Large lead for Labour candidate in Auckland Central

Auckland Central is the electorate where Nikki Kaye beat Jacinda Ardern twice after defeating Judith Tizzard in 2008.

Kaye is stepping down. A poll from Newshub/Reid Research Labour candidate Helen White, who lost to Kaye last election, well in front, with National’s late selection Emma Mellow 16% behind, closely followed by Green MP Chloe Swarbrick.

  • Helen White (LAB) 42.3%
  • Emma Mellow (NAT) 26.6%
  • Chloe Swarbrick (GRN) 24.2%
  • Jenny Marcroft (NZF) 2.2%
  • Tuariki Delamere (TOP) 1%
  • Felix Poole (ACT) 0.9%
  • David Seymour 1.9%
  • Other 0.9%

But: 20.7% of voters still undecided

That’s a different David Seymour.

Jenny Marcroft has effectively been dumped by NZ First, being dropped to 17 on their party list.

For the new poll, Reid Research interviewed 532 people in the Auckland Central electorate via landline, mobile, online and on the street in the first and second weeks of September. The results were weighted to match the electorate’s demographics. The margin of error is 4.2 percent.

That’s a small sample size.

And here are the single electorate party results:

Party votes for Auckland Central in the 2017 election:

  • National 39.15%
  • Labour 37.71%
  • Greens 13.87%
  • NZ First 3.87%
  • TOP: 3.14%
  • ACT 1.05%

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auckland_Central_(New_Zealand_electorate)

The current result looks roughly in line with recent poll trends based on the last election spread.

Newshub: Auckland Central poll puts Labour’s Helen White way out in front

Jacinda Ardern rules out electorate deals for NZ First, Greens

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has pretty much ruled out doing anything to help Shane Jones win Northland to save NZ First from being dumped (unless they can turn around slumping party support), and has also ruled out helping Green MP Chloe Swarbrick in the Auckland Central electorate.

A Colmar Brunton poll shows that Jones is a way off the pace in Northland, getting less than half the support of both the National and Labour candidates.

In 2015 Labour helped Winston Peters win Northland in a by election, but he lost it in the 2017 general election.

1 News: Jacinda Ardern shuts down idea of deal with NZ First for Northland seat

A deal between New Zealand First and Labour for the Northland seat is not “on the table”, says Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, despite Shane Jones’ poor poll results over the weekend.

“The suggestion that we do a deal implies there’s been a conversation … it’s just not something that’s on the table for either parties,” Ms Ardern told TVNZ 1’s Breakfast.

“At this point, and as I’ve said many times before, we’re campaigning for Labour in that seat.”

She says Ms Prime has “consistently” had her full support.

“Our view is that we need to keep working really hard on that seat.

That’s a clear public signal that Labour won’t help NZ First there.

In response to the poll, Mr Jones told TVNZ 1’s Q+A he needed to get the “political jackhammer” out, with his message to Northlanders that if they wanted to get NZ First back into Parliament they should vote for him or the party.

Jones seems to have accepted the poll result and concedes he has an uphill battle. He is regarded as a poor campaigner and has not won several attempts to win an electorate. He stood in Whangarei last election, coming a close third just behind the Labour candidate but both were 11,000 votes behind National’s Shane Reti.

So with no help from Labour, at this stage things are looking grim for NZ First.

And Greens are not getting any help in Auckland Central.

Stuff: Jacinda Ardern doesn’t think Chlöe Swarbrick will win Auckland Central from National

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern doesn’t think the Greens’ Chlöe Swarbrick will win the Auckland Central seat.

Ardern, who previously stood and lost twice in the seat against National’s Nikki Kaye, told RNZ this morning she thought a Swarbrick victory was unlikely.

“The idea that the candidate that would be polling third should suddenly catapult up I just don’t think is keeping in mind the voting habits of that particular seat,” Ardern said.

That suggests Labour have been polling there, I haven’t seen any public polling for Auckland Central.

With the Greens hovering around the 5 per cent threshold, there had been some speculation Labour would do a deal with the party to keep it in Parliament.

Swarbrick herself poured water on this, telling RNZ, “we haven’t sought out a deal”.

“If we’re going to win this we’re going to win it the old-fashioned way,” Swarbrick said.

Ardern reiterated there would be no deal.

“Our view of course is we take the running in seats very seriously, we want to make sure we give our Labour voters and supporters the choice to vote for their Labour candidate on the ground.”

