Peters vows to contest next election, unless….

This weekend NZ First are having their  22nd annual convention. For a support sized party they have done very well, recovering from a hiccup in 2008, recovering to get back into parliament in 2011 and building support in 2014.

Stuff reports: He’s 70, but Winston Peters has no plans to retire

Forty years after he first entered New Zealand politics, the NZ First leader is planning his next election campaign and heading into his party’s 22nd annual convention. Isn’t he tired of politics?

“Why would you ask that?” he chuckles.

“I’m 70 years old, that’s a fact. But the point is I’m in a job I can do and I get a lot of enjoyment out of it.

“I could give it up and my next big wish would be to spend time doing up boats and what have you. But the reality is, would I be interested after three months doing that? How many days can you go fishing?”

Bolstered by the Northland by-election win, he says he’ll stand again in 2017.

That will disappoint a few opponents but please most of his party, except perhaps for one or two with their own ambitions.

And Peters is pushing to build the party even more.

“This convention is all about two things: membership and money,” he says.

Head office will waive levies on electorates if they reach new membership targets. Peters is also a Facebook devotee. “We are the second highest on Facebook to John Key, we are past 40,000.”

That depends on who ‘we’ is.

The New Zealand First Political Party has 7,806 likes on Facebook.

It’s Winston Peters Politician who has 40,354 likes.

And other party Facebook likes:

  • Labour Party 40,322
  • Green Party 73,484

There is a lot riding on his personal appeal. Winston’s drive for more membership has been quoted as a condition of his carrying on.

Winston Peters has vowed to resign as NZ First leader if his party membership does not grow by at least 10,000 over the next two years.

In two years time we will be heading towards the next election. Will Peters stand by that? Maybe his new energy and charm will attract 10,000 new members so he doesn’t have to face that decision.

But if he steps down the forty thousand likes may step down with him.

UPDATE ALREADY (This is Winston): Winston Peters goes all-in on ‘tens of thousands’ NZ First membership increase

NZ First leader Winston Peters will resign if he fails to increase party membership by  “tens of thousands” in the next two years.

Peters made the pledge to become a “mass membership party” to reporters at his party’s annual convention in Rotorua on Saturday morning.


…in a baffling exchange, he immediately backed down.

“We are targeting tens and tens of thousands of party members…we think that is possible,” he said.

Asked if he would resign if he didn’t meet that target, Peters replied: “Yeah. precisely. Because there would be no sense going on … two years flat … do we have a target of more than ten thousand? Yes we do.”

Then asked to re-affirm if he would stand down, Peters changed his mind.

He answered:  “No. I said if we don’t increase our membership. Go through it very slowly … maybe I didn’t hear it properly. But I’d be disappointed if I wasn’t wrong to the factor of three times that.”

So now it’s just “if we don’t increase our membership”.

There will be no way to hold Peters to account on his goal – he won’t release membership figures.

So Winston’s rhetoric wins again, whatever he meant to say.

How the Conservatives ‘elect’ their Leader and Board

With the re-selection of the Conservative Party leader a possibility after Colin Craig stepped down on Friday it would be interesting to see how they elect their leader.

In short the Board elects a leader, and The Board decides who can stand for election as Leader and who can stand for election to The Board.

The Conservatives have promoted democratic processes as one of their core policies, binding referenda.

At the heart of the democratic system is the principle of the citizens initiated referendum. It’s when a single issue is thought to be so important, all voters are asked to make their opinion heard.
Pure democracy.

However their democratic processes don’t seem as pure in their own internal selections of leaders and of board members.


“Leader” means the leader of the Party appointed by a vote of the majority of the Caucus or of the Board as the case may require.

The Leader is elected by the Board.

Nominees for positions on the Board are put forward by a Board appointed Appointment Committee ‘it is prepared to endorse’

The positions on the Board are elected by members (I think) but a Board appointed Committee vets and endorses who can stand for election to the Board and the Board “shall then determine the candidates for the election”. And there is no right and errors may not invalidate any election.



The procedure to be followed for the appointment of Officers of the Board, Leader and/or Co-Leaders and Deputy Leader of the Party and where, pursuant to the Constitution, an election is required to be held, or where the Board or a committee thereof wishes to make any other appointment and is unable to do so by consensus is:

6.1 When there are six or more Caucus members the positions of Leader, Deputy Leader, Party Whip, Caucus Secretary and any other Caucus offices or positions that the Caucus may wish to be filled shall be decided by the members of the Caucus by majority vote. In the event that there is more than one candidate for a position and voting is tied, then in the case of the Party Leader, the Party President shall cast a vote on behalf of the Board expressing their preference, and in any other case the Party Leader shall have the casting vote.

Conservatives don’t have a Caucus so this doesn’t apply.

6.2 Candidates for the position shall be nominated by a member of the relevant Board, Caucus, or Committee and seconded by another such member.

Candidates for Leader appear to need to be nominated and seconded by members of the Board.

6.3 The Board, Caucus, or Committee shall then appoint two scrutineers to count the votes.

No specification for scrutineers who are independent of the Board.

6.4 Each member of the Board, Caucus, or Committee present and desiring to vote shall by secret ballot vote for one of the candidates, and the candidate securing the most votes shall be deemed to be appointed.

A vote for leader by Board members only without any input from party members.

6.5 Except in the case of the vote for Party Leader and President, the President or Chair shall have a casting vote.

So leadership contenders need to be nominated by the Board and are voted on by the Board.

How are the board members elected? In short:

  • The Board appoints an Appointment Committee which shall be chaired by the President plus at least four other people who may also be Board members.
  • The Appointment Committee asks the Members for nominations.
  • The Appointment Committee checks and then submits nominees ‘it is prepared to endorse’ to the Board.
  • The Board ” shall then determine the candidates for the election to the Board and shall then ask the Party Secretary to conduct the election”.
  • Elections are held by postal ballot presumably involving party Members (but this is not defined).
  • The Party Secretary plus two Board members appointed by the Board as scrutineers shall count the voting papers.

So the Board has almost full control over who gets to stand for election to the Board. And there’s no way of challenging what they do according to these two ‘rules’:

  • There shall be no right of appeal against any decision of the Appointments Committee or the Board.
  • No error in the appointment procedure shall invalidate the process of election and/or any decision at the Appointments Committee and/or the Board unless the Board considers (taking into account all the circumstances known to it including the time that has passed since the error occurred) that the error was sufficiently serious to warrant the decision being invalidated.

So the Board can do what they like and no one else can do anything about it.

