I have no idea what’s happened in Andrew Little’s office, or why his Chief of Staff has stepped down. I haven’t even heard plausible rumours. But I keep reading these takes in which McCarten shifting back to Auckland is somehow ‘good news for Labour’ or ‘a smart strategic move’. It is neither of these things. Being without a Chief of Staff AND a Communications Director less than a year from the start of an election campaign is not smart, or strategic, it is a catastrophically bad position for a political party to be in: a harbinger of doom.
Those senior staffer positions are stressful. People burn out, or get fed up, or just want to do something else with their lives. But the Opposition Leader’s Chief of Staff is in line to become the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, who is one of the most powerful people in the country. It is a position a professional political operative willingly step downs from about as frequently as an Opposition Leader willingly steps down, ie pretty much never.