The quite sudden but not unexpected resignation of the boss yesterday from the leadership of the parliamentary wing of the NZLP has trigged, for the first time in full from the get go, the complicated system put in place to prevent unwanted destablising machinations in a challenge for the top job.
When Phil Goff went overboard after the last election, this system was employed in a more limited way that had a travelling circus on the road to get the feel of the membership but the outcome that saw David Shearer rise had more to do with the broader ABC, anybody but Cunliffe, sentiment than the best candidate rising to the top
To succeed Mr Shearer, a successfull candidate needs to garner enough support from three structural groups within the party:-
From the caucus weighted at 40%;
from the membership weighted at 40%;
and probably the most restricting facet, the affiliated unions weighted at 20%.
Viewed simply, any two ensure success if total support of the two is forthcoming, and that is where it really gets muddied.
The Unions are the major source of funding so they need to be placated by both the other two. The membership as it is in most 'teams', is not close enough to the inner workings of the caucus to realistically grasp the values and abilities of a candidate.
Then, there is the Caucus, where labour has a serious problem with factions; rainbow, union, feminist, left, right, socialist, liberal and conservative and all the alchemic content and ego driven variables within that which become factors bringing influence.
The philosophy that spawned the widely panned idiocy that became known as the Man Ban is still looming large and apart from the inexperienced Adern and the conversly career twilight King, being mentioned by most, the rest are men and one not certain. Will they go to the GP model since adopted by the Maori Party and have co-leaders.
One legacy that Ms Clark bequeathed to the NZLP for which they are still paying the price, was the ruthless destruction of any of her caucus exhibiting leadership ambitions.
It is as if there is a group who would wish to be the Admiral from a shallow puddle of talent, at the present time they are struggling to even find where that puddle is actually located.