In detail:


5.1 The procedure to be followed for the election of members of the Board where, pursuant to the Constitution, the Board is required to hold elections is:

5.2 The Board shall appoint an Appointments Committee which shall be chaired by the President, or in his or her absence another member appointed by the Board and shall comprise at least four other persons who need not be members of the Board.

5.3 The Appointments Committee shall formally notify all Party Members of the number of vacancies or new positions to be filled by election to the Board and shall invite them to forward written nominations to the Appointments Committee. The closing date for the receipt of written nominations shall be specified in the notice and sufficient time shall be allowed for nominations to be considered, obtained, and forwarded.

5.4 Nominations shall be accompanied by:

5.4.1 A letter of confirmation from the prospective nominee confirming their willingness to be elected to the Board; and

5.4.2 A statement providing details of the nominee’s personal background and experience.

5.5 The Appointments Committee shall, either directly or by delegation, carry out an assessment of each nominee including, in particular, interviewing each nominee at such place/s and time/s as the Committee may determine.

5.6 The Appointments Committee shall then prepare a list of persons for whom assessments have been completed and whose nominations it is prepared to endorse for the purposes of the remaining stages of the election process.

5.7 The Appointments Committee shall then submit the final list of names to the Board with a full resume of each candidate’s background and the results of the assessment, interviews responses, and other investigations.

5.8 The Board shall then determine the candidates for the election to the Board and shall then ask the Party Secretary to conduct the election in accordance with these Rules.

5.9 There shall be no right of appeal against any decision of the Appointments Committee or the Board.

5.10 No error in the appointment procedure shall invalidate the process of election and/or any decision at the Appointments Committee and/or the Board unless the Board considers (taking into account all the circumstances known to it including the time that has passed since the error occurred) that the error was sufficiently serious to warrant the decision being invalidated. In that event the Board shall take such action as it considers necessary or desirable to remedy the error.

5.11 Elections for positions available will take place by postal voting prior to the Annual General Meeting of the Party. 5.12 Voting papers accompanied by photographs and information concerning each candidate for election shall be sent to all Party Members no less than 4 weeks prior to the date of the Annual General Meeting.

5.13 All eligible voting papers must be received by post no later than the day prior to the day set for the Annual General Meeting, or in the alternative, may be presented personally by Members attending the Annual General Meeting. All other voting papers shall be deemed invalid.

5.14 The Party Secretary plus two Board members appointed by the Board as scrutineers shall count the voting papers and the Party Secretary shall announce the results at the Annual General Meeting at the time set by the Party President.

5.15 From the date of registration of the Party until the first Appointments Committee is appointed in accordance with these Rules the members of the Board of the Party shall be appointed by the Interim Leader.

For a party that promotes direct democracy via binding referenda their own democratic processes seem very undemocratic, dominated by a Board that controls who can stand for election to the Board.

All this didn’t matter much when Colin Craig was the undisputed leader of the party. It may matter a lot more now the Board is divided.

Labour review reaction –

Patrick Gower has been scathing of Labour’s leaked election review, even by his standards, in Where Labour went wrong – election review leaked.

And it actually contains a dire warning for the Labour Party, it’s says that Labour is broke, so broke that it needs money, it needs money right now, or else it could face political oblivion.


The 2014 election was a total disaster for Labour.

This review was into what went wrong and reveals Labour is totally broke.

The review also warns that if Labour does not find some cash quickly “it will continue experience electoral failure and place the status of the party as a political institution of influence at risk”.

Gower to Andrew Little:

Labour is so broke it’s headed to political oblivion.


That’s what the report says, um that’s not what’s going to happen.


The review found plenty of other problems but stated the obvious.

“Labour’s campaign preparation was inadequate”.

“Tension around the leadership and disunity within caucus seriously undermined Labour’s credibility”.

“There was a general lack of message discipline”.


There’s nothing in there that I think would take anyone by surprise.

Now someone has leaked this report, suggesting that disunity, credibility and message discipline are still serious problems.

Except that there is some message discipline. Te Reo Putake at The Standard, in NZLP Review of Election 2014; the Good, the Bad and the Ugly,

 There isn’t much in the review that will surprise anyone.

Is that the official Labour response?

I guess the take home message is that the party is in good shape and despite the grumbling of a few less relevant MP’s the caucus is as united as it has been since the Clark years. And that’s clearly due to the management and leadership of Andrew Little.

Hardly anyone is saying the party “is in good shape”. And the report has been leaked  under Little’s management.

There’s a lot more in there, and most of it is honest, straightforward and sensible.

Yeah, right. Then in typical Standard fashion TRP attacks the messenger, or in this case the leaker.

One thing that does not get mentioned, however, is the issue of internal discipline. TV3 were leaked this document. No point gnashing our teeth over who leaked it because they’ll keep ducking and diving anyway, but whoever you are, you’re scum.

So internal discipline under Little’s management isn’t so flash after all.

And commenters at The Standard even go as far as naming suspect MP leakers. TRP is usually quick to stamp on any messaging or accusations or statements of fact that are unfavourable to his task, but he lets this speculation go unmoderated, so he must be comfortable with internal witchhunting. He could be doing it himself under alternate pseudonyms (he’s known to comment under different names).

Then in a comment TRP says:

I don’t know how widely circulated the leaked version was so it may be that no MP had access to it. One of the noticeable changes under Andrew Little’s leadership has been caucus unity and discipline. Prior to his election, leaking was commonplace. Since he took over, it seems to have stopped completely.

So TRP allows specific MPs to be accused (two of them) but tries to claim a new level of “unity and discipline” under Little’s leadership.

The review didn’t mention how far divorced from reality some of the people acting for Labour are, and that’s a problem that looks entrenched.

However more and more with an interest in Labour and ‘progressive politics’ can see the problems, with the party and now with this report. Patrick Leland in Reviewing the review:

The envelope on which NZ Labour’s campaign review was written on the back of has unsurprisingly been leaked. Expect a witch hunt to distract from just how sub-standard the review is.

See the above and the Standard post and thread.

The content of the review, and lack-thereof, offer a fascinating insight into a party in turmoil. The actual 2014 general election campaign is skimmed over – most of the focus of the review instead seems to be the party’s organisational structures.

He comments on sections of the report, critically, then concludes:

At the end of the day this review is a mess. However the biggest problem will be if the party focusses on the guff in it (I can already imagine the fights that changes to LEC and regional council rules will cause) and continues to ignore the very real political problems it faces – which remain largely unaddressed.

Given this review is a waste of the envelope it was written on, it will be interesting to see how the new leader and president react (I can’t imagine the current General Secretary doing much to improve the situation).

