Labour General Secretary Mike Smith has announced he will retire at the party’s national conference in September.
He’s the last of the four – Helen and the three Mikes – who led the parliamentary and party wings during the fifth Labour Government to step down. While Mike Williams ran fundraising, Smith concentrated more on organisation and activating the membership. In the last year there’s been a movement towards a more open and accessible Labour party – the Grassroots Labour site and Red Alert being prime examples. He goes out on a high after Labour showed that it is still a formidable campaign machine with the stunning victory in Mt Albert.
It looks like Chris Flatt, campaigns organiser for the CTU, and John Pagani, Jim Anderton’s former chief of staff who was heavily involved in Mt Albert, are the main contenders to replace Smith. Both are excellent candidates. Pagani is rated very highly as a political operator and his move to Labour represents the continuing process of the Progressives returning to the fold. Flatt on the other hand, with his union background (including an organising role in the Your Rights @ Work campaign that removed John Howard), has a lot of experience in organising and mobilising members.
[Mike Smith announced he was stepping down on the 8th. I wrote this post at the time but accidentally didn’t publish]