Lining up for Te Atatu

October 7th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The race for Chris Carter’s plum Te Atatu seat is suddenly wide open after a rush of nominations.

Apart from Mr Carter, who is still seeking the nomination despite being expelled from the Labour caucus, it is believed six people are vying to stand in the seat for Labour at the next election.

Among those believed to have thrown their hats into the ring are list MPs Phil Twyford and Darien Fenton and former Epsom candidate Kate Sutton. Another of Labour’s 2008 candidates, Hamish McCracken, could also be in the mix.

Twyford v Fenton could be interesting as there is a bit of history of tension there. After Twyford missed out on Waitakere, someone suggested on his Facebook page he could consider Northcote. Darien jumped in and basically said naff off, she’s been working hard there.

Kate Sutton would be fairly strong contender, but I don’t know if she has Westie roots. Hamish McCracken seems to try for every seat.

Will it be 4th time lucky for Twyford? Will Carter be expelled? Will Carter stand as an Independent if he is? To find out tune back in tomorrow at the same bat time on the same bat channel!

UPDATE: Carter has announced he will not stand in 2011:

Member of Parliament for Te Atatu (Labour), Chris Carter, has announced his decision to withdraw his candidacy for the Labour Party in the electorate of Te Atatu for the 2011 General Election.

“In good conscience I cannot campaign on behalf of a leader I have criticised,” said Mr Carter. “It would not be fair to him or ethical of me.

So not standing, as he can’t honestly say he supports Goff.

“Of course there are some things I wish I had handled differently. At the same time I also regret that, during the pressures I have faced in the past year, I did not receive the support, advice or guidance I expected from my party leadership. However I want to look forward to focussing on continuing to serve the people of my electorate and it is for the Labour Caucus to resolve the Leadership Question.

I can’t imagine Phil Goff’s initial response to the Paul Henry comments would have helped his position with some of his caucus members. Goff’s response was that it was just “Paul being Paul”. Goff could have inflicted some damage on John Key if it were not for that initial response. I can only imagine how furious some Labour MPs are at Goff for the missed opportunity.

‘I look forward to seeing Labour returned to the Treasury benches in the near future.”

Chris has also said that Labour can not win under Goff. So his implication is pretty obvious.

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Labour’s future leadership

July 13th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

As I blogged yesterday, the chances of there being a Labour-led Government after the 2011 election is very remote. Not just because of the gap in the polls, but also because of their failure to rejuvenate, but more importantly their failure to mend bridges with the Maori Party who might hold the balance of power after the election.

So unless there is some big event such as a second recession, or a major scandal, Phil Goff is unlikely to become Prime Minister. So who will replace him, when and why?

When?

Turning to the when, and I still maintain that Goff is safe until the election – even if Labour stay below 30%. There are three reasons for this:

  1. Lack of enthusiasm for the alternatives
  2. The shared delusion that the public will wake up to its mistake and restore them to power once they prove that John Key really is a nasty nasty man
  3. The impact of MMP, sheltering Caucus more than FPP did

The last point is quite important. Under FPP MPs got more panicked by the polls. If the polls showed they were in trouble in their seat, then they were facing the end of their political career, so they would desperately vote to change leaders to try and hold on to their seats – as Labour did in 1990.l

But under MMP, MPs can be protected on the list, so they do not fear bad polling so much. And even though the polls may show Labour losing as many as seven List MPs, the fact is no one knows which seven MPs may be toast until Labour ranks its list, and by then it is too late.

So I am quite confident that Phil Goff will remain Leader until after the 2011 election. But if they lose, I would expect he will retire from the leadership and politics within 6 – 12 months of the 2011 election.

Who?

I believe the next leader of the Labour Party will be David Cunliffe. And yes, of course I have my money where my mouth is and am backing that stock on iPredict.

Why?

It isn’t exactly a closely guarded secret that David Cunliffe isn’t the most popular MP with his colleagues. He probably isn’t the first choice for Leader of more than a handful of MPs. But he will become Leader, because he is basically everyone’s acceptable second choice.

