Labour’s problem may be the rapidly changing ethnic character of the electorate and Auckland overall. Labour has no Asian MPs, National has several, one of whom is standing in the byelection. National appears to be gathering more support among the new immigrant groups than Labour and they already can be seen at National conferences. Labour has taken a less liberal position on immigration, which might work to its advantage in a general election though probably not in Mt Roskill.
To win Auckland, Labour needs to look more like Auckland. It’s present leader, deputy leader and finance spokesman are all Wellington MPs. It’s true that its three previous leaders, David Cunliffe, David Shearer and Goff, were all Auckland MPs and it made no discernible difference. But the party does need a more prominent figure in Auckland. List MP Jacinda Ardern looks to be Labour’s most popular Aucklander though Te Atatu MP Phil Twyford is doing most of the heavy lifting on Auckland issues such as housing and transport.
It is easy to overstate Auckland’s political significance, its views on most issues do not differ very much from the country at large. But increasingly the issues of concern to the whole country originate in Auckland. Immigration is heavily concentrated on Auckland, contributing to the house price explosion that has been felt in other centres. Auckland’s increasing diversity sometimes sounds more unsettling to voters living far away from it than it is to Auckland.
Labour needs to show Auckland and the country it has the makings of a fresh, modern government, ready to step in when the country is looking for a change. It could be this time next year.
Labour want to hook into the feelings of the old days by selling the “Kiwi Dream”. Yet an increasing amount of Auckland voters weren’t even born in New Zealand and certainly didn’t experience the lazy hazy days of New Zealand’s mirage of the ’50s when everyone had a house, a car and a job, no debt and lived from cash pay packet to cash pay packet.
To a lot of immigrant New Zealanders it is a virtual crime to only work 35-40 hours a week. They can’t conceive of free university educations being given away. And they would very much rebel at the thought of people that haven’t earned it the hard way getting free money and houses.
Yet that’s Labour’s pitch.
Free education, jobs for everyone, and a 4 bedroom, double internal access garage, quarter acre section house. Clearly, that New Zealand no longer exists. But more importantly, the New Zealanders that remember those days aren’t the immigrants and their first generation Kiwi children that are increasingly dominating the Auckland electorate.
– NZ Herald