Curran wants union and party member roles ‘reviewed’

Clare Curran wants the Labour party to review the role played by unions and party members in selecting party leader.

Jacinda Ardern was installed as leader by the caucus alone because of a rule that allows this within 3 months of an election.

ODT: Selection review urged

The powerful new role played by unions and party members in selecting Labour leaders needs to be reviewed, one of the party’s Dunedin MPs says.

The system has delivered two leaders, David Cunliffe and Andrew Little, who failed to connect with the general public.

Dunedin South MP Clare Curran said a discussion was needed about whether unions and party members should continue having a say in who leads.

”I think we do need to re-look at the way we select our leaders, but that’s a question for after the election,” Ms Curran said.

Unions get a 20% vote share under the system introduced in 2012. It took some power away from MPs, who get a 40% say in the decision.

New Labour leader Jacinda Ardern was appointed in a simple caucus vote because it was less than three months before the general election.

After affiliated unions piled in behind Mr Little, he squeaked ahead of rival Grant Robertson in the 2014 selection by just over 1%.

Unions won’t be keen on this changing.

Bill Newson, a top union official, defended the unions’ role in propelling the former union boss into the role after just three years in Parliament.

”We knew Andrew closely and stand by that assessment; a very high sense of integrity and responsibility, a team player.”

Mr Newson, Etu union’s national secretary, acknowledged that Mr Little ”didn’t work out in the public eye”.

Mr Newson said Mr Little’s decision would have ”weighed heavily” on the former national secretary of the EPMU.

In 2014, Mr Little got 75% of the union’s 20% vote share. In the final result, he got 50.52% to Mr Robertson’s 49.48%

University of Otago public law specialist Prof Andrew Geddis said it was a matter for the party, but the unions’ involvement was problematic.

”The problem … is it’s not the members of the unions who [vote], it’s the officials within the unions. It’s not a popular choice by union members.”

The E tu Union donated $120,000 to Labour on 20 June 2017 (which may or may not be a popular use of members’ money). If they can’t play a part in choosing leader the union leadership may not remain this generous.

The party stands by it’s current system.

Labour Party president Nigel Haworth defended the system. It selected leaders in a ”very clear way”.

”The effort that both our previous two leaders have put into campaigning has been exceptional. The fact that they haven’t necessarily won elections can’t be sheeted home solely to them.

”The members very much wanted a new system in 2012. They will no doubt look at its performance and if they want to make changes they will,” Prof Haworth said.

A lot will depend on how well Labour do in the election. If they do poorly the members and unions may not be very happy.

Leave a comment

6 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  August 3, 2017

    If they do poorly factionalism will run rife again.

    Reply
  2. Corky

     /  August 3, 2017

    Welcome to the jungle…Cindy.

    Reply
  3. Blazer

     /  August 3, 2017

    Curran languishing..wants..promotion.

    Reply
  4. Patzcuaro

     /  August 3, 2017

    If Labour keep the current system they will remain a narrow union based party.

    Reply
  5. Gezza

     /  August 3, 2017

    Curran’s right. The problem is, removing them from the leadership selection role might drive them to the benefit thieving party.

    Reply
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