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Who could replace Shearer?

Written By: - Date published: 5:00 pm, November 11th, 2012 - 90 comments
Categories: david cunliffe, david shearer, grant robertson, labour, uncategorized - Tags:

It should come as no surprise that I agree with the other posters on The Standard who think Shearer needs to go as Labour leader.  But weka, in the comments of Eddie’s post, asked:

If Shearer is to go, then who replaces him? Who else is there in addition to Cunliffe? A serious exploration of the options would be a good next step.

Obviously I’m a Cunliffe fangirl but it’s a good question – no hierarchy-based structure has good long-term prospects when there’s only one person – or no clear person – with the ability to lead (see also:  how Goff got to be leader, or for the more historically inclined, the fallout after the death of Alexander the Great.)

So, what are our prospects?  Let’s assume we want to avoid the obvious pitfalls of pushing a 2-year n00b to the top.  Let’s assume we want someone with experience, with a bit of a profile, with some pizzazz.

So, profile.  While I’m far too lazy on a Sunday morning to reproduce something like this handy chart from Dim Post, let’s assume that if you’re a current MP sitting in the front two rows of Parliament, you’ve probably got a bit of a profile, giving us (alphabetically):

Ardern J; Chauvel; Cosgrove; Cunliffe; Dalziel; Fenton; Goff; Hipkins; King A; Mahuta; Mallard; Parker D; Robertson G; Sio; Street; Twyford

Let’s note that Labour has been absolutely pathetic at fielding attacks based on the actions of the fourth Labour Government – although we might allow that this was largely due to Goff, as previous leader, not having the will/spine to fully refute his actions at the time.  So, remove anyone who was an MP under Lange/Palmer.

(I can already hear the objections on this one being a bit ageist, but I’ll just say this: find someone under the age of 30.  Tell them Phil Goff was an MP before they were born.  Ask just how much they think he can relate to them.  Consider how much Obama just got re-elected thanks to a mobilised youth vote.)

Ardern J; Chauvel; Cosgrove; Cunliffe; Fenton; Hipkins; Mahuta; Parker D; Robertson G; Sio; Street; Twyford

Let’s take out Sio because, well, hahahahaha.  Let’s take out David Parker on the oft-commented assumption that he was the first choice of the anti-Cunliffe club but was deemed unadvisable even by them.  This handily gives us a top 10 of:

Ardern J; Chauvel; Cosgrove; Cunliffe; Fenton; Hipkins; Mahuta; Robertson G; Street; Twyford

Now it’s the truly subjective things:  who on that list delivers a damn good speech?  Who’s going to provide policy grunt and the debating skills needed in our usually pathetically-shallow election coverage to cut through the John Key waffle?  Who can throw down against the Nats with “real-life” experience and business cred?  Who’s got a solid electorate seat, which yes, shouldn’t really matter in an MMP system but still does to a lot of people?

I’m still picking Cunliffe.

I’d like to see more of Ardern, Robertson, Chauvel, even Twyford for all his wankery around the marriage equality bill, but I don’t see any of them being able to pick up the ball at short notice and make something of it.  It’d be awesome to see them at work under a leader who can articulate real values and policies and actually fight for them instead of expecting “heartland” NZ to change sides just because he goes to Nelson and wears an “I <3 farming” shirt.  Unfortunately, the “diversity at the top” argument totally nukes Twyford for deputy,

Cosgrove, Fenton, Hipkins, Mahuta and Street … well, they don’t do anything for me, to be honest.  (A note on Mahuta, specifically: she’s been criticised recently for having no profile and objected strenuously to that, yet Parata is absolutely fucking up schools in Christchurch, Campbell Live’s been running non-stop stories on it and I have not heard a single thing from her on it.  This could very well be down to the Shearer office fucking up, but nevertheless, she’s missing in action.)

So it’s Cunliffe for me.  Cunliffe to take Labour into 2014 and win enough to form a solid, grown-up coalition with the Greens, to rebuild the party into something I can give a toss about, develop talent like Ardern and Robertson, and provide an actual legacy for the NZ left.

~

Of course, anyone out there can disagree with my assumptions – maybe you want to plug for young MP blood like Faafoi or Little, maybe you think some of the old guard still have it in them, maybe you’re one of those bizarre Shane Jones fans.  Let’s have this debate – comments are open now!

