David Parker

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 »

Josie Pagani on Andrew Little’s challenges

Josie Pagani has some sound advice for Andrew Little.

I bet he doesn’t listen though, but he really needs to.

How many times have we seen shots of Labour party leaders declaring unity while standing in front of caucus members, smiling the kind of smile you produce by sucking air through your teeth?

Labour doesn’t need more protests of unity. It needs more open debate.

People used to join the Labour party for the policy fights. A contest of ideas was how you sorted  good ideas from bad. Achievements like paid parental leave and the nuclear free policy were achieved only after advocates won the argument; Unity was earned by debate, not by shutting debate down and pretending there was no diversity of opinion on these issues.

You can’t have a contest of ideas unless you accept into the fold people with a range of views, and celebrate ideological breadth. Bill Rowling and David Lange were both early sceptics of the nuclear free policy; yet today publicly arguing for a minority position within the party is mistaken for disloyalty.

So Andrew Little’s first challenge is to change this culture.

That is so true. Labour has this tug the forelock, doff the cloth cap, kneel in obeisance to the leader mentality that was beaten into them by Helen Clark and her stasi-like control of internal party debate. Those attitudes now need to be beaten out of them.

The 600,000 people who voted Labour a few months ago had nothing to do with this leadership contest. Most didn’t care because the election purported to be a contest between fifty shades of beige:  ‘fairness’ and ‘opportunity for all’ as if anyone in Labour is in favour of unfairness and opportunity only for a wealthy few.

The exception was David Parker and Andrew Little differing over capital gains tax and the retirement age. Andrew Little wants to jettison Labour’s election policies on those issues. He will now have to respond to Parker’s question – if not a CGT, then what? Not forgetting the CGT is more popular in the polls than Labour right now.

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Can Grant Robertson ever be Leader of the Labour Party?

Gracinda is grumpy

Don’t worry dear, another 18 months of destabilisation and it will be our turn

Yesterday was a devastating day for Grant Robertson.

He has yet again lost the Labour leadership, and lost it despite getting 18 votes out of 32 in caucus.

Robertson was the front runner after the first ballot but he did not manage to win enough votes from caucus to over come his weakness with the members and the unions.

The members voted narrowly in favour of him over Andrew Little, but he did not manage to pick up many of Nanaia Mahuta or David Parker’s preferences, scarcely budging at all after the first ballot.

Robertson now faces a career defining decision.   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?

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Labour’s leadership contest, no one cares, members included

No one cares about Labour’s leadership contest.

Not even Vernon Small, a long time Labour embedded journalist….he could just muster 324 words in talking about the pending result of the contest.

Labour will announce its new leader tomorrow, with Andrew Little likely to hold a clear lead on first preferences but the candidates themselves tipping a close result.

The party’s constitution gives 40 per cent of the say to the 32 MPs, 40 per cent to the membership and 20 per cent to affiliated unions.

The votes are cast in a preferential system that sees the lowest ranked candidate drop out and their second preferences redistributed until someone tops 50 per cent.

The votes of rank and file members are the big unknown.

Of the four candidates, Little got a jump start thanks to his background as a former union leader, and is expected to pick up at least 15 of the the 20 per cent allocated to unions with Robertson winning 3 or 4 per cent.

Little himself yesterday said he expected strong support from unions. “I would say 70-80 per cent is a possibility.”

But Robertson’s power base is in the caucus, where he has firm backing of about 12 of the 32.   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.

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Are you surprised?

Aimee Gulliver at the Sunday Star Times asked the four Labour leader hopefuls to “surprise us”.

What doesn’t surprise me, is that given a free sound bite, they all failed to fire.

Check this out

DAVID PARKER

Covered in tar and then butter one day in the 1980s, David Parker earned the nickname “Tar Baby” from his roading gang on Stewart Island. A container of tar exploded in his face, fracturing his skull, and turning him into a human statue. Covered head to toe in the cold emulsion used to seal roads, Parker was smeared in butter at the hospital in Invercargill to dissolve the tar. His facial reconstruction work was done later in Dunedin where Parker was given “a nose which was slightly bigger than I wanted”.

“Look, I’m human and I am like a road gang worker like yous guys”

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Kris Faafoi too late with the excuses, Auckland Pacific Labour ranks Robbo last

Yesterday I wrote about Kris Faafoi trying to mitigate the undocumented no poofters rule in Labour.

Well it hasn’t worked.

Auckland Pacific Labour has ranked Grant Robertson dead last.

The Auckland Pacific Sector of the New Zealand Labour Party met last night to discuss and rank the Labour leadership candidates. After much debate and discussion it was carried by a unanimous vote that the leadership candidates be ranked in the following order:

#1 – Nanaia MAHUTA
#2 – Andrew LITTLE
#3 – David PARKER
#4 – Grant ROBERTSON

Read more »

The Labour navel gazing merry go round of doom

Tracy Watkins mulls over Labour’s leadership problems

Cunliffe won because he spoke the language of the activists and in the process committed Labour to a course that had no allure to the swathes of middle New Zealand the party wants to woo.

What most observers and commentators miss is that is all he did – speak the language of the audience he was speaking to.  He didn’t actually do much.  And his messages were contradictory, depending on which audience he had in front of him.  He would have done very well before the age of mass communications and instant reporting via Twitter, newspapers and blogs.  But he was outed as nothing but a talking chameleon.

Twelve months later, here we go again, though with one important difference: there is no Cunliffe in the mix. The candidates this time round – Grant Robertson, Andrew Little, David Parker and Nanaia Mahuta – are pragmatists who have kept their eye on the prize of winning in 2017. They have not sacrificed that for the short-term prize of scoring points with the grassroots.

But even with the acrimony of the last contest missing, the primary has done nothing to dispel the perception that Labour is a party wracked by division.

And why would it?  Ultimately, a third of the party is going to have to take the damage.  They’ve known this for over three years.  The problem is that nobody is willing to fall on their sword.  They are all waiting for a natural advantage to develop.  Until then – dysfunction and deadlock.  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 »