Nash denies being frogmarched from office

TRACY WATKINS
Last updated 05:00 27/04/2012
Stuart Nash
Stuart Nash: Eyeing up a seat in Parliament.

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The Labour leader's office appears to be in turmoil after David Shearer's chief of staff abruptly left Wellington.

Former Labour MP Stuart Nash, who has been in the job just a few months, was seen leaving Parliament yesterday after a meeting with Mr Shearer's incoming chief of staff Alistair Cameron. He later confirmed that he would be working on projects from his home in Napier for the next couple of weeks. He is due to finish on May 31.

Mr Nash rejected suggestions he had been "frogmarched" out of the building or given orders to clear his desk but his abrupt departure coincides with rising conflict in the Labour Party over Mr Shearer's continued poor polling and lack of a clear strategy.

Some of that conflict has been laid bare in leaks to a Right-wing blog that could only have come from either senior MPs or highly placed members of the leadership team.

As reported by The Dominion Post this month, Mr Nash resigned as chief of staff just three months into the job after stark differences began to emerge over whether Mr Shearer should be taking the lead on a higher range of issues in order to raise his profile.

It is understood matters came to a head at a meeting between Mr Nash, chief spin doctor Fran Mold and other members of the senior leadership team the week before Mr Nash confirmed his resignation on April 12.

Ms Mold pushed for a higher profile for Mr Shearer on a broader range of issues, while Mr Nash favoured a more presidential approach for the leader.

Mr Nash's departure will only fuel speculation over the ambitions of his deputy, Grant Robertson, who has been forced to deny interest in the leadership after some key appoinments were filled by Robertson allies.

Mr Cameron, a Wellington-based lawyer and Aids Foundation Trust chairman, is a former adviser to Labour MP Marian Hobbs, in whose office Mr Robertson also worked. Another appointment seen as "Robertson-friendly" included his former Wellington Central campaign manager Patrick Leyland and there are suggestions Jordan Carter is poised to replace Chris Flatt as party secretary.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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