Why Mt Roskill will remain with Labour

The Prime Minister and Opposition leader have turned their attention to Mt Roskill with only a week to go until the byelection.

The low profile of Labour candidate Michael Wood and National backbench MP Parmjeet Parmar together with the Kaikoura earthquakes has meant the battle for Mt Roskill has not generated many headlines.

“The earthquake definitely did shift some focus away and completely understandably,” Wood said. “But it’s interesting for local people because they have had no other MP for 35 years.

“This is the first time for a very long time in which people are definitely making a choice about somebody who will not be Phil Goff to be their MP. I think that is starting to generate some interest.”

It’s a yawn-fest all round, to be honest.  There are no burning issues, and candidates are campaigning on policy that simply doesn’t have any local bite.  

Wood said voter turnout was usually lower in byelections and motivating supporters to turn out on December 3 was a focus, as was convincing the sizeable number of National voters who also supported Goff to stick with him.

“Labour was behind on the party vote [in 2014] so if I want to win the election I’ve got to win the support of people who voted Labour last time, but I also have to win the support of people who voted National and other parties last time. That’s why we’ve said from the beginning it will be a tough campaign,” Wood said.

Labour leader Andrew Little will attend a campaign rally at May Road School today, and Prime Minister John Key spent the entire morning yesterday with Parmar in the electorate.

Goff, whose retirement from Parliament upon being elected Auckland Mayor sparked the byelection, has also lent a hand – in a letter to residents last week he praised Wood and his achievements on the local Puketapapa local board.

This is why Labour will retain the seat:   Labour have a good ground game that counts in by-elections.  National are tits at mobilising the vote when it can’t lean on its strategies that have worked at a national level.  Northland should never have gone to Winston as much as Mt Roskill can go National – but putting Steve Joyce in charge is like asking John Key to invest your pocket money.  The scale of it simply doesn’t engage them enough to do it well. Employing Jo de Joux to run the campaign will just ensure it is a disaster after losses in Northland and the Auckland local body campaigns.

Also, National never thought it was winnable.  They are just running it as a PR exercise.  Strangely, the electorate was easily up for grabs with the right strategy.  Wood is a very weak candidate, and Labour are having a fourth go at trying to get him off the list.  He’s also whiter than white bread, will probably replace Mallard as parliament’s biffo boy, and all that in an electorate where finding your traditional Kiwi male is an exercise in looking for a Moose in Fiordland.

Amusingly, when Wood gets in it will mean another male Labour List MP will need to bite the dust as Little’s promise to implement the man-ban (the payment required for the party to pretend it is unified) and all other male list MPs will find themselves sliding backwards down the list that may take Labour’s largest cull yet. Electing Michael Wood just makes the decapitation strategy more valid.

Mt Roskill will be won by the party that gets the most people to bother to vote.  And Labour will win that game hands down.

 

– NZ Herald

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