Hooton on Labour

January 27th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

at NBR writes:

The wreckers of ’s November conference are again destabilising David Shearer’s leadership. They are likely to keep doing so all the way to the election.

Ahead of the conference, Mr Shearer was subject to an either controlled or spontaneous avalanche of criticism from across the left establishment, including Labour-connected press galley journalists, the Herald’s Tapu Misa, Helen Clark’s hagiographer Brian Edwards, the left’s poet laureate Chris Trotter and the anonymous and semi-anonymous writers and commentators atThe Standard

As might be expected from New Zealand’s most-read and most influential left-wing blog, is a more collective effort than its right-wing rivals.

And what has he been reading there:

For some time, blogs have ceased to merely report grass-roots political activity: they are now where much grass-roots political activity actually occurs, with hundreds of different perspectives being put forward on various topics.

A generation ago, political reporters hung around dire regional conferences to get a sense of what the grassroots were feeling.

With little happening at today’s stage-managed conferences, it makes sense that they now observe the postings and comments on blogs such as Whaleoil, Kiwiblog and The Standard to get a sense of grass-roots opinion (noting, as always, that conference delegates and blog writers tend to be further to the extremes of the parties to which they purport allegiance).

Even with that proviso, the extreme language at The Standard about Mr Shearer is unprecedented, and it is again being ramped up.

A nickname for Mr Shearer has emerged: Captain Mumblefuck. His intelligence and admittedly poor diction are derided.

We are told he is a bully and coward for demoting Mr Cunliffe, and a puppet of Trevor Mallard and Annette King. He is accused of appeasing the middle class, his 100,000-house KiwiBuild policy is criticised as a veneer for public private partnerships and he is widely suspected of having a secret neoliberal agenda. 

Elsewhere, based on research by Mr Trotter, some even hint he may be some sort of agent for foreign intelligence services.

I think it is fair to say that far nicer thing are said about David Shearer on Kiwiblog, than at The Standard.

To pressure him, a false rumour was spread in recent days that Mr Shearer planned to announce this weekend a membership and union vote. The motivation is because most Standardistas are confident he would lose.

In anticipation, people are being encouraged to join the party for the very purpose of voting against its leader and for the candidate, Mr Cunliffe, bizarrely seen as far left.

Internal fanaticism
This sort of internal fanaticism has been seen before, including when Don Brash’s supporters were undermining Bill English and when Paul Keating took out Bob Hawke. The strategy can work because, as Mr Hawke observed, it has a terrifying logic. 

If I recall correctly, Matthew was one of those internal fanatics he is citing, so he knows what he is talking about :-)

If a challenger’s faction, even a minority, is utterly determined to make life impossible for the incumbent, then eventually the leadership or even prime ministership ceases to be worth holding.

Labour’s new rules make the strategy even more likely to succeed and have created a risk of chronic instability. With members and unions now having the power to choose the leader, whichever faction happens to be in the minority will spend its time not taking the fight to the dreaded Tories, but signing up new members and manipulating union personnel.

The new rules put Labour at constant risk of old-fashioned Leninist entrism. Already, party bosses report infiltration by former members of the Alliance who have no interest in being part of a modern social democratic party but want to recreate Labour as a replica of their old far-left ideal.

Mr Shearer has a big speech this weekend. He would be well advised to throw some red meat to his far left to settle them down a bit. But the subversion by Mr Cunliffe’s supporters will continue all year. There is another meltdown ahead.

Interestingly, (who works in Shearer’s Office, and is a trustee of The Standard) did a relatively mild post chiding another Standard author for telling porkies about the Labour leadership.

The response has been a virtual lynching of Mr Smith for daring to criticise another author.

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29 Responses to “Hooton on Labour”

  1. thedavincimode (6,759 comments) says:

    some even hint he may be some sort of agent for foreign intelligence services.

    It’s difficult to imagine Shearer being an agent for any sort of intelligence.

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  2. duggledog (1,558 comments) says:

    Captain Mumblefuck! Classy.

    Message to David Shearer: you are in a no-win, finite position surrounded by poisonous vipers. Get out, get a real job and be happy. Life’s too short man.

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  3. Chuck Bird (4,890 comments) says:

    I think Shearer is a nice guy. I find it hard to understand why he is in the Labour Party.

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  4. David Garrett (7,292 comments) says:

    Shearer some sort of foreign agent…did he help organize the controlled demolition of the twin towers? He’s too young to have had a hand in Cherynobyl or the Challenger disaster..

    Seriously though, long may their factional infighting continue and even increase!

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  5. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    I know the unions control the Labour Party via stacking, but if ordinary members could control the vote for the leader then why don’t we all join the Labour Party? If they won the next election then we’d be able to replace the elected PM with a party leader of our choosing. Horomia perhaps. Or Mallard if we were really feeling mischievous.

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  6. Redbaiter (8,929 comments) says:

    Hooting has his own record in destabilising party leaders.

    Ask Don Brash.

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  7. Pete George (23,572 comments) says:

    Hooton has actually had some at The Standard agreeing with his NBR article.

