There has been a lot of comment on Clare’s post on the by-election. My thoughts for what it is worth go something like this
Congratulations to Kris. He performed very well in his first campaign. By-elections put huge pressure on individual candidates. He has shown that he can handle the pace of a campaign, he is brilliant with people and has a good grasp on the issues affecting the electorate. He will have learned from the campaign, and has a great base to grow from. For what it is worth I think he will go really well as an electorate MP and by the time of the 2011 election he will be in a really strong position locally.
I also think Hekia deserves some credit. She is an articulate person who campaigned hard. Most importantly in terms of the result she has been campaigning/working in the electorate non-stop for about four years, compared to Kris’ few months. That makes a differenece. She had a profile and that worked to her advantage. She did not win, but no doubt she feels she put in a good result, and is pretty much hoping Key will reward her with a Ministerial post.
No one should get too excited about the margin. Of course it would have been good to have been bigger. (It will get bigger too. I think Kris will capture the vast bulk of the special votes, many of which were cast by late enrollees in the southern part of the electorate.)
The true majority in this electorate will only be tested in a general election with a normal (80% plus) turnout. At 54% we know that many Labour voters were not at the polling booth, despite the very best efforts of our team. I have to say that in the campaigning I did in the seat, it was hard to get people to engage. Initially the local body elections were a distraction, then later on it just seemed there was complacency about the result and a lack of understanding of what it was all about.
By-elections are idiosyncratic events. They do not have the pervasive context of a general election. They have lives of their own, issues and people that make them hard to predict and understand. This one was no different.
There are no doubt some things from a Labour point of view that we would want to do better and different. That’s the nature of a campaign. But overall from a Labour perspective there is much to be pleased about. Another young(ish) MP, with new perspectives enters the team. We have road-tested some campaigning tools and people and learned a few good lessons. The spin from the other side is predictable. But in the end its Kris Faafoi who arrives at Parliament ready to represent the people of Mana. Well done that man.