Little saved from embarrassment
By Richard Harman (author)
Former Labour Party President and MP Maryan Street last night announced she would not take up the vacant list seat after Jacinda Ardern switches from Labour's list to the Mt Albert electorate at the weekend --- assuming, of course, that she wins the by-election.
Street is the next name on Labour’s list.
Instead the seat will be taken up by Raymond Huo who was a Labour list MP from 2008 – 2014.
The move avoids a potential embarrassment after Street’s criticism of Andrew Little promoting Willie Jackson for the list.
Street posted a Facebook post unfavourably comparing the announcement about Jackson with the selection of her replacement to contest the Nelson electorate, Rachel Boyack.
“She is a great candidate - got there on merit, through hard work, loyalty to the Party and trusted activism,” she said.
“Not through shoulder-tapping or list-jigging.”
Party President, Nigel Haworth said he had discussed the situation with Street but denied that the party had placed any pressure on her to stand down.
Even so it is a win-win for Labour.
A strongly feminist MP (Street) does not get added to the caucus while a Chinese New Zealander does.
Street’s decision was drawing praise last night, not least from Haworth who told POLITIK she was an old and close friend.
He said there had "absolutely not" been any ypressure on her not to take the seat up.
“She obviously had the option, but she's got a really important job at KiwiRail (Employment Relations Manager), and I think it would have been a great loss to KiwiRail and to Maryan had she come back into Parliament.”
On her Facebook post, she put it slightly differently.
I have thought long and hard about this choice and have decided that I can be just as effective on issues dear to me outside Parliament as inside - perhaps even more so," she wrote.
She said she looked forward to advancing her campaign for legalised euthanasia.
She was supported by her one of her successors as Party President, Mike Williams.
“While I know how incredibly dedicated and valuable you are inside Parliament,” he posted.
“I absolutely love the fact that a) you have discovered weekends, and b) you have full non-partisan freedom to pursue the things you feel most deeply about. More power to you Maryan. Good choice.”
A number of current and former Labour female MPs also posted their support.
Labour Leader Andrew Little was unavailable for comment last night but what Street’s decision surely means is that the battle over Jackson is over and that the party have fallen in behind their Leader.
But if Labour could feel relieved that this had happened it would not have been so relaxed about the announcement in Whangarei that the Mana Party and the Maori Party had done an electorate deal which effectively withdraws Mana candidates from six of the seven Maori electorates while Mana’s Hone Harawira will face no Maori Party opposition in Te Tai Tokerau.
Haworth said he hadn't given it "a moment's thought."
But the Prime Minister Bill English had.
“The Maori Party has been a sometimes challenging but always constructive coalition partner now for nine years,” he told his weekly press conference.
“It has made fantastic progress on the issues that they campaign on and they have changed the way Government operates.
“Now they seem to me to be looking for ways to get more electoral reward for that but it's up to them whatever deals they do.
“We have worked with them well and would like to continue working with them in the future.”
If the deal had applied last election then Hone Harawira would have won Te Tai Tokerau and the Maori Party would have won Tamaki Makaurau; Te Tai Hauauru and the seat it holds, Waiariki.
That would have been a loss of three seats to Labour. What will also worry Labour will be if the Maori Party can increase its list vote at Labour’s expense.
All of yesterday's events underline one fact, and that is that the general election is now only seven months away.