90 comments on “Who could replace Shearer? ”

  1. It would also be really nice to see whoever the next leader is actually grooming two or three potential replacements, and building an atmosphere in the Party where, whover ends up being the next leader, they can all work together positively, and they can make sure other promising talent is necessary.

    Of course, I’m a lot more cynical about the chances of that actually happening.

    • QoT 1.1

      You mean, give up the petty factional infighting for the betterment of the whole Party and even the nation? That’s just silly.

      • David H 1.1.1

        Thank you, thank, you thank you. For putting into good words what I have been rambling on about for months. Well written and well thought out. And still you come to the same conclusion that I and a lot of others have, Shearer is deadwood as is the rest of the front bench, except for one. David Cunliffe, and really there is NO ONE else in the party that has the nous and cojones to take on and blow Key out of the water.

      • RedLogix 1.1.2

        give up the petty factional infighting for the betterment of the whole Party and even the nation?

        As is a whole chunk of the kiwi electorate… I mean hell it’s what’s expected in virtually all ordinary workplaces on a daily basis, conflicting personalities and ambitions get set aside or moderated in order to get on with the job. Sure it’s not easy or perfect but it’s what’s expected.

        The Labour front bench need to get over themselves if this is what is really going on. (And I’m basing this on what Anne has repeatedly stated. Of all the commenters here she’s the one I always read most closely…)

      • I don’t mind if they keep up the infighting, so long as they greatly reduce the stakes and learn to co-operate. I expect adults, not miracles, and I’m a firm believer in the general applicability of the Law of Conservation of Social Problems, ala Asimov. 😉

  2. They needs to be a vigorous vetting procedure. Egg and spoon race, balance beam and a rousing game of Jeopardy.

    • QoT 2.1

      Three-legged race with a randomly assigned Greens/Maori/NZ First partner?

      • Bill 2.1.2

        I think any idea that NZ First will go with a left coalition has to be dropped. Wasn’t Peters at least a part of the reason for the Greens being previously sidelined by Labour? He kind of despises them. As does, apparently, Shane Jones who, I sometimes think, is doing his prospecting before jumping…proving he can bash a Greenie to an acceptable NZ First standard.

        Mana, Green, Labour I can see. But not the mP or NZ First. Anyway, that’s a distraction. And the broken down list…well, Cunliffe will know exactly who voted for Shearer in Robertsons tilt for leadership and can presumably decide between keeping some enemies very close or consigning them to the wilderness.

        As far as I understand the Labour Party (not very well) it won’t be until after the list is drawn for the next election before we can have real inkling of what a future Labour Party might be.

        Will dinosaurs be dropped down the list and new blood brought in while JT and whatisface ‘naked boy in Wellington’ fella are finally and unequivocably consigned to history? And can sitting electorate mp’s be stood down or challenged from within the party in any way?

        Meanwhile. Cunliffe and…Little? I don’t know. There ain’t too much to choose from.

        • Colonial Viper 2.1.2.1

          And can sitting electorate mp’s be stood down or challenged from within the party in any way?

          Someone can stand against the sitting MP for selection, forcing a contested candidate selection. In order for the newcomer to have a chance of unseating a sitting MP, they would need strong support from the local membership and also from the affiliates. The beltway will also have significant sway over the selection outcome.

          • Bill 2.1.2.1.1

            Cheers CV. And now I’m going to soune dumb. So okay, there are the local members. I get that. And they have how much say? And ‘the affiliates’…not sure what that refers to. And when you say ‘the beltway, do you mean the existing mp’s or the leadership (insofar as they have a grip on power) or do you just mean the Weller’s brigade…inc. the press etc?

            • Colonial Viper 2.1.2.1.1.1

              IIRC. A Labour candidate selection is decided on the day by committee. Local branches will be represented, the “Affiliates” (eg. EPMU, etc) will also be there, and there will be representatives from the Regional level and also from the central party hierarchy (we’ll call them the Weller’s or beltway brigade because even though they may not be from Wellington they represent the view of Beltway Labour. They aren’t Parliamentary Labour either i.e. they’re not MPs).

              Beltway Labour is only a minority on the committee but if they have a strong feeling for (or against) a specific candidate, they will usually have done a lot of ground work with the other committee members before hand to smooth the way to the desired result.

