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Swallowing dead rats – now ditch Mallard

Trevor Mallard

By Duncan Garner, RadioLIVE Drive host  

They call it swallowing dead rats. And the ABC club have been chewing on them since about 2.30pm yesterday – when David Cunliffe won the leadership race.

The rats must taste like burnt tarseal – and these MPs will take some time to digest them. This club has actively blocked David Cunliffe’s path to the leadership for more than two years now. They have been open about their disdain for their new leader. But suddenly they are all preaching unity.

Which of course means, they are all now on their best behaviour, because they all want to keep their jobs. It’s a plea to Cunliffe, if he’s listening.

I’m not sure if the public will be fooled – but it’s certainly the right and only option. Cunliffe will need to tread carefully with his reshuffle and the ABC club – except for Trevor Mallard and Chris Hipkins.

Mallard’s time is up. The public tired of him years ago. He has been one of the main protagonists in the fight against Cunliffe. He should be dealt to. He has done his time in NZ politics.

He’s currently on the taxpayers tit living it up in San Fran – it should be his last trip. He’s done well out of NZ politics and it’s time he was moved on. I don’t see what he offers anymore.

He’s on a junket and taxpayers should be appalled. Cunliffe should shoulder tap him and tell him to start looking for relief teaching job in Hutt South after the next election. Labour needs to signal a fresh start under Cunliffe and getting rid of Mallard would do that.

And whip Chris Hipkins will have to go too. Cunliffe needs a whip he can trust. He can’t trust Hipkins, it’s as simple as that.

He will need to tread carefully with the other ABC members. Annette King, Phil Goff, Jacinda Ardern, Phil Twyford and, dare I say it, ABC Club President and life member, Clayton Cosgrove are all pretty good performers that can’t be ditched that easily. Cunliffe would be wise to keep them. And he needs to keep them to get this caucus firing.

The early signs from him look good: Labour must look united.

The public hates disunity. If you can’t manage your caucus – how can you manage your country?

Grant Robertson still wants to be deputy leader and if Cunliffe wants him then that’s a done deal come tomorrow’s caucus vote. If not, then expect Jacinda Ardern from the Robertson camp to take that slot.

I expect Labour to get a bounce in the polls and Cunliffe to get a honeymoon. But he will want to eat into John Key’s support, not just the Greens. Taking from the Greens will mean nothing. He must rip into the centre.

I worry about the expectations Cunliffe has raised amongst his supporters. He has signalled a strong left-wing agenda which I’m not sure even he believes in. He will be under pressure to deliver his union and party supporters something which meets their expectations. Expect some changes in the party’s employer-worker legislation.

But he’s not that anti-neo-liberal. Yes ,he is more hands-on than National, so expect a more interventionist approach from Cunliffe around the economy.

So well done David. I think we are in for quite some show.

Cunliffe understands the economy, he backs himself and he doesn’t suffer from a crisis of confidence - that’s a good thing. He should talk less about John Key and what he intends to do with him – and talk more about workers, real jobs, real economic growth and building communities.

This is Labour’s first chance since Helen Clark to show it can form a credible alternative Government. Cunliffe has a mandate from his party – he should use it wisely. Timing can be a gift in politics and he has been given that.

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