Inside the Young Labour war over Labour’s leadership

Some in Young Labour will be on Q+A this morning making the case for Labour to move to the left. The reality is they’re deeply divided.

Given the Young Labour National Executive is firmly in the clutches of Grant Robertson’s Wellington’s Mafia, it’s likely they’ll get in behind but not without backbiting from the Cunliffe-controlled Princes St Labour (PSL) branch in Auckland.

The factions in Young Labour are quite simple – Auckland (which backs Cunliffe) and Wellington (which backs Robertson). It’s Wellington that currently dominates the Young Labour Executive but the youth wing is far from united.

Camp Robertson

  • Reed Fleming – staffer in Grant’s office so is fighting for his job, especially after he we was eased out of the Labour leader’s office under Shearer.
  • Rory McCourt – VUWSA president and union-trougher. Elected via a nasty campaign helped by his mate Reed.
  • Arena Williams – Popular AUSA president. A Shane Jones fangirl who’s seen Robbo as a better bet. Has parliamentary aspirations sooner rather than later.
  • Levi Joule – regarded as principled third wayer. Failed AUSA politician. Tried to smear John Banks in 2011 and got exposed by this blog. Joule is on the outer in Princes St Labour because he doesn’t fit the Cunliffe mould of extremist leftism that he inspires in his supporters. 

Team Cunliffe

  • Shayne Misselbrooke – former Young Labour President. Worked on Phil Twyford’s campaign. Part of the West Auckland mob that backs Cunliffe.
  • Bronwyn Presland – freshly minted Executive Assistant of David Cunliffe. She is the daughter of Greg Presland (aka ‘Mickey Savage’ on the Standard blog). She’s been deployed to Wellington to do daddy’s bidding and will likely have a key role on Cunliffe’s office when ascends on Sunday. Footage of the disastrous Labour conference in 2012 shows her swanning around Cunliffe every time a camera was on him.
  • Sam Durbin – reputably one of the more septic and narcissistic Young Labourites and a failed student politician who helped root the books on AUSA. Ashamed of his St Kent’s education much like the former Young Nat, King’s educated, Cunliffe backer, Iain “stenography is a favourite hobby of mine” Lees-Galloway. Likes to write diatribe for Recess Monkey.
  • Antonia Verstappen – Deeply unpopular and failed AUSA politician/PSL hack. Rose to fame for wanting to ban orange juice on campus. Relative of the Presland’s. Seems it runs in the family…
  • Kieran Gainsford – PSL hack, boyfriend of Verstappen. Loves Cunliffe.
  • Soraiya Daud – Issues assistant for Cunliffe’s union queen, Carol Beaumont. Broke down in tears on a TV3 show when Levi Joule was deployed by Young Labour’s right faction to say Wellington had done their numbers on her…on television! Wants Labour to have more token ethnic MPs

Interestingly, Young Labour President Jessie Lipscombe has saying different things to different people. A dangerous position to be in when your job is said to be under threat – purportedly from Arena Williams, who it is said may challenge either Lipscombe for the Presidency or more likely Soraiya Daud for the Youth Vice Presidency of the party.

There are numerous others. And the divisions that emerge will be a product of the leadership circus we’ve seen this month. When you see the leadership race in the media, take a closer look at who the kids are in the background – it’s immensely interesting.

Should Cunliffe win – he most likely will – the war will only become more endemic as the kiddies maul each other…


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

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