If Te Reo Putake’s attempts to paper over the cracks (or chasms) and pretend “I guess the take home message is that the party is in good shape” are any indication of how Labour sees the report then the party is going to struggle to recover, financial fix or not.

UPDATE: according to ‘Saarbo’ even the leak can’t be Labour’s fault.

I refuse to believe that someone within Labour would have leaked this report to Gower.

This leak is either a hacker or Labour has someone within its ranks who has been planted and leaks in the best interests of Labour’s opposition party’s, it seems implausible but at some stage someone has to start asking this question.

Labour review leaked

The Labour Party election review has been leaked. Comments are flying around Twitter about it.

Patrick Gower at 3 News: Where Labour went wrong – election review leaked

The 2014 election was a total disaster for Labour and 3 News has obtained its internal review that shows its “campaign preparation was inadequate”.

This review says that if Labour does not improve its fundraising “then it will continue experience electoral failure and place the status of the party as a political institution of influence at risk”.

It says it was “undoubtedly hindered by a lack of financial resources” and takes a swipe at the unions saying: “While there is a myth the Labour Party is funded by union affiliates, the reality is overall they contribute comparatively little financially.”

In other bizarre recommendations it says “Labour must commit to a vision of a united New Zealand, founded on the Treaty of Waitangi”.

But most bizarre, it thinks Labour’s problems will be solved by forming new committees, “an executive”, made up of “the President, two senior vice Presidents, General Secretary and three party members” and “a Campaign Committee”.

Review details:

Published by 3NewsNZ
The Labour Party has released findings of its review into what went so wrong at last year’s election.
Published by: 3NewsNZ on Jun 03, 2015
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

That’s ironic, a copyright notice.



PART 1 – General Election 2014

Conclusion and recommendation

1A  Campaign organisation
The late start under a changed leadership team left too little time to allow Labour to prepare and implement an effective campaign.  In general, Labour’s campaign preparation was inadequate.

The new leadership team should make an immediate start on developing and implementing a coordinated strategic plan for contesting the 2017 election.  A small and properly constituted Campaign Committee should be established at least a year out from the election and should be charged with preparing and implementing a campaign strategy which achieves buy-in from everyone, from the leader down.

1B  Candidate selection
Candidate selection on the whole worked well and produced some excellent candidates. Late candidate selection hampered some 2014 electorate campaigns.

There should be a strategy developed for early selections and electorates with limited potential to generate a significant candidate pool.  Attention should be paid to the transparency and fairness of the process for drawing up the list and to the structure of the list.

1C  Leadership training
The Party made considerable efforts to provide training for candidates, campaign managers and volunteers, but those efforts were hindered by the lack of both human and financial resources.

The expertise to deliver training for candidates, campaign managers and volunteers is available and needs to be deployed over the three-year time scale, with sufficient resources so as to make a real difference for the 2017 campaign.

1D  Fundraising
The campaign was undoubtedly hindered by a shortage of financial resources.  The finance available was less than in earlier campaigns, though only a little less by comparison with 2011.  Labour must do better in this respect in 2017.

Labour must build greater confidence in its ability to win and to form a successful government, and – in addition to building its database of online donors – it must use high-level business and other contacts, supported by a strengthened group of professional fundraisers on the staff team, in approaching the corporate sector and other potential sources of funding for donations.

1E Leadership
Perceptions of tension around the leadership and disunity within caucus seriously undermined Labour’s credibility with voters and frustrated any attempt to present a Party that was ready for government.

It is imperative that Labour acts – and is seen to act – as a disciplined and coherent team that is ready for government if it is to win the trust of voters in 2017. As a key element of this process, the senior leadership team within Caucus should be given greater prominence and responsibility throughout the three years.

1F  Policy and messaging
Labour did not present a coherent and convincing image of itself or its policies. There was a general lack of message discipline, and the policies put forward at the election were often complex, difficult to understand and easily misrepresented by our opponents.

Great care should be taken in deciding when and which policies should be put before the public, and the language that should be used to explain them.  Complex policies should be launched early so that a sustained effort is made to explain them properly and to rebut criticism. Policies launched during the campaign should be easily understood and guaranteed to make an immediate appeal to significant groups of voters. Within a three-year strategy covering the whole organisation, timelines and processes for policy development and announcement should be clearly set and adhered to.

1G  Messaging
A coherent and consistent communications plan with clear accountabilities should form part of the three-year strategy; it should be adhered to and applied by all parts of the Party. The Leader should merge the Parliamentary Media and Communications units and ensure the Media & Communications Director is given the authority to lead and manage the execution of this strategy. The Party, Caucus and all its spokespeople need to work harder on maintaining message discipline and in developing mutually beneficial relationships with media outlets and individual journalists at all levels.
1H Government formation
Labour was undoubtedly harmed by the prospect that a Labour-led government would depend on the support of a range of other parties.  The voters lacked confidence as to what that might mean, which eroded trust in a potential Labour-led Government.

Labour must make a concerted effort to establish a constructive – but clear-eyed and honest – relationship with aligned parties in the new parliament.  The issue should not, however, preclude Labour from contesting for every vote and being clear that maximising the Labour vote is the primary objective.

1I  Targetting and Direct Voter Contact
The huge effort made by activists and volunteers in so many electorates means that it is more important than ever that those efforts should be properly directed for maximum return.

Modern communications, including social media, should be properly resourced, analysis must be undertaken of the implications of the increase in advance voting (including for methods of campaigning and targeting), and Labour should continue to develop its
growing expertise in the modern techniques of targeting.

1J  Party Vote
The Labour campaign suffered from the failure to persuade Labour voters of the importance of the Party Vote.

The Party must ensure that at every level its organising focus and public messaging for the 2017 campaign is directed at lifting the Party Vote.

1K  Māori seats
The Māori seats provided one of the few bright spots for Labour in the 2014 election. It is incumbent on the Party to learn the lessons of that relative success and apply them, in respect of both the Māori and general electorates, to the 2017 campaign and to recognise the responsibility that it now bears as the primary voice of Māori in New Zealand politics.

The response should be a higher profile for Māori members and activists in the Party as a whole and a more attentive ear to both Māori interests and advice.  Labour should also consider measures to persuade a higher proportion of eligible Māori voters to register and to vote.

1L  Voter enrolment/turnout
The “missing million” – not enrolled or enrolled and not voting – are an affront to our democracy, and a missed opportunity for Labour.  A campaign to enrol voters (irrespective of their voting intentions) would be good for our democracy and positive for
Labour, and could provide a useful focus for Party members and volunteers in the years before election campaigning itself gets under way.

