Good governance and the Labour Party – an oxymoron or a chance for their future

A guest post by Frances Denz.


Good Governance practice was initially developed in 1844 by Erskine May for the British Parliament and a bit later  in 1874 was adapted by Roberts in the US for their Government structures.  Since then “Roberts Rules” have become the model for governance both of parliamentary systems and for businesses.  These rules have been adapted over time by the Foundation formed by Roberts supporters.

A key rule of governance is who do the directors represent?  They represent the business or organisation.  Their job, as stewards, is to ensure that the organisation is governed for its own good.  Not for the shareholders, other stakeholders or the community as a whole.

Now this is really interesting in the governance of political parties and of Parliament themselves.

The Prime Minister and his Cabinet have stewardship over the whole country.  Not the Party: not sector interests: not their mates.  A political party has stewardship over the Party as a whole, not the country.  So where does that leave the Opposition? I submit that they are responsible to the country, as is the Governing party.  But the problem with the Labour Party is that their method of nominating their leader is by the sector interests having a vote – for their own interests.  And the Leader has been, by default, the Leader of the Party as well as the Leader  of the Political wing.  Two different roles. (and then you have the Leader of the House, just to complicate matters!)   

Now the Labour Party must have a review of the Party as well as the Political wing.  The trouble with that is that the deposed leader who led to the loss has the very real possibility of being re-elected before the review takes place.  He has chosen to take the unprincipled stand of choosing to go down the route of election at this point in time for personal power, not for the sake of the country, and probably not for the Party’s sake either.  This is totally against the principles of good governance – of governing for the sake of the organisation not the stakeholders or community.

Theoretically the Party President should lead the Party through the review to ensure that it is done for the good of the organisation.  And then the Politicians should do the same to ensure that it works for the good of the country.  But Moira Coatsworth has not shown leadership of the Party wing.  She is a non person in this scenario and has resigned anyway.

What they need to do is to appoint an interim Political Leader to take them through the review process and also bring in someone like Mike Williams as the Interim Party person.  The twin processes can then be merged to ensure a workable collaborative organisation, each with their own responsibilities.  And once that is completed the Party can select the right people to take them into the role of Opposition  and to move forward into the future in a positive light.

The downward spiral will continue unless or until Labour finds someone with charisma, a dream, huge competence as Prime Minister.  I have seen no sign of that individual in Labour since  Norm Kirk and David Lange.  and they need a Party leader to provide the organisational skills that dreamers lack.  They have to have both.  And they have to understand stewardship.


Frances Denz is the Executive Director of Stellaris Ltd an Senior New Zealander of the year 2014

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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.  And 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 that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

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