So Labour are doing what makes sense, going all out for as many seats and as many party votes as they can get.

There’s a real chance they will be the first party under MMP to get a majority on their own.

If Greens survive I think Labour would still include them in Government but if Labour has a majority Greens would be weak and used by Labour.

So the election is shaping up to be Labour or Labour + Greens versus National + ACT.

Labour won’t do a deal with ‘celebrity’ Green

Labour refusing to help Green candidate Chloe Swarbrick in Auckland Central could be grim for NZ First, who need to have a deal to have any chance in Northland.

Now Niki Kaye has withdrawn from contention in the Auckland Central electorate it is up for grabs. National haven’t named a replacement candidate yet, but leaving the seat open to discussion about whether Labour and Greens will do some sort of a deal. If Swarbrick wins the seat her party won’t have to make the 5% threshold to get back into Parliament, but Labour are openly unwilling to help.

RNZ: Labour rules out deal with Greens in Nikki Kaye’s seat

Labour is adamant it won’t be doing a deal with the Greens in the Auckland Central electorate.

Labour Party’s candidate Helen White will be going up against Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick, who is campaigning for both the party and electorate vote.

White said National won the seat in 2017 by just 1500 votes over Labour.

“The vote was so close for Labour, it just isn’t in the same league with regard to the gap that the Greens would have to move,” she said.

Given that, White said she was sizing up National as her main opponent in the seat.

The Greens are polling at about five or six percent, right on the threshold for getting back into parliament.

But regardless of that, White said she wouldn’t be making way for Swarbrick in Auckland Central.

“I actually think the Greens will be fine, they’ve got a solid base and obviously Chlöe is way up on that list, so people will firmly expect to see Chlöe in parliament.”

Asked what she would say to people who pointed out Swarbrick’s higher profile and name recognition, White said: “I’d ask them whether they’re looking for a celebrity or someone to do this job very seriously.”

At a campaign event in Auckland last night, Labour’s national campaign manager Hayden Munro told the crowd the party could not afford to split the progressive vote in the seat.

But if Labour aren’t going to help Swarbrick, or vice versa as some arrogant Labour supporters have insisted should happen, the left wing vote will be split between White and Swarbrick.

Labour will be very keen to take Auckland Central back now Kaye is out of the picture, but as long as the Greens get 5% or more (as I think is likely) then who wins Auckland Central won’t matter, as the party vote is what matters.

Labour refusing to do a deal in Auckland Central has greater implications for NZ First, who are polling well under the threshold.

If Labour don’t do a deal to help Swarbrick then they can’t credibly do a deal to help Shane Jones in Northland. And if Jones loses there (he has never won an electorate), and if NZ First fail to make 5%, they are out of Parliament.

And the old dog Winston Peters seems to have lost his political teeth.

Stuff – Winston Peters: old dog, same tricks but no bite

The NZ First leader is fighting for survival, afraid that he’s about to be tossed out of the toxic swamp of Parliament.

And as his time in the Beehive peters out, he shows no sign of changing. But the old dog’s teeth are no longer sharp.

As he awaits the outcome of a Serious Fraud Office investigation following revelations about the secretive NZ First Foundation, Peters has watched his party’s polling dwindle to around 2 per cent.

He’s been here before. But while pundits were previously reluctant to write off Peters, his tricks just now seem as old and tired as Lazarus himself.

His campaign launch last weekend failed to showcase any new ideas.

No-one buys the schtick of baiting his Government partners any more. In a sense, he’s the victim of his own chaotic tactics. Self-preservation kept him in the Labour-NZF-Greens alliance – destabilising a leader as popular as Ardern would almost certainly have finished him.

But having gone the distance with the Greens, attacking them to kick off a campaign is just meaningless political rhetoric.

His other stock tactic of distraction also failed him last week.

Facing scrutiny about a taxpayer-funded trip to Antarctica for two wealthy mates, Peters cooked up a story about who’d leaked his private pension details.

It was the latest half-cocked claim in a saga that has already cost him $320,000 in High Court costs. He’s got a long history of making unproven allegations under the shelter of parliamentary privilege, while those he accused have no way to defend themselves.

Peters can only win if voters see only his crafted image and ignore the reality of who he really is.

But once the tricks become obvious – when the threadbare curtain concealing him is pulled back – the show man can no longer pass himself off as the Wizard of Oz.

Peters is looking jaded and out of ideas.

His stymieing of a $100m rescue package for Southland, as the region reels from the likely closure of the Tiwai smelter, was cruelly cynical.

