Pundits on Labour

November 24th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

, Fran O’Sullivan and John Amrstrong all write on this weekend.

First Duncan:

Dissent. Uprisings. Rebellion. Scraps. Blood.

It was something Helen Clark kept a careful lid on. 

Not even on her weakest day or in a moment of madness would Clark have given up control of who picks the leader of the proud Labour Party – never, ever.

Caucus must control its own destiny.

What happened last Saturday would never have happened under Clark’s strong leadership. Now the Labour leader can get rolled and rolled easily.

If a minority of 13 other MPs out of 34 decide to support Grant Robertson or David Cunliffe next February, then that triggers a party wide vote.

Actually I think it is even worse than that. I have not seen the final rule, but I don’t think a contender even needs to challenge. The vote is basically just a confidence vote in the Leader. Someone could just quietly encourage 14 MPs to vote no, and bang there is a leadership ballot – and only then do contenders have t step forward.

During that vote, party members get a 40 percent say and unions get a 20 percent say. You reckon they’ll hang on to David Shearer in that scenario? Doubt it. And it’s like that every three years.

If Shearer lost the Feb caucus vote, I don’t think he would even contest the party wide ballot. He’d be impotent in Parliament while he has to fight a rearguard action to stay on as Leader. I think he would bow out.

The February following each election, Labour will be able to boot out their sitting leader – that leader may have just months earlier been crowned Prime Minister.

So when you vote for Labour, you don’t know who you will end up with as PM.

It’s a recipe for instability. Quite frankly it’s a disaster, a train-wreck waiting to happen. …

If the 40 percent caucus vote and 40 percent party member vote cancels each other out – i.e the caucus wants a change but the party members don’t, then guess who has the casting vote?

The unions. They get 20 percent.

Could the unions select the next Prime Minister? Yes. Could they dump a sitting Prime Minister just two or three months after they took office?Yes.

By this move, Labour have become even more subservient to the unions.

And now Fran O’Sullivan:

Four days on from Cunliffe’s execution, there is little sign that Shearer is on top of his game.

His post-caucus press conference was a bumbling, mumbling mess which at times bordered on total incoherency.

It was a shocker.

It does not bode well for Labour to have its own leader so frightened of his own shadow that he has to banish one of his few competent colleagues to the back bench.

Unfortunately, Shearer was also simply not politically tough enough, nor sufficiently competent and astute, to have pulled off the accommodation that Australian Liberal Leader Tony Abbott made with potential rival Malcolm Turnbull this week to position his party to win the next Australian federal election.

I blogged on this yesterday. A much smarter way to handle a more popular rival.

In Shearer’s case he does not have the skill to bring off an accommodation with Cunliffe. (Though in months to come he may wish he had gone down that path instead of listening to the caucus players who want the New Lynn MP buried at all costs).

The old guard remain in charge.

And John Armstrong pulls no punches:

Barmy, loopy, stupid, crazy. Last weekend’s Labour Party conference had so much political madness on and off the conference floor that the proceedings could well have been deemed certifiable.

The handful of MPs who tried to talk sense into delegates may agree – particularly on the vexed question of how high to set the bar before a leadership ballot involving the whole party membership is triggered.

The MPs’ advice was not only ignored, they were shouted down. The rank-and-file saw things very differently. The rewrite of the party’s constitution was giving them a rare whiff of grass-roots democracy. They were not about to say “no thanks” even if their votes were being manipulated for nefarious reasons.

All I’ll say is I can’t see National rushing off to make similar changes.

I guess in Labour the desire for more of a say is understandable, as members have traditionally only a very weak say in even electorate selections.

From now on, the leader will be subject to a post-election endorsement vote by the caucus which must take place no later than three months after polling day.

Failure by a leader to secure more than 60 per cent backing from his or her colleagues will trigger a leadership vote involving the whole party.

The upshot is National will spend the election campaign delightedly claiming the Labour leader cannot guarantee he or she will still be in charge three months after the election.

Moreover, the new method of electing the leader gives a slice of the action to affiliated trade unions. You can imagine how National will exploit that.

Oh, yes.

I actually the the principle of giving members a say is laudable. But giving unions 20% of the vote is not far off organised corruption (just look at the Australian unions for examples of what they do with the extra power) and having a threshold below 50% for a challenge is silly.

When they were not naively setting things up to the advantage of the old enemy, delegates occupied themselves with such pressing matters as lowering the voting age to 16 – something for which there is absolutely no demand – and ordering school boards of trustees to let same-sex couples attend school balls.

