David Cunliffe

The problem with St Helen…she isn’t

Helen Clark wants the top UN job

I’ve noticed a few things about Labour, but the one thing that sticks out is the absolute deference they all hold towards Helen Clark.

I despise her politics, but am mature enough to recognise a superb politician.

Helen Clark took over the labour party when it was in disarray, she withstood a coup attempt and ruled the party with an iron fist for 15 years.

She moulded the party into her likeness and the two became synonymous.

The labour party was Helen Clark and Helen Clark was the Labour party.

That was Labour’s strength and it was also its Achilles heel.

Eventually the voters tired of her and Labour lost to John Key’s National party.

Now this is where it gets interesting.  Read more »

We picked the sherrif, but we don’t wanna pick his deputy

Grant Robertson has retired hurt

In the hurricane of media that accompanied Andrew Little’s elevation – inevitable with any new leader – it would be easy to overlook runner-up Grant Robertson sitting stunned in the eye of the storm.

Yet Little’s next steps now become crucial. Handling Robertson and the party’s “second power base” will be a key issue for Little as he puts his new team together.

In the immediate aftermath of Little’s win Robertson understandably expressed disappointment.

He had, after all, won 56 per cent of the caucus, 55 per cent of the party membership and it was only Little’s status with the affiliated unions (and perhaps an echo of the gay-shy stance of some unionists evident during the 2013 run-off) that thwarted his second bid for leader.

But he expected the union vote to go against him, and Little’s three-to-one advantage with the handful of private sector unions affiliated to Labour was in line with feedback both camps had received.

What must have surprised Robertson’s camp was the unexpectedly low vote from his fellow MPs. His lieutenants were expecting him to clean up by about 21-11 on a two-man preferred basis, with most if not all David Parker’s second preferences going his way.

We’ve seen the photos.  Grant and Cindy were devastated.  But now comes the hard part.  Because of Grant’s lower than expected support in caucus, he may not end up as deputy leader.   Read more »

Russell Brown thinks Little is a disaster

Pots, pans and pannier bags blogger Russell Brown rarely, if ever these days, writes about politics.

He has broken habit by writing about Labour’s just completed leadership election.

Unusually for him it is brief, he’s normally a big fan of the tl;dr post.

I’ll be brief (it’s 5am where I am and have to catch a plane) but the Labour’s leadership result and the means by which it was achieved both seem disastrous for the party and for the prospects of the centre-left.

Little didn’t win the support of the party or the caucus, he loses his electorate more badly every time he contests it, and he’s vowing to dump all the intellectual capital built up by David Parker. I can’t see any good thing about this.

Am I missing something?

Read more »

Three years or six? Or more?

Tim Watkin has an interesting post at Pundit about the task ahead for Labour’s new leader.

He wonders whether or not they have a three year project or a six year project in front of them.

Whoever wins, Labour won’t be a charismatic party that voters will turn to as an exciting alternative to National. Instead, whoever wins will have to win back voters’ trust through being dependable, decent and speaking to the interests of the many.

‘Decent’ recalls Jim Bolger’s ‘decent society’ slogan, and Bolger would be a pretty good role model for any winner. Not a flamboyant or visionary politician, but one who knew how to win elections.

So who to vote for? For me Labour Party members will need to start by asking themselves this question: Can Labour win in 2017?

Essentially, is this a three year or six year project? Is one of those four the next Labour Prime Minister? Because that answer suggests different people.

Read more »

Trotter asks if Labour really can be rebuilt

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Chris Trotter wonders whether Labour can put its troubles behind them and start to recover relevancy with the voting public.

THE CHAIRS in the final meeting venue have been stacked away. All that expensive signage, commissioned for the benefit of the television cameras, no longer has a purpose. For the second time in just 14 months, Labour’s Leadership Contest is all over bar the voting.

The contrast between the road-show just concluded and what was, effectively, the David Cunliffe Coronation Tour of 2013 could hardly be starker. Then, it was the rank-and-files’ and the affiliates’ moment to deliver a very emphatic one-fingered message to a caucus it had grown to despise – and they delivered it with both hands. This time, it’s been the Labour Caucus’s Victory Tour.

