MPs in

David Clark (Dunedin North), Louisa Wall (Manurewa), Rino Tirakatene (Te Tai Tonga), Megan Woods (Wigram), Andrew Little (List)

MPs out

Steve Chadwick, Stuart Nash, Rick Barker, Carmel Sepuloni, Kelvin Davis, Carol Beaumont. One of either Raymond Huo or Brendon Burns depending on if Burns wins Christchurch Central.



’s share of the popular vote is an 83 year low. At 27.1% it is the lowest they have had since Harry Holland got 26.2% in 1928. Despite a Government promising (partial) asset sales, and an 11 month campaign against them, Labour dropped 7% from 2008. They have lost their Senior and Junior Whip, and seven incumbent MPs, of whom three or four will be seriously missed. A significant  lack of rejuvenation also.

They lose around 16% of their parliamentary funding, and some question times will have only three primary questions in the House.


First is the leadership. Goff will go, but smartly not straight away as that means the new leader gets little publicity. The three Davids look to be the main contenders. If Labour were really smart they would have the vote in February 2012 just before Parliament resumes and have a two month campaign for the leadership. Have the three contenders talk up and down the country to members and supporters about their vision for the future. It will boost the profiles of all three men, and start to get people to tune into Labour again.

All three Davids have strengths and weaknesses. I’ll cover their contest in more detail, but briefly at this stage, I’ll comment.

David Cunliffe was the front-runner. He no longer is, and according to Phil Quinn trails Parker now. Quin has 22 for Parker and 11 for Cunliffe. Cunliffe is very competent. He was an excellent Minister in the last Government, and performed well against English. He has the strongest business background of any Labour MP, and would have the potential to appeal to the centre. His weakness is relationships – with his colleagues and others. Some of those close to Goff blame him for Goff not getting the numbers right, and that enmity will be hard to overcome.

David Parker is now the leader. A generally pleasant guy, also with a good background in business and the law. Led Labour’s policy renewal, and has few enemies in the caucus. Has shown his ability to master complex areas such as the ETS. Some grumbles about his standing in Epsom helped John Banks win. Another issue is whether a Dunedin based List MP can lead Labour to electoral victory. A shift to Auckland is likely if he wins. Perhaps he could take Mt Roskill, but Michael Wood and Jacinda Ardern may be less happy with that. If Leader, likely to push for some reforms within Labour.

David Shearer is the dark horse, but for my money the one who would have the best chance of beating John Key (now that Shane Jones is out of the mix). Imagine this in an advertisement:

“John Key and David Shearer both left New Zealand for 20 years to work overseas. John Key worked on Wall Street to make himself $50 million dollars, while David Shearer worked to help save 50 million lives in some of the most dangerous and impoverished countries on earth.”

Shearer’s back story is very impressive.

I’ve also heard Shearer speak to groups such as the Business Roundtable. He deeply impressed them, and has strong appeal across the spectrum. He would also be a more active reformer within Labour – both in terms of reducing union domination which led to them losing so many talented MPs due to low list rankings, but also in terms of policy. Shearer is more focused on the ends, not the means, and doesn’t share the loathing of the private sector some of his colleagues do. The big question over a Shearer candidacy is does he want the leadership badly enough? A really nice guy, who isn’t shy but isn’t an extrovert either.

Labour also has other positions to fill. A number of MPs will be keen on the Deputy Leadership. My only advice at this point is not to elect someone who wants to be Leader eventually. The best Deputy Leaders are those in the McKinnon/Cullen/Sowry/King mould – there to support the Leader 100%. I’d add English to that also – a former Leader is fine, a future Leader is what you don’t want as Deputy. It just allows bloggers to foment mischief about when they wiill challenge 🙂

Ross Robertson I presume will remain Assistant Speaker. Chris Hipkins would make a good whip. Ideally junior whip before he becomes senior whip, but he may have to go straight to the senior role. Robertson could be a good Shadow Leader of the House, as Trevor should be consigned to a dark cupboard somewhere.

The new Leader will or should have to reshuffle the Shadow Cabinet and especially the front bench. All nine front benchers were Clark era Ministers. They can not go into 2014 hoping to win, if that is the case. Could 2014 also see a return of Darren Hughes who might in hindsight be glad not to have been associated with the electoral thrashing of 2011.

In the medium term, the challenge for Labour is to build up support so a Labour/Greens Government is viable. They have 37% at the moment and really need to get to 45% or higher between them. If Greens had got 14% rather than 10% then the Greens might have tried to become the major opposition party, but that is now unlikely. The more likely scenario for 2014 is that Peters holds the balance of power, and Peters deeply dislikes the Greens, so his support can not be taken for granted. Labour needs to get their party vote to at least 34% to be seen to have a “moral right” to govern – the level at which National got in 1996. Claiming the Prime Ministership if your party vote is in the 20s will be difficult.

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