Then there was the remit requiring 50 per cent gender equality among officials on the party’s electorate committees.

When it was pointed out that most committees had three officials, the conference determined that an extra position such as an assistant treasurer could be created.

Staggering. Their solution is to create an extra unneeded role, just so there is prefect gender equality on a committee. They have effectively outlawed a committee having an add number of members!

This kind of nonsense shows that political correctness is alive and well in Labour.

It speaks of a party that is out of touch with mainstream New Zealand. And it speaks of a leader who has no control over his party.

Where was the strategy for the conference?

The other casualty of what John Key describes as the now very “public war” within Labour is the party’s ability to project unity and stability.

That is a serious handicap for Labour, which may well have to patch together some kind of governing arrangement which accommodates the reforming zeal of the Greens and the reactionary predilections of New Zealand First.

Think if they were to form a Government. They’d first have to get agreement between the internal factions in Labour, and then with the Greens, and then with NZ First and maybe then with Mana also. If another financial crisis struck, it would probably take a month to even make a decision!

Tags: , , , ,

25 Responses to “Pundits on Labour”

  1. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    And the same old mantra of the last cycle is being repeated… Too soon to judge his leadership. Shearer and the party can turn it around. The public will warm to him as they see the real Shearer.

    And then in 2014 it will be deemed too late to change.

    The same sorry story as the Goff leadership. And sleepwalking to the same outcome.

    That is if Cunliffe and Robertson let it happen. Cunliffe will look to force the vote in Feb. Robertson will hope to defeat that so that he can knife Shearer a little closer to the election, while appearing to be the ever loyal deputy reluctantly taking over as the leader fails to gain traction.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. Keeping Stock (10,342 comments) says:

    And how does Labour respond? They and the Greens send out the petitions tomorrow to Auckland’s Farmers’ Santa Parade to cash in on the big crowd.

    I’ve just blogged a few suggestions to respond; sign early, sign often and even sign creatively. It will cause nightmares when they go to audit the petition prior to submitting it.

    I know that such a suggestion is infantile and peurile, but sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. And after all, Labour and the Greens are abusing a process that was never designed to give political parties a chance to relitigate lost elections. If Labour and the Greens want to stoop this low, the VRWC will meet them head on.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. Bill (94 comments) says:

    It was Shearer who promised the membership a say in the selection process.
    He said that to appease the members after the very unsatisfactory process if his own elevation.

    Why should Cunliffe be blamed for this? Because his talents compare so favourable with Shearer’s?

    The vicious attack on Cunliffe by Sheraer and id*ot chief whip, Hipkins, was an Embarassing knee jerk reaction the the membership’s vote. Many of the Caucus will be furious at Shearer/Robertson for their incompetence.

    Shearer is dead-man-walking because his base is controlled by Robertson.

    For the sake of the Labour Party and the country Cunliffe has to beat Robertson in February.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > And then in 2014 it will be deemed too late to change.

    That raises an interesting point. Governments often complain that 3 years isn’t long enough to implement their policies, or at least it isn’t long enough to reap the benefits of those policies. But what about being in Opposition? It also doesn’t give the Opposition long to get their act together, especially if they are changing leaders mid-term.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    ross69,

    It would be truly amazing if a party in Opposition campaigned for an increased term.

    Particularly this one – think turkeys and Thanksgiving

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. Manolo (13,837 comments) says:

    Silent T will win in February and will go on to lead the socialists.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. iMP (2,387 comments) says:

    To which we can add the colourful punditry somewhat in keeping with DPF’s “He’d be impotent in Parliament while he has to fight a rearguard action,” with “will flush Labour’s gains away as it applies an enema to itself over Christmas and in to February.  The Greens must be rubbing their rubber gloves with glee.”

    http://conzervative.wordpress.com/2012/11/24/labours-woefulness/

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. Key is our man (890 comments) says:

    If anybdoy is dreaming that all these will dent Labour-Green popularity and their chances of winning 2014 election – stop dreaming. Wait for the next political poll to come out.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    It will be a hoot to see Shearer’s preferred-PM rating. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see it lift a bit on this poll – the reverse of how Bash’s shotgun takeover of ACT sent their polling plummeting further. But normal service will be restored by vote time in Feb.

    I think Labour will have taken a hit as a result of the mess. A bit to go to the Greens and a bit to National. (if they have caught a chunk of Cunliffe supporters, the Greens will lift by more than National.)

