Clark resigned and gone

resigned as a Member of Parliament on Friday, and flew out to New York late last night.

Audrey Young blogs Haere ra. She notes it is a dignified exit:

If you think back to how recent Prime Ministers have departed, there is virtually no comparison: an embittered Rob Muldoon stayed and wrecked Jim McLay’s leadership of National; David Lange stayed in Parliament for another seven years, not undermining his successors, but not happy; Mike Moore’s presence on the backbench for three years was a monkey on Clark’s back; and Jenny Shipley made the awful transition from Prime Minister to Leader of the Opposition, which just didn’t work.

Jim Bolger managed his exit once the numbers were against him but negotiating your own appointment as US ambassador – competent as he was – was a tad undignified. Better though than staying on.

Palmer did bail out gracefully. He resigned as Pm a few weeks before the 1990 election and retired from Parliament also. Muldoon and Lange were both sad figures who stayed on too long.

Audrey also refers to my list of strengths and weaknesses, and says:

Achieving and maintaining unity was the most important, in my view, because all other achievements flowed from that, but how long the unity lasts after her departure remains to be seen. It won’t revert to anything like the bad old days.

I agree – unity is hugely important. And while Goff will face some challenges if the polls don’t improve, they won’t be factional driven challenges, more ambitious wannabe leaders.

But Clark’s departure today and Cullen’s in a couple of weeks will mean Labour can start the rows they are destined to have over the past, the future policy direction, and how to rebuild, though they will probably be delayed until after the Mt Albert by-election.

How Goff manages the debate will be a crucial test of his leadership.

Well at least with Helen going, Phil should now be able to make at least second place in the Preferred PM stakes!

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