Is there a path back for Cunliffe?

November 21st, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

At the time of the leadership election in late 2011, a couple of people in Labour both said they hoped that the result of the election would see Cunliffe not just fail to gain the leadership, but also out of Parliament. Since then we saw the backbiting to Duncan Garner about him, and finally he has been been sacked from the shadow cabinet.

So the question is, is there a path back for him?

Let’s look very carefully at what David Shearer said:

is a talented MP and it is possible there is a road back for him. But I would like him to take the time to reflect on his ability to play a part in our team. 

The phrasing is significant, I believe. It does not refer to Cunliffe’s desire to be part of the team, but his ability. That clearly suggests that Shearer, and the old guard, do not believe he is capable of being a team player.

Hence my conclusion is that Cunliffe has no realistic chance of rehabilitation under the current leadership.

The comments by his supporters on his Facebook page may not help his case. A few examples:

  • Dont worry we want your actions in the future. Lets see where the polls take David Shearer for what he has done today.
  • He will be the electorate MP for life but Shearer might try for a UN post after he loses the next election.
  • Stick with it. If Shearer was an intelligent and competent leader he would not have reacted in the manner that he has.
  • I told you, your time was 12 months prior to the last election to make your move. You needed to do it then. Because this has played out in the media it is unhelpful and it maybe too hard to recover. I agree that you are the better choice. I wish you the best of luck.
  • Alas but jealousy has no cure my good friend. You are smarter, brighter, more popular and are by far more suited to both the leadership position and the front bench. Labour’s problem is that it lets a bunch of insecure, out of touch, incompetent puppets run itself, thus not realising what’s good for it even when told by the grass roots. Shearer is an embarrassment and each time he is heard or seen I cringe. How the freak is he expected to lead us to a 2014 victory?
  • Helen was a good public speaker. She was a dominant and capable figure. She listened to the electorate, the public and so on. Ratings aside, does Shearer have any of that? I think not.
  • Labour just lost their best bet for a win at the next election
  • it seems that Labour still has to learn that this whole loyalty and ambition thing runs both ways. the naked ambition and disloyalty by the ABC crowd to keep their own jobs, while not doing them, must have blinded them to the reality that only they seem unable to see.
  • Labour has now degenerated itself as a gaggle of gays, lesbians and unionists. They appear to be in self-destructive mode.
  • I can’t see Party supporters raising funds for Shearer. Costs a lot to run an election, to spread the word and to get people to transport voters to the polling booths.
  • The Labour caucus for the most part are a bunch of muppets. Shearer looks pathetic & weaker than ever now.
  • Patience is a virtue David, bide your time, DS will never be PM
  • While I thought Shearer was going to be the better option a year ago, I’ve lost all sympathy for him following his beneficiary-bashing speech
  • The entire caucus is then a bunch of sheep out of touch with what NZ needs, David Shearer will never be Prime Minister because he is not the right leader for NEW ZEALAND.
  • I have been a Labour Party member since 1984, I have not paid my membership this year, mostly because I don’t quite like where the leadership of the Labour Party is going.
  • A demotion to the backbenches??…..that’s got to be coming from a pretty spiteful, insecure place Mr Shearer!
  • As I see it, if we want a democratic, left-wing, Labour Party to fight for the future of New Zealand, then between now and February, those members who care need to make sure that the decision in Febuary is the right one.

These are all comments on the Facebook page of the Labour MP for New Lynn. The comments at The Standard are even more heated. Some highlights:

  • Having voted Labour for my whole adult life I have just moved my support to the Greens.
  • On TVOne just now Shearer came across as the sort of bully who terrorises his family in the home but is all smiles and nice guy on the outside. Acts tough with his kids (caucus) but is an utter wimp with powerful adults. I’ve voted Labour all my life. No more.
  • Shearer has just made a mortal enemy of many of the members and supporters.
  • Shearer’s arrogance takes one’s breath away. I voted Labour for well over 50 years. Never again! I am now with the Greens all the way.
  • So much for unity the Dunedin youth chairman has quit the party and more have told me they will follow.
  • It’s absolutely imperative that people thinking of leaving remain in Labour, and support Cunliffe for February, as well as working on any waivering support. Otherwise Labour will wither and die, under the current strategy and leadership.
  • Shearer looks like exactly what he is, a puppet that is being manipulated by Mallard and the media. The sooner he is gone along with Mallard and co the better!