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. Akaroa (558 comments) says:

    I don’t usually bother much with politics – (most “politicians” are just a bunch of self serving rogues and roguesses IMHO) – but I read an article about Silent T in todays Weekend Herald with great, and growing, interest.

    He’s clearly quite a guy! Smart, clever, infinitely well-qualified educationally. A proven Government minister. No wonder the mainstream Labour troglodites don’t care much for him. Tall poppy syndrome at work there methinks!!

    He’s a guy who has the ability to do a lot for New Zealand. Never mind all this piffling Labour party skull-duggery and shadow boxing – the sooner Cunliffe sees the light, crosses the floor, and switches his allegience to National the better!!

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. Lucy (32 comments) says:

    Fran’s piece was excellent and she hits the nail on the head. Shearer is unable to think on his feet – huge setback for a leader. He will be no match for Key in a debate if he can’t speak without a script.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. tvb (4,430 comments) says:

    Sorting out a rival while maintaining party unity is not an uncommon challenge. John Key managed to cleverly sort out Bill English. Tony Blair never solved the problem with Brown. It seems Tony Abbott has been clever in the way he had sorted Turnbill. Harold Wilson had Jim Callaghan but they reached an accommodation. Bolger had Winston Peters and they eventually made up. But Bolger did work hard at the relationship. So Shearer has Cunliffe with no solution in sight.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. mavxp (483 comments) says:

    The Greens are now the effective leaders of the Opposition.

    The next Prime Minister of the Left (well, more left than Key), will be Russell Norman.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. Grant Michael McKenna (1,160 comments) says:

    If it’ll take them a month to do anything they may well be the best government ever.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. Ancient Dan (47 comments) says:

    I think there is an underestimation of Union power under the old rules.
    For an electorate to get a “local” selection they had to have 600 members.
    If they did not the Unions could either stack the LERC’s with their ghost membership.
    In any event Head Office made the selections and if a potential leader had control of the presidency it was a done d3eal.
    How do you think Helen got control of the party, drove out all dissidents and ruled every nomination from 1988 to her leaving.
    This actually tones down Union control. Since they are mainly a public sector power group getting their party into power to raise their wages it is more than they deserve.
    There were real Unionists and workers in the membership once but it is now so long ago its a fading memory.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. David Garrett (7,318 comments) says:

    I see we have a few new commenters on here….funnily enough they all sound of the leftish persuasion…perhaps they have been banned from the Standard for “thought crime” ??

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. grumpyoldhori (2,362 comments) says:

    Labour has gone completely mad, allowing Party members to choose the leader will end up with tea party types running the bloody party.
    But, sine they have done it it gives us a chance to get rid of Shearer and replace him with Cunliffe.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  18. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    ‘The February following each election, Labour will be able to boot out their sitting leader – that leader may have just months earlier been crowned Prime Minister.’
    I think that bit was lifted from the plot of a Frederick Forsyth novel.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  19. SPC (5,636 comments) says:

    A Labour party leader secure in the job would have no problem with greater party participation.

    The Green Party functions quite well with this sort of arrangement.

    If those who support National as members are happy to cede leadership selection to caucus then fine, but don’t expect other parties to do so.

    Why people in the media would be concerned about the impact of democracy in the Labour party on caucus I do not know – might it reduce their influence in managing the political process (where MP’s and media inter-act in a special relationship).

    The more pertinent detail is party input on policy formulation – that means less influence of media/established itnerests on MP’s as they are mere conduits for party policy implementation.

    The people concerned about union votes are not members of the Labour Party. Those who do not want Labour to represent the interests of workers are not members of the Labour Party (though some were once – such as Peter Dunne, Richard Prebble, Roger Douglas etc).

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  20. RF (1,404 comments) says:

    Who cares… Labour is finished. I guess the Greens are now the opposition. Shearer is toast.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  21. lofty (1,316 comments) says:

    RF…I care.

    This country deserves a robust opposition, filled with COMPETANT MPs.

    I have railed against the rainbow faction, the introduction of MP,S with no life skills, setting themselves up for life at our expense, (see chippy) .

    I left the fold when my party embraced PC and sycophantic nonsense.

    I am unlikely To go back now even though deep down I would rather.

    My party has been destroyed and I have vented my spleen here and in other forums, to no avail, self destruction is the order of the day.

    I see commenters here who defend the Labour Party come hell or high water, but obviously have little age on them, and the recent history is lost already.

