Paddy Gower’s gleeful predictions of ‘blood on the floor’ of caucus didn’t happen. Tracy Watkins’ unrealistic demand that Grant Robertson (whom she incorrectly thought would win the leadership race) be retained as deputy was never going to happen. What we saw was a neat, least moves action that puts the economy front and centre of Labour’s brand.
David Parker is now Bill English’s opposite – the deputy leader and finance spokesperson. Like English (and Cullen before them) Parker is not inspirational or charismatic, in his own words ‘I’m me, I don’t want to be a used car salesman like Key’. Instead, he is a safe pair of hands that people are comfortable with running the economy. Like English is to Key, Parker will be to Cunliffe – a strong, economically-focused pair, the leader inspirational, the deputy the rock.
Making Robertson shadow leader of the House is a really smart move. It gives Robertson a position with the profile and responsibility that he deserves and it removes the Mallard problem. Mallard can’t even be too upset, when it’s the man he backed taking his job.
Mallard couldn’t be left in a senior position given his extensive talking campaign against Cunliffe over the years. The same was true of Hipkins. They’re neatly moved aside, too.
These moves were logical and calmly done. No ‘blood on the floor’, no vindictiveness, and little ground for complaint from those demoted. And, just as importantly, they were done cleanly and with authority. No more vacillating, weak leadership for Labour.