Well it looks like Martyn Bradbury will get his wish fulfilled with regards to the Mount Albert by-election.
Of course I am being facetious as I don’t think Martyn wants to see what is now unfolding in Mt Albert as The Opportunities Party Geoff Simmons has thrown his hat into the ring but to give him kudos as he did see it coming.
And Martyn would be right to wonder and worry about the situation as there are too many variables now in play to just treat this as a re-run of the Mt Roskill by-election in December where Labour just ran in an easy first over National.
In that event it was just Labour in a relatively safe seat vrs National newcomer (and political inept) Parmjeet Parmar while this time National has stepped aside and its Labour, Greens and now TOP into the fray.
I don’t agree with all of Martyn’s analysis but it’s clear and correct that he sees trouble coming with the dynamics of what instructions National will give to its 14,000 plus voters in the zone and the spoiler effect of TOP now hustling for votes along with the rest of them.
My main disagreement is his view that Labour and the Greens would not be able to play nice but I am willing to hedge my bets given that their MOU is in effect untested and this as a safe as place as any to test it.
Will the Labour/Greens relationship hold up in the campaign? (I think it will); which way will National voters go? (Like Martyn, I suspect that TOP will be a much more palatable candidate to them than Labour or the Greens); and what message will this send to the wider electorate? (that depends on the outcome but if TOP do well expect them to build on it).
I would be careful to say that this will be a microcosm of the coming general election but I would be a fool not to say that some portents could not been seen in the tea leaves when it’s all over.
First up: If Gareth Morgan and TOP do well then its game on for them and while not everyone likes an underdog, a lot more people like an underdog when it has a fighting chance (we could call this a mild version of FukYoo politics manifesting as a reactionary vote for TOP as a warning to both National and Labour) and that’s just what a good showing could provide to TOP, imagine, shock horror, what a surprise victory in Mt Albert could lead to (Winston are you paying attention?).
The kicker for this will be if National sends its troops into bat for TOP or not which is based on who National would prefer to work with in the outcome, Labour Greens or Gareth Morgan. So Bill English has a decision to make if he still has control of his 14,000. It might be that he does not and they go whatever way their whims take them.
Also Morgan can use this as a test run for TOP on the hustings and that’s invaluable experience which would normally be only able to be gotten in a general election so there is that factor as well.
If, as Martyn fears, a Labour/Greens breakdown could be the start of a bad run for the two and signal very plainly to the electorate that Labour and the Greens cant work together. Such an outcome would play out very badly later when the main event starts.
In essence I think Martyn has identified the highly variable nature of the situation and is right to have some unease about it.
So like him, watch Mt Albert carefully, very very carefully.