Wanted: A new Chief of Staff to make Andrew Little look good

Wellington and the media are all “abuzz”

The revelation that Labour’s top adviser and Andrew Little’s chief of staff, Matt McCarten, will be stepping down from the role has opened up debate over who will be his replacement.

Mr McCarten revealed last night he will be heading up Labour’s new office in Auckland, following rumours he was to announce he was stepping down as Mr Little’s chief of staff this week.

He has told media his departure from Wellington was voluntary.

His departure opens a wide gap in the party, with a big question mark now hanging over who will replace him

It has not taken long for commentators give their two cents.

“BRING BACK HEATHER!” political commentator and NBR columnist Matthew Hooton says rather enthusiastically.

He’s talking, of course, about Helen Clark’s formidable chief of staff Heather Simpson.

“Labour is perilously low in the polls, without a chief press secretary and [the party] can’t really afford to make any more staffing mistakes.”

Labour’s chief press secretary Sarah Stuart resigned in May, citing family reasons.

Mr Hooton says the best bet for the party would be to look for a proven performer from the past and Ms Simpson, who made up one-half on the formidable H2 duo with Helen Clark, would tick all the right boxes.

“Heather Simpson is an expert in economic policy, foreign policy, polling, advertising, the Labour Party and of course managing people, including MPs and ministers. Labour would be extremely lucky if they could lure her back.”

That is, assuming Helen Clark’s career at the UN is coming to an end – which is looking likely (Ms Simpson has been working with Ms Clark in New York since she took over the United Nations Development programme.)

Hooton, as usual, is being fanciful.  But it does raise interesting issues regarding the lack of depth in Labour’s talent pool.

Another name being bandied about is Stephanie Rogers.  But she is considered a loose unit and about as likeable as Jo De Joux.  Her instability and unlikeability probably discounts her, plus her less than stellar previous stint in parliament, plus her very close links with The Standard would just lead to more questions over that cosy relationship (not to mention dumping in Wrongly Wrongson from a huge height, although that’s a plus in our column).

She also started a new left blog,  promptly wrote about 3 posts then disappeared again, so no stickability.

Her linked in profile shows she was a key member of Little’s leadership campaign team.
Communications Manager
Andrew Little leadership campaign
September 2014 – November 2014 (3 months) Wellington

She’s currently working at the PSA as a union organiser.

Other names include include “Martin Taylor, the party’s head of research, Neale Jones, Mr Little’s chief strategist, and Rob Salmond, the “chief spin-doctor in Andrew Little’s office.”

We have have our fingers crossed for Rob Salmond.



  • Gravedodger

    Mission impossible
    , make some improvement as a reachable goal surely

  • Dave

    Thinking out loud, no Press Secretary, new COS, could it be Angry Andy is looking for success in all the wrong places, he has not considered HE is the problem not the solution, and there is only so much polish, and so much spin can be applied.

    Rob Salmond is a reasonable operator, for that reason, I hope he is not appointed.

  • papagaya

    I can’t see Heather leaving her galpal Helen behind in New York for a crummy crisis management role with the ailing, failing Labour party. Can you?

  • shykiwibloke

    Kim DC will be looking to earn some additional pocket money. Pretty good at PR, and would bring a long list of lessons learnt from the last election!

  • Sally

    My pick is Bradbury. At least they can afford him, all he requires is a laptop.
    And he is a strategist extraordinaire.
    If not Bradbury, Laila Harre might like to get out of the kitchen have a shot at redemption, she would have to accept the pay might be as good as last time.

    • And an iphone and $5k a month.

      • Bazza63

        I thought that was the new living wage requirements.

    • Larry

      Surely Laila would work for the living wage in order to get the living wage for every one else

    • Wasapilot

      If they chose bradbury, they would get two for the price of one though, Matin and Martyn. Bargain.

    • Ruahine

      Pam may be available. Seems to know everything on Talkback Radio.

  • Bob Dazzler

    Ahh, the impossible dream, making this Labour loser good.

  • Kevin

    “she is considered a loose unit and about as likeable as Jo De Joux. Her instability and unlikeability probably discounts her, plus her less than stellar previous stint in parliament…”

    On the contrary, sounds like the perfect fit for the current Labour party.

  • Mike

    Give me carte blanche to smack them on the head if they go off reservation and I’ll take the job. I’ve got no experience apart from watching The Thick of It but hey that doesn’t seem to be an issue with Labour.

    But seriously I want a string opposition party which had the ability tho keep the government I check, the current mob isn’t able to do that at all.

  • Isherman

    If not Salmond,have the likes of Stephen Mills denied they are in the running yet?

  • Nebman

    What’s Martyn/Martin up to?

  • sheppy

    “Heather Simpson is an expert in economic policy, foreign policy, polling, advertising….”
    She clearly has no place in the current Labour Party with skills like that!

  • Vutekno

    Well that’s a real pity seeing McCarten moving on, in his current role he must shoulder a lot of responsibility for the appalling performance of the current Labour Party. He should also get a strong vote of thanks from National for an amazing performance. I wonder who in the Labour Party was finally smart enough to realise what a huge liability he was to them?

    As for a replacement, it would take someone much more focused, clever and ferociously determined to fix Labour in time for the next election. Non of the names mentioned here and elsewhere, with the possible exception of H2, have anything like the abilities required IMO.

  • cows4me

    “New chief of staff to make Andy look good”, has he rung Madame Tussauds ?

  • Isherman

    It would be one of those job interviews where you would be more worried about the potential bosses lack of skills making your work look bad.

  • F T Bear

    “Labours new office in Auckland”
    So he will be working for Phil Goff then.

  • Blueburd

    This is the perfect moment for the left to live what the speak. It’s so perfect for them you could wrap it up in turnips. Hire one of the Syrian “refugee’s” that they want to come here. Make them the poster picture for the many thousands of others they want to come here. The media party and the very reliable social media would be all over them

  • Tiger

    Job description: Can you polish a turd? Then I have a job for you….

  • Seriously?

    What they need, and what they get will be two different things.

    They need someone skilled, but ideally politically neutral (or even right leaning). That would help them break the chamber of mutual admiration in which they live. A reality checker.

    But they will get another back slapper.

  • sonovaMin

    They need that huge success story Martin Martyn. Two for the price of one – a marriage made in heaven or some other place.

  • Sticktotheknitting

    I might apply myself. However they are so desperate I might get the job.

  • Grendel_from_the_dead

    Rodgers also helped that labour women fail to unseat Dunne or even get into parliament last election. she just spent most of her time calling him ‘odious and vile’.

    she has been trying to rebrand herself for the past few years in order to get in parliament as an MP. its why there is no mention of her love of profesional wrestling and how she used to moderate a few forums for that, it does not fit the new SJWimage she wants to appeal to.

    her and her partner are useless troughers.