The absence of so many of Labour’s sitting MPs and candidates from its list raises questions about those people’s focus.
The confusion is compounded by comments like this from Dunedin South MP Clare Curran:
. . . ”I’m 100% committed to the party vote around Dunedin and the region. My total focus will be on this campaign and that is behind my decision to withdraw from the list.” . . .
Not being on the list sends a strong signal that she’ll be campaigning to hold her seat as the only way to remain in parliament. Quite how that helps maximise the party vote isn’t clear.
National won the party vote in Dunedin South in 2011. The first priority of its candidate, Dunedin born-and-bred Hamish Walker is to build on that but Curran is vulnerable in the seat too.
So are at least four other Labour MPs.
. . . In a sign that National is taking nothing for granted sources say it has also targeted four Labour MPs in seats it thinks it can win – Trevor Mallard in Hutt South, Ruth Dyson in Port Hills, Damien O’Connor in West Coast and Iain Lees-Galloway in Palmerston North.
National’s strategy could disrupt Labour’s efforts to maximise the party vote, given that the survival of those MPs could hinge on them campaigning for the electorate vote instead to keep their political careers afloat. . .
A majority of the electorate votes will keep an MP in, or get a candidate into, parliament.
But it’s the party vote which gets them in to government.
That should always be the priority and in spite of the polls, there is no certainty over which parties will be in government after the election:
. . . With a string of polls showing National around 50 per cent, Key will warn them that voter turnout could be the decider and not to assume the election is a done deal.
‘‘I will reiterate the message that while National is doing very well in the polls in reality this is going to be a very tight election,’’ Key said yesterday.
‘‘This is a race to 61 seats and despite the fact Labour is polling very poorly it could still hold hands with the Greens and NZ First, potentially Internet-Mana, and form a government. So there is no room for complacency within National.’’ . . .
Labour’s dismal polling and unpopular leader should make an election win easy for National, but it’s the total block of party votes for right or left that matters and that will allow one or other of those parties to lead the next government.