The Alliance Party has decided not to stand a candidate in the Christchurch East by election because, quite frankly, we think the Left has bigger fish to fry.
The Alliance was sorely tempted to stand a candidate, given that it is the electorate that co leader Kevin Campbell lives in. It would have been an excellent opportunity to raise the profile of the Alliance.
However the Alliance believes that it is imperative that Left – including the Centre Left- work together to avoid another three years of National’s punitive policies for low and middle income earners. We shudder to think what our country will look like after another term under National, especially if as some are predicting, the Conservative Party become coalition partners.
We did not want to risk our candidate splitting the vote and allowing a National win in Christchurch East. This would give National too big a psychological advantage going into the election year. Labour’s Potu Williams is a candidate who is steeped in community work and represents two groups unrepresented in parliament; women and Pacific Island communities. And Labour under the new leader David Cunliffe are reclaiming some of the ground lost to National and unveiling some new policies that the Alliance sees as promising. We don’t wish to see these initiatives snuffed out by a National victory in Christchurch East.
Also the Alliance is in the midst of a refocusing and rebranding exercise, not the least of which is the role we can play in defeating the National government in 2014. The Alliance, as a genuine party of the Left, is critical to a Centre/ Left victory in 2014. However this will require a change in mindset from Labour, whom we feel have yet to fully embrace MMP and actively work with other parties to achieve the kind of government we believe most New Zealanders would want if they had the choice.
The Right have already worked this out and it has given them two terms as government. Had, for example, the Alliance won Wigram at the previous election, as could have been expected since Jim Anderton was the founder of the Alliance, Labour would have gained an extra list seat and may well have been in a position to form a coalition government. However Labour seemed as affronted by the Alliance standing a candidate against them in Wigram as they were by National and ACT.
We from the Centre to the far Left, need to acknowledge that the plan is to defeat National/ Act/ the Conservatives, not each other. We do all have different policies and political philosophies but there is common ground and many ways that we can complement each other, without too much compromise, to produce a vision that appeals to a wide range of New Zealanders; to make New Zealand a fairer and more equal society where social justice and the common good are paramount. Time to get cracking!