Article Title:Comment: King thereafter?
Author or Credit:Craig Young
Published on:15th September 2013 - 09:52 pm
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Story ID:13943
Text:Grant Robertson MP And so, David Cunliffe has won the Labour leadership contest decisively, with a little over half (51.5%) of the primary vote, while Grant Robertson reaped almost one third (32.97%) and Shane Jones trailed the field (15.88%). So, why did this result occur? To be frank, there were probably many other reasons than merely residual homophobia. One is that unlike Cunliffe and Jones, Robertson currently lacks ministerial experience, and Cunliffe also had stronger name recognition and a higher media profile, as well as admittedly being a highly effective communicator. Moreover, it might well be the case that Shane Jones' candidacy split the "anti-Cunliffe" vote, as one suspects that many Maori Labour members quite understandably wanted a Maori parliamentary party leader and despite one or two minor blemishes on his political record, Jones would have been an eminently qualified candidate for that role had things been different.  As for the party supposedly being unready for an out lesbian or gay leader, Robertson attracted one third of the primary votes. In any case, Helen Clark served two terms as Labour Deputy Leader under Geoffrey Palmer and Mike Moore before she became Labour leader, so might history repeat itself? Even if Robertson isn't appointed as Cunliffe's deputy leader, he is now an obvious successor should Cunliffe not work out at the next New Zealand General Election in 2014. Certainly, Cunliffe and Robertson seem to agree on many party policies, so one would expect a unity ticket to harness those synergies. Note that I am not saying that Cunliffe will necessarily lose next year, and I am referring to a potential contingency only.  Cunliffe is an Auckland-based urban liberal and neither he, nor his supporters, could remotely be described as homophobic. Indeed, most centre-left LGBT supporters that I've informally discussed that with have said to me that they would vote for a Cunliffe-led Labour Party, although many also hoped that Robertson would remain on as Deputy Leader. Now that this distraction is out of the way, Labour needs to get on with the urgent task of focusing on policy development and taking back the Treasury benches in 2014. Craig Young - 15th September 2013    
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