Barry Soper: Persistence is key for Helen Clark


They must have been impressed as the grizzlies initially behaved like Panda bears as Parliament's bear pit kicked off for another day.

There were a couple of politicians from an American congressional delegation here to see how we do things in our Parliament.

Helen Clark had not long before declared her intention to run for the United Nations' Secretary General's job so it was fitting that a Labour notice of motion began the day supporting her for having a crack at the job, praising her as a trail blazer and congratulating her for coming from a long line of Kiwi women who've broken through the glass ceiling.

The Congressional representatives couldn't help but be impressed but moments later their impression was shattered, their jaws dropped, as Winston Peters raised the hackles in a blazing attack against Barack's golfing buddy, the Prime Minister, asking him whether he or any of his ministers had been involved in tax shelters abroad. It was all on as insults were traded across the pit as to who was to blame for sullying this country's reputation, turning it into a money laundering tax shelter.

They'll probably never see this country in the same light again as they return to Washington to consider whether they'll support the Trans Pacific Partnership and contemplate whether their country should support Helen Clark to be the world spokeswoman on virtually everything.

Putting their feelings aside though, the declaration from Clark came as no surprise. This woman is nothing if not persistent. From the day she landed on the third rung of the United Nations ladder, seven years ago next week, she was intent on making it to the top.

So she's served a pretty good apprenticeship, just as she did when she led Labour for six years before stepping up to the Prime Minister's job. So Clark is calculating and during her time in the Big Apple she would have been taking the soundings and will have an advantage over the other candidates, given that she's dealing daily with those who'll ultimately decide her fate.

But success is for her still a long shot. She's not only going to have to fend off what is now a pretty strong challenge from candidates from Eastern Europe, three of whom are women, she's got to get the tick from the five permanent UN Security Council members, which include China and Russia.

But Helen Clark's not the sort of person to put her hand up if she doesn't believe she's got a fighting chance.

And you can bet your bottom dollar, when she turns up to work today, she'll be glad handing like never before and planting one delicately on either cheek rather than the single Liverpool kiss she used to reluctantly deliver here.

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