Ardern seeking ‘persondate’

Jacinda Ardern has hopped (again) to an electorate that she thinks will give her a persondate, but what should be a safe Labour seat is doing it the easy way, by working the system.

By-election day in Mt Albert is this Saturday but advance voting has been taking place, with 1924 ballots returned by Sunday. Advance voting is running behind the 2014 general election.

Voting numbers are expected to be down in an election that most think is a foregone conclusion.

Jacinda Ardern has been given another boost by media, this time Newstalk ZB in Mt Albert by-election: Crunch time for Ardern – only she was headlined and just one other of the 13 candidates was mentioned.

Labour MP Jacinda Ardern could be just days away from achieving one of her political goals.

She’ll find out on Saturday if she’s got the backing she needs to win the Mount Albert by-election – a race she’s expected to win

While her background up until now has been as a List MP, Jacinda Ardern said it’s always been her aspiration to be an electorate MP.

“For me one of the things I was always keen to have is just that mandate to represent a community. I always tried to do case work operate in office like an electorate MP would, but it is a little bit different when you have that mandate behind you.”

Ardern has tried and failed to get a mandate three times in electorates.

In 2008 she stood in a very safe National seat, Waikato, and came a distant second but go into Parliament with an unusually high list placing for a first time candidate – 20.

In 2011 she switched to Auckland Central, which had been comfortably held by Labour up until 2005 but won by National’s Nikki Kaye in 2008 by 1500 votes.

Ardern got within 700 votes of Kaye in 2011, and within 600 votes in 2014.

However Ardern has chosen to switch to Mt Albert, easily held by Helen Clark for a long time, followed by easy wins by David Shearer for the last two elections.

So Ardern is expected to win easily, especially as National decided not to stand a candidate.

She will no doubt claim a mandate, but switching to what she thought should be a Labour seat in Auckland Central, then to a safe seat in Mt Albert is more seeking a safe seat rather than getting a mandate by wining a majority of votes on her own merits.

If Ardern wins she will have successfully worked the system more than winning a mandate from voters.

Details of the Mt Albert by-election with a full candidate list: Mount Albert by-election, 2017

 

Advance voting in Mt Albert by-election

Advance voting has opened in the Mt Albert by-election, leading into election day on February 25.

Has there been much media interest? If so they are likely to be giving disproportionate coverage to two or three candidates. There are 13 in all.

Candidates

Party Name Notes
Independent Adam Amos Former candidate for the Waitemata Local Board.
Labour Jacinda Ardern Two-time Auckland Central candidate and high-profile List MP Jacinda Ardern was the only nomination for Labour.[5][2] Her campaign launch as Labour’s candidate was held on 22 January.[6][7]
Independent Dale Arthur Local resident and great-nephew of former Labour cabinet minister Norman King.[8]
Independent Penny Bright An activist and a perennial candidate, Bright finished sixth in the 2016 Auckland mayoral election with 7,022 votes.[9]
Communist League Patrick Brown Activist, and former candidate for various positions in local and national elections. Won 1,826 votes in the 2016 Auckland mayoral election.[10]
Socialist Aotearoa Joe Carolan Former Mana Movement candidate Joe Carolan is standing as the candidate for Socialist Aotearoa,[11] a minor far-left party of which he is the leader.
Green Julie Anne Genter Second-term Green list MP Julie Anne Genter is the candidate for the Green Party.[12]
Legalise Cannabis Abe Gray Former candidate for the Dunedin mayoralty and director of New Zealand’s only cannabis museum.[13]
TOP Geoff Simmons Morgan Foundation economist Geoff Simmons is the newly-formed Opportunities Party’s candidate.[14]
Not A Party Simon Smythe A candidate encouraging the boycott of the by-election and upcoming general election.[15]
People’s Party Vin Tomar Early childhood teacher and real estate agent for the newly formed People’s Party.[16]
HRP Anthony Van Den Heuvel Perennial candidate who has contested the Mount Albert seat four times before between 1993 and 2014.
Independent Peter Wakeman Former ACT, National, Democrat, Social credit, Green Party, Internet Party and Labour Party member.[17] Stood in the Te Tai Hauauru by-election, 2004 as an independent candidate.

