Similar quandaries for Key and Cunliffe

John Key and David Cunliffe both have tricky electorates where any perception of arranged coat tailing with other parties could be very risky.

National needs coalition partners like ACT, and Labour may need Internet-MANA to make up their numbers. Epsom and Te Tai Tokerau may be pivotal electorates.

John Armstrong explained Cunliffe’s quandary in Te Tai Tokerau this morning in Cunliffe’s tough stance on coat-tailing could backfire:

Of more immediate pertinence, Labour could yet need Internet Mana to secure a majority in the next Parliament. But bringing more MPs into Parliament alongside Hone Harawira will likely require that the new umbrella party’s leader hold his Te Tai Tokerau electorate.

If Harawira lost, Internet Mana’s party votes would go down the gurgler to the huge disadvantage of the centre-left in what is shaping as a very close contest.

But Cunliffe is now hamstrung. If he drops even the slightest hint – even a coded one – that Labour voters should opt for Internet Maori in Te Tai Tokerau, Cunliffe will be deemed an absolute hypocrite.

And after John Banks was  found guilty a similar quandary confronts John Key in Epsom.

After the cup of tea debacle last election National will have been wary enough of making any sort of coded or open signals in Epsom this campaign. Now there’s an added taint from Banks hanging over the electorate.

Key and National will be taking risks being seen to be associated with Epsom other than having a normal candidate campaign.

Labour staunch in contesting Te Tai Tokerau

Labour seem staunch in their determination to contest the Te Tai Tokerau electorate. This is at odds with what has been described as “the new Auckland left”.

Kelvin Davis, Labour’s candidate for , continues to promote his chances in contesting Te Tai Tokerau for Labour against Mana’s Hone Harawira (electorates will be contested as MANA, only the party vote will be sought for Internet/MANA).

Davis linked to Today in politics: Saturday, May 31:

Davis will put in 110pc to win Tai Tokerau

Retread Labour MP Kelvin Davis likes a rugby analogy. And he is adamant he will not lay down or allow Labour to cut a deal in Te Tai Tokerau for the election, backing himself to take the seat off Mana leader Hone Harawira. “I played rugby until I was 40 so, in 20 years of senior rugby, not once did I step on to a rugby field and want to come second.” He says he is the most logical, intelligent, and sensible person to become MP for Tai Tokerau.

He is clearly backed by Labour leader David Cunliffe as interviewed on Q & A yesterday.

Corin Dann: …in Te Tai Tokerau can you give voters an assurance that there’s going to be no cup of tea deal to ensure that Hone Harawira has a clear run at that seat?

David Cunliffe: I can assure voters that Labour is contesting vigorously all seven Maori seats and we think we have the opportunity to win all seven.

Kelvin Davis is a terrific candidate as you have no doubt heard, he is passionate about representing the people of Te Tai Tokerau, and we’re backing him to do that.

This follows a Radio NZ report on Friday: Labour says no Te Tai Tokerau deal

Mr Cunliffe said he expects that Kelvin Davis, who was 1165 votes behind Mr Harawira at the 2011 election, to run a vigourous campaign. He said there would be no deals with other parties until after the election on 20 September once it is known what voters want.

Mr Davis is adamant he is in the competition to win. “It would be immensely damaging up in Te Tai Tokerau. The people up there do not want to see an MP whose prepared to roll over for anyone. They want somebody up there who’s prepared to stand and fight for what’s important to them.”

He told Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report programme on Friday the Internet-Mana alliance is a ruse and a scam and he would fight them for the seat.

“I’m the best person – the logical, the intelligent, the sensible person – to become the Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau. They can see through this whole ruse. Basically it’s a scam to get their vote.”

Hone Harawira said Mr Davis had lost the seat several times before and is confident his constituents supported the alliance.
Mr Harawira said opposition parties shouldn’t be fighting each other. “We can either focus on attacking one another and end up with a limited number of seats and no possibility of changing the Government or we can be intelligent enough, and big enough, and bold enough to work together.”

Davis has continued the attack against Internet/MANA on Twitter today:

Sorta ironic that in 1914 Mata Hari was a German agent, and in 2014 there’s Laila.

Davis has been criticised by some on the left who want to see co-operation amongst parties “for the greater good”. A comment on Davis’ Twitter page:

Will Edmonds Yup, previous Labour voter, but disgusted by your apparent inability to work for the greater good on this issue. You’ve lost my vote, just ridiculous.

Chris Trotter blasted Davis on The Daily Blog in Authoritarian Labour: Why Kelvin Davis needs to STFU – and soon!

DAVID, MATT, SOMEBODY – PLEASE! Tell Kelvin Davis to pull his head in. His outburst on Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report this morning was way beyond embarrassing. The ill-considered slagging of Hone Harawira and the Internet-Mana Party (IMP) not only reflected poorly on his own political skills, but it also raised doubts about Labour’s overall ability to read what is happening in the run-up to 20 September.

