Rudman on Labour selections

February 3rd, 2010 at 8:43 am by David Farrar

Brian Rudman writes:

The Party’s announcement on Monday that it had received only one nomination to be its candidate in each of four former seats is a reminder of how different politics has become under MMP.

Auckland Central, Maungakiekie, Ohariu and West Coast-Tasman are seats with strong and historic Labour roots that have, in the past, seen fiercely contested nomination battles.

None are presently held by Labour.

Before MMP, that would have been an added incentive for young hopefuls and dumped MPs alike to battle to the death to carry the party banner.

The problem is that the Head Office has such a dominant say, that if they make it clear they want no contest as they have hand picked a List MP, there is little chance of a grass roots member going up against them.

Auckland Central certainly was a battleground seat in the past.

A traditional Labour seat, it became the battlefield when Labour split asunder during the battles of Rogernomics, In 1993, after a six-year tussle, sitting MP Richard Prebble was voted out of office by the city’s richest per capita electorate in favour of leftwing Alliance candidate Sandra Lee. At the height of the contest, both candidates had about 800 active campaigners apiece. This was local participation, pre-MMP, in all its glory.

That Labour can now only come up with one contender for nomination shows how much things have changed. …

For local party organisations, regardless of party, the one real power they have – or had – was to dig their toes in regarding candidate selection. Head office organisations could bully and cajole and in the end, by fair means or foul, usually get their way. Determined locals could make the going very sticky. But these days they’ve lost their power.

And Rudman quotes the famous Jordan Carter blog:

A recent entry on a Labour Party blog by party activist and 2008 Hunua candidate Jordan Carter headed “What must Labour do?” canvasses the issue every defeated party must face up to. Labour, he says, stopped listening to the people.

To turn this around, Labour has “to invite people in to join with us and help shape what we are doing next … We need to be the party that people see as grassroots-based, and where they know that if they want to raise an issue or a concern, it will filter through to what our policy is and what our politicians are saying and thinking”. …

But if Mr Carter is correct, then it’s hard to see the rubber-stamping of candidates in four “battleground seats” as a good step towards recapturing either the public imagination or the enthusiasm of party workers expected to fight to get the candidates elected.

Thinking more about it, another reason there was no internal contest is because Labour held the selection so early. Very few people, except existing MPs, can afford to be campaigning for two full years.

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15 Responses to “Rudman on Labour selections”

  1. db.. (80 comments) says:

    Rudman quote …”That Labour can now only come up with one contender for nomination shows how much things have changed. …”

    Looks more like “new” candidate obstruction, rather than a lesser number of existing Labour nominations for fewer and fewer chairs to sit on.

    Sooner or later the music will stop – no where to sit. Go find a job.

    Repair for the Labour Party should start at the ground roots but the old guard won’t allow that.

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  2. s.russell (1,588 comments) says:

    Rudman is right to decry the way these selections have been managed, but he does get the wrong end of the stick in a couple of instances.

    The lack of nominations is not because of the sinister influence of MMP, it is because
    a) head office have annointed a favourite and made it clear there is no point in challenging them,
    b) the selections were held way too soon in the cycle,
    c) as DPF points out most people cannot afford the time and effort to campaign for two years unless they are a list MP already,
    d) the chances of Labour winning these seats back in 2011 don’t look terrifically bright anyway, and
    e) local branches don’t have the membership to challenge head office (and whose fault is that?).

    He is also wrong about the list route to Parliament being preferred. Most candidates/MPs would rather have an electorate. Ironically, one of the reasons is that this gives them a secure base in the event of their being proved mediocre or becoming has-beens. Useless or past-the-use-by-date list MPs can be dumped far more easily than electorate MPs who can stack the branch with friends and relatives, make life unpleasant for those who oppose them and effectively have a seat for life.

    Rudman is very right though that what this shows is that Labour’s power brokers still want to dictate everything. “We know best what is good for you” and “ordinary people” don’t get a real look in beyond being the subject of slogans.

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  3. Tim Ellis (253 comments) says:

    Four most marginal seats that Labour is targetting to win, and no contest for the selection. Extraordinary. Head office now completely dominates the Labour Party.

    Obviously Labour have learned the lesson of allowing floor votes, as the floor vote for the Mt Albert by-election went against Mr Shearer. Labour clearly doesn’t like having too much local influence in selections.

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  4. Inventory2 (10,256 comments) says:

    Tim Ellis said “Four most marginal seats that Labour is targetting to win, and no contest for the selection. Extraordinary. Head office now completely dominates the Labour Party.”

