Just a thought: how would the count go if the Maori Party voted today on the co-leadership?

Alf has to confess he pulled the stunt once, some years ago. Unsuccessfully. And embarrassingly.

Yep. He threatened to retire as member for Eketahuna North at the next election if he did not become National’s leader within 12 months.

He made the threat at a caucus meeting.

The reaction was….

Well, very sobering.

Some of his colleagues pointed towards the caucus room door and suggested he might just as well step down now.

Others just jeered. Alf has a strong memory of John Falloon struggling to stop laughing, which was especially hurtful because he was the MP for Pahiatua, the next-door electorate.

This humiliating experience taught Alf to be much more subtle with his career ambitions (although it hasn’t done him much good in terms of moving up from the rank of back-bencher).

Whether two MPs in the Maori Party caucus can muster the right amount of mockery and mirth to discourage Te Ururoa Flavell from resigning if he doesn’t become co-leader is an interesting question.

Probably not. One of them is co-leader Tariana Turia, and she happens to support the idea of fellow co-leader Pita Sharples stepping down.

The other is the aforementioned Pita Sharples, who probably doesn’t see the funny side of what is going on in the party.

To the contrary, as we read here

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples says MP Te Ururoa Flavell’s statements that he will leave politics if he does not become leader before 2014 amount to “a kind of blackmail”.

Speaking from China, Dr Sharples also cast questions over the ability of the party’s National Council to resolve the issue quickly.

The much younger and therefore friskier Flavell not only has challenged Sharples for the leadership, but furthermore has said he could resign if he does not land the co-leadership job before the next election.

Or does he want to be leader without all that co- nonsense?

Dunno.

Anyway…

Dr Sharples said he was disappointed by that.

“It is a kind of blackmail. I just hope he stays and that I stay the leader.

“His time will come.”

Actually, that’s what Mrs Grumble told Alf way back when he made his bid, boasting he was younger and friskier than the incumbent at the time.

She was wrong.

But Alf’s leadership attempt was not as disruptive to his party as Flavell’s bid seems to be for the Maori Party, if Sharples is accurately assessing the situation.

He said the ongoing disputes over the leadership were sparking comments that the party was in chaos.

“If we had a really strong national [Council] they would do something about it instead of leaving it. It’s come down to talk about ‘the Maori party’s in absolute chaos.’ Well the parliamentary side is not. The parliamentary side is working absolutely.”

Here’s hoping for his sake he’s right.

If Alf has done his sums correctly and has a reasonable mastery of geography, if Sharples was speaking form China, it must mean he is not present in Wellington.

If a Maori Party caucus meeting brought up the leadership question for a vote today…

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