Being the acceptable second choice can be a better position than a faction’s first choice. Similiar politics happened in the Waitakere selection – one faction was backing Twyford strongly and one faction (union) backing McCracken. Carmel Sepuloni came through the middle as the choice acceptable to all sides who could unify the electorate – either Twyford or McCracken would have left a significant minority disgruntled.

It is also worth remembering that Helen was positioning Cunliffe as a future leader, if she got a fourth term. She wanted to keep Goff out, and after Maharey retired and Mallard imploded, Cunliffe was her favoured candidate to succeed her. The 2008 loss, meant that Cunliffe did not have enough experience to be viable at that stage, so she let the leadership temporarily transfer to the man she she had worked so hard to keep away from it.

Why Not?

Cunliffe is basically the only acceptable alternative to the caucus. One can ascertain this by going through the others known to want the job.

Shane Jones – even before the hotel porn saga, Jones was not going to become leader. The women in Labour would rather slit their wrists than elect Jones, and while they are not a majority in caucus, they are a minority too powerful to ignore. Also Jones hasn’t shown the required hard work to become leader – he overly relies on his (quite considerable) natural talent. He is also too right wing economically to become Leader.

Andrew Little – Andrew has made a tactical mistake by combining the three roles of party president, union leader and aspiring MP. There is considerable resentment of this in the caucus, and he is blamed for the lacklustre fundraising to date. One Labour person commented to me that how can you expect the President one week to be getting donations from CEOs, when the next week he is delivering strike notices to them. Add onto that the resentment from List MPs that Andrew will be automatically given a high list ranking, knocking them down the order.

So Andrew will enter caucus with a degree of pre-existing hostility. While he may one day become Leader if he proves himself, he will not be given a Bob Hawke type coronation after just a year in Parliament.

Ruth Dyson – John Key would start going to church (to thank God)  if Labour elected Ruth Dyson as Leader. Nothing against Ruth’s skills, but she is a polarising figure strongly associated with the former Government.

Maryan Street – I rate Street as one of the smartest MPs, and she has the ability to be a strong Minister and maybe even Deputy Leader.  But I don’t see at all the charisma to become leader or prime minister. Maryan being elected as Leader would also see John Key, if not start attending church, at least sending his kids to Sunday School!

Grant Robertson – Grant is a very smart political operator. Too smart to try and become leader after just one term in Parliament. He has what I expect will become a fairly safe seat for him, and time is on his side. I think the bastard might even be younger than me! If Grant stood in 2012, he might do surprisingly well, but I think he knows he is better to wait his time and get more experience before he tries to ascend.

Ashraf Choudhary – just kidding :-)

Then what?

It is dangerous to look too far ahead, but my best pick at this stage is David Cunliffe become Leader in 2012, and he contests the 2014 election.

Labour will have a challenge in replacing him as Finance Spokesperson, with a so few MPs having the necessary skills or background. To my mind, the only credible option would be David Parker. So the leadership team could be Cunliffe as Leader, Street as Deputy and Parker as Finance.

Like Goff, Cunliffe will probably be a one shot leader unless he wins the election. They call this the Mike Moore slot. He doesn’t have (at this stage anyway) the loyalty of enough MPs to keep him in the job if he loses.

If National wins the 2014 election (and no predictions this far out), then Labour will have another leadership change. I believe their post 2014 leader will be their long-term leader – like Clark they will be in the job for 10 – 15 years or so, and they will become Prime Minister.

This could see a Grant Robertson vs Andrew Little battle. That would be very interesting. I’ve been pretty impressed with David Shearer also, and wouldn’t rule him out as a contender also. Kelvin Davis has potential also – but I see him more as a future Education Minister.

Of course a John Key or Don Brash type candidate may enter Parliament for Labour in 2011, and also by 2014 become a potential leader. However the fact almost all their Caucus is standing again, makes it harder for them to parachute any stars in.

Time will tell if my predictions come true.

Tomorrow, I will blog on how I would “sell” David Cunliffe once he is Leader.

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Labour’s Waitakere selection

March 20th, 2010 at 4:43 pm by David Farrar

Labour’s selection meeting for Waitakere started at 10.30 am, and is still going.

