Brian Edwards endorses Cunliffe, appeals to ABCs to give up

My good friend Brian Edwards has come out in support of David Cunliffe. He has been particularly blunt for the old codger who is normally the epitome of politeness.

A good mate pointed out to me that it wasn’t very smart to heap abuse on the heads of people whose opinion you hoped to change. He was referring to my most recent post On the extremely rare danger of overestimating Labour Party Stupidity, in which I called the ‘Anyone But Cunliffe’ brigade ‘numbskulls’.

My good mate is right. It wasn’t very smart and you aren’t all numbskulls. But I was angry with you. Very angry.

I’m still angry with you because, though I’m not a member of the Labour Party, that’s where my political sympathies lie – left of left. Like you, I want Labour to win the next election. I want to see the back of a government that rewards the rich and powerful and punishes the poor and powerless. So I’m unlikely to have time or sympathy for anyone whose words or actions make that Labour win unlikely.  That is what you are doing by supporting either Grant Robertson’s or Shane Jones’ bid for the leadership. Robertson can’t win for Labour and Jones is a harmful distraction.   

Pretty emphatic. He provides an interesting insight into the 2008 campaign in his analysis of Grant Robertson.

I like Grant Robertson. He’s hugely intelligent, is a brilliant debater in the House, has a good sense of humour and seems to be a really nice bloke.

There are sadly several reasons to discount the ‘really nice bloke’ bit. The history of New Zealand politics for starters, a more or less even distribution of really nice losers and not-so-nice winners. Think Rowling, Goff, Shearer; think Kirk, Muldoon, Clark. Common factor in group two – ruthlessness. The pattern reflects our national psyche: given the choice, we’d rather have a bully than a wimp.

Still, it can’t hurt to be a brilliant debater in the House. No it can’t. But the mistake is in thinking that brilliance in the parliamentary debating chamber automatically translates into brilliance in the radio or television studio. It doesn’t. As Helen Clark’s media advisors, we were guilty of making that mistake before the first Leaders Debate in 2008. We’d written off Key as inconsequential, a lightweight in the House and no match for Helen in experience, intellect or mastery of the issues.

The Prime Minister lost that first debate and we had to regroup. Despite his inexperience and his mangling of the English language, Key connected with the radio and television audience, listening and watching at home in their ones and twos. Although they have a huge reach, television and radio are both intimate media. Parliament could not be more different. The debating techniques that are admired there – playing to the gallery, not listening to your opponent,  interrupting them, shouting them down, laughing at and abusing them  – are the precise opposite to what works on radio or television.

After outlining his opinion of the many flaws of Grant Robertson he then appeals to the ABCs.

Those of you who support or intend to support Grant’s nomination for the leadership are swimming  against this stream. Your dislike of Cunliffe is stronger than your determination to win the election.

This seems to me to be a case of cutting off your nose to spite your face. So I withdraw my ill-considered and abusive comments about you and invite you to take another look at what you are doing.

You are in a very powerful position. There is a degree of uncertainly as to where the party vote will go in a month’s time; there is an even greater degree of uncertainty as to where the union vote will go. Your vote can be crucial. In backing Robertson to keep Cunliffe out, you may well be keeping Labour out of government in 2014 as well.

That seems to me a grave responsibility, not least because Cunliffe ticks all the boxes as the candidate most likely to defeat John Key.

Have another think. Three more years in opposition doesn’t seem terribly attractive.

I wonder what happens when Cunliffe loses in 2014?


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  • AnonWgtn

    For years my late father said in prayer “God preserve me from nice people”.
    Still valid, particularly in politics.

  • rockape

    So much emphasis on personality, so little on policy. The election will be won like this 40% past record, 40% policy proposed and 20% on the person who presents them to the voters. I suspect National win all three categories.

  • Col

    Brian has one thing right about Grant Robertson, but I never knew he was a good “debater” in the house, and another comment from Brian is “swimming up stream” I m note an idiot I can read between the men here.

    • OT Richter

      Given the chance, Jones is a master debater.

      • Euan Ross-Taylor

        Off the cuff he really does speak with fluency and engages the listener, but from notes he is very stilted which is why he would be more of a foe if he were in Govt answering questions, rather than in opposition having to ask them.

      • FredFrog

        In reality, all labia MPs are mass debaters.

        Jones just got caught at it.

