Alf has enjoyed listening to a couple of political commentators give Labour’s list a drubbing on Morning Report in the last few minutes.
One of them said said Labour is more interested in the gender, ethnicity and what have you of those they put on their list, rather than how good they are and what their political appeal might be.
Chris Trotter noted the lower place given to Stuart Nash (a bloke he said had appeal to small business people and provincial voters) than others with no such appeal.
They have lost sight that Labour was nearly wiped out in the provinces at the last election, he said.
On that score, of course, Alf is delighted with the list. May they forever be confined to the big cities with their silly ideas, he says. And may their grip on their urban strongholds be forever weakening.
Oh, and Trotter also drew attention to their restrenthening their ties with the trade unions.
Alf welcomes this, too, because it is a kiss of death.
As Trotter pointed out, fewer than 10% of New Zealanders nowadays belong to the unions.
They have built a list to for a New Zealand that – praise be – no longer exists.
But Alf’s biggest satisfaction comes from Labour MP Damien O’Connor, who obviously agrees with what Trotter and the other bloke said.
He has hit out at his party organisation, saying its candidates list was drawn up by “a gaggle of gays and self-serving unionists” who gave “straight shooters” little chance of success.
Mr O’Connor, the electorate candidate for the marginal West Coast-Tasman seat, said he withdrew from the party-list process before the final meeting.
“I wouldn’t trust them. Between a gaggle of gays and some self-serving unionists, I’m not sure that a straight shooter such as myself would be given a fair deal.”
You can’t tell it like it is, in the Labour caucus, and expect to get away with it.
And so Labour leader Phil Goff says he has “scolded” O’Connor about his comments.
The MP had told him about them, thereby reinforcing his claim to be a straightshooter and not a back-stabber.
But Goff did recognise that the remarks
“…will probably help him no end on the Coast. He’s a pretty straight talker and he used West Coast language.”
Mr Goff believed Mr O’Connor could win back the electorate, but did not believe his views of the list ranking committee were accurate.
He insisted (contrary to the views of the two commentators quoted above) that people were chosen for their skills rather than backgrounds.
O’Connor’s history is interesting, of course.
As the Herald reports, he
… is understood to have a tense relationship with some unionists within the party over West Coast issues. He was West Coast MP from 1993 to 2008, when he lost the seat to National’s Chris Auchinvole by just 971 votes.
He said his decision not to go on the list gave West Coasters a clear decision “to either have me as an electorate MP or that’s it – I’ll get on and do something else.”
Labour’s new president, Moira Coatsworth, has defended the list process (but what else would she say).
Each sector group got only a few votes out of 36 on the committee and groups had done a good job of setting aside their own causes in the interests of selecting a broad-ranging list, according to her account.
However, many of the newcomers to the list were sanctioned by the union affiliates. Former party president Andrew Little, secretary of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, was given 15th place on the list, just below Labour’s front-bench MPs.
Many other newcomers with high enough rankings to get into Parliament also had union backing, the Herald reports.
They include the press secretary to the Labour caucus, Deborah Mahuta-Coyle, who is ranked at 26, above several current list MPs.
Others are Michael Wood (32), who chairs Mr Goff’s Roskill electorate committee and stood in the Botany byelection, Kate Sutton (35) and Jerome Mika (36). All three have some union background.
Alf was disappointed to see no sign of which ones have the blessing of the gays. But as O’Connor so nicely puts it, there is bound to be a gaggle of them.l