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- Labour leadership: Shearer surges after Parker withdraws
Poor Phil Twyford in trouble
Phil Twyford is one of the most unfortunate Labour MPs. At Oxfam New Zealand, he successfully established an important new organisation from nothing - something laudable whether John Minto at Hart or Graeme Hart at Rank. A close associate of Helen Clark and still under 50, he has much to offer his party and should have a big political career ahead of him. Unfortunately, there is a reasonable probability he will leave parliament altogether on 26 November.
Mr Twyford, of course, has been very poorly treated by the Labour Party over the years. Because of the Tizard Factor, he was prevented from standing for selection for the Mt Albert byelection. Party bosses then stopped him standing for Auckland Central because they wanted a young female to stand against National's anti-mining warrior Nikki Kaye. He failed to win nomination in Waitakere before settling for Te Atatu.
In Te Atatu, he faces former Minister of Maori Affairs, the Hon. Tau Henare. Mr Henare has been working hard in the electorate since joining National back in the mid 2000s, and beat the Labour Party for the party vote in 2008. Labour's candidate, Chris Carter, only managed to win the seat because of a strong personal following (incredible as that may seem now).
John Key has put a lot of effort into Te Atatu and the other West Auckland seats, with Chris Trotter arguing eloquently that it is Waitakere Man who decided the 2008 election and will decide 2011 and beyond. The Trotter theory is backed up by the fact that Trade Minister Tim Groser, sometimes mocked by his opponents as the MP for Geneva, even managed to beat potential-future-Labour-leader David Cunliffe for the New Lynn election-night party vote.
As Ian Llewellyn has pointed out already, Mr Twyford has been at some risk in Te Atatu. Since Ian wrote his piece a few weeks ago, things have got worse for Mr Twyford, with today's trading having the probability of him winning now down to 72% from over 80% on 1 August.
To put it even more in context, iPredict is saying that Mr Twyford has less chance of winning Te Atatu for Labour than Nathan Guy, Ms Kaye and Sam Lotu-Iiga have of winning the previously safe Labour seats of Otaki, Auckland Central and Maungakiekie for National.
Worse for Mr Twyford personally, party bosses have given him the insulting low ranking of 33 on Labour's disgraceful, protect-all-the-losers list. As I discussed recently, this means that, if Mr Twyford loses to Mr Henare, he's toast (while Mr Henare could expect to be rewarded with a return to Cabinet for such an historic win).
Keep in mind, of course, that Mr Twyford is still most likely to win Te Atatu. But how extraordinary that a previously safe Labour seat is now grouped with the most marginal in the country. It suggests Labour has terrible problems in West Auckland and perhaps suggest why John Key to remain prime minister is trading so incredibly high.
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