A dignified exit? How about political seppuku?


David Cunliffe’s extreme narcissism is hindering his thought processes. Since the election he has resolutely and steadfastly refused to resign.

His caucus hates him, yet he stands there staring them down in the misguided belief that he is right and they are wrong and if he can just make it look like they are nasty bastards then he can appeal tot he members to continue to support his leadership.

The problem the membership and Cunliffe have is that they are disconnected from reality.

For months on end we have been told the polls would close up….they didn’t.

Then they claimed that people just didn’t get to know David…we did, and voted accordingly.

Now they are echoing both of those by insisting that Cunliffe remains as leader. That somehow the polls and voters were just wrong, and that eventually, if they wear us all down then we will really, really like David Cunliffe and Labour and they will return to their rightful position is government of this nation.

The problem with all of that is that is treat voters as though we are stupid.

We know a stupid, lying, double talking faker when we see one.

So how do you get rid of the fool?

Tracy Watkins examines this.

David Cunliffe’s resignation from the Labour leadership is certain. It is only the matter of his going that is yet to be decided.

In the old days he would have been gone already.   

Tuesday’s brutalising caucus was a coup in all but name. It showed Cunliffe no longer has any authority over his caucus, who can outvote him at will. They already have, over his choice of Whip.

A leader who can’t control his caucus or win a vote cannot credibly front National as the Leader of the Opposition.  But under Labour’s rules a coup is no longer a simple numbers game in the caucus.

If it were, Cunliffe’s rival Grant Robertson would already be leader.

He has had the numbers to roll Cunliffe for more than a year.

But that is not enough.

Robertson’s supporters could force a vote of no confidence in Cunliffe, but that effectively puts the decision in the hands of the wider party and Labour’s union affiliates. In a vote, they could decide to re-install Cunliffe over a hostile caucus. They did so the last time the leadership was put to the vote, a year ago.

Whether they would do so again after the chaotic scenes of recent days remains to be seen.  Camp Cunliffe are convinced they would.

Grant Robertson is part of the problem, not part of the solution. He lack courage…he is gutlessly sitting there fretting about a potential loss to Cunliffe.

Labour’s caucus should man up…if the membership installs Cunliffe again, then rinse him again with a confidence motion and trigger another ballot, and do it enough times so the munters of the membership get the hint. They seem to be slow learners, thicker than two short planks.

David Cunliffe is not the messiah…he is just a very average man doing a less than average job at leader.

It appears Camp Robertson are not sure enough of their ground yet to put it to the test. Otherwise they would have forced the confidence vote on Tuesday and got the leadership ball rolling.

That suggests Cunliffe may have sufficient leverage still to negotiate a dignified exit  – one that would give him a senior role in Robertson’s caucus, with no loss of face for him or his supporters.  Neither side was talking up that option yesterday.

But wise heads are surely counselling both sides that the last thing Labour wants on top of its humiliating election loss and this week’s damaging fallout is a divisive and draining leadership race.

A dignified exit? Why?

Dignified exits belong to people who achieved something despite overwhelming odds. David Cunliffe achieved nothing other than keeping Bill English mired as New Zealand’s biggest political loser.

In times past his head would have rolled from his shoulders for such a resounding defeat, or he would have plunged his tantō (knife) or wakizashi (short sword) into his guts while his second removed his head.

As I said above, the caucus needs to man up and rinse David Cunliffe. He is a the Kevin Rudd of NZ politics. He needs to be gone completely from parliament, that is the only exit he deserves.


– Tracy Watkins, Fairfax

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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.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.