Trotter on Labour’s coming shuffle of the deck chairs

Chris Trotter returns to sensibility and explores the shuffling of the deck chairs on the sinking ship Labour.

SOMETIME THIS WEEK (the date keeps changing) Andrew Little will announce his Shadow Cabinet reshuffle. The refreshed line-up of senior Opposition spokespeople will be the electorate’s best guide as to who will be doing what in the next Labour-led government. Barring unforeseen circumstances, and unforgiveable cock-ups, Little’s promotions, reappointments and demotions will be the last such exercise before the 2017 General Election.

Very few New Zealanders will pay much attention to Little’s final choices. Labour’s ranks, thinned by successive and increasingly severe defeats, contains nobody upon whose shoulders the burden of the electorate’s hopes has  yet descended.

Labour has a talent pool as shallow as a carpark puddle in the heat of summer. I was discussing this yesterday at lunch with the boys at church. They looked at National caucus and at Labour’s and came to the conclusion that even if a plane crashed with most of National’s cabinet aboard, there would still be capable people left in caucus to run the show. If Labour’s front two benches got cleaned out who would be left with any skills?   


Trotter then discusses the rise of the Fish and Chip gang, concluding:

Change is supposed to find its champion, and then, through the ballot box, acquire the power to make things happen. For good or ill, Lange guided the country out of the cul-de-sac into which Sir Robert Muldoon had led it, and the policies of Sir Roger Douglas (and his Treasury advisers) went on to change New Zealand fundamentally.

Nothing and no one of such prodigious capability lurks in Little’s caucus. Not only has Change failed to encounter a champion among its ranks, but she also struggles to find anyone interested in making much happen at all. Such reforms as Labour promised at the elections of 2011 and 2014 have been ostentatiously wiped from the agenda. And such rhetorical skill as Little is able to summon to Labour’s cause is of the sort that serves only to polish the achievements of the past. Lange’s extraordinary oratorical power; his ability to paint a future in which New Zealanders were eager to take up residence, is nowhere in evidence.

Certainly, there is nothing about his finance spokesperson which calls to mind the incandescent passion of Roger Douglas. Grant Robertson is not the sort of person who quotes Neitzsche, writes alternative budgets, or publishes a book entitled There’s Got To Be A Better Way. Although entrusted with heading-up a special party commission dedicated to The Future of Work, there is scant indication that Robertson’s investigation is likely to produce anything that The Listener wouldn’t be proud to publish.

The Wellington Central MP could, of course, be hiding his light under a bushel, and the final report of The Future of Work Commission could end up calling for a dramatic reduction in the length of the working week; a radical reformation of the law regulating workplace relations; state-subsidised retraining; and the introduction of a Universal Basic Income. But a Labour caucus willing to embrace economic and social policies of such radicalism is unlikely to look and feel as somnambulant as the one Little leads.

Trotter is spot on. Robertson is dead set lazy, when he was last deputy he famously told his staff, while his feet rested on the desk, that all he had to do now was wait for Cunliffe to fail and he would be leader. His ‘Future of Work’ treatise is likely to be a rehash of failed socialist ideas and a mixture of slogans and dumb ideas dressed up as cool ones. It certainly won’t be earth shattering and won’t excite the electorate.

Labour are bereft of talent and out of ideas…the only one they always use is get John Key, and that hasn’t succeeded ever.


– The Daily Bog


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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.