Peters was in Southland on Friday making ludicrous suggestions that management or employees buy the smelter, as there is not chance of a Government buyout he had previously suggested.

So Peters was pushing policy that he has no support for from other parties, so has no chance of succeeding with. Voters are likely to see through his promises, which are as lacking in credibility as his accusations in Parliament.

Jones also looks like he has lost already. He must have got the message from Labour that they aren’t going to help him in Northland.

Contrasting Green candidates, and Labour anxiety over Auckland Central

Labour seem to be on the back foot over Auckland Central, going by some of their reactions.

Different views from party activists at The Standard:

Weka: Chloe Swarbrick should stand strong in Auckland Central

Having two strong left wing women standing in an electorate is great for women, the left and New Zealand. It may also help us move away from macho politics towards both/and politics.

Te Reo Putake: Auckland Central; Should Chloe Swarbrick Stand Aside?

The Auckland Central electorate will elect a new MP in September. The Greens have a responsibility to make sure it’s the Labour candidate.

That’s typical Labour entitlement. It was a sullen post by TRP, and he reacted with threats and then attacks to being called on aspects of it. It started here, and then the inevitable.

[Piss off, Pete. You’ve used Cindy as a misogynist insult and I don’t recall you ever stopping commenters at your own blog, Yawn NZ, doing the same, nor, as far as I know do you correct them when they call Labour socialist or communist. No more comments from you until you grow up. TRP]

As regulars here will know that’s blatantly false. And he childishly and gutlessly stopped any right of response.

Looks like some in Labour under pressure. Election campaigns can bring out the worst in partisan hacks.

And a Green hack applauded TRP’s nonsense:

Thank you, TRP, from the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Have you followed his blog?

Not so much a chamber of echoes, more a ping-pong ball.

Believe it or not Robert is an elected Green politician.

Meanwhile in Dunedin where Greens used to be very well supported (due to Metiria Turei):

Media and Chloe Swarbrick versus Nikki Kaye

Chloe Swarbrick’s political fortunes have been helped a lot by media giving her a lot of free promotion, from when Swarbrick stood for the Auckland mayoralty.

Newshub seem to be doing her a favour here.

On top of the campaign boost this publicity gives Swarbrick, the choice of photos looks to favour Swarbrick over Kaye.

But beating Kaye in Auckland Central won’t be easy. Jacinda Ardern twice lost to Kaye there before switching to the safe for Labour ex-Helen Clark held Mt Albert electorate.

The seat has been held by National deputy leader Nikki Kaye since 2008, during which time she’s seen off challenges from future Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Greens’ own Denise Roche.

The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll had the Greens on 5.5 percent, in danger of falling below the 5 percent threshold required to get into Parliament without winning an electorate – which the Greens have only done once before, in 1999.

“The Greens have always been underdogs who defied the odds, fighting for every inch of political ground,” said Swarbrick, the youngest MP currently in the House and the party’s number three behind leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw.

“I’m bringing that fight to Auckland Central.”

The seat has been held by National deputy leader Nikki Kaye since 2008, during which time she’s seen off challenges from future Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Greens’ own Denise Roche.

The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll had the Greens on 5.5 percent, in danger of falling below the 5 percent threshold required to get into Parliament without winning an electorate – which the Greens have only done once before, in 1999.

“The Greens have always been underdogs who defied the odds, fighting for every inch of political ground,” said Swarbrick, the youngest MP currently in the House and the party’s number three behind leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw.

“I’m bringing that fight to Auckland Central.”

Labour is running Helen White, who only narrowly lost to Kaye in 2017. If she fails to win, it’s unlikely she’ll make it into Parliament, ranked just 50th on Labour’s list, so isn’t expected to roll over and let Swarbrick take the seat.

There is a risk Swarbrick’s push for electorate votes ends up splitting the left vote, allowing Kaye to come through the middle.

It will be interesting to see how Labour handles this.

The Spinoff: In it to win it: Chlöe Swarbrick’s run for Auckland Central

In the 2020 election, first term MP Chlöe Swarbrick will be one of just two Greens explicitly running to win an electorate.

That’s a very Swarbrick-centric article.

Kaye is likely to fight hard again, but she may have to contend with media promotion of Swarbrick this time.

But will Auckland Central voters buy the Green approach with the significant economic impact of Covid hovering over the campaign?