Trotter seems to be swept up by the Dotcom/Mana mania, where some on the left seem to think it will be the saviour of the Left’s election chances. But trotter het”s unusally carried away.

It wasn’t just the absence of any semblance of strategic – or even tactical – understanding that was so worrying about Davis’s performance this morning, it was his barely concealed aggression. There is an anger in Davis that calls into question his suitability for any kind of public office. Anger, and what appears to be a classic authoritarian character structure (the two often go together).

Just listen to how he describes his family in the potted biography Labour has displayed on its website. Davis tells us that he is “married with three beautiful, intelligent and respectful children”. It’s the use of the word “respectful” that gives him away. His need for respect and his use of the word as a distinguishing character marker, as in: “My children show me respect – do yours?”, tell us a lot about Davis’s personality and where he most likely fits on the Left-Right/Authoritarian-Libertarian grid.

My guess is that he occupies a position that places him towards the Authoritarian end of the Authoritarian-Libertarian gradient and well to the right on the Left-Right spectrum.

Very ironic that Trotter wants to dictate to Davis and at the same time accuses him of being authoritarian.

There seems to be a battle looming on the left, and Labour seem to be staunching up against the attempted takeover of the left – and Government – by “the new Auckland Left that is now influencing so much of these strategic moves”.

Cunliffe and Davis at least are clearly in the camp that wants to see Labour dominate in Te Tai Tokerau and dominate the left. The election itself may be just another battle in a bigger war – if Internet/MANA can establish credibility and build themselves into a cohesive political force.

How much do votes costs?

Bryce Edwards blogged yesterday about the vost of the Te Taikerau by election and election costs generally.

Hone Harawira proved that themigth and coffers of a large party don’t guarantee success.

He is said to have spent less than half of the $40,000 legal limit, and he used no parliamentary resources in fighting the campaign. His opponents, of course, utilised considerably more resources…

… as has been shown countless other times, although such capital resources are useful in politics, they are far from the essential and dominating part of explaining success or failure in politics.

When it comes down to it – and as the Act Party has consistently illustrated – you can’t simply ‘buy votes’ by spending more and more money on advertising.

Good, unless some generous donors pop out of the woodwork I’ll have a very modest budget (in dollars).

An attractive political ‘product’ is much more important than the advertising budget.

That’s what we’re banking on. Our political product is attractive to many ordinary people who wouldn’t think of putting money into a campaign.

In any case the most valuable currencies are:

  • Time – contact as many people as possible, in person, in social media and via the traditional media if they ever get around to giving any attention to minor candidates.
  • Votes – it’s free to vote, but total votes are the only value that matters in the end.

We’ll be pushing word of mouth, the grapevine, social networks and any other way we can find to sell our message – and we’ll see if people power can still rule.

If enough ordinary people give their votes for free the result could be priceless.

What’s wrong with Kelvin Davis

Kelvin Davis failed to win Te Tai Tokerau, despite being backed by the networks, resources and big name supporters of a major party, despite being actively promoted by other political parties, despite being rated as an up an comer in parliament.

What went wrong, and what’s wrong with the loss? Here are some possibilities:

  • Labour Party woes were too big a millstone
  • Davis is now a twice failed electorate MP rescued by the list
  • It’s possible Davis wasn’t hungry enough for the win as he was safe in parliament regardless
  • Harawira just has too much personal and family support in Te Tai Tokerau
  • Harawira’s electorate wants to be the focus of their MPs efforts and not be over-ridden by party interests.

Dover Samuels gave Davis some first term advice when he entered parliament – keep quiet and learn. I think a full three years (or two and a half to date) is far too long for that. Sure as a new MP you have some ropes to learn, but you also have a duty to the electorate to work for them.

Unless you are sitting comfortably on the list building a party career and don’t have and electorate that deserves your strong representation.

I think Kelvin Davis is a good guy and could become a good, possibly even a great MP, eventually. But he is hindered by an old party that misuses the party list to suit itself (so it thinks), not it’s constituents.

Get out there and actively work for people Kelvin. Your party should support you, not dictate to you and hold you back.

Related post: What’s good about Hone Harawira

Man versus man, mana versus mana

There’s plenty of interest in Te Tai Tokerau. Cost and necessity aside, it’s great to have a keenly contested by-election with a real choice of candidates.

This by-election seems to be a genuine choice of candidate more than party, where voters can choose who they think will best represent them and their electorate.  It’s Man versus man, mana versus mana.

We would have a better standard  of MP and better real representation  if more electorates decided to vote on merit and competence  rather than sheepishly voting for a party or getting caught up by the media personality based approach.

We,the voters of New Zealand, have the power to improve our parliament if we choose to vote more smartly and make as many electorates as possible real contests.