As with previous elections, I think the party vote is often the easier choice, because that is a vote for a party, a set of principles, philosophy and policies. I'll write about the party vote later, because for those who believe in more freedom and less government, there are a few options. Party votes determine power much more decisively than electorate votes, although it is clear that electorate votes in a few cases can open a path to a party getting representation in Parliament. In Epsom, this has kept ACT alive. In Auckland Central, the Greens are half hoping Chlöe Swarbrick can provide an insurance policy. NZ First has hopes in Northland as well. However, most of us are not in those seats. So what's my criteria for picking an electorate candidate? It's a mix of positive and negative factors:
- What is the candidate's view of the role of the state? Does she or he want more or less directly, or indirectly?
- What is the candidate's view on taxation?
- What is the candidate's view on free trade? (this is an indicator of not having fascist views)
- Does the candidate want more or less regulation, overall, of both economic and private personal activity?
- Does the candidate advance, reject or is silent on philosophies that are authoritarian in nature, such as Marxism, versions of theocracy, ethnic nationalism or post-modernist structuralist theories?
- What is the candidate's views on freedom of speech?
- Does the candidate have a generally positive or negative view of capitalism?
- Is the candidate malignantly nationalistic?
- Does the candidate believe in environmental policies regardless of cost and benefit?
- Is the candidate personally just unconscionably awful?
- Is anything in the candidate's career or background indicative of her/his views on anything?
Beyond this is a more fundamental factor:
- Is the current MP worth replacing?
- Is there a candidate positively better than the current MP?
- Is the candidate most likely to replace the current MP worse than the encumbent?
- Is the electorate one of those that could allow a new party to enter Parliament for < 5% of the party vote?
I'm not going to comment on all candidates, because most have no chance in hell of getting elected. My methodology for assessment goes as follows:
- Who is the current MP? If that MP is good enough, then she/he get endorsed especially if the alternative is worse.
- Who is the challenger from the second place party last time?
- If either are just beyond the pale, are there any worth throwing a vote at?
- If none are any good, don't bother.
So here goes:
Auckland Central (Highly Marginal National): With Nicki Kaye retiring, this three way race is tight. In 2017, both Kaye and Labour's Helen White (who led in the latest poll) lost votes compared with 2014. The main strategy here is to stop Chlöe Swarbrick from providing a beach head for the Greens to get elected if they happen to drop below 5% (and to avoid the trend seen in Melbourne of the Greens setting themselves up in an electorate for good, making the Greens more difficult to oust in the future). Swarbrick is one of the better Green MPs, but keeping the Greens out of Parliament is important to keep Marxist, anti-capitalist, anti- Western and post-modernist philosophies away from Government. It is tempting to consider Labour's Helen White to keep Swarbrick out, but she is a solidly leftwing employment lawyer, who thinks that there is a "right" to a job. Emma Mellow as the National candidate is polling second and could well sneak in if the leftwing vote splits. Mellow is socially liberal, and likely to be wet, but what matters here is keeping the Greens out. Emma Mellow - National
Banks Peninsula (Marginal Labour): This is a new electorate created out of the Port Hills electorate, including southern and south eastern suburbs of Christchurch as well as Lyttelton and the peninsula itself. Ruth Dyson is retiring, and the new boundaries may mean this seat could go either way. Labour candidate Tracey McLellan is a union organiser, which typically means wanting more government and more protectionism. National candidate Catherine Chu is a banker, City Councillor and Canterbury DHB member. I'm rarely a fan of local politicians, although her profile indicates fiscal prudence. On balance, give her a shot to take this seat from Labour. David Fox from ACT is a perfectly credible alternative. Catherine Chu - National