It started with a contested election for the meeting’s rep on the selection panel. The panel effectively has seven members.

  • Three members appointed by Head Office
  • Two members appointed by the Waitakere electorate committee
  • One member appointed by and at the beginning of the selection meeting
  • One vote reflecting the secret ballot after the speeches

The secret ballot vote, as I understand it, is a simple first past the post vote and counts as a vote on the panel for the candidate who gets a plurality. If that candidate falls out of contention (ie it is between two other candidates), then the vote doesn’t count.

The order of speaking was Phil Twyford, Hamish McCracken, Carmel Sepuloni and Ann Pala.

Voting after the speeches concluded around three hours ago, so there is obviously some sort of deadlock on the panel, which is taking a while to resolve.

As I understand it McCracken has EPMU support, as he works for them or did work for them. So some of the head office vote may be with him. Pillay, the retiring MP, was EMPU so they probably see the seat as theirs.

Sepuloni is probably the candidate with the best chance to take the fight to Paula Bennett. I don’t think she’ll beat Paula, but she’ll do better than a white middle aged guy would, to be blunt.

Twyford was proclaimed as one of the new high flyers. However if he loses tonight, it will shoot his credibility to shreds, considering it will be his third effective rejection in a row, having been scared off Mt Albert and Auckland Central. Some in Labour will not want to embarrass Twyford like that, even if they think Sepuloni has a better chance.

Eventually the panel will need to eliminate one of the three favourites and then it is a simple two way race, where one candidate needs four out of seven votes.

I’ll blog the result once I hear it.

UPDATE: And it is Carmel Sepuloni. Congratulations to her. As I said above, this is hugely embarassing to Phil Twyford whose nickname already was “Opposition Spokesperson for the Homeless”. He may have to end up Labour candidate in Helensville, or some other unwinnable seat. Or he could move to Mt Roskill and wait until after the next election!

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Labour selections

February 1st, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Labour has announced four selections, reports the Herald:

Labour has already chosen its 2011 election candidates for Auckland Central, West Coast-Tasman, Ohariu and Maungakiekie.

First-term list MP Jacinda Ardhern will contest Auckland Central and Carol Beaumont, also a list MP, will contest Maungakiekie. Both are held by National.

List MP Damien O’Connor will try to take back West Coast-Tasman, the seat he lost to National in the last election.

Senior MP Charles Chauvel, another list MP, will contest Ohariu, which is held by United Future leader Peter Dunne.

I wonder why Labour did not open nominations for NZ’s most marginal seat of New Plymouth? Is it because Andrew Little plans to parachute in there later, as that is his home town?

There were four nominations for Waitakere, the seat held by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett, and a selection meeting will be held on March 20. The nominations were Ann Pala, Carmel Sepuloni, Hamish McCracken and Phil Twyford.

It will be pretty devastating to Twyford’s career if he fails to win the nomination, after having been scared out of both Mt Albert and Auckland Central.

He is a more polished politician than Sepuloni, but Labourites may not be keen to put up a “white middle aged male” against the young at heart fiesty Paula Bennett.

McCracken is a perennial candidate – his list ratings have been in 1999 he was no 60, in 2002 no 52, in 2005 no 49 and in 2005 no 50. I can’t see him beating one, let alone two, MPs to the nominaton.

Ann Pala is a Fijian immigrant who was President of the Waitakere Ethnic Board, a director of Winmac Computer Solutions, member of the Islamic Women’s Council. To her great credit she has criticised her party’s association with Winston Peters.

Less agreeably, Pala called for an “ethnic ward” for the Auckland Council, which would elect two or three Councillors. Pala seems to be the only actual West Auckland standing for the Waitakere nomination.

Meanwhile the Dominion Post reports:

United Future leader Peter Dunne faces a tough battle for his Ohariu seat after Labour kicked off its campaign and National vowed it would not stand aside to give him a free ride.

List MP Charles Chauvel will begin door knocking and leaflet drops within weeks after he was the only nomination as Labour’s candidate.