Nominations for the by-election closed on 1 February 2017 with thirteen candidates nominated. The New Zealand National Party announced it would not stand a candidate in the by-election

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Albert_by-election,_2017

Abe Grey promoting Cannabis in Mt Albert

The Cannabis Party (previously known as the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party) has announced that Abe Gray will contest the My Albert by-election.

I think this is a smart move. This is a good opportunity to push Jacinda Ardern and Julie Anne Genter and the Labour and Green parties on how serious they are about supporting cannabis law reform, or at least whether they would support and enable a referendum to let the people decide.

The Cannabis Party launches Mt Albert by-election campaign with Radio Hauraki personality Abe Gray announced as the party’s candidate

The Cannabis Party is entering the race for the Mt Albert by-election after radio personality Abe Gray threw his hat in the ring.

Gray is a well known radio DJ with a weekly slot on Radio Hauraki’s popular breakfast show, hosted by Matt Heath and Jeremy Wells.

Gray is leading the charge for a binding referendum on cannabis laws in New Zealand,  which was vocally promoted by the late Helen Kelly.

He worked closely with Helen Kelly to draft the specific legislation required to create the binding referendum, prior to her death. However, no MPs in Parliament have adopted the legislation.

Gray questions whether the Greens and Labour are serious about cannabis law reform, given they turned their back on Helen Kelly’s referendum legislation.

The by-election gives Gray the opportunity to keep questioning them through the by-election campaign, as I’m sure he will do.

“A binding referendum on the questions of medical and recreational cannabis is my top priority,” he said.

“It should be the democratic right of all New Zealanders to have their say on this important issue.”

Gray promised to submit Helen Kelly’s referendum legislation to the private member’s ballot on day-one if he is elected to Parliament.

Gray’s main opponent will be the media if they refuse to give him equal coverage (Ardern is already getting media favouritism).

If the media decides that cannabis has headline potential it could work in the Cannabis Party’s favour. Even if Ardern does cruise to victory as predicted the campaign is a good opportunity to highlight an issue that New Zealand politicians seem to be paying lip service to at best, while many other countries are seriously responding to social and health pressures on cannabis.

Gray is a good choice for the Cannabis Party, he has a lot of campaign and public activism experience.

Socialist standing in Mt Albert by-election

Joe Carolan is standing as a ‘Socialist’ in the Mt Albert by-election. This should give those who think that socialism is the answer to the country’s and the world’s problems an idea of how popular the ideal is.

Carolan asks himself some questions at The Daily Blog – Q & A with Joe Carolan, Socialist candidate for the Auckland electorate of Mt Albert – beware eco-fascism & lovely liberals – and then gives himself some very long answers.

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Here’s some highlights.

Q. You stood in the 2014 election for the Mana movement and are now standing on a socialist platform. So why do you think the time is right now for a socialist agenda?

What made me think about standing as a socialist was seeing the rise of the left in other major western countries over the past year. The Labour Party in Britain had an election that resulted in John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn coming to the leadership there, who are explicitly socialist, very pro-union, pro-worker – which is not what we’ve had from the British Labour party for a number of decades. It’s very exciting.

And not very popular – Labour closes gap on Tories according to latest opinion poll – “The party’s overall poll rating is up two points from last month at 31%, while the Conservatives are down three points at 38%.  However, Labour still languishes behind the Conservatives on a range of important issues despite its modest improvement.”

Q: What is the goal of your campaign?

A movement of people outside parliament. We have no illusions in parliament, you get people elected to parliament like the Alliance party did, like the Greens have, like Mana did, but there is no guarantee that will change things. My experience as a trade unionist organising workers to go on strike and lead themselves has seen real victories for workers under a Tory government. That’s without putting people in parliament, you can organise and win yourself.

For a lot of socialists their default party was Green. I voted Green for a long time. But it’s time to try something different.