The activists seem split between two strategies. Half say they are quitting Labour, and half are saying they want to rejoin to vote against Shearer next year if they get the chance.

 

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45 Responses to “Is there a path back for Cunliffe?”

  1. Keeping Stock (10,100 comments) says:

    My mother always used to tell me that “the devil makes work for idle hands”. Giving David Cunliffe time to foment happy mischief on the back bench (sorry to plagarise your byline DPF, but you DID steal it from Dr Peter Davis!) is not David Shearer’s most clever strategic move.

    And boy; are they ever laying in to Shearer, Mallard, Robertson and Hipkins over the way; 384 comments as I type this, and rising fast. There’s some real anger and vitriol there…

    http://thestandard.org.nz/leadership-meeting-the-outcome/

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  2. Pete George (22,839 comments) says:

    The Standard has been a fascinating window into the past two weeks of Labour scrapping. TS has been overwhelmingly – but not totally – pro Cunliffe, with a remarkable number still claiming Cunliffe has done nothing wrong.

    But the balance of opinion at TS has to be seen in contecxt of it’s past and current moderation imbalance. For example yesterday:

    Zoo baby

    Shearer did the right thing he took control.

    [RL: No more astroturfing. Banned. Bye.]

    There have been several ban warnings recently and two bannings for pro-Shearer comments yesterday - The Standard and Cunliffe control.

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  3. Scott1 (448 comments) says:

    I liked Shearer (in the ‘nice guy’ sense), but maybe Cunliffe is the better candidate for two reasons.

    1) the electorate seems ok with Smarmy.. it isn’t perfect, but it is better than invisible.
    2) he does seem to have some loyal followers out there. does anyone get excited about Shearer?

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  4. Tom Jackson (2,458 comments) says:

    I don’t understand this blog. The general consensus here is that Shearer is a useless bore, but when Labour activists agree and try to replace him with someone who isn’t, he’s suddenly great.

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  5. jims_whare (398 comments) says:

    If the red nutters are up in arms over what happened over the last 4 days, they will certainly be frothing at the mouth if the next batch of polls show Labour heading into the sub 30% territory – that is why I think Cunliffe will be very happy today.

    He is basicly in a no lose situation with plenty of time on his hands.

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  6. graham (2,215 comments) says:

    Wow:

    DAVID SHEARER – I HATE YOU!!

    This was the day (yesterday), where you proved what you are all about. You are not one “leader” with the interest of Labour voters and NZers in general in mind, you have fallen for an agenda, the agenda of keeping power, for your self serving interests, and also, “co-incidentally” for those interests of the “economic” power players in NZ!

    You are not a person to be trusted and you have with your contempt for the less fortunate beneficiaries clearly shown your bias against them. You are not the nice guy at all, you are rather attempting to become “media savvy” now, which is not what real people want and need.

    For me Labour is a party NEVER to vote for again, and I did vote for your party once. I am going to vote Greens or Mana in future, ideally for an alternative party to the left of centre, with the interests of the less fortunate in mind, that may yet be created.

    Labour to me is now a REDUNDANT and DEAD party. Sorry, you have yourselves to hold responsible for this disastrous situation. Good bye for good!

    http://thestandard.org.nz/leadership-meeting-the-outcome/comment-page-2/#comment-551862

    Interesting how this commenter sees David Shearer as wanting to hold onto power – aka the baubles of office – which, if it is at all indicative of a wider feeling within the Left will be upsetting them greatly. “Surely the baubles of office are for the RIGHT – nobody on the Left cares about such things, surely??!!”

    But then, anybody who would even consider voting for Mana is obviously far more to the Left than Labour ever was. I think (and desperately hope) that Mana will never be anything more than a niche party to appeal to the ultra-hard-left activist faction.