          • liberty 2.1.2.1.2

            Local selection. get real.
            Labour candidates are appointed by the union controlled central committee.
            The local meeting are a sham.

            • lprent 2.1.2.1.2.1

              Another conspiracy theorist with a simple set of slogans to think with…..

              Doesn’t happen like that.

              • liberty

                Name one Labour MP who has not been approved by the central committee.
                There isn’t one. Unless you are an underling of the committee you want get selected/appointed for labour.
                There is no place for individualism in Labour.
                Why does Tamihere have to crawl up the central committee for permission to stand.
                After years of loyal service to the party.

                • Te Reo Putake

                  What central committee, liberty? You clearly haven’t got the first idea how the Labour Party selects its list and electorate MP’s currently, nor how they are going to be selected under the proposed new arrangement. No surprise that you should be so ignorant, I suppose. As an advocate of a political philosophy that has no popular support at all, and an activist base that wouldn’t test the carrying capacity of a mini, your candidate selection meetings would be a doddle. Anybody of sound mind and body would be an ideal candidate and the first qualification is optional anyway.

                • lprent

                  Why does Tamihere have to crawl up the central committee for permission to stand.

                  He has to be a party member to stand. He hasn’t been for quite a few years. Currently he is trying to become a member again. Bearing in mind his statements about the NZLP and the people in it when he left and subsequently, I hope that he is rejected for membership. Most party members I know feel exactly the same way about the arsehole.

                  Your other points have the same degree of inaccuracy.

                • Laurie

                  Because he’s sexist, underwhelming, and can’t string three cohesive sentences together. Personally I don’t respect anyone who only shows interest in the party when they want to go back on the payroll, but aren’t there for the hard work and party building at other times. Shame if Labour is easy pickings for Tamihere and others like him who will only pop up in time for an election.

  3. pete 3

    Someone outside the party. Let’s face it, the party needs to be rebuilt – which should have been done four years ago.

    Listen to that little voice. It’s saying “none of these options are good”.

  4. marsman 4

    My gut feeling has always been David Cunliffe. Reassuring to see those feelings backed up by your clear summation in your excellent post QoT.

  5. Undecided about potential replacements for the Labour Party leadership, however, I don’t think anyone would notice if Mr Key was replaced by either Daffy Duck or The Penguin (of Batman fame). There might even be some improvement in manners, organization and policies.

  6. the sprout 6

    Cunliffe. He’s the members’ choice and he can get the job done.
    Not Robertson, he’s been complicit it the unfortunate Shearer experiment from the outset.

    • gobsmacked 6.1

      I would pick Cunliffe.

      But if Robertson was big enough to insist on Cunliffe in Finance, and give him free rein, then he could make that work.

      A Cabinet of Robertson, Cunliffe, Norman, Turei, Parker (if we must), Cosgrove, Ardern, Chauvel, Hague, couple more Greens, Twyford … it starts to look like a goverment. Even Flavell could have a bauble.

      No NZ First, no Mallard, Jones, Horomia … Goff and King retired.

      Not great, but better than Clark’s third term with Dunne and Peters.

      • Colonial Viper 6.1.1

        You get Peters in at the start and you keep him there, if you want 3 Labour terms.

        • gobsmacked 6.1.1.1

          Lab/Green is to Peters, as National to the Maori Party

          i.e. first get the 61, then dictate the terms to any other party.

          The NZ First list is scary. They must not hold the balance of power.

      • Bill 6.1.2

        Isn’t Cosgrove a bit dodgy? Something about kickbacks that some here defended a bit too vigorously for my liking (from memory). And isn’t Ardern far too close to Goff and the old brigade?

        Anyway, I had a wee quick look through the sitting mp’s and am curious about the likes of Wall, Mackey and (since Karol mentioned her at ‘7’) Moroney.

        sheesh And then I noticed you were referring to a Robertson led cabinet, but since I was but a click away from ‘submit’…

        • karol 6.1.2.1

          As I recall, most Cunliffe supporters were not given front bench positions under Shearer’s leadership.  So those people will not have had much of a high profile lately.   Moroney is one. So look past the first page or 2 of Labour MPs.
           
          Moroney, Wall and Mackey are all on page 3.

          • Bill 6.1.2.1.1

            Aye, that crossed my mind as I looked at the list. But I still don’t know anything about these people beyond their list bios. I assume others have had dealings with them or have more knowledge about them? I’m curious.

