Will Mt Roskill decide Andrew Little’s fate?

Andrew Little 9

Andrew Little’s future rests on the result in Mt Roskill

Matthew Hooton explores the possibility that the Mt Roskill by-election will determine the fate of Andrew Little.

Both Labour and National are downplaying their chances in Mt Roskill.

National claims that no government has ever won a byelection from an opposition in New Zealand?s history. Labour reminds pundits Mt Roskill has been won by National before, when Gilbert Myles took it from Phil Goff in 1990. They also point out National?s party vote in 2014 was 14,275, just 1090 behind Labour-Green?s 15,365. They then assert that if all the 1240 people who backed Colin Craig?s Conservative Party in 2014 vote National in the byelection, Dr Parmar will win.

You can?t argue with the maths but Labour may be overestimating the willingness of Mr Craig?s supporters to back John Key, the godless money trader who conspired with Helen Clark and Sue Bradford to stop them smacking their kids, and who also was responsible for marriage equality for gay couples.

It is inconceivable that National would win Mt Roskill. Apart from the fall of Phil Goff in the 1990 landslide election won by Jim Bolger’s National party it has been deep red in every respect, even if they’ve had an absentee MP for decades. Labour could have selected a weasel and put a red rosette on it and…oh wait.

This is all fascinating speculation for political columnists but only one thing will matter the morning after the byelection: If National wins, Mr Key and Dr Parmar will have made history and Labour and its besieged leader Andrew Little will be utterly humiliated. Ignore, then, everything National is saying about being ambivalent: this is a by-election the party is keen to win.

It would be unlikely, but hilarious, if they win.

In ordinary times, a Labour defeat in a byelection in a seat like Mt Roskill would be the automatic end of the party?s leader.? It would do Mr Little no good to say ?oh well, we lost it in 1990 too? because that would be to reference its catastrophic election defeat after the rigours of Rogernomics and the shambles of the shuffling prime ministership from David Lange to Geoffrey Palmer to Mike Moore.

Nevertheless, Labour would face a very difficult decision over whether to keep or kill Mr Little should Dr Parmar pull off a win.? If Labour hasn?t worked it out yet, there really is no hope for them: there is a rising chance that circumstances will force the early election Rob Hosking and I speculated about here last month.

Hekia Parata?s announcement of her retirement this week is further evidence of Mr Key actively clearing the decks accordingly. The prime minister?s planning for the forthcoming reshuffle is well advanced, and it would be possible for him to announce it at any time. If Nikki Kaye?s health and the long-awaited Auditor-General?s report into Murray McCully?s Saudi sheep scam force byelections in Auckland Central and East Coast Bays, Mr Key would be perfectly within his rights to instead go to the polls to seek a renewed nationwide mandate in the early part of next year.? He surely could not help himself from pulling the trigger if Labour began a new leadership struggle.

I’m not sure there would be a Labour leadership struggle. The system in place is similar to the?UK and the unions would expect a payback…again…for the meagre and only funds Labour currently has.

Labour is in absolutely no state for an early election. It has no money, and new personnel are only just being appointed to key roles following an extraordinary spate of resignations.

This is true. Labour has no money. They even went on the bludge to Phil Goff for some of his filthy lucre that was unused after the mayoral election. They were told to eff off.

Having briefly moved up above 30% in some polls, Labour is again drifting below that psychological threshold. Its leader is not credible and its caucus remains bitterly divided and unenthused. Its relationship with the Greens is wobbly.

Perhaps worst of all, top Labour officials think they have the next election already won: Winston Peters, they adamantly believe, is a dead cert to choose red-green. Mr Key almost owes it to them, as a gesture of compassion, to dissuade them of their delusions sooner rather than later.

I don’t think there is currently a chance of a general election, but politics is a fickle beast and anything could happen.

?- NBR