Labour's Auckland Central candidate Helen White says she fears a split centre-left vote will allow National to hold on to the seat. So she wants the Greens' Chloe Swarbrick to stand down.
How about this? She could stand down.
I know, I know, it seems counter-intuitive. White is currently the front-runner for a seat she has spent two elections trying to win: why should she go anywhere?
She's dug herself in and so has Swarbrick, so it's up to the voters to decide. But voters in Auckland Central who want progressive reform in this country have many reasons to vote for Swarbrick and hardly any to vote for White. Here are 11 reasons why.
1. White's going to Parliament anyway
Her 48th spot on the Labour list almost guarantees she'll become an MP: the nationwide party vote for Labour would have to collapse below 40 per cent for her to miss out. If she performs well in Parliament, she'll move up the list next election.
2. The trends for White are bad
Although she's the front-runner, the trends for White are not good. We've had two polls in the electorate so far, and in the second, White was on 35 per cent, National's Emma Mellow on 30 and Swarbrick on 26.
Even allowing for the 4.4 per cent margin of error, it's clear White is going backwards: compared with the first poll, she's down 7 points from 42 per cent.
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The other two are nudging up: Mellow is up 3 points and Swarbrick up 2 (all these numbers are rounded).
Comparison with the 2017 election reveals even starker trends: White won 40 per cent of the vote last time, so she's less popular now than she was against the wildly popular Nikki Kaye.
Swarbrick, in contrast, has moved the Greens' candidate vote from 10 per cent in 2017, when Denise Roche stood, to 26 per cent now. That's massive.
Where have all Swarbrick's new votes come from? The answer appears to be: some from White, most from Nikki Kaye.
The numbers still have Swarbrick in third place. There's no getting away from that. But the trends show it's a three-way fight and Swarbrick is more in it now than she was at the time of the first poll.
3. It's the Greens' best chance
It used to be fashionable to call the Greens everyone's second favourite party. But we don't have a voting method like STV to reflect that, so all too often the party finds itself near the 5 per cent threshold for entering Parliament without an electorate seat.
Every election they live on the edge. Having a seat reduces their risk of falling off it. The polls right now suggest there is a real risk of that happening. Is there anyone at all on the centre-left who thinks that would be a good thing?
If the Greens are to win a seat, it has to be Auckland Central. They have no better option.
4. We need Green policies
It is simply not possible to make meaningful changes to poverty without a fairer tax system and a new approach to welfare. The Greens are the only party in Parliament prepared to say this.
As Swarbrick told Emma Mellow during an electorate debate at Brothers Beer late last month, "Jobs are a really important thing and they don't come from trickle-down economics and tax cuts."
It seems unlikely the Greens' Guaranteed Minimum Income and wealth tax will be implemented next term. But if the party is in Parliament it will keep those policies alive and they'll become mainstream ideas within the next few years. Bet on it.
As Swarbrick also said in that debate, "The only economic policy that hasn't had holes picked in it is the Greens".
It's the same for climate change. The Greens' campaign to achieve consensus progress on the issue must have seemed to James Shaw and his colleagues like a Sisyphean task this term. Endlessly rolling a boulder up a hill only to have it come thundering down when Winston Peters decided to score points.
Progress has been slow in transport, energy, agriculture and emissions trading. But there has been progress in all of them. Because of Shaw we now have a Climate Commission, a potentially powerful mechanism for speeding up change in the years to come. And if there is a Labour-Greens Government free from the shackles of NZ First, stand by for light rail and many other projects.
From domestic violence to drug reform, there's been a host of other Green achievements this term. None have been quick and easy: the Greens' programme seeks to make structural and societal change and that takes time. But that's what the Green Party in Parliament is committed to.
5. We need the Green MPs
Have you noticed the quality of the Green MPs? They face this election with a caucus chock full of competent, reliable and inspiring politicians: a surfeit of talent for ministerial posts. No other party can credibly claim the same.
6. There's too much at stake
The next Government will decide how to spend unimaginable billions of dollars. It will be all the infrastructure we'll build in the foreseeable, and it will give us the chance to rethink our future as a nation.
Climate change, poverty and inequality, a future-focused economy, the pathways to food production on an at-risk planet ... Who's setting out a vision for it all? Who's got policies to deliver it? Who's going to insist the great task of "building back better" really does confront the risks and embrace the potential rewards now facing us, if not the Greens?
7. It's too hard to get back into Parliament
When a party falls out of Parliament, it's exceptionally difficult to get back in. Ask the Māori Party. For the Greens, this election is not just about the next three years.
8. Labour needs the Greens
Presumably, Labour understands no major party can expect to form a Government on its own.
Presumably, they also understand that having a party on their left flank, which is more progressive, not dangerously subversive and demonstrably not full of charlatans, is to their advantage. They can govern with them and, hell, they can blame them for "unpopular" policies too.
How is it National has understood all this extremely well, but Labour remains stubbornly blind to it?
If NZ First and the Greens both disappear from Parliament, there is no credible path back to the Treasury benches for Labour.
9. The electorate needs Swarbrick
In her first term in Parliament, Chloe Swarbrick has been a leading voice on mental health, climate change, drug reform, youth engagement, urban development, grassroots democracy and more. She's worked across the floor of the House in many of those areas. She'd probably make quite a good electorate MP.
10. A Green vote is a Jacinda vote
Want to register a personal vote of thanks to Jacinda Ardern for the quality of her response to a scarcely believable three national catastrophes? Fair enough, frankly. But voting for Helen White isn't the way to do it.
Even party voting Labour isn't the only way. A party vote for the Greens is a vote for a Labour-led Government with Ardern as PM. There's no doubt about that.
11. This historic moment
This is an historic moment, in so many ways. One of them is that this is the chance for Labour and the Greens to demonstrate that progressive reform can be done, that it doesn't wreck the economy, that it does make the country more prosperous and more resilient, and that the sky will not fall while it's happening. This may be the best chance they get.
If you're a Labour-inclined progressive – in Auckland Central or elsewhere – this is the moment to help them take that chance.