Action should arise from a review of the voter targeting and other work undertaken during the election to engage the “missing million”.  Integrated with this, high quality research must be undertaken on patterns of non-voting and the best way to target those people.  Labour’s input to the Parliamentary select committee review of the General Election and Labour’s Justice spokesperson should focus on why 1 million people didn’t vote, and what could be done to address that.

PART 2 – Policy and Positioning
(Note: Part 2 does not provide explicit recommendations. What follows is an abstract of the key directions of the Review’s argument. Consideration of these directions suggests that, first, they might be passed on to Policy Council, to be included in policy development, and, second, be provided to the Media and Communications Unit, for inclusion in branding and messaging developments.

2A Labour must take on board and respond to a rapidly changing and complex environment, involving the rise of free market policies, a consequent rise in inequality and poverty, changing demographics, change in the labour market and in social challenges

2B Labour has still to define positively and confidently convincing, alternative macro-economic policies, which also respond to wider social and environmental issues, despite emerging international challenges to neo-liberal orthodoxy

2C Labour needs to develop micro-economic policies in line with a renewed macro-economic focus, including a fair taxation policy

2D Labour should promote the important role to be played by government in a modern economy

2E Labour should be seen as pro-business, particularly in relation to the small business sector, as opposed to big business

2F Labour must emphasise its values (fairness, social cohesion, freedom of choice and action (Comment [TB1]: Maybe “with an enhanced focus on small ad medium business enterprises”)  as it differentiates its values from those of its opponents, as values earn trust from voters

2G Labour must commit to a vision of a united New Zealand, founded on the Treaty of Waitangi
2H Labour’s future campaigns must pose against its opponents a fresh and coherent vision for New Zealand, which requires the re-shaping of traditional concerns and values

PART 3 – Party Governance and Organisation  

Conclusion and recommendation

3A  Party legal status
There is an urgent need to clarify the Party’s legal status, required not only for ethical reasons of increasing transparency, but also to enable the Party to more effectively use resources available to it, in particular funding. It could also clarify the responsibilities and accountabilities of entities and individuals within the organisation.   Labour needs to be proactive and agree a legal model that is realistic about the competitive nature of politics but also increases the effectiveness of the Party organisation.

3B  Clarified organisational structure at a national level
The Party’s organisational structure should reflect the dual role of the Party – the maintenance of a viable disciplined political organisation and the need to develop a sustainable effective campaigning capacity to win elections.  It requires clarity as to where the authority lies for what function.

An Executive should be established with, first, the role and function of developing and overseeing the implementation of the campaign strategy to win the next election and, secondly, providing for a platform for the joint exercise of the functions of the Parliamentary Leader, the President, the Caucus and the Party.

The Executive should also develop the Strategic Selection Criteria to ensure candidates are selected on merit consistent with the Party’s commitment to ensuring diversity in its Parliamentary representatives. The Executive would report to the NZ Council, which would retain the overall governance role. The membership of the Executive should comprise the President, two senior Vice Presidents, General Secretary, and three Party members elected directly by the membership immediately after the election, for a 3 year term. These members must have between them skills at campaigning, funding and organisation. The Executive should also include, ex-officio, the Parliamentary Leader and Deputy Leader to attend in person. Members of the Executive should also be members of the NZ Council. The Executive should meet monthly or more frequently if required. The Executive is a committee of the NZ Council.

The NZ Council should remain the governing body between annual conferences. It should meet four times a year. Its membership should remain substantially the same, with the inclusion of Executive members not already on the NZ Council. As this is the central governing body it is important that it is fully representative as is the intention at the moment. Consideration may be given to the inclusion of an ethnic representative as the other significant sector groups are represented.

A Campaign Committee should also be appointed by the NZ Council.  The membership of this Committee should reflect the professional skills required to conduct a campaign. It should also include the Party and Parliamentary Party leadership or their representatives. The Campaign Committee must establish a liaison with the Hubs that have the primary responsibility for the Party Vote campaign.

Sector groups need to be reviewed in terms of the current role and function. It is understood that this review is underway.  While the sectors were originally a means to ensure the Party was inclusive of the interests in the wider community and thus attractive to voters from those sectors, it is open to question whether the sector groups in their current form still fulfil this function. Obviously the Party needs to be representative to appeal to the community at large but the Party needs to be assured it has the most effective structure to achieve this. Te Kaunihera Māori, the Māori section of the Party, should also undertake a review initiated by Māori members and Party representatives to ensure that the most effective organisational structure is in place.

The First Review Report acknowledges the Māori electorates as the only real campaign success of the 2014 election. Much can be learnt from this experience, in particular how to conduct a campaign that related to the real life experience of Māori constituents.

3C  Clarified organisational structure at a regional and local level
The primary membership entity should be the LEC, being a body of 12-15 members of the LEC elected directly by the members or any other Party election.

The role of the LEC is primarily to organise the Party’s activities at electorate level, with those activities primarily directed at implementing an election campaign strategy. LECs often have greater understanding of the campaigning needs of the local electorates and this should be recognised within a campaign strategy but – as the Party Vote is the only vote that counts in the end – the electorate strategy must be consistent with a Party Vote strategy as developed by the Executive and delivered through the Hub.

Branches should continue to exist where members support them but without a vote on the LEC. They should have no direct representation on the LEC, or but may support individual branch members for election to the LEC.

Regional Councils should be abolished and replaced by Hubs with the primary responsibility of implementing the Party Vote campaign and strategy, organised on the basis of ‘natural groups’ and not necessarily following geographical boundaries. The Hub structure should include an organising committee with representatives from the LECs and Māori electorates in the Hub area.  There needs to be link between the regional hub and the Executive.  This link could be either or both Member of Parliament or Regional Representative. Regional representatives on NZ Council should be elected by the LECs within the region so the regions remain but the focus is on the campaign strategy.  The LEC is in effect the primary organisational entity within the Party at local level. Regional conferences should remain for that purpose with the focus on policy discussion and campaigning.

3D  Affiliates
The affiliates have an historic role within the Labour Party which has to be respected and preserved.  Union organisations have also, however, been undergoing considerable organisational change.  The SFWU decision to enable union members who were not members of other political parties to vote directly in the leadership election would seem to lead the way to greater involvement by individual members of affiliates to participate within the Party.  It is recommended that individual affiliate members should be invited and encouraged to vote for the LEC representatives at LEC AGMs. This would be consistent with a move to membership based local electorate organisations.

Affiliates should retain representation on the NZ Council. There should, however, be a working group set up to examine the most effective way for affiliates to be integrated into a campaign strategy. Attempts to use affiliate members for campaigning have had mixed success.  Also while there is a myth the Labour Party is funded by union affiliates, the reality is that overall they contribute comparatively little financially to the Labour Party.

