On the surface Labour’s lowest ever result since 1928 is bad but manageable.
However if you look beyond the headline numbers and into the electorates you can see the terrible legacy Phil Goff has gifted the Labour party.
The recent result in Waitakere has only compounded the issue.
In a number of seats Labour have lost their local list MP for good. Take Rotorua, for instance, Todd McClay saw off Steve Chadwick for the second and last time. Labour’s poor showing in the party vote means Steve Chadwick is now handing in her gear and looking for a job. She won’t have an office and neither will labour in Rotorua for three years. In the local press they won;t have to go and seek comment on issues from the local Labour person because they simply don’t exist. For the next three years the only MP commenting on local issues in Rotorua will be Todd McClay.
Napier is the same. Stuart Nash ran a robust campaign and really pushed Chris Tremain. However Tremain prevailed and Labour’s poor party vote now sees Stuart Nash seeking a job as Chief of Staff in Wellington to David Shearer. He won’t be back. Labour loses a spokesperson in the Bay and an office and Chris Tremain will now enjoy unfettered press coverage for three years straight. His majority will bounce back like Craig Foss who enjoyed a similar holiday from a Labour list stalker. Julia Haydon-Carr faced an insurmountable challenge of overcoming the man with the gay ute, Craig Foss, who did not have Julia stalking him for three years like Nash stalked Tremain.
Paula Bennett has now seen off Carmel Sepuloni in Waitakere. Labour loses an office and a list MP who can dog her every move in Waitakere. Labour again through its poor party vote loses exposure, resources and personnel and cedes the argument to National in a key electorate.
In Christchurch Central, Nicky Wagner will likewise enjoy having no Labour list MP dogging her as Brendan Burns at number 29 on Labour’s list was left stranded high and dry. Nicky will now be able to cement her position as National’s voice in Christchurch, an island of blue in a sea of red. Labour loses their office and their voice which will have to be picked up and shared by others. Perhaps Clayton Cosgrove, after his defeat in Waimakiriri might establish a presence, but it will never be a full time one.
Sam Lotu Iiga in Maungakiekie also will enjoy not having Carol Beaumont stalk his every move. He will be hoping that no labour list MPs quit and that David Shearer will tell Beaumont that the face doesn’t fit but until then he too can enjoy an electorate without a Labour office ruining the view.
Losing those resources in key areas makes it very difficult to turn things around in 2014. Labour has less presence, less resources and they must spread thinly to ensure coverage. They don’t realise the significance yet of their decision to keep Goff at the helm so that he could do to Labour what Bill English did to national in 2002. Even the leaders office will suffer cutbacks due to the reduced vote. Some in the Goffice will be very nervous, not just because they were wedded to the disaster that was Phil Goff but because there simply isn’t enough cash now to retain them all.
This is the mess that Labour has inherited, but worse this is the mess they have charged a political novice with fixing. Does David Shearer have an Orewa speech in him? I don’t think so.