Labour leader David Shearer is eyeing a possible reshuffle of key portfolios before the end of the year, with his entire front bench subject to scrutiny.
Two factors reduce the odds of a significant reshuffle; 1) internal politics and 2) self-preservation. Some portfolios are wedded to their MP, for example Maori Affairs is welded to Parekura Horomia and earthquake recovery is married to Lianne Dalziel, while other MPs retain a right to a ranked position through service (remembering Labour ranks their major MPs from 1 to 20).
The second point, which is a consequence of the first, means David Shearer must avoid offending his MPs. Say, for example, he demotes Nanaia Mahuta and Jacinda Ardern. Both MPs have failed to land hits on two of the government’s most vulnerable MPs, but would demotion give Mahuta cause to push for mutiny and Ardern cause to switch to camp Cunliffe? Probably not, but is it a risk worth taking when your leadership is vulnerable? Probably not. Hartevelt continues:
Nanaia Mahuta may be under threat in the education portfolio, although she has insisted she is not going anywhere and appears to have redoubled her efforts.
Despite what others say, I’m not convinced Nanaia is a non-performer. According to DPF’s opposition performance statistics, Nanaia is the 10th most effective Labour MP – ahead of deputy leader Grant Robertson and rumoured replacement Chris Hipkins. However, I readily admit those statistics are quantitative.
If I were heading a reshuffle I’d promote Chris Hipkins to the front bench and give Louisa Wall and Andrew Little a top 20 ranking. Moana Mackey and David Clark should also receive more significant portfolios.