So David Cunliffe is now leader.
The scale of the win is somewhat overwhelming. He had significantly greater support from members and affiliates than his competitors. And the vote in caucus was closer than some had predicted. Winning on the first ballot was not expected even by his most ardent supporters.
His call for caucus unity is important and appropriate. I suspect that any MP thinking of rocking the boat will be intimidated by the size of the party’s support for David and they would be well advised to behave.
All eyes will be on the reshuffling of the seats in Parliament. David’s stated intent to reward on merit and to make appointments across the three caucus groupings will be an important early change to what has occurred previously.
On Morning Report this morning David gave an excellent interview with Kathryn Ryan. He also gave a stunning interview on Firstline and made it clear that his intention is to enthuse the 800,000 kiwis who did not vote last time to vote this time. If he keeps this standard of interview up then he will do well.
He has also settled onto a theme. John Key is a funny popular person but his actions in favouring the rich corporates such as Sky City, Rio Tinto, Chorus, and the various merchant bankers gorging themselves on our assets cannot and should not be tolerated.
The first Parliamentary question time will be eagerly awaited and I am sure that the topic of the question is having some thought put into it.
I would suggest that the first question to the Prime Minister should be about the Axe the Copper Tax campaign. This ticks all the boxes. A wealthy corporate is increasing its wealth to the expense of the rest of us and the Government is overturning a decision of the Commerce Decision which it does not like, even though the decision benefits ordinary kiwis.
Key has made come bizarre claims about the issue, suggesting that Chorus may go broke if the Commerce Commission Decision is allowed to stand. It seems that he has not received a briefing from Chorus but presumably has performed the calculation himself.
The estimated saving to Chorus of the proposed change is in the vicinity of $100 million per year. Given that it made a profit of $171 million last year this possibility is difficult to comprehend. As I noted earlier Chorus’s problems appear to be that it underestimated the cost of the roll out. A faulty tender is not normally grounds for not reducing charges as far as they should be.
What is really interesting about this issue is the signs of a split in National’s ranks. Prominent National Party blogger David Farrar has joined the ranks of the Axe the Copper Tax campaign. It seems there may be elements of a power play in this move. The responsible Minister Amy Adams is a strong supporter of Judith Collins whereas Farrar has links to the English/Ryall faction of the National Party. A question on this topic will have the dual benefits of highlighting National’s crony capitalism and at the same time drilling in on an issue that is causing internal dissent in National’s ranks.
And there seems to be the whiff of change in the air. A Te Karere commissioned Digipoll of a thousand Maori voters showed a 5% gain by Labour on the party vote over a previous poll taken in January. The Greens did even better and picked up 7% points. The Maori Party will be concerned as it lost 15% points. A movement of support to the progressive parties by Maoridom is welcome news.
Time will tell but dare I say that there is now hope amongst progressives that the next election will see a change in Government?