The Letter on David Cunliffe’s conference speech

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It was a technically poor speech, and commentators who do a simple Google fact check will have a field day.? Cunliffe is basing Labour?s election campaign around the claim that inequality is growing.? Fact check: inequality is falling and New Zealand remains a very equal country.? The claim that around a quarter of a million children are in poverty is dubious, to say the very least.? Cunliffe says households in poverty have less than 60 percent of the medium income after housing costs. ?If Bill Gates came to live in New Zealand, the medium income of the country would rise and, according to that logic, more children would be in poverty.

The definition of statistical poverty is a crime against the tax payer.

According to the latest polls, 72% of voters will not vote Labour.? If you are white or male or have a job in the private sector or own your own house, you do not vote Labour.? Labour is now a Maori/Pacifica, beneficiaries, union-funded and government employees? party.? The core of Labour?s traditional vote, male, unskilled workers, have largely left the party. There was nothing at this weekend?s conference to attract middle New Zealand to vote Labour.

There has always been tension between the MPs, whose mandate comes from the voters, and the Labour Party activists who represent themselves.? Direct election of the leader by the party has shifted the power from the caucus to the membership and the unions.? In the days of compulsory unionism, unions such as the Hotel Workers Union, the predecessor of the Service Workers Union, was a moderate union.? As union membership is increasingly rejected by the private sector workforce, the unions have got more involved in politics.? What they cannot achieve industrially they now seek to gain from politics. They contribute heavily to Labour?s campaigns and demand extensive voting privileges in return.

The party membership is so small that tiny pressure groups who want radical social change have also managed to achieve significant power in the party.? Groups with agendas the electorate is only vaguely aware of, for example ?gay?, ?lesbian?, ?Maori?, and ?Pacific? interests, run influential factions within the party that determine policy, party list ranking and now who is leader. There is no moderating center. ?David Cunliffe?s ?ashamed to be a man? statement was directly aimed at the militant ?feminist faction? that has the votes to decide whether he remains leader.? It was a statement that should never have been made because few outside the party knew why it was necessary.

Beholden to unions on one side, and militant women on the other.

What we’re really seeing here is the death of the Labour Party that started in Runanga all those years ago, and the birth of an Auckland Labour Party that is driven by money and self interest.