    I can see a lot of disaffected voters maybe jumping ship to the Greens, however. The Greens have, for some years now, been steadily growing in power and influence, to the point where they have to be seen as a real alternative party. Is this the defining point in NZ political history where we make the transition from being a two-major-party country to a three-major-party country? I don’t know if we’re quite at that point, but I suspect it could happen, if Labour continues to screw up this badly.

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  7. RandySavage (196 comments) says:

    the level of handwringing and comfort grooming over at the Standard is astonishing
    Anyone who witnessed Cunliffes Avondale markets speech pre election knows the guy is nothing short of an idiot

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  8. graham (2,215 comments) says:

    Heh. Just seen this comment at The Standard:

    Amused too by Jane Clifton’s >whack job in the Listener:

    …5. You spend the conference wearing a smile that could power the California grid.

    Smiling is now a crime!!! Is this schoolgirl gossip the best one of senior political journo’s can come up with?

    http://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-21112012/comment-page-1/#comment-551908

    From the blog that gave you the disparaging “smile-and-wave” description of John Key, the complaint that smiling shouldn’t be seen as a crime! Oh the irony …

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  9. Alan Johnstone (1,062 comments) says:

    Way back under the current leadership? No, that ship has sailed.

    I do expect him to mount a bloody coup at some point fairly soon and take the crown.

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  10. Mobile Michael (414 comments) says:

    From what I saw pn the news last night Cunliffe has been told to shut up or be given the Chris Carter treatment. From the summary of comments above it looks like a sizeable base of the Labour Party would go with him.

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  11. hmmokrightitis (1,508 comments) says:

    Oh god, my ears, my brain :( Sitting listening to red radio on the 10 minute drive to work. And who am I listening to commenting on the whole sorry episode? Greg “Flea” Presland. A more dull, evasive and intellectually dishonest moron Ive yet to listen to. “Ive been looking hard for signs about this whole meme that David was destablising Goff…” Oh god, you sad wee man. You make lawyers look bad, and that takes some doing.

    Im certain you must be really good looking Flea, cos with that personality, youre fucked.

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  12. mikenmild (10,716 comments) says:

    On too the next burning issue – who will be the next leader of the National Party?

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  13. Drefetr (2 comments) says:

    I guess I’ll just have to vote for the ALCP then; Fucking incompetent opposition.

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  14. Longknives (4,456 comments) says:

    Jesus New Zealand politics is in a sorry state at the moment….

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  15. martinh (1,155 comments) says:

    I really hope that Labour splits over this, it would make for great parliamentary debate between them.
    I saw russel norman on tv the other night,its the only time ive seen him looking a bit off colour for a while. he must be real concerned about who his coalition partners could be now.

    Mike i dont really care who the next National leader is so long as it isnt mini me try hard John Key Simon Bridges.

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  16. Keeping Stock (10,100 comments) says:

    @ mikenmild – good question, but one that won’t need to be answered until after the 2014 election, regardless of whether National can form a government or not. But I’ll tell you something for nothing; there will be a succession plan, there will be no blood spilt and no media feeding frenzies, and the next leader will NOT be either David Cunliffe or Don Brash :D

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  17. hj (6,350 comments) says:

    The architect of high house prices, small sections and cheap service at the wine bar will be back!

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  18. hj (6,350 comments) says:

    So Shearers crimes include stating that migrants shouldn’t take jobs of locals… geee! and beneficaries should stand in the queue behind genuine workers?

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  19. David Garrett (6,417 comments) says:

    Alan Johnstone: I agree…no way has Cunliffe and Co gone away…

    Off topic DPF, but how many have you banned off here? The Standard seems to ban more people than Pol Pot sent for re-education! And for even less reason… I find it fascinating just how afraid the lefties are of truly free speech…..

    MickeySavage being interviewed on TV…that is going to be fun…

    PS I know what “trolling” is but what is “astro-turfing” ??

