Helen Clark

Four terms or Five?

David Farrar didn’t believe that National could entertain winning four terms, but the scale of the defeat of the left has forced him to re-evaluate this thinking.

I had even mentally drafted a blog post intended for the day after the election, in case of a National victory, in which somewhat somberly I would have stated that while it is great National got a third term, MPs should realise that this is probably their last term in Government. The post would have been about how they need to secure the policy gains of the last six years, so as many of them as possible can’t be reversed, and also how if they can go into opposition with a relatively solid vote, then maybe there will be just two terms in opposition.

The nature of the election result has changed that. A fourth, or even a fifth term, is now a very credible possibility. I’m not saying a probability, but definitely a credible possibility. Here’s why:

  1. National’s 48% is the sort of result you get in your first term, not your last term
  2. The left vote totalled just 36%, and they need to grow this by 12% if they want to be able to govern, without being dependent on what Winston may decide
  3. The Conservatives could well make 5% in 2017, giving National an extra buffer
  4. John Key is now very likely to contest the 2017 election. Previously I would have said it was 60/40 at best.
  5. Labour’s leadership battle is turning off the public, and may leave the party divided and wrecked

I thought like Farrar.

If National won it was likely to be a narrow victory, with few partners and  the left on the rise I though John Key would jack it in and go out as a winning PM rather than risk being turfed out. Now I am certain that the next election is a certain victory for National, perhaps with some support partners. John Key will now look to best Keith Holyoake’s record and win a fourth term and cement his place in history. Holyoake served just under 12 years as PM therefore the winning of a fourth term means that John Key would easily pass that record. Key is now fast approaching the records of Helen Clark (8 years, 350 days ),Edward Stafford (8 years, 326 days), Robert Muldoon (8 years, 227 days ), Sid Holland (7 years, 281 days), Joseph Ward (7 years, 38 days), and Jim Bolger (7 years, 36 days), which will all fall this term.  Read more »

The unacceptability of David Cunliffe

After David Cunliffe bizarrely compared himself to Helen Clark and Norman Kirk we are going to see a demonisation of David Cunliffe much like the attacks on Kevin Rudd by pro-Gillard forces in Australia like Stephen Conroy, Stephen Smith and Wayne Swan.

We have already seen this with the Ilam candidate, James Dann, damning Cunliffe in an open letter.

It will be systematic, and it will be nasty. His reputation will be trashed by his own team, making him completely unacceptable for the membership to foist him upon the caucus. The caucus knows that they can’t command the membership, but they can make Cunliffe so unpalatable that the unions will act.

The problem is caucus too is highly factionalised. Clayton Cosgrove has been acting the bully-boy strong arming other candidates to stand aside and promote Grant Robertson. The problem is Clayton Cosgrove is so thoroughly discredited after running a candidate campaign in Waimakiriri, one that failed and also delivered up an appalling party vote result. He is despised as a result, even by those on the right of the Labour caucus. But caucus has to block vote now to send a message to the membership that they cannot countenance a dud leader like David Cunliffe. They need to effectively veto Cunliffe but that won’t work.

It won’t work because the membership is feral left. That membership believes that David Cunliffe is a martyr and that he was set up to fail by the caucus…a caucus of centrist traitors to the socialist cause. The only thing that unites caucus right now is their mutual loathing of David Cunliffe.

The hard left of the party, stocked now with old Alliance war-horses, are more interested in being pure rather than being in power. They are septic that their mates like Carol Beaumont got rinsed and are on the outside. Beaumont is so thoroughly disliked that when asked to provide her with a job, Helen Kelly refused out-right. Of course it is the same hard-left that was pulling strings inside Labour for them to tank Kelvin Davis in Te Tai Tokerau. They loathe candidates like him and Stuart Nash. They believe in a puritanical socialism, where people like Nash and Davis are actually closet tories and should actually be run from the party rather than emulated for their electoral success.   Read more »

Labour candidate James Dann writes to David Cunliffe

One of Labour’s 2014 candidates has written an open letter to David Cunliffe.

