Labour leadership: working out how to vote

Every time I’ve talked to a friend or a Labour member or supporter over the last couple of weeks, I’ve asked them who they thought would be the best choice for leader amongst the four people who are standing. People aren’t quite sure, yet. One friend, Ashley Willis, who had a LARGE billboard on his fence during the campaign (thank you, Ashley!) sent me a very thoughtful e-mail, most of which I’m reproducing here, with his permission.

It was good to see you today, I have also been thinking about what you asked about who I would select out of the 4 running for leader of the Labour party well I have really looked at it and I don’t know if this well help you much or not but what I looked at was the following:

  • Which one is capable of not just debating in the chamber but who can be strong and confident and show dominance over John Keys and the opposition parties.
  • Which one has the ability to push and push the opposition for truthful answers and make them accountable for the promises they have made as well as for the consequences to any actions that has been made this includes within Labour too.
  • Which one is able to keep the media such as the reporters in check as you do with a child who is rude and interrupts you or treats you with no respect they must be able to control the interview not let the reporters try and control any interview.
  • I also looked at which one has the right personality to be a leader and which ones are clear followers or are sheep as well as which ones would have the ability to work with other members of the Labour party and will not allow the responsibility of the leader position to change who they are or let the power go to their heads.

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I’ve found this very helpful in terms of thinking about who to vote for.

A few other thoughts. In the course of my conversations with Ashley and with other Labour friends and supporters, different people have offered thoughtful, reasoned support for each of the four contenders. What this tells me is that the leadership of the party is something about which reasonable people may reasonably disagree, and that each of us sees different strengths in the four candidates.

This is why I think it’s good that we are using STV. It means that we will vote for preferences, acknowledging that if my first preference is not elected, then perhaps it will be my second preference. The system encourages me to recognise that each of the candidates has real strengths, and that more than one of them could be a good leader for our party.

But there’s one thing that’s got me a little irked. Each of the candidates has spoken of the need for unity, and of their capacity to create that unity. Sometimes they talk of it with respect to the party, and sometimes the caucus.

With respect, Andrew, Grant, David and Nanaia, the problem is not the party, or at least, not here in Region 3 (lower central Te Ika a Maui – North Island). We worked hard together on the campaign, as a team, and we’ve worked hard together over the last few years, on policy and campaigns and fundraising. Many of us feel just a little dismayed by the vicious infighting and nastiness within caucus, for which caucus must take responsibility. Don’t imply that it’s the party’s fault.

We’ve got a hustings meeting in Palmerston North tonight. 7.30pm at the Community Leisure Centre, 569 Ferguson St. If you’re a party member, I hope to see you there. If you’re not, you can sign up at the door. At this stage, new members won’t be able to vote, but feel free to bend my ear and offer opinions about how I should cast my vote.

A personal note – my eldest daughter joined the party as soon as she was able to (NB: her decision, not mine), and that means that even though she wasn’t old enough to vote in the general election, she’s able to cast a vote in the Labour leadership election. Her voting log-in and PIN arrived a couple of days ago, and she’s very pleased to be able to vote. I have NOT offered her my opinion about who to vote for, and I’m trying to enable her to make a decision very much free from parental pressure. So I have not talked to her about her vote, and she’s comparatively unemcumbered by prior experience within the party.  I’ll be very interested to hear her opinion after the meeting tonight.

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