The Labour reshuffle

Claire Trevett reports:

John Tamihere is understood to be eyeing a return to Parliament in 2014 – almost a decade after his former leader Helen Clark said he faced “a very long route to redemption” for an outburst in which he called females “front bums” and was dismissive of the Holocaust.

Sources said Mr Tamihere had joined the Party again and was sounding out the hierarchy about standing.

With Horomia likely to retire, and Jones under a cloud, Labour is short of Maori MPs. If they formed a Government in 2014, then Hone might end up Maori Affairs Minister in a coalition govt!

So bringing Tamihere back makes sense, but it is of course a risk.

Meanwhile, Mr Shearer has confirmed he will go ahead with a reshuffle, either before or after the Christmas break, to give MPs just under two years to get to grips with their portfolios before the election.

“I did say a year ago I’d look at how the year went and fine-tuning what we’re doing and that is exactly what I’ll be doing.”

He would not discuss details, but MPs including Andrew Little and Chris Hipkins have performed well and Mr Little could pick up the employment spokesmanship from Sua William Sio – Labour has chosen jobs as one of its main prongs of attack.

Education is also likely to change hands – Nanaia Mahuta’s second child is due in December and it is possible Mr Shearer – a former teacher – could take the spokesmanship for himself at that stage or pass it on to Chris Hipkins.

Surely Labour would not be so insensitive as to sack Mahuta because she is pregnant? If a private sector employed demoted an employee because she was having a baby, they’d be in the employment court and Labour MPs would be holding them up as an example of a terrible employer.

I also have to say that I think Chris is a skilled parliamentarian, but it would be a mistake to make him the main Education Spokesperson. Yes he is good in the House, but I think a young MP, whose life experience is mainly inside Parliament, will struggle to be seen as the next Minister of Education.

I’m not saying Hipkins shouldn’t be promoted, but just not into education.

If Mahuta is to be demoted for being pregnant, then maybe Twyford for Education? He was a teacher once I think. The idea of Shearer taking it himself isn’t bad, and maybe use Hipkins as Associate.

The big question, is does Shearer keep Cunliffe in Economic Development. DC has cunningly interpreted that role to become a shadow shadow finance spokesperson and is promoting an alternative economic policy to both Shearer and Parker. People don’t know who is the real finance spokesperson for Labour. One possibility I have heard is that Cunliffe gets shifted back into Health. Labour are frustrated that they can never land a blow on Ryall, and as a former Health Minister Cunliffe knows the sector well.

Sio must be a worried man. His major achievement since being put on the front bench is to attack Louisa Wall’s same sex marriage bill.

However Mahuta and Sio are both in Camp Cunliffe, so can Shearer demote them both? With Jones on leave, that would also mean an all-white front bench. Now I don’t care too much about that, but Labour people do.

David Clark has impressed the most to date of the new intake. A promotion for him would be justified.

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