Norman Kirk

A lesson from history for Bill English

Our commenters are observant of history, more so than our media.

A question for the history buffs:

When was the last time (if ever) a PM in NZ won a subsequent election having replaced the incumbent PM within the preceding term?

I can think of Mike Moore and Jenny Shipley – both didn’t succeed.

Not sure about the earlier ones

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The unacceptability of David Cunliffe

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After David Cunliffe bizarrely compared himself to Helen Clark and Norman Kirk we are going to see a demonisation of David Cunliffe much like the attacks on Kevin Rudd?by pro-Gillard forces in Australia like Stephen Conroy, Stephen Smith and Wayne Swan.

We have already seen this with the Ilam candidate, James Dann, damning Cunliffe in an open letter.

It will be systematic, and it will be nasty. His reputation will be trashed by his own team, making him completely unacceptable for the membership to foist him upon the caucus. The caucus knows that they can’t command the membership, but they can make Cunliffe so unpalatable that the unions will act.

The problem is caucus too is highly factionalised. Clayton Cosgrove has been acting the bully-boy strong arming other candidates to stand aside and promote Grant Robertson. The problem is Clayton Cosgrove is so thoroughly discredited after running a candidate campaign in Waimakiriri, one that failed and also delivered up an appalling party vote result. He is despised as a result, even by those on the right of the Labour caucus. But caucus has to block vote now to send a message to the membership that they cannot countenance a dud leader like David Cunliffe. They need to effectively veto Cunliffe but that won’t work.

It won’t work because the membership is feral left. That membership believes that David Cunliffe is a martyr and that he was set up to fail by the caucus…a caucus of centrist traitors to the socialist cause. The only thing that unites caucus right now is their mutual loathing of David Cunliffe.

The hard left of the party, stocked now with old Alliance war-horses, are more interested in being pure rather than being in power. They are septic that their mates like Carol Beaumont got rinsed and are on the outside. Beaumont is so thoroughly disliked that when asked to provide her with a job, Helen Kelly refused out-right. Of course it is the same hard-left that was pulling strings inside Labour for them to tank Kelvin Davis in Te Tai Tokerau. They loathe candidates like him and Stuart Nash. They believe in a puritanical socialism, where people like Nash and Davis are actually closet tories?and should actually be run from the party?rather than emulated for their electoral success. ? Read more »

Dear readers, you are all wrong, just ask Fran O’Sullivan

Fran O’Sullivan looks like she has drunk the Dotcom Koolaid this morning.

She thinks that all of you are wrong and there is nothing wrong with the antics of Kim Dotcom and his paid hangers on.

‘Are you Red-dee for a Rev-Oh – Loo- Shin? Are you Red-dee to take down the Government? Are you Red-dee to extradite John Key?” The thick Germanic accent bellowing out these words will be burned into the brain of anyone with a compulsive interest in New Zealand politics after Kim Dotcom’s latest video went viral.

So too, the imagery of Christchurch students chanting “F … John Key, F … John Key, F … John Key” to the rhythm of Dotcom’s baton.

It’s important not to take too seriously the howls of outrage over Dotcom’s latest political orchestration. Or, for that matter the students’ antics.

Wake up people.

There is an election on after all.

There should be contest. There should be passion.

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Beware the power of the slogan

A reader emails their thoughts on David Cunliffe.

Politicians are rarely remembered for their years of self sacrifice and good deeds. It doesn’t matter that you single handedly saved the planet from a Klingon invasion, you’ll be remembered for a silly act or a catchy slogan. I’ve been around long enough to recall several of them – Norman Kirk and the popular song ‘Big Norm’, Piggy Muldoon and ‘Think Big’, David Lange’s ‘You can smell the uranium on his breath’, Rogernomics, Shipley’s ‘Mother of all Budgets, Winston Peters’ ‘Wine Box Enquiry’, Shane Jones and his porn-friendly credit card, and more recently John Banks’ and his cup of tea.

The samples above show that this is not a new phenomenon and as a Politician you would have to be careful how you tread lest you become immortalised by a silly catch phrase or random act of stupidity.

And now there’s David Cunliffe. Almost daily he offers us new opportunities to forever remember him by his brainless and/or ill-informed statements and amateurish pretence at Perception Management (crisis ? what crisis?).