A very vague goal.

Q: So you’re a place for people who are disillusioned with mainstream politics to go?

Yes and to actually to start that discussion about a new party of the left. Learning the lessons of past experiments.

We are explicitly clear that it’s a movement of the people, and of workers in the workplaces that will change things. We can change things ourselves.

NZ First is also a place for people who are disillusioned with mainstream politics, but not of the left. Both Labour and Greens, who will compete with each other in the by-election, try to appeal to the left.

Q: There has been a lot of coverage in the media about, and international surveys showing, rising inequality in NZ. How does that manifest in this electorate and, on a wider scale, what would you do to address it nationally?

He gives a long answer about how it manifests itself in Mt Albert, but makes no attempt to say how he would address it in the electorate let alone nationally.

Q: …What would you like to see to give people access to home ownership? What is your vision for a more equitable housing situation?

We need to plan society. I think what we need is 100,000 state houses. We need that huge vision that the left used to have.

That’s current Labour Party policy, and I’m sure Jacinda Ardern will be campaigning on housing..

We need good city living and you can build up. You can have nice apartments to live in, if we have enough green spaces so we reduce the carbon footprint as well. We need a huge vision.

I don’t see any vision in his answer.

Q: When you mention vision, at the last election there was about 1 million Kiwis who didn’t vote. It seems you don’t hear mainstream politicians talking about big visions, and people feel let down. Will that be your point of difference, that you are laying out a much bigger picture for voters, a vision that goes beyond just the electoral term?

I stand for a different kind of politics, based on people power and social movements themselves: Palestinian solidarity, Rent Control Now, State housing action coalition, unions that have won pay increases and defeated zero hours for workers in this area.

I think we need to have an alternative to that political class, that elite, and it needs to be led by working people themselves, the community themselves.

One obvious flaw with this is how much membership and interest in unions has declined in New Zealand over the last three decades.

Q: There’s been a lot of talk about immigration – especially as regards the growth of Auckland and pressure on housing. What have you got to say about that. Do you believe in immigration controls of any sort.

First, I think we need pro-migrant and pro-refugee voices on the left. There’s a dangerous game that’s going on, with scapegoating by both the Greens and Labour.

I am explicitly internationalist, pro migrant – I am a migrant myself. I believe we should have free movement for all… I believe we should have free movement for all, and that includes the Kiwi workers who have gone to Australia who are treated like second class citizens. We should have free and open travel for families. Part of that is repayment for the colonial legacy. Workers move to where they need work. Kiwis move to the UK for work and so on.

It’s highly unlikely New Zealand could obtain totally free movement with Australia and the UK. Brexit is in large part a reaction against freedom of movement of immigrants there.

Q: It’s not just an economic divide that is growing. Surveys have found Kiwi kids from poorer communities fare up to six times worse than other kids in some important subjects like maths. That’s opened up debate about an educational divide that’s also happening. How would you address that, to level the educational playing field?

First we need to reverse all of the attacks on social welfare, on benefits which have allowed people to go back in to training.

We need to restore free education for all, up to and including university.

Karl Marx talked about fishing in the morning, doing a bit of work here, and then be a student at night time.I think a lot of our schools could be hubs of cultural and learning activity, they don’t need to be limited to a 9pm-4pm existence.

We need to make war with the political class, to reverse these neo liberal attacks and start putting free education on the map.

Kids tend to go to bed at night. Getting them to do their homework can be a big enough challenge.

Q: Where will the resources come from?

We need to tax the rich … 50 60, 70 percent. I think we need to go back to that.

We need to tax multinationals that are making hundreds of millions of dollars.

Tax the rich more is not an unusual policy from the hard left, except for socialists. I thought they wanted the state to own and run everything.

What about personal taxation? Should we have higher rates of income tax?

I think workers pay too much tax and we should reduce tax for workers. We should abolish GST and you could abolish tax on lower paid workers, abolish secondary tax for people who doing two or more jobs.

