Matt McCarten on politics
Matt McCarten is a Herald on Sunday political columnist

Matt McCarten: Progressive tactics for a fairer Parliament

Hone Harawira. Photo / Janna Dixon
Hone Harawira. Photo / Janna Dixon

This column is strategic advice for centre-left voters only.

Right wing readers should obey John Key's edict on private political conversations. So please turn the page.

Now that there are just us lefties remaining, I want to advise you on the importance of using your electorate vote in certain seats to tactically consolidate around a single candidate who has the best chance of defeating their right-wing counterpart.

The three seats where progressives voting for the following candidates could determine the election are:


Paul Goldsmith. You've got to be pretty dumb not to already know that the only candidate who can beat Act's John Banks is the National Party guy. Any progressive who doesn't vote for Goldsmith is helping create a more right-wing National government because they will allow Don Brash and Banks into Key's government.

If Banks wins by less than the electorate votes given to Labour's David Parker, who still lives in Dunedin, then I'm blaming Labour for Act's survival, not the Nats.

Ohariu Belmont

Charles Chauvel. This electorate has the country's highest number of public servants. A National government will "restructure" their jobs. Any vote that's not for Chauvel is a vote to sack workers. A Peter Dunne loss will deprive the right wing of at least one MP and make a National government very cautious about proceeding with public service cuts.

Te Tai Tokerau

Hone Harawira. Every progressive and Labour supporter should vote Harawira. Labour's candidate Kelvin Davis had his chance in the by-election. Any votes for the Maori Party are votes for National.

A Harawira victory means Mana doesn't need to get over the 5 per cent threshold to get additional MPs. Every 0.8 per cent of the party vote will get another MP for the centre-left.

There are four marginal seats where it matters for the future that the National candidate is defeated.

Auckland Central

Jacinda Ardern. I respect National's Nikki Kaye and the Greens' Denise Roche as well as Labour's Ardern. Fortunately all three will go to Parliament via their party lists regardless. If Kaye wins, National will crow that the liberal middle class supports their agenda. Last election Kaye won by a 1500-vote margin. But Roche got 4500 votes. If Green supporters switch their vote to Ardern, she wins, and she knows who she owes. Ardern is going to be a major player in the future and the Greens having a marker on her is worth having.

New Plymouth

Andrew Little. We need progressives winning in provincial centres. Little is one of the leading thinkers and a future senior party leader. His victory will maintain Labour's emerging pro-worker policies and give the provinces a real heavyweight in the caucus.

Te Atatu

Phil Twyford. I hope this guy wins this seat by an avalanche. Twyford is one of the most talented and brightest hopes for Labour, but isn't high enough on the Labour list, so he needs to win the seat. I urge every voter, the Greens and principled Nats included, to give him their electorate vote. Te Atatu deserves a decent MP again.


Carmel Sepuloni. If National's Paula Bennett wins this seat National will claim her victory as endorsement of stepping up the attacks on the poor. Mana's Sue Bradford is a superior candidate and should go back to Parliament. However, Sepuloni has a better chance of defeating Bennett. The best way that progressives can get Bradford into Parliament is to give her your party vote. Mana only needs to get 2.9 per cent party vote and she's in.

Most of us don't live in these electorates but we know people who do. Ask them to tactically vote for the above candidates.

Thankfully, the other side won't know what we are really up to, because no one can divulge this communication without you and me agreeing.

Well, that's what the Prime Minister says anyway.

- Herald on Sunday

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