Courage from David Cunliffe

16:00, Feb 27 2014

Labour Party leader David Cunliffe has shown extraordinary courage with his appointment of Matt McCarten as his new chief of staff.

Labour has been languishing in the polls and the only bright light for them has been the performance of Shane Jones.

It's well known that Mr Cunliffe has not had the majority support within his caucus and Mr McCarten with his no-nonsense tough guy approach will be seen as the man who can pull them together.

The appointment of Mr McCarten has now clearly defined where Labour is coming from Matt is the most well-known left wing activist in the country.

Labour have been reluctant to be seen as a left wing party, in fact they have comfortably straddled the centre of the political spectrum which is seen by most experts as the position where you must be if you want to be the government.

The appointment then of Mr McCarten is surprising but I can only assume that Mr Cunliffe has run out of options on how to unite his caucus and make a dent in the polls which are looking like they did when David Shearer was in charge.


His caucus though will have to come to terms with Matt's appointment quickly, there are a number of right wingers in there and many of them would have been shocked by the appointment.

So the next couple of weeks will be crucial in terms of how the rest of the election year will map out for Labour.

If Cunliffe's MPs accept the appointment then Labour have a real chance of challenging this National government.

If however they revolt then Labour will be doomed to opposition for another three years. I'm hopeful that Labour take this opportunity.

I probably know Matt's skill as well as anyone he has been a very close friend and political colleague of mine for more than 30 years I was an MP in the Alliance with him when he was the party boss and strategist.

While he has a tough guy image I have always found him to be a brilliant strategist and a person who will fight for the underdog.

While there are no doubts about his respect among workers the right wingers in his party should not worry about his relationship with the business sector many who support Labour.

Matt has a record of working with big business and achieving deals he knows how and when to compromise. He has shown that with some of his big union contracts and when the Alliance went into coalition with Labour.

He is not a left wing fundamentalist but a realist and pragmatist and maybe the person who can turn the tide for a Labour Party who have been on the back foot for far too long.

Manukau Courier