The crux of the letter is the last few paragraphs.

I gave my campaign everything, and I am sure that you did the same. We ran a two ticks campaign in Ilam. All our material had “Party Vote Labour” proudly on it. We delivered tens of thousands of pieces of paper with your face on it. But the reality, the hard truth, is that people in the electorate just didn’t connect with you. I lost count of the number of times I door knocked someone who told me they had voted Labour all their life, but wouldn’t vote for us as long as you were leader. People who would have a Labour sign – but not one with your face on it. While those examples are strictly anecdotal, the result on election night isn’t. It’s unavoidable. It’s practically the worst result in the Party’s history.

I can’t imagine how that feels. I know you’re an ambitious guy, that being Prime Minister is something that you’ve probably dreamed of since you were a kid. I know what that’s like; I’ve entertained those thoughts myself. You’ve been closer than most people will ever get. But you’ve had your shot. The Labour Party isn’t a vehicle for you to indulge your fantasy of being Prime Minister. While you might think that it’s your destiny to be the visionary leader of this country, the country has a very different vision – and it doesn’t involve you.   Read more »

Susan Wood on Labour’s leadership farce

Susan Wood doesn’t hold back with her thoughts on Labour’s leadership farce.

I’ve been thinking about leadership – real leadership and what it means.

I think this quote from a Harvard university professor sums it up. “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence. And making it last in your absence”

That gets me to our political leadership and soon to be former Labour leader David Cunliffe. I have no doubt he is an intelligent man, a well-intentioned man. But he has failed as a leader. The voters rejected him and his own caucus turned on him. The men and women he is leading have not become better because of his leadership and his absence has left a gaping hole of indecision and infighting.

The election defeat was of course not all his fault, no more than the National victory was all John Key’s work. But a great deal of it was.

Yes indeed, and his failure to be accountable has annoyed a great many members.

Since election night Cunliffe has barely put a foot right. The bizarre election night speech, a failure to take responsibility then a belated acceptance of sorts, dragging his decision out for a week before standing aside only to stand again which will lead to a protracted public blood letting.    Read more »

Chris Trotter on why changing leaders won’t be enough for Labour

Chris Trotter is a wise man of the left, more’s the pity that they don’t listen to him more often.

WHY DOES LABOUR do this to itself? Yes, they have just suffered an unprecedented (post-1922) election defeat, but that’s only because the 2014 General Election was itself unprecedented (post-1951).

And, besides, I’m tempted to say ‘so what?’ In 2002 the National Party suffered an even more embarrassing result when Bill English led his party to its worst defeat ever. National’s Party Vote plunged from a bad 30.5 percent in 1999, to an even worse 20.9 percent in 2002. (A whopping percentage point slide of 9.6, compared to David Cunliffe’s 2.8.)

The interesting thing about that debacle, however, is not what the National Party did in response, but what it didn’t do.

For a start, it didn’t change its leader. National understood (as Labour apparently does not) that a debacle on the scale of 2002 has many more contributing factors than simply a poor performance by the party leader. Defeat on such a scale is clear evidence of systemic – as well as personal – failures. Which is why the first priority of National’s hard-headed businessmen and farmers was to give the party organisation a very solid kick in the bum – not to sack Bill English. (He would keep.)

In the months following its 2002 defeat National thoroughly renovated itself: achieving for the Right what Jim Anderton, between 1979 and 1984, had achieved for the Left. Namely, the transformation of an ageing party into a vehicle more appropriately aligned to the economic, social and political context in which it operated.

Crucial to the success of such operations is the concentration of decision-making power in the hands of those best equipped to wield it. Under MMP, one of the most important functions to streamline is the formation of the Party List. National has achieved this by means of an all-powerful board of directors; the Greens by giving the job to their party members. For Labour, however, the list formation process remains the Party’s Achilles’ heel.