    I have been in the loop for so long and I know how it has all fallen apart.

    I see no one including Cunniliffe who has any ability.

    Ah well I will carry on supplying employment and income, enabling our employees to pay the mortgage, school fees, groceries etc.

    Politicians now leave me cold…

    Labour has nothing.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  22. hj (7,033 comments) says:

    He’s clearly quite a guy! Smart, clever, infinitely well-qualified educationally. A proven Government minister. No wonder the mainstream Labour troglodites don’t care much for him. Tall poppy syndrome at work there methinks!!

    He’s a guy who has the ability to do a lot for New Zealand. Never mind all this piffling Labour party skull-duggery and shadow boxing – the sooner Cunliffe sees the light, crosses the floor, and switches his allegience to National the better!!
    …………………………………………..
    Yes he’s the property investors pigeon:

    “The big adverse gap in productivity between New Zealand and other countries opened up from the 1970s to the early 1990s. The policy choice that increased immigration – given the number of employers increasingly unable to pay First-World wages to the existing population and all the capital requirements that increasing populations involve – looks likely to have worked almost directly against the adjustment New Zealand needed to make and it might have been better off with a lower rate of net immigration. This adjustment would have involved a lower real interest rate (and cost of capital) and a lower real exchange rate, meaning a more favourable environment for raising the low level of productive capital per worker and labour productivity. The low level of capital per worker is a striking symptom of New Zealand’s economic challenge.

    http://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/reviews-consultation/savingsworkinggroup/pdfs/swg-report-jan11.pdf

    Government policies blamed for house prices

    Immigration and tax breaks for investment in residential property are being cited as the underlying causes of steep increases in the cost of housing over the past decade.
    New Zealand now boasts one of the highest rates of home unaffordability in the world as a result of prices rising far faster than incomes, and the government’s Savings Working Group blames that squarely on the policies of successive governments.
    Although “the favourable tax treatment of property investment” accounted for about 50% of house price increases between 2001 and 2007, the working group said, there was also strong evidence that rapid swings in immigration brought about price-rise “shocks”.
    There was a sharp spike in immigration in 2001, 2002 and 2003 and, said working group committee member Dr Andrew Coleman, it appeared that property prices did not fall anywhere near as greatly when immigration fell again.
    The report added that there was little evidence that immigration boosted local incomes. In fact, the need to build roads and schools meant that net migration contributed to the national deficit.
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/money/4622459/Government-policies-blamed-for-house-prices

    Migrant benefit ‘overstated’ By DAN EATON – The Press | Saturday, 7 April 2007 Immigration does not benefit New Zealand as much as the Government claims, according to new research. Current policies are also hitting Kiwi families in the pocket and the number of new immigrants should be slashed, says its author, a Massey University economist. The research, by Greg Clydesdale, who teaches at the university’s department of management and international business in Auckland, drew a rapid response yesterday from the Government. Immigration Minister David Cunliffe said attracting skilled migrants was “a must” for economic growth. He said links drawn in the research between soaring house prices, mortgage rates and immigration were too simplistic. Clydesdale said New Zealanders were not being given an accurate assessment of how immigration was affecting the economy and that most previous research on the subject resembled a “wish list”, with little hard data showing economic benefits.
    http://www.nnnforum.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-100635.html

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  23. orewa1 (410 comments) says:

    Suppose in 2014 Labour won, the ballot was called, and the unions used their block to elect a far left PM who completely changed the policy agenda. Maybe the Governor General would have to step in – shades of Sir John Kerr dismissing Australia’s Whitlam government in 1975.

    Hold on – lets keep the monarchy for a while until we see how this plays out.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  24. Paulus (2,632 comments) says:

    Labour and Greenpeace NZ can still win the 2014 election. Remember this is MMP.
    Winston may feature but ……………..
    If Shearer is leader of the largest of these two parties he can still start as PM but can get rolled easily 3 months later.
    They could even let Norman in, if he does not co-operate with Labour, as Labour will not do what Greenpeace NZ want.
    Only one of the many permutations under the ensuing 2014 election.
    Under MMP it is doubtful if National et al can get a majority of seats to govern effectively alone, as at present – the slightes swing of less than 2% will see National out for a very long time, as legislation by Labour/Greenpeace will ensure that happening

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  25. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    orewa
    Like I said, that scenario has been lifted from a spy thriller. Any party could roll its leader after an election win. Do you see any likelhood of that actually happening?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote