It’s 100 years ago today since the United Federation of Labour, the Social Democratic party and representatives of Labour representation Committees came together in Wellington to form the Labour Party.

Since then it has been in power for a total of only 35 years – most memorably its first term from 1935 – 1949.

Tonight the party will launch a new history by Jim McAloon, a history lecturer at Victoria University.

Ove the following days, it will hold a variety of events including seminars and a special general meeting which are designed to propel it forward.

Central to those events it is promising a major announcement on housing.

It is possible that announcement may include a proposal that the Reserve Bank clamp down on lending for property investment.

The Prime Minister, possibly speculating what Labour might announce, has already this week revealed that the Government has been talking to the Bank about this issue, and the Bank’s Deputy Governor Grant Spencer will make a speech today about macro-prudential policy and housing market risk.

Well, flagged speeches like that are currently the bank’s favourite means of making announcements.

Labour must be hoping it won’t pre-empt their own plans because happily for the party its Parliamentary team feels it has made a rare hit on the Government with its campaign over housing.

At the same time – perhaps ironically – the gravitational centre of the party is increasingly looking like the Parliamentary team rather than the organisational wing.


Tensions continue to exist between the two.

This weekend’s special general meeting to change the party’s constitution to make ordering its list more flexible can be seen as an admonishment to the party over the way it allowed factional rivalries to dominate in the list ordering at the last election.

That process led to Te Tai Tokerau MP, Kelvin Davis, being placed down the list when he faced a tough fight for his seat against Hone Harawira.

He won and Leader Andrew Little, in contrast to the party, rated him highly enough to put him on the front bench.

There are also various reports that the party has been slow in raising the finance itaprty will need to fight an election.

Parliamentary sources partly blame the lack of funding on the way the MPs under David Cunliffe continually attacked National’s fund raising at the last election.

But Andrew Little has been trying to remedy that and has been holding functions with business and other stakeholders which are obviously designed to mend some of those fences.

Some of the capital’s best-known political lobbyists were among those invited to a recent Caucus function.

Inside the Parliamentary Party Mr Little is convening regular meetings with both his key lieutenants and then wider groups including the party leadership.

The Inner group though consists of Mr Little, his deputy Annette King, Grant Robertson, Phil Twyford and Chris Hipkins along with Chief of Staff, Matt McCarten, Political adviser Neale Jones and Head of Research, Martin Taylor.

The immediate priority for the party will be to entice some electable candidates to stand for it next year.

Apparently Mr Little has been approaching high-profile potential candidates himself; an indication that the party membership strength may not be up to producing household name type candidates.

There is a suggestion that two or three high profile figures are ready to put their names up for selection.

Mr Little is central to the party’s hopes for the immediate future.

But he has been in Parliament only five years and with the party base weakened by successive years of infighting and electoral failure he faces the difficult task of having to do much of the heavy lifting himself.

Though there are stil a few grumbles from some of the party’s right wing rump MPs, so far he has brought a new discipline and organisation to the Parliamentary team.

He has however yet to make it as a political figure with widespread popularity among the public.

For the meantime, he might console himself with the fact that Labour is the only political party in New Zealand to reach 100 years and from time to time (even recently)  things have been worse.