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Monday, December 15, 2008

SFWU in South Auckland - Election 08

The election turnout in Mangere was down 3614 from the 2005 figure (which was 3945 up from 2002). Similar results occurred in Manurewa and Manukau East, with the turnout dropping back to the 2002 levels. It was the turnout drop that cost Labour votes. The National vote hardly increased at all in Mangere (3984 in 2005 to 4120 in 2008 - up a mere 226).

In Manurewa the National vote was also static while the drop in turnout of 4669 was reflected in the drop in the Labour party vote (down 4581). Philip Field's Pacific Party took 909 party votes in Manurewa which otherwise would probably gone to Labour (or maybe other 'Christian' Parties).

In Manukau East, boundary changes brought the strong Labour area of Otahuhu into the electorate which ameliorated the Labour drop. Turnout was down 5707 but the Labour vote was only down 1963 votes. The boundary change was also reflected in the drop in National's vote from 10219 to 6579 (down 3640). Most of this difference went to Labour. The Pacific Party scored 1219 party votes.

It is not really worth looking at comparisons of the Maungakiekie vote because of its change in boundary. The vote was up 3822 in 2005 and up again 4591 in 2008, reflecting the greater National territory now included. Carol Beaumont did well to limit National to a 1030-vote win on the party vote. She had a lot of help from the unions.

The biggest drop in the number of party votes for Labour in any electorate was in Mangere. While maintaining the top percentage for Labour of 61%, the number of party votes was down 5,454. This was because the turnout was down by 3614, and on top of that the Pacific Party took 2683 party-votes. Mangere was Field's HQ and his party had a strong presence in the electorate (aided by large amounts of campaign regalia and many hoardings and signs that would have cost a fortune).

If it had not been for the intervention of the SFWU in the Mangere campaign the result could have been much worse. The local Labour Party was having difficulty making an impact in the electorate. The SFWU supported and initiated street actions and cavalcades. It also helped with targeted-mail delivery and leafleting, as did other unions.

The SFWU gave the campaign a visibility to match that of the flags and flea-market presence of Field's supporters. SFWU red flags, as well as campaign signs and red t-shirts, alongside Labour's and Sio's, became the face of Labour in Mangere.

There is a need strengthen the Labour Party in the South Auckland seats. There is an urgent need to organise an effective network of union member volunteers in these seats.

It is apparent from the extensive election phone-survey and work-site visits conducted by the SFWU during its election campaign, that, while its members are by and large instinctively pro-Labour, their level of political consciousness is generally not well developed.

Unions should not “talk politics” with their members only at Election time. The members deserve more respect. Education and participation in the political process should be on-going.

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