Bluntly, party list formation in the Labour Party is a colossal rort; a travesty of democratic principle on the scale of the “rotten boroughs” that once allowed the British aristocracy to control the composition of the House of Commons. More horse-trading takes place during this dangerously opaque process than at an Irish county fair – with considerably worse outcomes.

It’s ironic really, because Labour once boasted the most ruthless and centralised mechanism for selecting candidates of all the political parties. Seventy years ago it was the selector representatives of the all-powerful Labour Party Executive who called the shots – and they seldom missed. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then National, when renovating its structures, post-2002, paid Labour the most fulsome of compliments.

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Guest Post – Thoughts on Labour

A reader and new commenter emails:

Dear Team,

I posted my first comment recently after a long time reading and enjoying the blog (as ‘Reasoned and Rational’). Slowly getting drawn into the vortex ;-)

Some time ago I seem to recall an article which indicated that submissions from readers might be considered if of a suitable standard. I wonder if you’d read through my thoughts below and consider if it meets that standard? If so, please feel free to use it at some time when you have space. If you choose not to, no worries, it’s been fun getting it down in writing.

Best regards,

Reasoned and Rational


I grew up in home with a photo of Michael Joseph Savage on the mantel above the fireplace. My Dad was a working man, and the party ‘we’ supported looked after the interests of the workers, ensured a fair deal from ‘the bosses’, was interested monitoring the terms and conditions of employment, and made sure that there was a safety net in the form of social welfare if something went wrong. Social welfare was to catch you if you fell, and support you until you were back on your feet again. You took personal responsibility for finding work and getting back into it as quickly as possible if circumstances changed.

In the house I grew up in there was a pride in working. My Dad was very unhappy when once I mentioned University as an idea. “That’s just for those that can’t work, boffins and the sons of the bosses” I recall him saying. That certainly didn’t mean that education wasn’t valued, and teachers were respected as providing the route to a better job for me than he’d managed.

Times were different. Unemployment was low. Rob Muldoon once half joked he knew all 70 odd registered unemployed by name. Yes, there were only 70! When I got my first job upon leaving school I was employed not because I was the best man for the job, but for the simple reason I was the only one to reply to the ad.

It was easy to change jobs. Give the boss the two fingered salute on a Friday night, read the ‘Sits Vac’ in Saturday’s Herald and there was a good chance by Tuesday or Wednesday you were starting a new gig. Management trainee jobs were good to get all round experience and were plentiful at the time and amongst many other things I got experience at the Otahuhu freezing works with Hellabys and a timber yard with Henderson and Pollard.

My first five elections were all votes cast for Labour, as much out of habit and conditioning as anything else. I was more interested in what was happening on Saturday night than the long term future of the country.

By the end of that fifth election though, I was out the other end of an apprenticeship, married and watching the sense of disbelief and betrayal that the Lange/Douglas Labour government wrought on my father. He never cast another vote for Labour as long as he lived. He could never vote National so he became one of Winston’s supporters.     Read more »

Labour: Desolate, deluded and desperate

The Dance of the Desperates is about to begin, yet another leadership primary to decide who will replace the now drowned captain of the sinking ship Labour.

The desolation of the Labour party shows in the potential contenders for the race.

Speculation is now mounting that the contest won’t just be a race between the cardy wearing, beltway candidate , Grant Robertson and the narcissism of David Cunliffe.

First there are the truly deluded.

Andrew Little thinks the special votes will get him over the line in New Plymouth:

Former union boss Andrew Little did not rule out a tilt at the leadership, but pointed out that his return to the New Plymouth seat was still up in the air – it depends on special votes.

Yeah, that’s a nah for Little Andy. The election night results for New Plymouth show that he was spanked by more than 9000 votes by Jonathan Young. On top of that Labour lost the party vote by more than 12,000 votes. There is no way the specials can save Andrew Little and his claims of returning to a seat he has never held are simply deluded.

It is true that the specials might cost him his list spot in Labour though…perhaps that is what he meant.

