City MP firmly behind Cunliffe
'Hugely talented guy' with Prime Minister potentialMATHEW GROCOTT
Palmerston North's Labour MP has come out squarely in support of David Cunliffe as his party's next leader.
Not only did Iain Lees-Galloway appear alongside Mr Cunliffe as he announced his candidacy for the leadership in Auckland yesterday, he was also one of two MPs to sign the nomination form.
Mr Lees-Galloway described Mr Cunliffe as "a hugely talented guy" with the potential to be prime minister.
"David has the knowledge, experience and community connection to be a great prime minister.
"David is innovative, inspirational and inclusive and that's the kind of leadership New Zealand really needs."
Mr Lees-Galloway was one of several MPs who supported Mr Cunliffe when he announced he was seeking the Labour Party leadership. He will go up against deputy leader Grant Robertson and long-time MP Shane Jones.
Mr Cunliffe said in a prepared statement yesterday that he had sought the advice of colleagues, supporters and family and been "humbled by the response".
"Their view is that I can bring together a party and a government that provides a strong, clear voice for fairness, inclusion and prosperity to be shared by all. I believe that now is the right time to answer that call."
Mr Lees-Galloway said whoever won the leadership would have his support.
"We are lucky to have three exceptional people standing for the Labour leadership."
Mr Lees-Galloway had previously kept his preference for party leader close to his chest. In 2011, when David Shearer was elected, he would not say who he had voted for.
The other MP to sign Mr Cunliffe's nomination form was Nanaia Mahuta.
This year, for the first time, Labour Party members, as well as union delegates, will have a say in deciding who the leader will be.
As part of that process, Labour's central region branches will hold a joint meeting for members to vote.
Labour Palmerston North branch president Liam Rutherford said he had hoped Palmerston North would host that meeting, however it was announced this morning that the meeting would take place in Otaki.
Mr Rutherford said while he expected some members would "follow Iain's lead" and vote for Mr Cunliffe, members would hold a range of views.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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