Say you’re a former Labour Party leader. You’ve had your chance and failed. What are you going to do now?
You might want to blame others for your failure, but politics isn’t a gentleman’s club where everyone behaves with honour and a man’s word is his bond. If you can’t handle the pressure, and you can’t deal with ambitious people out to stab you in the back at the first opportunity, then politics may not be quite your thing.
But what’s an ex-leader going to do? Hang around and remain an embittered backbencher, and help to keep your party in opposition?
Or could there be other avenues open to you? Let’s examine the possibilities.
The media: You’ve failed at politics, and you hold petty grudges against those who wronged you. You like the sound of your own voice and remain convinced that you are right. You may have a potential career on talkback radio or as a newspaper columnist. Better still, there may be a slot opening up late night on TV3 very soon. Let’s just hope you’re one of those former party leaders who is moderately articulate.
The UN: Maybe the problem is that New Zealand’s just too small a stage for your vast talents. The public of this petty and spiteful country rejected you, but it’s not your fault that people are stupid. So go global! If you can’t rule New Zealand, maybe you can rule the world. Find a modest role in the UN and begin to build your empire.
Mayor: If the UN isn’t your thing, there may still be empires to build, albeit smaller local body ones. Find one of those moderately large New Zealand cities and run for mayor. If you have name recognition in local politics you’re half-way there, even if most people around the country aren’t too keen on you. Didn’t Auckland vote for John Banks twice? Then once you become mayor, start sticking it to the people in Labour who ruined your career. You’ll eventually get a Labour government, and they’ll want to work with you on important projects, like housing and transport. This is when you will take your revenge.
Talking head: You have tried and failed. You have forgotten all the things you did wrong, and now you blame others for what happened to you. You are a white male whose best days are behind you now. You also know that Labour’s problems could all be resolved if only a particular faction within the party could be silenced forever (e.g. the ABCs, women, minorities etc). Congratulations: you are the perfect talking-head panel show pundit.
Insulate: You have been told by the party faithful to pipe down and stay out of the fray, but you don’t listen. Nothing gets through to you. Their voices do not penetrate. This density could be a virtue, as you may have a potential career as wall insulation.