From the deluded we get to the desperates:

Other names in the mix include former leader David Shearer, who regrets standing down a year ago and may have another shot.

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Has the NZ Herald never heard of Jenny Shipley?

The NZ Herald had a piece yesterday about all of Labour leaders in the past 6 years.

I thought the piece might be interesting until I saw the first line.

2008

11 November: Resignation of Helen Clark, after serving three consecutive terms since being elected as New Zealand’s first woman Prime Minister in 1999.

If they can’t get basic facts right in the first line then that doesn’t hold much confidence for the accuracy of the rest of the article.

Jenny Shipley was New Zealands first woman Prime Minister and no amount of re-writing history or weasel words can take that away from her. Oh sure the media and their pals in Labour like to say Helen Clark was the first “elected” Prime Minister but that is just pathetic semantics. We don’t elect our Prime Ministers in New Zealand, we never have and never will. There is no separate ballot for Prime Minister.

The rest of the article looks at the lengthening list of Labour’s failed leaders from Clark to Cunliffe, all slain in battle by Phil Goff, with the only exception being David Shearer, who nicked himself to death before finally falling on his dropped sword.

On present performance and the fact that Labour’s talent pool is as shallow as a car-park puddle expect the list of lonesome losers to grow.

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The left’s problem and a possible solution

Selwyn Manning is a nice guy, I genuinely respect him. Even though he is from the left he is at least considered and only prone to occasional lapses of judgement and falling for conspiracy theories.

His recent articles on the SIS OIA were very fanciful, and he should talk to sensible people rather than ranting idiots who are invariably wrong like Martyn Martin Bradbury.

His latest article though looks at the problems with Labour, the left and he also suggest a possible solution. It is TL;DR, but I have read it for you.

Here are the best parts.

Labour must wake up and scent the air. Because from outside this once broad-tent, in the real New Zealand, springtime has sprung. People are moving on, fast. From here, Labour’s self-dissection will simply create a political latency that in turn will become Labour’s self-conceived prophesy – it risks creating a political sea-anchor that will cause the party to stall, further disengage from opposition-politics, and further render its MPs as irrelevant and cumulatively a spent-force.

We know from previous observations that Labour is notorious for its naval-gazing. Whenever a crisis occurs, those who have occupied its caucus seemingly for decades roll out the tried and true rhetoric of “oh we must examine why this has occurred” and “we must learn from our mistakes”. Well, this tradition fails to cut it when one considers the responsibility this party shoulders as the leading force of the political centre-left – irrespective of last Saturday’s failure.

Any self-examination, of what went wrong or otherwise, will only reveal what has been blindingly obvious to any independent observer over the past six years. The detachment, the disengagement, the aloofness, the tribalism, the inability of the party to attract quality candidates based on merit. That the inverse has too often been the case where selections have been based on a person’s label, their political identity, rather than on their raw ability to represent and lead.

This, in large part, has contributed to Labour’s estrangement from real contemporary New Zealand. Out here, real people aspire to progress and desire to prosper and expect the party they elect to be representative of their own values.

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Helen Clark lies to Cunliffe over illegal spying

Labour leader David Cunliffe has been given assurances by former prime minister and party leader Helen Clark that New Zealanders weren’t been spied on under her leadership.

However he said there were still grey areas that need to be looked at regarding the allegations made by US journalist Glenn Greenwood and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Cunliffe was speaking at the University of Auckland this afternoon during a meet and greet with student supporters.

In response to intelligence and security inspector general Cherly Gwyn’s assertions that there was no evidence of mass surveillance on New Zealanders he said:

“There are a number of grey areas that New Zealanders want clarity on, like is meta data given the same protections as data?

“Do you need a warrant to access information about New Zealanders from third parties and is cyber security a easy way out around other protections?”

He said he has been given assurances by Clark that he had nothing to worry about.

“I have absolutely no indication that Labour has been involved in that in anyway. I have absolutely nothing I would be concerned about.”

Oh really?   Read more »