McAnulty still hasn’t achieved his ultimate goal
‘‘It was always a three election strategy and I knew I had age onmy side, but I knew I had to be patient’’
You’ve got to hand it to Labour’s youngest member of caucus: he knows how to play the long game.
With the final election tally confirmed on Saturday, number 38 on the Labour Party list Kieran McAnulty was confirmed as an MP.
Still at the tender political age of 32, this is McAnulty’s fourth election campaign with Labour and he set his sights on Parliament six years ago, though he still hasn’t achieved his ultimate goal.
He dearly wants to wrest the Wairarapa seat off National’s incumbent Alastair Scott.
McAnulty made inroads on that goal by reducing Scott’s majority by almost 4000 votes, but a strong campaign by NZ First’s Carterton-based deputy leader Ron Mark made it a slim prospect of the electorate remaining anything but blue.
The young Labour MP seems to have a natural flair for politics.
He is as comfortable talking to a group of Wellington business types about economic development as he is having a chat with the oldies in the Probus Club.
But it is probably his calculating mind that his rivals should fear the most. McAnulty knows the numbers and he is a student of politics.
He admits that after he has been down at the clubrooms talking rugby with his old school mates, he’ll stay up all night watching political action in the US and Britain.
He had politically-minded grandparents on both sides of the spectrum, but it was his father’s father whose advice resonated most deeply.
‘‘I remember him saying what his father had told him that ‘when the working man is doing well, the country does well’ and that made sense to me,’’ McAnulty said.
He’s always been interested in politics. He remembers declining an invitation to the Solway College ball as a teenager because he wanted to watch the election.
A former TAB bookmaker covering the racing industry, his latest role has been as an economic development advisor for MDC.
He resigned from that job the moment he got the confirmation of his MP status. He MC’s the annual Golden Shears, was on Wings Over Wairarapa and Chanel College’s boards.
In the run-up to the 2011 election McAnulty was asked to stand for Labour in Wairarapa but declined because he didn’t believe he was ready. Upper Hutt lawyer Michael Bott stood and lost.
McAnulty won the selection for the 2014 campaign with a long term plan of being elected to the seat within three terms.
‘‘It was always a three election strategy and I knew I had age on my side, but I knew I had to be patient,’’ he said.
He admits it’s cheesy, but he said his motivation has always been to make a significant difference for Wairarapa.
Whether he is able to do that in any meaningful way this term may ultimately depend on the party - or parties - New Zealand First decides to form a coalition with.