The Labour reshuffle

October 2nd, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

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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17 Responses to “The Labour reshuffle”

  1. KevinH (1,194 comments) says:

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

    John Tamihere has been out in the wilderness long enough to redeem himself and would be a positive addition to Labour’s parliamentary team. John has kept himself busy with his media activities as well as rebuilding Waipareira Trust into a large multi disciplined NGO and would pose a credible threat to Pita Sharples of the Maori Party in Tamaki Makaurau.
    John has successfully reinvented himself and his public profile and presents himself as a more mature experienced political operator and deserves to take a more active role in National politics.

    Surely Labour would not be so insensitive as to sack Mahuta because she is pregnant?

    Nanaia Mahuta will need a less stressful time while on maternity leave and her demotion should not be percieved otherwise.

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  2. Pete George (23,426 comments) says:

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

    Really? He has potential but so far he has been most promiment in petty (and sloppy) politicking, and he’s had a couple of lucky draws from the ballot and was lucky to get enough votes for one of the bills he inherited off established Labour MPs.

    He was found wanting on his Q+A debut – Labour embarrass David Clark

    He made very tenuous claims about National versus Labour on unemployment and mimimum wages – David Clark on minimum wage

    He dissed Dunedin employer groups – David Clark versus employers.

    He was called on claims he maid in the ODT – David Clark’s unemployment claims disputed.

    And he’s just made a very sloppy attack on the IRD: http://www.labour.org.nz/news/irds-20-year-old-system-needs-upgrade where it was pointed out that putting the wrong thing in the wrong envelope and being busy in a call centre has nothing to do with a computer system.

    If he does much more homework and ditches the petty politicking he may live up to his premature reputation as an up and coming Labour David.

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  3. Pongo (371 comments) says:

    No surprise JT standing again, his radio show has descended into an anti Key tirade which is fine if that’s your thing but it has become relentless and irrational to the point where we no longer have it on at work. Willie Jackson actually sounds more reasonable and does a great show with Rodney Hide, brilliant, laugh a minute and quite informative at times. With JT it is just an echo chamber for callers who are seriously deranged I fail to see why any company advertises and have their brand associated with it, unless you have a great product for the broke and unemployed.

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  4. PaulL (6,021 comments) says:

    Perhaps Mahuta is planning some maternity leave? It’d be hard to be spokesperson on anything whilst on leave, so long as they offer her a job when she returns equivalent to what she had when she left, that’s in line with the letter and spirit of the law. Bigger question is who fills her seat whilst on maternity leave. Do they lose a vote or get a pair?

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  5. The only red for me is that of Manchester United (55 comments) says:

    Having one of the safest electorates in the country, Manukau East doesn’t necessary mean you get a good MP. A reshuffle will see this rather useless MP Ross Robertson slide further down the list and do nothing more than warm a seat in the house. The same for Sio. Tipped for big things in the future ended up being a pipe dream.

    With South Auckland being such a strong Labour held area you would think the party would give the people some decent MP’s. It proves to me that Labour are still happy to take the Pacific People’s vote, but would never put a high performing MP in. If hard working Mark Goshe hadn’t left parliament, Labour would have had a half way decent prime minister or at least leader of the opposition.

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  6. Tautaioleua (296 comments) says:

    Your assessment of Su’a is pretty weak in my opinion, he has been in the thick of it all in terms of employment, and is well versed in the problem areas facing blue collar New Zealand (especially the rapid free fall of our manufacturing sector). It’s a pity that the NZ media chose to highlight his conscious vote on marriage equality as front page headlines and not his service to this portfolio for example.

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  7. Flyingkiwi9 (54 comments) says:

    Hipkins, a virtual career politician is exactly what is not need in government.

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  8. Enzo (44 comments) says:

    JT is wasting his time sniffing around Waitakere. The whole party thinks Carmel did a stunning job pushing Paula Bennett so close in 2011 and the local members love her. If she wants to be the candidate again, she will be.

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  9. Richard29 (377 comments) says:

    @DPF – It’s entirely normal for somebody to be replaced in their role while on maternity leave – that is not the same as a demotion. If Maggy Barry saw this I’m sure she’d tell you you are not qualified to speak on such matters because you don’t have kids.
    Also – you are aware that Cunliffe is both Economic Development and Associate Finance – his speeches have been very much within that remit, and I’d disagree that he is running an alternative policy – his speeches have been very much about positioning, repeating already released policy and talking points from the leader (Scandanavia model good/ Neoliberalism bad) and fairly fuzzy on detail (which is fair enough 2 years out). Yes, he’s outshone Parker with his speeches – but he’s a better speaker than either Parker or Shearer and always has been, Labour knew that when they made the leadership choice.

