Thursday, August 30, 2007

Labour's Next Leader?

I tend to agree that Labour's caucus would be bloody stupid to roll HC before the next election. Changing leader never works. I simply don't agree with the revisionist view that Moore helped Labour mitigate an absolute disaster when he was made leader seven weeks before the 1990 election: Labour had its worst result since 1935 at that time.

Helen Clark clearly has the support from Labour's three factions: the unions, the organisational wing, and the rainbow faction. None of them support Goff, and they never will. Helen Clark has successfully, over the last fourteen years, weeded out pretty much anbody who doesn't support her, and has fashioned the Party in her own image. That's good politics, and is a tribute to her political skill, ruthlessness, and longevity.

Goff's faction--the rump that still exists, consists primarily of Clayton Cosgrove, Harry Duynhoven, Annette King, Damien O'Connor, Dover Samuels, George Hawkins, and Paul Swain. Several of them are retiring at the next election. But that's it. Cunliffe could potentially support Goff, and he's politically much more closely aligned to him, but would only do so to see Goff fall flat on his face following a major defeat. Cunliffe aspires to the job himself, and would much rather take the deputy role to a left-leaning leader, see the leader take the hit, and slide into the job himself.

Having said that, Labour's MPs are a mercenary bunch: they don't generally have options outside of Parliament, and will swarm to whomever is most likely to save their skins. Maharey has cooked his own goose, and despite his prior ambition, he's now no longer interested in the leadership, and is most likely to announce in the next few months that he is taking up an academic post at Massey University and not standing at the next election. Mallard has also spoiled his ambitions with his muck-raking backfiring on him.

So who's left for leadership contention? Michael Cullen, a list MP, will retire soon after the 2008 election, rather than serve out a term in opposition. Annette King will be 61 at the next election: she would be a safe deputy leader, but she won't aspire to the role in opposition.

Mark Gosche has the political skills to grab the leadership if he wants it, but he's taken a back seat over the last few years to focus on his family life. He would have the support of the unions if he wanted it, and has the back-door cunning to snaffle the job for the Left in the Party. But there's no indication that he wants it.

Helen Clark will resign after the next election, but not before. Her problem is that there is nobody of the Left remaining who has the skills, and isn't tarnished by her office, to replace her. Pete Hodgson could emerge as an interim leader, which would satisfy the Left of the Party, but his macchiavellian tendencies, and downright human nastiness, will see him fall over quickly. Cunliffe could work as his deputy, hoping to inherit the leadership when Hodgson fails. Goff won't work as Hodgson's deputy.

Goff's only hope of winning the leadership after Clark steps down is to take over finance, and force Cullen out of the deputy leadership before the election. Both are reasonably likely. Goff will have to play a long game to undo Clark's years of stacking her party with her own supporters. If he takes the leadership, he cannot expect to get Labour into Government within the next two terms. That is a demoralising position for any leader.


Rob's Blockhead Blog said...

One other scenario though: Clark figures she can't win, and quits. People who have watched her for years reckon she is more likely to do that than go into an election she will probably lose.

Under those circumstances, the Left backs Goff, so he takes the blame for the loss, and also, he might win [the Blazing Saddles factor "we must save our phoney baloney jobs!"]

That assumes, of course, Goff thinks he can pull off an unlikely win. Its possible: he's bright enough to realise its a long shot, but its his last chance at the top job.

And National's support at the moment is no deep. Key's got people listening again, that's all. That poll lead could turn fast.

Insolent Prick said...

That's a possibility, Rob, but on the whole I still can't see that HC would do it, or that Goff would accept the leadership in a last kick of desperation.

What HC does want to leave is a long legacy. She doesn't want to hand over the reins to anybody and leave the Party in tatters. The factionalism of old, and the old party debates simply don't exist anymore, and I very much doubt that even with Goff as leader, those debates would be resurrected.

dad4justice said...

I cannot see Miss Clark and her dyke force of bent sisters ever releasing the reins of power to anybody . The sinister sisterhood have formed the extensive insipid structure that is strangling every aspect of New Zealand society and only a miracle will see the mentally disturbed sisterhood relinquish power . These girly utopian's view kiwiland as a trophy to their wayward ideology, because these deluded women and weakling men are dangerous control freaks . Feminism has been a trojan horse packed fill of demented cretins.

Heine said...

We all know that once HC goes, she will leave a vaccum so big the party will not recover immediately. It will further cement her legacy as well.

George said...

Who cares a fig what her "legacy" is going to be.

Her present reality is bad enough.

Just get rid of her and leave her presently cowed minions to sort out the garage sale.