Grant Robertson has immersed himself in parliamentary politics, without building a team of people around him who provide the kind of infrastructure Helen Clark built around herself.
Clark may not have had great relations with business and political donors, but she did build a team of people around her that did. She also had a great fundraiser or shakedown artist in Mike “Fat Tony” Williams, who made sure that Labour had plenty of money and weren’t just reliant on union funding.
Since Fat Tony retired Labour have been broke. Andrew Little didn’t even try to raise money from anyone other than unions and by taxing MPs. Moira Coatesworth hasn’t been much better yet, but may improve. Regardless, Grant doesn’t have any fundraising capability.
Grant has been so self absorbed and absorbed by politics in Wellington he hasn’t got around the country and built a rapport with the big donors who could contribute to campaigns he leads. Typical of most New Zealand politicians he appears to think fundraising is a bit dirty and beneath him.
The battle for Labour Party leaders is moving the party to the middle ground where middle New Zealand vote for them. While the hard left unions are the pay masters the flexibility to move to the middle ground does not exist. Grant hasn’t done the hard yards in lining up the $2m a year or so he needs to be able to tell the unions to stick it, and win an election.