3E  Candidates
The real question appears to be how the Party identifies candidates and then prepares and supports its candidates before, during and after the election. There needs to be greater central coordination of candidates. They are the advocates and the public face of the Party so much of the success of the election campaign depends on them. One of the tasks of the Executive should be to address this issue.

One of the most criticised aspects of the last election was the process for selection of list candidates. The existing arrangements cannot be justified in terms of democratic practice or effective outcomes.

First, any Party members who get the support of 10 financial members of the Party should be able to nominate for consideration for a list position.

Second, nomination should be initially vetted by a central Vetting Committee appointed by the NZ Council. The Vetting Committee should consist of three experienced Party members who are not current members of the NZ Council or a Member of Parliament.  The role of the Vetting Committee is to verify that the nominee qualifies under the rules, and to select 60 nominees for referral to the Moderating Committee that will allocate the place on the list to the nominees.  All electorate candidates should also nominate for the list to ensure that candidates campaign for both the electorate and the Party. It was apparent in the last election that some electorate candidates did not campaign for the Party vote. The Vetting Committee should be aware of and give consideration to the Constitutional obligation for the Party list to reflect the diversity in the community, in particular gender, race and the regions.

Third, the Moderating Committee should comprise the NZ Council plus 4 Members of the Caucus. Its task is to allocate the places on the list after consideration to the requirement for diversity and regional representation.  The over-riding criteria, however, must be the merit of the individual and their capacity to run a successful campaign as expressed in the Strategic Selection Criteria developed by the Executive.

3F  Fundraising
The Party also needs to develop a capital fund to put in place a professional sustainable organisational structure that will provide the infrastructure for the campaign.

If the Party cannot unlock the significant resources held by local entities of the Party to use for a capital fund and/or the campaign, then it will continue to experience electoral failure and place the status of the Party as a political institution of influence at risk.

UK Labour had the data and expert advice

There’s been a lot of discussion about the supposed inaccuracy of the UK polls. And there’s been many claims that the Conservatives with the help of Crosby Textor have an insurmountable advantage in data gathering and expert advice.

But a BBC article shows that Ed Miiliband and Labour had an expert pollster assisting them (it’s obvious they would be have but this puts it into facts).

James Morris, a partner at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, worked for Labour from when Ed Miliband was elected leader in 2010 until the election last week.

And according to the BBC Labour leadership thought public polls were too optimistic.

Morris  told Newsnight that…

…while “the lead in the public polls suggested Labour had got past the issues that sunk the party in 2010 – its record on the economy and immigration – we knew we had much more work to do and were still dogged by a loss of trust.”

That is why, he said, the party ran a campaign based on a more “pessimistic scenario” than was the political consensus.

He continued: “While the public polls had Labour ahead until the spring of this year, in our polls cross-over [when the Tories overtook them] came right after conference season in 2014. A four-point Labour lead in early September turned into a tie in October, followed by small Tory leads prompting the party to put reassurance on fiscal policy and immigration at the heart of the campaign launch.”

And Labour also used focus groups.

Mr Morris said: “As focus groups showed the SNP attacks landing, we had Labour behind in the marginal seats.” This was, he said, despite the fact that “a public poll in a similar set of seats at the same time showed a three-point Labour lead”.

Using internal polls and focus groups sounds just like the Crosby Textor/National approach here.

So if Labour in the UK had the data and they had expert advice why did they do so badly?

Economic credibility (of the major party plus coalition options) and public perceptions of leaders are probably the defining factors in elections.

UK result versus proportional representation

There’s been comment here about the disparity between votes and seats in the UK election, which operates under first the post.

David Farrar has tried a ‘what if’ exercise at Kiwiblog – The UK result under proportional representation and concludes:

So under PR the UK Independence Party would have 83 seats, instead of one. The SDP would hold 31 seats instead of 56 and the Lib Dems 52 seats instead of eight. And the Conservatives and Labour would have fewer seats – and the Greens 25.

If you look at the blocs, the right bloc would still have a majority under proportional representation. They’d be just 10 seats down. However it would be a Conservative/UKIP Government, not a majority Conservative one.

The left would do worse under PR with Labour and the SNP both losing seats, but the Greens picking some up. They’d be 33 seats down compared to FPP.

The Lib Dems in the centre would be best – going from eight seats to 44.

But I think this is an exercise in futility. In the UK they voted for 650 separate electorates. There was no party vote, and I don’t see any way of assuming the total vote as if it equated to party support.

And if there was a party vote that would ultimately decide the proportion of seats then voters would have had quite different considerations and could easily have decided differently, on individual electorates (which under our MMP can influence outcomes) and overall.

So Farrar’s speculation is kinf of interesting but it’s really quite meaningless.

Delusions about Labour defeat

Gosman posted a link to this at The Standard, saying “Much of that can be applied to what people here state about why the left in NZ is not doing so well.”

10 delusions about the Labour defeat to watch out for

As Labour tries to explain its defeat, look out for the following untruths

1. THE MEDIA DID IT No left-wing account of this defeat will be complete without a reference to the Tory press (bonus drink for “Murdoch-controlled”) and its supposed inexorable hold over the political psyche of the nation. Funny: the day before the election everyone decided The Sun was a joke and nobody reads newspapers anyway.

Blaming the media for unfavourable political outcomes is common here too, especially from the left but also from some on the right.

2. THE ESTABLISHMENT STITCHED IT UP Obviously related to (1). but with a wider scope. The forces said to be ranged against a Labour victory will be described as powerful and subterranean. They will include bankers.

Blaming ‘the establishment’, the capitalists, the 1% or aliens for unfavourable political outcomes is common here too.

3. CLEVER TORIES It will be said that the Tories, in their ruthlessly efficient way, pinned the blame for austerity on Labour and Labour allowed it to stick. Clever Tories. Few will mention that the Tories were, for the most part, a hubristic and directionless shambles, divided amongst themselves, the authors of several howlingly stupid own goals that would certainly have sunk them had they not got so lucky with their opponent.

That doesn’t apply as much here because apart from a few embarrassments National are widely seen to have managed the economy well in difficult times. But National are helped substantially by a lack of a credible or palatable alternative.

4. VOTERS ARE STUPID AND VENAL You will hear much wailing about the selfishness of voters, their hard hearts and closed minds.

