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.

“They don’t have much respect for the democratic process”

Standing in an election is optional. Same for a by-election. So this claim from Green candidate Julie Anne Genter is odd, and also a tad hypocritical.

1 News: Julie Anne Genter labels National’s Mt Albert by-election no show lacking ‘respect for the democratic process’

Speaking last night Julie Anne Genter told 1 NEWS National’s no show in the contest for the Auckland seat shows a lack of “respect” for the “democratic process”.

“The fact National didn’t put up a candidate shows that they don’t have much respect for the democratic process and they were trying to make very light of this election,” Ms Genter said.

Ms Genter said her performance in the by-election was expected and went on to congratulate Ms Adern for her win.

“It’s pretty typical for a Green Party result in a by-election,” she said.

“Because we campaign on the party vote many Green Party voters are used to giving their CV to other candidates especially candidates as strong as Jacinda Ardern.”

So Genter stood with no expectation of winning and making no attempt to get votes. She used the by-election as a PR exercise. As she can choose to do, but it could be seen as a cynical use of the democratic process.

Is it better to stand in an election and encourage votes for another candidate, or to not stand at all?

Green candidates have stood in electorates for a number of elections making no attempt to win the electorate. They openly campaign for the party vote, but suggest to varying degrees that the electorate vote should go elsewhere.

That is their choice. They are using the democratic process to suit their goals. As National did in the Mt Albert by-election.

Greens chose not to stand a candidate in the recent Mt Roskill by-election to help the Labour candidate. Did that show no respect for the democratic process?

Greens chose not to stand a candidate in the Northland by-election to help Winston Peters. Did that show no respect for the democratic process? Labour stood a candidate but campaigned for votes to not go to her but instead to Peters.

Genter is trying to diss National for making their own choices on what they do in electorates, but she and Greens play the democratic system to suit their own purposes as much as any party.



Ardern’s ambitions

Prior to and since Jacinda Ardern’s easy win in the Mt Albert by-election there have been a number of suggestions that she should replace Annette King as Labour’s deputy leader.

From NZ Herald Labour’s Jacinda Ardern new MP for Mt Albert

There had been speculation that a strong byelection showing could lead to some within Labour questioning whether Ardern should be elevated to the deputy leader position, currently held by Annette King.

“There is no vacancy,” Little said when asked about that speculation. “I’m not planning on any changes.”

It would appear that King is not planning on any changes at this stage. She is stepping down from her electorate to become a list only MP with no sign of her not contesting September’s election.

So what now for Ardern? She has achieved one of her ambitions, to become an electorate MP, in her fourth attempt in her third electorate.

“I’m absolutely clear about my ­ambition to be Minister of Children.” That, she says, is where she can make a difference.

And what about leader of the Labour party? No, she says.

Life, kids and being Jacinda

She keeps saying that. A deputy leader has to stand in for the leader, so why would she want to be deputy?

She doesn’t want to be Prime Minister. No, really, she doesn’t want to be Prime Minister.

The politics of life: The truth about Jacinda Ardern

Deputies have to stand in for Prime Ministers. Some of them are waiting for their turn at the top job.

Ardern will be busy setting herself up in a safe electorate. Her career as a celebrity MP looks assured for as long as she wants it.

She doesn’t appear to have the driving ambition to be a leader. Minister of Children and cover of Woman’s Weekly seems to be a self imposed limit, at this stage.

However ambitions can change.

But actually being an MP? “No!” On a school trip to Parliament, she left her classmates drinking orange juice in John Luxton’s office to ask his private secretary what she should study to become a private secretary.

“MPs? There were only 120 of those. No way was I going to become one of those.”

I suspect she will be happy to sit out this election in a safe seat, and perhaps do a few more ‘celebrity’ profile things. She appears to be working on a long term plan.


Mt Albert by-election today

While there has been advance voting  over the past two weeks the official by-election is today. It has been described as one the the most low-key and boring campaigns ever.

Predictably advance voting is way down on the comparative stage of the last general election. As of Thursday 3433 votes had been cast compared to 4950 at the same stage in 2014.

UPDATE: Total advance votes 4019 compared to 6341 in the 2014 general election.


Just about everyone is predicting the result, which isn’t difficult.

Over the last couple of days political journalists and pundits have been trying to appear knowledgeable in advance, giving favourable and disproportionate coverage to some  candidates, one in particular. This is putting their own opinions and egos ahead of fair democratic processes, something that is a growing problem with media.

Some have even almost demanded that a particular result should prompt a change in party leadership “next week”. For the good of the Woman’s Weekly.

Talking of egos, one candidate tweeted last night:

Hey I know you have a big gig on tomorrow night. We have a by-election that night too. If you’re at a loose end after, pop by!

That may be to trying to get publicity by using a popular Twitter link but it also sounds a bit groupie-ish, and being a ‘celebrity’ by association just another example of their approach to politics.

I think that legally the Electoral Commission still frowns on articles and posts that might suggest who to vote for on election day, which is ridiculous given that so much favourable coverage has been dished out to one candidate during advance voting and is still prominent online.


As expected Ardern is well ahead of everyone else combined, but the turnout is very low, also as expected.

