Archives for posts with tag: Poto Williams

A trouncing. An embarrassment. A warning. A stonking win. Whichever way you try and spin it, Poto William’s 4613 vote victory in Christchurch East is a significant result that should be taken seriously. There are two lines which are being faithfully trotted out by the mouth-pieces of the right.

The first is that turnout was low, so it doesn’t matter. I disagree that turnout was low. Rob Salmond analyzed the turnout at the last few by-elections, and came up with 14,000 as a par-score. Actual turn out was 13,318 – which is pretty close to that. Saturday’s turnout of 41.4% was actually higher than the last two by-elections, Ikaroa-Rawhiti (35.7%) and Botany (36.4%) – and neither of those two electorates were the most badly affected area in a natural disaster. The by-election was fought on the 2011 boundaries, but we know that 10,000 people have left the electorate, compared to the last census (2005). At the 2011 election, many of these people would have either still been living in the East, having not settled their insurance claims, or would have left the area, thinking that they would be able to move back – but stayed on the Christchurch East roll. I spent the day on Saturday based out of the Aranui hub, and each of the streets we went down had a high number of boarded-up homes. Many of the people we tried to get out and vote were very disengaged with the political process, and I’d argue that if turnout had been higher, it could have actually been much worse for National.

The second claim about the turnout is even more disingenuous.

Key said this morning the result was not surprising and didn’t represent a big loss to the Government. “The turnout was pretty low,” Key told Breakfast.

Of course, low turn-out in an election doesn’t mean the result has a lack of legitimacy – just ask John Key. In 2008, he led National to the Beehive with 1,053,398 votes – 44.93% of those cast. In 2011, he was returned with an increased percentage of the votes – 47.31% – though National only increased their total by 5,240 votes. That was because voter turnout fell by over 5%. Key would be on pretty shaky ground if he wants to keep pushing this line of argument. A win is a win is a win. Of course it would have been better if 100% of electors had voted, but you can only count the votes that were cast, and some would argue (hey Eric!) that staying at home is just as valid as getting out to vote.

No, this does represent a big loss to the government. A humiliating one. In the last two months, we’ve had our MP for Christchurch East run for mayor, win comprehensively, and bring in a new left-leaning council with her. We’ve then gone out and fought to fill her seat, and have again had our candidate elected in a landslide. Two drubbings in two months – and I’m pretty sure that if they hadn’t taken ECan out of our hands, they would have had three. I don’t know how we could send more of a signal, without setting fire to the CERA offices.

L to R: Hayden Munro, DC, Poto Williams, your author

L to R: Hayden Munro, DC, Poto Williams, your author

I’ve been involved in the campaign for a while, and it’s been a hard, but rewarding slog. While people say that Labour was always going to win, I can honestly say that we weren’t taking anything for granted. There were two reasons to be concerned: firstly, the party vote in 2011, which Labour lost by a large margin. I’ve got no doubt that if they had put forward a better candidate, and run a more effective campaign, National could have done much better. They certainly sent a number of ministers down here – though one has to wonder about the effectiveness of sending an MP as unpopular as Gerry Brownlee out door knocking in some of the most damaged areas (imagine having Gerry turn up unannounced at your property after almost three years of unsuccessfully dealing with the government.) The other thing we were worried about was the local body results, which saw our popular local councillor Glenn Livingstone come in second in Burwood-Pegasus to David East. This risk was moderated by some smart policy announcements, especially around Kiwibuild and the New Brighton revitalization.

While much of the win has been chalked up to “the Labour machine” and “the old warhorse Jim Anderton”, it should be noted that it wasn’t just a case of flicking the ignition and getting the machine purring. All through the campaign, we were struggling to get as many volunteers as we wanted. After the local body elections (which also overlapped the by-election campaign for about 6 weeks), the leadership election and the annual conference, Labour members in Christchurch were pretty exhausted. You can also add to that the general issues that people have in town at the moment, and get a better picture about just hard people worked to pull this off.

Congratulations have to go to a number of people. David Cunliffe made a big effort in this campaign, which has pretty much covered the entire period of his leadership. His first public appearance after being elected leader was at Poto’s selection meeting, and he’s been down often since that. The local Labour MPs – many of whom supported Grant Robertson in the leadership contest – have supported David and Poto through the campaign, especially Megan Woods, who has done a huge amount to help with street corner meetings and policy announcements. The local Christchurch East LEC did a phenomenal job. Jim Anderton was a great leader, but much of the credit should also go to campaign dogs body, Hayden Munro, who was everywhere, all of the time. I think he’ll be looking forward to a sleep.

Credit must also go to Poto. The party made a bold choice, and I think they will be rewarded with a strong MP. Poto hit the ground running, and worked incredibly hard to meet as many potential electors as she possibly could. She did 100 street corner meetings, even though she had lost her voice after about the first 10.

This was a resounding win for Labour, and hopefully it will convince any of the doubters within the Party that to win back Christchurch, we need to outline a strong plan for the city. This, by definition, means “politicizing” the earthquakes. A clearly articulated vision, which places people at the centre of recovery, will be key to not just winning back Christchurch Central, but also the all-important party vote across the city.