This has been a common claim at The Standard – the voters who vote for their unfavoured party must be stupid or duped or selfish or greedy or or…

5. THE SNP STOLE OUR VICTORY It is true that nobody, but nobody, foresaw the SNP tidal wave. But it’s not true that Labour would have won or even done OK without it. Labour saw a net gain of one seat from the Tories in England. One. Seat. One seat, in an election where everything favoured them. One seat, after five years of a shabby and meretricious government making unpopular decisions and a third party that virtually donated its voters to them. An epic failure.

Labour went backwards here last election, as did Mana, and the Greens stalled. And yes, there’s been claims along the lines of “XXX stole our victory”.

6. LABOUR WASN’T LEFT WING ENOUGH Many of your drinks will be prompted by variations on this perennial theme. Labour accepted the austerity narrative. Labour weren’t green enough. Labour weren’t radical (which has somehow come to be used as a synonym for left-wing). Given that the last time Labour won an election without Tony Blair was 1974 it’s hard to believe people still think the answer is to move left. But people still do. I sort of love these people for their stubbornness. But I don’t want them picking the next leader.

Yes, that’s been repeated here too. Alongside other claims that Labour was too right wing and was too much like the Conservatives. Similar claims are common about Labour here. There are some more perceptive people who say that Labour didn’t look competent enough.

7. TONY BLAIR Rule number one of left-wingery: it is always, somehow, Tony Blair’s fault.

I haven’t seen Blair blamed for Labour’s failures here, but the third way and neo-liberalism sometimes criticised on the left.

8. POLITICS IS TOO SUPERFICIAL This seems to have been Ed Miliband’s understanding of the problem. He made a speech last summer in which he bemoaned the primacy of image in modern politics. Then last Sunday he stood for the cameras in front of a giant limestone monolith. So perhaps he’s ambivalent. But undoubtedly we’ll hear his supporters declare sadly that we live in shallow times. A man can’t even talk about pre-distribution any more without being pilloried. This one is essentially a variation on (4).

Politics is too superficial. Media coverage is too often too superficial. This affects all parties. Of course there are some here who say that the right and their compliant media deliberately keep things superficial to stop the voters thinking about the real issues. Meanwhile this is what the voters are currently most interested in at NZ Herald: NZHMostPopularThere doesn’t seem much interest in an in depth analysis neo-liberalism in the 21st century.

9. ED WAS THE WRONG MESSENGER This explanation will be expressed with ruefulness and come garlanded with references to the former leader’s decency and integrity and intellect. The thing is, they’ll say, he really wasn’t suited to TV (refer to (8) here). In person, my God, it was like Elvis was in the room. Now, this is a tricky one to stand by because the day before the election everyone agreed that Ed being weird wasn’t a problem any more. People who cling to this reason are committing the very sin of which they accuse the voters and media. Labour lost (mainly) because of the message, not the messenger.

Phil was the wrong messenger. David was the wrong messenger.The other David was the wrong messenger. The political experts at The Standard are the right messengers but the media, the establishment, the capitalists, National and Uncle Tom Cobley prevent the voters from hearing their truth.

10. ANTI-POLITICS Ed Miliband somehow ran smack into a wave of anti-political sentiment that David Cameron somehow managed to sidestep. Mystical visions of a new kind of politics rooted in the real lives of working-class people will abound.

And again, same here in New Zealand. Most people are anti-crap politics and there’s far too much of that – including from the excuse making political activists.

The non-delusional explanation is simple. It was proffered, some time before 7 May, by a former Labour leader. When a traditional left-wing party competes with a traditional right-wing party, you get a traditional result.

But but but but…a bit of that – but a lot of “the other lot look worse”.

Labour, Lib Dems and pollsters lose badly in UK

The polls showed a tight race right up until election day in the UK and they got it horribly wrong.

Labour also got it horribly wrong, especially in Scotland where they lost all but one seat.

The Scotland National Party gained probably 50 seats, up to 56 from 6.

The Conservatives may get as many as 329 seats, just enough to govern alone (they need about 324) for that). That’s up from 302.

Labour are forecast to get 233 seats, down from 256.

And the Liberal Democrats have collapsed from 56 to about 8 seats.

UKIP has won one seat and could get another.

It’s not just in New Zealand that Labour parties are struggling to be relevant into the 21st century.

For more detail see the BBC: Election results: Conservatives on course for majority

And for what was see: Current State of the Parties

Can Greece lead the post-neoliberal revolution?

Greece has voted in a far left party that campaigned on ‘anti-austerity”  and have threatened to give more to their people and less to their creditors.

Can they show how a country can succeed by rejecting neoliberalism and going it alone in Europe? Or will it prove that socialism sucks in practice?

If you haven’t heard here is one report:

Greeks hand stunning victory to anti-austerity Syriza

Greece set itself on a collision course with the rest of Europe on Sunday night after handing a stunning general election victory to a far-Left party that has pledged to reject austerity and cancel the country’s billions of pounds in debt.

Colin James – the election in a bubble

Colin James, one of the most astute political journalists, analyses the 2014 election.

An election in a bubble
But within New Zealand as the election campaign wended through August and September there was no general public sense of impending or actual tectonic change, either at home or abroad. So to examine the election we need to put aside the seismic instruments and reach for the GPS locator and the microscope.

New Zealand was in a little bubble of fortuitous economic growth. Rapidly expanding demand for dairy, and to some extent other primary, products, coupled with sky-high dairy prices was one factor. The rebuilding of Christchurch, by early 2014 fully in gear, was another. They generated numbers that built very strong business confidence. The commentary was optimistic.

This fed into improved household finances, which are the marker for how the economy plays in elections. There had been modest gains in income and jobs and there was cautious to modest confidence the improvement would continue. Consumer confidence was strong through 2014, though it peaked midyear.

And the government projected confidence in itself and competence.

At its apex was a tight trio. John Key was the presenter. Bill English was the fiscal manager and policy wonk who at the ministerial level was associated with most reforms, including the public service (“more with less”, then a set of quantified “results” stretching out several years and in some cases crossing portfolio boundaries), tax, water policy (using the “collaborative governance” technique involving all interest groups to generate a consensus), education and social assistance (welfare). For welfare English imported from ACC the actuarial-investment approach which may be the National-led government’s most important innovation. Steven Joyce was the project manager, focused on short-term measures designed to lift GDP growth (a way of thinking akin to business quarterly reporting) and quick to heavy those who got in his way, overshadowing the ministers in related economic development portfolios such as energy and ensuring other initiatives didn’t get in the way of GDP growth.

These three formed a strategic inner cabinet with Gerry Brownlee, who brought the “ordinary person’s” perspective, and Murray McCully, billed as a political strategist though actually more of a tactician with a touch of Rasputin in his manner. Paula Bennett and Simon Bridges occasionally looked in.

