It's going to take a Goliath effort for David Cunliffe to roll John Key.
I reckon though, the new Labour leader may have just what it takes to become the next prime minister.
With the election at least 12 months away, Mr Cunliffe has more than enough time to pull together the many factions that make up the Labour Party.
They had more splinters than Tane Mahuta, but now that the leadership battle is over, there appears to be some unity in the party.
But there's still plenty of spadework for Mr Cunliffe to do.
I backed Shane Jones to be the leader but since then Mr Cunliffe has gone about the business of rebuilding the party and stamping his mark on it.
I would give Mr Cunliffe more chance of rolling Key than his predecessor David Shearer.
Mr Shearer was a great guy and had served New Zealand well as a civil servant. But at the end of the day he just didn't have it.
Mr Cunliffe definitely has it. In many ways his elevation to the leadership is quite astonishing.
He has been one of the most unpopular Labour MPs and that was reflected in the final leadership votes where only 11 of his 34 MPs voted for him.
But clearly the Labour Party membership had a different view.
The problem with Mr Cunliffe, it seems, has been that his fellow MPs felt they could not trust him.
They have seen him as an artificial tryhard and so the Anyone But Cunliffe Club was born.
Insiders have told media over the years that he would never be the leader because the resentment towards him was so intense.
But the reality now is that those same insiders are going to have to get over themselves if they want Labour to form the next government.
I recall vividly when I first met David Cunliffe. I went to Parliament with him in 1999 as a new MP and he came up and introduced himself to me attempting to talk Maori.
His Maori was so bad that I had no idea what he was talking about, but thinking back to that time, at least he made an effort and I think he was just trying to do the right thing.
He has made many mistakes since then within his own party in terms of personal relationships which led to a lot of the distrust in him, but to his credit he has fessed up to that and wants his opportunity. He deserves a chance.
While he might have been Mr Unpopular in his party, he has been an exceptional performer as a minister and MP.
He is a strong debater, a top orator and John Key will not be underrating him.
Labour would do well to back him.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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