Labour’s victory at the election on October 17, 2020 was profound and comprehensive.
Jacinda Ardern’s leadership has mobilised not only long-term Labour voters, but many people who have historically voted for other parties.
As we now work to form a new government, Labour is focused on respecting this mandate by delivering on our commitments and governing for all New Zealanders.
While many people predicted a strong Labour victory at this election, I can from the inside confirm that there was absolutely no complacency in Labour’s campaign in the final weeks.
The Prime Minister and campaign leadership instilled a ruthless discipline across our candidates that we would work for every vote until the final moment.
Many indicators pointed to a good result, but the scale of the victory on October 17, 2020 was beyond the expectations of most people.
Some key points illustrate the sweeping scale of the result: (a) At 49.1% of this vote, the strongest Labour result since 1946 and the strongest result achieved by any Party since 1951 (b) With 64 MPs, Labour has the largest Parliamentary caucus in New Zealand’s history (c) Labour’s sweep of seats occurred not only in urban areas, but across provincial New Zealand. Labour won the Party vote in all but four seats (e) This is the first time under MMP that any single party has help a majority of seats in the Parliament and (f) With 21 new MPs, Labour’s intake of new talent is one of the largest (and most diverse) ever.
Record swings in Mt Roskill
I have analysed voting trends in my own electorate of Mt Roskill, and this confirms some of the above points. Labour won every significant polling booth, including in parts of the electorate where National has historically prevailed.
Record swings to Labour were received in places like Sandringham, Balmoral, Hillsborough, and Lynfield. This was truly a broad-based victory.
The above points are not made boastfully, but to lay out the breadth of support for Labour and to reflect upon what this means for the new government’s mandate.
There are two important things that can be said about Labour’s mandate. The first is that Labour campaigned on a very clear set of priorities and policies that were in part developed in response to Covid-19, and all of which are contained in our election manifesto.
This includes (a) A continuation of our elimination strategy to keep New Zealanders safe, with tight border controls and strong action to stamp out any new cases (b) Rolling out our plan for an inclusive economic rebuild. This includes a focus on protecting and creating jobs, developing new infrastructure, training our young people, and providing significant support to small businesses (c) Continued investment in housing, health education with a small tax increase for the top 2% of income earners to help ensure we provide these services for everyone and (d) Remaining focused on the big long-term issues such as Climate Change and Child Poverty.
Implementing policies and commitments
The election result means that Labour in government can get to work and implement the policies and commitments that we campaigned upon
Coupled with this, the Prime Minister made a very important statement on election night about Labour’s mandate when she said that “Labour will govern for all New Zealanders.”
This recognises that Labour’s support comes from a broad cross-section of society, so, there is a responsibility to work to the expectations of the voters who provided us with a mandate.
This is also very much in keeping with the leadership style of our Prime Minister.
While being prepared to make the tough decisions when required, Ms Ardern’s leadership style is inclusive. She listens, engages genuinely with people, and tries to bring as many people along as possible when change needs to be made.
Well-paced to govern
Labour is also well placed to govern for all New Zealanders, because our caucus actually looks like the New Zealand of 2020. This is the most diverse government line-up in our history with a wide range of talented new MPs from different ethnic communities; including Gaurav Sharma, the first Indian-born MP to win an electorate seat in New Zealand’s history.
Finally, I would like to thank all of my supporters and local voters for the support you have given to me this election. I am focused on being an active and accessible local representative and look forward to working hard in Jacinda Ardern’s government to serve all New Zealanders.
Michael Wood is Member of Parliament elected from Mt Roskill and Senior Government Whip.