So yesterday, I got my hands on one of the Conservatives pamphlets that are being used in Christchurch East. I know I shouldn’t spend so much time on these crazy people, but they’re just so damn funny. At least three people responded to my tweet by asking whether the guy on the left was Bashir Al-Assad (it’s the candidate, Leighton Baker, but he might well appreciate being compared to a hard-line religious crackpot). My main reason for tweeting the picture was to ask whether they had got some new stock photos for their flyers. In the general election two years ago, someone pointed out that this was the case with their advertising. It turns out that some of them aren’t even new:

Conservative party 2011

Grunt to rodzina, whatever that means:

As The Egonomist pointed out, these Conservative Party followers are all over the internet:

Unlike in 2011, when they at least bothered to pretend that they had some non-white members, this time they’ve gone with the “it’s all white here” vision for the East – which is sure to appeal to the large Maori, Pacific Island and Chinese populations in the electorate.

Eric Crampton took a picture of one of the other stupid Conservative billboards doing the rounds:

As he pointed out in his tweet, it’s a misleading set-up. Another academic? None of the main contenders are academics; Poto Williams works in the community sector, whilst Doocey is in health management. There is another, more bizarre variation on this theme, which has the legs of three people, all clad in suit trousers, and then (presumably) Leighton Baker’s legs, in shorts and steel cap boots – and asks which legs you’d rather vote for?

Obviously, I think the Conservatives are a joke, but worryingly, they are a joke with a lot of money and not much sense. They will be a real threat at the general election next year.

At a meeting last week, newly-elected councillor David East reportedly called mild-mannered Glenn Livingstone a cunt. Not language becoming of an elected representative – though I wouldn’t have put it past Aaron Keown. Not sure what Glenn does to deserve all this – he was also the target of a verbal outburst from former councillor Barry Corbett. The Press describes the situation like so:

The flare-up happened after Labour’s by-election candidate, Poto Williams, responded to a question at the meeting about the water park. She expressed concerns about the cost of the project, which East is backing. This angered East, who believes the Labour Party has an agenda against the project. Livingstone is a Labour Party member and well-known supporter of Williams but denies he or Labour oppose the project.

East was as close a single-issue candidate as we had in the recent elections, and beat Livingstone by a large margin. His single issue was, of course, the water park – for which he and Tim Sintes attracted 20,000 signatures to their petition. So what is this water park? There is a website here:

All year Indoor recreational facility with glass dome eco-environment
3 heated swimming pools (10 lane lap pool, aquagym, learners)
Hot salt water pools and spa pools
World class signature water slides
Wetpark- water jets and fun stuff for kids of all ages
Wave rider – attract international surf competitions
Fitness Centre
Seaside location
Retail outlets

So it’s a pretty bold plan – and one that no doubt won him a seat on Council. However, it’s going to be a bloody expensive thing to build, and though he insists it is costed on his website, his doesn’t actually provide the figures – just says that it’s a “no-brainer”. I can see why he’s getting worked up – he ran on one issue, and now that he’s on council, he has to deliver it. He can see that it’s not going to be easy to achieve that. From Poto William’s point of view, she’s trying to limit expectation by cautiously supporting the idea, but waiting to see the costings. I think it would be a stretch to say that Williams or Livingstone, were “against” the pool just because they are waiting to see full costed plan. For East to start abusing his ward colleague just a month into his term suggests a 3 year term could be a reality check for a man who promised his constituents so much.

According to Wikipedia:

Poto Williams (born 1961/1962) is a Member of Parliament for the New Zealand Labour Party who got first elected in the 2013 Christchurch East by-election. Prior to her election to Parliament, Williams was the regional manager of the St John of God Hauroa Trust.[1] She resides in New Brighton.[1]

Given that no lesser source than Wikipedia says that she’s already won, might be worthing popping over to iPredict, where she’s still at 90% for the win. Haven’t they heard?

Nice to see some people are confident, but we don’t even know when the election date will be yet.

Yesterday, Labour selected Poto Williams to be the candidate for Christchurch East. It was a robust, inclusive and open process, with a group of great candidates. Hacks in the room like myself genuinely had no idea who’s name was going to be called. That hasn’t stopped people who only have the best interests of the Labour Party at heart, like David Farrar, having a little tanty about it:

I’m disappointed but not surprised James Caygill missed out. No one who knows Caygill doubts that if he became an MP, he would be a very good one and inevitably become a senior Minister. Caygill has now missed out twice on Labour selections.

David, if you believe anything you say about Caygill, then the best thing you could do is to stop endorsing him for anything. I know James well, and agree that he would do a great job in parliament – but his biggest issue within the party is his name. Being endorsed by the National Party’s chief cheerleader isn’t going to do him any good. You know what they say – if you love someone, let them go.

As for trying to discredit Poto Williams by stalking her on LinkedIn – I’d think twice about criticising someone for not being local when your guy has been living in the UK for some time. Did I miss the bit where you attacked Caygill for not living in the electorate, or was that just some more self-serving hypocrisy on your part?

Finally, to have him try lecture us on how undemocratic our selection processes are is an absolute farce. Bro, you’re a part of the National Party, where the party list is drawn up based on who can drink the most Moet in 24 hours for all I know. Matthew Doocey was some guy that no-one had ever heard of that got plucked out of thin air. Christchurch East ran a series of public meetings with the candidates, then had an extremely well-attended selection meeting. It was a robust process that selected the best candidate for the position, and National could do worse than modeling their selections on it – that way, they could have avoided someone like Aaron Gilmore being chosen.