These change moments witnessed – as the American historian Thurston Clarke described President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address – the breaking of an ‘invisible membrane in time,’ that separated one era from another.
These succession stories also reveal how different every leadership succession is.
It was Andrew Little’s fate to not break through that invisible membrane – as predecessors David Cunliffe – David Shearer and Phil Goff likewise failed to disturb it.
Indeed opposition leadership instability is a curse of post-MMP politics.
It’s happened on both sides of politics; to National after 1999 and to Labour after Clark’s loss.
Clark faced three and Key bested four opposition leaders during their tenures.
The burdens of opposition – unpopularity and irrelevance – destabilize parties as debates over the true meaning of the faith – long suppressed while in power – split oppositions and delay regeneration.
Labour’s leadership selection rules – mercifully mothballed during this campaign window – further delayed its ability to find the caucus’ best leader.
Whatever happens during the next seven weeks we have once more passed through an invisible membrane in time.