    [DPF: Banned around a dozen. Astro-turfing is generally someone pretending to be someone else to say good things about themselves or their company. It comes from astro-turf being artifical grass, so it is fake grass roots]

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  20. hj (6,350 comments) says:

    Night before last Brian Crump cheer lead the author of a book on migration apparently it is all win win: “and when we get an influx of migrants we get things such as cheap service in restuarants and with it economic growth”… he actually said that (although not exact words). I thought that sums up the attitude of Cunliffe supporters.

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  21. hj (6,350 comments) says:

    “the best traditions..?.. of the progressive left have always been for open borders and free migration”…. and jobs at the UN…. and cheap service in the restuarants….don’t worry about the Kiwisl ower down the heap, they are the unworthy…. failures….. it’s their fault.

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  22. hj (6,350 comments) says:

    Chris Trotter was interviewed on radio NZ but they didn’t say he was a Cunliffe supporter.

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  23. Pete George (22,839 comments) says:

    Is there a path back for Cunliffe?

    MPs come, MPs go. A more important question – is there a path back for Labour? A Labour Lament.

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  24. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    @Mikenmild.
    I’m pegging, next Nat leader to be Judith Collins. And she better be a good bitch too and keep it real.
    Shearer PM in 2017, to witness the economic gurgles down the toilet.
    Then somebody better get their shit sorted and peg a vision where New Zealanders aren’t caned for being successful; that we need to double our population in 15 years to become a financial heavyweight and be able to support the retirees.

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  25. Longknives (4,456 comments) says:

    “that we need to double our population in 15 years to become a financial heavyweight and be able to support the retirees.”

    Alternately we could just ditch all Treaty ‘Gravy train’ handouts and stop paying losers to breed. That would pretty much cover Superannuation…

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  26. Keeping Stock (10,100 comments) says:

    @ David Garrett; I know your question was directed at DPF, but thought I’d add that I have banned three commenters in five years of blogging. One fell victim to Three Strikes and is banned for good (as he is here) because he couldn’t be rehabilitated, one is out until 2013, and another has had a one week ban which was extended to two weeks when he breached it.

    Lynn Prentice and his fellow moderators ban more than that before lunchtime on a good (or should that be bad) day :D

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  27. tvb (4,203 comments) says:

    Shearer is a novice leader who is influenced by other more experienced operators in his caucus. These people have been around for some time. Shearer is a decent enough man. But he does not give that impression of confidence, his hesitant media skill merely add to the impression he does not know what to do next. Cunliffe is the exact opposite and he will challenge the shadowy old guard behind Shearer. The caucus vote solved nothing.. Changing the rules to only requiring 40% vote of caucus to challenge the leader is a disaster for leadership stability. The mix of an inexperienced Leader, lacking confidence, influenced by others who should move on means nothing is solved and the Labout Party is in for a period of instability. John Key will be hoping for a much better year for 2014 as Labout turns on itself.

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  28. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > the electorate seems ok with Smarmy

    Well, clearly, otherwise John Key wouldn’t be PM :)

    As for this being the end of Cunliffe, I don’t think so. If he is prepared to wait, I have little doubt that he’ll be leader of the Labour Party in due course. It won’t happen overnight but it will happen!

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  29. martinh (1,155 comments) says:

    Even the communist party of china know they need to get the old guard out every few years. Struth it was good seeing greedy eyed gravy train annette King look like an absolutely imbecile she is by the new tv3 reporter who was questioning her about the affordable housing plan

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  30. sparky (235 comments) says:

    David Shearer, thinks he is the Cats pyjamas. He needs to learn how to conduct an Interview. Talk about a bumbling Stuttering Stammering Twit. Just Hopeless. Labour need to forget about the next election, and tidy up there party. Clean it out and start again.

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  31. thedavincimode (6,532 comments) says:

    There are two lessons to be learned from all of this.

    1. Don’t read or listen to anything to do with this laff fest while holding a drink.

    2. The identity of the real puppetmaster of the Standard.

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  32. Mark (1,362 comments) says:

    Cunliffe has not gone away. His failure to endorse shearer was calculated and I doubt he is overly surprised at the events of the last few days nor that he is on the back benches.

    The pressure is on Shearer now not Cunliffe, he can sit back and take his time.

