The glass is half empty, Len
Ok, so it’s rather a cliche but I feel it’s highly topical at this moment.
Two people looking at a glass, one rather admiringly sees it still half full. The other disappointed one sees it as half empty.
That was my next-morning reaction to Saturday’s poll and it still stands.
It seems it’s a time for returned mayors to talk of themselves as being ‘‘humbled’’ by their reelection.
That’s the way Len Brown talked about his second term heading the not-so-super-city – a glass still half full.
But the one who tallies our housekeeping did quick sums and set the Brown vote of 162,675 as trailing the total votes of around 189,000 for all the other mayoral candidates.
So out of the 995,206 possible votes Len got 162,675. Len, that glass was really two-thirds empty.
Let’s not disregard that John Palino, far from well-known as a politician, from a standing start won a creditable 107,672 votes for him – and against Brown.
I know there’s been a theory recently that the low poll meant the non-voters had given him a confidence tick in their mind – but not on the voting papers.
In my glass theory, Len Brown was voted against or ignored by a majority. Simple as that.
Why? One successful candidate summed up exactly.
Denise Krum, who
ex- Labour MP Richard Northey’s seat in the Maungakiekie ward, summed up: ‘‘People need to see more value for their money – where are my rates going? What’s it been spent on?
‘‘We see rates going up, a lot of things going up.
‘‘Do we feel that we are getting a return on our investment?’’
And she berated lack of public consultation over the unitary plan (better labelled ‘‘the dividing plan’’), soaring debt levels and the need for transparency and accountability, the need to put a hand brake on the Brown political programme.
Like that $20 million on a white water rafting scheme in South Auckland – Brown country. Right on, Denise! Go for it. And then there was comment from the man who laid – and perhaps scrambled – the not-so-supercity plan: Rodney Hide opened a largely approving post-vote comment on Brown’s vote with a suspect assessment: ‘‘Len Brown is good for Auckland. He was the first mayor of a united Auckland and has been re-elected with hardly a ripple of dissent or opposition. It’s no mean achievement.’’
Which it would be – if it was true. See the glass theory above. Count the statistics again.
Then read a paragraph further down the Hide hymn of praise: ‘‘Brown’s politics are my politics. Spending is still too high, there’s too much red tape and the spending on trains is only the third best option for addressing Auckland’s transport problems. But everyone knows where Brown stands on these issues. And he has been elected on them.’’ Wrong. He won the office on a minority vote which did not match the total of mayoralty votes for other people, plus those who are so unimpressed with his career so far that they chose not to vote either for him, someone else or not at all.
He remains an unknown or regarded with suspicion in the far fields surrounding his makeshiftnot-so-super-city, and by suburbanites who no longer get their berms mown, etc, etc.
The fact is that many citysiders and many of the outliers are in despair and feel second-class citizens, that no-one listens to them much, let alone acts on their behalf, that rates rise without any obvious reason, that the council Len Brown leads and speaks for is obsessed with underground rail links and trains to the airport, motorway development and the like.
The talking points of those who did not vote for him are not some distant underground rail links but the day-to-day undercurrent of concern that they have to cope with.
They largely left their voting papers in the kitchen drawer.
Plus those who are neighbours of the Left, who would have nodded sagely and not sleepily at Matt McCarten who ripped through Brown’s record for his first three years:
‘‘Sitting on the fence when his Ports of Auckland workers were being shafted was a disgrace. Defending obscene management salaries and director’s fees while having to be coaxed to support a living wage for other workers, sends the wrong message.’’
And what official reaction do we get over those uncast votes?
One master plan: ‘‘ Make the system a computer item and all will be well!’’
Really? If you think the voting process was difficult this time, think through to the next local body election.
How will elderly, non-computer people cope with gadgets they are unfamiliar with and don’t own?
Particularly if the powers that be persist in that ridiculous Single Transferable Vote system which hypnotised someone in the planning wasteland which is Wellington.
This year, for example, you would have had on your screen a list of 37 candidates for the Waitemata District Health Board to select and rank seven of them.
The result over the last nine years has been that thousands have had their votes trashed because they ticked their chosen candidates rather than ranked them by number.
One caller ringing me because of differences on some topic or another delivered his final thrust: ‘‘And I voted for you – put a tick against your name I did.’’
I couldn’t wait to tell him the ‘‘vote’’ he wished now he hadn’t made was invalid anyway without a number.
Last week people saying how they had voted for me were shocked to find they also had been disenfranchised through health boards’ voting having to use a different voting system from the other forms in the same booklet.
They too had simply ticked and not numbered.
Think of the uproar if national politicians faced the same loss of votes – and worse still a majority – through an incomprehensible voting system like that.
Heads would roll.