The horse that I would back in Labour's leadership race isn't running. Stuart Nash hasn't put his hand up, presumably because he has figured he wouldn't win. That Nash hasn't a chance shows what's wrong with Labour.
Nash is a winner. And Labour needs a winner, more than anything.
At the last election Nash won Napier from National. He bucked Labour's losing run to score 3500 votes more than Labour's sitting MP, Russell Fairbrother, did in 2008. Nash knows how to take votes from National.
Grant Robertson is also a winner. He has held Wellington Central. But he hasn't won votes from National. He took over a safe seat.
David Parker achieved an upset in 2002, winning Otago. That was a tremendous achievement. He lost the seat in '05 and has been a list MP since. He has lost votes to National.
Andrew Little has stood in New Plymouth twice. Labour's Harry Duynhoven held the seat in 1999 and 2002 with a 15,000 vote majority. He dropped in 2005. In 2008, National's Jonathan Young took the seat with the narrowest of margins. Andrew Little has since turned New Plymouth into a stronghold. For National. Young's majority is now close to 10,000 votes. Little has lost votes to National.
Nanaia Mahuta is a winner. She has a political fortress in Hauraki-Waikato and withstood the great Maori Party assault of '05. But in standing in a Maori electorate she has never had to win votes from National.
Not one of the candidates for leadership of the Labour Party has a demonstrated ability to win votes from National. That's the leader's key task. That's what it takes for Labour to win power. Two of the candidates show an uncanny ability to lose votes to National.
The one MP who can win votes off National is not in the race.
I know Labour will wear my lack of support as a badge of honour. That also is what ails them. Labour needs all the votes it can get. Before Act, I voted Labour. Jim Anderton was my local MP.
Labour has no interest in winning back the voters it has lost. Its interest is factional infighting in the ever-dwindling sect that Labour has become. That's not a winner's strategy. A political winner reaches out to every voter. That's what Nash did in Napier.
Nash stood against me in 2005 in Epsom. He was a fantastic candidate. He was charming, articulate and smart. People liked him. They looked past his party to see he was a decent guy. He was personable.
After the campaign Nash came to see me. He wanted to learn. That's when I knew he was a winner. He campaigned well and was anxious to improve, even approaching his opponents to see what he could learn. It also proved his ability to reach beyond what has become the Labour Party clique.
And that's, sadly, what damns him. And what damns him damns Labour.