Labour logo a liability?

June 9, 2014

Remember last election Labour MPS and candidates left their then-leader Phil Goff’s photo off their billboards?

It was a sign they had no faith in him and regarded him as a liability

This time, the party’s candidate for Waitaki appears to regard the Labour logo as a liability.

On her Facebook page she says she’s the Labour candidate but this is what she shows:

lablogo

 

A picture paints a thousand words and none of the words this picture paints is Labour.

National MP Jacqui Dean holds the seat with 61.45% of the votes cast and a majority of 14143.

The boundary has changed and the electorate is a little smaller than it was three years ago but that’s unlikely to have much, if any, impact on the election result.

Alexander hasn’t a hope of winning the electorate and it would appear she’s not even trying for the party vote.


Maori Seats too big – Flavell

November 25, 2013

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell is concerned about the size of Maori electorates:

The Representation Commission has proposed no changes to the boundaries of the seven Maori electorates, because they are within their population quota.

Mr Flavell says it does not address the ”ridiculous” situation that the Tai Tonga MP is expected to represent over half of the land area of Aotearoa, which spans 18 general electorates.

He says the size of the Maori electorates is a major problem it has discussed with the Electoral Commission and MPs, but says there is no political will to change it.

He’s right about  Te Tai Tonga which covers 161, 443 square kilometres – that’s the whole of the South and Stewart Islands and part of Wellington Region.

But the next biggest seats are general ones. Clutha Southland covers 38,247 sq kms and West Coast Tasman covers 38, 042 sq kms.

Then comes the Maori seat of Te Tai Hauauru at 35, 825 sq kms and  the general seat of  Waitaki  which covers 34,888 sq kms.

Ikaroa-Rawhiti, a Maori seat, covers 30,952 sq kms then another general seat Kaikoura is 23, 706 sq kms.

The next two Maori seats are Waiariki at 19,212 sq kms and Te Tai Tokerau at 16, 370 sq kms. Then comes three general seats – East Coast (13,649); Taranaki-King Country (12, 869) and Northland (12, 255) and the smallest Maori electorate Hauraki-Waikato (12,580).

Mr Flavell says electoral law guarantees there will be at least 16 general electorates in the South Island so each one won’t be too big, and that approach should apply to Maori electorates.

The law actually says there will be 16 South Island seats and two of  those – Clutha Southland and West-Coast Tasman are bigger than all but Te Tai Tonga, Waitaki is bigger than all but that and Te Tai Hauauru ; Kaikoura is bigger than Waiariki and Te Tai Tokerau and the three biggest North island seats East Coast, Taranaki-King Country and Northland are all bigger than Hauraki-Waikato.
Electorate sizes are determined by dividing the South Island population by 16 with a tolerance of 5% over or under that figure.I agree that most Maori seats are too big but so are some of the general ones. MMP gives better representation to parties but bigger electorates provides poorer representation for people.The simplest way to reduce the area electorates cover is to increase the number of seats but that would require more MPs or reduce the number of list seats and so reduce proportionality which is one of MMP’s strengths.Another way to reduce the area MPs have to service is to get rid of Maori electorates and keep the total number of seats we have now. That would add a seat in the South Island and make all electorates a bit smaller but I don’t think that will get any support from Flavell.


Maori seats don’t give representation

April 26, 2013

Maori are being canvassed to register on either the general or Maori roll.

If they’re in Te Tai Tokerau and want decent representation they should be opting for the general roll because their MP, Hone Harawira, is a rare sight in parliament.

Mana Party leader has been absent for 49 of the 120 sitting days since the 2011 election.

Mana leader Hone Harawira described himself as going “to battle for those without a voice in Parliament” at his party’s conference this month but he has been a rare sight in Parliament this year. . . .

Speaker David Carter said a formal attendance record for MPs was no longer kept, but Mr Harawira had been given 49 days of leave since the 2011 election, during which Parliament has sat for about 120 days. Party leaders have more responsibilities than other MPs, but most, including Prime Minister John Key and Labour leader David Shearer, attend on two of the three sitting days. . .

Most Maori seats are considerably bigger than the average general seat which means even a very good MP would struggle to service the electorate well.

However, Harawira has the second smallest Maori seat so can’t use electorate size as an excuse.

Te Tai Tokerau  at 16,370 square kilometres is less than half the size of the three biggest general seats, Clutha Southland, West Coast Tasman and Waitaki,  and a fraction the size of Te Tai Tonga which covers an area of 161, 433 square kilometres.

Te Tai Hauauru covers 35, 825 square kilometres, Ikaroa Rawhiti is  30,952 square kilometres in area, the general seat of Kaikoura covers 23,706 square kilometres, and Waiariki covers 19,212 square kilometres.

A party leader does have other duties but if the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition generally make it to two of the three sitting days each week, Harawira can’t use that as an excuse either.

Although he is costing us more than any other MP who isn’t a minister:

Despite the cutback in travel to Wellington, Mr Harawira’s travel expenses for the first three months of the year were still higher than any other non-ministerial MP, including Mr Shearer.

Tariana Turia said Maori seats didn’t give Maori a voice,   Harawira certainly isn’t giving his constituents a voice in parliament but he’s still racking up a very large travel bill.


Making a fuss or making a difference

December 21, 2011

Flying to a country when you know you won’t get past immigration at the border is making a fuss.

Putting up a billboard you know will offend people is making a fuss.

Posturing over making an oath when you know it’s a requirement of being sworn in is making a fuss.

The people behind these fusses were interested in publicity, and got it but they achieve anything else.

Fortunately there are still people who believe it’s better to make a difference and do so without making a fuss.

One of these is my MP, Jacqui Dean.

