Newshub Nation Battlegrounds: Labour MP scolds The Opportunities Party leader Raf Manji for splitting the vote in Ilam, Christchurch 

Christchurch's Ilam electorate was a safe National seat until three years ago when Sarah Pallett flipped it for Labour during the red wave.   

A recent Taxpayers' Union-Curia poll, who does National's internal polling, suggests Labour's fight for the seat will be much harder fought this time. But Pallett told Newshub Nation she is "optimistic" and "quietly confident". 

Pallett is 51st on Labour's list, so without the Ilam seat she'll most likely be out of Parliament, but she believes her record in Ilam will serve her well. 

"I've been working really hard for the past three years, so I'm really hopeful that people see that, recognise the good work I've been doing and that I justified their trust in me when they actually made that tick in 2020," she said.   

Pallett believes if it came to a head-to-head between her and National right now, she'd "come out on top".   

The candidate hoping to reclaim National's seat in Ilam is Hamish Campbell, who fell to the red wave when he campaigned for National in the adjacent electorate of Wigram in 2020.   

"I'd like to be the MP for Ilam, and that would be in the National led government," Campbell said. 

"I would be a strong voice in the caucus to deliver these things, these changes, and the biggest employers in Ilam are in the education systems sector and in the health sector, and we've got policies for both these areas."   

Campbell grew up in Christchurch and said his background in the medical research space gives him a "simple philosophy that everyone deserves a fair shot at life".   

According to Pallett, if National wins, it won't be because of Campbell.   

"I think it's going to be a matter of splitting votes to be honest," she said.   

"We've got a lot of competition on the left-hand side of the vote."   

This competition is from leader of The Opportunities Party (TOP), Raf Manji, a former Christchurch Councillor.   

Despite admitting they are competing for a similar voter base, Pallett said she "wouldn't describe Manji as a progressive candidate at all".     

"When you actually dig into the policies a little bit more, you'll see that that the policies that he's got for students, for example, actually primarily benefit landlords," she said.   

Manji said that pallet "hasn't read our policies and doesn't understand our tax policy".   

He described TOP as "pro-business and pro-people".   

He then went on to say that Pallett had "been invisible, nobody's seen her".   

"She has very low awareness and she doesn't have a voice."   

Manji argued his competitors don't have the experience required to serve as MPs for Ilam.    

"They haven't actually served, they haven't actually brought policies in, they haven't actually delivered things," he said.   

"I've done that, and I'll be able to do that again."   

While Manji has experience in local government he is yet to work in central government, however, he said time spent dealing with the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes means he "knows how central government works".   

"I've sat in the offices of the last two prime ministers talking about issues to do with the earthquake, to do with the 15th, the March terror attacks, so I've got that credibility."   

But with current polling placing Campbell way in front on 33 percent, with Manji only polling at 14 percent, time could be up for TOP.   

TOP needs the Ilam electorate to get into Parliament as they have consistently failed to poll the required 5 percent party vote.   

"The way the electoral math is going to work out, if I win Illam and we bring in maybe 3 to 4 MPs, we will have some influence in the next government," Manji said.   

But Manji's confidence hinges on anecdotal chats he has had with voters on their doorstep which has been thoroughly undermined by the Taxpayers' Union-Curia poll.   

Ilam could be TOP's last chance at Parliament.   

Watch the full video for more.   

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