Rudman on Goff and Mt Albert by-election

by Jake Quinn

The NZ Herald’s Brian Rudman delves into the Mt Albert By-election with a few interesting comments about how David Shearer had local LEC support in Waitakere in 2002 but head office/the unions swooped in and backed Pillay…

The most interesting aspect of the byelection so far has been new Labour leader Phil Goff’s hands-on involvement in selecting his party’s candidate. It was as though he was emphasising to even newer party president and engineers union boss Andrew Little just who was the alpha male.

Party leaders traditionally leave candidate selection to the party organisation. Publicly at least. You want all the party faithful supporting you, not just the ones you engineered into seats. But this time, Mr Goff actively promoted his old school mate and one-time foreign affairs adviser, Mr Shearer, from the start.

He met candidates and attended the selection meeting. Perhaps he remembered Mr Shearer’s failed attempt to gain nomination in Waitakere for the 2002 election. He took a break from his United Nations job on that occasion, too, and managed to gain the support of the local organisation.

However, he missed out on selection when a strong contingent of engineers union affiliate members arrived at the meeting to vote for one of their union organisers, Lynne Pillay.

Despite mutterings from some local Mt Albert party members about being heavied into supporting Mr Goff’s candidate, the leader appears to have pulled off not just getting his man selected, but also asserting his position as top of Labour’s heap. Now all he has to do is win the byelection.

Otherwise he’ll be in deep schtuck, with no one to blame but himself.