Fran O’Sullivan on Cunliffe

Fran O’Sullivan is off on holiday until September 8th, but leaves us with a piece on “Problem Child”  David Cunliffe

In a previous life Cunliffe was one of capitalism’s handmaidens. He spent time with Boston Consulting; his wife is a top environment lawyer; they live at a very nice address in Auckland’s Herne Bay.

But he was marked out for destruction by his colleagues when Clark (too openly) took him under her wing when he entered politics.

This does not explain why the ABC (Anyone But Cunliffe) Club  is led by Trevor Mallard.  I doubt at the time he felt displaced by Cunliffe in Helen Clark’s affections as Trevor wasn’t under Clark’s wing but her thumb.  Truth is Labour has more than the Shearer/Cunliffe faction, they have the Robertson faction and the Maori faction.  Then there is the Union faction and the GLBT faction.

So, it’s not surprising that the “ABC Club” (Anyone but Cunliffe) quickly sank his chances, levering the political neophyte Shearer into the Labour leadership against the party’s clear preference for the politician who can cut the mustard in Parliament with every bit as much venom and vigour as Sir Michael Cullen used to display.

Cullen tried to roll Clark in a coup remember.

There is a typo in here for sure, Clark was never an internationalist, surely Fran means Cunliffe?

Like Clark, Shearer is an internationalist. In his bones he does not stand for the kind of reversion to cloth cap ideology that Cunliffe has been nakedly embracing.

Outflanked? Jesus Shearer is being outperformed by Parekura Horomia presently and Trevor Mallard gets more media attention because his lights are still on, even if no one is actually home in Wainuiomata.

Shearer is clever. But rather flat in his political demeanour. He does not like being outflanked by a colleague with more obvious political wattage.

Fran has suggested Labour need to find a way to shut Cunliffe up, Chinese style.

As with Bo in China, Cunliffe has launched a serious challenge to the prevailing ideology of his party’s political wing. Does he seriously believe the nostrums in his three speeches or has he cynically “gone red” to build votes within the party at large. And will his colleagues succeed in burying him? The ABC club can’t place Cunliffe under house arrest. They might just have to engage instead.

Or not.  After this past week the caucus may be thinking of engaging Grant Robertson instead.


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  • Troy

    I think Shearer really is stuck. There are too many factions within Labour for it to properly function. I’m not saying National is a well-oiled machine but at least they seem to be able to work off the same page of music most of the time. With Labour at the moment, it’s very fragmented and not really close to being cohesive.
    Shearer really needs to get tough and lay down the law (seems his last attempt didn’t work) – he risks being continually walked over otherwise.
    From Nationa’s point of view – Labour is the gift that just keeps on giving!

    • davewin

      Agreed. Labour need to spend the next two years on a message – Growth, improving trade opportunities, keeping expectations in check with the improvements made to the two matters listed. They need to get of the Social Change topic, and actually show they are able to work as a political entity to gain some ends for the NZ population as well as their favourite touchstones.

  • AnonWgtn

    Cunliffe will not make it – hope he has the job he went overseas to seek.
    He is male
    He has a brain
    He is not Queer
    He is not a Unionist
    He is not a Teacher
    He is quite wealthy (along with his Lawyer wife)
    He has never worn a cloth cap either
    He is in wrong Party

    • Gazzaw

      An excellent summation Anon. It’s tragic that labour will lose their best brain in Parliament just to appease the old guard, the gays the unionists & the incompetent. Cunliffe is probably their only hope for survival. It will be interesting to see what he does overseas – is he pragmatist enough to work in a trade or commerce related role under the current administration?

    • 2ndAmendment

      He is in wrong Party

      Yeah, right NZ doesn’t have an Trotskyites but only Leninists (Green) & Stalinists (Labour) and of course Khrushchevites (National) and the odd Brezhnevite (ACT).

  • Tony

    I don’t agree on one point WO – Clark is certainly an internationalist. The idea being that national sovereignty is less-important then global governance. Consider support for the UN vice the US; the silly global warming/ETS stuff; and the continuing (almost automatic) adherence to international treaties without presenting them to the people of NZ for ratification/agreement. This is not to say that Clark is the only internationist – but she is one.

    • Whaleoil

      Yes sorry I forgot to edit that.