Labour Party listing early in election voyage

1:18 pm on 2 May 2017

Power Play - The release of Labour's list should have been plain sailing, but instead it swerved into stormy weather.

Willie Jackson & Andrew Little

Willie Jackson, left, and Andrew Little. The Labour Party list announcement was delayed twice by internal wrangling over rankings. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The party's moderating committee decided over the weekend who the winners and losers were in its party line up for September's election.

The first casualty was Sue Moroney - who Andrew Little called on Saturday when it became clear she was not going to get a winnable list placing.

She announced her retirement from Parliament the following day and RNZ understands she was blindsided by her party.

Ms Moroney is a hard-working, tireless MP who pushed hard for an extension to Paid Parental Leave and on closing the gender pay gap.

However, she was a huge David Cunliffe supporter and it's possible that counted against her with the committee that decides the list placings.

Whatever the reasons, Labour should have given her more warning that her future was in doubt and helped to manage her departure so it did not come across as such a knifing.

Willie Jackson's disappointment at his placing at 21 on the list played out in the media on Monday, with Mr Jackson flying to Wellington to voice his disappointment kanohi ki te kanohi.

Mr Jackson said when Mr Little initial approached him about joining the party he said he would try to get him in the top ten, but didn't work out.

He did, however, get a new role: Māori Campaign Director.

Labour swears that decision was made weeks ago, though it is a little too convenient it was announced just hours after the list was released, and hot on the heels of a clearly robust discussion about Mr Jackson's place on the list.

Mr Jackson also made much of his disappointment that there were no Māori in the top 15 places on the list.

But he is ignoring the fact that all of Labour's MPs holding Māori seats opted themselves to go off the list. If they had remained there there would be at least two or maybe three in the top 15.

Sue Moroney during caucus run 1.03.16

Sue Moroney was a casualty of the new list rankings. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Labour argues if everything goes to plan the party will end up with 25 percent of its caucus being Maori after the election, a greater proportion than it has ever had.

Women would also make up a greater proportion of Labour's caucus, with the deck stacked to have the gender balance at 50 percent in line with the party's rules - up from the current 39 percent of women.

The list announcement that was set down for Monday morning, was then pushed to Monday afternoon, then finally to Tuesday morning.

Announcement delays are guaranteed to send the Press Gallery into overdrive, which is exactly what happened.

Mr Little himself admits the way it played out on Monday was "unfortunate", saying the party list deals with people's careers and livelihoods, and those who spoke out about it did a gross discourtesy to those who wanted their concerns dealt with in confidence.

While it may have been unfortunate, it was also avoidable.

It's election year and Labour will be wanting to avoid any and all 'unfortunate' incidents particularly those that play into National's narrative of Labour being disorganised and dysfunctional.