After intense pressure and speculation in media reports and across policitical blogs it will announced this week that David Shearer will step down as leader of the Labour Party. It is expected he will be given the Education spokesmanship and will be an important member of Labour’s front bench.
David Cunliffe will take over as leader of Labour. It is acknowledged that he isn’t popular with everyone but the Labour caucus has finally accepted that they need to work together with a common purpose and end their factional division. Cunliffe will retain his Economic Development role.
Grant Robertson will remain as deputy leader. This is to retain some continuity and experience in the leadership of the party and help bridge the factional divide.
Politically correct balances like male/female, north/Wellington/south and paheka/Maori/PI/ethnic were considered but experience and ability were considered to be a priority at this stage. There will be a concerted effort to improve diversity in electorate candidate and list selections over the next two years.
David Parker will retain the Finance role, again to aid continuity and also recognising that this role requires a focus difficult to achieve if also having leader’s responsibilities.
The Labour lineup will be reshuffled, with new talent promoted and those MPs nearing their use-by date will be eased down the pecking order.
Trevor Mallard has already been stepped back from party strategy invovlement. Utilising his knowledge of and expertise in the workings of the house is seen as important.
Newer MPs who are showing promise will be elevated in the lineup, including performers like Louisa Wall and David Clark.
Andrew Little will also be elevated in return for the union involvement in and co-operation with the new leadership arrangements. Working effectively with unions is seen as important.
Recovery, rebuilding and regeneration of the party will be a priority.
The announcement is being made prior to this weekend’s Labour Party annual conference so the conference can be used to focus on moving forward with a revamped team.
‘Team’ is going to be emphasised and repeated. Teamwork is vital. A much stronger role from the team captain is expected. Cunliffe has not been chosen to be popular amongst a divided caucus, he has been chosen to be strong and effective in leadership.
This is entirely my speculation and presumption. It is not based on any inside information. It is based on my observations in media and on blog posts and comments.
And it is based on wishful thinking – I wish that Labour will have learnt from their wasted opportunities and division over the past four years and will now choose the best talent from a shallow pool.
And I wish that Labour MPs – and the party behind them – will start to put the good of their party, the good of Parliament and the good of the country as their top priorities.
The strength of our parliament is dependent on the strength and purpose of the MPs and parties that are a part of it. Rebuilding and strengthening the Labour party will strengthen our parliament by contributing more of their share of governance and by pushing other parties to improve their input.
And I have another wish. When David Shearer became Labour leader he promised a new kind of politics. Unfortunately he was not able to deliver that, he succumbed to the same old, done poorly.
If Labour is to be seen as a viable government-in-waiting most of what it does must be positive, so they build confidence that they can run our country positively.
And important part of being in opposition is holding the Government to account. That will be much more effective if fights are picked wisely and when justified. Incessant negative politics like opposing for the sake of opposing leave a negative impression.
Sometimes bad things are done, sometimes things are done poorly, and these things need to be exposed and examined and dealt with appropriately.
But we don’t believe that the other half of parliament is bad, evil, and out to destroy our country. Most (hopefully all) MPs have the best of intentions, bit like us the are fallible and they often have different ideas and preferences to us. We need to accept these differences as normal, and not as part of a conspiracy to ruin us.
Holding to account of all MPs and parties is healthy, it is essential. Trying to persistently undermine parties and undermine Government is nuts and simply not on. We expect better of our elected representatives.
The people of New Zealand (well, I do anyway) want our MPs and our parliament to work for us and with us. We want to be included, we want to be listened to. We want to be seen as an important part of our democracy – and we want our MPs to earn reputations of working for good democracy, good parliament and good governance.
And I know that a number of MPs want a better, more positive, more respectful Parliament, one that puts achievements and cooperation ahead of petty squabbling.
I hope a revamped Labour leadership and a revitalised Labour Party can make a positive and worthwhile contribution to the future of our country. I’ll be complimenting positives, and doing my wee bit to hold crap to account.
Whatever Labour do regarding their leadership this week they have major problems that need to be addressed, must be addressed and dealt with – for the good of the party, for the good of parliament and for the good of the country. I hope they get it as right as is possible in the circumstances.