Time is counting down. So when former Labour party president Mike Williams, offers his musings on the candidates it’s worth paying attention:
Grant’s major advantage in my book is the block of support he has in the caucus. These people tend to know the contenders best, and I would normally give that great weight if the same people had not given us David Shearer, and then changed their minds.
His disadvantages are his lack of experience in government and a pretty thin CV. His lack of recognition by the voting public is also a concern at this point in the cycle. All three sections of the college that will select the leader will take cognisance of a fourth audience – the electorate, as expressed by the polls. Every poll has put Grant in third place. This is not necessarily fatal, but it does mean that the Labour Party will have a much harder selling job if Grant is the choice, and only a year to do it.
Shane Jones brought the contest to life. If you’d been a visitor from Mars at the meeting I attended, your vote would have gone to Shane. He spoke without notes, but laced a substantial speech with colour, imagery and humour.
His major disadvantage is that, with a narrow base in the powerful caucus vote, he almost certainly can’t win. Alongside some baggage, about which Shane makes sport, this puts him into a second preference situation as far as I’m concerned; however the process has revealed a campaign treasure which any sensible planner will exploit in the battle ahead.
David’s advantages include another Ivy League education, a broad grounding in both private enterprise and the bureaucracy, and ministerial experience. He is perhaps the only contender who, through his courageous deregulation of telecommunications, has benefitted vast numbers of kiwis.
His disadvantages are his former inability to suffer fools gladly, a perceived vanity and an inexplicable capacity to polarise. I’ve never been personally exposed to any of these supposed negative traits; however that may be because MPs tend to treat their party presidents with the deference due to someone whose vote you may just need one day…
Yesterday I gave my tick to David Cunliffe. David has much to learn, just like Helen Clark and John Key when they assumed the leadership of their parties, but he has demonstrated the ability to do so.
This is more momentuum behind Cunliffe’s campaign. But he still has some hard work ahead of him in the next few days, convincing his MP colleagues that they have no choice but to vote his way if Labour has any hope of being viable in he publics perception. And if I was Grant, I would be asking myself exactly how much I want a future in politics. With supporters like Clare Curran, and the strong build of endorsments of Cunliffe, even if Grant were to win, he will still lose. He is struggling to be viable in the public eye. If he is wise, he will recognise that before it’s too late.