Now that the dust is settling it is time for the Labour Party to think about its future.
The last election result was a disaster. Special votes due today may get the left a few electorate seats and another seat in total but Labour looked like this election would be a walk in the park 18 months ago.
Things were worse in 2014. That result did include acts of gross disloyalty from MPs who sniped at the leadership at the time and who refused to campaign for the party vote. They used leaks to the media as one of their weapons.
It was an awful time. This campaign had none of the disunity that was on show then.
Of course the current Labour Party does not want to engage in the factional battles that raged then. But the victors of that battle are still around. They are trying to cement their power.
Compared to previous Labour Governments the last government did not fare so well.
Helen Clark’s Government lasted for 9 years and fought all of the way.
The Lange/Palmer/Moore government ended abruptly after the party burned through most of its activists.
Its campaign launch was filmed in front of about 8 MPs who cheered and gave a standing ovation at the end. They were too afraid to book out a big hall because no one would have shown up.
The third Labour Government crashed and burned under intense economic pressures and rising fuel prices. It also lost its leader part way through.
The last Labour Government was something of a mix of each of these.
It achieved some good. It was not ideologically compromised the way that the fourth Labour Government was. But the rush to back away from anything contentious i.e. good during this year hurt.
Now is the time to look towards the future.
The leadership should accept that the tactical decisions made were pretty bad.
GST off fresh fruit and vegetables as a policy was a loser as was a watered down version of the Green’s free dental healthcare.
Ruling out a wealth tax and/or a capital gains tax robbed activists of their desire to be involved and a chance for the party to say that it was different to National. All we had was two parties looking somewhat similar with the right wing party having a pile of rich donor cash behind it to make it look better.
There is a need for inspiring leadership. Someone like Norman Kirk, David Lange, Helen Clark or Jacinda Ardern or good old Michael Joseph Savage who can provide inspiration and hope.
Liking Sausage rolls and spending most of your working life in Parliament will not cut it.
Of course the Caucus has a desire for stability.
But there is also a need for Labour to change and quickly adjust. Right now we need to be reorganising and planning and getting ready for the National Party onslaught that they are surely planning right now.
Labour needs leadership that makes good calls on tactical decisions and who will energise the base.
They need a narrative about how they will address child poverty and climate change.
They need to declare what they believe in and what they are proposing for our future.
They need to provide support and hope for ordinary people.
If the caucus revert to a Wellington focussed view of what is important for their careers combined with a desire to not rock the boat too much then the party will miss the opportunity to address its problems.
Hipkins has a choice. He can resign as leader and then take part in a leadership campaign. He can bring the fire and determination he showed in the last couple of weeks of the campaign and see if that works.
The members and affiliates can then decide if they want to grant him the privilege of continuing as leader.
Whoever the leader is for the next election they will need these foot soldiers to campaign for the party. Without them Labour will struggle against the well funded onslaught resourced by the very wealthy who are afraid of losing their privilege.
Right now the left needs real leadership. Mike Smith is right.