Labour party

The fight is getting nasty, buy more popcorn

As the nasty knife fight inside Labour gets underway we can see that David Cunliffe is still at sixes and sevens.

Last night on Campbell Live he had this to say:

David Cunliffe: The reality is National has never gone out in two terms; that it’s very rare for a government to go out on [a] % growth rate, and it’s very, very hard when you’ve got distractions like Kim Dotcom

John Campbell: The 4% growth rate was predicted. It was very much in Treasury’s books when you made that speech 12 months ago . You promised Labour you could do it. You got 24%.

DC: 24.7% … Nobody is saying this is good enough … the hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who needed a fresh start were disappointed by it.

JC: Why didn’t they vote for you?

DC: That’s the subject of a review.

JC: Hold on a sec. You are a leader, and you are a bright man. Why didn’t they vote for you?

DC: I think at the end of the day, people wanted stability. They wanted prosperity. They saw the current government, for now, delivering that for them, and they weren’t prepared to take what they saw as some kind of risk for a change.

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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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The Huddle

newstalkzb

I was on The Huddle last night.

There was a slight change this week after Josie Pagani showed her right wing credentials they have decided to get a real left winger on the show and so David Farrar made an appearance

Our topics were:

  • Labour – where did it all go so wrong and will their inquiry get to the bottom of the problem. Looking at their terms of reference in relation to this it’s like they are basically looking at EVERYTHING to do with the party in relation to the situation. But I would say that the party’s only as good as the people running it – and they might be in for a  shock when the results of the review come back. They clearly need a good clean out to rejuvenate party in the public’s eye – but they also need behind the scenes people who can come up with effective and strong policy to move them towards the middle ground and become a real opposition party again. They do actually risk becoming irrelevant and leaving the door open for either the Greens or NZ First to be the “opposition”.
  • Then we’ve got the two friends for National in parliament. They feel like faux deals as there doesn’t appear to be much in it for either Peter Dunne or David Seymour – I guess it gives National more of a buffer in the house, but what on earth is an under -secretary? Interesting though that both Dunne and Seymour are happy to roll with their votes going to National for very little relevance in the wider scheme of things.

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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 »

David Cunliffe makes Grant Robertson’s homosexuality a primary issue

He hasn’t even formally stood down for the leadership, and the first major bloodletting has started.  Hot on the heels of offering Grant Robertson the deputy leadership, Cunliffe is pushing the message that a gay party leader will do major damage.

Cunliffe reluctantly quit at the weekend. Deputy David Parker is most likely to step in as interim leader at a caucus meeting this morning.

On Thursday the party’s council decides when to hold a primary-style contest for the top job.

There are two contenders – New Lynn MP Cunliffe and Wellington Central MP Robertson, though former leader David Shearer may yet declare his candidacy.

Robertson has strong caucus support. But Cunliffe loyalists point to the backing he has from the Pacific Island community in South Auckland. Labour held the Mangere, Manukau East and Manurewa electorates at the election, although its share dropped by around 5 percentage points.

One community leader, who did not want to be named, said many in the community were uneasy about tactics used in the last week to force Cunliffe out. And Robertson’s homosexuality clashed with socially conservative attitudes of voters, who would turn instead to NZ First, he said.

‘‘If Labour want to go from 24 [per cent] to 14 and put NZ First from 10 to 19, that’s the way to go. He won’t unify the party. He will destroy the South Auckland power base

Awesome.  So the choice is between someone who led the party to its biggest defeat in almost a century and the guy capable of delivering an even bigger one.   Read more »

The Huddle at 1740

newstalkzb

It’s Monday and as usual Larry Williams has The Huddle.

There is a slight change this weeks after Josie Pagani showed her right wing credentials they have decided to get a real left winger on the show for tonight and so David Farrar will be joining us.

Our topics will be:

  • Labour – where did it all go so wrong and will their inquiry get to the bottom of the problem. Looking at their terms of reference in relation to this it’s like they are basically looking at EVERYTHING to do with the party in relation to the situation. But I would say that the party’s only as good as the people running it – and they might be in for a  shock when the results of the review come back. They clearly need a good clean out to rejuvenate party in the public’s eye – but they also need behind the scenes people who can come up with effective and strong policy to move them towards the middle ground and become a real opposition party again. They do actually risk becoming irrelevant and leaving the door open for either the Greens or NZ First to be the “opposition”.
  • Then we’ve got the two friends for National in parliament. They feel like faux deals as there doesn’t appear to be much in it for either Peter Dunne or David Seymour – I guess it gives National more of a buffer in the house, but what on earth is an under -secretary? Interesting though that both Dunne and Seymour are happy to roll with their votes going to National for very little relevance in the wider scheme of things.

You can listen online via iHeartRadio and usual methods.

As usual i will post the audio in the morning.

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Grant Robertson wants to be judged on policy

Grant Robertson

Labour leadership hopeful Grant Robertson is relaxed about David Cunliffe supporters raising the issue of him being gay but he does not believe it will be a factor in their vote.

“There may well be some people who raise that. That’s fine. But that’s not where I think I’ll be judged.

“I’ll be judged, I’m sure, on my ability to reflect Labour values,” he said last night.

He said he was not defined by his sexuality.

“It’s an aspect of who I am just as I like rugby and drink beer and a few other things.”

Mr Robertson, the MP for Wellington Central, declared his intention to seek the leadership when David Cunliffe gave notice on Saturday that he would resign tomorrow and seek a new mandate.

He’s stuffed.

Seriously.   Read more »

Running a political party by committee fails every time

8pbMwnh

National was in the same spot in 2002 that Labour found itself in 2008, 2011 and indeed today.  It takes effort to climb back out of a defeat, but National almost did it in two terms.

National chose three new leaders over nine years in opposition: Bill English, Don Brash and John Key. Each led the party at an election and it was third time lucky. Labour has chosen three new leaders over six years but only two have been put to a public vote. Mr Shearer did not survive a full term. He wants another chance. So does Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson, who ran unsuccessfully in the party election last year when he was the preferred candidate of the caucus.

Whoever Labour chooses this time, it must get it right. Four leaders for a party in opposition is unprecedented.

And yet it won’t.  It has a bigger problem than not having an effective leader.  It needs a total overhaul.  Putting a new steering wheel in a vehicle with an unreliable engine isn’t going to get you anywhere.   Read more »

Mallard not shutting his gob

Trevor Mallard, fresh from a scare orchestrated by his own party int he boundary changes, won’t be told to shut up and neither will he shut up about his voting preference for the upcoming bloodbath otherwise known as a leadership spill.

Neither will he listen to Chris Hipkins, since he was the one behind the push for boundary changes in order to rinse Mallard.

While Mallard sweats on the specials he isn;t shutting up.

Trevor Mallard has reportedly sent an email to his fellow MPs saying he would not stay silent on the Labour leadership race.

RadioLIVE reported that Labour Party senior whip Chris Hipkins told MPs to not publicly discuss who they were supporting in the leadership race.

Mr Mallard sent an email saying he didn’t want to be gagged by Mr Hipkins, and wanted to tell the public who he backed, RadioLIVE reported.

However, Labour president Moira Coatsworth told the radio station that there were no gagging orders on MPs.   Read more »

Chart of the Day

Actually make that charts of the day.

David Farrar has a chart of Labour’s stellar electoral record since 1938.

Labour-eletion-results-560x366

This is a graph of Labour’s general election results in every general election since 1938. I’ve added a trendline in, to reinforce the obvious point. They do go through cycles of relative highs and lows but each high is lower than the one before, and each low is lower than the one before.

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