You could get rid of all of those taxes, with one simple tax we’d call the Robin Hood tax, the Tobin tax, the financial transaction tax FTT. That’s a 1% tax on every financial transaction that is done digitally. For individuals, a 1% tax on everything would be a reduction in tax as we’re already paying 15%. But for the corporations that move around millions or billions around, they’ll start to have their ticket clipped.

We don’t pay GST on everything, only for goods and services.

If companies have their tax rates doubled plus have a transaction tax, as Carolan seems to be suggesting, then the cost of goods and services will rise by a lot more than 15%.

I asked a friend, a local solo mum in your electorate, what she’d like to see. She said more community initiatives – like a community centre where other mums could meet and support one another. Also she was made redundant when she went back to work after maternity leave and, like many of us as you’ve said, she lives in fear that her rent will go up or that she’ll have to move from her rental unit, which she’s happy in.

A statement, not a question, but Joe goes on to respond to himself, at great length. Abbreviated somewhat:

As to how to build a sense of community, I think this electoral campaign is part of that process. It is not about ‘vote for Joe’ or even ‘vote for the socialists’ as an abstract political philosophy. It’s here’s a group of people who live in the area, who care about these issues, who are out fighting for them, whether we get elected or not.

We want to see if there’s a thousand people out here who believe in socialism together. If there is, they’re a more important network together, coming together to fight for these causes, because that’s how you’ll get change.

A thousand votes won’t come close to winning the by-election, but it would be a sign of improvement. Carolan got 290 votes standing for Mana in Mt Albert in 2014.

So we have small networks of people, but we want to make those networks bigger, we don’t want them to be tokenistic, we want to actually change the world.

What we’re actually asking people to do is get involved in movements. If you want to fight for rent control, then join the housing movement. If you’re concerned about low pay, join a union. We’ll come and show you how to organise your workplace, how to fight back, get a big pay increase. These things are possible without politicians but it IS politics. Working class politics.

He seems to be confusing his union role with the role of a member of Parliament. Unless he is standing to promote his union work. He doesn’t sound confident any providing any serious challenge in the by-election.

While socialists talk big ideals – “we want to actually change the world” – they sound resigned to small victories at best.

If Carolan doubles his 2014 vote, standing on a socialist ticket without getting party support, he will be doing very well – but it won’t come close to being world changing.

I suggest he tries a more concise and more clearly defined message, but I suspect there isn’t a big market for his socialist ideals.

 

Labour on Ardern’s selection

In contrast to the Green media release on Julie Anne Genter’s selection that mentions Labour and Greens together twice,  the Labour announcement is totally focussed on their candidate Jacinda Ardern and Labour.


One nomination received for Labour’s Mt Albert candidate

At the close of nominations at 5pm today, Jacinda Ardern was the sole nomination received for the position of Labour’s candidate for the Mt Albert by-election, says Labour General Secretary, Andrew Kirton.

“In line with our internal process, Jacinda will be confirmed as our Mt Albert candidate by local Labour Party members at a special meeting to be held on Sunday 22 January.

“We’re really looking forward to talking to locals in Mt Albert about the National Party’s dismal record on housing, health, and transport. It’s just a shame that National isn’t prepared to front up to the Mt Albert community and explain their record.

“Labour will be taking nothing for granted and intends to earn a new mandate in Mt Albert by talking to the local community and focusing on how a Labour-led government can build a better New Zealand,” says Labour General Secretary, Andrew Kirton.

 

Genter confirmed for Mt Albert

Julie Anne Genter has been selected as the Green candidate to stand in the Mt Albert by-election.

She will contest the seat against Jacinda Ardern (how that goes will be fascinating) and whoever else stands.

Ardern confirmed for Mt Albert

 

Probably surprising no one, Jacinda Ardern has been as good as confirmed (she is the sole nominee) as the Labour candidate for the Mt Albert by-election.

Opportunity for a voter revolution in Mt Albert

With National choosing to stay out of the Mt Albert by-election the voters have effectively been given a free shot – they could make a massive statement if they wanted to.