  • conwaycaptain

    Cunliffe is an egotistical, stop at nothing to get his own way, unmitigated BASTARD. A Labour version of Muldoon.
    Robertson is another professional pollie with no experience in the real world.
    Jones can connect with a wide range of people but he has the wimmin off side and he is not left wing enough for the power brokers of the unions.

    • johnbronkhorst

      Accept Muldoon could point to achievements that cunliffe can’t even dream about.
      Currency (pounds to dollars 1967)
      The electricity generation that we take for granted.
      Start of electrification of main trunk line
      Marsdon point expansion to reduce foreign oil dependence
      Motonui recently reopened
      NZ steel
      etc etc
      He did other things on the other side (bad side) of the ledger but cunliffe has NOTHING positive to point to!

      • AngryTory

        Not forgetting sending the red brigade against he unions, protesters and other leftist anti-tour bludgers. Muldoon wouldn’t have tolerated Taame’s Army and would have needed the courts to end Iti’s career in terrorism permanently.

        • Rex Widerstrom

          And not forgetting just making it happen as far as sorting the Arthur Allan Thomas matter out. He had a keen nose for bullshit and smelled it emanating from the Police.

          No pussy footing round, duck-shoving and diving like successive AGs and PMs have done with Peter Ellis. To borrow from Kennedy, Muldoon saw wrong, and righted it.

          He may have done a lot of wrong as well but that, for me, will always get him across the line on to the “to be admired” side of the ledger.

          • TheRobberDog

            I was a toddler when he came to power but grew up knowing my parents admired him. I am currently reading Rob Muldoon’s autobiography (the second one) and page after page, I am astonished at the incredible talents and intellect he possessed.

    • Agent BallSack

      What Jones would lose in wimmens vote, I have a feeling he would make up for in Maori and Male vote. The women have an option to either lump it or vote Green, which is still in Labours favour. I think he is the logical choice but because Labour are who they are it won’t happen.

  • Col

    Pity the horse is not running, would have won by a tooth or two.

  • johnbronkhorst

    “I want to see the back of a government that rewards the rich and powerful and punishes the poor and powerless.”
    This how labour and other lefties say…”…… rewards the hard working and smart working and doesn’t GIVE gratuitous hand outs to the lazy and feckless!”

    • Random66

      When I read that same sentence I thought any campaign that ran with that slogan would probably be a shoo in. Many buy into that thinking and will vote accordingly and we are not just talking beneficiaries, most people view others to be richer and more powerful which makes them feel poorer and less powerful – hence disadvantaged. Brian is a master of words and it’s all about the spin you put on a situation. Labour would have the hardworking middle class NZ’er believe they will put more money into their pockets for doing less at the expense of greedy capitalist corporate entities, but in fact the truth is we will all be poorer if they get in because they are incompetent and will mismanage our economy. Don’t vote Labour is the only slogan I want to hear.

    • Liberty

      “punishes the poor and powerless”
      How does National punish the poor?
      It is the poor’s choice to breed. They are mollycoddled cradle to the grave.
      They don’t pay tax in real terms. Just leach of the top 10% of tax payers
      They have a social welfare department assigned to them. The poor also make substantial use of the
      Health and Education departments. Of which the National Government
      has sunk money into as if there were no tomorrow.
      The National Government then entertains the poor with New Zealand on Air.

      • johnbronkhorst

        No argument here.
        The govt. receives approx. $160 billion in taxes, levies etc.
        There are approx. 2 million taxpayers (maybe 2.5 mill possible tax payers).
        That’s $80000 each the govt. spends. So if you haven’t paid your $80000 share to run the country. Just say thank you to the ones that paid more to cover for you!

  • kevin

    Their (the 3 of them) whole message seems to be anti John Key rather than offering any sensible policy.

    • Agent BallSack

      You just described the Labour Party Policy.

    • blokeintakapuna

      If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance – baffle them with bullshit!

      • TheRobberDog

        Generally not hard…

  • Agent BallSack

    Anything that pisses Brian Edwards off is good with me.

    • paddles83

      ABS ditto with me as well ……..Edwards has a very short memory, where does he think the money that him and his wife have been filling their pockets with came from on media training for clark ect. Definitely not from the the Liebour party but the public tit.

  • Agent BallSack

    My opinion is this: Labour voters should give up on this coming election and vote for National instead. That gets rid of all the dead wood from the benches, stops Greens from getting anywhere near power and ensures that when the next election rolls around they can start with the Labour Party they want, not the one that’s forced on them. Of course that is logical so it will never happen.

