Editorials all say early vote was a mistake

November 21st, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

All three major daily say the early leadership vote was a mistake made under pressure.

The editorial yesterday:

… if he imagines the vote will see off a challenge from David Cunliffe he is already disappointed.

A more experienced leader would have dismissed any suggestion he should try to “call out” a challenge with an early vote. When a leader wins – as usually happens the first time – the question does not go away. It merely leaves the party divided and ensures the discontented faction will choose its moment to make another bid.

today:

If David Shearer wishes to retain the leadership of the parliamentary Labour Party he should put aside any thoughts he may have for a surfing holiday this summer.

Yesterday, he obtained the support of the party caucus in a wholly unnecessary vote of confidence that he called. He also demoted his rival, David Cunliffe. His problem, however, is not his support in caucus but rather that in the wider party.

Since the weekend, Shearer’s supporters have been talking up his performance at the conference and it is true that the keynote speech Shearer gave on Sunday went down well amongst the faithful. But the bar had not been set very high. Preaching to a roomful of one’s most committed activists (and those who turn up for conferences are by definition the hard-core of the party) is not much of a test of a leader. Furthermore, no-one has ever doubted Shearer’s capacity to read a fully scripted, exhaustively rehearsed speech. It is his performance off the cuff that is the worry.

The performance at the post caucus press conference was not impressive and would have done little to reassure the doubters.

Because a leadership vote in February is mandatory, Shearer’s call for a vote of confidence yesterday was unnecessary. He was driven no doubt by the urge to be seen to do something. He also might have hoped he could put the question of a challenge behind him. Shearer, and his caucus supporters, want the matter over, but it is unlikely anything before February is going to end it.

There are 76 days to go before the real vote.

The editorial:

David Shearer has been reconfirmed as leader of the Labour Party. Given that even his caucus critics declared in advance their intention to vote for him that is hardly surprising.

However, far from being the resounding victory claimed by Mr Shearer’s cheerleaders, yesterday’s caucus vote served only to lay bare the deep divisions within the party. Those divisions are between the pragmatic, centrist MPs such as Phil Goff, Annette King and Trevor Mallard who have installed Mr Shearer as their standard bearer, and the wild-eyed idealists who forced a rule change through the party conference at the weekend enabling caucus malcontents to force a leadership vote in which party members and unions will have the final say.

It is more than about the leadership.

The reason Mr Shearer has not scrapped some of Labour’s sillier 2011 election promises is now apparent. Labour is in the midst of a power struggle between those who recognise that spending promises have to be paid for and those who do not understand that capital and skills are mobile. Increase taxes beyond a certain point and both will depart for greener pastures.

Neither yesterday’s vote nor the demotion of Mr Shearer’s putative challenger David Cunliffe to the backbenches resolves the question of Labour’s leadership. The real contest, if there is to be one, will come in February on ground not of Mr Shearer’s choosing.

Then, just 13 or 14 of Labour’s 34 MPs will be able to force a party-wide vote if they choose to.

If a party-wide vote is triggered, I don’t think Shearer would contest it. How could you? Imagine how hobbled you would be in the House having to take on the PM, while fighting for your political life. If a vote is triggered in February, then I’d say it would be Cunliffe vs Robertson.

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20 Responses to “Editorials all say early vote was a mistake”

  1. Reid (16,740 comments) says:

    Labour is in the midst of a power struggle between those who recognise that spending promises have to be paid for and those who do not understand that capital and skills are mobile.

    OK but Cunliffe also knows they have to be paid for. Which means for his personal ambition he’s promising things he knows will damage the country. What a Silent-T.

    According to Hootten on RadioNZ Monday Politics, Cunliffe’s has had that nickname all his life, not just when he entered politics. I wonder if that will ever be a question in the Stuff politics quiz? Let’s hope so.

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  2. Ross Miller (1,618 comments) says:

    David Shearer is an inherently decent guy in the Bill Rowlings mold in wrong place at the wrong time.

    History could well judge him as one of the best PMs that Labour never had much like Jim McClay for the Nats.

    Meanwhile it’s full steam ahead as Cunliffe and his little helpers head off down the branch line going left leving middle New Zeland with only one choice and wondering who the hell dreamed up that clusterfuck of a housing policy …

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  3. BeaB (2,165 comments) says:

    Poor bumbleface Shearer pleaded, “Like me, please like me”. Not the look of a leader easy in his own strength.

    Can you imagine John Key prostrating himself like this?
    Not in a thousand years. He sees them off quickly and cleanly.

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  4. Lee C (2,720 comments) says:

    I think this is starting to look like a story the media is so in love with that it just can’t and doesn’t want to, let go of it.

    I think it loves the narrative of ‘nice’ Shearer and ‘machiavellian’ Cunliffe, and nothing either of them do will dislodge that view.

    If Shearer hadn’t acted, they would be running the same story, basically.

