Trotter on Cunliffe’s destruction


Chris Trotter writes:

As a number of right-wing commentators have already pointed out, the treatment of Cunliffe is as wasteful of the man’s talent as it is self-indulgently vindictive. They contrast Little’s demotion of Cunliffe with National’s treatment of Bill English. In spite of leading his party to the worst defeat in its history, English’s colleagues did not consider it appropriate to signal his imminent political demise. On the contrary, his talent was retained and directed, very successfully, against the political enemy.

But that’s Labour’s problem, isn’t it? For far too many Labour politicians, the political enemy is seated on their own side of the parliamentary aisle. The Government benches contain only their opponents.

Heh, true. But David Cunliffe is no Bill English.

It is interesting to speculate about how Cunliffe’s supporters in the broader Labour Party will respond to Little’s brutal treatment of him. Some will recall the statespersonship of Helen Clark, who judiciously divided up the top jobs between her friends – and foes. The result – a “ministry of all the talents” – proved crucial to ending the serious factional strife that had long plagued Labour’s caucus. Others will recall with some bitterness the assurances given to them by the Labour hierarchy at the party’s recent conference.  

The bitter divisions of the past had been healed, they said. Caucus and party were now working together, they said.

Yeah, Right.

It is now very clear that the only “peace” secured at Palmerston North was a Carthaginian Peace. Satisfied that their rank-and-file opponents had no more fight left in them, Cunliffe’s enemies immediately prevailed upon Little to order the New Lynn MP’s political demotion.

Expressed in the most brutal terms, Little’s reshuffle pushes Grant Robertson’s people (especially Jacinda Ardern) “up”; casts Cunliffe’s people “down”; and raises the very serious question as to whether Little has any “people” at all.

Things aren’t good inside Labour. Goff is off, Shearer is looking for a job, and now Cunliffe has gotten the arse card.

Are we looking at a Labour Leader in command of his own caucus, or a Labour Leader dancing to the tune of its dominant faction? A faction characterised by petty spitefulness, and almost completely lacking in the magnanimity so crucial to building and bringing together an effective government.

I don’t think Andrew Little knows whether he is Arthur or Martha.

The last time we had a puppet Leader of the Opposition was in the years immediately prior to the 1984 general election. The difference then, of course, was that the public never doubted that David Lange was going defeat Sir Robert Muldoon and bring an end to nine years of divisive National rule.

That Andrew Little is about to do the same to John Key is not a bet that many New Zealanders would take. And this reshuffle in no way improves the odds.

He’s made the best of a bad hand, a caucus so lacking in talent you couldn’t even call it a talent pool…more like a puddle.

Here’s a song for Chris Trotter that I thought of when I read his post.


– 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. 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.