The seat is the eighth most marginal in the country. It was held by Mr Dunne by just 1006 votes at the last election – well down on his 7702 majority in 2005 and the 12,000-plus margin he racked up in 2002. …

Mr Dunne won 12,303 votes in 2008, compared to 11,297 for Mr Chauvel and 10,009 for Ms Shanks.

I expect National will vigorously contest the seat. The reality is that if both National and Dunne stand, then it is possible Chauvel could win the seat due to vote splitting. However if Peter retires from Parliament, then it would be a safe seat for National. Take a look at recent election results.

In 2008 National’s party vote was 17,670 to 12,728 for Labour. In a clear two way contest National should win the seat by 3,000 to 5,000 votes (depending on if many Greens tactically vote).

The split voting statistics tell a story in Ohariu. This is where Dunne has picked up votes in the last three elections:

  • 2002 – Dunne got 47% of Labour voters and 57% of National voters
  • 2005 – Dunne got 34% of Labour voters and 52% of National voters
  • 2008 – Dunne got 16% of Labour voters and 44% of National voters

Peter used to pick up strong support from Labour and National voters. However from 2002 to 2008, he support from Labour voters declined by two thirds. Ironically it was during this period he supported them with confidence and supply, so there is no gratitude in politics!

Now that Dunne can’t attract large number of Labour voters, the main impact is to split the electorate vote of centre-right voters between him and the National candidate. Hence why Chauvel would have a reasonable chance of winning, if Dunne stands in 2011.

But if Dunne retires, then Ohariu should become the only National held seat in Wellington.

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Four candidates so far for Mt Albert for Labour

April 16th, 2009 at 10:27 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Business studies lecturer Hamish McCracken, Auckland city councillor Glenda Fryer, Auckland University politics head tutor Meg Bates and employment lawyer Helen White have all confirmed their candidacies.

I would be surprised if McCracken has much of a chance. Not based on any specific knowledge, but the reality he has stood many times before for Labour and never been ranked highly. In 1999 he was no 60, in 2002 no 52, in 2005 no 49 and in 2005 no 50. I can’t see a fifth time lucky.

Bates is well regarded and well connected as a former electorate agent. Her age will be a factor though. Helen White could do very well too – she has a professional career established, and has union support.

Fryer is more unlikely, but not as unlikely as McCracken. She doesn’t particularly represent rejuvenation, and her Auckland City Council junket draconian attempt to ban sign billboards will be fresh in some minds.

But the potential candidate cited as Miss Clark’s favoured successor, list MP Phil Twyford, is still deciding whether to put his name forward a week before nominations close. Mr Twyford said he had discussed the matter with senior party members, but declined to comment further.

Twyford is a popular and respected MP for Labour. Definitely one of the stars of the future, and no doubt wants a safe seat as security. But by pure bad luck the Tizard issue is a real factor, and no one knows how much. So his choice is does he go for Mt Albert in 2009, or wait for another safe seat to come up, such as Mt Roskill in probably 2014?

At Backbenchers last night they discussed the Tizard issue, and it is fair to say no one was wamly welcoming the possible return. In fact there was a hilarious moment as Wallace Chapman went up to the loudest noisiest most partisan pro-Labour table, and asked them if they wanted Judith Tizard back in Parliament. One of them fell mute, while another could only repeat the official script that the issue is about the best candidate, not about who comes in on the list. You know there are problems, when not even your most partisan crowd supporters will say on camera they want Judith back.

And over on Labour Grassroots, members and supporters are not keen. Some quotes:

Suzanne says:

Headlines that say “Goff: Happy to have Judith Tizard back” says nothing to me about a party that wants to revitalise, bring in some new faces, get behind some issues that central Aucklanders care about.Like the Supercity, the environment. If Labour is behind Tizard it makes a mockery of the party recreating getting more in touch with its grassroots.

And Tanya:

Still, the voters are pretty MMP savvy these days, and I believe will be annoyed at Goff for backing Tizard back into parliament, after the voters said no.

And Darren:

Well said, Suzanne. I could not agree more. Labour needs ‘new blood’ everywhere, and to be SEEN to be bringing new faces in at every opportunity. Ms. Tizard did not strike me as a particularly effective MP. Certainly her hand on the on the intellectual property tiller steered it way off course and into the sea of stupidity…. witness the mess of s92a!?!