            • Colonial Viper 6.1.2.1.1.1

              Wall is solid; Labour is lucky to have her.

            • the sprout 6.1.2.1.1.2

              Agreed cv.
              Was not at all impressed with her for a while, but i’ve since come to realise Wall is very good. Great communicator with real labour values she’s willing to stick up for.
              I underestimated her talent.
              Make a great deputy to Cunliffe.

              • Aye Sprout.

                There needs to be a female co leader of the Labour Party soon.

                My picks are Wall, Mahuta, Dalziel, Moroney and Mackey.  Any one of the first three would be great.  Dalziel has serious smarts, Wall and Mahuta have smarts and are representative …

                • Chris

                  Out of interest if Labour were to have co-leaders what would happen when they get in power. Are we allowed to have co-prime ministers?

                • Hard working ,obliging and try’s her best to be available . Get on with both wings of the party plus understands the unions. For me deputy leader Sue Moroney.

              • Colonial Viper

                Yep. Wall front foots it with the media very well.

                Got asked lots of sticky questions when interviewed about her Private Members Bill, eg about how she was going against the will of many of her Church going constituents etc. and she explained herself and the values involved brilliantly.

        • gobsmacked 6.1.2.2

          I’m working on the basis that any Labour-led MMP gov’t is going to include people I don’t much like, but I’d rather have those people in a Labour caucus on 40% than in a Winston caucus adding 10% to Labour’s 30. (Not wanting to wish ill on the old rogue, but NZ First are only one heart attack away from morphing into the sub-Nats, with decidedly Ian Wishart tendencies).

          There’s the whole other question of changes to MMP thresholds, and new parties, but that’s for another day.

          • Bill 6.1.2.2.1

            But since Robertson was a part and parcel of the brigade that put in Shearer; who mentored his leadership and who thought they could ‘shoulder tap’ him at some appropriate moment and replace him with Robertson…and since they obviously don’t have the numbers now (if they did have they’d simply have rolled him)….then why do you think a ‘no change’ Robertson led caucus would achieve much above 30%?

            • karol 6.1.2.2.1.1

              I can’t help wondering if Shane Jones is on a long leash because he’s one of the Shearer supporters.  Does this mean the Shearer faction only has a slim majority in caucus?

              • Bill

                I doubt that Jones is a Shearer supporter any more. Shearer crapped all over him by calling for an enquiry or whatever over the immigration malarky. I’m more inclined to think that Jones is giving Shearer the long finger and just doing what he wants because he can. I mean, what is Shearer going to do?

                And don’t forget that the votes for Shearer were proxy Robertson votes. Shearer was the compromise who was meant to have been shoulder tapped by now. Last I heard, Cunliffe lost by one vote. And that was only because the ABC coterie cobbled together the ‘Shearer strategy’. Robertson was going to fall short.

                Jones going a bit feral would indicate that Robertson and the entire ABCers are fucked. And even if Jones came back to the fold, they’re still only back to the point where a gay leader was a no-go that required a fall back position. And they don’t have one unless they back Parker I guess.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Last I heard, Cunliffe lost by one vote.

                  Two.

                  It was going to have been one but someone changed their mind last moment.

                  • Bill

                    Surely it would have been three in that case, no? I mean, a difference of one becomes a difference of three with one coming from one side of the equation meaning one is also subtracted from the other side of the equation. That sounds confusing. But you know what I mean, aye?

                • Draco T Bastard

                  I mean, what is Shearer going to do?

                  Kick him out of the party.

              • Sunny

                My thoughts too Karol. if only someone could distract him with some (free) porn….

            • gobsmacked 6.1.2.2.1.2

              @Bill

              I’m not over-optimistic, the change would be cosmetic. But … with the proviso mentioned above (Cunliffe in Finance, a NZ version of the Brown/Blair Granta agreement) it is possible that the factions could unite. I don’t think a purge is going to happen, or succeed.

              Robertson is culpable, and as stated, I want Cunliffe. But somehow those 34 in caucus (minus a few retirees) have got to put together a team for the election.

            • the sprout 6.1.2.2.1.3

              Robertson is an integral part of the problem. And yes he supported Shearer on the assumption that if Cunliffe got in it’d be a very long time between new leadership drinks.

