Vernon Small

Vernon Small interviews his keyboard

Vernon Small is supposed to be clever, he is rather pink coloured and enbedded deep within Labour and so when you read articles like his one this morning you really wonder if he is so embedded in the left he has no idea what actually goes on outside his state funded cubicle in the Press Gallery.

Especially when he makes silly statements like this:

The really tricky one is how to deal with Judith Collins, a senior minister at the heart of his government who has clearly taken her friendship with Slater too far.

How can a friendship go too far? What sort of friendships does Vernon have? You know attending concerts with Labour MPs and staffers in Martinborough? (Yes Vernon you were, I was sitting two rows behind you and the Labour “friends”)

Key has opted for the lesser of two evils by keeping her on with only a mild rebuke. (‘‘Unwise’’, in the glossary of political discipline, is somewhere near the bottom of the rising crescendo that passes through inappropriate and ends up at inexcusable and unacceptable for a minister.)

The alternative was to sack her or issue a much stronger rebuke, but on that he was boxed in by the final warning he gave her for not being full and frank with him during the Oravida controversy.

Also, a tougher response would have given credence to Hager’s book, which Key has been at pains from the day it was published to avoid doing.

That begs the question what he will do with Collins if he is prime minister after September 20.

She could be offered up as a sacrifice on the altar of a deal with Winston Peters – he is no fan of National’s hard Right – with a Cabinet demotion. That was unlikely before the events of last week.

Read more »

Chris Trotter on The Cunliffe

I’ve been waiting for this post by Chris Trotter.

He is the left’s canary in the coal mine. When others blame the messenger it is  Trotter is analysing the message.

MUCH SCORN has been heaped upon the claims of Fairfax political journalist, Vernon Small, that a change of leader could rescue Labour’s electoral fortunes. But shooting the messenger, as so many have done in relation to this story, is a poor substitute for studying the message. Especially a message like this one!

According to Small, if every person who claimed they would vote for Labour if David Cunliffe was no longer its leader kept their word, then support for the party would skyrocket. From its present parlous position, located somewhere between 23 and 25 percent, support would rise by an astonishing 13.5 percentage points to an election-winning 38.5 percent.

Whether this projection is statistically valid or not interests me much less than what the numbers cited by Small tell us about the political preferences of the electorate.

Clearly, there is an extremely large number of voters (several hundred thousand) who would like to vote for the Centre-Left but are disinclined to so while it remains in its current state.

At the heart of this disinclination is the Labour Party itself. Looking at it, they see a tortured, internally fractious, ill-disciplined organisation peopled by individuals who clearly loathe one another, and who seemed determined to not only lose the Election of 20 September 2014 – but all subsequent elections.

Not surprisingly, the person they blame for this state of affairs is the Labour leader, David Cunliffe. In spite of so obviously wanting the job, the general consensus among centre-left voters is that, having got it, he has made a God-Almighty mess of it.

Cunliffe’s tentativeness and outright bumbling has both surprised and disappointed his supporters. He had led them to believe that if Labour’s members and trade union affiliates made him their leader he would lead his party in double-quick time back to its democratic socialist roots. But, when Labour’s rank-and-file did exactly as he asked, Cunliffe spent the next three months doing three-fifths of bugger-all.   Read more »

13 point bounce if they roll the Cunliffe

Why are they still talking about it?  He’s on holiday… political assassination time

Vernon Small doesn’t mind offering up the knives for the back stabbing either

Some Labour MPs were yesterday privately canvassing leadership options, even at this late stage.

But they believe Labour would be even more severely punished by such an outward sign of panic.

Labour’s focus now has shifted to protecting its vote from further erosion, and preserving the seats of some of its up-and-coming stars, including Andrew Little, seen as a future leadership contender, and former teacher Kelvin Davis.

Even some of Labour’s seasoned hands, including finance spokesman David Parker and frontbench MP Jacinda Ardern, could be at risk of losing their seats in Parliament if party support sank much lower.

At what point will the fragile public patina of calm solidarity tear?   Read more »

No one likes The Cunliffe

Cunliffe - Sh_t

David Cunliffe aka The Cunliffe, isn’t as popular as Greg Presland thinks he is.

In fact the Fairfax Ipsos polls shows that Labour would do better without him.

Vernon Small delivers the bad news.

Labour would get an immediate lift in the polls if it dumped leader David Cunliffe, a new poll suggests.

The stuff.co.nz/Ipsos poll reveals that Cunliffe may have become Labour’s biggest liability, with a significant number of voters saying they would be more likely to vote for Labour if someone else were leader.

Click here for full poll results in graphics.

The effect is sizeable, making a 13.5 percentage point difference to Labour’s vote.

Although a similar effect is seen on National when asked the same question about John Key, it is much smaller.

The finding will plunge Labour further into crisis after yesterday’s poll result cementing Labour’s support in the mid-20s.

Privately, Labour and the Greens now acknowledge that it would take an unprecedented swing against National to force a change of government on September 20.

Some Labour MPs were yesterday privately canvassing leadership options, even at this late stage.

But they believe Labour would be even more severely punished by such an outward sign of panic.    Read more »

Vernon Small has been drinking Labour’s Kool Aid again

Vernon Small seemed to have enjoyed his weekend sipping the Labour Kool Aid, and has come away all giddy that union bought socialist policies still have a place outside of Venezuela.

Labour’s election year congress started with a whimper – as if the party was struggling to “keep the hope alive”.

All the talk of an enthusiastic campaign team, voter strategies and strong support on the ground looked for all the world like the upbeat preparations of a school first XI about to take on Brazil.

But it ended with a bang as leader David Cunliffe’s speech to a packed Michael Fowler Centre – Labour optimistically claiming more than 1000 supporters – was cheered to the rafters, especially for his promise to fund another 2000 teachers.

