I started this blog post by quickly writing up a list of seats which I think National may target in the 2014 elections. It didn’t take me long. Over the last few elections Labour has lost so many of its electorate seats there are virtually no swing seats still in Labour hands.
Which means that a goal of winning electorate seats off Labour is unlikely for whoever is the National leader when the 2014 election comes around. They are almost certainly going to focus their effort and resources on maintaining their current level of support, and perhaps doing some sensible electoral deals to ensure they still have coalition options after the election.
Still, there is a small handful of seats which the Nats may have their eyes on…
The only seat in the north island which National is sure to pick up is the new seat of Upper Harbour, at the far reaches of the Waitamata Harbour. Paula Bennett has already put her hand up for the seat, and will almost certainly get it. Interestingly, like the last new seat created in Auckland, Botanty, it is seen as a safe National seat right from day one. I have a theory that this in large part due to how disconnected Labour is to the heavily-morgtaged, hard working and aspirational Kiwis settling in the sprawling subdivisions at the periphery of the large cities, but that’s a topic for another blog post…
Prediction: National gain
Ohariu has been a solid blue seat for many years, and the latest boundary changes will only cement that. The only way Labour has ever had a chance at winning the seat is in a very strange three way split with Peter Dunne – if we had preferential votes for electorate seats, they would never even get close.
While there is still a reasonable chance that Peter Dunne could retain the seat, the days of him ever being able to bring in any more MPs in with him off the list are well gone. 2014 may very well be the right time for National to pounce and take the seat that they should have held for many years in their own right.
Interestingly, the latest boundary changes bring in Wadestown from Wellington Central, and with it, Wellington City Councillor, Jo Coughlan. If National do decide to take Ohariu seriously, expect Coughlan to be one of the leading contenders for the selection.
Prediction: National gain, if they want it
The seat of Port Hills was never natural Labour territory, but thanks to the very hard work of Ruth Dyson and her team she’s managed to keep the seat red. The people of Port Hills like Ruth and the work she does for them, despite the party she comes from.
Unfortunately, the boundaries for Port Hills have changed dramatically, bringing in almost 20,000 people from Banks Peninsular and Halswell from the seat of Selwyn.
Dyson’s only chance of staying in Parliament is if she gets a good list spot, because despite her good local profile, this seat is now very blue.
Prediction: National gain
Like Port Hills, Mt Roskill has long been served by a very hard working local MP, Labour’s Phil Goff. Ever since he was first defeated in 1990 and then worked his way back in 1993 he has taken nothing for granted in Roskill. He is a true local icon, loved by the electorate.
Unfortunately, just like Port Hills, the electorate boundary has changed substantially, now taking affluent chunks of Epsom and Maungakiekie, and losing working class New Windsor and Blockhouse Bay to New Lynn.
Phil’s personal majority is large enough that he can probably survive the boundary changes, but when he does move on, so too will the seat of Mt Roskill.
Prediction: Labour hold, while Goff still stands
Next in the series will be a look at which seats the minor parties might be targeting…