Feb 26, 2008

Labour's Leadership Woes

John Armstrong looks at the Labour leadership in today's NZ Herald. He suggests that the weekend polls and the Dominion Post's brutal front page coverage has had huge impact and caused members of the caucus to think the unthinkable. He doesn't think that Goff will mount a challenge until after the election.

No one is yet putting the words "Clark" and "leadership challenge" in the same sentence despite a horrid week for the governing party followed by a horrible poll. Combined with the accompanying "Poll-axed" headline, it all added up to a massive kick in the guts for Labour morale.

Labour's big fear is that should the leadership genie get well and truly out of the bottle, it will be impossible to stuff it back in.

It would be a disaster for Labour if Clark's leadership, which has been seen as an electoral strength, suddenly became a weakness through continued speculation on possible coups and challenges.

There was obvious Beehive nervousness yesterday about the possibility of that happening, with Clark cutting short questions on the subject at her weekly post-Cabinet press conference.

On a Goff challenge we would not rule it out completely in the next two months if the polls keep heading downwards for Labour, and as many MPs see potential unemployment as a result. However, should there be a change prior to the election we think a caretaker leader is more likely - Michael Cullen. It would be a huge risk, but Cullen hasn't turned the electorate off in the same way Clark has. And wouldn't a short stint at PM be the perfect way to cap off one's career in politics?

As we noted yesterday, don't write off Shane Jones. He is up to something.