I still reckon 300 is a better analogy


Andrea Vance reckons Lord of the Flies, I reckon 300…I still reckon i’m right.

Who will be the next Lord of the Flies?

Another leader has passed through the Labour Party grinder.

Normally coups are quick and bloody.

But by his own hand, David Cunliffe’s exit was torturous. A slow-motion train-wreck that played out over a week. His caucus ignored him, defied him, humiliated and deserted him.

And now he’s coming back for some more of the same. David Cunliffe either has the resilience of a cockroach or a total lack of self-awareness. He schemed and manipulated his way into the top job – just as his caucus colleagues schemed and manipulated to keep him out of it.

As I have previously said cockroaches might be able to survive nuclear bombs but I’ve yet to see one that can survive the heel of a boot.

Cunliffe won the power struggle. But his party lost. Lost their support base. Lost the economic argument for the third election in a row. Lost the election. Lost their third leader in three years. And lost their heart and soul.

There is more to lose too.

He can no longer claim to have a mandate because he did not come close to delivering on what he promised. Not only did Cunliffe fail to elucidate the positives of his promised left-of-centre agenda, there has also been little evidence of it in his year-long tenure. The closest we came to a new vision for Labour was David Parker’s rousing egalitarian man-speech to the annual conference in July. The sentiments vanished without a trace.

The red tide Cunliffe predicted would wash over the Beehive, barely lapped at the door of Matt McCarten’s campaign war room.

That was the nefarious plan, only problem was Cunliffe wasn’t part of it. The actual plan was the destruction of the Labour party so the new Alliance could rise. Labour may start to realise this in coming days. David Cunliffe was just the vainglorious proverbial useful idiot.

David Cunliffe is not the sole reason why Labour is now on its knees. But he made things profoundly worse. He not only failed to connect with voters, he turned them off. And because he failed to inspire the loyalty of his colleagues, he is finished.

The divisions are too pronounced. It seems that there was fault on both sides of the caucus. Parts of Camp David believe the Anyone But Cunliffe faction set him up to fail by sabotaging the campaign. In turn the ABCs believe his focus was always on this post-election fight.

Either way, it now seems impossible for Cunliffe to continue as leader – he patently can’t work with the caucus. To foist him on them again is just cementing a 2017 loss. One man can leave the job – only an immediate exodus of 20 MPs from Parliament would give him a chance of uniting the caucus.

He is unfit to govern, but so too are the other contenders. Labour is staring down the barrel of at least two more terms in opposition…if they last that long.

The blood spillage will rival any movie like 300.


– Andrea Vance, Fairfax

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