I have told the worst offenders – Chris Carter, Shane Jones and Mita Ririnui – that they have no place in my Labour Party. I told them they will be demoted to the very back of Parliament, with no portfolio, and they will not be members of any cabinet I lead. Mr Carter said that, if I did this, he would resign. I told him that was a good idea. He has since resigned and there will be a by-election in Te Atatu.
National begins that campaign as frontrunner. They won the party vote in 2008. But we will fight hard, because Labour always fights hard for the people we represent.
As leader, I have invited the local Labour Party to find the best candidate – male or female, Maori or Pakeha, gay or straight – but I want a genuine Westie. I want someone who grew up in the tough streets, who knows what it’s like not having enough money to pay the bills, who started a small business, pays their workers well, has become a leader in the community, who coaches kids’ sport in the weekend. I want real Labour.
I like his ending also:
There will be room for Peter Dunne in my government to continue as minister of revenue. I want the Greens involved in conservation and the environment. And it is time for Labour and the Maori Party to put our differences behind us. I apologise for Labour’s disgraceful behaviour over the foreshore and seabed. We were wrong. Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples were right.
A new era is being born out of the disgraces of the past. The Helen Clark era is over. The Phil Goff era has begun.
The full column is only in the NBR print edition.
If Labour do not mend bridges with the Maori Party, they probably won’t be able to form a Government. Without the Maori Party, Labour and the Greens need to win 62 seats to govern.