McCarten’s ‘new’ project

Last week I posted on news that Matt McCarten is leaving his Labour Party Auckland campaign job to run a campaign to get non voters out to vote – see Matt McCarten leaves Labour.

I called bull on his claim it would be a non-partisan campaign.

Yesterday more detail on his new role was detailed in a press release:  New Zealand launches ‘Campaign for Change’

With less than 100 days until the 2017 election, New Zealand launches ‘Campaign for Change’

1 million people did not vote in the last election. 250,000 people who were required to register did not. These numbers represent a crisis of democracy. This group overwhelmingly consisted of young people, workers in low paid occupations, as well as Māori, Pacifica, and other ethnic communities.

“The Campaign for Change will channel the energy and passion of New Zealander’s who want to see a change of Government this election.” says Director Matt McCarten.

This non-partisan campaign is being created in order to get people engaged and involved. The disconnect between a million citizens and political participation is a threat to our democracy.

The Campaign for Change is directed by the goal of full political participation. Through this campaign, we will aim to have 1 on 1 interviews with 100,000 New Zealanders who are not enrolled or who did not vote at the last election to not vote. We want to turn the issues these citizens care about into a campaign.

“We are launching our push for volunteers next week. If you want to be part of a campaign that promotes political participation, we want to hear from you!”

So the ex chief of staff for both David Cunliffe and Andrew Little, and ex campaign manager for Labour in Auckland, claims to be heading a non-partisan “Campaign for Change’.

“The Campaign for Change will channel the energy and passion of New Zealander’s who want to see a change of Government this election.”

Of course ‘change of Government’ means it must anti-National and pro-Labour.

That’s about as non-partisan as McCarten is being upfront about his political associations.

The programme is independent of any political party but is supported by progressive organisations in Auckland. The focus of political activity is voter enrolment and participation.

Facebook: Campaign For Change NZ

Twitter: @ChangeforNZ

Instagram: @CampaignForChangeNZ

Matt McCarten
Campaign for Change Director

This couldn’t be more blatant bull. “The focus of political activity is voter enrolment and participation” – and then Change is mentioned four times in succession, showing a highly partisan agenda.

This is not new. Unions tried to organise a ‘get out the vote’ campaign in 2014 and that turned out badly for Labour.

From a speech by First Union President, Syd Keepa, in 2014.

John Key has announced the Election date, which will
be Saturday 20 September; in six months’ time.
FIRST Union will be working hard to get its
members who are not enrolled to enrol, and will
encourage them to vote.

FIRST believes that the political parties that support
workers and people on the margins of society would be
the most practical political parties to vote for. However,
the CTU and FIRST Union campaign is not going to be
based around encouraging citizens who to vote for, but
around changing the government.

879,000 eligible voters did not vote at the 2011
elections. Maori non-voters had the highest percentage
of non-voters at 25.9%, followed by Pacific Island non-
voters at 25.4%. Therefore to have a chance at a change
of government the job of FIRST Union is to get people
enrolled and out to vote. If 150,000 of those non-voters
had voted for a change of government in 2011, the
current National government would not be in power.
FIRST Union will be appealing to its membership to
enrol and vote, and will encourage its members to get
their whanau to do the same. With our members’ help,
we will hopefully be able to lock this government up
and throw away the KEY.

McCarten was secretary of the Unite union from 2005 to 2014, when he took over as chief of staff in Labour’s leader’s office.

Not long ago (last month) Labour was openly talking about similar campaigns to last the one last election and to what McCarten is now doing.

Newshub:  Data key to Labour’s campaign strategy

Opening a session on Labour’s campaign strategy at its congress on Saturday, the party’s campaign chairman and general secretary Andrew Kirton went for an understated introduction.

“The good news about this campaign is we’ve got a strategy – and we’re going to use it.”

That was perhaps a relief to delegates, given Labour’s disastrous showing in 2014.

But the party’s plan to turn out voters is more comprehensive than that sounds – demonstrated by the fact it invited media to a briefing the day before to proudly discuss its strategy.

Based on its current polling, Labour estimates it would get 720,000 votes out of the 2.4 million on offer, presuming an 80 per cent voter turnout (up from 550,000 votes in 2014).

Kirton said the party planned to grow its vote in two ways – trying to win over the 240,000 voters who backed National in 2014 but were open to supporting Labour, and the 200,000 voters “who we think like us” but didn’t vote at the last election.

The main focus at present was “growing our volunteer army” through its Community Action Network.

There is little difference between the unsuccessful get out the vote campaign in 2014, Labour’s strategy, and McCarten’s campaign.

I think that calling the Campaign for Change non-partisan is quite deceitful.

Will it work? Perhaps they have learnt lessons from the failure in 2014, but they may be deceiving themselves if they assume that if all the4 non-voters decided to vote they would back Labour.