More defence of Labour Māori rankings

Labour has been doing a lot of defending of the decision of Maori electorate MPs to not stand on the party list, and the resulting lack of Maori candidates in the top fifteen of the list.

Kelvin Davis has joined in the defensive chorus.

RNZ: Kelvin Davis defends Labour’s Māori rankings

Labour’s party list is a “total victory” for Māori despite no Māori being ranked in the top 15, MP Kelvin Davis says.

Willow-Jane Prime is the party’s highest-ranked Māori candidate, at number 16 on the list.

But Mr Davis, who was unranked and would instead defend his Te Tai Tokerau seat, told TV3’s The Hui that the party strategy of not having its Māori electorate MPs stand on the list had been successful.

It’s premature to be claiming success over four months out from the election.

Will Labour MPs keep defending their strategy right through to the election?

On current polling, there would be 12 Māori MPs in the Labour caucus after the election, he said.

“We’re going to have double figures of Maori – this is going to be history-making.”

He was confident Labour would retain its six Māori seats and bring in several others off the list, including Ms Prime, Kiri Allan and Willie Jackson.

One Māori seat loss for Labour would be a failure for the strategy.

And there is a possible unintended consequence if Labour keep promoting the chances of a disproportionate number of Māori MPs – no Māori  voters may be put off voting for Labour. I have heard that sentiment expressed already.

There is still a lot of resentment about Labour’s actions on the Foreshore and Seabed legislation.

And there is also wider historical resentment about how Labour have taken Māori votes but have given little in return.

Can Labour be trusted to deliver for Māori if they lead the next government?

Possibly the best way of keeping Labour honest on Māori issues is also having a stronger voice from the Māori Party – especially if the Māori Party held the balance of power. They could be able to put a lot of pressure on a Labour caucus that is about one third Māori.

And if Labour fails to form the next government at least the Māori Party has a proven record of extracting some wins from a National led government.

Māori have proven to be smart tactical voters.

It could be a smart tactic to ensure Māori  interests are covered by both Labour and the Māori Party.

1 Comment

  1. duperez

     /  May 8, 2017

    “Māori have proven to be smart tactical voters.” Or non-voters?

    By my reckoning the Māori seats had an average of 65% of electors vote in the 2014 election. Other seats averaged close to 80% turnout. Only two general seats had under 70% and both of those at 69% were higher than all of the Māori seats.