Her electorate obviously didn’t think she did a good job either, so why the hell would Phil want her back? Regardless of his motivation, which was obviously to keep Tizards’ supporters happy in touchy electoral times, it just makes our Parliamentary leader look horrendously out of touch.

And finally Caitlin:

This whole hullaballoo about Judith Tizard was started by media rumours (probably started by political opposition) and while some Labour activists and supporters may have qualms, we have to continue to pull together as a party to make sure we win this seat. We can’t be complacent – an assumption of victory was one of the problems with the Auckland Central campaign.

Caitlin is right that a party needs to be unified to win, but how motivated will supporters be to bring Judith back into Parliament?

There is also an associated danger with all this. The media will cover the by-election, and the media always have to have some big issues for the by-election. In TKC it was Stratford Hospital. In Tamaki it was send Wellington a message. Now with Mt Albert there may be no big issues on policy – National has just won an election and has gone so centrist it is probably going to even cancel the future tax cuts a couple of weeks before the by-election. So it is hard to see that there will be major policy issues at play in the by-election (unless the Govt decides to knock down 400 local homes for a motorway). But if there are no major policy issues, then issues such as the Tizard dilemma will become a major issue, because the media will make it an issue. They’ll do vox pops on the street asking people about it. They’ll do electorate polls and publish them. People will ask questions at meet the candidate meetings.

Now maybe Mt Albert voters won’t give a damn, even if the media do. They might only care about who will be their local MP, not who will enter Parliament as a result of their vote. But this is the fun thing with by-elections – they are notoriously unpredictable – and with the Greens planning a vigorous campaign, it really will be interesting.

UPDATE: Today’s Dom Post editorial talks about the Tizard issue, noting:

Though the parliamentary party is in capable hands leader Phil Goff and deputy Annette King are respected for their knowledge Labour must nonetheless now find a new generation of leaders to carry the party forward.

How ironic, then, that the departure of Miss Clark and Dr Cullen might reopen the door for two has-beens, Damien O’Connor and Judith Tizard. …

A party that is poised to welcome back Mr O’Connor and Ms Tizard is far from positioned to resume the Treasury benches.

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The race for Mt Albert

March 31st, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Ten people have lined up so far for the Mt Albert by-election – seven for Labour and three for National. The Labour seven are:

  1. Phil Twyford
  2. Louisa Wall
  3. Hamish McCracken
  4. Helen White
  5. Glenda Fryer
  6. Conor Roberts
  7. Meg Bates

Twyford has to be the favourite, so long as he can deal with what the Herald calls the “Tizard dilemma”.

Louisa Wall impressed me as an MP. Labour has a pretty bad record of selecting Maori candidates for winnable general seats, so this would be a chance to change that. However Wall did not go out of her way to curry favour with various party factions and they may not want to give her a seat for life.

Hamish McCracken has stood three or four times before and never been ranked above the 50s, which suggests he is not seen as being of the quality needed to have a safe seat. His EPMU background will help with the head offices votes though.

Helen White also has an EPMU background, and is politically quite experienced. Could do well.

Glenda Fryer. Has some profile from Auckland local body politics but I doubt a front runner for the seat.

Conor Roberts. Conor is one of those annoying people – annoying because absolutely everyone likes him! He may be seen as a bit too young for the seat, but on the other hand it has only had two MPs since 1947. Conor would do well on the campaign trail.

Meg Bates. Meg is the only Young Labour President I have not met, so can’t really comment in detail. She used to work for Helen, and Helen generally employed pretty smart people, so she could be another Jacinda Ardern potentially.

The Nats list is:

  1. Melissa Lee
  2. Ravi Musuku
  3. Mike Loftus

As membership is over 200 in their Mt Albert electorate, the selection will get decided by a selection panel of 60 delegates.

Labour’s selection is a panel of seven, made up of:

  • Three people appointed by the NZ Council, one of whom must be a woman
  • Two people elected by the LEC, one of whom must be a woman
  • One person elected at the selection meeting
  • One vote by ballot from those at the selection meeting
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