Down the cabinet Tony Ryall squeezed more from hospitals and kept the pips from squeaking too much, Chris Finlayson set a cracking pace in Treaty of Waitangi settlements and Tim Groser did trade, with aplomb, and climate change, hampered by conceptual and Joycean difficulties.

Failures and lapses of oversight management of weaker or blinkered ministers didn’t detract significantly from public confidence (though did raise questions about Key’s management). Likewise, growing agitation about “inequality” didn’t translate into a shift in support for opposition parties riding that issue. And when something went badly wrong, as in the collapse of the badly managed Pike River coalmine in 2010, the response was remedial legislation.

Moreover, Key proved remarkably adept at getting underperforming or ageing ministers and MPs to contemplate life after politics. Come election time 2014, 15 of those elected in 2011 had moved on, with zero fuss. No such regeneration of a major party has been done in “peacetime” (that is, while in power) before.

And a macro-personality
Key himself was the fourth main factor working for the government. He is likeable, blokey and jokey and at home with radio “shock jocks”, good with his family, an easy mixer, moderately pleasant-looking and plausible. He was trusted to get things more or less right, even if some things he did were not entirely in accord with proper process. (That is how trust works in politics: Australian Prime Minister John Howard was re-elected in 2007 despite being exposed as having larded the facts in the 2004 campaign over an incident involving would-be illegal immigrants.)

Key, in short, is a macro-personality. A macro-personality personifies the party and attracts votes to him/herself, including many who would not otherwise vote for the party. [Anderson 2014]

Voters are prepared to give such macro-personalities the benefit of the doubt – as they did in Key’s case over the revelations by the self-regarding Nicky Hager in his book of emails detailing grubby behind-scenes National party machinations, launched on 13 August [Hager 2014]. This was despite Key’s evasive responses to the book’s charges and his implausible labelling of the controversy it caused as a “leftwing conspiracy” and despite, or because of, his firing of Judith Collins on 30 August when a rightwing blogger publicised claims (not upheld in the subsequent government inquiry) that she had helped undermine a senior public servant. Voters told focus group pollsters they didn’t understand the implications of the Hager assertions and their relevance to the election and few deserted National on that score. (The relevance to the election is that proper conduct and process according to the rules – that is, a well-functioning democracy – is the issue in an election [James 2014, 1]. But that would be likely to play a decisive part in people’s decisions as to how to vote only if it stripped trust off a party or leader.)

The improved economy and household finances, the picture of government competence and Key’s macro-personality added up to very strong positive readings in the UMR and Morgan polls that the country was on the right track, going in the right direction. Such a high reading normally points to re-election of the incumbent government in some form, though possibly with a more complicated coalition than in the first two terms.

And no visible alternative government
There was a fourth factor: the lack of a clearly visible alternative government.

Through 2013 the combined polling by Labour and the Greens headed National’s polling by 0.5%. This suggested there was a genuine choice between a Labour-Green-led government and a National-led one.

It also suggested, given reasonable polling for New Zealand First, that the outcome could very well depend on the choice Winston Peters made after the election.

By April or May – and certainly by July – Peters was looking more likely to go with National. This was even though he harboured a deep resentment at Key’s treatment of him in 2008 over his acceptance of business donations, which probably contributed to New Zealand First party’s exit from Parliament in the 2008 election. The likely choice of National was also despite New Zealand First’s manifesto being much close to Labour’s policy line than National’s, its conference-delegate-level rank and file likewise being nearer Labour than National and some serious sticking points with National, including over immigration and inward foreign investment.

Labour could at best offer Peters only third in a Labour-led lineup after the Greens – and even then might need Internet Mana votes for a majority. With National, New Zealand First would have been second biggest, far ahead of National’s three micro-party supports.

Moreover, by April-May Labour’s support was sliding. There is a range of reasons for that but one is that David Cunliffe as leader fluffed his lines on several high-profile occasions, was exposed as having a secret trust to fund his campaign for the Labour leadership in 2013, accused Key of having a house in a leafy suburb when he did too and said different things to different audiences. Cunliffe, though personable, a capable debater of Key on television and an orator with presence, was no macro-personality. If anything, he was a negative factor.

In addition, Cunliffe had drawn back from the cooperative relationship with the Greens that had been developing in 2013 under the previous leadership of David Shearer. When the Greens tried to resuscitate the cooperation in May, proposing the two parties campaign as a coalition, Cunliffe rejected that – but then did not fill the void with a formulation that would have given a clear voting option to those looking for an alternative government to vote for.

That turned away those looking for an alternative government and set a spiral. Labour slid in the polls and the more it slid the less attractive it looked and the more it slid.

Populism and poison
And as Labour slid, some voters wanting a brake on National shifted to New Zealand First, which climbed from a poll average of 4.9% at mid-August to 8.7% in the election. There may also have been an element of brake-seeking in the Conservatives’ 4.0%: while the Conservatives were to the right of National on moral and social issues, they were not market-liberals: they were against open foreign investment and asset sales and wanted binding referendums as a restraint on governments.

There was also probably an element of populist response in the rise in these two parties’ votes: populism is a channel for voting “against” policies and people, especially the elites, or just in protest at financial and other stress. But, compared with the populists waves in Europe and the United States, the 2014 election in New Zealand was very mild. (Unless Key’s macro-personalisation of National could be interpreted as a brand of populism.)

Might the Hager exposures have generated a quasi-populist surge to Labour away from National? If anything, polling suggested Labour was damaged as much as National. Voters seemed to read the phrase “dirty politics” as a tautology: all politicians do it, so what? Key rode it out, even though initially handling it ineptly.

In addition, Kim Dotcom administered what he himself on election night called “poison”. The more Labour slid in the polls, the more it looked to voters it would need Dotcom’s faustian Internet-Mana concoction: Dotcom’s lavish funding of a joint campaign in return for leveraging some seats on the back of Hone Harawira’s Te Tai Tokerau seat. The poison killed Harawira’s hold on his seat. It attracted few of the young freedom-and-idealism voters whom Internet leader Laila Harre (ex-Alliance, ex-Green) discerned as potential recruits (as the Pirates had briefly in Germany). Those it did attract were mainly in the “university” seats where the Greens do best. At one of the rock-concert parties Dotcom put on to attract young people he got them chanting “Fuck John Key”. His trumpeted king hit on Key on 15 September which featured United States spy leaker Edward Snowden, Snowden write-up journalist Glenn Greenwald and Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange detailing spy cooperation with the United States fell flat. An alleged 2010 Warner Brothers email of a secret plan involving Key about Dotcom’s extradition appeared to be a fake.

