It’s the party vote that counts

13/08/2013

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.

Update:

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.


Brash didn’t lie about EB pamphlets

01/06/2008

In a candid interview, sensitively reported by Ruth Laugeson, Don Brash says he wishes he’d been a bit more radical when he led National.

 

The whole interview is worth reading, not least for the admission that the sad reality of politics is that what you believe to be right doesn’t always win elections.

 

In the print edition of the Sunday Start Times, but not on line, are Don’s answers to several questions. I was particularly interested in his response to the one about whether or not he knew about the Exclusive Brethren’s anti-Green election pamphlet: “The impression was that I lied to the public. I don’t think even looking aback and trying to recall the detail that I lied in any way at all in that area.”

 

This was a case where the media, aided by several other political parties got it wrong. The TV footage where Rod Donald thrust the pamphlet at Don and asked if he knew about it has been screened several times and each time his body language echoes what he says – he doesn’t know anything about it. I am certain he was telling the truth at the time and only later did he join the dots between that pamphlet and an earlier meeting with the EB. I accept that once he’d made the connection he didn’t handle it well but it’s not easy to explain something like this in a 20 second sound-bite especially if you feel you’re not in a position to speak about a conversation held in private.

 

Owen McShane wrote in the NBR after the 2005 election (I can’t find it on line) that he’d been in a similar position because the Greens had come to him as a consultant and spoken about their plans but when the pamphlets first surfaced he didn’t make the connection. When he began to suspect they might be behind the campaign, client confidentiality meant he wasn’t in a position to say anything publicly until the Brethren admitted their involvement.

 

At the same time as Don was being accused of lying, other National MPs (Gerry Brownlee in particular) were accusing Labour of illegally spending taxpayers’ money on their pledge card. Had the latter got the media attention of the former, the election result might have been very different.


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