Mt Albert by-election, Twyford not standing

by Jake Quinn

I read on Kiwiblog that Phil Twyford has announced that he will not be standing for the Mt Albert electorate in the June By-election. This is huge news for the race which is now blown wide open in terms of who the Labour candidate will be. I had initially believed that Phil would stand (and would narrowly win the eventual by-election) regardless of who would then be returned to Parliament on the list. I believed this because a) turning down such a safe seat would be hugely difficult for an aspiring leader to do and b) that the former member for Auckland Central’s return to parliament was inevitable (as it is likely that in the next 3 year term a seat would open anyway, through retirement, sickness or some such event).

So, I am surprised he is not standing, but I think it is probably in the interests of his party who I suspect strongly encouraged him to follow this course of action. Now that the former MPs planned successor is out of the race, who will get the nod on the day? Meg Bates has a decent chance. I have come across her during my travels through the halls of Auckland University, where she is Head Tutor of the Political Studies department, and I think she has some talent. I was impressed to see her get a decent website up first and from what I understand she has a few high profile backers.

I love a good by-election. As politics geeks we only get to feast every 3 years, so this unexpected flurry of electoral excitement is a welcome change from the routine. And this particular by-election is shaping up to be a bloody close one. By-elections are understood to be “a referendum on the current government” which is by all accounts enjoying an extended and enjoyable honeymoon, a holiday I think will continue for sometime yet.