In both 2012 and 2013, Labour’s MPs had warned the party’s members and affiliates that Cunliffe was unacceptable – but they refused to listen. Now they know what happens when a leader lacks the fulsome support of his caucus colleagues. No one’s saying it out loud, but the most important single feature of this year’s leadership contest is David Cunliffe’s absence. No matter which of the four grey eminences emerges from the complicated processes of preferential voting as Labour’s new leader – Caucus has won.

Yes, they will have slayed the Cunliffe dragon…sort of…for one of the contenders has cut a secret deal to help rehabilitate the man with the brain as big as a planet. Trotter thinks that had Cunliffe stood things may have been a bit different.

Had Cunliffe’s name been on the ballot paper, he would, almost certainly, have triumphed again. I don’t think it’s stretching the truth to say that among Labour’s staunchest supporters – Maori and Pasifika – the Member for New Lynn is loved. When informed that their champion had withdrawn from the race, a hall packed with Maori and Pasifika trade union delegates audibly groaned and tears flowed. Only when told that Nanaia Mahuta had entered the fray did their spirits noisily recover.

But, no matter how strong the loyalty shown to Cunliffe by the true believers who give Labour two ticks, it was made abundantly clear to the party membership just how ugly things would get if he insisted, once again, on soliciting their support.

The embittered David Shearer may have led the charge, but every political journalist in the country knew that his acidic tongue was just the poisoned point of a much larger spear. Shearer’s mission was to demonstrate to the rank-and-file and affiliates that the longer Cunliffe persisted in his fantasy of continuing to lead the party the worse things would get. They had to know that Caucus was perfectly willing to destroy the Labour Party in order to save it.

Rather than unleash a no-holds-barred civil war at every level of his Party; one from which it would likely not recover; Cunliffe bowed to the inevitable and withdrew from the contest.

From that point on, the outcome of the 2014 Leadership Contest ceased to matter very much.     Read more »

UK Labour party leader fortunes a replay of Cunliffe

The fun thing watching the British Labour party flounder is that we’ve already seem this play out before.  We know where it is going to end up.

Ed Miliband today blamed ‘powerful forces’ in Britain for his leadership crisis, insisting his falling popularity was the result of taking on big business.

The Labour leader used a make or break speech to suggest a shadowy network of banks, energy companies, payday lenders and hedge funds is plotting to stop him becoming Prime Minister.

He insisted he has the ‘resilience’ and ‘thick skin’ to do the job of changing Britain, after a poll showed only 13 per cent of people think he is ready to run the country.

It’s never the fault of a poorly performing party and its leader, it’s some dark, unseen, well funded cabal of saboteurs.  National and its attack bloggers here, and “business” in the UK.   Read more »

Brian Edwards on the Labour leadership prospects, such as they are

My good friend Brian Edwards (MGFBE) is not happy.

He has written another erudite column about the dearth of talent that besets Labour.

He begins with a focus on euthanasia:

In the past I’ve written several posts and articles about voluntary euthanasia. The ‘voluntary’ bit is crucial, since no-one who wants to go on living, however great their pain or however inconvenient their continuing existence to others, should be cajoled or browbeaten into changing their mind.

But it is hard to come to terms with the overweening arrogance of someone who believes they have the right to deny another human being, whose ongoing suffering has deprived them of all joy in living and who wishes to end that suffering, the right to do so.

The laws that govern these decisions and procedures will of necessity be complex and they must be watertight. But they are not beyond our ability to design and implement. Other countries have done so.

I don’t want to restart this debate. That is not the purpose of this post. This post is about the significance of comments on euthanasia cited in this morning’s Herald by the four contenders for the Labour Party leadership.

Iain Lees-Galloway has taken over responsibility for the ‘End of Life Choice Bill’  after its sponsor, Maryan Street, failed to get elected in September. Lees-Galloway is apparently gauging support before deciding whether to put the Bill back on the private members’ bill ballot. It was removed last year under pressure from the Labour leadership who, according to the Herald, “were concerned it could be an election-year distraction or that it could deter conservative voters”. The new Labour leader, whoever that is, could apparently have the deciding voice on the voluntary euthanasia question.

So what did the contenders for that position have to say?

Well, Nanaia Manuta was in favour of reintroducing the bill  because it would show “that Labour would stand up for those difficult conversations that need to be had”.

