"Good old Clyde", Clyde Carr, M.P. : Timaru and the art of incumbency, 1928-1962.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis investigates the long incumbency of Clyde Carr, Labour MP for Timaru between 1928 and 1962. Before entering politics, Carr was a minister in the Methodist and Congregationalist Churches, a journalist, an editor, a poet and a radio announcer. He served on the Christchurch City Council from 1922 to 1928. Carr's career is unique in New Zealand parliamentary history as the longest term by a backbench MP in a provincial town seat. Two approaches are taken to explain Carr's incumbency. Firstly, the historical and social nature of the Timaru electorate is described and compared with nine other provincial town electorates. Timaru was characterised by slow population growth and high levels of union is at ion in the period, and both these factors were statistically associated with a high Labour vote in provincial town electorates. The high level of residential segregation in Timaru may also have acted to consolidate Labour support there. Secondly, Carr's behaviour at his eleven successful election campaigns in the seat is described. Carr's idiosyncratic political style and personal charisma were instrumental in his success in holding the seat, especially at elections where the country as a whole swung away from Labour. Six themes characterise Carr's political thought and behaviour: diligent constituency work, a natural ability to communicate in a wide range of contexts, innovative and active campaigning at elections, a "common touch", frequent involvement in controversy of one kind or another, and good fortune.