Labour's first shot backfires

GLENN CONWAY
Last updated 05:00 02/04/2014

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Labour's high hopes of gaining traction in the National stronghold of Ilam got off to a false start yesterday.

OPINION: The day started off promisingly, with two nominees - Riccarton-Wigram Community Board member Debbie Mora and Left-wing blogger James Dann - set to contest a selection meeting next week.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has held the Ilam seat since 1996 and, while Labour is unlikely to win the seat, the party had hoped to target it and make the contest there a referendum on the Government's handling of the quake recovery and Brownlee's role.

A week may be a long time in politics but try 17 hours.

That's the time between Mora's campaign team proudly announcing, through a press release, that she wanted to be the first female to represent Ilam and a brief email, from the same source, saying Mora was out of contention because of "unforeseen circumstances".

Mora said her campaign manager, Luc Chandler, was "a bit over-eager" in sending out the first release last night.

She had wanted him to hold off for 24 hours - a sensible move considering she was sorting out a possible medical operation.

But then it got even worse when news of Mora leaving the race was given to media - before Labour Party officials were told.

It leaves plenty of uncertainty over whether the selection process will continue with Dann the anointed candidate or if Labour will have to rethink and get some competition back into the race.

Mora, to her credit, was apologetic about the situation and probably wished she could take back the past 24 hours.

On the surface, it may appear to be an unfortunate blip on the political radar but it makes Labour and its party machine look disorganised, especially in a seat where they hoped to make a mark.

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