Monday, November 22, 2010

The Mana result

Over the weekend Kris Faafoi was elected MP for Mana, becoming New Zealand's first Tokelauan MP. Predictably, the spin is flying thick and fast, with National spinners claiming Labour is the loser (despite actually winning the seat) because its majority fell. And to that, I think its worth quoting Audrey Young in today's Herald:

Some in Labour who should know better are creatively suggesting that Labour actually did better in the byelection than the last general election, despite having its majority slashed from 6155 to 1080.

From three senior figures has come the suggestions that Kris Faafoi winning 47 per cent of the candidate vote on Saturday was a better result than the 43.9 per cent party vote that the party got in 2008, when Winnie Laban stood.

That is like comparing raisins and sheep droppings.

And the same applies to those talking about the size of majorities. This was a by-election with a 54% turnout, where Labour's voters stayed home because they (foolishly, IMHO) felt they didn't need to vote in such a safe seat. Pretending that the results will carry through into a general election, making Mana a marginal seat, is an exercise in self-delusion. Except of course I doubt National's spinners believe one word of what they're spouting - its us they're trying to delude, into believing a narrative of government invincibility. Convince us of that, and the next election is already half-won for them.

Meanwhile, after a drought in the early years of MMP, we have potentially three more by-elections to go this term, depending on the actions of Chris Carter, George Hawkins and Pansy Wong. None of these can affect the stability of the government, but its still going to be an interesting six months...