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 »