18 Oct 2020

'I'm blimmin stoked' - New Labour electorate MPs react to results

3:24 pm on 18 October 2020

Labour's new electorate MPs admit they thought it was a 'distant dream' to snatch their seats off National, but say it came down to the hard work of their teams.

Kiri Allan.

Kiri Allan. Photo: The Wireless/John Lake

Labour won electorate seats traditionally, or recently, held by National in Wairarapa, the East Coast, Ilam, Rangitata and Nelson.

The swings mirrored the overall party vote with Labour coming out on top with 49.1 percent (64 seats) to National's 26.8 percent (35 seats).

National has held the Wairarapa and East Coast seats since 2005, however, Labour's Kieran McAnulty won Wairarapa by a margin of more than 5000 votes and Kiritapu Allan claimed East Coast by more than 4600.

Allan told Morning Report it was quite literally a nail biting evening.

"I'm an MP with an electorate and I'm blimmin stoked," she said.

"I was a bundle of nerves, I was biting my nails for about 85 percent of the count... when we sort of finally realised that things might have got over the line (I was) incredibly proud of the team.

"Labour is a grassroots people movement, we depend so much on the blood, sweat and tears of our volunteers, so last night was a victory for my team. It was a four and a half year campaign to turn this seat red and seeing the fruits of their efforts, yea it was pretty a tremendous feeling."

Allan was already in Parliament on the Labour Party list in the previous term, but when incumbent East Coast MP, National's Anne Tolley, announced at the end of 2019 that she was retiring, Allan spotted an opportunity.

"You have those things in mind, you know, what's the likelihood of when people might retire... we didn't know she was going to retire, but when she did make that announcement, yeap we changed our strategy slightly.

"It's been 15 years since Labour have held the East Coast and my team and I have strongly believed that this is an electorate with some of the largest socio-economic disparities and it really deserved to have Labour represent the people here, I think voter turnout really, really helped us," she said.

Another National stronghold - Ilam - also switched hands with Labour's Sarah Pallett beating National's deputy leader Gerry Brownlee by more than 2200 votes.

Brownlee had held the Ilam electorate since it was created back in 1996.

Pallett admitted her win took her by surprise.

"I'm completely thrilled, you can just imagine, the team has worked so hard," she said.

"We were really hoping for this result but it was definitely a distant dream for us.

"We were running a really positive campaign so I'm hopeful they made an active positive choice rather than a rejection. I think when we look at the results across the country we are seeing that people are ready for this change that Labour bringing forward over the last three years and I really hope that I reflect that and certainly plan to do so," Pallett said.

Perhaps the biggest shock on Saturday night came in the Rangitata electorate, with Labour's Jo Luxton claiming victory over National's Megan Hands by more than 3400 votes.

According TVNZ's Vote Compass, Rangitata was the most conservative electorate in the country.

The seat had been held by National's Andrew Falloon, but he retired at the election after multiple women complained that he had sent them inappropriate text messages.

Luxton told Morning Report she did not expect to win.

"It was somewhat unexpected, but we worked damn hard during this campaign and over the last three years," she said.

Luxton said she has a tough job on her hands representing an electorate with such conservative views, but she's up to the challenge.

"It's all about the communication and the relationships that you develop with people within your electorate regardless of whether they are farmers, business owners, community groups, and I have actually worked really hard on those relationships the past three years and I think that is partly what we have seen in the result last night too."

Labour and National respectively

Labour's Rachel Boyack and National's Nick Smith. Photo: RNZ

In Nelson, incumbent National MP Nick Smith lost the seat he has held since 1996 to Labour's Rachel Boyack by more than 3500 votes.

She told Morning Report she didn't believe she could oust Smith until she saw the numbers coming in.

"We were just so focussed on our work on the ground, we know that Nick, and I just want to acknowledge the incredible work he has done for the Nelson community over many years, we knew we were up against a formidable incumbent MP, so we knew what we needed to do was work really hard and our team knocked on over 10,000 doors and made 16,000 phone calls and I really want to credit this team," she said.

Boyack said Smith conceded to her in person which was well respected by her volunteers.

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