Written By: - Date published: 8:43 am, November 29th, 2011 - 172 comments
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Looks like Labour will have a proper leadership comp with Goff as caretaker till early next year. Good. Let’s get to know the options. Labour needs to get this right. Because the next Labour leader needs to be the next PM in 2014. Needs to be able to win. The poor people of NZ can’t afford another lost 3 years begin squeezed and ripped off by the Tories.
Danyl at Dimpost has weighed up the options. Worth a read. Really it comes down to the 2 Davids: Parker or Cunliffe. Maybe Little too.
My two cents:
Parker’s sharp and likeable. He has a business background and he won a blue seat at his first crack – it was 2002 though and he’s lost 3 elections since (only 1 on purpose). The guy’s integrity is beyond professional reproach. Parker kept his nose clean as a minister. Even stood down from his portfolios when there was a hint he had accidentally done some paperwork for a business wrong. Most ministers would fight tooth and nail over far worse improprieties than that. Look at Worth and Wong for starters.
But can Parker sell Labour? This is the question. Labour doesn’t need to change much of its policy platform. It needs to hit refresh on its relationship with the public. Could Parker do that? Interesting to see that Phil Quinn already has numbers supposedly showing the caucus backs Parker. Not hard to work out who gave Quinn that. Interesting though because he very much stands for the status quo.
Cunliffe is also sharp and has become good with the media, showing a bit of interesting character in the last year. A couple of recent stuff-ups notwithstanding, he is well clear of the ‘nasty party’ branding the right has been trying to fix on Labour with some success (and justification). Cunliffe has the highest profile of any of the contenders and took the fight to English in a way which Goff didn’t manage against Key until the end. A simpler personal life than Parker, which does matter to voters. Downside is he’s got an ego. That sense of his own destiny makes him unpopular in with other MPs.
But the Leader’s job isn’t to be mates with all of caucus. It’s to win elections. And Cunliffe has – he extended his majority this election and had ‘only’ a 10% fall in party vote vs 20% nationwide. Cunliffe can win, and he believes he can. And what’s wrong with that? Question is whether enough of his colleagues can see past the ego to the useful tool for the party’s success. It’s telling that the Nats are already trying to stymie Cunliffe by talking up his chances, knowing how that will play in Labour.
Sure Little lost in New Plymouth but that was a deeply blue seat even last election. Duynhoven got 5,500 more votes than Labour in 2008. Little has 4,400 more. Little lost because of 2 changes compared to 2008: the party vote dropped by 3,000 there was a Green candidate, who took 1,100. That’s not bad on Little’s part. His personal factor was comparable to Duynhoven – who was MP for 6 terms and is now mayor. So, don’t rule him out because of that race.
Little’s got a lot media experience and a lot of leadership experience. He’s not easily flustered. He headed an organisation with a couple of hundred staff and tens of thousands of members. The EPMU’s probably bigger and more complicated than Labour. Little’s dealt with national power figures, often winning against them in disputes, and was seen as a moderate, modern unionist by the business elite. At the same time, he got out tens of thousands of ordinary workers for the Wage Drive rallies in ’08. When was the last time a Labour leader packed 8,000 into Telstra Clear Stadium? He could be seen as a unifying alternative between those who don’t like Cunliffe and those who want to have a decent chance of winning in 2014.
3 good choices to choose from. Whichever way it goes, these 3 will be core to the new Labour leadership. The question is only which one can foot it with Key and win votes for the party.