One of new Labour chief of staff Matt McCarten’s biggest tasks is to unite the caucus and party.
But he’s already lost a big player:
Matt McCarten’s appointment as Labour leader David Cunliffe’s chief of staff has reawakened a longstanding rift – former Progressives leader Jim Anderton has withdrawn his help for Labour in this year’s election campaign. . .
Asked if he and Mr Anderton had reconciled since the then Deputy Prime Minister split from the Alliance in 2002, Mr McCarten said the differences at that time were “profound” but “we will work together on this campaign”.
Mr Cunliffe would not say if Mr Anderton had agreed with the choice of Mr McCarten, “but Jim is showing by his actions that he’s coming home to Labour”.
However, Mr Anderton made it clear he was not coming home, saying he helped Labour in the 2013 Christchurch East byelection and in his old electorate of Wigram in 2008 “but I will not be helping in the general election campaign. I don’t want there to be any confusion.”
He had not spoken about Mr McCarten publicly since the Alliance split “and I don’t intend to start now”. . .
Anderton didn’t just help with the by-election, he led Labour’s campaign and losing him will leave a huge hole in Labour’s organisational team in Christchurch.
Another of Labour’s problems is the dead wood in its caucus.
Only Ross Robertson has announced his retirement.
McCarten, and leader David Cunliffe will no doubt have a little list of others they’d like to follow Robertson’s example.
But if they’re pushed they’ll have nothing to lose and could do a lot of damage to Labour in the few months left before the election.