She rarely gets noticed by nationwide media, which is probably a good thing because unless you’re a minister nationwide media attention is usually for the wrong reasons. She earns a share of local and regional media by doing her job  – representing and advocating for her constituents.

That’s not easy when they’re spread across 34,880 square kilometres but she does it and the election results shows she does it well. The 23,219 votes from the 38,879 cast is a tribute not just to her campaign, although that would have helped, but much more to the six years of hard work she’s given to the electorate since she entered parliament.

The size of the vote indicates the electorate has a blue base. But it also shows that people who would never give a party vote to National recognise the difference Jacqui makes and give her their electorate vote in spite of her political allegiance.

Making a fuss gets you headlines but you need to make a difference to get support, especially when it’s from people who don’t support your party.


Many measures of diversity

November 30, 2011

Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty is unhappy about the first decline in the number of women MPs since MMP was introduced and is blaming National.

National having only three female MPs in the top 20 shows a lack of commitment to gender representation.

“No country or Parliament is better off if women are blocked from political leadership,” Ms Delahunty said.

No-one’s blocking anyone and it’s got nothing to do with National’s commitment to gender representation.

National has a lot of electorate MPs which reduces the number of places available on the list, many are long serving, including those selected before MMP was introduced.

Among those with relatively new MPs are the three big central South Island electorates Waitaki, Rangitata and Selwyn, which might be regarded by some as conservative. All are represented by National women, – Jacqui Dean, Jo Goodhew and Amy Adams respectively. So is Waimakariri which Kate Wilkinson won on Saturday and Nicky Wagner is waiting for specials to see if she can take Christchurch Central which finished with a draw on election night.

There haven’t been many opportunities for new candidates in the last two elections but it is probable that a good number of the older MPs will retire this term or next which will provide openings for new entrants.

Anyone, man or woman, who wants to be a National MP should start working towards selection now if they haven’t already done so. That means taking an active role in the party and building up membership.

National is the only party which allows members to choose their candidate providing an electorate has sufficient members to do so.Candidates who’ve proven themselves as active members will have a better chance of winning selections.

Gaining selection with the support of members is far better than hoping you’ll get a winnable list place through tokenism.

Kiwiblog has a chart showing the demographics  of the new parliament, illustrating gender isn’t the only measure of diversity.

What he doesn’t show though is what the MPs did before entering parliament nor how many got a pay rise and how many took a cut.

That’s another measure of diversity in which I suspect National would do very well.


Why stand to lose?

August 9, 2011

During the 2002 election campaign we knew National’s chances of winning were slim but those of us working in Otago didn’t expect to lose the seat as well.

I could be wrong, but I’ve always thought Labour’s candidate, David Parker, didn’t rate his own chances very highly in the seat and possibly didn’t even want to win it. I’ve always wondered if he was standing to lose the seat but gain a toe in the door for a Dunedin seat when one of the city MPs retired.

However, whether or not he intended to win he did and served three years as an electorate MP before Jacqui Dean won the seat back for National in 2005.

Boundaries changed and the electorate’s name changed too. He stood in the new Waitaki electorate in 2008 and this time made it quite clear he wasn’t trying to win. He conceded to Jacqui  at a public meeting in Geraldine a couple of weeks before the election much to the consternation of Labour Party volunteers who were supporting him.

They made it clear to their party HQ that Parker wouldn’t be welcome back as a candidate. When he didn’t put his name forward to succeed Pete Hodgson in Dunedin North it was assumed he’d decided he preferred being a list MP. His decision to stand in Epsom doesn’t change that because he’s very unlikely to win.

Why, then, is he doing it?

Could it be because this seat will get a lot of media attention which will help his leadership aspirations? Could it also be that he’s not only looking for Phil Goff’s job but his seat as well?

Is he standing in Epsom not to win but to make a showing in Auckland and help his chances at selection in Mt Roskill when Goff retires?

P.S. His media release included this:

National and Act are taking the people of Epsom for granted and treating them like sheep to try and construct an outcome that brings MMP into disrepute . . .

That’s a bit rich when one of the aspects people most dislike about MMP is not accommodations made publicly between parties before elections, but that MPs voted out of an electorate come back on the list in exactly the way he did.


To stand or not to stand

July 21, 2011

National and Act are being criticised for a possible deal under which Act wouldn’t stand candidates in marginal seats.

MMP allows such deals and it’s not very different from parties telling supporters how to rank their preferences under Preferential Voting systems.

While there might not have been an overt deal before, minor parties have made it clear they aren’t seeking electorate votes in previous elections.

I’ve attended meet-the-candidates meeting in Waitaki, and before that Otago every election since MMP was introduced and every Green candidate has told supporters s/he’s only interested in the party vote and they should give their electorate vote to Labour.

Minor parties are unlikely to win electorate seats and when it’s the party vote that determines the make-up of parliament, not winning seats doesn’t affect how many MPs they get. But standing or not standing candidates in electorates can influence the outcome for those seats.

In 1999 the Green Party candidate for Otago got 1,872 votes. In the 2002 election the party didn’t stand a candidate in the electorate and Gavan Herlihy, the sitting National MP lost to Labour’s David Parker by 684 votes. Act’s candidate Gerry Eckhoff got 1,294 votes and while not all those votes would have gone to National, enough probably would have to have enabled him to hold the seat.

Not putting up electorate candidates can come at a cost. Regardless of whether or not they’re seeking electorate votes, having a candidate contesting a seat can help boost list votes.

However, standing in every electorate is expensive and it also requires a party to have enough potential candidates, of sufficient calibre, to ensure they don’t do more harm than good.

If a party doesn’t have enough resources – human and financial – to contest all seats properly, it’s  better putting its efforts into the party vote alone.


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