Monday, September 12, 2005


Earlier in the year, in a post on strategic voting, I suggested that left-wing voters use their electorate votes to express their displeasure with errant Labour MPs who had voted against civil unions, the relationships act, or otherwise moved the government towards the right. This is premised on the fact that in most cases, the electorate vote does not matter. Who governs is determined by the party vote, and the electorate vote is simply a way of shuffling the faces. Or in this case, signalling disapproval for the way a candidate has voted.

There are two major impediments to doing this. The first is that most of Labour's traitors have large majorities, so the best that can be done is to send a signal, nothing more. The flip side of this, though, is that many are also not on the party list - meaning that if they are de-elected, they are gone for good, and someone else (most likely a liberal, given the makeup of Labour's list) gets to take their place. The other problem is that in most cases, their most credible opposition is no better; most National candidates are conservatives who oppose legal equality, and those who aren't aren't exactly shouting it to the four winds. While there is IMHO a clear case for voting for a liberal National candidate over a conservative Labour one, it's a lot murkier voting for a conservative over a conservative. This is really a decision that is up to the individual; those who really hate Labour's conservatives and want to see them de-seated should hold their nose and vote for the National candidate (unless they are remarkably worse), while those who just want to send a message should cast their candidate vote for a more liberal candidate from a minor party. The party vote is of course a different matter: if you want a left-wing government, you need to vote for a left-wing party - meaning Labour, the Greens, or the Progressives.

The cleanest example of what I'm talking about is in Mangere, and I've blogged about it here: the incumbent, Taito Phillip Field, Labour's most conservative MP, is up against Clem Simich, who is one of National's few liberals. Comparing their respective voting records ought to make it clear why liberals in the seat should support Simich. Field has an enormous majority, but reducing it would hopefully send a message. Those who can't stomach voting for a National candidate should consider the Alliance's Len Richards, or the Greens' Muamua Strickson-Pua, both of whom have good liberal views.

Other seats are a lot murkier. Here's the shit-list, with links to their voting records:

  • Tamaki-Makaurau: John Tamihere. Not only did he oppose civil unions, he's also a cat-neglecting bastard. Fortunately, it looks as if he is going to be deseated (and he has no list spot as backup), and his opponent, Pita Sharples, has said he supported civil unions.
  • Waimakariri: Clayton Cosgrove. This is a semi-urban, semi-rural seat, and so it may swing significantly against Labour - and Cosgrove isn't on the list, so if he's out, he's gone (and good riddance too). Unfortunately, I know next to nothing about Kate Wilkinson, the National candidate - but can she be any worse?
  • New Plymouth Harry Duynhoven - opposed civil unions, but at least voted for the relationships bill. He has a massive majority, and is well ahead in the polls, so voting against him would be a signal, nothing more.
  • West Coast-Tasman: Damien O'Connor. It's a relatively close race, and O'Conner looks to have his majority substantially eroded. National's Chris Auchinvole doesn't seem much better, but would at least vote for the gender-identity amendment to the Human Rights Act. If you can't stomach him, the Green candidate is probably a good bet.
  • Manukau East: Ross Robertson. Again a large majority with no list spot, so the best that can be achieved is to signal displeasure. Unfortunately I don't know anything about the national candidate, but there are Green and Progressive alternatives available.

If you live in Mt Roskill, I'd also suggest voting against Phil Goff for his consistent erosion of civil liberties, and if you're in Dunedin South, against David Benson-Pope for his outrageous comments on Ahmed Zaoui - though both have high list spots and are likely to get in regardless.

If anyone has any further polling data from these electorates, or information about the opposition candidates and their views, then please post a link in the comments.


I'd suggest that wherever you might be, if you think, as I do, that this Labour government has been illiberal and authoritarian on issues such as Mr Zaoui's detention, then a party vote for the Greens will send that message (and with the Greens polling consistently 5%+, there is a reasonably small risk of a wasted vote - if they don't make the threshold, we'll get a National government anyway).

