Whether it limps along to 2008 or not, Helen Clark will not be leader of the Labour Party within three years. Caucus must be looking at each other and considering who the successor could be... so I thought I'd go through some of them:
- Michael Cullen. Well he could, but he's part of the same tired generation, ex. Cabinet Ministers..
and that's where it ended. Phil Goff of course succeeded and did an admirable job of ensuring Labour couldn't move beyond its core. David Shearer has repeated this, despite being a rather decent chap, and now it is Silent T.
Labour's problem is quite fundamental. Nowadays it touts class warfare and mild xenophobic rhetoric in the hope it can win support from the neo-Marxist Greens and the fear-mongering NZ First, but none of this is new.
Until it can be innovative, and seek to advocate more than just the usual formula of more government spending and regulation, it faces being outdone on that front by the Greens, and being seen as relatively uninteresting. Meanwhile, the Nats can always say it is risky to vote for Labour because you'll get whacky Green policies with it - and despite the lack of serious scrutiny of the Greens, most voters run a mile from their politics.
National meanwhile is playing the semi-Muldoonist "safe pair of hands" approach, so that a plurality of voters are happy not to rock the boat.
So Labour looks like getting relatively nowhere in the 2014 general election, hoping only that the Nats might have to get into bed with Winston Peters, which ought to poison the Nats enough to give Labour a reasonable run at power in 2017 or sooner.
It's hardly an inspiring strategy.