Helen Clark is a victim of her own success, Prime Minister John Key has suggested.
Clark is embroiled in controversy over her bid for the United Nations’ top job after an international publication claimed her candidacy had sparked an “internal uproar”.
In a lengthy article highly critical of Clark, Foreign Policy’s Colum Lynch said Clark had left a trail of “embittered peers and subordinates” at the United Nations Development Programme, which she has headed for the last seven years.
The claims against her included that Clark “ruthlessly ended the careers of underlings in her quest to advance her candidacy and of undercutting the UN’s promotion of human rights,” Lynch wrote.
I’m sure Clark did ruthlessly end many careers at UNDP. That is not necessarily a bad thing, as many UN organisations are bloated and inefficient.
Key said on Wednesday Clark was being targeted because she was the front runner. He predicted the campaign would get dirty.
“I think it shows you that, as the front-runner, there are some people who want the job and don’t want her to get it because they are bidding to get the title themselves,” Mr Key said on the way to question time today.
“But, look, at the end of the day, the fact that her organisation led some change and she implemented that change, should come as no surprise to anybody. It just shows you the campaign might get a little bit dirty.”
Still rather surreal to have Key defending Clark, and saying the campaign against her is just dirty politics!
New Zealand sources have previously acknowledged that Clark is not universally popular at UNDP after leading a restructuring drive that saw more than 200 staffers at its New York headquarters sacked after inheriting an organisation that was top heavy with senior managers.
But they say Clark is well respected as a result of those changes, one of the factors behind her being seen as a front runner to replace UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon when he steps down later this year.
Clark remains the favourite with the bookies. She is 2/1 with Paddypower, compared to 5/1 for Irina Bokova and 4/1 for Vuk Jeremic. Kevin Rudd by the way is 20/1.