Hard News by Russell Brown

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Five further thoughts

1. Christ, what a shellacking. Click around Harkanwal Singh's Herald interactive. In electorate after electorate, polling place after polling place, National won at least a plurality of the votes. Even where voters collectively chose to return their Labour MPs to Parliament, they generally gave their party votes to National. Labour won the party vote in only five general electorates. I don't think it's viable for Cunliffe to stay on after this.

2. The Maori electorates are now effectively Labour's Heartland. Six of the seven electorates were won by Labour candidates. In every electorate, Labour won the party vote by a considerable margin. Those voters will expect, and deserve, proper recognition of that fact in whatever shape Labour reassembles itself. On the other hand, I don't see how Labour's rejection of the Maori Party was a major failure. Maori voters rejected the Maori Party too. See also: South Auckland.

3. The election was not primarily about policy. Although it will understandably be regarded as a mandate for National's policies, I don't think this has been an election about policy, but about who the voters have seen as fit to govern. Where discrete policies have been tested in polls, the public has often-as-not favoured Labour's over National's. They just didn't back Labour to enact them. I'm very concerned now over what happens in education, where I think the degree of the mess National has already made (National Standards is objectively a shambles) is not widely appreciated.

4. The majority of the public does not deserve scorn, and neither does the grieving minority. A bunch of my Facebook friends are beside themselves, and that doesn't mean they're out-of-touch wankers. They're entitled to be disappointed that their priorities are not shared. The ones who are already committing to take their own action over child poverty are acting admirably.

5. As David Cunliffe has implied, perhaps the future is indeed the campaign coalition with the Greens that he rejected back in April. I agreed with that choice at the time and now I wonder if I was wrong. The public wanted to see what an alternative government might look like. They should be given the opportunity next time.

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