 

Kaye, Kaye, Kaye

Nikki Kaye was first elected to Parliament in 2008, winning what had been the long time (since 1925) Labour seat, Auckland Central. Kaye beat Jacinda Ardern in the next two elections.

While Ardern has risen in the media Kaye has more quietly risen in Government. She received some publicity last year when she had to have treatment for breast cancer.

Yesterday in a Cabinet reshuffle Kay was promoted to be Minister For Education, a difficult portfolio especially for in a National Government, the education unions sometimes look like branch offices of Labour. Any education reform is usually fought against strongly by the teachers alongside Labour.

NZ Herald gave Kaye’s promotion yesterday quite a bit of attention (notably compared to Stuff who went Brownlee, Brownlee, Brownlee).

Prime Minister Bill English reveals new-look Cabinet

Nikki Kaye and Gerry Brownlee are the big winners in a Cabinet reshuffle announced by Prime Minister Bill English this afternoon.

As expected, Kaye is the new Education Minister, replacing Hekia Parata.

Given Kaye’s preparation as Associate Minister, and signals (or assumptions) it would have been a shock if she wasn’t promoted to the role.

As Associate Education Minister, Kaye was well placed to take over the education portfolio, English said. She had a particular interest in the subject and brought energy and enthusiasm to the role.

The reshuffle winners

Nikki Kaye (Education Minister)

Has coveted the role of Education Minister since entering Parliament in 2008, and now has it after returning to Parliament this year following breast cancer treatment.

Was the obvious choice given her work as Associate Education Minister since January 2013, which has included overhauling how school property is managed and the construction of new schools and classrooms as Auckland’s population booms.

Has stood at Hekia Parata’s shoulder during recent media standup and now takes over reforms that are the biggest since 1989 and are only partially complete.

If National are re-elected, Kaye will be in charge when debate and opposition really heat up when proposals such as replacing the decile system with targeted funding for “at risk” students come closer to reality in 2020. In the meantime, Labour will go after education and new minister in election year.

NOW: Education Minister, Youth Minister.
WAS: Youth Minister, Associate Education Minister.

Nicholas Jones: Nikki Kaye the right choice for Education Minister but challenges ahead

Any Education Minister can expect to be unpopular with many in the sector, particularly one in a National-led Government.

Kaye is well regarded by those in the sector, but education will be a major battleground in election year and comes with guaranteed controversy and fierce lobbying from education unions.

And the baton being passed from Parata is heavier than normal – this Government is midway through the biggest education reforms since 1989.

While some changes have passed into law many of the biggest are still to come, including replacing the decile funding system with a new model that pays a per student amount depending on how many “at risk” students a school has.

Simon Collins: Kaye: I feel better than I’ve felt in years

New Education Minister Nikki Kaye says she plans to be a “modernising” minister.

Kaye, 37, will be the youngest female Education Minister in New Zealand’s history and says that as part of the “millennial” generation she comes without the ideological “baggage” that previous National Party ministers have brought to the role – especially in their frequent battles with teacher unions.

Instead, she is passionate about new technology, which has already been her responsibility since she became an associate education minister in 2013.

“I think I have already, as associate minister, had quite a focus in terms of modernisation of the portfolio, and you can expect to see more of that in the future,” she said.

“There are obviously some areas I feel very passionately about. The impact of new technology in education is one area, but obviously next week and in the coming weeks you will hear more about my priorities.”

She worked for current Prime Minister Bill English as a policy analyst in 2002, then as a policy officer for two local councils in London, then managed a transport programme for disabled people and worked in information technology at Halifax Bank of Scotland.

She returned to New Zealand in 2007 and won Auckland Central for the National Party for the first time in 2008.

“I think I’m very pragmatic as a person, and I’m very collaborative, I naturally want to work with others to find a solution. All I ask is that we have a respectful relationship where there are no surprises and where we work constructively where we can and disagree where we disagree.”

Kaye took leave from Parliament last September after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, but she said her doctors had cleared her to return to work. She came third in her division in a recent race running, cycling and swimming around Motutapu and Rangitoto Islands.

“It’s great to get back into exercise,” she said. “I feel better than I’ve felt in years.”

Video: Watch: Nikki Kaye gets education

How ‘electable’ is Jacinda Ardern?

There have been many claims and assertions by media about how Jacinda Ardern will enhance Labour’s election chances.

Media either:

  • precipitated the retirement announcement of Annette King and the promotion of Jacinda Ardern as King’s replacement as Labour’s deputy leader
  • executed the promotion of Ardern (and demotion of King) as tools of either camp Ardern or camp Labour.

