How to save money on MPs’ salaries – just leave seats vacant when no-one can muster solid support

Can't find the missing Labour voters down here - what about down your hole?

Alf is delighted to see Labour leaders with their bums up and heads in the sand. This seriously improves National’s prospects of increasing its numbers in Parliament at the next election.

He says this after learning Labour’s leadership (according to the Herald) has been “putting on a brave face over the party’s sharply reduced majority in the weekend’s Mana byelection…”

Kris Faafoi became Labour’s newest MP.

But he won with a majority of 1080 votes against National list MP Hekia Parata, whereas Winnie Laban, whose resignation this year triggered the byelection, beat Ms Parata by more than 6000 votes in the last general election.

According to the Herald –

As is usual in byelections, voter turnout was low at 54.7 per cent. Nevertheless, Labour’s reduced majority represents a 14 per cent swing to National.

But Phil Goff won’t acknowledge this. He prefers to regard the 47 per cent of the vote Mr Faafoi secured as an improvement on Labour’s party vote in the electorate in 2008.

He said Mr Faafoi was a first-time candidate replacing Ms Laban, who had an established reputation and a huge amount of personal support built up over 11 years.

In Ms Parata, Mr Faafoi was up against a veteran of three elections, including two in the electorate, who had maintained an office there for two years.

“In the circumstances we think that was a bloody good result … it was above the level we had expected.”

Labour Party president Andrew Little has a curious grasp of the numbers, too. He is quoted as saying the 14% swing to National was “not necessarily a swing to National”.

“You’ve got to look a little bit askance at the result and say ‘does it truly reflect the sentiment of the electorate?’ and I’m not sure that it does. The next real test will be in the general election next year and we’ll see what happens with Kris Faafoi and the votes he’s able to pull then.”

Blah, blah, blah.

Little makes another point.

Mana had been regarded as a safe Labour seat and Faafoi was regarded as a shoo-in and this may have affected voter response.

“The turnout tends to be low when people think that their favourite is going to get home.”

So what about the handicap of putting up Goff’s man as Labour’s candidate, rather than the candidate wanted by local Labour people?

Little says he believed the low turnout and reduced majority was at least partly because of Labour voters staying at home because they were unhappy with Mr Faafoi’s selection.

“I don’t know how deep it was, but it was a constant thing that came up.”

During the campaign Mr Faafoi faced criticism that he was a “carpetbagger” as he did not live in the electorate and his ties with the community were not as strong as he claimed.

That was unfair on Mr Faafoi, but nevertheless a fairly prevalent view, he said.

Another consideration was thrown into the mix by Massey University academic Claire Robinson who looked at why so few buggers in the electorate bothered to vote.

Robinson attributes this to ‘voter fatigue’ as a result of the by-election’s close proximity to recent local body elections.

Goff seized on this and mentioned it on Radio NZ’s Morning Report.

Voter fatigue.

Ha!

Alf points out that Labour supporters clearly are enfeebled, mentally, to start with.

So in cases if electoral fatigue – where the sad bastards can’t muster the physical energy to wander down to a polling booth and muster the mental strength to stick one little tick on a bit of paper – Labour will suffer more than national.

But the best idea by far comes from Libertarianz Party leader Richard McGrath, who suggests that in any by-election where less than 50% of people vote, the seat should remain vacant until the next general election.

He notes –

“Kris Faafoi struggled to win the support of a quarter of eligible Mana voters. What sort of mandate is that?”

“The people have spoken. A near-majority of voters rejected the prospect of their electorate being represented by anyone in Parliament. Perhaps they have realised that most problems in the community can be solved without politicians meddling in people’s lives.”

He also said –

“The people of Mana failed to rally behind any one of several available candidates. It is high time that voter rejection was recognised in Parliament with empty seats, with massive potential savings for the taxpayer.”

Alf has some sympathy with this idea.

Mind you, he is aware he always wins a thumping big majority in Eketahuna North.

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