Is Annette King Labour’s Winston?

I’ve been keeping an eye on Annette King.  She’s in good shape for her age, and clearly has been working on it.  That always raises a flag, especially when the leader’s permanence is under a cloud.

Most weekdays before sunrise Labour’s deputy leader can be found at her gym trying to do more burpees than her husband, Ray Lind.

The exercise, an up-down cross between a push-up and star-jump and favoured by sadistic rugby coaches, keeps Annette King, 68, fit for the rough-and-tumble of Parliament.

She’s not just physically fit; politically she is one of the more active and successful Opposition MPs and one of the party’s great survivors. Age has not wearied her efforts to take the fight to the Government every day.

That was demonstrated in Parliament this week during one of her regular jousts with Health Minister Jonathan Coleman.

Having been Health Minister for six years, she knows as much about the job as Coleman, who has had just 18 months at the helm.

MPs from both sides of the House howled with delight at the Coleman and King set-to.

Apart from her need to heckle like she’s at a pantomime, she is one of Labour’s more scrappy MPs.  And she should be; she’s got the miles on the clock.  

Referred to as the ballast of the caucus, King helped MPs accept Andrew Little’s leadership when most of the caucus had voted in 2014 for Grant Robertson to be leader. Her experience balances out Little’s inexperience.

“She is good at hauling together groups and working out, on occasions, compromises,” says long-serving colleague Trevor Mallard. “And on other occasions not compromises [but a] line to be taken. People respect her for that, and that job goes much further than just having the [deputy] role.”

King says when voters get to know Little, they will see the qualities in him she admires: passion, authenticity and a sense of humour.

“I can see some of Helen [Clark] in him. He has a big brain, she had a big brain. People when they meet him like him and say, ‘You are different from what you are on TV’.

“Well, she had that for years, all through the 1990s. Until she became prime minister, Helen faced the same things.”

Another flag is when someone who is getting really fit is praising the party leader at every opportunity. Nobody’s picking King as Labour party leader because of her age.

It seems King is the only one who doesn’t think that matters.


– Nicholas Jones, NZ Herald


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  • sandalwood789

    Sixty-eight! Blimey……

    I’m 54 and I’m struggling to remember Parliament without her.

    So much for any sign of renewal in Labour when they have old tuskers like King, Goff, Mallard and co still there. Anyway, it’s *great* that they’re still there as it means that Labour will be warming the Opposition benches for many years to come.

  • XCIA

    Ms King should challenge the Magnificent One to a workout in her gymnasium. That should put him out of action until well after the election.

    • sandalwood789

      Left-wing parties all over the world seem to be going for oldies. Just look at old Bernie Sanders in the US. The joke is that in order to dig up any dirt on him you need to be an archaeologist.

    • Chris Fleming

      Something involving a Swiss Ball perhaps ?

  • sonovaMin

    My previous experience of King is that she is very imperious when in power and totally humourless. Back in the day when I was a paid cartoonist one of her minions rang me and demanded I draw her in a more flattering way.
    Also, Little has a big brain. Compared to whom? Journalists?
    Everything is relative I suppose.

  • Second time around

    Her performance vs Jonathan Coleman in Question Time is not good. Coleman comes across as juvenile, but he has the facts, which are that DHBs are performing better in objective terms than when under King and Cunliffe’s watches. King tries to shift the terms of reference, like expecting DHBs to provide gourmet food and trousers for the patients, or arguing over statistical measures of expenditure,in an attempt to make National look heartless, but this draws little blood.

    National as any government is vulnerable on health delivery. If King was serious she would be asking about bowel cancer and killer diseases for which the government has not performed any better than Labour 8 years ago.

    • Aucky

      A lot of her questioning is a tad banal.

  • Vlad

    You know what I’m swimming against the tide here but I think she would be a better leader of Labour than the current fellow, and a good placeholder for Jacinda.

    • Aucky

      I don’t think that she could hold a place for as long as it takes Jacinda to be ready for the leadership.

      • Miss Phit

        Shed have to live well into tripple figures for the “lil chippie” to be ready to lead.

  • sandalwood789

    I’m blowed if I can see what the Rongotai voters see in Annette King.

    Maybe her voice helps to drown out the airport noise?

    • Usaywot

      I can’t stand her poor speech and diction. Drives me crazy.

    • Sailor Sam

      When there is only a little alternative, Rongotai voters wouldbe mad to dump her.

  • Positan

    She turns me off completely. Her radio spots with Hosking and Joyce almost always result in making wonder why such Labour doesn’t attempt to front with someone else – but maybe she’s . She blurts, babbles and often talks nonsense – it usually being patently obvious she lacks any sort of grasp of the elements of the contestable point she’s up against. To his credit, Joyce often allows her screeched interruptions to go unchallenged, submitting only a quiet comment when she’s out of breath. She’s so elementally Labour – convinced that all she and her lot have to do is manage to win the reins and everything will flow from there. A successful party needs financial, economic and administrational competence on top of practical, acceptable policies and a reasoning outlook. With members like King, Labour doesn’t even manage to get on to the score card.