Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Labour gets tactical with Epsom

Labour is encouraging Epsom voters to give their electorate vote to National candidate Paul Goldsmith. Photo Mark Mitchell
Labour is encouraging Epsom voters to give their electorate vote to National candidate Paul Goldsmith. Photo Mark Mitchell

Labour has issued its clearest sign so far that it will mount its own tactical voting strategy in the Epsom electorate by encouraging its voters to give their electorate vote to National's candidate, Paul Goldsmith, to try to edge out Act.

Labour candidate Michael Wood has produced a pamphlet that encourages voters to give their party vote to Labour, but does not carry a similar encouragement to vote for Mr Wood as electorate MP. Instead, it urges them to "vote to end the Act Party rort in Epsom" - effectively a code to vote for Mr Goldsmith in the strong National seat.

It is a signal from Labour trying to fight fire with fire by asking its voters to tactically vote for Mr Goldsmith to try to ensure he wins the seat over Act's David Seymour. Succeeding would mean Act was no longer in Parliament. There was a low level similar message in 2011, when 34 per cent of Labour voters and 54 per cent of Green voters voted for Mr Goldsmith.

John Banks won the seat by 2261 votes from Mr Goldsmith. Increasing the left vote for Mr Goldsmith could be enough to tip Act out. Mr Wood said Labour did want to run a straight campaign in Epsom and he was not campaigning for Mr Goldsmith "yet". "If it transpires that National want to manipulate the system, then we are leaving our options open on that count."

Labour leader David Cunliffe would not rule out such a tactic if any "unprincipled deals" happened.

Act leader Jamie Whyte said Labour had been so sanctimonious about tactical voting that it would be astonishing if it encouraged such behaviour. He doubted it would work, saying many National Epsom voters were happy to vote for Act because it was to their benefit. Claire Trevett

- NZ Herald

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