Grant Robertson has a southern edge in his claim to become
the Labour Party leader tomorrow but his main chance on
beating David Cunliffe rests on how far north he can push his
Mr Robertson will secure about two-thirds of Labour's 34
caucus votes but Mr Cunliffe has two-thirds of the trade
union votes and significant support from Auckland.
Caucus gets 40% of the vote, members get 40% of the vote and
unions get 20%.
Mr Robertson has strong support in Otago, Southland,
Canterbury and Wellington but needs to secure mid-North
Island support to come close to toppling Mr Cunliffe.
Comments to the Otago Daily Times from both the
Robertson and Cunliffe camps yesterday indicated the race was
closer than it was being portrayed and the preferential votes
of supporters of the third contender Shane Jones were likely
to make a difference.
Nearly 75% of eligible Labour Party members had voted and
last-minute voters were being targeted by all camps today.
Gains around the margins are becoming crucial. Behind the
scenes, members are also working hard to show a strong sense
of unity when the announcement is made at 2.45pm. The upside
for Labour was having its policies reported on during the
leadership contest, one member said.
In Dunedin, members went into last weekend's meeting with a
favourite candidate and were worried about how they would
feel if the outcome was different from the one they wanted.
But the three candidates showed that any one of them could
lead the party.
The big question is what happens to the caucus on Monday when
the new leader faces up to his supporters and detractors. The
winner has to give all caucus members a day or two to
consider their options and decide on their future support,
otherwise the three weeks of campaigning and show of unity
will be wasted. Mr Cunliffe is expected to take a much
stronger line with his detractors than Mr Robertson.
Only a few MPs have come out in support of one candidate or
another, although speculation has been rife on who supports
whom. Local MPs Clare Curran and David Clark laid down a
marker by supporting Mr Robertson, but their show of support
was not unexpected. How they will fare in a Cunliffe-led
party will have wider implications for Dunedin.
If Mr Cunliffe wins, he will have to convince his long-time
colleagues and fellow former cabinet ministers he has learned
from his past mistakes when he galvanised opinion against
One insider said the fact the process was open and membership
was seen as having the deciding vote will mean the winner
will have succeeded ''fairly and squarely'' and it was up to
the party to get behind the successful man.