Dunne on Labour

Peter Dunne writes:

But Labour’s current woes do not lie at Hipkins’ door alone. He is being constantly embarrassed and let down by the ineptitude of those around him. His main role these days seems limited to tidying up the mess made by his colleagues.

In the last week alone, he has had to call out Peeni Henare, someone who really should know better, for reposting offensive cartoons about Act leader David Seymour on Instagram. Hipkins has also had to deal with more personally abusive comments about a political opponent, this time Melissa Lee, from Willie Jackson, someone who is clearly incapable of knowing better. Add to that the seemingly ingrained superciliousness and sourness of Ayesha Verrall every time she opens her mouth, and it is little wonder Labour still looks to be struggling to come to terms with why it was voted out so comprehensively at the election.

If my party suffered a 24% drop in their party vote, the largest in history, I’d be asking why.

Yet Labour is not without talent in its ranks who could be pushing its case far more effectively at present without the embittered baggage some are carrying. New finance spokesperson Barbara Edmonds has been a shining performer. Her interventions so far have been positive, well informed, and largely constructive. Not only does she need to be seen more frequently as the modern face of Labour, but also she needs to be joined by other newer faces in the caucus.

Edmonds is good.

Hipkins’ major challenge is to rebuild the face of Labour so that it can present its message with integrity and credibility. Hanging on to negative and polarising figures such as Jackson and Verrall, and others who still believe the public had no right to boot them out of government, not only tarnishes Hipkins’ leadership but does little to persuade the public that Labour has indeed learned the lesson of its defeat.

Hipkins needs quickly to divest himself of such albatrosses if Labour is to shake off the failures of its recent past. They need to be moved on, at least to the distant backbenches, if not out the door and sooner rather than later. If he cannot or will not do that, Hipkins risks becoming today’s Bill Rowling – a genuine and well-liked nice guy who led the Labour Party nowhere for nearly nine years.

A fair comparison.

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