Ever since he cockroach-crawled his way into the Labour Party hierarchy, and subsequently onto our TV screens with cringing regularity, I have struggled to think of something other than Butthead (from Beavis & Butthead) every time I see him. You’d think that someone who could be a Prime Minister, and who already resembles half of a comedy cartoon,?would put just a little bit more thought into the ramifications of voluntarily offering us the tag line ‘Big Tool’.

Butthead, what were you thinking?

[Name withheld by request]

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Trotter: ‘the phrase ?Labour/Greens government? does not pass the plausibility test’

Chris Trotter explains why David Cunliffe has pushed the toxic Greens out into the cold.

The answer, I believe, is to be found in the voters Labour?s campaign strategists (most particularly the political scientist and polling specialist, Rob Salmond) have identified as the primary target of Labour?s election campaign. These are not the legendary ?missing million? who declined to cast a ballot three years ago, but a much more manageable group of around 300,000 men and women who have voted for Labour in the past (2005, 2008) but who, for a whole host of reasons, sat out the General Election of 2011.

Salmond?s argument is that these voters can be readily ?re-activated? if Labour presents them with a plausible pitch for their support. The key-word there is ?plausible?, and outside Labour-held electorates in the main centres there is every reason to believe that the phrase ?Labour/Greens government? does not pass the plausibility test.

The evidence for this comes, paradoxically, from the National Party. Simon Bridges? ridiculous comments about the 50-odd mining permits issued on Russel Norman?s watch is only the most extreme example of what is obviously an agreed Government strategy to conflate Labour and the Greens into a single, politically extreme, electoral bogeyman. David Farrar?s polls and Crosby-Textor?s focus-groups have clearly thrown up a powerful negative reaction to the idea of Labour joining forces with the Greens. So much so that National is doing everything within its power to imbed the idea deep in the electorate?s psyche.

And, if National?s voter research is picking up this negative anti-Green vibe, how long can it be before Labour?s own pollster, UMR, and its focus-group convenors start detecting similar sentiments in their own samplings? And if they do, is it really credible to suggest that Labour should simply ignore them? If the party?s whole electoral strategy is based on persuading those 300,000 former Labour voters to return to the fold, and the Labour/Greens proposition is going to make that less likely, then what possible motive would Labour have for accepting the Greens? invitation?? Read more »

Collins crushing on Contenders

Judith Collins guest blogs about what she calls the three Amigos in the dance of the desperates.

I grew up Labour ? in the days of Norm Kirk and the more forgettable Bill Rowling. ?I knew David Lange ? having chosen to intern in his Mangere Electorate Office while at Law School.

So I can say that to see the self indulgent warbling of Labour?s Three Amigos ?as they troop around the country promising anything to anyone (with the exception of Shane who has threatened only bad things to the PM) will be a mildly sad sight to those who still willingly pay their $10 to join the Labour Party.

Political parties should always be about their members but this strange and foolish exhibition of faked friendship and grandiose schemes has been nothing more than embarrassing.? Read more »

Tiwai Point & Manapouri – A brief political history

With all the fuss over Rio Tinto and their strong-arm tactics it is perhaps?interesting?to look over?the?history of Tiwai Point and the political?football?it has become and always was.?Linked with the smelter has always been Manapouri and together they have an interesting political?history?and Labour is all over it.

They sold out a National Park to a foreign company – and gave away 99 year exclusive water rights. ?It’s also clear that the smelter bosses have always tried to change the rules and drive a harder bargain.

The current wrangle is definitely nothing new. Look what a trip through Wikipedia finds:

1956 -??Consolidated Zinc Proprietary Limited (later known as Comalco) formally approached the New Zealand government about acquiring a large amount of electricity for aluminium smelting.? Read more »

Labour pains

? 3 News

Labour is really battling this week and it is showing. Patrick Gower follows on from Garners larrup yesterday with a hit out of his own. If it wasn’t bad enough that there is massive caucus ill will at the moment Louisa Wall’s marriage equality bill is causing anguish in the base:

The gay marriage bill has started to tear the Labour Party to pieces.

Labour’s Mangere MP Sua William Sio has basically called for a divorce from the bill, saying it should be withdrawn – because it could cost the party the next election.

Yes, that’s right – Sio says the bill could cost Labour an election.

And you can’t really fault Sua’s logic: he says it will wipe out the Pacific vote in South Auckland – that’s Labour’s heartland, that’s where it wins elections.


As Sio told Radio NZ this morning: “There are weightier and more pressing issues, like holding John Key to account for the weakening economy and the lack of jobs – and that’s where our priority ought to be.”

Now that has to hurt David Shearer, who is out shaking hands in Nelson today trying to woo provincial voters back to Labour – while Labour’s stronghold in South Auckland is burning.

I’m not sure Su’a William Sio is properly briefed on the latest polling data that I have seen. I suspect he is talking out of his arse. If he does know then he is simply causing unnecessary animosity to a caucus that is obviously strained.?Not only that I suspect Su’a will have had his arse kicked for overshadowing his boss’ yawn inducing speech today.

Meanwhiule Duncan Garners hand greandae has gone off in the left blogsphere and online with comments like this being left everywhere:

Duncan, you’ve been listening to Trevor again. Like when he lied to you about the Shearer/Cunliffe vote. He’s been doing numbers for Grant in the last week or two. This must be his attempt to hobble the opposition ahead of trying to roll Shearer. All he’s doing is hobbling Labour. He needs to go.

All the notable (I know) left wing blogs are now commenting ont eh stoush and all seem to be blaming Trevor Mallard and Grant Robertson for this bursting out of the caucus room. Chris Trotter has written about the “unfortunate experiment” again:

The cynical calculation that persuaded Mr Cunliffe?s enemies to unite behind Mr Shearer in December 2011 has delivered a very paltry harvest. The public was prepared to give Labour?s new boss a fair go at growing into a credible Opposition leader, but their patience isn?t endless. Above all other things, a political leader must be a communicator ? and Mr Shearer isn?t. Not surprisingly, the major public opinion polls are all now registering declining levels of public support for both Mr Shearer and his party.

To gain some idea of just how poor a communicator Mr Shearer is, pay a visit to the NZ on Screen website and watch the?1973 interview?of Labour Leader and Prime Minister, Norman Kirk, by the celebrated British broadcaster, David Frost. Not only does ?Big Norm? speak in fully-formed sentences, unpunctuated by umms, errs and you-knows, but with the calm assurance and persuasive eloquence that only a person in absolute command of his facts, his thoughts, his convictions and, most importantly, himself, is able to project.

He too calls for Mallard’s head:

If Labour is to be saved, then its younger MPs must not resist but make common cause with Mr Cunliffe. This is the only alliance that holds out the slightest hope for a renewal of the party?s purpose and the rebirth of its fighting spirit. Mr Robertson and his friends have time on their side: they, unlike the political movement to which they have devoted their lives, can afford to wait.

The Labour Caucus has nothing to lose but Trevor Mallard.

Mallard is certainly looking like the fall guy. The problem he has is that he has angered so many Nats over?the?years?that any attempt to try and lobby for diplomatic posting to his preferred locations would be met with utter contempt. If it was up to me I would send him off shore but to places he can’t pronounce…like Thwitherland, Thweden, Thamoa or Thwathiland.

Frankly I wonder if Shearer has the stones to arrange his de-selection.

Happy times though for us ont eh right watching the blood bath boil over in public. Happy days indeed.

Once upon a time

Once upon a time Labour was happy to extoll the virtues of its leader. 1969 was the year, Norm Kirk was the leader and Phil Goff had just joined the party:

This 1969 advertisement for the Labour Party emphasised the leadership qualities of?Norman Kirk and sought to capitalise on a public mood for change as that turbulent decade drew to a close. It screened in full colour in cinemas and in black-and-white on television (colour TV wasn’t introduced until 1973). Its striking split-screen imagery and?pop-styled theme song?were?clearly aimed at younger voters,?a potentially important?audience?in an election when the voting age?was lowered?from 21 to 20 (it would be?reduced further, to 18, in 1974).

Then again Phil Goff isn’t a Norm Kirk is he?

#s92a Victory

National has announced that s92a, Judith Tizard’s ill conceived sop to big business, is as dead as Tizards political career.

Prime Minister John Key has announced that the government will throw out the controversial Section 92A of the Copyright Amendment (New Technologies) Act and start again.

Commerce and justice minister Simon Power will now meet with officials and rewrite the Section 92A (S92) of the Act from the ground up.

“Section 92a is not going to come into force as originally written. We have now asked the minister of commerce to start work on a replacement section,” the prime minister said.

No timeframe has been set for amending S92.

Well done, listening to your citizens rather than ramming through ideologically inspired stupid laws.