In the sixth and final iteration of a weekly election diary, National’s Hutt South MP Chris Bishop braves the elements and readies himself for the big day
The last week of the election campaign – the last human hoardings, last leaflets distributed, last phone call, last early morning rise and last late night. At least for a while.
On Monday I drag myself out of bed at 5.20am to get to the top of the Wainuiomata Hill in the driving wind and rain alongside six hardy (possibly crazy) volunteers to wave signs at early morning commuters. I can’t feel my fingers by the end of the morning but the reaction is positive – lots of toots and honks. There could have been a few one-finger salutes too, but in my defence, it was very dark most of the time and I couldn’t see many.
To Boulcott School on Monday afternoon to talk to students about our democracy, what voting is all about, and what MPs actually do. High St around the corner is littered with National and Labour election signs. I ask the kids if they’ve seen all the election signs. Mass raising of hands. I ask them if they’re sick of seeing them around the community. Near unanimity. Motion carried. I tell them I won’t be sorry to see them come down either.
It does feel odd driving around and seeing yourself on street corners, although like most things in politics (and life), you get used to it after a while. It does definitely help with name recognition particularly with kids, who point and stare in the supermarkets. The joy of youth; adults usually do the very Kiwi casual eyebrow raise or the quick nod.
By law, every election sign has to be down by midnight, which means an enormous operation over the course of the day to collect the over 200 we have all over the electorate. Some say that we should scrap the “no advertising on election day” rule, given the popularity of early voting, although I suspect that if there was no need to get the signs down by a certain time some would still be there in three years’ time. Besides, I like the quiet dignity of election day, unadorned by all the hullabaloo.
John Key always used to say that his mother would say to him, “You get out of life what you put in.” I took that to heart when I became an MP, and I’ve tried to live that maxim on this campaign, and my entire political career.
Every year I get paranoid that there’ll be an errant sign still up on Saturday morning, meaning I’ve broken the law. In both 2014 and 2017 I’ve driven around most of the electorate at close to midnight on Friday, checking every nook and cranny. In 2017 I missed one; luckily the house owner realised the error and took it down himself. No doubt I’ll spend most of tonight doing the “hoardings run”. What a way to spend a Friday night.
On Wednesday I make a quick dash to Auckland to film “7 Days” with Chloe Swarbrick and Judith Collins. I’m pretty nervous, because in a comedy show, you’ve simply got to be funny (and I’m not really), and because I’ve got to ask questions of the boss in the “Yes Minister” segment, which could either be career enhancing or limiting, depending on your perspective. It seems to go okay, and a couple of decent glasses of chardonnay in the green room beforehand definitely help!
Chloe looks about as exhausted as I am. I feel for her; running in the three-way marginal race of Auckland Central as well as doing the heavy lifting on the cannabis referendum. We’re both running on fumes, desperately pushing hard until the end, striving for every last vote, trying to meet more people, hand out more leaflets, make another call.
John Key always used to say that his mother would say to him, “You get out of life what you put in.” I took that to heart when I became an MP, and I’ve tried to live that maxim on this campaign, and my entire political career. We’ll see if it’s enough tomorrow.