Phil Quin on Twyford’s folly

Phil Quin explains, at the execrable Newsroom, where Labour went wrong…Phil Twyford:

How then to grapple with Labour’s defeat – and, yes, I know there is no new government yet in place, and that coalition kabuki is notionally ongoing, but if you believe Labour can govern from here, I’ve got an airport tram to sell you.

Labour lost in Auckland, performing worst of all in seats with a high number of migrants.

Contrast New Lynn with Nelson, for example, to get the idea. Labour’s party vote actually declined by 500 votes between 2014 and 2017 in the West Auckland seat. This is despite the Greens tally dropping by 1700 – a factor, in New Lynn and across the city, that masked the severity of Labour’s problems.

In the nearby seat of Te Atatu, Labour’s party vote inched ahead but only by claiming roughly half the discarded Green pile.

The local MP, Phil Twyford, Labour’s campaign chair and architect of the Chinese surnames stunt, even managed to shave a few hundred off from his majority — a rare but dubious achievement for an opposition frontbencher up against a minister in a third-term government.

Phil is wrong about Te Atatu. Phil Twyford’s campaigning actually lost the party vote to National.

In the absence of exit polling, we need to make some educated guesses about what explains the chasm between Labour’s relatively strong showing in places like Nelson, and the meagre gains in Auckland.

National’s strength among recent immigrants has emerged as a key advantage that, bedded down, could spell long term trouble for Labour. More than one in three New Lynn residents identifies as Asian, and about the same proportion of Te Atatu’s voters were born outside New Zealand.

If yesterday is any guide, National is building a beachhead around these vibrant and growing ethnic communities no less formidable than those Labour historically achieved with Pasifika and South Asian migrants.

Of course, National’s courting of Asian New Zealanders was aided in no small part by Labour’s unwise decision to make enemies of them.

If there was any doubt that Twyford’s surname gambit caused long-term damage to Labour’s brand among New Zealand’s fastest growing ethnic minority, surely last night’s results remove it. In seat after seat, the correlation between a high Asian population and a strong National Party showing is undeniable.

While they are repairing the damage Twyford did to the Asian community they might like to undo the damage their appalling anti-rural campaign did in the regions.




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