The Golden Gate Yacht Club has formally challenged for the leadership of the Labour Party, and has demanded that David Cunliffe defend the title of party leader.
The challenge was received yesterday afternoon by Labour’s General Secretary, Tim Barnett.
Commodore of the Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC), Norbert Bajurin, confirmed that a challenge had been lodged.
He acknowledged that the challenge did not accord with the Labour Party’s constitution, but claimed that the constitution was a cynical sham designed to make it difficult for outsiders to challenge for the position.
Mr Bajurin said that the leadership contest should be reopened to allow the GGYC’s racing team, Oracle Team USA, to challenge for the position.
“The most recent version of Labour’s constitution is a low point in the long and colourful history of this regatta,” said Mr Bajurin.
“The party has no boats, and while it owns a number of properties it has not a single clubhouse for nautical members to attend. To our knowledge it has never organised any sort of regatta.
“It’s clear then, that the future of the Labour Party leadership cannot simply be left to its members.”
Bajurin said legal action was a “very real prospect” if David Cunliffe refused to accept a formal challenge.
“We would prefer that this matter be settled on the water,” said Bajurin. “We already have a plan for how we would like the leadership contest to operate, including detailed design plans for a class of catamarans the candidates would be required to race in.
“If the Labour Party leadership won’t accept those plans, then I’m afraid we’ll be seeing them in court.”
A legal challenge against the cash-strapped Labour Party could prove a disaster, particularly as the GGYC’s challenge is being bankrolled by billionaire Larry Ellison, one of the richest people in the world.
But the prospect of racing against Team Oracle will also frighten members of Cunliffe’s inner circle.
Assembling a team to sail a Team Cunliffe boat would prove daunting and would be an early test for the new leader, even if Cunliffe could find the money to design and build a world class racing boat.
Party secretary Tim Barnett confirmed that the challenge was being taken seriously.
“We’re still looking into the matter, but we already have contingency plans in place, should David be required to put his leadership up.
“We have a talented caucus, and we’re confident David could put together a strong crew if needed.”
David Cunliffe told reporters this morning that he was not afraid of Larry Ellison or the Oracle Team.
“Larry Ellison should be very afraid,” said Cunliffe. “I’ve got his number, and he knows it.”
A possible Team Cunliffe crew: