The Press Editorial on Cunliffe and Labour

The Press Editorial has some words of wisdom for Labour and David Cunliffe.

If anyone in the Labour Party thought that a change of leader was going to bring the party a quick and easy boost to close the yawning popularity gap between it and National, the latest Fairfax Media-Ipsos poll yesterday will have brought them crashing back to earth.

True, Labour has stopped losing support but that is scant comfort. It could, after all, have scarcely dropped much further than the low point it hit a while ago and it had in fact put on a few percentage points under the now-deposed leader David Shearer.

And while this latest poll shows Labour has gained again under new leader David Cunliffe, it appears to have done so at the expense of its probable coalition partner, the Greens.

At the same time, National has also gained support and remains a whopping 17 points ahead of Labour and, if the numbers were translated into votes in a general election, would be able to govern alone.

This will be a blow to a party supposedly energised after its leadership contest and ready, as the new leader said, to go to war against the Government. 

Not surprising…a lurch to left moves voters from one hard left team to the other not so hard left team.

It also defies what is conventional wisdom in some circles that the Government’s policy on, for instance, the part sale of some state-owned enterprises or the deal with SkyCity over a convention centre in Auckland or even John Banks’ legal woes are enough to cause general disillusionment with Prime Minister John Key and his party.

Labour’s expectation that it might be further ahead now was not unrealistic. It had come through the leadership contest with relatively little blood on the floor and was able to put on a show of unity, albeit through gritted teeth, behind the new leader.

Very much through gritted teeth…anyone who says that Labour’s caucus is united should read my tipline.

But the poll has brought home the harsh reality that it was always going to take more than just the replacement of the maladroit, tongue-tied Shearer with the clever, experienced, articulate Cunliffe to improve Labour’s fortunes. And for all his touted virtues and supposed preparedness for the role, Cunliffe, in his first few weeks in the leadership, has been less than assured.

He has not got the better of Key in the House. A publicity stunt designed to highlight difficulties young people have buying an affordable house in Auckland backfired when the chosen example was a 23-year-old complaining about not being able to afford a pricey house in one of the more salubrious suburbs that he was not sure he was going to live in anyway.

In a speech to trade unionists, Cunliffe was heard breathing fire as he told them what they wanted to hear on industrial policy, which he shortly afterwards cooled down considerably for more general consumption. Skirmishing with the Government over the SkyCity convention centre deal, he has been studiously evasive over what Labour would do.

None of this may be particularly significant but it points up a shallow opportunism and an unsettling lack of substance in what Cunliffe has so far offered.

The honeymoon is over…tailoring your policies to get Helen Kelly all excited isn’t the worlds best strategy. Only 6% of private sector workers belong to a union which should give him a clue about how popular going down that track is.


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  • Toryboy

    I am very impressed with the objectivity from this Editorial and wish the rest of the MSM were able to be as professional; reporting of facts is a novelty for most of them.

    Grant Robertson will spend the rest of his life kicking himself – tone it down for the leadership contest, don’t rip Cunliffe’s guts out by revealing all the bad stuff; if he wins he is the saviour.

    As it turns out Cunliffe is literally a 5 minute wonder, reshuffles Robertson to leader of the house in the 3rd row…and bye bye 40 years of ambition! hahahahaha!!

    • Dick Brown

      What’s the deal with Grant Robertson? From what I read and hear he works pretty tirelessly behind the scenes and is considered straight up no nonsense type of guy.

      • Dick Brown

        Why the downvotes?

        I’m seriously asking for some info because I’m not sufficiently briefed on him.

        Sheesh come on guys.

        • Muffin

          He might work hard but I think there is a lot of work going into undermining whoever is his boss at the time.

          • Toryboy

            Robertson is highly overrated – like most Labour people; he has done nothing, said nothing memorable and is only achievement is getting 500 beltway staffers to go around saying how wonderful he is (as if constant repetition will make it true)

        • Toryboy

          Are you asking me? I didn’t down vote you – I never down vote anyone

          • Dick Brown

            No, just a general lashing out ’tis all Toryboy in no way directed at anyone.

          • Muffin

            that one was me

        • Goldie

          “He worked pretty tirelessly behind the scenes”.
          As deputy he was in charge of policy development, leading the Labour caucus in the House, and general head-banging to ensure loyalty to the leader. Labour’s policy development was pathetic (apart from the widely derided electricty nationalisation policy), Labour’s performance in the House was laughable, and his leader was unsupported and left to look like an idiot.
          So Grant Robertson was a total failure, wasn’t he?

        • BR

          Robertson is a career trougher. Like a dose of the pox, he is best avoided.


          • Dick Brown

            Thanks to everyone’s input.

            I have now formed an opinion and he appears to be hard working yet wholly ineffective.

      • Patrick

        The perception I gained via reading about Robertson during the Labour’s got Talent sideshow was he was lazy & played the “woe is me it’s cos I am gay” card at every opportunity. Hardly the right kind of mettle to run the local gala day at the school, let alone run a country.

