Back in the day

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I have been too busy to write anything lately. So I am cheating. Since it is the festive season, here’s something I wrote back in 2011, just before David Shearer became leader of the Labour Party. If only they’d gone with Santa.

A new contender appears to be about to make a shock bid for the Labour Party leadership.

Mr Santa Claus, a prominent North Pole businessman, is reportedly looking at joining the contest to lead the party.

St Nicholas could not be contacted for comment on rumours of a leadership bid, and a spokesperson for Santa’s company said he was “focusing right now on just another busy Christmas.”

However, sources inside the Santa camp have confirmed that the jolly fat man in a red suit has assembled a campaign team of PR advisers, lawyers and MPs, and will launch his leadership bid within the next few days.

Claus has an impeccable background in humanitarian work, having toiled tirelessly for decades to provide presents for boys and girls all around the world.

His wealth distribution efforts may appeal to those within the Labour caucus who long to return the party to its socialist roots.

But critics say there is a dark side to Santa’s dealings. His activities are shrouded in mystery, and some have accused him of outsourcing his business operations to the North Pole in order to avoid paying taxes, and to keep wages low.

Claus is seen as a political novice, but he would also be untainted by anything that has gone on in the party beforehand.

Father Christmas is immensely popular with the young, and has a huge and loyal fan-base. Last weekend tens of thousands of people flocked just to see him ride a customised vehicle down Queen Street.

Political commentator Dr Bryce Edwards believes Santa could be a huge hit with voters.

“He has an almost rockstar-like presence, combined with a common touch,” said Dr Edwards.

“Santa’s the sort of guy who’s in his element when he’s hanging out in a shopping mall talking to future voters about their dreams and aspirations. He’s a natural, and he would almost certainly give John Key a run for his money.”

However, because St Nick is not currently a member of the Labour caucus, the rules governing the party would need to be changed to allow him to contest the leadership. It is not known whether this can be achieved before the December 13 vote takes place.

It is also unclear how many MPs are ready to swing behind a Santa bid for the Labour leadership, or for a change in the eligibility rules. However, one insider confirmed that a number of MPs were considering backing Claus, after being disappointed with the performances of both David Cunliffe and David Shearer during the recent leadership debates.

Those caucus members reportedly considering a vote for Claus include several long-serving MPs, who see in him a safe and steady pair of hands who would not look to impose radical change on the party.

However, St Nick’s quest for the leadership is likely to be opposed by a number of MPs from non-European backgrounds. They point out that, for all the good deeds Santa has done, he has gone out of his way to avoid helping children in places such as China, India and the Middle East.

One caucus member, who would not be named, said that the last thing the party needed was a “tired, racist old white guy in charge.”

Another said he was concerned about Santa’s apparently arbitrary selection of “naughty” and “nice” children.

“Such a policy disadvantages children with behavioural difficulties,” said the MP, who did not want to be named.

“Very often those difficulties arise as a result of poverty and a lack of educational opportunities. It is no coincidence that children from Maori and Pacific Island families will be disproportionately affected by Santa’s welfare policies.

“It’s cultural imperialism of the worst kind.”

Claus’ environmental credentials have also been widely attacked in the news media.

In February the environmental group Greenpeace labelled St Nick’s chimney-only policy “eco-terrorism” and Santa himself as “the coal industry’s number one bagman.”

Public pressure forced Santa in June to announce that he would now include chimney-less houses in his visiting schedule.

Dr Bryce Edwards says claims that Santa is an elderly reactionary are exaggerated and that making Santa leader of the Labour Party should be a “five-second decision.”

“Father Christmas is probably the most popular man in the country, if not the entire world,” says Dr Edwards.

“And the astonishing thing is that if Labour instead goes for a middle-aged insider in a grey suit, nobody will be at all surprised.”