A further instalment in an occasional series exposing the darkest secrets of the Labour Party caucus room.
David Shearer: Thanks, team, for coming to this special meeting. I know you’re all busy and have places to be, but this is important. You all need to know that we’re about to get some heat over our Electoral Act stuff-up, and it’s probably going to be unpleasant.
Clayton Cosgrove: How did this happen? Why wasn’t the donation declared within the required time?
Grant Robertson: I don’t know for sure, but apparently there was some confusion about whether a bequest was a donation. Apparently the law isn’t clear.
Annette King: So we’re going with the classic GCSB Defence, then?
Shearer: Well, unless someone has a better idea?
Phil Goff: Just distract the public. Give Paddy Gower something meaty to get his teeth into, and you won’t hear from him again for a month. This will blow over in no time.
Andrew Little: Good idea. Let’s just throw someone under a bus, like they did with that Gilmore pillock. We’ll make sure they’re rude and obnoxious to someone in the hospitality industry, and all our other sins will be forgotten as the news media devour our sacrificial lamb.
Shearer: Would it work, though? It would need to look authentic, so we’d have to select someone who could pull off the whole arrogant and self-important thing.
Trevor Mallard: He would have to be expendable too.
David Cunliffe: He or she would.
Mallard: No, he would.
Cunliffe: Wait… why is everyone suddenly looking at me? Stop it! This is a crazy idea! You don’t seriously believe it would work, do you?
Chris Hipkins: I’m willing to give it a go.
Shearer: No, David’s right, it’s too much to ask of one member. Any other ideas?
David Clark: I saw in the British papers that Labour leader Ed Miliband is being called a hero, after he helped a woman who fell off her bicycle. Couldn’t we do with our own story about a Labour Party leader’s heroics?
Shearer: Heroics? It’s my whole f**king backstory!
David Parker: But that was UN stuff, and they were all foreigners. No, we would need something involving a pretty white woman in distress.
Louisa Wall: I take strong exception to that! Wouldn’t that just perpetuate tired stereotypes? Why not a Maori or Pasifika woman? Why not demonstrate to the people of Aotearoa that we’re a genuine rainbow nation?
Mallard: Okay, okay, we can sort out the details later. But here’s what I’m thinking. David’s on the footpath next to a busy road, and the news cameras are everywhere. Suddenly a beautiful woman rides by on her bicycle. She falls. David pushes past the news cameras and administers emergency first aid to the stricken cyclist. His efforts succeed, her life is saved, and David spends the next three months being interviewed by every newspaper and woman’s magazine in Australasia about his heroics. Labour strides boldly and purposefully into government in 2014, leaving everyone else, including the Greens, eating its dust.
Lianne Dalziel: It would be even more dramatic if she died. Well it would!
Ruth Dyson: No, Whaleoil and Farrar would claim he killed her.
Phil Twyford: And what would our party leader be doing on the footpath with news cameras following him?
Cunliffe: It doesn’t really matter why our leader is standing there, as long as I am too. If I’m there by his side you can guarantee that Paddy Gower will turn up with a camera crew.
Twyford: All the same, it sounds risky. Would we get an actor to play the role? We would have to fake her injuries, and what if the media found out?
Mallard: Then we stage another distraction.
Cunliffe: Someone pushes Paddy Gower under a passing truck? I’ll do it.
An unidentified male voice: Someone pushes David Cunliffe as well? I’ll do it.
Jacinda Ardern: What about a big bold policy initiative?
Darien Fenton: We seize the means of production and smash the capitalist fat cats! Yes!
Shearer: Er… let’s maybe put that one on hold for the time being. We need to leave something for our second term if we win next year.
King: Cats. Something about cats. People love cats. They’re cute and make people laugh. We need to come up with a policy that appeals to cat-loving voters.
Clare Curran: Great idea! I’m for anything that keeps John Tamihere out of caucus.
Grant Robertson: Hold on, guys, I’ve just heard some good news. We’re saved! Have you seen these emails?
Shearer: Good on ya, Aaron! Can someone organise to send him a bottle of wine as a little thank-you?
Grant Robertson: Make it two bottles, and make sure he drinks them on the spot. And make sure Paddy Gower is there too.