'Selfies, smiles and substance': Will personality or policy sway Blenheim voters?

Divided on how to vote are the White family, from left, Charlotte, 8, Joshua, 6, and father Jim White.
SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

Divided on how to vote are the White family, from left, Charlotte, 8, Joshua, 6, and father Jim White.

Blenheim children Charlotte and Joshua White may be too young to vote, but they already disagree over what makes a party worth voting for.

Charlotte, 8, believes a party leader should be nice, kind and honest, and "not like Donald Trump".

Joshua, 6, is not bothered by all that - as long as the party has "good rules", he says.

As the region gears up to vote, most claim policy is more important than a party's leader - but many say they rule out parties when they do not like the person calling the shots.

READ MORE:
Is it 'stardust' or sea change for Blenheim voters
Advance voting in Marlborough: where to go
Election 'meet the candidates' event in Marlborough

Leadership changes have led to fluctuations in the polls this time around.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern meets Nelson Central School students - but will her votes be buoyed by selfies alone?
MARTIN DE RUYTER/STUFF

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern meets Nelson Central School students - but will her votes be buoyed by selfies alone?

While 'Jacindamania' reinvigorates Labour supporters, Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett warns the choice comes down to "selfies, smiles and substance".

Blenheim voters said they largely ignored the selfies and smiles on the campaign trail, examining the policies instead.

But several named Winston Peters as a reason for ruling out New Zealand First. 

Prime Minister Bill English agrees to a photo while visiting Levin to announce a $20m farming fund.
WARWICK SMITH/STUFF

Prime Minister Bill English agrees to a photo while visiting Levin to announce a $20m farming fund.

One retiree said he had always voted National, but described Bill English as "old and tired".

Ad Feedback

"It's time for a change."

Charlotte and Joshua's father, Blenheim viticulturist Jim White, said new leaders did not change his centre-left leanings, though he was yet to make his final decision. He voted for the Green Party last time.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters campaigning for votes in Blenheim earlier this month.
SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters campaigning for votes in Blenheim earlier this month.

The resignation of former Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei, leaving James Shaw as the sole leader, had not changed his feelings about the party, White said.

"I'm not particularly excited by the major political parties. I'm more interested in social issues, education, health. While we're making plenty of money in business, we should be making sure people at the bottom have opportunities to advance, and make their lives better."

The personality of party leaders would not define his vote, but they did need to have certain skills and leadership abilities, White said.

Green Party leader James Shaw lost his co-leader Metiria Turei after she admitted historic benefit fraud and resigned.
JOSEPH JOHNSON/STUFF

Green Party leader James Shaw lost his co-leader Metiria Turei after she admitted historic benefit fraud and resigned.

His neighbours were reluctant to publicly divulge who they planned to vote for.

"That seems a very Kiwi thing, people do get quite worked up if they disagree with you," White said.

Retiree Ed Matkin​ would not disclose who he would vote for.

But he was going to vote for a different party than usual, and leadership and policy were both contributing factors, he said.

"I've got a very low opinion of politicians. They all go on about what they're going to do, but they all make promises they don't keep. So for me it's more about the priorities they represent. Health is a big issue for us at our age."

One woman, who would not give her name, said the party leaders who visited the regions were wasting their time.

"People aren't going to change their minds just because you're nice to them, and you've heard all the policies on TV anyway."

Blenheim manager Tina, who would not give her last name, said her personal dislike for former Prime Minister John Key made her rule out National in the past.

Now Bill English was the leader, she was looking more closely at policy.

She had no idea who the Kaikōura electorate candidates were, and would likely just vote for the Labour candidate, she said.

Blenheim consultant Lynley Gray would not say who she was voting for but she was traditionally a swing-voter, depending on how she felt the Government was performing, she said.

"Personality only matters if they have an extreme personality, like Trump. The prime minister is one of a party and they have lots of advisers so you're not just getting one person.

"I feel like all the parties are a bit unstable this year but there is one party whose policies I prefer."

She knew "a little bit" about the Kaikōura electorate candidates, but felt the party vote was more important, she said.

"It's that kind of election. I've previously voted for a candidate that wasn't from the party I voted for and I might do it again. You've got to choose what's right for the region."

 - The Marlborough Express

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Ad Feedback