How Chris Trotter just convinced me a New Left Party can happen
The brilliant Chris Trotter and i have clashed recently over the idea of a New Left Party, we did so again on Citizen A which aired this evening 8pm Stratos Sky 89 (from March 1st the show will be free to air on Freeview 21 moving to 7.30pm on Sunday).
I hold Chris in the highest of regard in terms of his intellect and his control of the left wing of the force, he is certainly a Jedi Master, where as I am a mere Padawan but his argument tonight on why a New Left Party can not succeed has helped me make up my mind. (The episode will be posted online tomorrow).
Chris's argument against launching a New Left Party with Hone included was one of political maths, and I'm sure if I have misrepresented his fine articulation of the facts in any way shape or form, he will kindly correct me.
For a New Left Party to gain the 3.6% Matt did in Mana, it would need 90 000 votes. Now Chris concedes on a good day Hone could gain 40 000 votes in a combination of his electorate and party vote, but Chris then points out a New Left Party would need to find 50 000 more votes to gain what Matt did, which is the goal as the electorate seat gives a decent sub 5% threshold representation. Chris challenges proponents of a New Left Party to find those 50 000 extra votes and even extrapolates a figure of 800 voters in each electorate.
He says that number is simply too high, and that the voters can't be found.
I have thought about that argument and would like to suggest the following response. Where would a New Left Party find the extra 50 000 votes? There are 300 000 NZers working minimum wage labour in NZ who are drowning with rising costs and 338 000 beneficiaries who are about to have their welfare slashed. To give Chris's argument full strength, let's remove what he suggested Hone would gain, 40 000 votes leaving 598 000 beneficiaries and minimum wage workers.
So one would need to find 50 000 voters out of a pool of 598 000 beneficiaries and minimum wage workers (not including liberal urban types who might vote for the end strategy of defeating National) - and if the policy was $15 Minimum wage plus a living benefit with a full focus on minimizing the gap between rich and poor and eliminating as much poverty as possible, we would only need 50 000 votes out of a pool of 598 000 which would gain 3.6% which would give a New Left Party 5 MPs, the same representation ACT achieved with 3.6% in 2008, and those 5MPs could change the MMP math in parliament to block National from achieving a majority?
Based on that math, I think Chris Trotter just convinced me that a New Left Party can be done and that the end point of defeating an anti-beneficiary, anti-worker, anti-environment Government replaced by a genuine left wing coalition might well be worth the struggle and fight.
Please Note: Graeme Edgeler has been kind enough to provide the MMP numbers required
The voter support needed for differing numbers of seats in 2008 are as follows (that is, a new party a single electorate seat, with these levels of support, and not changing the vote levels of the parties in Parliament, would had this many seats):
1 seat (i.e. no list seats, but avoiding causing overhang): 9160 votes (0.39%)
2 seats (i.e. electorate and one list): 27,815 votes (1.19%)
3 seats: 46,611 votes (1.99%)
4 seats: 65,626 votes (2.80%)
5 seats: 85,411 votes (3.64%)
6 seats: 104,496 votes (4.46%)