There were some good things about his reshuffle. Has-beens Trevor Mallard, Ruth Dyson and David Cunliffe have all been ritually humiliated as a signal it is time to find new jobs. The same message has been sent to never-will-bes Clare Curran, Kris Faafoi and Rino Tirikatene. It is right that more dignity has been given to temporary deputy leader Annette King.
More substantially, the education portfolio is no longer split and has been reunified around Chris Hipkins, recognising the crucial importance of the transition from secondary school to higher education. Phil Twyford has been recognised for his Chinese-sounding-names stunt. Kelvin Davis has been given the promotion he has earned for his stance on Christmas Island and Nanaia Mahuta the demotion she so richly deserves for contributing nothing since first being elected to Parliament nearly 20 years ago.
Poll favourite Jacinda Ardern has been given a light workload so that she can concentrate on her media profile. Labour’s right wing has adequate representation in the shadow cabinet with Clayton Cosgrove, Stuart Nash and Peeni Henare all sneaking in on the bottom rung. As noted, while we know that the left-leaning Mr Robertson and Ms Sepuloni are expected to do the heavy lifting in economic and social policy, the right-wing David Shearer will be responsible for foreign policy. To remove ambiguity over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Mr Little has appointed an opponent of the deal, David Clark, to look after trade, replacing the pro-TPP David Parker.
One day, perhaps all these people will be famous. More likely, given Labour’s fundamentally flawed brand, you’ll never hear of most of them again. And even if Mr Little makes it to the prime ministership, nearly half his team will have to make way for ministers from the Greens and New Zealand First.
This is a key point. Only the first 12 Labour MPs are guaranteed to be in Cabinet, even if there is a change of Government.
Shearer, Lees-Galloway, Sio, Moroney, O’Connor, Cosgrove, Nash, Whaitri, Salesa, and Henare may only be Select Committee Chairs or Ministers outside Cabinet.