Dotcom’s achievement, apart from destroying Mana and tainting Labour, appears (from discussions with National activists) to have been to add weight to National’s campaign to persuade National-leaning potential non-voters to vote. That, plus dumping Mana’s support into the wasted vote, was likely the difference between National forming a government with its three lapdog support parties and needing New Zealand First.

Targeting the vote
After the 2011 election there was much talk, especially on the Labour side, of the “enrolled non-vote” and of declining overall voter turnout. On 29 May 2014 the Electoral Commission sponsored a one-day conference to discuss this and promote, especially to young people, the value of voting.

In the runup to the 2014 election National worried that its supporters might become complacent and deprive it of the votes needed to form a stable government post-2014. At the party’s annual conference on 28-29 June John Key and campaign manager Steven Joyce hammered home the need to activate every possible National vote. That message was repeated at the launch on 24 August. According to party officials, twice as many phone calls were made to actual and potential supporters as in 2011. By using electorate demographic data from the election study and coupling that with the party’s own extensive canvassing data, National was able to target its calls and the content and vehicle of its messages and follow-up contact better.

Labour drew on United States techniques [Issenberg, 2013] to run an even more targeted campaign than National, trialled successfully in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti and Christchurch East by-election campaigns in 2013 and drawing on meshblock-level data (as described in detail elsewhere at this conference by Rob Salmond). The voters targeted were those who had not voted in 2008 and/or 2011 who had characteristics likely to tip them into the Labour camp if they voted. Labour officials say around four times the calls were made than in 2011.

Logically, if the two main parties were equally effective in getting sympathetic non-voters to vote, Labour should add more votes to its total than National. That is because past experience indicated more Labour-leaning people were likely not to vote than National-leaning voters. One argument is that those in lower socioeconomic and minority ethnic groups perceive less of a stake in the system than those in higher socioeconomic and those of mainstream ethnicity, as evidenced, for example, in the low turnout in successive elections in Maori electorates and general electorates with a high proportion of Maori and Pasifika.

But the broad results suggest National was more effective than Labour: the biggest swing to National in a block of seats was in its strong seats on the Auckland isthmus. Labour could not counter the strong tide running for National and against itself.

The Greens also did far more canvassing, in keeping with their status as clearly the third largest party and their greater political professionalism.

National’s small parties – and the going home of the Maori vote
In the election voters did serious damage to National’s three small support parties.

ACT, which early in 2014 had grandiose visions of nine MPs, [ACT 2014] finished with only the Epsom seat, by grace of National indicating to its supporters that they should cast their electorate vote for ACT’s David Seymour, and 0.69% of the party vote, down from 1.07% in 2011. United Future got Peter Dunne’s Ohariu seat, also by grace of National’s nudging its supporters Dunne’s way. But Dunne won only narrowly and United Future won only 0.22% of the party vote, so low that Dunne’s is an overhang seat. ACT might well survive and even possibly grow a bit in 2017. But United Future is close to extinction, which was in effect acknowledged by Dunne himself in an address to the United Future board on 15 November in which he said the party needs to go back to basics and focus afresh on core principles – though Dunne also said in that address that membership had grown. [Dunne 2014]

For the Maori party the election spelt near-asphyxiation: down to two seats and only one electorate seat from a high point of five of the seven Maori electorate seats in 2008. The Labour party is in control with six of the seven – or is it?
From a Maori perspective the logic is that a Maori party or grouping holds the Maori electorates. This has been the case three times in the past 100 years: after 1935 when the Ratana movement progressively won all four seats (the total at the time); in 1996 when New Zealand First’s “tight five” held all five seats (the total at that time) in a party led by a Maori, Winston Peters, who was endorsed by Tuwharetoa paramount chief Sir Hepi te Heuheu; and in 2005 and 2008 when the Maori party won four, then five, of the seven.

In each case the Maori grouping lost its independence. Labour over time absorbed the Ratana movement and the seats became Labour seats that happened to be Maori, not Maori seats that happened to be Labour-aligned. Labour lost one of the seats in the 1993 election, then all five in 1996. Four of the “tight five” split from New Zealand First when it left its coalition with National in 1998 and all five lost their seats in 1999. The Maori party, which entered National’s governing coalition in 2008, split in 2010 when Hone Harawira formed Mana, then lost support.

The bulk of voters in Maori electorates, if pushed to a choice between Labour and National, choose Labour, as the party votes since 1996 reflect. In effect, New Zealand First’s “tight five” and the Maori party delivered Labour-side votes to National.

The Maori party’s decision to formally support the National-led governments of 2008 and 2011 was logical. It gave the Maori party some influence with the government and it used that to advance specifically Maori cultural or self-management ambitions. Among the gains were: the whanau ora Maori-run social services programmes; New Zealand’s signature to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and a rewrite of the 2004 Labour-led government’s legislation which overrode the Supreme Court decision that iwi and hapu could argue traditional ownership of stretches of foreshore and seabed – the trigger for then Labour MP Tariana Turia’s defection to form the Maori party.

Despite the cost to its support, the same logic continued to apply even after the 2014 election – principally to preserve and develop whanau ora, out of respect for Turia whose policy it was and for fear that if the Maori party was absent from the ruling coalition, National would let whanau ora atrophy. Yet there was a strong view within the party, expressed vigorously at the post-election annual general meeting on 1 November, that the National link was toxic, that the Maori party was seen as in effect an arm of a National-led government which had not operated in the interests of lower socioeconomic strata where the bulk of Maori electorate voters were. That only 55% of Maori opted for the Maori electorate rolls after the 2013 census compared with 58% in 2006 (from 55% in 2001 and 54% in 1997) may reflect disenchantment with the Maori party; the percentage had been expected to rise, not fall; the eighth seat hoped for did not eventuate.

Come 2017 it is possible the Maori party’s vote might lift a bit if some of Mana’s voters return. More likely, it will either stay at two seats or contract on to Te Ururoa Flavell’s Wairiki electorate or even possibly lose that seat if Labour continues to pick up votes there and if Mana’s Annette Sykes is not a contestant. If Flavell were to hold his seat and join a Labour-led government, that would de facto deliver that seat to Labour.

But that is not to say that Labour has the seats back for good. There will be more Maori movements. To develop a durable hold on the seats, Labour will have to learn to treat those it holds as Maori seats that happen to be Labour.

From Colin James to the Victoria University post-election conference, 3 December 2014 DRAFT – MAYBE SUBJECT TO ADJUSTMENT


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