The Labour Party has elected through an entirely undemocratic voting system their new leader
“David has been elected by a robust and democratic process and won on the first round with a clear majority. This gives him a strong mandate as leader and he has the full support of the Labour Party.”
One MP earlier warned that Cunliffe’s first days in the job would be crucial: “I reckon we will know in the first week or so how it’s going to go. If he can’t bring the group together then he’s shot.”
Camp Cunliffe insiders expected he would extend an immediate olive branch to rivals, retaining Robertson in the crucial deputy’s position if he wanted it. A source within Cunliffe’s team also expected there to be a number of Robertson supporters retained in senior portfolios.
This suggested Cunliffe would adopt a similar strategy to Prime Minister John Key when he was appointed leader of the Opposition. In a day-long strategy session at his Parnell home with leadership rival Bill English, Key divvied up front-bench positions and caucus rankings in a deal that secured unity.
But any attempt at brokering unity could come unstuck if Cunliffe attempts to appoint a whip over the incumbent Chris Hipkins, who publicly tore strips off Cunliffe after Labour’s divisive annual conference last year. The whip’s position is usually only held by someone who has the full trust and confidence of the leader and there are rumours Cunliffe has promised the position to Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway.
There could also be acrimony if Cunliffe demotes the so-called “old guard” – Annette King, Trevor Mallard, Phil Goff and Ruth Dyson – whom Camp Cunliffe accused of running the campaign against him during the last leadership spill.
- In party politics, the House always wins (stuff.co.nz)
- Gay remark sees Cunliffe aide out (nzherald.co.nz)
- Loved and loathed: the polarising politician (stuff.co.nz)