 2 is your problem.

I don't see or hear of anyone out on that part of the left that has the charisma to take on a big party machine. Sure you've got some nice people who do great things, but in the end what the alliance is lacking these days is a big hitter who can rally not only the troops but the voters to vote for them. Unless you find that person they are pretty much fucked no matter where you stand.

Andrew Bates said...

Trust an anonymite to make that sort of stab.

Anyone going to answer me about the schizzmle dizzle?

BTW JF, I cannot believe you read Heinlein! What's next, Ayn Rand?! (Remember that time in the quad when Laila Harre said she just read Ayn Rand for the rough sex when she was younger?)

Andrew Bates said...

Oh, and trust a leftie anonymite to be posting to a blog when the sports news was on. ;-) ;-)

Berry said...

Hi Andrew,

It is an interesting question. Yet I think the alliance are better off doing what they have been doing for the last few years. Rather than pull a sneaky and ride someone's coat tails into parliament, I think the alliance should continue to build itself as a workers' party.

Courtney Leeds said...

Hamilton West.

It is a divided swing seat.

Anonymous said...

H west? crazy. the nats would win easy

stephen said...

The Nats nearly won this time, that's true. But Martin is, let's face it, not a compelling MP. And that's one of the prerequisites for rolling an incumbent.

You'd have to mobilise the working class inhabitants of Frankton and Dinsdale against the well-heeled new suburbs to the west.

Rich said...

Andrew: as an outside observer I think there of one good reason and two bad ones why the Alliance doesn't want to work closely with the Greens.

Good Reason: there is a conflict on many issues (think road pricing, or logging native trees) between helping the environment and helping the least wealthy. For instance, if we made cars meet tight emission controls, that would help cleaner air, but make travel more expensive for many people. The decisions you make on this can divide Red and Green. (Though in an underpopulated island like NZ we should be able to live within our means environmentally *and* give everyone a decent standard of living).

Bad Reason 1: The Alliance identify as 'working class' and see the Greens as 'middle class'.

Bad Reason 2: There is personal bitterness over the breakup of the pre-97 Alliance.

But perhaps Span has better reasons.

jarrod said...

What are you talking about? From what I understand, Tauranga is full of "swingers".
Besides which, I think you'll find that Tauranga's denizens would quickly shift their allegiances once they discovered that the Alliance was amassing a fearsome army at their borders.

Joe Hendren said...


Given that 41% of the Alliance vote from 1999 went to Labour in 2002 (only 7% for the Greens) there is not as much crossover in the constituencies of Alliance and Greens as some people may expect.

I disagree with your Bad Reason 2: Most of the acronomy about the Greens from within the Alliance came from those who went on to partyhop to Jim's Neanderthal Personality Cult. Laila and others attempted to build some bridges following Jim's departure. Among the activists, I have nearly always found a lot of good will.

You are mostly right about the policy differences (we opposed native logging too). One of the most signifiant diffs is in economic and tax policy - the Alliance would like to see a more progressive tax system, whereas the Greens would like to move the burden of taxation onto waste/polution - while the Greens do have a policy of the first $5000 being tax free ($15 extra a week), it concerns me that this would not be enough to counter the regressive effect of their overall tax policy.

Gaz said...

I wandered onto this thread, but I must have entered the twilight zone. Are you people talking about the same Alliance that received 1503 party votes from the whole of New Zealand????

Bren said...

Yes, that Alliance party that got 25,888 votes in 2002, 159,859 votes in 1999, 209,347 votes in 1996 and 350,063 votes in 1993.

(hmmm... it's been going down quite steadily)

It's certainly possible to bring the Alliance back to parliament - it certainly has a far better chance of doing so than any other left parties currently out of parliament thanks to the fact that it does have recent history - a clear brand. Though it could be debatable whether it's image is postive or negative. I think in the cities it campaigned in this year it'll be largely positive.

Blair said...

One of the reasons Epsom is/was a good seat to go for for ACT is the size of the centre-right vote there. There was never any danger of Labour coming through the middle in a three way race. Dunedin North is in a similar situation. Even if the Alliance came in and split the red vote, there wouldn't be enough National party votes to cause an upset. Plus, with the right candidate, some Nats may candidate vote Alliance anyway.

The other suggestion that has been made - Mangere - has some merit, but Matt McCarten made a point of mentioning in his book how difficult it was for the Alliance to get votes in South Auckland against Labour. The Alliance is a bit too white and liberal for all the Pacific voters in that area. Dunedin North is your best bet.

As for a high profile candidate, what's Sukhi Turner doing these days? She would be ideal.

stef said...

Blair you're right Sukhi Turner would be ideal for winning that seat but does she have the charisma to be the base for the party to build the party vote. I'm not so sure.

Commie Mutant Traitor said...

The electoral candidate doesn't _need_ to be the base to build the party vote; indeed, I suspect it would be better if she wasn't. Once we have an electorate seat, it becomes safe to vote for the Alliance again, and the media will be forced to pay some attention. This will allow the rest of the party around the country to work effectively for the party vote.

In Dunedin North, Katherine Rich got more than half the votes of Pete Hodgson (three times as many as Clem Simich in Mangere), so a National victory is possible in the event of a split vote, though it would have to be very evenly split. As for the Alliance being too white, we're not going to get anywhere if we can't recruit a bunch of new members, which would hopefully include a significant proportion of Pacific Islanders.

Does anyone know Sukhi personally?

Bren said...

A split vote wouldn't matter too much in Dunedin North.

What would happen? If an Alliance candidate and Pete Hodgson split the vote evenly (they get 8000 each) and Katherine Rich gets 9000, then does it matter? Unless the unlikely event of an overhang happens, it won't affect the makeup of parliament. Pete Hodgson will still make it on the list. Labour loses a little money that goes to National, but that is it.

span said...

third candidates coming through in a split vote situation is this constant bogey that i actually doubt is all that real. it seems to me to be used by behemoth parties to try to guilt smaller ones into not standing (and not just in parliamentary politics either, but also local body).

especially under MMP, where you can split your vote and thus vote tactically in your electorate but for what you truly want with your party vote.