The Labour leadership campaign is up and running.
Yesterday there was the first televised debate amongst the leadership candidates on Q&A. The debate was rather messy, too many candidates and too little time. It is hard to work out who won and who lost although I agree with Ngarimu Blair that Nanaia Mahuta presented a pleasantly distinct world view that needs to be respected. On that subject I was impressed with Blair’s commentary, more thoughtful and nuanced that what we normally witness. I hope he gets used more often.
Then Grant Robertson held his campaign launch at Auckland. This was the most public event any candidate has ever held and Robertson is obviously well organised. He has a very professional looking Nationbuilder website. He also has tshirts and pamphlets. He is the one candidate who ran last time and obviously is well prepared.
His choice to announce that he will nominate Jacinda Ardern as deputy leader is a predictable one. But he may have been better to reach across and propose that Nanaia Mahuta or Carmel Sepuloni should be deputy. Although Ardern may be the best choice in Robertson’s part of caucus it is hardly a decision that will unify caucus. And to those who say that such a selection should be based on competence there is a whole lot of competence amongst the party’s female MPs to select from.
Sepuloni brings distinctly non beltway grass roots qualities that I believe are vital to the party’s interests. If Robertson is intent on establishing unity then if he wins Carmel or Nanaia should be at the forefront of any list of potential deputy leaders.
This week the first two meetings are planned in Wellington (October 22) and Palmerston North (October 23).
Some other details about the contest: