New Labour set for New Zealand poll win

NEW ZEALAND'S Labour Party is poised to take power after nine years in opposition. The last major poll before today's election, in the New Zealand Herald, showed support for Labour surging to 39.8 per cent, up 2 per cent in the nine days since the paper's last poll.

That would give Helen Clark's centre-left Labour 50 seats in the 120- seat parliament, meaning it would have to form a coalition with the left- wing Alliance party and probably the Greens. The most striking feature of the poll was a 10 percentage point gap that has opened between Labour and the ruling Nationals, who are led by Jenny Shipley, the Prime Minister .

Yesterday Mrs Shipley went on her last pre-poll walkabout, in central Auckland. She sailed down Queen Street, the main commercial thoroughfare, like a battleship, leaving a trail of starstruck shoppers and office workers. Greeting all with her catchphrase "Hi, I'm Jenny, how are you?", she dived into shops, posed for photographs and pumped hands with the ferocity of a slot-machine addict. Following at a deferential distance was her loyal consort, Burton Shipley, a bank manager and former farmer whose two children she raised before entering politics. Her family have accompanied her, helping her project herself as a wife and mother who identifies with the concerns of Middle New Zealand - unlike Ms Clark, voters were supposed to infer. Ms Clark has no children and her husband, Peter Davis, rarely appears with her in public.

Mr Shipley has become something of a sex symbol during the campaign, with female journalists drooling over his rough-hewn good looks. But his popularity will not be enough to save his wife. There is a decisive mood for change and Ms Clark, who is offering free-market economics with a social conscience, looks set to be the beneficiary.

Although voters like Mrs Shipley, who deposed her predecessor, Jim Bolger, in 1997, they despise her government, particularly the assortment of small parties and independent MPs who gave her a razor-thin majority, enabling her to cling on until the end of National's three-year term.

Yesterday she listened to hard-luck tales from pensioners and clucked in horror when told by one woman of an 18-month wait for surgery. On a tour of a shopping mall she was careful to avoid a mother pushing a pram. She banned herself from any more contact with babies after one of her political adversaries, Winston Peters, said he would "throw up" if he saw her pick up a baby again.

Despite the poll indications, Mrs Shipley, who has been fighting a cold all week, told The Independent she was "very optimistic" that voters would swing back to her at the last minute.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable