By EUGENE BINGHAM
Swashbuckling Bob Harvey will not seek the Labour Party presidency again but denies there was a sword in sight when he made his decision.
Ending speculation on his future at the helm of the party, Mr Harvey said yesterday he had told Prime Minister Helen Clark last week that he did not wish to run for the job again.
"So it came as a hell of a surprise to read media reports [at the weekend] that I was being asked to fall on my sword - nothing could be further from the truth."
Increasingly frequent Beehive rumblings about Mr Harvey's performance had fuelled speculation in recent weeks that his time was up - one way or another.
But Mr Harvey insisted he had made his own decision to go.
In the end, he believed the president's post was detracting from his job as Mayor of Waitakere.
"I initially thought the job would take one, or at the most two days a week," he said.
"But it has become more than that and I want to make sure that nothing impacts on my role as mayor, so it's time to step back."
The announcement hardly caused a gush of tears in the 9th floor of the Beehive. His passing was noted with a three-line statement from Helen Clark, more of a record of the facts than a tribute.
"Bob stepped in at short notice last year after Michael Hirschfeld's tragic death. He dedicated himself to our election campaign and fundraising," she said.
"I thank Bob for his contribution and wish him well for his work as Mayor of Waitakere City."
Mr Harvey will continue in the job till November when the post will be put up for election at Labour's annual conference.
So far, election campaign manager Mike Williams is the only person to have declared his nomination.
Looking back over Mr Harvey's reign, he could perhaps ponder on the best of times - and the worst of times.
November's election win, by his own admission, was the highlight.
The lowlights would surely include the fallout from his alleged down-trou run-in with a Waitakere resident, and the controversy that followed his claims that the CIA was involved in the death of former Prime Minister Norm Kirk.
Lately, comments about the South Island and attacks on the style of Finance Minister Michael Cullen caused more serious concerns within the party's parliamentary wing.