by Phil Duncan
Echoing some commentators, Labour is claiming a great win in last Saturday’s by-election in Mt Albert. The reality is more mundane – and less encouraging for Labour. Jacinda Ardern, already a high-profile Labour MP, having been a list MP since 2008, won 10,000 votes – less than half the votes won by retiring Labour MP David Shearer less than two-and-a-half years ago in the 2014 general election. And over 4,000 fewer than National achieved in the party vote in 2014.
National didn’t stand a candidate in the by-election – a fairly sensible decision as this is a Labour constituency seat but one in which National comfortably won the party vote in 2014. Given that there is no party vote in a by-election, there was absolutely nothing for National to gain by running a candidate.
In 2014 Shearer gained more than double the votes of National candidate Melissa Lee (20,970 to 10,314) but National took the party vote by 14,359 to Labour’s 10,823. Snapping at Labour’s heels were the Greens with 8,005 party votes.
Mt Albert is one of the seats in which the Greens are prepared to sacrifice their own standing as part of their recent pact with Labour. This is why the Green candidate registered less than 1,500 votes last Saturday.
However, Labour’s result – less than half the votes of the general election of 2014 – doesn’t augur all that well for them in this September’s general election. While they are likely to hold the seat, even with a substantial majority, it is not the constituency votes which decide the final make-up of parliament – it’s the party vote.
And last Saturday’s result has certainly not shown any signs that Labour has been able to cut into National’s party vote support in Mt Albert.
Possibly the most important sign that has been given is just how utterly the Labour Party is dominated not by workers but by liberal middle class managerial types.
Ardern is a policeman’s daughter and was a Mormon until her 25th year. She went from a BA majoring in communications straight into Labour parliamentary offices and then worked in London as a senior policy advisor. It seems she got offered a high list position and therefore returned to New Zealand in 2008 to campaign in that year’s election.
No hard graft in the trenches for Jacinda.
Labour has been dominated by people like her for decades now. They wed harmless socially liberal views to an utterly managerial commitment to capitalism, the system that cannot exist without the exploitation of the working class.
Expect lots of smiles and gushes as she climbs Labour’s greasy pole, advancing her own career and helping keep the screws on the working class.
Further reading: Redline articles on the Labour Party