The Nation was brutal this morning.
This is what Jim Anderton had to say about Labour’s party vote campaign strategy.
Lisa Owen: We saw Mana, Mt Albert, Christchurch there, where the party vote was seriously eroded. What do you think went wrong there on the ground? What was wrong?
Jim Anderton: Well, there’s two serious points you haven’t mentioned â€” one is that 13 of the Labour electorates got less than 15% of the party vote, and in the strong Labour electorates, mostly the Labour vote went down in the party vote. In truth, we had more people not on the roll or not voting than the entire vote that the National party vote got or the entire vote of all the parties opposing National. Now, that’s a very worrying trend for the first time. And the worrying thing for Labour is that this isn’t the worst result that’s ever been had. I mean, the National party had a worse result in 2002; they got 22% of the vote, but in the three years following that, they caught up and nearly beat the Labour party in 2005, and in the three years since 2011, when the result was not good for Labour, they’ve done even worse. So this is really a very major problem to face.
Lisa Owen: It took them two terms to come back, and we’ll talk more about that later, but I’m interested in what your thoughts are and why these people didn’t come out and vote. Why couldn’t they be bothered?
Jim Anderton: Well, I think the Labour party are very wise to have put a stamp on having a very careful root-and-branch review of what actually happened, and I’ll give you one example â€” 10 months ago, a young Cook Island girl, if she wouldn’t mind me calling her a girl, probably woman, from Auckland came to Christchurch and thrashed the National party in Christchurch East, thrashed. They got a hiding to nothing. And over 60% of the vote; she actually polled more votes than a very well-respected long-time member, Lianne Dalziel. Now, how come 10 months later, in the whole of Christchurch, the vote in Christchurch was lower than the national average? Now, that’s a very serious question to answer. I have one idea about it, and that’s organisation. I was a campaign manager for that by-election, and I said to Labour, ‘The reason that we’re doing well here is that we’re highly organised. We’ve focused on the policy.’ And I agree with Helen about reflecting to people what they really need and what their aspirations are and working out specific policies that meet those needs. Now, that’s exactly what we did in Christchurch East, and I don’t think that was done in this election.
Lisa Owen: I just want to do a round robin here.
Jim Anderton: And one of the reasons for that is that Labour no longer has the mass membership of a party that can accomplish that. It can do it in one by-election, but you can’t do it across the country, and that’s the lesson from this election.