Dunedin MPs David Clark and Clare Curran have announced they will back Grant Robertson in Labour’s leadership contest.
The support isn’t a surprise, but the timing is very curious, on the eve of the leaders’ roadshow hitting Dunedin.
The ODT reports that Clark, Curran name their man:
Home town favourite Grant Robertson received a boost yesterday in his quest to become Labour Party leader, with support coming from Dunedin MPs Clare Curran and David Clark.
The Labour leader road show is in Dunedin tomorrow in familiar territory for Mr Robertson – it will be held at the King’s and Queen’s Performing Arts Centre.
Mr Robertson is a former head boy of King’s High School.
So Robertson would probably be well supported by Labour members in Dunedin regardless of this signalling from local MPs.
There is some risk in doing this, especially for Clark he is seen as an up and comer, but there’s plenty of time for him to recover. Curran is expected to struggle to rise no matter who leads Labour.
Curran and Clark put out a statement indicating their backing of Robertson.
”We need a leader whose sense of social justice is instinctive, someone with sound judgement who gets it right first time. Grant Robertson is that man,” they said.
They told the Otago Daily Times Mr Robertson grew up in South Dunedin, one of the country’s high-density and lowest income suburbs.
”He understands what it’s like to struggle. He is a kind person and has a deep understanding what Labour can do for New Zealand.”
…said the leadership race was close and, initially, he wanted people to hear the candidates and make up their own minds.
”Members started asking me my opinion about who would be best … I think all can do the job but Grant is the one best placed to take on John Key and unify the party.”
…said the caucus vote was a significant part of the overall vote. She wrote to all her members this week and explained her preference.
She found people wanted her to stand up for what she believed.
”No-one will die wondering what I think. We have to be leaders and representatives of our community and electorate.
”People want to know we have strong opinions and I expect those opinions will be respected,” Ms Curran said.
So it might be a tough sell for Cunliffe and Jones tomorrow night.
But interestingly Shane Jones is the only one of the three who seems to have made a promise to Dunedin.
”This gum-digger is coming to meet the gold-miners. I love Dunedin. I have a few rellies down there.”
One of Mr Jones’ pledges to Otago was if he became a Labour prime minister, he would ensure government services would be relocated to Dunedin, even before his own province of Northland.
”If Treasury doesn’t like it, well, they can go to Blackball,” he said.
I asked all three whether they would be prepared to work more with local government to find local solutions. None replied.
I have repeated the question to them today.