Might as well electorate vote Green as well, unless the Labour candidates a personal mate or in:
- Tauranga - vote Nat to try and get rid of Winnie
- Epsom - same, to get rid of Rodney and Act
- Ohairu-Belmont - Labour to try and lose Dunne (not much chance I'm afraid)
- Wigram - Much as I'd like to get rid of Jim, Wigram voters should probably still vote for him as the overhang will help Labour.

Posted by Rich : 9/12/2005 01:45:00 PM

The trouble with a tactical Nat vote is that, with the possible exception of Mangere, amongst the other noise of the election (read tax cuts and Maori bashing) the message you send might be the wrong one. It's safer, I feel, in most of the electorates you list, to candidate vote Green, Progs, Alliance or Maori. That way the message to Labour - veer left - is clear and, if you are really lucky, in the same way that a vote for Nader was (supposedly) a vote for Bush you still might contribute to unseating the illiberal Labour MP.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/12/2005 01:55:00 PM

A tactical vote need not be for Labour - throw it to one of the Progressive parties such as the Greens or the Alliance.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/12/2005 02:12:00 PM

btw, idiot, i'm no troll. i've been a loyal member of the democratic party in the US of A for a long, long, long time. i've also spent a large part of my life defending america. and it appears i'll be spending a little more of my life doing just that.

i really hate it when hard-left neo-marxists from overseas decide they know whats best for americans. i doubt you know whats best for nz, but it least its a smaller country, easier to get your mind around. stick to what you know.

Posted by Federalist X : 9/12/2005 02:15:00 PM

We may be socialists down here, but we're Socialists Without Doctrines, goddammit.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/12/2005 03:26:00 PM

Terence & Brian: Well, voting for the National candidate is the best bet for unseating these guys - but it really depends on whether you want to get rid of them, or just say "I hate you".

And yes, the "veer left" message can be sent through the party vote, by voting for a coalition partner to the left of Labour.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/12/2005 03:29:00 PM

I/S -

Does it go without saying that you also recommend/advocate voting against the illiberal MPs from other parties at the electorate level?

Having a look at the wotfun voting record this list might include:

- All New Zealand First MPs, except perhaps Brian Donnelly & Ron Mark?

- A fair swag of National MPs, including Bill English, Georgina Te HeuHeu, Phil Heatley, Richard Worth, Gerry Brownlee, Nich Smith, Shane Arden, Sandra Gouldie, Simon Power....

- ACT MP Kenneth Wang

- Maori MP Tariana Turia

Should a liberal still hold their noses and vote for Richard Worth over Rodney Hide? The latter's "liberal" voting record is fairly impressive.

Taito Phillip Field stands out as the only consistently anti-liberal Labour MP.

Posted by dc_red : 9/12/2005 04:05:00 PM

DC_Red: Yes. As for Hide vs Worth, it depends on how much you value Hide's vote on conscience issues (which is likely to be cancelled out by those of other ACT MPs he brings with him) against a left-wing government which will pursue such issues (as opposed to a right-wing one where they will be ignored).

I'd also like to recommend National's more liberal MPs - but as I said above, they keep fairly quiet about it. Pansy Wong is one good option, but she's up against Judith Tizard and Nandor, so it doesn't really matter who wins (though having Wong taking a slot which would otherwise be taken by a conservative would be good). Katherine Rich is another. Beyond that, the pickings get thin...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/12/2005 04:27:00 PM

God I love MMP! Thanks for doing all this thinking on behalf of us lazy shites, I/S.

PS: where'd you get your troll?

Posted by Anonymous : 9/12/2005 04:57:00 PM

PM: I'm in a boring electorate; what else am I going to do?

As for the troll, he followed me home after I rated some of his comments badly on Daily Kos. He seems to have taken quite an exception to it.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/12/2005 05:07:00 PM