Gosche weighs quitting politics

By Claire Trevett

Labour MP Mark Gosche will not contest the Maungakiekie electorate this year, and is considering leaving politics altogether to care for his wife after the death of his son.

Mr Gosche said yesterday that he would put his name forward for Labour's list, but had not decided whether he would remain in politics if he regained a position.

He said his decision not to stand in an electorate seat was because of the need for flexibility with his personal circumstances, including his wife Carol, who had a brain haemorrhage in 2003, leaving her in need of constant care.

Mr Gosche has been an MP since 1996, and has held the Maungakiekie electorate since 1999.

But his time in Parliament has been blighted by tragedies.

He gave up his Cabinet post to care for his wife after her brain haemorrhage, and his son Kristian died in December last year.

Mr Gosche said yesterday it was too soon to decide on his future, but he would stand on the list, which would give him extra time without disrupting the party.

The Labour Party is to lose about one quarter of its current MPs after the next election under the party's rejuvenation drive.

So far 12 MPs have decided to go.

Speaker Margaret Wilson and chief whip Tim Barnett said last week they would not stand again.

Anne Hartley has left Parliament for her position as a North Shore City councillor and Dianne Yates is expected to leave in about a fortnight.

Former Cabinet minister Steve Maharey will leave after May to become vice-chancellor of Massey University.

Dover Samuels, Paul Swain, Marian Hobbs and Jill Pettis are also not standing.

Dumped Cabinet minister David Benson-Pope lost the selection for his Dunedin South seat to Claire Curran. Georgina Beyer and Jim Sutton left during the term.

* The weekend brought bad news for the Labour Party when two different polls showed National increasing its lead and Helen Clark's standing as preferred prime minister diminishing.

A Fairfax Media-Nielsen poll showed National 23 points ahead of Labour with 55 per cent support - its biggest lead in any poll.

Support for Helen Clark had also dropped to 29 per cent, down 9 points in three months, while National leader John Key was 15 points ahead on 44 per cent.

The poll, of 1088 people, taken between February 13 and 19, had a margin of error of 3 per cent.

The results were echoed in a Roy-Morgan poll on Saturday, which showed a 19-point gap between the two main parties

It put National on 51.5 per cent and Labour on 32.5 per cent.

- NZ Herald

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