Christchurch Central Selection

Nominations close for Labour’s Christchurch Central candidate today, and so far two people have publicly put their name forward: Tony Milne and James Dann. I know both of them, and they’re both top blokes who’d make great MPs.

Central is a very winnable seat for Labour. Boundary changes, even a slight nationwide swing towards Labour, and an aggressive, solid campaign could result in a Labour pick-up. However, even with those factors, it will remain very marginal.

Tony Milne is a party stalwart, if you can be a stalwart when you’re in your early thirties. He’s been involved in Canterbury Labour circles for the past ten or so years, including a stint working for Tim Barnett in Parliament, as well as heavy involvement in several key campaigns. Outside of the party, he’s active on queer issues, and was involved with the campaigns for civil unions and marriage equality, and is currently employed by the Problem Gambling Foundation.

James Dann (who also blogs here) is a very smart guy, with a touch of the showman. He’s got links to the transitional city folks, has a top-notch twitter account, and good relationships with media figures. The most important thing James brings to the table is a really serious engagement with the post-earthquake environment. His blog has been one of the key sites for analysis and critique of what’s going on in the Christchurch rebuild.

The selection is in just over a week’s time, on the 8th of March. At the moment, I would say that Milne is the front runner. However, whoever gets selected, I am sure we’ll hear a lot more from both these candidates.

Edited to add: I understand the third candidate is Gavin Smith. Will update with the nominee when we know who it is.

Further edited to add: Tony Milne was selected — congratulations!

More National selections

Good to see the National Party taking a leaf out of Labour’s book and publishing a list of their electorate selections online. You can see their page here, and I’ve updated my own multi-party candidates list. Amusingly, they seem to have forgotten the two new electorates of Kelston and Upper Harbour.

The Nats seem to be taking a totally different tactic to Labour, in that they are selecting their candidates for their own safe seats first. Which is why there are very few surprises or new names on the list so far. For the seats they don’t already hold, they have selected:

  • Epsom – Paul Goldsmith
  • Mana – Hekia Parata
  • Rongotai – Chris Finlayson
  • West Coast-Tasman –┬áMaureen Pugh

Only one new face there, and Maureen Pugh is very unlikely to be able to beat Damien O’Connor’s 2500 vote majority.

There are however two interesting points to note on their current selection list.

Firstly, they’ve selected Lindsay Tisch to stand again in the Waikato seat. Tisch was long rumoured to be standing down at this election – so National’s grand rejuvenation wasn’t quite as complete as some expected.

Secondly, nominations for Napier closed on the 2nd of February, but they list the candidate as TBA. Either the selection hasn’t happened, or they have decided but there is some other issue at play preventing them from announcing who will take on Stuart Nash. Time will tell I guess.

More on Manukau East…

Two things stood our with my initial post on the names put forward so far for Labour’s selection in Manukau East.

Firstly, there were no current List MPs looking to take the seat. In recent years we’ve seen a few list MPs in the twilight years of their careers trying to snatch a safe seat in the hope extending their time in Parliament (in late 2010 Ashraf Choudhary stood for the Manurewa selection, and Rajen Prasad for Te Atatu)

Secondly, there were no women. Given Labour’s recent rule changes to encourage women to stand for electorate selection, it seemed very odd that none had put their name forward.

Now of course, this all has to be taken with a big grain of salt. As of yet, Labour has not released a list of nominees, and nominations are due to close in a few hours.

A very well placed source has just sent me through three more names which are apparently in the mix…

All three are woman, and all three are very strong candidates.

Anahila is Tongan and has been a long standing activist in Labour circles. Her length of dedication to the cause will certainly not go unnoticed.

Lydia Sosense is Su’a William Sio’s electorate office secretary, and can probably count on strong support from the Samonan sub-faction of the Pacific sector. In addition, last year she was very comfortably elected to the Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board – the party would be stupid to ignore her electoral success. [Update – It has been pointed out that Lydia is also the chair of the Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board.]

Dr Jennifer Salesa is yet another strong candidate. Of the three she probably has the strongest CV – with a strong background in community health and education. She also has some electoral success under her belt, last year she was elected to the Mt Wellington Licensing Trust.

It looks like the race for Manukau East has really heated up. Jerome Mika can no longer be considered the front runner, especially with these three very strong female candidates in play. It’s likely that the party rules that automatically favour a female for electorate selection when up against an equally qualified male, will come into play. I’d hazard a guess that it will be Lydia Sosene that ultimately gets the nod, though it seems very close to call at this stage.

Manukau East

Last night on Twitter I was asked if I could compile a list of those who have put there hand up for a contest selection for Labour in 2014. While I’d be more than happy to do so, information on them is, in most cases, remarkably hard to come by. For the time being, I’ll be profiling seats where we do know the names of at least some of the candidates.

With long-standing local MP Ross Robertson announcing his retirement at the 2014 general election, Labour’s safest seat is up for grabs. In 2011 Ross’ majority was almost 16,000 votes – any Labour candidate is virtually guaranteed to get elected to Parliament.

The challenge for the successful candidate will not be to get elected, but instead to lift turnout. In 2011 Labour got a massive 65% of the party votes cast, but the turnout was a miserable 67.8%. The candidate should go into the election with a goal of lifting the turnout to 75% (I’ve just pulled that number out of thin air – I really hope they are a bit more scientific) – which could well gain one or two additional list MPs for Labour and significantly improve their chances of forming the next government.

So who has put their name forward so far? The names I’m aware of so far are:

  • Jerome Mika
  • Efeso Collins
  • Sunny Kaushal

Given how many candidates put their name in the ring the last time a safe South Auckland electorate came up (it seemed there were more candidates than delegates at the Manurewa selection) – I’d be very surprised if the list isn’t actually bigger. If you know of any other candidates, please feel free to email me or leave a comment and I’ll update this list.

I’d hazard a guess that at this stage Jerome Mika is the front-runner. He’s a solid Cunliffe supporter and has the backing of the powerful EPMU. It’s early days yet, but without any other serious contenders coming forward, Mika may very well find his way into Parliament.

Nominations for Manukau East close on the 10th of February and the selection meeting is scheduled for the 22nd. Interesting times.


Moving the goalposts

You have no idea how happy I was to read Claire Trevett’s glimpse into Labour strategy in today’s NZ Herald.

In short:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has set himself a benchmark for the next election making it clear his goal is to overtake National in the polls rather than simply rely on a strong combined Labour-Greens result to edge National out.


I am a firm believer that one (of the many) reasons that Labour did so badly in 2011 was because no one thought they had a realistic chance of victory.

By publicly stating that he thinks he can claim victory, and be lead the largest party in Parliament, David Cunliffe setting an expectation that Labour cannot simply coast to victory, they must claim it convincingly. It’s that sort of attitude that will resonate with the public.

Good on him.