Same as it ever was, Vernon

Vernon Small goes on a little wander into fantasy land.

There’s less than a week to run until the results of the local government elections are known, and they will likely confirm an odd?contradiction.

Why are so many of our big?cities poised to elect (or in many cases re-elect) a Labour-friendly mayor?when the country has voted in a centre-Right government?for three elections in a row?

It might be down to a voter backlash?if National and John Key were on their last electoral legs and polling in the gutter. But?they aren’t.

There is no voter backlash. It is the same as it ever was. When National is in government, Labour commands the local body politics. The reverse is also true.

Yet?come Saturday former Labour leader?Phil Goff in Auckland looks set to win at a canter, with his nearest opponent Vic Crone running a distant second in the polls.

He couldn’t win the country for Labour in 2011 but he is sweeping the country’s biggest city.

Unbelievable…maybe those blue signs have fooled everyone.

Another former Labour cabinet minister Lianne Dalziel in Christchurch is effectively unopposed from across the aisle and only veteran activist John Minto is providing any contest.

In Dunedin the locals expect Left-leaning Dave?Cull to be re-elected in a crowded field,?albeit one packed?with left-leaning candidates – though that?is?no surprise in Dunedin.

Hamilton is the only major city that breaks the mould.

Hamiton is deeply conservative.

In Wellington Labour’s Justin Lester?- a rarity for?openly declaring allegiance to a?political?party -?is either comfortably, or very narrowly, ahead depending?on whose?poll you choose to believe.

And his two main rivals are Right-leaning Jo Coughlan and former Labour member and leftist former Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett – though Labour leader Andrew Little would baulk at describing?Leggett left wing.

Nick Leggett may well surprise in this race. Though?there are threats flying around from Lester’s team, to keep his Hong Kong shenanigans quiet.

Voters often say they?want to keep party politics out of local government, but it seems we are happy not punish mayors for their?partisan?history; unless we really believe Goff’s blue billboards.

In part it is no surprise leftish mayors are dominant?in our main urban areas. That’s?where Labour wins most of its seats.

But it is not so simple, because?it is not always?reflected in the stripe of the councils.

Another factor is the high profile of the leading candidates. When it comes to name recognition Goff beats Crone hands down, and that does matter -?especially with a low turnout and the?low-octane nature?of?local body campaigns.

Name recognition and incumbency is key.

But why does the Right not currently have any candidates that brought a high-profile to the ballot paper?in these big cities?

Because the National party board are dead set useless, and Auckland’a bugger’s muddle still has their hands on the reins and the corresponding stuff ups.

If there is another factor it might be akin to what?see in Australia. There the states often vote to balance who is?in the Lodge with a state parliament from the other side. Yet that is, again, more often than not a backlash against an unpopular central?government – and that is not the case here.

Whatever the reason, Labour (with some help fro the Greens)?looks set to win the big city mayoral chains?with the kinds of sweeping personal endorsement?Goff and Dalziel could only have dreamed of getting when they were on the national stage.

Go figure.

I’m happy for Labour to run the cities…it shows us why they should never be trusted in the seat of government.


– Fairfax