NZ Election 2020: Labour's David Parker not interested in helping Greens across the threshold, aims for 60 percent of the vote

Labour MP David Parker has broken one of the unspoken rules of politics, saying he's confident Labour will win the election because he "can count". 

The latest TVNZ-Colmar Brunton poll had Labour sitting pretty on 47 percent - which depending on whether the Greens make it back into Parliament or not, could be enough to govern alone for the first time in MMP history. A few weeks ago a Newshub-Reid Research poll had Jacinda Ardern's party on 50.1 percent, earning a majority 65 seats in Parliament. 

"We're not taking it for granted but the polls are pretty stable now and I think we're being rewarded for being stable, compared with the chaos and infighting on the other side," Parker told The AM Show on Friday.

If a significant amount of the party vote goes towards parties that don't reach the 5 percent threshold or win a seat, so don't make it into Parliament, it's possible for a party to win a majority without reaching 50 percent of the total vote - as not all votes will count towards deciding the allocation of seats. 

On Thursday Newshub reported on ructions in the National caucus between leader Judith Collins and her MPs. Since taking over Collins has failed to lift the party's polling whatsoever - stuck around the 30 percent mark, where they have been since April. 

National has lost voters to Labour - whose handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been lauded worldwide - and its right-wing potential coalition partner ACT, which looks set to go from one MP to possibly 10 after the election. 

National's only hope is the Greens falling below the 5 percent threshold, says Victoria University politics lecturer Bryce Edwards.

"They're trying to get that Green vote below 5 percent, which really strategically would be National's best bet to change the Government... [Labour] won't have a coalition partner, and it really will end up being a race between National and ACT on the right and Labour on the left." 

Labour isn't interested in giving the Greens any help, rejecting an electorate deal in Auckland Central - where the Greens' Chloe Swarbrick, National's Emma Mellow and Labour's Helen White are running a tight three-horse race. Parker said Labour isn't interested in giving voters the nod to party vote Green either, wanting Labour to get as many votes as possible.

"The closer to 50 the better... the more the better. Sixty. Give me 60." 

National MP Simon Bridges, appearing on The AM Show with Parker, couldn't believe what he was hearing.

"We were always taught in Government you weren't allowed to say things like that because they sound quite arrogant... "Pride cometh before a fall."

Bridges and Parker.
Bridges and Parker. Photo credit: The AM Show

Bridges said the election is still up for grabs, saying there were still undecided voters to win over. It's not clear from TVNZ's report on Thursday how many voters they polled were undecided. He also said it was "interesting" the Greens were at 6 percent.

The Greens typically do better in polls than at the ballot box. In 2017 they won 6.3 percent of the vote, but polls in the few weeks beforehand had them as high as 9 percent. In 2014 - when Labour was weak - they got 10.7 percent of the vote, after polling as high as 14.4 percent. 

National MPs told Newshub this week the leadership team hasn't been showing them the party's internal polling. Bridges said he hasn't seen any since Parliament lifted, and isn't sure if any has been done - but said it didn't matter, because he's not a "poll-driven fruitcake".

"You can focus on all of that stuff, or you can get out and do your job." 

Unlike Parker, he wouldn't say what National's target was in the party vote. Collins once said she'd deserved to be sacked if the party's polling fell below 35 percent under her leadership

"I expect us to do really well. I'm not going to put a number on it," said Bridges. "I think [Collins is] doing her best. I think she's going for it. She's out there. There's been a bit of niggle... but we're going for it. I think in the final week there's still everything to play for."

Dr Edwards said National is running out of time. About a fifth of voters have already had their say, with advance voting proving more popular than ever this year.

"They're so far behind Labour, we're heading for some sort of Labour Party landslide."