Monday, June 11, 2007

Anderton no closer to retirement ...

"Anderton in no hurry to join exodus" (NZH)
(New Zealand Herald, Monday June 11)

Jim “I’m so cool I had a party named after me” Anderton, who turns 70 in six months time, seems likely to stay in Parliament for at least another term yet. The former Labour Party President, who entered Parliament as a Labour MP in 1984 for Sydenham and has retained the now renamed seat of Wigram since then, is a dead cert for another term if he chooses to run again. This man is a legend. Okay, he’s awfully left wing but that doesn’t mean you can’t like the bloke. He has more class than a secondary school. So far he has belonged to five political parties - Labour, New Labour, the Alliance, Jim Anderton’s Progressive Coalition, and now the Progressive Party. What other NZ politician can you name who has had a political party named after himself? Even Winston Peters has to make do with the NZ First Party, as the Winston First Party was not well received.

I have a great affinity for Jim. Again, leave aside the whole left wing thing and hear me out. He’s a qualified teacher, like I am. He’s a Catholic, as I am. (Well, I’m more of a Unitarian Universalist these days but I’m banking on the baptism and First Communion to get me through if I’m wrong about other things.) He was born in Auckland, just like me. He loves cricket, ditto, and Canterbury, ditto. Plus we both know my father - Dad ran for Parliament in 1990 on the New Labour ticket and Jim and his wife Carole came over to our place in Rotorua for dinner one night several weeks before the election.

I have one question for Jim Anderton.

Why not just accept the fact that you are part of the Labour Party again and get rid of this one-man party you have?

Of course, you get a tonne more money for being a party leader in Parliament than for just being a party member, but Jim has never been about the money.

Let’s face it, Labour has re-branded itself back to somewhere near the left-centre position it used to hold, and Jim has never been that far left of centre himself, apart from on monetarist policy. There is not a lot of difference between the two parties, and Jim seems pretty comfortable in Cabinet - he was even Deputy Prime Minister for a while there, and currently holds a number of portfolios.

So, come on Jim - by all means, stay in Parliament another few terms (although, are there ANY other MPs in today’s Parliament who were born BEFORE WWII broke out?). But do the voters and taxpayers a favour by calling it a day on the minor party (which has never polled above 2% and only ever gets any support when Jim puts his name in front of it) and going back to your spiritual home - even if it is the dwelling place of the devil.

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