    • BigDes

      Actually, that sounds smart. But reverse the rolls and imagine voting for labour? I’d stay home and cut my hands off before I could tick that box.

      • Agent BallSack

        Yeah, none of the above sounds better. But I can’t see a scenario in the National Party where people hold on to power for the sake of troughing and against the partys interests. Last person who tried that, was gone in 3 days (Gilmour). Which is also why we have the Winston First Party.

        • Euan Ross-Taylor

          They certainly need a fresh start, but by supporting National, they would actually kill off Labour with fewer seats and less support, and of course the MPs that would be shed would be the ones who are less deep in the trough. The old guard would be the ones left hanging on.

          • Agent BallSack

            Euan there’s going to be warfare no matter what. It has to be internal and until Labour realise that the navel gazers are WHY they are not resonating with the public (and the unionists too but I include them in), they are more than likely to never see the treasury benches.And if they do, God help us there are some stupid people in NZ.

          • Euan Ross-Taylor

            Very true, but it is the unionists who will be the anchor, holding back progress and dictating terms. Labour actually don’t have a hope under their new voting rules. As far as I can see, it can only be self destruction until either their voting process is changed to be democratic (I include in this their stupid manban ideas), or unions are held at arms length and not allowed direct involvement. Down-da-de-doo-down down….

          • kehua

            It surprises me that the `Gay`s`, do not pull out and form a Party for the supposedly 10% out there to Vote for and then act as a Lobby pretty much what AcT was reduced to.

          • Agent BallSack

            They would but considering the numbers of gay people in society are grossly over-inflated, a party with 1% of the vote would struggle to beat the Conservative numbers.

  • AngryTory

    Robertson and Jones can’t win. But neither cunliffe. And all of them assume they can survive the bloodletting after the next election.

  • Euan Ross-Taylor

    That last paragraph is so condescending, but then I wonder if Edwards readers would even notice! At least he nails his own colours to the mast, but again we have a journalist blatantly using their ‘job’ to promote personal agendas. I know this is an opinion piece and it is only right that Mr Edwards have his own opinions, but is it journalism? I think not, it is self serving propaganda trying to influence the masses to think as he does. No respect for this article from me.

    • Agent BallSack

      The amusing thing is Brian supports the least electable of the 3. And I totally agree, Brian seems to think he alone knows what’s best for the Labour Party and if you don’t agree with him you’re an idiot.

      • FredFrog

        Or maybe he’s very cunning and taking a long term view. Get one of those who causes division out of the way (As Cuntlippe will be if he gets leadership, and then loses the election next year), clearing the way for someone who can get some semblance of unity in the caucus.

  • tarkwin

    Brian forgot to open a window when using enamel paint again.

  • Agent BallSack

    “Your dislike of Cunliffe is stronger than your determination to win the election.”

    So vote in a Leader everyone hates because it’s going to be good for the Labour Party. LMFAO. I think the cannabis he used to smoke is affecting his brain cells. Please do!

    • Agent BallSack

      Everyone hated Mike Moore too. How did that work out?

  • BJ

    “Think Rowling, Goff, Shearer; think Kirk, Muldoon, Clark. Common factor in group two – ruthlessness.”

    Note John Key is never put in either category of weak or ruthless – because he’s in a category all of his own and no-one in the Labour Party can match him.

  • Phar Lap

    Just the comments of a bitter po faced irish import.Goes with Russel Norman,Sullen Cullen,Andrea Vance,etc,etc.FFS is there no end to the number of wetbacks into NZ,who bring their failed philosophy and propaganda into NZ.

    • Agent BallSack

      Socialism is a disease masquerading as the cure.

  • blairmulholland

    Of the three, I personally prefer Shane Jones. But he would be a disaster for Labour, because he is to the right of his party, and so he would have to pull the Goff/Shearer trick of saying things he knows are bullshit most of the time. I also think he has no chance in practical terms.

    Cunliffe is too stupid/narcissistic to know that most of the things he would have to say are bullshit, so he would never have the problem of looking insincere. But he could never lead the caucus – everyone would be white-anting him. For this reason I am sure National would prefer Cunliffe.

    Robertson would be the one I would most fear if I was John Key. Not because he is any great orator or could take Key in a stoush in the House, but because he is Helen’s protege, and he would unite the caucus behind him. He is an evil bastard who would be a disaster for NZ if he became PM. He’s like the gay Francis Urquhart. Whether that translates to electoral appeal only time will tell, but I think he would be the best choice from Labour’s perspective.

