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.
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.