Firstly I must say congratulations to the winners on the night, and sympathies to those who did not succeed. We may not hold politicians in high regard but they put themselves on the line. The voting public have had their say and that, if nothing else, we must celebrate and respect. But for Labour the price has been high. It is the end of an era – and a time for both reflection and optimism for the future. Ian Lllewellyn said it well when he wrote:
…it was Miss Clark’s political and policy partnership with her deputy and finance minister Michael Cullen that built a legacy that is likely to stand the test of time. The introduction of Working for Families, the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (also known as the Cullen Fund), Kiwibank, KiwiSaver and the renationalisation of the rail system all stand as a complete turn around of the policies of the 1990s.
It is a testament to the Clark/Cullen administration that the only way National leader John Key could win office was by promising to keep all of those institutions in place or tinkering with them at the edges.
Clark and Cullen have been a formidable team – the challenge for Labour is to create and support the next generation. Meantime we can look to the challenges ahead for Mr Key, as summarised by Steve Braunias:
The real John Key – assuming he exists – now has to stand up. He said he was ambitious for New Zealand; New Zealand, broke and vulnerable, is ambitious for John Key. He has been granted the opportunity of a lifetime.
And we will all be watching.