Jacinda Ardern is expected to win the Labour nomination, and she is expected to comfortably win the by-election in what has been a safe seat for David Shearer since 2009 and previously for Helen Clark, and Warren Freear going way back to 1947 (Freear thwarted Robert Muldoon’s first shot at Parliament in 1954).

With no National versus Labour contest, which would have been futile for National anyway, and nothing significant at stake for parliament, this gives the voters a chance to make a statement of some sort.

Green MP Julie Anne Genter has expressed an interest in standing if Greens decided to run a candidate. Greens got double their overall party vote in 2014 in Mt Albert – 21.68% (8,005 votes).

So it could be a chance for Greens to test their mettle against Labour without the complication of their Memorandum of Understanding as Greens don’t need to help Labour out.

While Greens need Labour to have a chance of getting into government (unless they get really radical and do a deal with National, very unlikely under Turei’s leadership) their best opportunity for increasing their party vote is taking support off Labour.

Despite the MoU Greens understand MMP and know that the higher their vote is relative to Labour the bigger their bargaining power.

Labour on 38% (they wish) and Greens on 11% would have a very different balance of power to Labour on 28% and Greens on 20%. Of course there may need to be other parties involved such as NZ First and the Maori Party.

Other small parties might fancy their chances, like the People’s Party or Gareth Morgan’s TOP, but they are unlikely to excite the voters into making a big statement against the political system.

Mt Albert voters could get even more radical than giving Labour a fright and Greens a boost, and giving National the finger – they could get in behind an independent candidate. That would really put them in the political spotlight.

Of course this would be dependant on a high profile independent candidate standing. Would anyone be up for the challenge? It would be a brilliant way of stirring up the old parties.

“Democracy is about choice”

One of the stupidest criticisms of Bill English’s decision not to stand a National candidate in the My Albert by-election is that it is undemocratic.

I’ve seen that said in social media, but nonsense is to be expected there.

But veteran journalist Barry Soper also spins that line in Mt Albert byelection waste of money

It’s hard to envisage John Key chucking in the towel in the way English has done on this one. Democracy is about choice and the people of Mt Albert are now being denied it.

Yes, democracy is about choice, and choosing not to stand a candidate is just as valid as choosing to stand a candidate.

Greens chose not to stand a candidate in the Northland by-election last year, and while Labour chose to stand a candidate they also chose to not campaign for votes for her to help Winston Peters win.

Greens chose not to stand a candidate in last month’s Mt Roskill by-election to help Labour’s Michael Wood. NZ First chose not to stand a candidate (I don’t know why).

National choose not to stand candidates in Maori electorates and I haven’t seen Soper condemn them for that.

Democracy is about choice, and an important choice for parties is whether to stand candidates or not.

An un-contested by-election?

It’s possible Jacinda Ardern could win the Mt Albert by-election uncontested, if no other candidates stand.

David Shearer’s resignation from his Mt Albert electorate has precipitated a by-election next February.

Ardern has expressed an interest in standing. If she gets Labour’s nomination it would be very likely she would win the by-election.

National has decided it would be futile to stand a candidate so have chosen not to. That’s a pragmatic decision.

Greens and NZ First chose not to stand candidates in the recent Mt Roskill by-election. It makes sense for them to also stay out of the Mt Albert by-election.

This would make the by-election virtually uncontested. All it would take to avoid the cost and futility would be for no other candidates to stand, so Ardern would win the electorate uncontested.

There is a chance an attention seeking candidate would stand against Ardern, forcing a million dollar farce. All it takes to stand for election is two nominations from voters from the electorate – the candidate themselves don’t have to live in the electorate.

It’s most likely at least one other candidate will put themselves forward, but there would probably be little media interest and little voter interest.

An uncontested by-election would be the logical option but that’s probably a long shot.

It’s also possible Labour’s nomination might be contested.

Would Laila Harre be tempted? Probably not in Mt Albert, she has been linked to New Lynn.

Would Andrew Little bet tempted? Again probably not, he has shown no inclination to relocate from Wellington to Auckland.