The Labour Party caucus has awarded their leader David Shearer with a brand new gold sticker to put on his performance chart this morning, after he helped steer his candidate Meka Whaitiri to victory in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election over the weekend.
The by-election in the Maori seat vacated by Parekura Horomia saw Whaitiri capture a commanding 42% of the vote, placing well ahead of Mana’s Te Hamau Nikora at 25%, and the Maori Party’s Na Raihania at 20%.
Shearer, who has been carefully managing expectations in the electorate by declaring that Whaitiri would “probably lose,” said he was pleased to know that Labour could still win in a seat where it captured only 50% of the party vote in 2011.
“A win is a win, really,” said Shearer on TVNZ’s Q&A programme yesterday. “You know, it’s just as I said on the night, really. When the results came through, and we all started to see them, I got up and I said ‘Good job.’”
Shearer’s caucus agreed that it was a good job, and rewarded him this morning by giving him his 11th gold star sticker. Shearer has been told that every time he does a good thing, he’ll receive another gold star, and if he can get to 20 before September, “nothing bad will happen.”
While the official count of stars is now eleven, some MPs loyal to Shearer suspect that it is actually higher, and that backbencher David Cunliffe has been stealing stars while no one is looking.
“David [Cunliffe] has yet to explain how he got to 54 stars,” said Carol Beaumont, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
On Q&A, Shearer rejected the suggestion that the performance chart was demeaning or poorly reflective of his leadership, saying he liked it and it was “fun.”
“Look, that’s ridiculous,” he said. “I haven’t heard that before. This is just a fun way for me to get the feedback I need, and nothing more than that.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Key says he’s unfazed that his preferred candidate, Na Raihania, placed a distant third in the weekend’s competition.
Key had earlier faced criticism for endorsing Raihania, while not appearing to know who he was. When asked to name the Maori Party candidate, Key had guessed “Ka Pai.”
“I think most New Zealanders would agree we don’t know many Maori words,” he added.
Key said that despite Raihania’s poor showing, he would still be giving himself some gold stars, but that he wasn’t going to be a show-off about it, as he likes to wear them in private.