PoliticsSeptember 23, 2017

8.33pm: Party Watch – Meanwhile Labour is having a party


Election Night 2017: Simon Wilson reports (almost) live from the Labour Party victory party/wake.

That moment, when Clarke Gayford was standing on the street outside his house, a tray of sausages and tomato sauce in his hands, teatowel over the shoulder. Jacinda called to him from inside.

She wants more sauce, someone said. And he called out to her, “Be right in, hon, I’m just talking to John Campbell and you know how he goes on.”

That moment, right there. At the Labour Party party, they loved it. Bill English had Mary English with him right through the campaign; saying nothing but being there. If Clarke had been there, cracking wry comments, what would that have done?

There are two things going on in the early votes and the crowd is struggling to understand them. National’s got a big lead on the party vote. Even with the Greens, Labour isn’t close enough to them yet. But in the electorates, Labour is owning the vote, and the room is loving it. Steph Lewis ahead in Whanganui, Helen White ahead in Auckland Central, Duncan Webb ahead in Christchurch Central, all the Maori seats, and Kiri Allan ahead in East Coast Bays!

All that’s a bit volatile, of course. Nikki Kaye has crept back in front.

Big cheers, excited babble. “It’s good, it’s good,” they’re saying, sitting in rows to watch the show on three big screens out front. Be happy now because in the morning, and all that. Or will Labour drift up? Nobody knows, and there’s definitely nobody weeping in a corner yet. Mind you, when Phil Twyford said on TV3, “I’m loving this, this is showtime,” nobody in the room backed him up. No cheer at all.

They drink wine here. Not many beers at all. And Winston Peters would be very disappointed to know there’s not a lot of chardonnay either. It’s pinot noir all round. Red red wine.

There are exceptions in that electorate drift. National’s Denise Lee is winning Maungakiekie easily and Chris Bishop is looking like he might take Hutt South too. The former is down to the strength of Bishop’s campaign; the former to a massive amount of confusion on the centre-left. The Greens’ Chloe Swarbrick has split the vote – at this moment she’s actually won more electorate votes for herself than party votes for the Greens. That’s not how it’s meant to work.

Simon Wilson will be posting updates from the National, Labour and Greens functions throughout the night.

Keep going!