I thought that was a pretty principled position to take.

David Parker, who voted against legalising voluntary euthanasia in 2003, didn’t want to comment till he’d talked to Lees-Galloway.

Non-committal and therefore less satisfactory perhaps.

Grant Robertson and Andrew Little both support voluntary euthanasia, but neither considered it a priority at the moment. The fairly clear subtext of their replies was that it was a vote-loser and that a party that had polled 25% in September couldn’t afford to be seen supporting unpopular policies.

I’d call that unprincipled.

Read more »

Socialism is still rooted and the voters know it

David Cunliffe stood on a platform of return Labour to its socialist roots, and got pasted in the election.

Ed Miliband is facing the same issues.

It seems that these dinosaurs and the wider Labour movement simply don;t understand that socialism is rooted and the voters know it.

It takes Boris Johnson to cut through the nonsense in his Telegraph column.

According to some despairing Labour MPs, Alan has only to signal the tiniest flicker of interest, and there will be a putsch. All he has to do is almost imperceptibly incline his brow, and they will storm Ed Miliband’s office, hurl the fool from the window, and crown Johnson the leader without even the formality of an election. Such is the gloom, apparently, that now envelops the Labour rank and file.

As for us in the Conservative Party, we look on in bemusement – and we wonder whose side we are on: Miliband? Or the plotters? Some of us may be tempted to shrug, like Henry Kissinger when asked about the Iran-Iraq war, and say that it is a shame they can’t both lose. Others will be worried that the rumours are true, and that we may indeed be about to lose Ed Miliband – who is proving to be such a wonderful advertisement for the merits of voting Tory.

What an awesome sledge.

According to yesterday’s polls, he attracts the approval of less than half the Labour voters. He is less popular than Nick Clegg. People look at him eating a bacon sandwich; they listen to his sociology lecturer claptrap about “predistribution”; they mentally compare him to David Cameron as a prime minister – and they say: “Nah, sorry.” That is what Labour MPs are now getting on doorsteps across the country; that is why Labour has now fallen to 29 per cent in a recent poll.

It has reached the point where they may actually do something about it. They may summon the nerve to switch leaders with six months to go, in the hope that a new Labour leader would be swept in on a wave of ignorance and over-optimism and honeymoon-style enthusiasm.

If that were so, then the logical thing would be for the Tories to start a campaign to save the Panda. It would be in our interests to protect the poor beleaguered Lefty, leave him there masticating his bamboo shoots – in case he is replaced by someone more threatening. If all this stuff about an anti-Miliband plot is true, then it is time for Tories to save Miliband for the nation. We should all chip in to fund his much-ballyhooed American strategists, who seem to be giving the Labour leader such excellent – from the Tory point of view – advice.

I am offering myself as the founding president of the save the Panda campaign; or at least I would, if I thought he was really at risk. As it happens, I don’t think for one minute that Labour is going to junk its leader, inadequate though he is. They know that their rules don’t make it easy, and in their hearts they must know that Miliband is by no means their only problem.   Read more »

Labour’s worst nightmare

Tonight and tomorrow are the last chance for the state funded tour of four Labour leadership aspirants to try to convince the dwindling membership that they are one to lead the party back from oblivion (or further into it, as the case may be).

But surely their worst nightmare, after weeks of speculation, yawn inducing statements and lack of media coverage, is that when announced the public and media just yawn some more.

There already is a distinct lack of interest in the failing party’s leadership contest this time around.

Last time it was exciting, it was all about resurrection of the chosen one, the arrival of David Cunliffe to deliver Labour from the jaws of mediocrity and 30% poll ratings.

Unfortunately, despite the mass adulation from the train spotters inside Labour David Cunliffe was the failure his caucus always knew him to be.

Instead of poll ratings that could have enabled a winning left wing bloc, they scored their worst ever ratings in nearly 100 years and doomed themselves to yet another term in opposition.

Now they are having another leadership contest.

The prospects are grim.  Read more »

“Buck stops at my desk” said no David Cunliffe, ever

obama-loser

As an example of taking responsibility for things, even Barry Obama manages to put David Cunliffe to shame

“We got beat.”

US President Barack Obama has taken responsibility for his party’s crushing defeat in last week’s midterm elections, he said in comments broadcast this morning. Read more »