McCarten on Mt Albert

Matt McCarten looks at Mt Albert again:

Goff’s opportunity last Sunday with the accepted nominees was to showcase their line-up. Goff obviously wanted to be seen as stamping his leadership on the party when he announced he had interviewed all the nominees. But selections are for the party organisation, not the caucus.

I know of no previous example in which the parliamentary leader gets this involved. It’s the party president’s job to manage selections. So it speaks volumes that the Labour Party president, Andrew Little, wasn’t even in the picture.

I’ve never heard of the party leader interviewing candidates. Poor Mt Albert electorate seem to be getting little say – which makes the slogan of “Put Mt Albert first” rather ironic.

Even Goff’s rather public recruitment of getting an outside high-profile candidate seems to be backfiring. The extraordinary opinion of Goff’s favourite, David Shearer, that we should use mercenaries in international hotspots is a real clanger.

The Labour Party is opposed to the privatisation of prisons, but I’m not sure how Goff spins his way out of his candidate supporting the privatisation of war.

Labour should be very grateful that McCarten is not going to be involved in the Mt Albert campaign. Why? Well on Thursday night a high profile left winger told me that if Shearer is the candidate, someone should arrange a dozen dressed as mercenaries to follow him about everywhere he goes – not saying anything or doing anything – just silently standing there as guards.

I thought this was a brillant idea for a party of the left to do (Nats can’t do it as they agree with Shearer on privatisation). The get sniffy about such stunts. But, think of the if McCarten was involved. I still remember his chicken suit from the 1998 TKC by-election – it probably cost National 2,000 votes. McCarten would probably not just have a dozen mercenaries on the campaign trail, but have them wheeling a coffin about too.

With Shearer now causing serious concerns among the locals there is a real potential that any successful nominee will have minority support in the electorate and that Labour’s head office will effectively make the decision for them.

The will be silently praying that Labour picks Shearer.

The have always resented the way that Labour has taken them for granted and constantly sniggered about their MPs behind their backs. The Green candidate and party co-leader, Russel Norman, knows he has a golden opportunity to brand his party’s message and differentiation from Labour.

Byelections are unpredictable. At present, no one would pick Norman to win. But as someone who has managed a few close-call byelections, I know that a third party candidate can pull it off, given the right circumstances.

I agree. And they can have a powerful message about to get a Green electorate MP to help Labour have a guaranteed coalition partner in future.

If the polls during the campaign start to show a trend toward the Greens, then anything is possible.

A lot will come down to Labour’s selection today.

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