Heather du Plessis-Allan: The election date must stay the same

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Thu, 9 Apr 2020, 3:56PM

Heather du Plessis-Allan: The election date must stay the same

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Thu, 9 Apr 2020, 3:56PM

Forgive me for being cynical but I think we can all take a fairly good guess at why Winston and Paula suddenly want the election delayed, can’t we?

Just think about those private poll numbers I ran you through two days ago.

Labour on 49%. National on 35%. NZ First and the Greens on 5% each.

National is a write off on that. There’s no way it can form a government. NZ First would be yesterday’s news too. On those numbers, Labour can govern alone, or with the Greens only if it has to.

A November election – which is what Winston wants – gives them a bit of a chance.

Because in September Labour could well still be basking in the glow of this crisis.  It’s what happens. Governments generally get a bump in the polls while they steer the country through hard times.

But the longer it goes on, the greater the chance the polls will start reversing as jobs are lost, houses are lost, businesses fall over. There’s a chance that the government will be blamed for the decision to shut down the economy.

A delay buys the Nationals and Winston time.

The electoral commission is confident the election can go ahead on September 19.  But the truth is a health crisis will make it trickier

If we’re still telling over 70s to stay at home it’s going to be hard for Winston to hold his blue rinse town hall meetings - in fact, will he even be allowed out?

It’s going to be hard for Simon Bridges to go out there and meet people and try to charm them face to face given that TV doesn’t work terribly well for him.

It definitely benefits the PM who has all the attention and has mastered television.

But, tough luck. The election date should stay unless it’s absolutely impossible to hold an election logistically.  If we’re in level 4 lockdown for example, it’s impossible. But, otherwise, it’s got to go ahead.

Right now, a change might benefit National and NZ First. But what if the polls change enough for a delay to benefit Labour?

Elections shouldn’t be timed to best suit the polls of any particular party or government. 

The election date is set. It needs to stay. Any change runs the risk of being seen as an attempt to screw the scrum.