Winnie Laban has announced she will be leaving Parliament.
Winnie has been a great MP for Mana and is a pillar of the Pacific community. That focus on the electorate and community that put her in office, perhaps ahead of promotion within the party ranks, is something that a lot of other MPs could learn from.
So, she will be missed by Labour. Some will be displeased that she didn’t wait until closer to the general election to avoid the need for a by-election or give more notice to the party hierarchy of her plans. But those missteps shouldn’t outshine the sterling job she has done for the party and the working people who she has represented.
No doubt there will be a strong competition to replace Winnie as Labour’s candidate. Hopefully, a strong candidate will be selected and the party will use the opportunity of another by-election in a safe seat as a pre-election hit out to build up campaign experience and recruit new activists.
Inevitably, the by-election will be seen as a competition between National’s record in fulfilling (or, rather, not fulfilling) its promises and the alternative vision presented by Labour. If National can’t beat their result in the general election (12,700 of 34,700 votes), it will be seen as a rejection of their performance and a boost for Labour.
National’s candidate will presumably be Hekia Parata, a perennial failure in electorate races. Parata has a high opinion of herself, a low opinion of others, a tendency to say the wrong thing, and tries to make jokes that come out as insults – Melissa Lee version 2? A few good questions in a few public meetings could make this a very entertaining race.