The advantage for National if they win Mt Roskill

Rob Hosking explains how National would gain an advantage in the extremely unlikely event they won Mt Roskill in the by-election.

National has one large advantage in the byelection ? well, two, perhaps. There are significant benefits from what is still, despite a fairly lacklustre run since re-election at the end of 2014, an aura of success ? or at least of not being as pratfall-prone as Labour.

And National, unlike Labour, is not struggling to get donations for next year?s general election, let alone for a byelection.

The biggest advantage is much the same as Hillary Clinton has in making a fight of Arizona. No one is going to be all that cut up if the party loses.

But a win would be the equivalent of an intercept try in rugby: a large psychological blow to the opposition.

In fact to some degree the psychological blow has already been struck: Labour in Mt Roskill, like the Republicans in Arizona, is being forced into defending home territory, territory it should be able to take for granted, at least to some degree. ?

We have been here before, three years ago, in the Christchurch North byelection after long-serving Labour MP Lianne Dalziel stood down after winning the Christchurch mayoralty.

Labour won that byelection, and its partisans ? and some of the more gullible Labour-leaning commentators ? heralded it as a portent for the 2014 election.

Christchurch North was even more solidly Labour than Mt Roskill ? the party had held the area since the early 1920s.

And in the end the only portent it held for 2014 was Labour?s nationwide vote was to crash back to levels last seen in the early 1920s.

No one is going to be surprised or particularly upset if National does not win Mt Roskill ? although Dr Parmar can probably be forgiven if she were to be a bit disappointed.

But a loss of one of its core seats, less than a year before the next general election, would be a body blow for the Labour Party.

National shouldn’t have a chance. Most by-elections go against the government, and in this case, the government doesn’t hold the seat anyway.

A win for Labour signified nothing except that Michael Wood has finally won something after several failed attempts to warm a backbencher’s seat.