Labour;'s campaign launch

More polling released over the weekend showed Labour heading for its first landslide election victory since 1987.

At the same time, a combination of the low polling and the release of National’s list suggests that another five National MPs will join the already announced 11 National MPs who have retired.

New Zealand First looks to be out of Parliament altogether with continued low party polling and a poll in Northland showing Shane Jones running a poor third in the electorate race.

A Roy Morgan poll published on Saturday showed that Labour would be easily able to govern alone.

Roy Morgan poll July 2020

JulyJuneSeats
Labour53.5-168
National26.5-0.534
NZ First1.5n/c0
Greens8110
ACT6.51.58

Equally revealing was a One News Colmar Brunton poll on the Northland electorate which showed National’s party vote there dropping by 8.4 per cent to fall below Labour for the first time since MMP was introduced in 1996.

Northland Party Vote July 2020

20202017Percentage Change
Labour4130.1310.87
National3846.35-8.35
ACT80.477.53
NZ First713.17-6.17
Green4.76.05-1.35
New Conservatives1.9

All of these electoral chickens came home to roost on Saturday.

Labour was holding a celebratory campaign opening in the Auckland Town Hall marked by minimal new policy and maximum hoopla while National Party delegates were cloistered in the party’s Wellington headquarters trying to order the party list.

National could take some comfort in the fact that Labour’s new jobs policy built on a policy they had introduced in Government in 2012.

The policy would extend National’s Flexi-wage scheme to include a  business subsidy of on average $7500, and up to $22,000, to hire unemployed New Zealanders and set aside $30 million in a  ring-fenced fund to help unemployed start their own business.

National Leader Judith Collins said that her Government’s scheme was about getting people who were more vulnerable into work.

“Things have changed,” she said.

“And we’re looking at people from one end of the spectrum to the other, highly skilled, highly experienced people who are themselves losing jobs.”

But Labour is riding high and with an obvious strategy of presenting themselves as the Jacinda  Ardern party offering as little contentious policy as possible and thus avoiding becoming a target.

Labour is riding so high it can now only lose votes, and the strategy from now on will be to contain those losses.

National, on the other hand, is beset by internal problems.

Echoes of its leadership changes ricocheted through the weekend.

Todd Muller was the subject of major newspaper coverage of his account of the anxiety attacks that led to him relinquishing the leadership.

Party and campaign officials grumbled that that occupied space that might have been about Judith Collins’ election campaign.

POLITIK National Party President peter Goodfellow and Leader Judith Collins at the party list announcement on Saturday

But the real damage from the party’s disruption was evident in the party’s list announced on Saturday.

With its current polling at up to 30 per cent, it would be likely that only 10 MPs would come in off the list which, under the new rankings unveiled on Saturday would mean Agnes Loheni, Alfred Ngaro, Brett Hudson and Jo Hayes would all be out of Parliament.

Loheni and Ngaro are Pasifika MPs and Hayes Maori.

This would leave National with only four Maori MPs — Simon Bridges, Shane Reti, Harete Hipango and Dan Bidois and no Pasifika MPs at all.

On the other hand, the party would have two Indian MPs, one Chinese (Nacy Lu, list), one Korean and one Filippino.

In contrast, Labour could have ten Maori, nine Pasifika, two Indian and Sri Lankan, one Chinese and one Eritrean MPs.

In comparison, National looks like a much “whiter” party than Labour.

Collins clearly played a big role in the preparation of the list; three of her most loyal supporters, Maureen Pugh, Harete Hipango and David Bennett found themselves significantly elevated from their positions in the Simon Bridges caucus hierarchy.

Pugh went from 51 under Simon Bridges to 19 on the list announced on Saturday.

“We want to say to her that do work has been valued,” said Collins.

“She’s one of the most popular members of our caucus, and that’s because of her hard work and dedication and the fact that she is such a genuine person.”

Push was described by Bridges in a secretly recorded and leaked phone call as “fucking useless.”

So, to what extent was this new ranking an apology.

“Well, that was a very unfortunate situation, wasn’t it?” said Collins.

“I’m sure you were as impressed as I was and the whole list ranking team at Maureen’s extreme graciousness and dignity in dealing with the leak of a very nasty recording by Jamie Lee Ross.”

Brett Hudson fell from 27 to a probably unwinnable 36 on the list and at 30 (down from 12), former Minister, Alfred Ngaro may not return to Parliament.

That may reflect a view within the party that he has not been all that visible over the past year or so.

In the second part of the One News Colmar Brunton poll, National was well ahead in the Northland seat, but New Zealand First’s Shane Jones was in third place, seemingly spelling the end to New Zealand First’s chance of returning to Parliament given that they are polling well below five per cent in all party polls.

Northland candidates.

%
Matt King (National)46
Willow-Jean prime (Labour)31
Shane Jones (NZ First)15

Last Thursday Jones appeared to suggest that he would like either Labour or National to do an electorate deal with him to enable him (and thus NZ First) to return to Parliament.

He was asked if he would welcome a  “bit of a hand’ from Labour to win the seat.

He replied: “That’s above my pay grade.”

But asked again, and asked about why he smiled when he answered the first question, he said: “Well, look, if the North wants me and if Labour or indeed even National think that a personality of my character and a man of my delivery capacity is the one to send back then they know what to do.”

The Prime Minister yesterday rejected the idea of a deal – but didn’t entirely close the door.

“We have said we wouldn’t [do a deal] – and NZ First hasn’t asked,” she said.

“We have both, as parties, been really clear – we are campaigning as separate parties.

“I am backing our candidate.

“We are six weeks out, so there’s a lot of water to go under the bridge yet, but we are campaigning very hard.”

With the clear prospect of a single party majority in Parliament she is under no pressure to do a deal with NZ First, and many in Labour would welcome the opportunity to end the relationship with a party they have come to regard as a pain in the butt.

NZ First leader Winston Peters said the party had never done electorate deals in its history. With no deal, the party is going to need something pretty extraordinary to get back to five per cent.

Only one party can look at this election campaign with confidence and that is Labour.

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