In an interview on Radio One this morning, incoming National List MP, failed Dunedin North candidate, and lover of short skirts Michael Woodhouse said that "the campaign for 20011 begins now". That the newly elected politician is showing such long-term fervour can only be constructive for the people of Dunedin. Woodhouse has also said he will set-up 'clinics' on the University of Otago campus for students to bring their concerns to him. He has also hinted - perhaps naiively - that he wants to push for editorial space in student magazine. What is a concern is that this long-term drive doesn't seem to be, in public at least, reciprocated by the Opposition Elect.
It wasn't foreshadowed, but it came as no surprise that Helen Clark stood down as leader of the Labour Party on Election Night. It showed her willingness to speed up the wound-licking process and get on with recovery. It's also no surprise that Phil Goff was announced as her successor. Recently in the United States Presidential race we saw the complementary partners approach at play in the selection of Vice-Presidential wannabes. A young black man chose an old white crank. An old white crank chose a retarded 'Hockey Mom'. The idea is to choose a running mate that provides properties that you lack, to broaden your potential support-base. What little speculation there was centred around people like David Cunliffe, to balance the left-right factions of the party, but two white men from Auckland was considered too narrow an image. Lianne Dalziel is female, Christchurch-based, and has a union background, with an almost creepy resemblance to Sarah Palin to combat the 'sick of her teeth' crowd. Instead, Labour went with Annette King.
It's not much of an ideological stretch to see King/Goff at the helm of the National Party, quite frankly. Touch on criminals? Why, it was Phil Goff as Justice Minister that made Legal Aid a loan, and introduced unqualified Court Registrars as defendants first point of contact within the court system, encouraging them to plead guilty in a nation-wide efficiency drive. Goff has already launched into apology mode - and I guess we now get to see where he and Clark differed in opinion.
This then leaves the centre-left hoping for either of two outcomes: this is a caretaker Labour leadership, priming someone like Cunliffe for 2014, or the Greens grow some left wings and eat into the traditional Labour support the way National pandered to their centrists this year. Over time this could leave the left without one major party, which is fine unless MMP gets biffed out over the next few years. Campaigning now for 2014 seems a bit defeatist, however realistic it may be, and Labour is asking a lot of it's traditional support base's patience if this is the case. Let us not forget the damage done between 1990 and 1996, damage not entirely undone by 2008.
Elsewhere, John Key's negotiations for forming a government may set an MMP record. Without the meandering of Winston Peter's, and associated re-arranging of baubles, National want this done in time for Key to swan off to Peru for APEC (can't wait to see his smug face beaming out of traditional Peruvian garb), and they have let everyone know this it would seem. The Maori Party, Act and United Future had all met with Key by early this week. The real question was how Tariana Turia was going to be able to uphold their noble proclamations of direct democracy. 'We will take any agreement to Maoridom, and let them decide' was always the angle. What Maoridom got this week were rushed hour-long meetings that refused to discuss the content of the deal, and simply asked for blind support from the masses.
Ok, so they have no choice. The options for the Maori Party as of Sunday was nothing at all, or next to nothing with the Nats, so it's a bit of a no-brainer. And, considering the furore over the Foreshore and Seabed that spawned the party in the first place, going with Labour is no less of a sellout than getting into bed with Key, Hide, Dunne and Co. On that note, why do National have such a hard-on for Peter Dunne? They don't need him for numbers, or for ideology, and if he sat in the middle of nowhere he could indeed fade into nothing over 3-6 years which is surely good news for everyone. What bothers me about the Maori Party ramming through its consultation process to get John to Peru is that for short-term gains, and the possibility of scrapping the dole, their long term survival could be toast if National sell out the middle and lower classes - which include a large section of Maori Party voters I would imagine - like they did in the 1990s.
To lighten the mood pre-weekend, I am now off to fight old art matrons for finger food at the opening of Rita Angus: Life and Vision, 140 works - originally curated for Te Papa in Wellington - showing at the DPAG. Curator Jill Trevelyan will present a floor talk on the whole thing from 3pm tomorrow. If that's not enough for your monocle, you can check out the Royal New Zealand Ballet production of Don Quixote at the Regent Theatre this Saturday/Sunday, if you're in Dunedin.