NZ Politician of the YearBy Alan Tristram
David Cunliffe picks up this auspicious honour having come in from the cold and made a substantial difference to the Labour Party’s fortunes.
Labour was languishing in the 20s in the polls, however having taken over the leadership Cunliffe has pulled them up to a comfortable spot in the 30s.
In the three way vote for the leadership, he won with the support of
- 32% of the Labour caucus
- 60% of Party members
- 70% of the unions.
Fortunately he has been able to unite caucus with some judicious appointments to his shadow cabinet.
Where Shearer was hesitant and non-committal, Cunliffe is positive, brief and firm. And quite capable of standing head to head with the National leader and slugging it out.
He also has two great gifts on his side — youth (he’s 51) and strong beliefs.
Cunliffe actually gives the impression that he believes and cares about the key things affecting New Zealanders — inequality, lack of low-cost housing, democratic rights, affordable power prices, health and social services.
He’s also liberal when it comes to conscience issues. He voted to decriminalise prostitution, voted for civil unions and for same-sex marriages — and he also backed the ban on parental corporal punishment.
Cunliffe supports getting rid of NZ’s Royal ties. He wants a New Zealand where ‘we journey together towards maturity as a nation, and to the Commonwealth Republic.’
It’s also interesting — and this isn’t often mentioned in the media — that he’s a mainstream Christian.
Cunliffe is the son of an Anglican minister, and was raised in the Church of England. He has described himself as a ‘liberal Anglican and an infrequent attender of church, but it’s a big part of my life.’
He occasionally attends St Matthew’s church in Auckland and is a supporter of the Auckland City Mission. He is also a budget advisor for the Wellington City Mission.
Who knows, with God providentially in his corner, he might yet be Prime Minister of NZ in just 10 months’ time!