With 89.3% of the votes counted

Candidates Party Votes
ARDERN, Jacinda
GENTER, Julie Anne
AMOS, Adam
VAN DEN HEUVEL, Anthony Joseph J
BROWN, Patrick
Candidate Informals: 69
TOTAL: 10,899

The numbers don’t mean much at all.

Two stand aside for Huo

It has been suggested this would happen for some time but now the way has publicy been cleared for Raymond Huo to return to Parliament should Jacinda Ardern win this week’s Mt Albert by-election.

Huo lost his seat in Parliament  in 2014 because he was three short of the list cut-off.

Andrew Little just made the final cut at 11 on the list (electorate MPs are ranked lower but get in automatically).

There were two other ex-list MPs who were placed higher than Huo at 21 who missed the cut, Maryan Street (15) and (Moana Mackey (17).

It was a bit embarrassing for Labour to have no Asian MPs, particularly when they launched their infamous Chinese surname attack.

After the Mt Albert by-election was confirmed Mackey said she wasn’t interested in returning to Parliament.

Gisborne Herald: Moana Mackey rules out return to the Beehive

FORMER Gisborne-based Labour list MP Moana Mackey has countered conjecture she is contemplating a return to politics.

Ms Mackey said she wanted to pre-empt speculation she was planning a return to parliament following the decision of current list MP Jacinda Ardern to seek the party’s candidacy in the Mt Albert by-election.

Ms Mackey said she had always kept Labour leader Andrew Little informed and previously told him she had no desire to return to Parliament if a list place came up on the Labour list.

“I have to say I really appreciated him getting in touch with me earlier this week, in light of David Shearer’s decision, and I confirmed that was still my position.

That was in December. Interesting that Little contacted her as soon as the by-election was confirmed.

Street has taken a lot longer but has now also indicated she won’t return. From Street on Facebook:

I am happy to confirm that I will not be taking up a place in Parliament as a List MP after the Mt Albert by-election. This will pave the way for the return of Raymond Huo to Parliament, something I fully support.

I have thought long and hard about this choice and have decided that I can be just as effective on issues dear to me outside Parliament as inside – perhaps even more so.

Besides which, I have discovered weekends.

The campaign for a law change to allow End of Life Choice has gained a powerful momentum with the petition in my name to Parliament’s Health Select Committee, where submissions are still being heard. I am heartened that it has become an issue with wide support throughout the community and across the entire political spectrum. I look forward to advancing that campaign further.

My very best wishes go to Jacinda Ardern and Raymond Huo.

So the way is now clear for Huo. I haven’t seen any indication of his intentions but presume he is interested in returning.

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


A quiet by-election?

NZ Heerald reports that the My Albert by-election is the quietest and most inconsequential ‘on record’ in  Candidates brace for the polls … wait, what? There’s a byelection?

It’s inconsequential in the grand scheme of things if Jacinda Ardern coasts to victory as widely predicted.

But early voting is ahead of the Mt Roskill by-election and even the last  general election, so is something going on beneath the radar?

With a week to go, the Mt Albert byelection is shaping up as the quietest and most inconsequential on record.

Former Labour Party president and political commentator Mike Williams is describing it as “the most low-key byelection I’ve ever seen”.

“Beyond the hoardings which you see on the way to the airport, there’s hardly a ripple in Auckland,” he said.

“I’ve been involved in byelections since Onehunga in 1981 … but I have never seen anything like this.”

Perhaps the media see it as so uncontroversial and inconsequential they aren’t bothering to give the campaign any oxygen.

Interest in the contest to replace former Labour MP David Shearer is low because National has not put up a candidate, saying it is a safe Labour seat and that it is focused on the general election.

That means the only serious contenders out of the 13 candidates are Labour’s Jacinda Ardern and the Greens’ Julie Anne Genter, who have few differences and are not criticising each other because of the two parties’ pact to work together.

Media choose who are ‘serious contenders’ and ignore the rest, cutting them out of contention – this is a major problem with how our democracy works, an unfairly uneven playing field dictated by media.

Williams predicted that the Mt Albert turnout could be the lowest in history, even lower than Mt Roskill in December where turnout fell by half from the general election in 2014.


Contrary to that prediction, advance voting in Mt Albert is tracking ahead of the Mt Roskill contest.

Why does early voter activity appear to contradict the Herald and Williams talking up a snoozefest?

Labour is also using the byelection as an opportunity to hone its new campaigning strategy.

The strategy was taken from the Victoria Labour Party and was used successfully in Justin Lester’s Wellington mayoralty campaign and in the Mt Roskill byelection.

The strategy establishes a network of field organisers and volunteers, and uses sophisticated data to determine which voters are persuadable and what issues they care about so the party can better connect with them on a personal level.

Is this quietly working very well?

Or is there something else encouraging votes that the media hasn’t noticed? Something like:

  • Greens trying to ambush Labour?
  • National nudging their voters to cause mischief?
  • A ‘non-serious’ party attracting support – for example, TOP, the Cannabis Party of the Peoples’ Party?
  • Are voters spontaneously revolting against the parties ?

Or will Ardern canter to victory, perhaps with Genter trotting along behind doing some homework for the general election?

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.


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


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.


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.