Sue Foley

A little look at history


New Zealand politics is a funny thing, everywhere you look there is historical pointers as to what may happen next.

Take David Shearer’s change of chief of staff. In what some are describing as a “back to the future” moment, Fran Mold has replaced Alastair Cameron.

What does history tell us?

Well let’s look at the National party.

After the 2002 election debacle Bill English’s chief of staff was  Sue Foley. She was replaced by Richard Long ultimately.

Shortly after that Don Brash announced he was taking out Bill English, who famously used David Farrar to do his numbers. David’s counting was a bit off, and Don Brash rolled Bill English.

Richard Long remained Brash’s chief of staff until replaced by Wayne Eagleson. Shortly after that John Key toppled Don Brash. Wayne Eagleson is still John Key’s chief of staff.

So what does this mean for Labour? Well we can discount the role of Stuart Nash as chief of staff, it was too short and after numerous fights with Fran Mold he left in disgust. Alistair Cameron was the replacement and he lasted a year. Now Fran Mold is back, but whose chief of staff is she?

It would seem that a change of chief of staff signals a change of leadership. We watch and wait with interest.

So who is Alistair Cameron? Shearer’s new Chief of Staff

News is everywhere that David Shearer has officially selected Alistair Cameron as his new Chief of Staff.  Or has he?

From where I sit it looks very much as though Grant Robertson has selected HIS new Chief of Staff.

Let’s have a look at a few aspects of Alistair and you decide if he is ‘somewhat’ aligned to Robertson:

  1. Worked with Robertson in Beehive days
  2. Was the architect of Teletubby Hobbs’ train wreck (Oooh, can’t wait for that with Shearer)
  3. Is an active member of the rainbow faction
  4. Is great personal friends with Robertson and his partner, Alf.

Oh yes, he sounds like a Chief of Staff who will have the best interests of Labour’s Leader at heart. Or should that be the Deputy Leader?

Let’s then look at his suitability for the role.


  • Grant’s mate


  • a lawyer specialising in ETS and climate change
  • Questionable political management skills as was part of Hobbs trainwreck
  • Close friend of Robertson so will undermine Shearer’s leadership
  • No mongrel
  • Chair of AIDS Foundation
  • Never worked in Opposition

It should be noted that in recent political history that a change of Chief of Staff has always preceded a coup.

Bill English had Sue Foley and then briefly Glenda Hughes before Richard Long came in. Shortly there after Don Brash knifed Bill English.

Richard Long remained as Chief of Staff until Wayne Eagleson replaced him and then John Key knifed Don Brash.

So there is certainly a political precedent for a change of Chief of Staff leading shortly thereafter to a coup. The interesting part therefore is upon, that is the the coup…which is certainly shaping up to be a 3 way battle between Shearer, Robertson and Cunliffe.

Time to invest in popcorn futures.