The race to be Labour’s leader may no longer be a two-way contest, with Stuart Nash said to be seriously considering a tilt at the top job.
The newly elected Napier MP is biding his time to see if former union boss Andrew Little will throw his hat in the ring. Little’s political future hangs in the balance until tomorrow, when the official election results are declared.
If Little, a former EPMU president, did make it back to Parliament on the list, and decided to enter the primary contest to choose the leader, Nash would not run, a source said.
Nash had earlier ruled it out, saying it was too soon for him.
An insider said he backed away as the caucus waited to see if David Cunliffe would resign and leave Grant Robertson to run unchallenged.
“[He] didn’t want to be the one to trigger a leadership battle that the party had no appetite for.”
But sources say he is reconsidering as the rivalry between Cunliffe and Robertson has turned increasingly bitter. “This is the last thing our party needs, two people going hammer and tongs at each other. It will just turn off New Zealand,” one source said.
Nash is being lobbied hard by Maori and Pasifika members of the party, who believe neither of the two declared contenders can unite the divided factions.
A wildcard option, Nash, 47, represents a break from the rivalries that have torn the party apart in the last three years.
A Cunliffe vs Robertson contest risks being a who is to blame for the loss referendum – the leader or the caucus. Having more than two contenders may focus it more on the future than the past.
It’s not known if the possible nomination of his old boss David Shearer would change his decision. Shearer is still undecided and did not return calls yesterday.
In his Napier electorate yesterday, Nash said his status had not changed. “At this point, I won’t be seeking the leadership of the party.”
The new leader will be installed by November, with the party’s council setting the timetable for the runoff. Nominations will close on October 14, followed by 14 hustings meetings around the country.
Party members, the 32 MPs and affiliated unions all get a say and the result of the vote will be announced on November 18.
I’m picking up a lot of disillusionment among Labour members. I would predict that the number of members who vote will be well down on their last leadership election. This will make the relative power of union votes even more powerful.Tags: Andrew Little, David Shearer, Labour Leadership, Stuart Nash