    And who’s running Head Office now? Why none other than Andrew Little, who still has an identity crisis, and has to remember which hat he’s wearing at any given moment – the NZLP one or the EPMU one.

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  5. bchapman (649 comments) says:

    As a Westie I couldn’t agree more. Can’t we also send Key back to Epsom and Bennett back to the shore though. Maybe then we can get some locals to represent us.

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  6. lastmanstanding (1,263 comments) says:

    POlitical Parties should be banned.

    They are just gangs in suits and ties,

    What we need is local people standing as independents. Thats what you call representation.

    Having a motley bunch of Labour Party HQ picked hacks is NOT representation.

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  7. Pete George (23,421 comments) says:

    What we need is local people standing as independents. Thats what you call representation.

    I agree, sort of. It would be good if we could have the best people for the job in parliament, who represent their electorate first, and do what is bets for the country second. Instead we get more people who have the ability to weedle their way up through the party system.

    But totally independents would struggle to work in the current party system, especially the list side of things. What about an Independent Party, and umbrella for allowing good people to be good representatives? It would be good to have enough of strong independents to keep the major parties more honest.

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  8. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    ” Labour, he says, stopped listening to the people. ”

    Naturally. It is never the left’s intent to listen so much as it is to instruct. Mr. Jordan is right, but this problem cannot be dealt with without a major shift in policy, one that undermines the whole reason d’etre of the Labour party. Especially since it became the party of the Progressives. Those who seek to force change for change’s sake.

    What is really occurring is that the public have finally had enough of the left’s nanny state and the Orwellian frame of mind that says “we know what is best for you and if you do not think like us and want the same things as we do, then you are a non-person”.

    Here’s what I would do if I were Labour. I would kick every Progressive out of the Party (starting with Jordan Carter) and seek strength in the old guard whose main intent was to empower the working man and improve his financial status.

    Even then they have a tightrope to walk, for they cannot destroy capitalism and trying to control it is futile. They must agree to work within and promote the capitalist system but with a focus on improving the lot of the worker. That is really all the left can do, and even that is a hard sell to the voter.

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  9. lastmanstanding (1,263 comments) says:

    Pete Think about the governance rorts the party system allows. MPs thrown out of the House by their local constitutents back again on the List

    If that aint a single digit salute to democracy and the people who voted then what the hell is.

    And the potential for corruption in party selection is huge. I know something bad about one or two of the selection panel so I quitely tell them to ensure so and so gets the nod and I will stay schtum.

    Think its never happened Live of planet where?

    An Parliament of Independents who coalesce around issues is gonna produce a far more representative result than a one party state which we have now where the Nats can do whatever they wish.

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  10. Angus (536 comments) says:

    The Labour Party is being increasingly dominated by ultra-left wing wimmin and simpering homosexuals to the point that even Trevor Mallard is an endangered species.

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  11. Johnboy (15,891 comments) says:

    Time we got wise and demanded that NZ change to the Swiss system of government.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Switzerland

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  12. s.russell (1,588 comments) says:
    What we need is local people standing as independents. Thats what you call representation.

    I agree, sort of. It would be good if we could have the best people for the job in parliament, who represent their electorate first, and do what is bets for the country second. Instead we get more people who have the ability to weedle their way up through the party system.

    1) Personally I would prefer people who choose what is best for the country FIRST and best for their electorate second.

    2) You cant abolish parties without abolishing freedom of association, and even if you passed a law no-one would obey it. Parties are a fact of life.

    3) Parties are a good thing because they give people a coherent choice about the country’s direction.

    4) Prior to 1890 New Zealand had no parties, just independents. We had about 30 governments in 30 years. Chaos.

    5) People rise up in the party system because they have political abilities and earn the respect of their peers. Which is good. The wheedling is all to the public. Getting rid of parties would not change that.

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  13. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “1) Personally I would prefer people who choose what is best for the country FIRST and best for their electorate second. ”

    Personally I would just want those people who seek to use government to impose on the rest of NZ what they think is best for the country to fuck off. We do not need do gooders, we need do lessers. Government’s role is to provide services, not shape a political paradigm.

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  14. Paulus (2,590 comments) says:

    These NOMINATIONS show a sad old Labour party – how can they expect to be an effective opposition – which every democracy needs.

    However, the Herald is doing a better job than Labour can do.

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  15. Tui (28 comments) says:

    @Tim Ellis. Why do you persist in telling people that David Shearer lost the floor vote in the Mt Albert selection? This is factually incorrect. You have been corrected by Phil Twyford on Red Alert and yet you persist in bringing this up over and over again. Disingenuous to say the least.

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