Dear Labour Party - don't screw up the leadership decision
Phil Goff, the most humble Prime Minister NZ never had is doing the honorable thing by falling on his sword in the wake of the 27% result.
He fought a bloody hard campaign and despite being written off as a bloated political corpse by the entire mainstream media, he performed far better than the pundits and right wing attack blogs had predicted.
But performing better than expected can't save him from the inevitable, and in this Goff is showing real leadership.
The problem for Goff was that he never fought to win the leadership, while handing him the crown might have saved the Party from in-fighting post Helen's loss, political power can never be given, it has to be taken and in this regard the head long rush by some in the Labour Party to ram through a quick process is the worst possible outcome from the grace Goff has created.
The Labour Party need to breath through their nose and allow the leadership battle to take place over the Summer because this leadership selection is vital if the left are to have any chance of winning 2014 and fighting the vast swath of change Key will claim is his mandate.
The conclave of Labour must decide no who has the backing of Labour's factions, those factions need to work out who can beat Key in 2014 and to beat Key in 2014 you need someone who can do two things:
1: Appeal to the soft centre of National
2: Inspire voters who made this the worst election turn out in 120 years to re-engage.
The only time during the campaign that I heard Labour Party rank and file sound excited during the election was when Cunliffe was performing well in the media. He is sharp, brilliant and the right intellect to go one on one with Key, in fact Key's endorsement in itself yesterday suggests that's the leader National least want to fight.
Having Nanaia Mahuta as Deputy would be genius, however she will have to work on her apparent coldness in the media.
That leaves what to do with Shearer, as his rising star should be used to boost this team. Could he do Finance? With the world economy on the brink and austerity around the corner, the portfolio of Finance will come to be seen as pivotal and if Labour focus on rebuilding the middle class as their mantra, Shearer could create a narrative for voters that goes beyond the impenetrable jargon of economics.
To boost blue collar credentials, Lianne Dalziel needs to be front bench and the intellect of Chauvel and talent of Moana Mackey need to be better utilized as well.
This selection process must deliver a team that can seriously beat Key rather than a decision that hopes voters will have tired of Key.
Labour needs to inspire NZers to beat National, hoping Key loses 2014 rather than winning it is not a strategy.