Labour really, really, really wants Shane Taurima. Why?

Labour still hasn’t announced a candidate for Pita Sharples’ soon-to-be-vacant seat of Tamaki Makaurau. Candidates were to be announced this afternoon, after three previous delays, but instead the selection process continues to drift on.

The reason of course is Shane Taurima, who seemed to have been ordained to take the seat for Labour, right up until the point where he had to resign from TVNZ for using the broadcaster’s HQ as a Labour party meeting place. TVNZ launched an investigation into his activities and the investigation hasn’t yet been released.

This has left Labour between a rock and a hard place. The party obviously wants Mr Taurima as its Tamaki Makaurau candidate, but it doesn’t know whether the TVNZ report will contain information that might give other candidates ammunition to sink Taurima’s bid for the seat. Until the TVNZ report gets released, Labour doesn’t dare anoint Taurima as candidate.

Is Labour making the right decision though? Mr Taurima has a high profile and is articulate and intelligent. But Maori TV’s Julian Wilcox has also been linked to the seat as a possible candidate, and I would have thought Wilcox would rate just as highly in terms of profile, intelligence and public speaking ability.

The factor Labour should be concerned about is the head start their selection process is providing to the Maori party, who last night selected Rangi McLean as their candidate for the seat. McLean now gets a free run in the electorate, while Labour hasn’t yet closed of nominations, let alone selected their candidate.

It’s caused a member of Labor’s Tamaki Makaurau Electorate Committee, Shane Te Pou, to spit the dummy:

Mr Te Pou said it was “crazy” the process was taking so long and was dependent on what happened with one candidate.

“Nominations close tomorrow but we won’t have a candidate til mid May or the end of May. We’re not the incumbent party, we’re challenging for the seat and we won’t have a Shane Jones as the candidate and I think we’ve placed ourselves in an unnecessary tough position, I just don’t understand it at all.

“We shouldn’t have delayed things around a particular candidate we should have thought about the overall picture and that not having a candidate in mid May when we’ve got an election in September is not good.”

Further, if the report does throw up anything embarrassing that results in Mr Taurima not standing, Labour will have ended up undermining Julian Wilcox. It’s being reported that Wilcox will only stand if Taurima isn’t – Wilcox is obviously well aware that he’s a second choice candidate; unfortunately for Wilcox, Labour’s messing about have made that fairly clear to the voters too.

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