National MP Calculator

I have to admit I’ve been a bit surprised with the response to my Labour MP calculator – it seems to be a hit, even though at the moment it’s only working with a modified version of the current caucus rankings.

I’ve now plugged the National Party’s caucus rankings and selected candidates into the back end, and have the first version of my National MP calculator working…

Calculate potential National MPs

There a bug with the gender calculations for the Nats, so I’ve removed it for the time being. They don’t have a constitutional gender requirement so it will create far fewer headaches for them, but I’ll include it as soon as I can get it working as a point of comparison.

Also, the Nats haven’t finished many of their selections, and have been very sporadic about issuing releases when candidates are selected. If you know of any National candidates that have been endorsed but are missing from my list, please let me know.

Enjoy!


Labour MP calculator – NEW AND IMPROVED!

Thanks to everyone who provided feedback on the first version of the Labour MP calculator I released on the weekend – I’m glad that so many people found it interesting.

I’ve re-engineered it to use a different framework, and it is now capable of producing lists for both Labour and National and showing exactly who would be elected.

Take a look at version two here.

At the moment the List it is simulating is the current Labour caucus rankings – but as soon as the actual list is released I’ll get that up, and I’ll continue to add electorate candidates as they’re selected.

Likewise, I’m working on a version for National which will have their list as soon as it’s released.

One thing jumped out at me while putting this together – just how hard it will be for the Labour Party to meet it’s constitutionally mandated gender balance. At this stage, with so many safe electorates going to men, virtually all of the winnable list slots will have to go to women. There are still two “marginal” seats still to be selected, New Lynn and Auckland Central, which will almost certainly have to go to women if the party is to meet it’s new 50/50 rule.

As always, if you’ve got any feedback please pass it along either via a comment here or via email (patrick.leyland@gmail.com)


Labour MP calculator

Now that Labour has concluded most of it’s selections for winnable seats at the 2017 election (New Lynn, Auckland Central, and Ohariu are the outstanding ones), we can start looking at what the composition of caucus will be like following the election.

I’ve been brushing up on my coding skills and made a calculator that lets you determine the makeup of caucus based on various party vote percentages and electorate results.

View the calculator here

Having had a play around with the numbers, one thing really stands out to me. If you assume that the electorate seats and party vote share are reasonably static, Labour is well behind it’s rule of a 50/50 gender balance after the 2017 election. It’s going to make the list selection process very interesting.

Please let me know if you’ve got any ideas for changes, or notice something that needs correcting.

 

 


2017 candidates

Just like in 2014, NZ Labour is leading the way with early selections, they now have seven electorate candidates in place. There is no word on when National’s electorate selections will begin, though I’d be surprised if they started this year.

As I did for the last NZ election, I’ve created a page that lists candidates who have been officially endorsed by a major party to contest an electorate for the 2017 New Zealand election. You can view it here and there is a link permanently at the top of this blog.

Incumbents with a strike through their name indicate they have announced they are not standing for re-election in the seat.

Candidates with a public Facebook Page have that linked from their name.

I’ll also be creating public Facebook lists to keep track of the candidates, you can follow the lists so you can see what they’re up to on Facebook without having to like all their pages. Here’s the first one:

NZ Labour 2017 candidates

If you have any updates for these lists please contact me at patrick.leyland@gmail.com


How the capital was won

lester

Yesterday’s New Zealand local government elections were great for Labour right around the country.

As well as many council and local board successes, the mayors of Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Whanganui and Rotorua are now all Labour members. This means that 49% of the New Zealand population has a Labour mayor – which is very impressive.

In Wellington, Labour did particularly well. Not only did they retain the Lambton Ward council seat vacated by Mark Peck’s retirement, but they gained a seat in the Northern Ward with Peter Gilberd. And of course, Wellington has it’s first Labour mayor in 24 years in Justin Lester.

Lester’s campaign defied expectations and won with an impressive majority of almost 7,000 votes.

How did Labour get over the line? Highly targeted field work, and a lot of it. It’s not a new concept, but one that has just seen it’s best ever New Zealand execution. It’s a model that has seen extensive use in Australia in recent years (Victoria 2014, Federal 2016 and NT 2016 in particular) and has now proven it’s worth many times over. Sydney University’s Stephen Mills has written an excellent summary of the use of field campaigning in Australia in 2016 – check it out.

Firstly, Wellington Labour recruited an army of over 250 volunteers to knock on doors and make phone calls. Around 40% of the volunteers weren’t party members – they were regular Wellingtonians that were mobalised into action instead of rusted on branch members who would prefer to spend their time debating policy remits. From what I’m told almost all of the campaign’s regular canvassers had never taken political action like this before.

