Labour's decision not to use the Canterbury's earthquakes for political gain was the right thing to do, but has been costly for the party, its former president says.
Canterbury University political scientist Bronwyn Hayward said yesterday that Labour's leadership had been surprisingly quiet in Christchurch.
Former party president Mike Williams said last night that the party's quiet approach after the February 2011 quake was necessary but now was the time for Labour to take the gloves off over the schools shakeup, regardless of its concerns about politicking.
"The Government has left itself wide open to intense criticism. I think the time is right to provide it," he said.
Christchurch Labour MPs yesterday dismissed suggestions that the party's leadership has been missing in action in Christchurch.
Christchurch East MP Lianne Dalziel said: "None of us has experienced the heartbreak that the people we represent have.
"[Labour leader] David Shearer understands the issues very well, but he's also very respectful of the fact that people's suffering should not be politicised."
The Government had stopped Opposition MPs getting involved since the quake, rather than working together on the rebuild, she said.
Wigram MP Megan Woods said Shearer had travelled to Christchurch four or five times in the past two weeks.
Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson said there was no reason to criticise Shearer.
"We have been very careful about not politicising suffering," she said.
A Labour survey could take several weeks to reach all 135,000 homes in Christchurch.
The survey, which goes out from today, will ask about education, earthquake recovery and heritage buildings.
Christchurch East MP Lianne Dalziel said the school proposals were the catalyst to launching the survey.
The party would be interested to find out how people across the city had been affected by the proposed changes, she said.