Claire Trevett takes a look at Annette King – it’s a good balance piece:
It has been a month of rare public relations blunders for King, whose portfolios are critical in an election year in which law and order and rising living costs will be the main acts on the voters’ playbill. …
Her handling of the Electoral Finance Act has also lacked the robust counter-attacks she makes on National over law and order issues.
To be fair to Annette it is a pig of a law to have to defend. However her law of common sense quote will haunt her for ages.
King has assiduously built links with those in the mid and back benches and developed a strongly loyal following.
When Shane Jones needed a makeover, it was “Aunty Annette” who told him to have a shave and get a new suit.
Darren Hughes is another acolyte and her willingness to talk MPs through both portfolio and constituency problems has ensured few, if any, dislike her.
King is loyal to Helen Clark and is one of the first called to the Prime Minister’s office in times of trouble. But she is not so close as to have alienated those who may feel aggrieved at being overlooked for promotion in favour of other Clark favourites.
Come the time Clark decides to go, or caucus decides it for her, it is likely to be King to whom many turn for guidance and to nurse the party through its transition phase without turning into a scene from Lord of the Flies.
Her influence will also be a potent force should she decide to harness it in favour of any individual contender for the leadership.
She is unlikely to want the top job herself. Nor, despite her competence, is she suited for it.
Viciously defensive over her personal life, she will not want the scrutiny that comes with the job.
She resists media throngs, and while she can bang heads with the best of them in debates over general policies in Parliament, her disposition makes her unsuited to spear-head pointed attacks.
The most she can drum up against Bill English – even at his most irritating – is “Mr Nasty”.
But when sniffing the wind to see to whom Labour will look for a future leader, it would pay to check whose barbecues Annette King is going to.
It is true Annette has no real enemies in Labour. And even in National she is not regarded badly. They enjoy denting her reputation – but she doesn’t exude the smugness and arrogance of some of her colleagues which turns it from professional to personal.
I love the description of Darren Hughes as her acolyte. What a great term. Mind you Darren has the amazining ability to be everyone’s acolyte – almost uniquely he is warmly regarded by Clark and Goff. If Labour go into opposition it would be worth watching Darren as well as Annette for their moves.