Labour’s reshuffle kerfuffle

Richard Harman got sold down the river overnight as poisoned intel was used to out one of his leakers.


But that doesn’t make his article redundant.  It still stands, albeit the timing of the shuffle is different.

Labour is plainly sensitive to charges that Phil Goff is double dipping as an MP and now confirmed Auckland Mayoral candidate.

Leader Andrew Little has said Mr Goff will now no longer be spokesman on Auckland issues.

Any other changes to his spokesmanships will come tomorrow when Mr Little announces his reshuffle of Labour’s Caucus spokespeople.

The interesting question:  who will replace Goff?  

Back in Wellington his Auckland issues role is likely to go to Jacinda Ardern or Phil Twyford in tomorrow’s reshuffle.

But the reshuffle will be an important milestone in the Little leadership.

This will be Mr Little putting his own stamp on the Caucus as far as the front bench is concerned and is likely to include promotion for Jacinda Ardern and Kelvin Davis.

Ms Ardern is likely to move to four in the caucus line-up and though there are strong tips that she is going to shed Justice for a bigger portfolio it’s unclear what that might be.

Carmel Sepuloni who was Andrew Little’s preference for deputy holds social development so taking it off her would be a big call for him..

Ms Ardern has held social development before and didn’t make a major impact with it.

Whether she will get another go will be one of the big questions tomorrow.

But her elevation will mean Manaia Mahuta has to drop at least one slot but she may fall further.

The possible elevation of Mr Davis the MP for Te Tai Tokerau over Manaia Mahuta is a risky move given Ms Mahuta’s deep connections with Tainui in particular.

But Mr Davis has been one of the standout performers over the past year whereas Ms Mahuta has been more low profile.

There have been suggestions for some time now that she may leave Parliament for some senior position within Tainui but nothing ever seems to eventuate.

Another problem will be what to do with Mr Cunliffe.

Mr Little will hardly want to promote him. In an ideal world, Labour’s leadership would probably prefer that he consider not standing again.

But there are risks in being too brutal and thus creating a martyr for the left wing in the party to coalesce around.

There are two standout performers from the intake at the last election — Jenny Salesa and Peeni Henare.

Both can expect promotions tomorrow.

Of the old guard, David Parker has consolidated his role as the caucus “ideas” man and David Shearer seems to be taking a closer interest in his foreign affairs role.

Regardless of how his campaign turns out Mr Goff is on the way out.

With Ardern gaining more and steady support against the trend of Little and the party itself, and the need to give a future prime minister a safe electorate seat is screaming “Jacinda” at everyone.

In spite of my assessment of her general capabilities, it needs to be seen in relation to her colleagues.   Twyford is poison – a hitman.  Together with Davis they are the party’s “bovver boys” and totally unsuitable to be placed in Mt Albert.  How can you rail against foreigners and then pretend to represent them?

So Ardern is the obvious answer.  She’s soft and gentle and women’s magaziney, and pleasant and non-offensive and everything Labour needs right now to provide the contrast for Angry Andy and his nasty hit squad.   No wonder she’s edging up as preferred PM among Labour supporters.


Richard Harman, Politik


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