John Elliott: It’s deadly quiet on central city streets - then suddenly a new election poll for Auckland Central

With so little appearing to be happening in the campaign for Auckland Central, it was getting harder, not easier, to make predictions.

And then out of the blue comes a new Reid Research poll which woke us all up. It likely has implications New Zealand-wide.

Helen White, Labour candidate for Auckland Central, is way in the lead on 42.3% with National’s Emma Mellow trailing on 26.6% and The Greens Chlöe Swarbrick close behind Emma on 24.2%.

That result must send shivers down the spine of all National Party devotees. If repeated across New Zealand, National would suffer its worst defeat - at least since 2002.

The poll showed the party vote was even better news for Labour - Labour on 56%, National on 23% and the Greens on 12%. Fifteen percent of National’s 2017 voters said they would vote Labour in 2020 - a stunning turnaround since Nikki Kaye’s halcyon days.

There are still 25 days to go until the election, and, in these world-wide catastrophic times, anything is possible.

However, a comeback from those figures looks unlikely for Emma or Chlöe.

I suspect it’s hardest for Emma Mellow, who started with no name recognition at all after very late selection. Will she still pick up more of Nikki Kaye’s 2017 voters as she gets better known, or is the tide now so far out for National that it is beyond her reach? I know she is doing everything she can to build her profile.

What influence will Jacinda have on the electorate outcome? Although she was twice beaten by Kaye in Auckland Central she is, after all, a local, and half our Ponsonby News readers live and vote in Mt Albert. Can she help Labour’s Helen White get over the line?

I don’t think we have received a single flyer in the letterbox yet, and because of Covid no candidate has knocked on the door. I think all three leading candidates need the exposure door knocking can give, especially new candidates. When, hopefully soon, we return to level 1 more personal campaigning can take place.

I still think any time Swarbrick can debate the other two ‘big’ candidates she will shine, and if Chlöe can’t win Auckland Central I really hope the Greens can achieve 5%. This would enable the very able Chlöe, and enough of her colleagues, to return to parliament at a critical time in history when our planet is at such risk. I don’t want to see Labour governing alone.

Helen White debated on Jervois Road last weekend. I detected a newly-found confidence in her. Not only does she not have Nikki Kaye to contend with, she has a fast-rising Labour tide swirling her to the finish line. This poll could lead to a self-fulfilling prophesy; “Helen’s winning, I’d better join the winning team.”

I heard a bigoted National Party supporter say that Chlöe might be bright, but it would be ‘dangerous’ to elect her. I refrained from getting into an argument, but what the hell does ‘dangerous’ mean? Is she a closet communist in league with Beijing? Is she a spy for Putin? What it tells me is that many in the National Party are still living in the 20th Century, are way out of date with climate change, care nothing about rampant inequality and poverty in Aotearoa/New Zealand, and want to continue with outdated neo-liberal policies.

Just one example will suffice. Imagine the backward decision to make the tired old warrior, Gerry Brownlee, the successor to the young and liberal Nikki Kaye as deputy leader. Kaye clearly said, “Enough of this reactionary behaviour is enough. I’m out of here.”

In a 2017 National seat, this bigotry does make it harder for Swarbrick, but she knows it and brilliantly argues it or just bats it away with a smile.

Now, in the latest switch on a switch, National has confirmed its 20th century neo-liberal mentality. Collins announced a tax cut mainly benefiting the rich. When we are so heavily indebted, she attempts a blatant bribe. What will National cut to finance that bribe?

Check my September article on tax and death. Remember 2009. John Key’s first action was a tax cut for the rich and an addition to GST, which disadvantaged the poor most. He called it ‘fiscally neutral’. They never learn these Nats. Even business-friendly Fran O’Sullivan, Herald correspondent, called it “certainly bold, but a fiscal rort.” O’Sullivan also said it was a plan “so cynical it just might work.” The money for the tax cuts would come from the decreasing number of billions left for any future Covid outbreak. Raiding the sick to aid the rich. How cruel would that be?

My latest prediction — Reid Research is a reputable polling company, so it looks as if local barrister and Freemans Bay born, Helen White, will be going to Wellington to represent us after 17 October.

She will be a worthy rep, but we must not forget that old adage, “It’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings.”

It’s still a three way go in Auckland Central, and neither Emma Mellow nor Chlöe Swarbrick can be counted out. (John Elliott)

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