Either way (some) media were willing political activists rather than journalists. This isn’t good for democracy in New Zealand.

And this quickly escalated into promoting Ardern as leader of Labour – see Media coup of Labour leadership.

Tim Murphy is “Reporter, Editor – . ‘If you chase two rabbits, you will catch neither’ – Russian proverb”. Yesterday he tweeted, and I responded:

I presume Murphy had his opinion hat on when he tweeted that, and not his reporter or editor hats.I note that ‘facile’ means “ignoring the true complexities of an issue; superficial”.

How ‘electable’ is Ardern? The future is unknown, but the past doesn’t back up Murphy’s facile assertion.

  • She lost the safe National electorate, Waikato, by about 13,000 votes but got into Parliament via a remarkably high list placement (20) for a new candidate.
  • She moved to Auckland Central in 2011 and lost what had been a long time Labour seat up until 2008 to Nikki Kay by 717 votes, despite what looks like thousands of Green party votes shifting to her in the electorate vote.
  • In 2014 she lost in Auckland Central again to Kaye, this time by 600 votes. She was also helped substantially by Green tactical voting.
  • She stood as Grant Robertson’s deputy in Labour’s leadership contest in October 2014. They lost.
  • She moved to Mt Albert, one of Labour’s safest seats, for the 2017 by-election and won easily but with no National opponent and with favourable media coverage, and she got about half the voles David Shearer had got in the 2014 election and several thousand fewer than Shearer got in the 2009 by-election.

So apart from being gifted high list placings and being gifted a safe Labour electorate last month Ardern doesn’t have a record of electability.

Ardern is likely to win again easily in Mt Albert in this year’s general election but that is not due to her particular electability – Andrew Little could also probably win a safe Labour seat like that easily if he chose to stand.

But Ardern is now being promoted as enhancing the electability of Labour. Under MMP the party vote is all important.

How has she helped Labour in the past? Not a lot by the look of party voting in Auckland Central:

  • 2008 – Labour 34.55%, Greens 15.47%
  • 2011 – Labour 25.11%, Greens 22.79%
  • 2014 – Labour 21.67%, Greens 22.17%

Greens had the same candidate in all three of those elections, Denise Roche.

Look at the number of party votes for Labour in Auckland Central:

  • 2008 (Tizard) 12,166
  • 2011 (Ardern) 8,590
  • 2014 (Ardern) 6,101

So Labour’s party vote has halved since Ardern stood in Auckland Central.

Her history of enhancing Labour’s electability doesn’t look good.

Of course things are different now. Ardern is in her ninth year in Parliament, under her fifth leader. She has worked on her public profile. Perhaps she can enhance Andrew Little’s electability. That appears to be the plan, and what media have taken to promoting.

One thing that Ardern has succeeded at is getting media on her side. They (quite a few journalists) are giving her a lot of help. Like Murphy.

As many have pointed out, this promotion of Ardern without any history of electoral success to support it, has risks for Labour.

The voters may not share the same enthusiasm as some journalists for Ardern’s as yet unfulfilled potential (although the media promotion of Ardern as a celebrity politician is likely to have some effect).

Deputy leaders are generally virtually ignored in elections – all the attention is given to the leaders. Of course the media are indicating that this may change with Ardern because they seem to have given up on Little already.

Another problem is also apparent – if Ardern continues to be promoted as Labour’s next leader this could get chaotic in an election campaign.

Would Labour bow to media pressure and dump Little before the election? That is more likely to be disastrous rather than strategic genius.

If Ardern is made more popular than Little this could get very awkward for Labour and  could reduce the party’s electability. Voters may choose to wait until Little’s Labour loses, expecting that that will result in his dumping in favour of Ardern.

Of course the media may not care about how unelectable Labour might become.

Their obsession with personalities and with celebrity politics, and their drive to put news website clicks ahead of fair and sensible democratic processes may dominate their coverage of Ardern and Labour this election.

There were already signs last year that some media and pundits were writing off Labour’s chances under Little’s leadership.

This seems to be a factor in the media moves towards celebrity politics. Ardern may benefit, but democracy will suffer – especially if the end result is Labour crashing this election.

Ardern may remain ‘electable’ in the safe Mt Albert electorate, but Labour are at real risk here.

Politics and government dominated by one party is not good for democracy, nor is it good for the country – and it won’t be good for political media either, because the likely result is further loss of public interest in politics.