Tracy Watkins writes:

Nowhere else does the word strike such fear into the heart as in politics.

There is a “for whom the bells toll” quality to the word, which to politicians is synonymous with less-comforting terminology like purge, dead wood and old guard.

Rejuvenation of political parties rarely happens without a word in the ear, blood on the floor and a row of colleagues lined up behind your back ready to plunge the knife in.

The fact then that has managed to retire seven of its MPs so far, with more rumoured to be on the way, and with not even a hint of a backbench revolt, is a truly remarkable feat.

It is – both for the party leadership, but also for the individual MPs who are quite selflessly putting party interests ahead of their own.

But of course the main value is internal – the injection of fresh blood is a breath of fresh air through a caucus, and encourages fresh talent to join up. It also ensures a Government does not become blind to its weaknesses.

David Cunliffe can only watch and weep.

His backing among the rank and file was as much grounded in a belief that he represented a new generation over ’s old guard, as it was in the direction he would take the party.

But the likes of Trevor Mallard and Phil Goff have planted their stake in the ground in Hutt South and Mt Roskill respectively.

Their determination to dig their heels in has very little to do with clinging on to the perks of office and everything to do with the fight for the control of Labour which continues to rumble on beneath the surface.

The lack of MPs rushing for the door is as good an indication as any that the hope of seeing off his leadership has not yet died among the caucus rump that bitterly opposed Cunliffe.

They’re going nowhere.

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