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Alliance founder, Mana candidate, Matt McCarten, to be Cunliffe’s right-hand man

Former New Labour and Alliance party founder Matt McCarten has been appointed chief of staff for Labour Party leader David Cunliffe.

In a move likely to please Mr Cunliffe's backers on the left of the party and place further strain on relationships with centrist, senior members of his caucus, Mr Cunliffe said Mr McCarten's proven track record as a political organiser and strategist over more than 30 years qualified him for the role.

"He has spent his life fighting for social justice and workers' rights. His values are the values of the Labour Party and the values of the government I want to lead," Mr Cunliffe said.

Mr McCarten's early professional life was in the trade union movement. He split with the Labour Party in 1989 to help form the New Labour Party with dissident Labour MP Jim Anderton, then split with Mr Anderton in 2002 over the Alliance's coalition with the Labour-led government of Helen Clark.

Mr Anderton went on to form the Progressive Party and the Alliance lost all its parliamentary seats that year.

Mr McCarten most recently stood for Parliament in the Mana by-election in 2010 as a candidate for the far left-wing Mana Party, led by Te Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira, and has been an adviser to Mana.

"Matt will be an incredible asset to Labour's team and it's great to have him on board," Mr Cunliffe said in a statement.

(BusinessDesk)