Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Labour Succession

Chris Trotter's column in The Independent this week considers what might have been if Helen Clark's Piper Aztec had crashed who would succeed her? The four main candidates seem to be Cullen, Maharey, Goff, and Wilson, with Cullen likely emerging as the compromise candidate, and Labour policy continuing much as it is. But the question isn't just limited to disaster scenarios - nobody lasts forever, and Clark will move on eventually. However, it is an open question whether it will be a retirement while still in office, or following the eventual election defeat.

In each of these scenarios, the result is likely to be rather different. If Clark tries to arrange an orderly succession in office (as both John Howard and Tony Blair are rumoured to be planning in the next few years), the emphasis will be on continuity and stability, meaning that her successor would probably be someone like Cullen. But if she resigns or is rolled after losing at the polls, all bets are off. There will be a push for change, for a move away from electorally unsuccessful policies (even though a defeat may simply be due to electorally unsuccessful people, "the same tired old faces" if the government fails to renew itself) - which may initially give Goff an opportunity. But if National is still dominated by Revolutionaries and begins implementing a 90's-style radical free-market programme, there would be an obvious push to provide more left-wing policies - and more left-wing leadership - in response.

[Note that due to The Independent's lack of online archives, the above link is likely to point somewhere else within a week]


He's been around for a long time and is the most prominent member of Labour's "right faction". He'd be the natural person they'd put forward.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 4/25/2005 11:26:00 AM

I was surprised by just how personable Goff is when I finally met him recently. He has a real presence and is certainly seen by the Labour Right as their best bet for leader - they must know that disunity is their biggest enemy in a caucus (and a party) where they are already outnumbered, so Goff will be the go until he is either unsuccessful or loses his touch.

Posted by Span : 4/26/2005 11:49:00 AM

I understand Goff would be the preference as successor by many who identify as National or ACT. But why? Ideological closeness only.

Having met him on a few occasions I disagree with Span about any 'presence'. He comes across as smarmy as maharey and would perform as poorly as him as leader.

After Clark labour are going to fight terribly, many will be happy with the 'third right' direction the govt has been taking, while others will want to return to the left where the party came from. Overlay a few other factions and I'm looking forward to the rumble.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/26/2005 12:53:00 PM