Friends, colleagues, and fellow New Zealanders; I am concerned.
When my former leader, David Shearer, announced last week that he would be resigning from his position as the chief representative of our party, I knew that I had a decision to make.
The media was asking me what my intentions were. People were urging me to step forward and put my hand up.
They said to me “David, you’re perfect for this. You can do this. You can rebuild the party. You’re the only one who can.” And then I stepped away from the bathroom mirror, and I said “Yeah, you know what? I have to do this.”
That is why I stand before you today, to ask for your endorsement to be the leader of the New Zealand Labour Party.
I have to do this not because I’ve been asked to, but because, over the last five years, I have become deeply and genuinely concerned about me.
In 2008, under a Labour government, I was a minister earning upwards of $240,000 a year. Today, under John Key’s National Government, I earn $141,000 a year.
How did that happen? When did we start accepting less?
In the five years since National took the treasury benches, household incomes in my house have fallen more than 30%, and while David Shearer has been the leader of our party, things haven’t gotten any better. It hurts to say, but over the last little while, we’ve really lost my way.
Last year, I attempted to challenge for the leadership of this party by not shaving and then heavily implying that I wouldn’t vote for David in a caucus ballot. In hindsight, this was not a good way to stage a coup. I regret it, because it didn’t work.
As a result of that incident, I went from being a front bench MP to a back bench MP with a fisheries portfolio. And John Key has the nerve to tell New Zealanders that things are getting better, that he’s building a brighter future, when things only ever seem to get worse?
Well enough is enough. I won’t let this happen any longer. I am sick and tired of watching hope die in the eyes of my wife. I will not stand idly by and allow next year’s David Cunliffe to be the only David Cunliffe to do worse than last year’s David Cunliffe.
This has got to stop.
I spoke to a friend last month about the multitude of complex socioeconomic problems that are starting to be faced by me all around the country, and he said “Yeah, I know, David. But that’s just life, you know? You’ve been out of government for a while now, and you’ve been coping on the back bench, haven’t ya?”
It didn’t make me angry that he said this. It made me sad; sad that we’ve let our expectations fall so low. When did this start to happen? When did we become so complacent?
I’m campaigning to be leader because I don’t think it has to be this way. I don’t want you to be complacent anymore. I want you to have hope. I want you to believe that my life can be better. That’s why, on September 15th, I need your vote.
For more information, see my official campaign website at thedailyblog.co.nz.