GUEST BLOG: Curwen Rolinson – The Campaign To Elect Paul Goldsmith



As regular readers will know by now, I got into politics to destroy ACT. I therefore take my sacrosanct responsibility as an Epsom voter very, very seriously; as one day (hopefully very soon) my vote could well help to beat ACT’s candidate and ouster them from Parliament. I’ll do this, by voting for our man in Epsom, local MP Paul Goldsmith.

I first met Paul Goldsmith back in 2011 when he was out campaigning in Newmarket. I know this might sound hard to believe, given that for much of the election, sightings of him in that vicinity appeared to be the man out shopping rather than campaigning … but there he was, on the corner of Broadway and Morrow street, standing with a National party minder presumably there to make sure Goldsmith didn’t get too overtly enthusiastic with proceedings.

I went up to him, shook him by the hand, and jubilantly declared that I was shaking the hand of a National hero; for he was the man who was going to prevent Banks from entering Parliament, and finally destroy ACT. I then told him that myself, my friends and family, as well as the local NZF crew were all intending to vote for him and were out actively campaigning to help him take the seat.

The man looked positively terrified.

My uncle had a similar experience with Goldsmith in 2011, also in Newmarket. He walked up wearing a Warriors cap, and surprised the man by striking up a conversation. “Oh, I didn’t think you’d be wanting to talk to *me*. You’re a warriors fan, so I assumed you’d be a Labour voter” or words to that effect were intoned. My uncle assertively clarified that he is in fact an NZ First voter for party vote, but would be giving his electorate vote squarely to Mr Goldsmith. “So you’re wrong. I’m not a Labour voter.”

So far, you’ve seen two people state their intent to engage in tactical voting. But check out Goldsmith’s reaction in the second one. This is more than non-campaigning … this is actual anti-campaigning. Stereotyping people as voting for your major opposition party straight from the get go on the basis of a classist assumption about League fans, and clarifying that they shouldn’t actually want to talk to you is *not* how you win votes. It’s how you actively alienate and get voters off side in dialogue so they don’t *want* to engage further or entrust you with their vote. It’s also a telling example of the candidate’s classist “us and them” mentality blurted out in public, and used to justify why you shouldn’t vote for him. You’d almost think the leader of the ACT party had come out and explicitly said that a vote for Paul Goldsmith was a vote for Winston Peters.

Despite some obvious shortcomings, I, like thousands (and hopefully tens of thousands) of my fellow Epsomites will be voting for this man come September 20th. Not because he is some great and bold reformer in the House, or a black-belt in Tae Kwon Do … but merely because with our help this man stands a very much better than even chance of flipping the table on ACT, cleaning up our rotten borough, and taking the seat. He was a mere two thousand, two hundred and sixty one votes behind John Banks last time – a very high profile former Minister and two-term Mayor of Auckland campaigning in his very own well-heeled backyard. If Goldsmith could (involuntarily) pull off that, then against a 30 year old policy man (who, unlike Banks wasn’t noteworthy enough for Goldsmith to write a biography of) I am entirely confident of Goldsmith pulling home a victory later this year.

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But only if we actually actively get out there and help him to achieve it!

Unfortunately for the nation’s collective anti-ACTivist proclivities, Paul Goldsmith is an example of that narrative trope known as “The Reluctant Hero“. He’s capable of an immensely mighty deed (possibly accidentally); but, like many protagonists deeply afraid of their own power, he recoils from this noble responsibility and attempts to relegate himself to obscurity. Last election, this manifested itself in the curious phenomenon of Goldsmith removing his own lawn signs some time before polling day, to limit the chances of favourable exposure. This time around, we already have Paul Goldsmith dodging a slew of interviews and media appearances this week alone; even finding himself involuntarily represented on TV3’s The Nation, by a bag of flour.

Fortunately for the nation, however, this is also going to be an example of the narrative trope known as The Call To Adventure Knows Where You Live. Because between now and polling day on the 20th of September, I and many others like me will be getting out there and doing our bit to ensure Paul Goldsmith is elected. We feel that with your help, and with the assistance and votes of every friend, family member, casual acquaintance, and guy-on-the-street that you and I can round up and extol the virtues of a man as pure as the driven flour to … well, with that, we’re certain of victory.

Oh, and if you’re one of the two thousand one hundred and sixty Epsomites who vote for The Green Party’s David Hay, or the three thousand seven hundred and fifty one who voted for Labour’s David Parker … don’t feel too bad. Sure, your inability to grasp how tactical voting works may have effectively doomed the nation to another three years worth of single-seat-majority National-ACT-Maori Party misrule … but on election day 2014 you get a chance to prove you’ve learned from your mistakes by helping to fix the future and voting for Goldsmith.

Goldsmith needs every right-thinking elector in Epsom to give him their vote. Of course, to quote US Presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson, “That’s not enough, Madam! We need a majority!” But it’s a start.

So whether on social media or while you’re socializing, please do your bit and join us in actively campaigning to elect Paul Goldsmith for Epsom in 2014.

Because once again – he’s the lesser of two evils!


  1. Tactical voting – a seemingly simple concept. Why then do so many seem so incapable of connecting such big dots? And in the case of Epsom, a highly educated population. I find it difficult to fathom that adults capable of even rudimentary observation and basic thinking don’t as naturally as drawing breath look at the political landscape and vote to best advantage accordingly. If someone can explain it to me Im all ears!

    • I think it is about levels of interest politics combined with the busy lives people live.

      If one is interested in politics it is obvious – but not all people are, nor have much time to spend analyzing these things – and when this is the case it is not that obvious.

      • That’s true, many people do actively avoid politics and exposure to that landscape. I can understand why and get to that place myself from time to time. What is less understandable is how actual politicians and party members can be do obscured of vision they become blind to voting strategy, among other things.

    • A green-minded friend told me she’d be voting for the Green candidate in our electorate, although she knows we’ll get a Lab or Nat MP, with the Green candidate coming a very distant third. I explained to her that she should consider voting for the Lab candidate because Lab are more likely to do a post-election deal with the Greens. Although she understood the logic, she is still reluctant because she feels it’s “just not right” to spurn the Green candidate. Sigh.

  2. Yes yes yes. If only Labour could grasp the rather simple concept of strategic voting under MMP !

  3. It’s interesting to see how many on the left got into politics to “destroy” things

    Not many positive messages there, folks

  4. Isn’t there something slightly absurd though about the need for a Labour supporter to vote National to fulfill their overall intention?

    One more reason why coat-tailing has to go.

    The Epsom Greens and Labour voters last time were failed by the voting system. The Electoral Commission thought it was doing well when after their promotions 80% of the population responded that the party vote was the more significant.

    Good job, get out there and get the Epsom voters to wise up – but at the bottom of it all is a broken system.

  5. I tried to get the message around wherever I could that Labour voters in Epsom should have voted Natl at the last election.
    We would have missed a lot of entertainment if they had, though

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