Labour’s decision to not risk Twyford in Mt Albert

The Herald reports:

Labour MP Phil Twyford will not seek nomination for the Mt Albert by-election, resolving the party’s Tizard dilemma. …

This “Vote Twyford, get Tizard” scenario was portrayed as a problem for Labour, particularly by right-wing blogs.

Labour leader Phil Goff was initially reticent when asked if he wanted Ms Tizard back and the party used a polling company to test voter feelings on her re-entering Parliament.

Mr Twyford has lived in Kingsland for 20 years, and was favoured to take over the seat from Helen Clark until the Tizard dilemma was raised.

There is a view that Labour’s party hierarchy placed too much emphasis on the effect of Mrs Tizard’s return, to the detriment of Mr Twyford.

Labour leader Phil Goff said the party had not panicked, but rather was unsure how the electorate would react to voting for someone who was already in Parliament and getting someone else.

I first blogged on their “Tizard problem” on 16 December 2008. I said:

So you see the problem for Labour. Either Helen has to stay on for the full term, or someone other than Twyford is the candidate, or they risk the public working out voting for Labour will bring a plonker back in on the list and losing your predecessor’s seat in a byelection would see Goff rolled.

Goff could not risk that possibility.

The Dominion Post predicted on 1 January that Clark would go off overseas in 2009, and that Twyford would be her replacement. It took a few months for thr media to start to pick up the issue.

The Herald on 11 February stated Twyford was the likely sucessor.

On 14 February in the Dom Post was the first mention of Tizard after Clark’s candidacy for the UND job went public (also first covered on Kiwiblog). It was more factual than stating it was an “issue”. On 25 February the Dom Post still reported Twyford as the favourite.

On 25 March Newstalk ZB was also picking Twyford.

That night on TV, was the first real mention in the media of the Tizard dilemma, following leaks from Labour that they were working on keeping her out.

So you read it here first three months early! And of course repeated a few times since to remind people. I never really thought Labour would blink, but they did! T be fair to Labour, it may not just have been fear of losing the seat (it is their safest seat after all), but equally fear of how having Judith return would lead to merciless teasing in the House.

Over on Whale Oil, he has a screenshot of a Facebook discussion where Peter Dunne comments to Mark Unsworth (who was exressing sorrow that Twyford misses out because of someone else’s face not fitting) that the problem was not just Tizard but also Burton, Okeroa, Gallagher, Hereora, Wall and Soper being next on the list!

Now Tizard may still end up an MP. It just needs a Labour List MP to die or resign. Let us hope they all get their flu injections!