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  5. bhudson (4,741 comments) says:

    If a vote is triggered in February, then I’d say it would be Cunliffe vs Robertson.

    Hence why Cunliffe’s supporters are laying it on so thick that the anti-democratic behaviour by Camp Shearer has been driven by Mallard, Robertson, Goff and King. They want the the 60% of the weighted vote outside of caucus thinking that Robertson has been trying to subvert the democratic shift that party members voted for on the weekend.

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  6. sparky (235 comments) says:

    Everyone voted for David Shearer, yesterday. They would of been to scared to not vote for him, in case he sacked them. How is that a democracy. Totally wrong.

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  7. Ross12 (1,488 comments) says:

    sparky — those that voted for him just because they thought might otherwise “be sacked” are just gutless.

    The editorials and many of the commentators such as Brian Edwards and co are just p….d off because they got it horribly wrong with their “predictions” and have been shown up as not being in the know as much as they would like to think are.

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  8. Nostalgia-NZ (5,323 comments) says:

    Lee C (4,438) Says:
    November 21st, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    ‘If Shearer hadn’t acted, they would be running the same story, basically.’

    I get that impression as well, something along the lines of striking while the iron is hot.

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  9. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Everyone voted for David Shearer, yesterday. They would of been to scared to not vote for him, in case he sacked them. How is that a democracy.

    Remember you are dealing with the species homopolitician, a bred not known for having anything resembling a spine, a species particuarly adept at realising that they depend on a gravey train. A species able to breath and survive while having there mouth and nose planted firmly up someone elses arse, where even the males of the species have nothing resembling a pair of nuts. Scum- first foremost and last.

    There is not one person in that labour rabble excepting O’Connor who remotely appears as likeable, they just look like and appear to be fucking horrible human beings

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  10. hj (7,184 comments) says:

    TV One “and the people in his [C’s} electorate that we spoke to were dissapointed…” #1 “I think he got a raw deal” #2, #3, #4… there that proved it

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  11. hj (7,184 comments) says:

    There seem to be some events that are treated like the breaching of a dam/ crossing of a rubicon…. set the panic buttons blaring. In this case it is an appeal to centrist working class.
    Funny how NZ First has been sitting on the reports of the Australian Productivity Commision and Savings Working Group. Now if they were in a coalition government….?

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  12. pq (728 comments) says:

    look like a NZ Nat Govt third term 2014 to me,
    place you bets here. and remember I am stupid but i make money,
    place bets now $1000 honoured with Fararr.
    bet on Labour win $1000,
    where are you weaklings like Trotter, bet here

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  13. Bill (94 comments) says:

    The vote has had the desired effect for Shearer.

    I saw Cunliffe coming through Auckland Airport last night and he was exhausted. He told someone beside him that it was the hardest day of his life and that he is over it. Cunliffe will be back at Boston Consuting in no time. He will make three times what Parliament pays.

    He has young kids. Why fly to Wellington every to be insulted by a r*nt like Hipkins?

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  14. sparky (235 comments) says:

    Shearer is such a weak individual, he won’t last. I just don’t see how he can. He looks as though he has stage fright every time he is interviewed, like a scared rabbit. He does not have the ability to be a Leader, I don’t care what he has done in the UN, it doesn’t qualify him in Politics. As for that Hipkins, he is a little creep, such a cocky little Mr No all, that knows nothing.

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  15. tvb (4,560 comments) says:

    This is a period of great instability for the Labour Party. The problem is Shearer is a front man for other more experienced MPs who are not yet ready to move on. You get the distinct impression Shearer has to ask someone what he should do next. The Labour Party is a complex party to lead and it takes someone of exceptional skill and experience to do it. Shearer is a decent man but he has that Jack Marshall/Bill Rowling quality about him.. However in both those cases they knew their parties very well. Shearer does not.

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  16. Bill (94 comments) says:

    TVB….

    “Shearer has to ask someone what he should do next.”

    That is why Robertson selected him. And Shearer asks Trevor and Annette and Phil. The Old World, the ones who lost 2011.

    He does not ask Jacinda, Andrew or Parker. He bullies them. Shearer, frustrated by his lack of knowledge of the organisation’s complexity and history has taken to shouting and threatening. Thus compliant MPs are beginning to see Grant Robertson as the nice guy!!!!!!

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  17. Nostalgia-NZ (5,323 comments) says:

    Wipe your chin Bill, the dimwit bullies got a good thumping.

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  18. Paulus (2,712 comments) says:

    Vote in February will not finlise with either Shearer or Cunliffe.
    A “compromise” will take place and Andrew Little will get the job, with Robertson up his backside, and Parker barking alongside too.

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  19. V (767 comments) says:

    It doesn’t end in Feb either, once Shearer is outed next will come his tell-all.
    Thing with that is, although he is a poor leader, most probably consider him a decent bloke, so will be interesting when he spills about the absolute ar*eholes in the Labour party.

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  20. sparky (235 comments) says:

    Amen.

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