Harnessing this energetic, resugent party will take some skill. Former Labour Party president Mike Williams says the emergence of the man-ban proposal is a sign the party organisation has drifted further to the left since the Clark years. He attended the party conference last year and saw many new faces, including "a lot of bloody lunatics who had gone off into the Alliance and are now back ... A lot of the kamikaze wing of the Labour Party has returned."
Under Clark, he says, there was a strong awareness of the socially conservative element of Labour's support from groups such as Psifika voters, who are crucial in the big South Auckland seats. "They were socially conservative on things like gay marriage and that sort of stuff, and Helen was quite careful to take them with her."
Is there still an awareness within Labour that its socially conservative voters need to be bought along? "I don't know. Probably the man ban demonstrates that at least the party council has got out of touch." The party debated a similar idea about a decade ago but rejected it, he says. "It's just not going to fly. It pisses men off, it insults women and it can be lampooned."
Labour found that out very quickly when the man-ban idea was floated in early July, and by the time that David Shearer has faffed about before putting the kibbosh on the idea, for the parliamentary Labour Party at least, the damage had been done. Labour was mercilessly lampooned, and deservedly so.
But rust never sleeps, and the "kamikaze wing of the Labour Party" as Mike Williams described it is active within the party machine. The "kamikaze wing" is also strongly supportive of David Cunliffe's credentials to lead Labour, and like rust, will not sleep until it achieves its aim.
If that doesn't keep David Shearer awake it night, it most certainly should.