              Jones is nolonger part of the abc, and the margin of support is slim, hence Shearer’s unwillingness to discipline him.

          • Populuxe1 6.1.2.2.2

            FYI Richard Prosser isn’t the entire NZF caucus – the rest are quite reasonable. Much of worst aspects can be traced directly to a certain press secretary who is stuck in the bad old twentieth century and fails to consult with the MPs before releasing statements (so says the faeries at the bottom of my garden)…

  7. karol 7

    My feeling is, that Shearer is a dead man walking. There’s been too much speculation about his leadership, not just on this and one or two other blogs.

    If there’s someone in the Labour caucus with leadership potential that’s ready to go, they’ll step up and take control.

    I’m more worried that the parliamentary left needs to start forging a new direction and dump the whole soft(ly softly) neoliberal, third way approach. And the Russel Norman Greens are heading too much to a soft neoliberal direction for my liking. I’ve had enough of voting for the lesser evil. I see no advantage in not-rocking the boat speculation wise, if it means no change from the last couple of decades of policy directions.

    Sue Moroney is more effective than some on the list, but more a deputy than a leader.

    • Wayne 7.1

      Karol, If you think Russell Norman is too much of a soft neoliberal, you will never see a govt in NZ that you like, and I guess you see the Nats as the same as the Tea Party in the US

  8. Colonial Viper 8

    just because he goes to Nelson and wears an “I <3 farming” shirt.

    He didn’t do that. Did he??? 👿

  9. Rhinocrates 9

    Cunliffe. The criticism might be valid, but he’s truer to party principles, intelligent and a compelling personality.

    Not Robertson. He’s Labour’s Leonid Brezhnev – a party manipulator who knows where all the bodies are buried and uses that knowledge, power hungry, vain, unimaginative and stuck in the past – and he’ll keep the party in the past with him.

  10. Blue 10

    The list of alternatives tells you why the ABC club ended up with Shearer as their candidate. The other options were too depressing to contemplate.

    • gobsmacked 10.1

      It is a real indictment on Labour’s non-renewal in the past few years. People like Steve Maharey, once seen as useful second rank Ministers, now look like lost leaders. He could construct proper sentences, even long ones!

      • mickysavage 10.1.1

        Aye I remember watching a speech of his in 1993 and thinking that he had what was required and would be a future leader.  He was competent, passionate and eloquent …

    • QoT 10.2

      That’s a very good point – the “he’s a fresh face” argument has a lot more merit when lined up against the alternatives.

  11. geo 11

    Cunliffe.
    Always should have been and still is the only one.In the Auckland selection meeting I asked if G Robinson would not stand against Shearer for the next 3 years.He stated he would do what ever the leadership asked.Not too good for Shearer.
    Cunliffe is the only choice.

  12. Cunliffe is streets ahead of anyone in the whole caucus, David Clark from Dunedin also
    speaks well in the house,so he could be a contender for deputy at some stage,Andrew
    Little also is a contender for deputy,what about those who have been consigned to the
    list, i’m sure there will be some talent there.
    It is time to refresh the caucus,a new broom,so to speak.

  13. tc 13

    Cunliffe to lead the party back to power and clean out the dead wood still hanging on since Helen left and the debris that’s been picked up since making pathetic runs in former labour seats.

    He will also bring the naughty ones into line so the solid front is presented that is required in swinging voters over. It’s a shambles under DS, he’s a soggy bus ticket on that front if he even has one.

  14. Rhinocrates 14

    One thing to keep in mind is that there will inevitably be compromises and placation of (hopefully former) enemies, so there won’t be an ideal front bench even if there is an ideal leader – they will have to give their prime opponent an important position, as Clark did with Goff.

  15. outofbed 15

    tick tick tick

  16. hush minx 16

    It’s a house sitting week this week isn’t it? All of Labour’s MP’s are going to be gathered in one place. Hope at least some of them have been reading the Standard. Should lead to some interesting conversations!

  17. Richard Christie 17

    Is there still a Labour Party?

  18. Chalupa Batman 18

    So how much input do members of Labour have in the say of who becomes leader?

