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Corin Dann: Is Labour unity talk for real?


By Corin Dann, Political Editor

Published: 11:28AM Tuesday September 17, 2013 Source: ONE News

Not keeping Grant Robertson in the deputy leadership role of the Labour party will inevitably raise a few questions about just how strong all this post-election talk of unity really is.

Was rival candidate Robertson offered the job? Did he refuse it? Did he even want it?

It may take some time to find out as both Cunliffe and Robertson are adamant the decision to not make him deputy was arrived at mutually, whatever that means.

However I'd expect this debate about unity to fade pretty quickly.

Robertson will retain a front bench position and, as the beaten leadership candidate, he is in no position (if he does in fact still want to be leader one day) to cause any trouble for Cunliffe and defy the mandate of the wider rank and file members.

I have little doubt Robertson will swing in behind and support the new leader.

When looking at the big picture - the election battle next year - the decision to appoint David Parker as deputy makes sense in one way at least.

Putting the Finance spokesman at number 2 in the caucus is clear signal to the public of the importance that a Cunliffe-led Labour party will put on the economy.

And this is very important, as National will try to leverage its economic management in the campaign and paint Labour with the Greens as risky.

Labour must neutralise this attack line, especially if it is moving to the left on social issues and inequality.

Lacks charisma

Some will complain that Parker, whilst very strong on policy detail, he is not a great communicator in the finance role, and lacks the charisma to be in the leadership team.

Maybe. However, I don't think that matters, with Cunliffe they have the communicator leader (like Key) who can take it to the government on economic issues. Parker plays the role of the steady hand.

Taking a leaf out of Bill English's book he will stick to the basics, being boring when it comes to the Finance Minister is not necessarily as a bad thing.

The business community may not ever like Labour, but they will accept them (think Clark and Cullen) if they at least provide stability and consistency.

And remember Labour also have Shane Jones in the mix. Assuming he takes on Economic Development, they also then have a strong debater who can take on the more dynamic and aggressive Stephen Joyce.

He too can play the role of reaching out to the lost voters who have given up on Labour.

The lack of a female face in the two will disappoint some. Putting Jacinda Ardern in as deputy definitely had its appeal. She is young and talented.

However, Ardern will be high up on the front bench, possibly even at number 3 whilst Annette King could yet stay on the front bench.

Who knows, a bolter from Camp Cunliffe like Sue Moroney could also move up.

All eyes are now on the crucial front bench line up to be announced next week.

Do you agree? Comment below.