This small army, plus Labour’s candidates themselves, had over 60,000 personal conversations with voters during the campaign (these are phone calls or door knocks, just meeting someone at a street stall at a market doesn’t count)

Justin Lester personally spoke to 14% of the people who voted (the campaigns are given lists of people who have and haven’t voted, very useful to try and encourage people to vote who haven’t yet done so). Think about that for a second. If you voted in the Wellington City Council election, there was a 14% chance that the Labour candidate spoke to you – either over the phone or on your door step – that’s impressive.

And while the campaign went on for months, 10,000 of Labour’s 60,000 voter contacts were made in the last two weeks – when undecided voters were making up their minds and people finally got around to voting.

No doubt more analysis will be done of the results (particularly once the special votes are counted and included), but from the result one thing is clear: people power made a huge difference in the Wellington City Council election.

Labour’s newly created Community Action Network has 250 trained recruits who know how to talk to voters and make persuasive conversations.

This is how you win.


6 Reasons Why Nicola Is Wrong

This is a guest post by Reed Fleming.

Following the announcement by Justin Lester of sensible policy to tackle the housing crisis in Wellington, and to make swimming free for under 5s, mayoral hopeful Nicola Young attempted to join the contest of ideas this week, but perhaps shouldn’t have bothered.

In a Facebook essay, Young bemoaned the impact of street beggars on Wellington’s ‘look’, in a disappointing dogwhistle to the right. Here’s 6 reasons why she should’ve held fire on writing it:

1) It won’t work

It shouldn’t need saying that bans like this don’t work. Just like liquor ban zones drive drinkers to the Botanical Gardens, a ban on begging in the CBD would send beggars to Brooklyn shops, J’Ville shops, Island Bay shops, Kilbirnie shops. Will Nicola ban them there too? Will she call police to enforce the ban? What about when she’s not looking? While she’s making sure that anyone employed by Council to enforce the ban won’t be on a living wage, because she hates that too, what would the cost of enforcement be?

And where would Nicola draw the line between street performer and beggar? In the unlikely event Nicola won and brought the ban into effect, what’s to stop beggars from becoming legal street performers by beating on an upturned bucket? Case in point: weird gorilla costume guy. Beggar or sidewalk Beyonce? Who decides?

 

2) It doesn’t solve the problem

“Hard on beggars, hard on the causes of beggars”, except, Young has no plan to be hard on the causes of beggars. Out of sight, out of mind isn’t a solution. It’s just a dogwhistle to her well-off base and donors who’d rather not be pestered by the urban peasants. As Lambton Candidate Rev Brian Dawson and Local MP Grant Robertson pointed out, (both of whom get an earful from CBD constituents on the issue) a compassionate approach which invests in social services and housing will solve the problem, not criminalising being poor.

 

3) It won’t win votes

Of course, like any candidate in an election, Young made the announcement to win votes, –specifically right wing votes. Young is a former National Party candidate, and she’s in an ugly battle with at least one other candidate from the right: Bill English’s sister-in-law Jo Coughlan. It’s an STV election so preferences are all important. Every round a candidate needs enough votes to stay in as others get eliminated. Young needs right wing votes in order to scoop up Couglan’s preferences and make into the final rounds of voting.

Except, once Young’s picked up all the conservative poor-hating votes, she faces the uphill battle of meeting a Labour candidate in the final round. Justin Lester can expect to pick up many rusted-on Labour voters that continue to elect Labour MPs at the central government level with and where Labour candidates have substantial margins in three of the five wards.

Party vote stats from 2014 reveals that Rongotai and Wellington Central, electorates which make up 2/3rds of the WCC area, are among the top 10 seats in the country for combined Labour and Green party vote. Over 58% of the Rongotai electorate voted Labour or Green, and similar is true in Wellington Central. Appealing to the far right isn’t a winning strategy, because 42% of the vote does not a Mayor make.

Either Young knows this and she’s actually throwing the mayoral election in order to raise her profile for the local ward, as some speculated in 2013, or: she’s got a losing strategy. Time will tell.

4) It’s a bad strategy against Lester

Following on from why it won’t win right wing votes, it’s also not a good strategy to take votes from Lester. Lester, who potentially has to beat Celia to his left, and Young (and maybe Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett) to his right, is positioning himself as a centre-left nice guy. He’s communicating his business cred, and presenting market solutions to fix the housing problem. Not only has he got many of the cities mostly-left voters in the bag, he’ll be hoovering up moderate voters who’d typically think twice about giving their first preference to a Labour-endorsed candidate. Veering hard right does nothing to win back these voters from Lester.

5) It’s hypocrisy

Young hates street beggars because they’re annoying, confronting and slow us down on the narrow footpaths of Wellington. But cast your mind back a little and you’ll remember: she’s guilty of it herself. As pointed out by At The Drivethru Podcast, it was only a few months ago that she was begging for signatures under a false pretense that traffic signals depicting Kate Sheppard would be replaced. Young had no problem then with strangers asking for things, or loitering around ATMs. But that was her. And that was then. And this is now – in her latest crusade to cleanse the streets of the great unwashed.