Bay of Plenty (Very Safe National): National's Todd Muller (remember him?) has this and is standing again. It's a safe seat (he got 61% against 27% for the Labour candidate last time), so he's a shoo in. He's a nice enough guy, and he'll get in again, so you ought to vote for someone to push him towards thinking more about less government. Bruce Carley of ACT solidly believes in smaller government. Bruce Carley - ACT
Botany (Very Safe National): This seat is only marginal because Jami-Lee Ross left the National Party under a cloud. He's not standing, so this ought to be Christopher Luxon's for the taking (62% National electorate vote in 2017). Luxon was CEO of Air NZ and is clearly capable in business. Much has been made of him being an evangelical Christian, but that's not enough to make me wary of him, given how capable he is. ACT's Damien Smith speaks of free trade, property rights and freedom of speech. Damien Smith - ACT
Christchurch Central (Marginal Labour): Labour's Duncan Webb took this off National's Nicky Wagner. Webb supports the racist BDS campaign against Israel so it's worth trying to vote him out, given his focus. National candidate Dale Stephens is best known for appearing on Crimewatch for the Police. He's currently a government employee working for NZ Trade and Enterprise, and it appears most of his career has been in government. I'm sure he's a nice guy, but ACT's Abigail Johnson is young and is unafraid of advancing individual freedom. Webb is likely to win this seat, and as much as I'd like him to be defeated, Stephens isn't going to make much of a difference. Stephens only deserves your vote to get rid of Webb, but Johnson deserves to be encouraged (and for her deposit to be refunded for her efforts). Abigail Johnson - ACT
Christchurch East (Safe Labour): Poto Williams is the Labour MP, and given she has suggested removing the presumption of innocence in sexual assault cases, she's fundamentally unfit to be a lawmaker. It's well motivated, but the idea that the accused in such cases should have to prove consent, is dangerous and a disturbing undermining of a key safeguard in the criminal justice system that would see innocent people being criminalised. Lincoln Platt is the National candidate, and although he's unremarkable, nothing I've seen from him is negative and it's important to try to remove Williams from Parliament (she's 21 on the list so she's unlikely to go, but this is a start). Lincoln Platt - National
Coromandel (Safe National): With 55% for Scott Simpson vs 21% for Labour in 2017, this one time Green seat is safe with Simpson. He's campaigning for roads, mobile phone coverage and a rescue helicopter for his electorate, and his maiden speech was promising (they often are). David Olsen from ACT doesn't impress, given he has history in local government and his profile says little about values. Michael Egleton of the New Conservatives is focused on opposing identity politics, so I'd be tempted to give him serious consideration. Egleton is explicitly opposed to legalising cannabis, Simpson isn't saying much about it. Given this, on balance, I'd support Simpson. Scott Simpson - National
Dunedin (Safe Labour): The old Dunedin North now includes Otago Peninsula, so David Clark is effectively the encumbent MP. I don't care too much about his hypocrisy in cycling during lockdown, other than it indicates a poor sense of judgment. Michael Woodhouse is your National candidate, and really I am no more enthused about him than I am about Clark. Callum Steele-Macintosh gets forgiven for having supported Labour and National in the past, as he's now the ACT candidate. He deserves your support, although I see someone trying to get elected to local government as usually a negative, he did oppose rates rises. Callum Steele-Macintosh - ACT
East Coast (Marginal National): With Anne Tolley not standing again, the Nats are putting forward Tania Tapsell. She's been a Deloitte consultant, which I wont hold against her. Her opponent is Labour list MP Kiri Allan who lauds the far-left activists Annette Sykes and Moana Jackson as mentors, and the economic nationalist socialist Jane Kelsey. Give Tapsell a go to keep Allan out of this electorate. Tania Tapsell - National
