Someone ought to put David Cunliffe out of his political misery. He has allowed his nomination for the Labour Party leadership, which he gave up last week, to go forward - but he should reconsider.
Not only did his political capital run dry with the public on September 20, his mis-steps since and his very presence in a "primary" contest for the leadership will degrade and destroy Labour's hopes of unity and revival.
The entry into the race of former union leader Andrew Little, alongside Grant Robertson, might have been thought to give Mr Cunliffe reason to stand aside. Mr Little is no star but will take votes from the affiliated unions who last year were pivotal in crowning Mr Cunliffe. The Little campaign attacks Mr Cunliffe at his strongest point, with the wider party thought to be divided and the Labour caucus firmly against a Cunliffe return.
Could it be that Mr Little's campaign has one achievable goal: to take the former leader out of the reckoning?
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Should Mr Cunliffe be blind to the obvious, which is possible, it will be a much different affair from a year ago. The "incumbent" would be on stage this time, awkwardly enduring little personal criticism out of a sense of civility or receiving a torrent if the other contenders and questioners tell it straight. Either way it will be far from the spirit that prevailed when Shane Jones was the third man.
Labour's historic low on election night carries its own comment on the leader. It is inescapable. Attempted justifications for the 25 per cent vote, ranging from there being no mood for change to the drop in Labour's vote being smaller than at the last election, are true but offer no salvation for Mr Cunliffe. He had a year in the job, having been "job ready" when he assumed the leadership. He had all Labour's resources and no obvious undermining from his colleagues, a distinct and quite bold Labour manifesto and a generous media platform for his ambitions. Victory might have been out of the question, but he had to take Labour forward not achingly backwards. This was no Vote Positive.
Mr Robertson and Mr Little are the declared alternatives. Former leader David Shearer might fancy his chances of being the John Howard-style souffle that rises twice. All three would be better for Labour's re-grouping than sticking with Mr Cunliffe.
Mr Robertson is young, quick-witted and relatable. He has years of experience as a student union leader and staff member in Helen Clark's prime ministerial apparatus. He wants Labour to focus on fewer, clearer policies and not obsess with attacking Prime Minister John Key.
Mr Little is a harder sell on personal affability, at least televisually, but has directed a large organisation, the EPMU union, and is a "whatever-it-takes" negotiator.
He is making early noises of dropping Labour's policy on moving the age of eligibility for superannuation to 67, which looks like a short-term gambit with big risks, but is at least decisive. He thinks Mr Key is popular but not a leader, which may be a curious blank spot for a Little candidacy.
Nominations close on Tuesday. This weekend, Mr Cunliffe would be being kind to himself and his party if he had one last think, and did the right thing.