Dyson not to be one of Labour list MPs

HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 05:00 20/05/2014
ruth dyson
DON SCOTT/ Fairfax NZ
CHRISTCHURCH MP: Ruth Dyson.

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Ruth Dyson, Labour's longest-serving Christchurch MP, has decided not to take a place on the party's list.

Labour general-secretary Tim Barnett confirmed Dyson, who holds the Port Hills electorate, had told the party she was withdrawing from the list selection process.

Dyson has dropped down the Labour Party rankings in a series of reshuffles, from No 5 under former leader Phil Goff in 2011, to recently being demoted by David Cunliffe to 28 (out of 34), behind the likes of Kelvin Davis.

Davis is not yet even an MP but will return to the Capital when Shane Jones leaves Parliament.

Barnett said it was "not unusual" for MPs not to chase list placings.

As the MP for Christchurch Central between 1996 and 2008, Barnett never had a list placing. Former MP Stuart Nash has also announced he will not seek a list placing as he pursues the Napier electorate.

Dyson's move was announced at a regional list selection meeting in Christchurch on Sunday, which Barnett said was "relaxed". He believed the move was tactical, with Port Hills always a tightly contested seat.

"It's not unusual for somebody in a seat which is going to be a pretty tight, hard race to focus entirely on being an electorate candidate," Barnett said.

"My sense [speaking to Dyson] was the consideration was entirely about the electorate . . . It's always been a tight seat for the 20 years that she's been there; it's the nature of that part of the city."

Dyson, Labour's earthquake recovery spokeswoman, did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.

The seat selection process has been fraught in the past for Labour. In 2011 West Coast MP Damien O'Connor elected not to take a place on the list, saying the selection process was run by "self-serving unionists and a gaggle of gays".

At the time O'Connor was a list MP but subsequently won the West Coast-Tasman seat back from National's Chris Auchinvole.

An MP since 1993, having previously been the Labour Party president, Dyson was given ministerial portfolios when Labour formed a government in 1999, but resigned a year later when she was convicted of drink-driving. She returned to the Cabinet in 2001 and was social development minister when Labour lost power in 2008.

She has been selected to stand for the party in the Port Hills electorate in the September election.

In 2011 she won the Hills seat with a majority of just over 3000 votes from National MP David Carter. Since the election he has since gone on to become Speaker of the House and will go into the election only on National's list. National is yet to name its candidate for the seat.

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In the party vote, National won more than 5000 votes more than Labour. A redrawing of the electoral boundaries has changed the seat substantially, although commentators have differed over whether National or Labour benefit from the changes.

- The Press

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