6) She admits that she is ineffective

Nicola Young was elected in 2013. Since then, she has been at the top table of decision-making for New Zealand’s third largest local government body. Not only is Young a Councillor, but is the lead of Central City Projects and sits on the Urban Development Committee – she is among the best placed to implement this type of policy, but has instead remained silent for 3 years.

In many other instances, such as the Island Bay Cycle Way, she’s taken a stand, done the numbers and changed Council policy. All of sudden, she’s all but admitted she was an ineffective “backbencher” sitting around the Council table. Besides the fact the Council table has no benches, and no back row of seats, Young has it wrong by thinking we’re going to believe all of a sudden that this is an important issue to her.

And of course it raises the question – if all Nicola Young can do after three years on a $90,000 salary and a powerful seat on Council, is point fingers at others, come up with a dud policy that won’t work, won’t solve the root cause and won’t win votes – then maybe it’s time she stood down? The contrast between her and Lester, who last month got a motion through council to save the local night shelter, is as clear as day now. Wellington can have someone who gets things done, or who sits on the sidelines.


Nicola, Wellington’s embarrassed for you.


Labour Is Talking About The TPP Heaps.

I am not a trade economist, and all I know about international trade law owes to having spent a rainy weekend in a bach with some under-stimulated lawyers. So there’s no attempt to evaluate the TPP on the merits here. I’m not qualified to do so, and even if I were everyone’s made their minds up already. So here’s an inside-baseball, horse-race classic.

Little has clearly formed a strong view on the merits of the deal and he doesn’t think it’s good for New Zealand. That’s an improvement on the previous vacillation, which had the effect of alienating both supporters and opponents of the deal. However there remain issues with the articulation of this view, some owing to the previous attempts at compromise.

Noticeably, Labour has not articulated an economic argument against the TPP. Instead, Labour has committed to the sovereignty argument. This leaves Labour open to attack from the National party for adopting impractical, ideologically driven position instead of accepting trade-offs in the national interest, a line of attack that echoes pre-existing voter concerns and reinforces Labour’s perceived weakness on economic issues. It also ignores the fact that for many voters concrete issues of economic security trump even emotive issues of sovereignty.

The failure to ensure that Shearer and Goff were on board with the new policy was a major failure of political management. Shearer and Goff are senior figures in the party with past, present and future responsibilities for implementing foreign and trade policies. They are major stakeholders who should at least be able to accept party policy if not agree with it. Their dissension was predictable and deeply undercuts both the credibility and the effectiveness of Labour’s stand.

It is unreasonable to expect a spokesperson to front a policy they see as deeply irresponsible, unprincipled, and unrealistic. However, by the same token, if Shearer wished to disagree with party policy he should have resigned from the shadow cabinet and done so from the back benches and he can hardly be surprised about the inevitable consequences. Goff is running for the Auckland mayoralty as an independent. At this point, he will feel both a principled duty to back a policy he believes is in Auckland and New Zealand’s best interest, and a pragmatic wish to make it clear he is his own man and not beholden to party bosses. It is frustrating this wasn’t better handled, and the choice of Shearer and Goff to break with the party is disappointing.

But more importantly than the details of the positioning on this issue, is this issue one which will propel Labour closer to victory in 2017? Should Labour be talking about the TPP so much?

A Herald Digi-Poll from September 2015 indicates that 31% of New Zealanders disliked the TPP, while 23% support it, but in December 2015 that same poll had shifted to put support on 27% and opposition down to 26%. But that leaves a substantial 46% in both polls who either don’t know or don’t care. In reality, a bare majority of the public have an opinion about the TPP, and the vast majority of them will be ideological votes who have already have made their minds up how they will vote in the next general election. These are not even voters who have arrived at a view but are unlikely to allow it to change their votes — as might be the case about the flag — but are voters who simply don’t care enough to arrive at a view. They are deeply uninterested.

The chunk of voters who are uninterested in the TPP will tend to be the non-ideological voters that Labour needs to win over, and they are the voters who will be most turned-off by displays of division and poor management. Further, the political conversation is finite. Every time Andrew Little talks about the TPP, or caucus indiscipline, he is not talking about another issue. Given that the TPP does not appear to be a significant issue for near to a majority of voters it does not seem to be a particularly good use of a limited resource.

If you look at Key over the last fortnight, he has successfully negotiated two tricky issues in a way which has probably increased his popularity – the signalling of his likely departure in the latter part of his fourth term, and his backdown on the Auckland city rail link. Both these issues had the potential to become difficult for him, but he has either neutralised or exploited them in a manner that will have appealed to centrist voters as pragmatic and effective. Labour, by contrast, has devoted huge time and energy to an issue primarily of interest to ideologically driven voters who are by and large already committed to supporting or opposing the party, has highlighted internal division in so doing, and passed up opportunities to talk about issues of broader relevance to voters.