Vernon Small

Vernon Small didn’t get the memo about Andrew “Who?” Little

Fairfax’s Vernon Small obviously missed out on the memo about what a great speech Andrew “Who?” Little gave today.

He will probably be getting a summons via text from Andrew Little to come in for a please explain meeting.

No tubs were thumped, no visions conjured and one sacred Labour cow was only slightly wounded in the making of Andrew Little’s first big public speech.

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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 »

Circus? More like a party of clowns

Labour's leadership contest has become a Carnival of CLowns

Labour’s leadership contest has become a Carnival of Clowns

Vernon Small chokes down a bite of dead rat and writes about the state of his beloved Labour party that in his mind at least has become like a circus.

By rights the political debate should be focused on the Government’s handling of two things.

How does it meet its self- imposed need to do something alongside traditional allies and friends in Iraq and Syria without getting too deeply embroiled in the war against Islamic State?

And how will John Key make a dent in the number of children in poverty, given the Government’s pre-eminent focus on work as the best route out of poverty?

That begs the obvious question: what about the large number of working poor? And how out of tune was Bill English with his view that planning laws and local government rules were the main cause of poverty because they drive up house prices?

But then along came Andrew Little, Nanaia Mahuta, David Shearer and the whole Labour three-ringed circus to demand its place in the limelight.

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Would people who have no knowledge of military matters stop making silly suggestions

SAS-Baddass

NZSAS after operation in Kabul to sort out some Taliban ratbags

David Farrar opines about Vernon Small’s article that New Zealand sends military transport and not our highly skilled SAS to Syria and Iraq.

But first lets address Small’s report.

Prime Minister John Key says New Zealand could offer the airforce’s “airlift capacity” as part of a contribution to the international military action against Islamic State (IS) militants.

The extremist Islamic group, also known as Isil, and Isis, has rapidly moved to control and destabilise Iraq, sweeping in from Syria in the north. The group has beheaded aid workers, journalists and carried out crucifixions and mass executions.

Key is also signalling that Cabinet will tomorrow take the first step towards cracking down on New Zealanders who go to fight alongside IS, by extending the time passports can be cancelled and by making fighting with IS an explicit criminal act.

Speaking on TV One’s Q+A programme, Key said a range of options were being considered for New Zealand involvement in the IS conflict but more work was needed before a final decision.

Any action should be “useful, practical and work”, he said. That could range from humanitarian action, which was already under way, and include military options such as training, “to ultimately people who would be there right on the front line”.

“The last bit is some sort of military support, but not necessarily people on the ground, so it could be airlift capability.”

Let’s look at the stupidity of that suggestion, from Key and reported by Vernon Small.   Read more »

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.

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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.

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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.

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