so the big thing for labour party members over the next couple of weeks is the caucus leadership vote. it's certainly been getting a lot of media coverage, and that can only be a good thing. i've just watched the closeup thing online, with the three davids & i thought they all did really well.
being a labour party member, i can say that i "know" at least two of these davids reasonably well, having interacted with them regarding policy as well as at various labour party events. that would be davids parker and cunliffe. i've met shearer once i think, and can't say i know anything much about him at all, other than what's in the public sphere. i did some door-knocking to support his campaign and to get out the vote when the mt albert by-election was on, but was too busy on the days i was in auckland to be able to have a chat.
it now turns out that david parker has pulled out and again i see that as a good thing. i think mr parker is hugely talented and extremely intelligent. he's certainly an extremely valuable member of the labour caucus, and a great debater. in fact, the last interaction i had with him involved a rip-roaring debate on the burqa at the event to launch nz book month. the fact that i don't see him as being the leader of the party is more based on gut-feeling than anything else.
david cunliffe is also hugely intelligent, hugely talented and also very sharp. i think he'd make an excellent leader. arrogant? i haven't personally found him to be so. in fact i've found him to be very easy-going and friendly, reasonably open and good at getting things done. he's also an excellent debater and performs really well in the house. i think he'd make a really good leader.
about mr shearer, i couldn't say one way or the other, at least not based on personal experience. when i look at the kinds of people who are currently supporting him, including lew & danyl, i have to say i'm not particularly impressed. the thing is that the people who are supporting him now will be the first people to rip into him as soon as he actually is leader (if he wins), which is why i'm not really prepared to place much value on what they're saying. still, i'm not likely to be influenced against him because of that lot, any more than i would be influenced towards. he might well make a good leader - i just don't know him well enough to make that call.
grant robertson is another MP who i have a lot of time for. he's so thoroughly decent, capable & also highly intelligent. i've worked with him on a pretty thorny issue as well as co-chaired with him on a committee, and found him really easy to work with. i've also found him to be extremely principled. he hasn't put himself forward this time around - at least not yet.
but it needs to be said - these are all white men. very capable white me to be sure, but it's still a pity that there aren't any women in the race for the leadership. that's a problem that the party needs to be concerned about - the development and promotion of it's very capable women MPs.
the only woman we've seen mentioned at all is nanaia mahuta, who will be deputy leader if mr cunliffe is successful. now i do know nanaia reasonably well, seeing as hauraki-waikato is in our region and i come across her pretty often. i think she's an excellent choice. she has experience and she's extremely capable. she's been a minister and performed well in that role (i dealt with her both as minister of customs and minister of youth affairs, and found her to be helpful and willing to listen). she was on labour's front bench. she's also great in the house. i saw her in action in her local community at the funeral of te arikinui dame te atairangikaahu. she was seemed to be managing affairs and working extremely hard.
nanaia has had a low profile in the last couple of years and that's by choice. she had suffered the loss of a baby in 2008, but carried on to fight the 2008 election and retain her seat. she had taken the risk of not being on the party list in 2008, so that she could have a clear mandate from her electorate. that she got, even though the maori party had taken all but one of the other maori seats, that of parkura horomia. since then, she has given birth to a lovely baby boy, and it's not surprising that she didn't want the pressure of the front bench just after giving birth.
she's retained her seat again in 2011 with a bigger majority. she's now ready to take up the role of deputy leader, and when it comes to merit, she has plenty of it. she's another person who is full of integrity, she's not afraid to speak out, and she has won some real gains for her constituents. aside from the fact that i would naturally be really happy to see a woman of colour in such a position, i can also say that i'd be really happy to see this particular person in the position. she fully deserves it and i'm sure will do really well if she were to get the job.
so at the moment, the one thing swinging me towards supporting mr cunliffe is that he has chosen nanaia to be his deputy. it's both a brave and a smart choice. brave particularly given the way that minorities are open to attack just for being part of a minority group. smart because he's chosen someone who really is capable of doing the job well. it's also good in terms of appealing to both women and maori voters. and if there's one thing no-one has been talking about, it's the importance of labour winning back the women's vote. simply picking nanaia won't do it, but once nanaia gets into her stride, backed by a strong labour women's caucus, i think it can be done.