This election is far from over – Cunliffe

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since Labour launched its campaign five weeks ago. Everyone thought at the time Labour was a bit mad to launch so early. Wasn’t the party going to run out of things to say? As it happened, Labour has struggled to be heard over the noise created by Dirty Politics. Maybe that early launch wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

Not that it has done Labour much good. On the latest polls, Cunliffe just might be able to stitch together a government but he would have to hoover up every minor party within cooee of the Left wing of the political spectrum. And he would need Winston Peters, who has made it abundantly clear he has no intention of being an also-ran in a government that relies on Hone Harawira (or for that matter the Maori Party).

If anything, Labour’s support has flatlined over the course of the campaign. It’s not much to show for five weeks of hard slog, 5am wake-up calls, squeezing into tiny airplanes, snatched evenings at home, hours of prep for the leaders’ debates, and dispiriting shopping mall walkabouts.

Labour’s support has indeed flatlined, with voters now moving their votes from National looking for some kind of strategic advantage.   Risky stuff though.  

While Key is mobbed by selfie-mad crowds wherever he goes, unable to move more than five metres, Cunliffe is barely recognised. If it were not for the entourage of minders, police and media, most punters would not register the Labour leader was there.

Down but not out, Cunliffe refuses to be disheartened either by the polls or the thankless job of Opposition. The final stage of the campaign could be a “crucial” turning point, he believes.

“We know there are high undecideds. We know that Labour has the best turnout machine on the ground it has had for many years. We know that we have got a lot of people that want to vote Labour and we have got the opportunity to get them to the polls.

“On a number of polls, National is around the mid-40s and I think it is very, very possible, with a good turnout operation and a good couple of weeks, that we tilt the Left-Right balance to the point where we can form a coalition.

“This election is far from over.”

Apart from voters in the Epson electorate, voters should be careful not to over-think things to the point where they’ll let Labour and Green back in with the support of Winston First.   The only way to do that is to make sure National has the highest possible party vote.

Don’t get cute.  Keep it basic.


– Tracy Watkins, Fairfax Media

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