  19. Not much CB. The present draft constitution is cleverly designed to favour ‘stability’ so only an overwhelming caucus push (2/3rds) for a leadership race can trigger wider member and affiliate voting. Funnily enough the lower existing 51% caucus trigger has never resulted in the feared instability of constant leadership coups. Cynically you’d have to see the constitution has been drafted to entrench the current leadership team. Members who want a real say should be voting for a much lower trigger next weekend: 40% or lower.

  20. xtasy 20

    The reality is grim: It can only either be Cunliffe or perhaps Robertson. Neither is perfect by the way, as Cunliffe has to improve team skills and Robertson improve some experience and leadership skills. Both definitely beat Shearer, for sure.

    Parker must stay in the front-bench team and suits a top ministerial job, like Shearer also.

    Annette King has experience, but truly, she is over her best years and may lack some skills to work with a younger team. I expected more from her in Housing.

    Ardern is still too inexperienced and needs to do more hard work, to learn the ropes, gain confidence and knowledge, and maybe also improve working with diverse team players. Moana Mackey has good potential to develop fast, so do some others like Clark, Moroney and Wall.

    Twyford has potential, but I wonder about his solidity and integrity at times.

    If they don’t get it together, get bloody Helen Kelly (CTU) and a few others interested to stand in an electorate or up the list for 2014. Labour NEEDS fresh blood!

  21. Ralph B 21

    WTF I’m voting Green

  22. higherstandard 22

    Kim Dotcom ? Len Brown ?… a cadaver ?

  23. Morrissey 23

    Cunliffe.

  24. Treetop 24

    The last two elections the leader of the Labour Party has resigned due to the election result. When it came to Clark her time was up. When it came to Goff he was always up against a popular current PM.

    The situation now is that the Labour leader is not popular and the PM’s veneer has worn off. The Labour Party could monitor the situation for the next six months and then decide to appoint Cunliffe or possibly only wait three months.

    I actually think that the government would like a Labour leadership challenge now and that this would act as a diversion to all that is wrong with the government.

    Keep the government guessing until at least February when MPs come back refreshed.

    • Anne 24.1

      I actually think that the government would like a Labour leadership challenge now and that this would act as a diversion to all that is wrong with the government.

      .

      I think I agree with you Treetop. There’s too much heat around the subject at the moment, and it’s why David ‘Ferret’ is jumping up and down with glee. “tee hee” he says – what an immature twerp.

  25. Michael 25

    You’re all pissing into the wind, I’m sorry to say. The caucus will select the leader (and deputy) based on individual MPs’ calculations of their own political fortunes. None of them give a monkey’s for the views of the Party members: our role is simply to deliver propaganda into letterboxes and donate money to the Parliamentary wing (even though we already pay them a shitload more than we earn).

    • Te Reo Putake 25.1

      Michael, no one donates to the parliamentary wing. The money goes to keep the admin side of the party going, not the MP’s. And the leadership election process is going to be changed in a few days so members and affiliates do have a say in who leads us.

  26. Tanz 26

    David Cunliffe, Ruth Dyson or Trevor Mallard. All have lots of experience and grit.

  27. Not sure about Cunliffe, not sure about Shearer either. I think a female would be a good alternative for the top of the party, not looking to replace Helen; but certainly Labour needs a new face that can stand up to Key and make him look out of touch or out of date. I would pick Cunliffe as PM though Ardern would make a good deputy leader vs the old and and ailing John Key.

  28. Populuxe1 28

    Failing Cunliffe, probably King.

  29. belladonna 29

    My pick would be for Cunliffe as leader and Little as Deputy Leader. Jacinda Adhern is way too inexperienced at this stage. I am so over amateurs messing up the Labour party. Some experience is needed at the top.

    • Tanz 29.1

      Agree. Good, solid experience is called for, Key is getting away with embarrassing NZ on the International front.

  30. Fortran 30

    Robertson as leader, and Street as deputy, with Cunliffe as Finance.
    Would be a powerful team.

  31. feijoa 31

    Robertson way too smug
    Street seems to lack the common touch
    David Clark and Jacinda have potential
    How did Little go in his electorate -were the locals interested

    I can only see Cunliffe as the man who can hit the ground running, stand up and speak and be counted, and will upset a whole lot of people in the Labour party as he sweeps his new broom, but sadly, it is what needs to be done

  32. Dee 32

    Cunliffe — Leader

    Moroney — Deputy

    For sticking to their values and not playing friggin Labour games.

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