        • Dick Brown

          That’s strange because i was under the impression he was white-anted at every turn and seemed genuinely pissed off when asked about it; and he never made a deal about being gay, it was only when the distasteful tactic of bringing it up from within that made it front page news.

          This observation in no way makes me form an opinion of the man; he is probably shit like all the rest.

    • So Silent T is a 5 minute wonder,
      PantsDown Brown is a 2 minutes wonder …
      And the rest of us can only bloody well wonder!!!!

  • thor42

    A very good editorial. Excellent to see.

  • Rimutaka

    Way to early to tell, but should put Labour on alert. Buries the usual right whinge machine whine about the MSM being wholly leftist though. Funny how it’s only leftist when righties disagree with it and when they agree with it it’s being professional, did I say funny, I meant hilarious.

    • Agent BallSack

      One sandwich does not a picnic make. /Yoda

      • Rimutaka

        Not sure if you’re referring to the one poll or the one editorial, I’ll choose the one that suits me best. Cheers.

    • Toryboy

      There was a time when Editors at The Press knew who their masters were, and therefore right wing editorials appeared 6 days a week. Same with the NZ Herald and the Dominion.

      You should compare circulation figures back then with today.

    • Pissedoffyouth

      As I said yesterday, the real reason the print and TV media are cuddling up to Labour and the Greens is they are a failing business model and will need hand outs soon.

      That is the only reason why any business would support socialism – to hold out a hand in the lolly scramble.

      I can see it now in 5 years “Labour Government bails out NZ herald and renamed it to KiwiNews”

      • Toryboy

        Kiwinews HAHAHAHA!! good one PO Youth

        • Bad__Cat

          And Winston will call for his own weekly column as a bottom line for his support.

  • Agent BallSack

    Cunny may be articulate (bus speech aside aye bro) but experienced? Theyre smoking good shit in Christchurch these days.

  • Dick Brown

    Hahah a ‘War footing’.

    More like a BORE footing amirite?

  • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

    The retards and brain challenged scums posting at The Stranded are saying only Rogue Morgan poll is reliable as it calls cell phones….all labour supporters are working hard and not available at home to answer their landlines. Only National supporters are sitting at home waiting for calls from polling companies…Beat that bros!!!

    • CheesyEarWax

      Only rich pricks has cellphones, poor people have Sky.

    • Toryboy

      If there is any doubt about the polls and who is right and who is wrong I have the solution –

      Pick a marginal electorate like Hamilton West and this weekend each party should get 100 activists knocking on doors and asking the good folk of a marginal seat who they support. That would be the proof of the pudding

  • Drhill

    Would Cunliffe resign if he doesn’t win the next election, I’m sure John Key would.

    • Rimutaka

      It’s normal that the defeated PM resigns, it’s not a given however that the leader of the opposition resigns. Tony Abbot anyone.

      • Eiselmann

        Indeed but every time a Labour leader wants to test their mandate there are free flights involved if they can find another Labour MP who’d like to visit the country at no cost for a series of chats and hugs.

  • CheesyEarWax

    Silent T came out firing on all chambers after being elected, but someone for forgot to load decent ammos and ended up shooting in foot.

    • BJ

      He auditioned standing alongside the other two in his shiny costume so appeared to some as the better actor. But after landing the lead role and having the stage to himself, the shine has come off (like his suit jacket in the regions) and with the Play of Labour only just into the First Act we are left with Dave being a very dull boy. If he can’t deliver in Act 2 they might need to bring in the understudy.

  • Patrick

    It also defies what is conventional wisdom in some circles that the Government’s policy on, for instance, the part sale of some state-owned enterprises or the deal with SkyCity over a convention centre

    That has to be the biggest crock of crap written, conventional wisdom would suggest the voters either approve or do not disapprove of the policies. That is why they continue to support Key’s government. “Conventional wisdom?” You mean some journalists preconceived ideas on how the voters should vote if they believed the journalists political philosophy.

  • rockape

    Labour see their future success being achieved by doing nothing other than opposing National. Well I know its called the opposition,but, shouldnt “alternative government ” be a better term. Unless they produce the policies that show them to be the alternative in waiting they will remain what they are now;the opposition. Thats Labours great failure.
    Another one is they constantly create problems and always fail to show a solution. EG poor old regions/answer for a committee. Wow, thats a vote winner. Wasnt that Clarks problem,put solutions on the back burner by having an enquiery. JK sees the problem and comes up with the answer.

  • cows4me

    Does it really matter who leads, they are all career bludgers who would have to refer to the Oxford Dictionary to find out what work means. They offer nothing but more wealth redistribution, more social engineering and more minority politics. They simply don’t get it, they don’t speak for the common man, how can they, they live in some alternate universe where all the bullshit coming out of their mouths is gold. Sad deluded morons.