Hamilton to give Labour candidates a rark-up

BENN BATHGATE AND ELTON SMALLMAN
Last updated 10:57 07/11/2014
Labour candidates
Fairfax NZ

THE CONTENDERS: From left, Grant Robertson, Nanaia Mahuta, David Parker and Andrew Little.

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The Labour Party is in a political fight for its very life, with a boffin, an underdog, a grumpy unionist and a beltway plotter all vying to lead it out of the rubble of election defeat.

That's the opinion of TV3's political editor Patrick Gower as he prepares for a televised debate to be filmed at Hamilton's Clarence St Theatre tonight and broadcast on The Nation on Saturday at 9.30am and Sunday at 10am.

The four leadership candidates got a chance to impress at a Hamilton hustings meeting this week but tonight, Gower wanted a different audience in front of them.

"We're deliberately working hard to get people who aren't Labour," he said. "We want as many people to come along, for want of a better description, to give the four Labour candidates a good old Hamilton rark-up."

Grant Robertson related well to people but the rugby references had worn thin and he was a plotter, while Andrew Little was a staunch but grumpy union guy. David Parker was a policy wonk and Nanaia Mahuta an underdog on home turf. For the contenders, unity, economic development, regional development, and policies with wider voter appeal were the main buzzwords ahead of a closed-door meeting with party members in Rotorua this week.

They sang from the same hymn sheet on the topic of Labour disunity - perceived or real - and the damage it did to the party at the last election.

"There was definitely a perception around that which didn't do us any favours. We can't dance around that, we have to face that head on," Mahuta said.

Robertson was equally emphatic."What caused the biggest damage? We weren't unified. They [voters] wrote us off."

Parker said the party had drifted from its core values in an attempt "to be all things to all people," and Little highlighted the adverse impact of policies he said had been a turn off for voters, citing plans to raise the Super entitlement age and imposing a capital gains tax. Fairfax NZ

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