Anyone who was involved in the National Party during Judy Kirk’s time as president knows it’s the party vote that counts.
She never lost an opportunity to remind members of that.
That was one of the reasons the party reorganised and began running centralised campaigns. These made it clear to voters that while the party wanted them to tick National twice, if they were going to give us only one tick it should be the party vote one.
The party didn’t abandon electorates though, with the exception of Epsom and Ohariu where, for strategic reasons, National supporters got the message to split their votes.
The wee parties don’t usually try to win electorate seats.
They don’t even field candidates in most of them and where they do they make it quite clear it’s just the party vote they’re chasing.
Labour has rarely done as well in the provinces, and now it looks like the party won’t even try to regain the seats it’s lost.
In the Listener cover story regaining the love Labour’s lost, Ruth Laugesen writes:
Labour is firmly focused on boosting its party vote, possibly at the expense of the electoral seats.
To win back the Beehive, Labour must win hundreds of square kilometres of territory in the heartland. But as Labour rebuilds its party organisation towards the next election, winning electorates appears to be taking a back seat. . .
Is there anything Labour is doing specifically aimed at winning back electorate seats? There is a long pause. “Winning back seats. It’s always good to have … The electorate seats are important, so there will be seats that we are actually going to be ensuring that there’s a strong two-tick campaign, but it’s a party-vote and a candidate-vote campaign. We may have had some people focusing more on the seat than we would like in the future.”
This is another sign of Labour’s weakened state – too little money, too few members and probably too few credible candidates to fight a true two-tick nationwide campaign.
It is the party vote that counts in forming governments.
But abandoning the provinces means that when the party eventually returns to power, as sadly sooner or later it will, it will have little connection to, or knowledge of, great swathes of the country.
Under a Labour-led government the party vote will count and people outside the cities won’t.
We know they don’t understand farming but it’s still the mainstay of the economy and there’s a lot of other things happening outside the main centres which can’t afford the damage a left-wing urban government could inflict on them.
It will be even worse with a strong Green Party influence as well.
A government without connections to and an understanding of the provinces and their needs and concerns isn’t one which will be governing for the good of the country in both senses of the word.
Spot the irony – in today’s ODT Labour leader David Shearer is quoted:
There was no doubt the regions had been neglected in favour of the country’s major cities, he said. . .
He’s wrong that the regions have been neglected by the government but it looks like that is what his party is going to be doing in next year’s election campaign.