Phil Twyford is Labour’s campaign chair for next year, he is also a massive liability because he was the architect of the Chinky names attack and not even Helen Clark trusted the weasel.
Stacey Kirk looks closely at Phil Twyford…no doubt she will be attacked for her efforts.
There’s an argument that attacking the messenger sends a message itself.
If that’s the case, Labour MP Phil Twyford might like to take another look at the image he’s conveying – both for himself and his party.
His reaction to a report revealing initial gaps in the costing of a key Labour policy, to pay young people the minimum wage for up to six months of community work, was nothing short of Trumpian.
To that end, perhaps it was entirely intentional.
It transpired a six-month, $60m policy had only been calculated on a four-month average – a fact they did not disclose. It meant that when reporters did their sums, the numbers didn’t add up.
Twyford, and the rest of Labour did not like the claim in a TV report, it had gotten its figures wrong.
They had not, and were perhaps within their rights to feel aggrieved at that.
But their omission was glaring, and if deliberate then misleading. If not deliberate, then concerning.
Either way, it was something they should expect to be called out on, which perhaps makes Twyford’s reaction all the more nasty.
He publicly attacked said TV journalist – incidentally one of New Zealand’s most respected political reporters – for doing her job and questioning the apparent gap in the numbers.
Describing the report as “biased” and a “hatchet job” on Twitter, he doubled down on the nastiness the following day.
What has many baffled is why he was allowed to launch into such a diatribe without a flick from his leader or the wider party.
Andrew Little has not publicly supported Twyford’s media attack, though he hasn’t denounced it either.
Twyford was rounded on in caucus and bashed for his stupidity. But attacking journalists has never been successful and the attack has ensured that no one is talking about their policy and instead have now spent more than a week talking about Twyford and Little’s uttter stupidity.
One source close to Labour has said Twyford has designs on the leadership.
It’s understood some caucus members are none too trustful of him, but appear to fall into two camps.
On one side, let him be the attack dog – maybe Labour could do with one. On the other, let him become his own undoing.
This is hardly new territory for Twyford. It was said former Prime Minister Helen Clark blocked his entry into politics in 2005 because she felt she couldn’t trust him.
And while Maryan Street was publicly pinned as leading the campaign to undermine former leader David Shearer, Twyford was said to be involved.
Of the ensuing Labour leadership idol: “He backed Grant Robertson in the leadership bid, but was one of the first to turn up to Cunliffe’s success party – that says it all,” says the insider.
Twyford and Street both went to tell David Shearer his time was up. That story of him flying to stand next to Cunliffe is true, and it was a matter of hours after he’d been seen assisting Robertson in his campaign in Wellington. Labour MPs have been distrustful ever since.
Labour is understood to be proceeding with a formal complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority against the story, which suggests the leadership supports Twyford’s rave.
The question is why?
No one is talking about the merits of their policy any more, of which there are many, and Labour doesn’t seem interested in getting the discussion back on track.
If this becomes a trend, New Zealand could be staring down the barrel of another election fought on anything but the issues.
I think that changed when Matt McCarten and David Cunliffe invested heavily in Dirty Politics with Nicky Hager.
Some in Labour might be tempted to think “that worked for Trump”.
A quick reminisce of the 2014 election result should fix that.
No one in Labour is as smart as Donald Trump, and no one in Labour is a billionaire either.