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  33. Pete George (22,839 comments) says:

    There’s something still rotten in the Labour caucus. After yesterday’s meeting it was reported:

    Meanwhile, he has clamped down on any dissent emerging after yesterday’s caucus meeting, winning a resolution by MPs that he would be the only one to speak about it.

    But at least one and probably more Labour MPs have been talking to media about it. Will Shearer do anything about these breaches of trust?

    http://yournz.org/2012/11/21/something-still-rotten-in-labour-caucus/

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  34. BillODrees (90 comments) says:

    The Answer is always Grant Robertson.
    Who hated the members for getting the 40% trigger for a wider selection run-off?
    Who blamed Cunliffe when the Members ignored the Caucus?
    Who wound up Shearer to demote Cunliffe?
    Who is going to shaft Shearer?

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  35. David Garrett (6,417 comments) says:

    PG: That post of yours that links to wherever it is…very good.

    Meawhile, I will sit back and enjoy the spectacle along with everyone else!~ Nothing like a but of lefties tearing into factions and tearing into each other….as long as no-one ends up with an ice pick in his head in a far away country…

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  36. David Garrett (6,417 comments) says:

    Oh dear…look what happens when you dont check the edit…”Nothing like a BUNCH of lefties…” can’t be using “but” wrongly – even with only one “t” in this sort of discussion…

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  37. BeaB (2,058 comments) says:

    And in the meantime, John Key is meeting with the President of the USA, forging bonds with Burma, building trade with China, taking the piss in a pink shirt…

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  38. Keeping Stock (10,100 comments) says:

    Quite so BeaB. John Key’s ability to laugh at himself is one of his hallmarks, and contrasts strongly to former PM’s and to the current Opposition front bench which of course includes Russel Norman and Winston Peters.

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  39. backster (2,077 comments) says:

    Maybe Cunny could form a New Labour Party or else he could approach Hone to see if he could be CO Leader of Mana.

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  40. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,795 comments) says:

    Aren’t you ignoring the most obvious path back for the only man they have who is capable of “taking it to John Key?”

    Who cares if he can never make it in the current team. The current team is hopelessly terminal.

    Cunliffe returns in February and is voted in as leader. Exit Mallard, Goff, Robertson, Hipkins.

    Voila.

    New party. Augean stables cleaned. Welcome back Waitakere Man.

    So he’s not liked? Well big deal. It ain’t a popularity contest.

    Labour MPs will need to figure out whether they want someone who can actually lead them into office and, much as I detest the fellow, I think he can.

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  41. Paulus (2,501 comments) says:

    Cunliffe is dead in the water with Labour.
    The Union left see him as a:-
    Millionaire Aucklander,
    Ex Banker,
    Multi million $ house
    Sends children to private schools
    Arrogant
    Now that the Unions control the Labour selection under their new rules can either Shearer or Culiffe be reselected ?
    The Unions pay the Piper, so now more than ever play the tunes.
    In February it is likely that Andrew Little will be the leader, with supporting roles from turncoat Robertson (having the homsexual caucus) and Parker holding their coat tails.

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  42. martinh (1,155 comments) says:

    Andrew Little as leader- he is even less charismatic than the below bland shearer, he comes across like a fool. I remember reading a Michelle Hewitson interview once and thinking hes a village idiot like Dai Henwood

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  43. BeaB (2,058 comments) says:

    Paulus
    So they also hated the multi-millionairess Helen Clark with her five properties and now a gold-plated UN salary and pension?
    Of course they would chuck out anyone similar – like David Shearer fresh from a fat UN salary with a fat UN pension and four properties.
    Remember, new Labour is run by a middle-class elite, just like the unions.

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  44. thedavincimode (6,532 comments) says:

    Paulus

    … and yet, at the Standard he can do no wrong, unlike another millionaire ex-banker who schooled his kids privately. This is hard to reconcile other than on the basis of personalities and favours to be returned.

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  45. sparky (235 comments) says:

    My God not Andrew Little, he is aggressive as Shearer is Weak. Ugh, what a mess the Labour Party is.

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