East Coast Bays (Safe National): Erica Stanford is the National MP who replaced Murray McCully. She's a BlueGreen, which isn't necessarily a problem, but she does appear to be a bit of a NIMBY, although her defence of a local charter school is laudable. Michael McCook is the ACT candidate and unlike Stanford, does talk about public debt and waste of taxpayers' money. Don't be tempted by Susanna Kruger or Mathew Webster. Michael McCook - ACT
Epsom (Fairly Safe ACT): He's done a fantastic job in revitalising ACT, it is a no brainer. David Seymour - ACT
Hamilton East (Fairly Marginal National): National MP David Bennett is socially conservative, opposing gay marriage and legalising cannabis even for medicinal use. He is a safe pair of hands, but that's about it. Labour list MP Jamie Strange is trying to win the seat, which was Labour until 2005. Strange is a former music teacher and church minister who opposes voluntary euthanasia. So not much between either of them, but I'd prefer Bennett over Strange. Young ACT candidate Myah Deedman comes from an interesting background and far more worthy of your vote than either of them. Myah Deedman - ACT
Hamilton West (Fairly Marginal National): National MP Tim Macindoe is standing again. He once was in the United NZ party and is socially conservative. Nothing much inspiring on the freedom side of the spectrum here. Gaurav Sharma is Labour's candidate, and is a doctor who seems to support more welfare spending and favours a fast train boondoggle between Tauranga and Auckland. I'd consider voting Macindoe to keep Sharma out, but that's not a recommendation on freedom grounds. Take your pick
Hutt South (Marginal National): Chris Bishop sneaked into first place in 2017 after Trevor Mallard retired and he's worked like a galley slave for the Hutt South ever since. Labour list MP Ginny Andersen is trying to take it back for Labour. Bishop is far preferable to Andersen, not least because of his advocacy for more infrastructure that the electorate needs (transport and housing), but also because he is an economic and social liberal having spoken supportively of the reforms of the 80s and 90s. He's spoken about how wealth growth enables environmental improvements. Andersen has late Marxist-Leninist unionist Bill Andersen in her family and spoken about following in his footsteps. It will annoy Labour intensely if Bishop remains in Hutt South, and he deserves to keep his seat. Chris Bishop - National
Ilam (Fairly safe National): Gerry Brownlee's closest opponent in 2017 was an independent, Raf Manji. Sarah Pallett, Labour candidate, is the usual academic/unionist who wants taxpayers to pay for tertiary education. However, I can't endorse Gerry Brownlee. Paul Gilbert of ACT is a better choice. Paul Gilbert - ACT
Invercargill (Safe National): National has selected Penny Simmonds to replace Sarah Dowle. She's CEO of Southland Institute of Technology. Nothing remarkable about her on the freedom point and there is no ACT candidate in Invercargill. Labour has list MP Liz Craig standing, who is focused on child poverty (which hasn't gone well under Labour). I can't be enthused about anyone in Invercargill, but I'd give Simmonds the benefit of the doubt for now. Penny Simmonds - National
Kaikoura (Safe National): National MP Stuart Smith is standing again and he's a solid local MP, with an entrepreneurial background. Richard Evans of ACT supports medicinal but not recreational cannabis use, so I'm not sure if a vote for him is worth much more, likewise with David Greenslade of the New Conservatives. Take your pick
Kaipara ki Mahurangi (nominally National): Former Helensville MP Chris Penk is standing for the Nats. The former naval officer is relatively moderate and benign. He's up against Labour list MP Marja Lubeck (unionist). He's not really at risk, so give ACT's Beth Houlbrooke a vote. Beth Houlbrooke - ACT
Kelston (Safe Labour): Labour's Carmel Sepuloni has this seat. She's a socialist, so support National's Bala Beeram instead. Bala Beeram - National
Mana (Very Safe Labour): Labour's Kris Faafoi has decided not to contest this seat, and Labour has selected Barbara Edmonds who "was a key contributor to the Government’s law reforms following the March 15 Terror Attacks" and "has been heavily involved in the Government’s tax, social policy, small business and economic responses to COVID-19". National list MP Jo Hayes has not much of a profile and her list position means she is at risk. Richard Goode of NAP (Not a Party) believes in voluntarism, and encourages a no show at the election. So give him your vote. Richard Goode - NAP