Part III is not that different to Part II – rejuvenation again – but of caucus, not Cabinet.
Labour failed to rejuvenate their caucus in 2005. They did a much better job in 2008, and that strengthened their caucus considerably. They failed in 2011, protecting incumbent MPs with the result being the only new List MP is Andrew Little.
National did not rejuvenate greatly in 2011. There are three new List MPs, and six new electorate MPs, but this is out of a caucus of almost 60.
A caucus needs to have a balance of MPs. Not all MPs are going to be Ministers, and many MPs whom do not become Ministers still provide excellent value to their constituents and to Parliament through work on select committees. However service in Parliament as a backbench MP should not be seen as a life-time work (as it has been for Labour’s Ross Robertson) but something you do for a limited period.
It is essential that for 2014, National clearly indicates to caucus that MPs will not be automatically be given winnable spots, and that new aspiring candidates will be ranked higher than some MPs if their regions back them strongly enough. The Party Board and leadership need to send out unequivocally clear signals in 2013 about the 2014 list, so that MPs can make an informed choice about whether they retire with dignity, or wish to risk putting themselves forward for list ranking, and possibly ending up with an unwinnable ranking.
With electorate MPs it is of course between them and their electorate, if they stand again. The hierarchy get little say in this – especially in the stronger seats. It is worth noting though that incumbent MPs have faced challenges. John Key, Judith Collins and formerly John Carter all became MPs by defeating an incumbent for a nomination.
This might all sound rather negative talking about Ministers and MPs needing to “go” the week after an historic victory. That is deliberate. Winning a third term will be far more challenging than winning a second term. There should be no complacency that the popularity of the Prime Minister will guarantee a third term. I am pointing out the need for rejuvenation now, so that it is not seemed aimed at any individual Minister or MP. It isn’t. I don’t have a list of whom I think should or should not stay on past 2014. What I’m talking about is the need to recognise early on that winning a third term will require some people to put the overall good of the National Party before their individual desires.