    • Agent BallSack

      I know, imagine having to call bullshit on stupid ideas. Thats why Jones will never be PM they don’t trust him to lie continually.

      • FredFrog

        It’s time Jones realised where his heart really is, and he jumps waka. He really is blue, not red.

        • Agent BallSack

          I won’t be surprised if he does that after he loses this battle. But maybe for the Maori or NZF parties. Depends how much he loves his opposition salary.

    • Euan Ross-Taylor

      I can’t believe Robertson has a strong work ethic? He looks to me like someone who likes to take the easy route. I therefore think he would not have the perseverance to work hard and hold the Labour gaggle together. Just my impression – I could well be wrong. Unlike JK who I know spends copious amounts of time keeping up with all the plays and is rarely caught out not knowing something.

  • In Vino Veritas

    And clearly Edwards still underestimates Key. The choice in 2008, a year that saw the end of the best economic times of a generation, was between an academic with no track record in wealth creation, who would do anything for power and relied on sound bites of no substance, and a business man in command of detail, not afraid to make difficult (and in some cases unpopular) decisions that were in the best interests of the country. And Key has managed this country in a measured and successful way during the worst economic times of a generation. Sure, he could probably have been more ruthless in certain areas, but the bottom line is, 94% of NZ’rs are employed (as against 96% during Labours run in golden economic conditions), due to our social welfare system, barely anyone lives in real poverty (I discount the daft method of poverty calculation used by Ardern and other bleeding hearts, where any amount is not enough), our debt is manageable and in general our economy is performing well.

    • AngryTory

      Difficult & unpopular? Yeah right.

      And having employment at over 70% when we’re supposed to be restructuring the Labour market, propping it up by borrowing billions – isn’t just incompetent – it’s criminal.

      • In Vino Veritas

        Jeepers Tory, how angry are you?

        • AngryTory

          Really Angry. Key & National blew the best opportunity for restructuring NZ for a generation at least – better than 84 and 91 combined.

          We could have had real reform – what we got was massive borrowing to keep running almost all of Labours disastrous policies.

  • blueballs

    It’s inconsequential if you are a “brilliant” debater in the house or not. The vast majority of voters are oblivious to what goes on in there other than the orchestrated snippets the msm decide to allow to further their own sick agendas. Public perception of personalities is where it’s all at.

    • Agent BallSack

      Pity Silent T has the personality of a murdered kitten.

  • kehua

    Wonder what the `silly old codger` is going to come up with tomorrow, has brain fart probably inspired by a whiskey or two then after a few days watches for reaction and when there is none writes another load of paternalistic Leftwing twaddle as advice to a bunch of losers. Sounds a bit Irish to me.

    • Patrick

      That is offensive – Edwards might be Irish born but he ain’t an Irishman.
      He was a bigoted supporter of the so called Reverend Ian Paisley through the 1970s & 1980s. He is just another socialist nut job with his hand out taking from the hard earned taxpayer & contributing little.

      • FredFrog

        AHA! Another fucking leftwing Scottish prick then! The Irish proddies are not Irish, the’re Scottish imports, and they need to be removed. Why is it that it’s usually Scottish accents one hears when the union leaders a stirring up trouble?

  • Brian Edwards is really an irrelevancy. What makes him think his opinion is worth anything to anyone?

  • thor42

    As I’ve said elsewhere – whoever Labour chooses, it’ll be a new driver but the *same old tired and clapped-out jalopy of a car.*
    They’ll try to spruce up the same old failed policies with a bit of shiny wrapping paper and window-dressing.
    The Nats have *proved* that they can run the country in what have been the *toughest economic conditions for the last 80 years.*
    Can Labour say the same?

    • johnbronkhorst

      Same meat, different gravy!

    • AngryTory

      Of course Labour can say the same – Key is still following almost all of Hellens policies!

  • Agent BallSack

    I have an issue with the comment ‘left of left’. WTF? Does that mean right? Or am I having a reach around? ugh! I need that explained by the finest minds of the blog. Or Meg. HELP!

    • opusx

      When the left testicle hangs lower than is normal. Simple really.

      • Agent BallSack

        OH I always thought thats the sign of a National voter. Because when your female workmates balls hang lower than yours that signifies you’re a Labour voter? I forget and am easily distracted!

        • opusx

          FUCK…red wine all over my white shirt…curse you AB!!!