Louisa Wall reveals depth of divide with Labour leadership

Source: Q and A

Rebel Labour MP Louisa Wall has revealed the depth of her falling out with the Prime Minister and her party’s leadership.

Outgoing Labour MP Louisa Wall.

In a TV-exclusive interview on Q+A with Jack Tame, Wall said she was told directly by Jacinda Ardern that she’d "never" be a minister under her leadership, and often felt unwelcome in the party overall.

“I think there were messages, probably not so subtle, that it wasn't just she didn't want me in her cabinet. She was obviously very clear that she didn't want me in her caucus,” Wall said.

Despite being part of progressive legislative wins like marriage equality and protection against revenge porn, Wall has always been on the outside of the Ardern-led Labour Party.

Wall said this might stem from the factional fights of a decade ago when she backed David Cunliffe to be leader instead of close Ardern ally Grant Robertson.

READ MORE: Louisa Wall 'remarkably effective' MP, 'a great loss to Labour'

“That really for me can be the only explanation, that there are teams within teams and I wasn't on the team that they ultimately decided would be the ones who sat around the cabinet table,” said Wall.

Wall said her advocacy for marriage equality was unpopular with some of her colleagues, describing an incident in which fellow MP Clayton Cosgrove stormed into her office and hurled abuse at her over the matter.

Wall believed she wasn’t backed by the party leadership at the time.

“I was told by the chief of staff at the time that if I didn't do things the way that they wanted to do, then I was on my own.

"And I said, 'okay, I'm on my own.'"

She revealed that she is still hurt and angry over the controversial electorate deselection in 2020, in which she was pushed out of the candidacy for the Manurewa seat she’d held since 2011.

Tensions over the selection came close to ending up in court, until Wall withdrew from the nomination in exchange for a high list placing, clearing the way for Arena Williams to take the seat.

“There were issues in that selection that undermine the integrity of the New Zealand Labour Party,” Wall said.

“And I think that's sad, when we can not adhere to pretty simple doctrines of electoral principles that are quite fundamental to a functioning democracy,” she continued.

“I had to take it personally to a degree, because it was about me and it was about undermining the Labour Committee that I belonged to for, gosh, at that time, over 10 years.”

READ MORE: Labour MP Louisa Wall resigns from Parliament

The former Silver Fern and Black Fern said she still managed to find ways to make a contribution.

“So, in spite of [Ardern] not wanting me in her cabinet, it didn't mean that there wasn't other ways, I guess, to contribute and to be an effective member of Parliament.“

Louisa Wall in 2013, after the passing of the Marriage Equality Bill in 2013.

When asked to comment on Wall's statements, a spokesperson from the Prime Minister's office said Ardern wouldn't be providing further comment about the situation.

After Wall announced her resignation in March, reporters asked Ardern whether the MP was treated fairly.

Ardern replied: "Absolutely."

She said Wall had been part of the Labour family for years now and would continue to have the support of the party.

"There will be members of Parliament across their careers who would have hoped to have taken on different roles in their time. What Louisa has demonstrated is that has not meant that she hasn't been able to achieve a significant amount. She has."

After delivering her valedictory speech to Parliament on Thursday, Wall will take up a new role as an ambassador for gender equality in the Pacific.