It remains to be seen if that mood can survive or will be doused by the cold reality of the next poll.

But it was a boost to morale that the party faithful were thirsty to swallow, with poll ratings becalmed below 30 per cent.

Campaign planning does look in good shape, and the opening speech on Saturday from newly-minted “egalitarian man”, finance spokesman David Parker, went down well. He even got a standing ovation midstream that seemed to surprise no-one as much as him.

Labour’s run of education announcements also hit the spot with party delegates – and likely the public.

Add together the extra teachers, smaller class sizes, a move to freeze out the loathed “voluntary donations”, and subsidised portable personal computers for students and it adds up to an attractive package.

Read more »

The Hand of the King acts

Hand_of_the_King

According to some more looney pockets of the interwebs and New Zealand blogosphere the whole Cunliffe “smear” is all my doing and I am described as the Voldemort of NZ politics.

Personally I prefer Game of Thrones to Harry Potter…or perhaps House of Cards…except it isn’t Zoe going under the train, it is David Cunliffe.

More seasoned commentators like Vernon Small simply comment that who so ever did this hit should take a bow.

Whoever set David Cunliffe up for a Left jab over his contact with Donghua Liu this week should take a bow.

And Cunliffe should be asking himself how he was ever so naive.

If his staff could not find any evidence of him advocating for the wealthy businessman, it was perhaps understandable that he was willing to say unequivocally that he had not. After all, no politician wants to sound slippery and equivocal when they don’t need to be.

But a more cautious man would have heard the hidden menace behind questions being asked by the media about any advocacy by him – and instinctively given himself some wriggle room – rather than a definitive “nope”.

It is that denial, and the contrast with the criticism Labour has made of Liu’s links with National, that are the problem for Cunliffe, rather than the existence of the letter itself.

Read more »

Labour gives up on South Auckland

It would appear that Labour is signalling that it has given up on South Auckland.

After the facts emerged about their ill-conceived immigration policy, seemingly developed on the fly via media interviews, they were forced to admit about the only place that they can manipulate immigration is via family reunifications.

Guess who that affects more than anyone else? That’s right…Pasifika migrants.

Vernon Small delivers the bad news for South Auckland:

Labour is taking aim at work visa and family reunification categories as it eyes ways to limit the flow of migrants to the country.

The party has come under fire over the idea, which first surfaced in its monetary policy as a way to help curb interest rate rises and house prices.

Prime Minister John Key went on the attack over the policy yesterday, even claiming he and his wife would not be in New Zealand if Labour’s plan went ahead.

His parents were from Austria and Britain and wife Bronagh’s parents were Irish. “Under David Cunliffe, I wouldn’t be here and Bronagh wouldn’t be here.”

Key said Cunliffe wanted to “turn off the tap” but it was not possible. Some people, such as Australians, had the right to come here. “It would be a very knee-jerk reaction to go out there and all of a sudden say we are going to completely stop migration,” Key said.   Read more »

Mana nervous of Kim Dotcom, while Hone tells us all lies

The wheels seem to be falling off the Dotcom trolley as it heads faster and faster down Extradition Street.

Last week the Supreme Court told the dodgy German that he can’t see all the evidence the FBI has amassed against him, that the Extradition Act applies and his date in court will be the extradition hearing.

With him living in the leakiest house north of the bridge it come as no surprise to him that his plans to rort the electoral system and fund or accommodate Hone Harawira’s Mana party have been leaked in full detail.

Mana activists aren’t happy. Vernon Small reports:

The Mana Party is taking a rain check on linking up with Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party until it sees its candidates, its policy planks and gets an assurance it is committed to a change of government.

The Megaupload founder is expected to launch his party on Thursday, and will need to secure 500 members to register it with the Electoral Commission.

He has floated the idea of a deal with the Hone Harawira-led Mana Party to help both of them secure more MPs after the September 20 election, but Mana remains wary.  Read more »

Cunliffe’s cock ups biting, and now there is another one

Things are pretty bad when embedded Labour journalist Vernon Small lashes out at you.

Three months and three gaffes.

It is an understatement to say it has not been the greatest start to election year for Labour leader David Cunliffe.

It is more than three.

The slip over the baby bonus, by failing to disclose in his speech that it would not be paid on top of parental leave, took much of the wind out of his January sails.

It also deflected attention from a $500 million spending pledge that Labour had hoped would set the agenda.

No sooner was the House back in February than the $2.5m property-owning man was attacking Prime Minister John Key for living in a leafy suburb and defining his own mansion as a doer-upper and his own situation as middle of the road.

The climb-down came at the weekend.

This morning he has admitted it had been wrong to set up a trust for donations to his leadership bid. (If the cost was about $20,000 for his leadership campaign, why seek donations at all?)

That from a man and a party that has attacked National’s old habit of funneling donations through entities like the Waitemata Trust and joined in the condemnation of Finance Minister Bill English using a trust structure for his Wellington pile.  Read more »

Things are bad in Labour when Vernon Small mocks you

Vernon Small is known as a loyal servant of the Labour party, so things are pretty bad when Vernon decides to lambast the left.

Then there is poll- becalmed David Cunliffe, suggesting his $2.5 million- plus Herne Bay pile puts him in a different category when it comes to understanding Kiwi battlers, than the prime minister in his $10m mansion.

His next stroke of genius was to ask in Parliament’s Question Time about Key’s claim there were jobs out there, if people looked for them.

Cunliffe’s timing – when he was seeking a new chief of staff, had lost a senior member of his research team and had seen his potential candidate for Tamaki Makaurau, Shane Taurima, fall on his sword at Television New Zealand – was, shall we say, not ideal.  Read more »