    @Pongo – I don’t know if Willie Jackson is looking for a comeback but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it within the Greens, he’s to the left of Labour. He was an Alliance MP and when they split he was in the same left faction as Laila Harre who now runs Auckland policy and campaigning for the Greens. The challenge that both he and Laila would have is that list ranking in the Greens is by democratic vote rather than the shoulder tap approach of Labour and the Nats – if they wanted to stand they couldn’t be guaranteed a spot and could face the humiliation of putting their names on the ballot and being rejected by the membership. The Green party list rankings in 2014 will be interesting to watch given that the top handful could expect ministerial or associate roles in any potential Labour govt.

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  10. Paulus (2,597 comments) says:

    Tamihere wants Bennet’s seat as a Westie – and could probably get it, albeit that Bennet has done a first class job as a Minister.
    BUT watch out for Septic Sepulone – she recons that the seat is hers as of right (left really) so she and Johnboy would have one hell of a fight for selection.
    Don’t think Johnboy (male, but not a homosexual, or teacher, or union leader) will get it as some in the Party would be afraid he would make too much of a powerful impression in the Labour senior ranks with his own personal following which he already has.
    Media love Johnboy so he will get a good following from them.

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  11. Keeping Stock (10,264 comments) says:

    Personally, I reckon that Tamihere and Damien O’Connor should band together and form the Waitakere Man Party, where a gagle of gays will be banned, and there won’t be any places made available to self-serving unionists. Chris Trotter will doubtless step up as party President, and there will be no place for front-bums, smarmy people or chardonnay socialists. It’d be a winner, don’tcha reckon?

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  12. Mark (1,471 comments) says:

    Whilst I agree education is probably a step too far at this point he would not find it too difficult to make mincemeat of Parata who on more than one occasion has scored an own goal. Hipkins is diligent and tends to do his research which would be a problem for Parata who seems nice enough but does not have a nose for the impending political gaffe.

    Harawera has more chance of being on the National front bench than being in coalition with Labour but a nice attempt at mischief DPF :)

    All of that aside it is still a weak line up when you compare it to national,s front line up currently. Joyce, Collins, Ryall, Key and English is a pretty solid tight 5 who labour struggle to cope with.

    Labour will see Annette King probably step down and pursue the Wellington mayoralty. Shearer has hardly been effective, Cunliffe has his own agenda which is hardly comforting to Shearer and the current inside cabal. So a reshuffle is more like re arranging the deck chairs so to speak.

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  13. KH (694 comments) says:

    Have met with David Clark. There has to be a good role for him somewhere. But I can’t think of it. Certainly should not be in Parliament.

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  14. Reid (16,198 comments) says:

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

    Tamihere has always wanted to be NZ’s first Maori PM and he has the capacity to articulate, when he wants to, a line that appeals not just to Liarbore’s traditional worker base but also to bases in NZ First and a portion of National’s more left-leaning electorate. This is not something IMO that either Little or Cunliffe can achieve. Even Little with his union background seems unable to connect with this neglected group who I think has shown their disgust over their treatment over the Hulun years by staying away from the polling booth. Little also has the powerful LGBT lobby which will never get in behind Tamihere. But if Tamihere can bring the blue-collars back into the active fold it will be a very interesting 3-way competition.

    Liarbore these days and for the foreseeable future reminds me of this. What fun.

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  15. big bruv (13,686 comments) says:

    Not long ago Tamihere was pushing his listeners to vote for John Key, “two ticks blue, that’s what you gotta do” was his phrase.

    Is it a coincidence that this support stopped when the Nat’s decided to cut finding for the Waipareira trust because of that organisations failure to deliver on a government contract?

    While Tamihere is a talented broadcaster I do often wonder how genuine his concern is, it seems that he is hell bent on revenge because the flow of public funds was turned off.

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  16. OneTrack (2,972 comments) says:

    KevinH – “Nanaia Mahuta will need a less stressful time while on maternity leave and her demotion should not be percieved otherwise.”

    So, its not ok when private employers do it, but its fine when Labour and the Greens do it. ok

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  17. ChardonnayGuy (1,197 comments) says:

    Tamihere is too populist and socially conservative for Labour. And he lost his seat to Peter Sharples after only a short period because he alienated most of the parliamentary party and organisation. Given that he originally said that he was hot for Winston, I think he’d be better off in that party, although he has advanced policies that seemed to be classical liberal when he thought that the Waipareira Trust would benefit from it. By all accounts, he is a competent enough chief executive of that organisation, but I don’t think he would be welcomed back into Labour. And you are correct, BB, he is an opportunist. He likes to be in control, but throws the blocks out of the playpen when he isn’t. My condolences to whichever party ends up lumbered with him. Which is sad, because he does have excellent strategic management skills. He just doesn’t have the self-discipline for formal politics.

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