    Interestingly, Mike Smith (who works in Shearer’s Office, and is a trustee of The Standard) did a relatively mild post chiding another Standard author for telling porkies about the Labour leadership.

    Except Smith may well be telling porkies himself. Is Mike Smith telling the truth?

    And he’s taken a swipe at wider Standard community since in another post – And now from the real Labour Party…

    According to him everything is great in the Labour Party, no rifts, no dissent (from real members), the birds are singing (he actually mentioned that in his post), Shearer is going to kill Key and the Greens with his speech today.

    Yeah, left.

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  8. Naturesong (23 comments) says:

    ” … it makes sense that they now observe the postings and comments on blogs such as Whaleoil, Kiwiblog and The Standard to get a sense of grass-roots opinion”

    I agree that Kiwiblog and The Standard likely represent grass-roots opinion, but Cameron Slater’s blog posts are a noun a verb an ad hominem attack. His arguments seldom pass the most cursory rigour. As an example he recently admitted global warming is real, man-made and will cause problems in the future; http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2013/01/gareth-hughes-killing-penguins-and-polar-bears-with-bonfires

    The thing that makes me feel actual disgust, is his proactive dehumanization of people (yes, real people, with real lives and concerns, just like you and me trying to make their way in this world), rather than speak about issues facing New Zealand and it’s peoples in a way that highlights his concerns and attempts to draw in those who generally oppose his views. He is divisive, plays on peoples anxieties, and adds nothing to the political discourse of this country.

    Contrast that with Kiwiblog and The Standard; both allow discussion of ideas from different points of view, though the standard is less tolerant of trolls, and if you are right wing, your arguments had better be robust (they are more tolerant of left wing arguments that don’t stack up).

    I tend to agree with more posts on the Standard than on Kiwiblog, but then I like things like public holidays, the 40 hour week, overtime rates, 3 weeks holiday a year, maternity (or the more descriptive parental) leave etc, etc. And also realise that its going to be cheaper to enact programs that try to help people out of poverty than simply build more prisons to house them later on. Yes, I’m happy to give back my tax cut to pay for this stuff.

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  9. pollywog (1,153 comments) says:

    Thing about Slater is, he’s mentally unwell isnt he?…easily dismissed as the rantings of a madman?…useful idiot?

    Our gracious host, a sock puppet who knows what side his bread is buttered on and consequently wouldnt bite the hand that feeds?

    and the natives are revolting at the standard?

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  10. Redbaiter (8,929 comments) says:

    “Yes, I’m happy to give back my tax cut to pay for this stuff.”

    You can actually register to pay more tax than is regulated.

    Perhaps you could post the details here once you have done so.

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  11. tvb (4,425 comments) says:

    Labour infighting. What a treat for John Key. Love it.

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  12. thor42 (971 comments) says:

    Agreed, tvb. This stuff is *great* to see!
    How can these morons run a country when they can’t even run their own *party*?

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  13. duggledog (1,558 comments) says:

    Naturesong:

    ‘And also realise that its going to be cheaper to enact programs that try to help people out of poverty than simply build more prisons to house them later on. Yes, I’m happy to give back my tax cut to pay for this stuff’

    Well, I’m not. God help us, can’t you see how glib and useless that statement is? You’re a parrot. Programs don’t help people out of ‘poverty’, people help people out of poverty i.e. themselves. It’s not ‘going to be cheaper’, these programs and state largess are precisely the reason we’re in the situation we’re in!

    Poverty = families on less than $600 a week according to the Childrens’ Commissioner

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  14. pollywog (1,153 comments) says:

    Hooten hears a who?

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  15. thor42 (971 comments) says:

    Duggledog is right.

    Throwing yet more money at poor people will make no difference at all.
    It’ll make them even *less* interested in wanting to work (and yes, there ARE jobs out there for those who WANT to work. Orchardists have to bring in workers from Fiji to pick fruit. Dairy-farmers have to hire Filipinos to work on their farms – all because NZ beneficiaries are *lazy* and can’t be bothered. That proves that life on a benefit can’t be *that* hard, or else you’d see people queueing up for those jobs. )

    Throwing money at people worked “really well” for Greece, ay?

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  16. Reid (16,472 comments) says:

    It’s the sign of an intelligent mind to be able to entertain conflicting ideas at the same time however this is a dual-edged sword because unintelligent minds when forced to attempt the feat by their owners, tend to experience blow-back which often, tragically, blows said minds to smithereens. I think that’s what’s happened here, the poor things.

    I mean else does one explain what we’re seeing, whereby Liarbore’s core loyalists are tearing each other apart over who gets to be the biggest mental of them all (i.e. party leader)?

    See it was all OK when Hulun was around because by sheer force of will she managed to keep the destructive forces in check amongst her lessor Liarbore brethren but now it’s like a massive pent-up energy has been released and every single mental is running around like a hysterical schoolgirl, bumping into each other, etc.

    I mean it’s great, it’s like this massive Shakespearean drama to which no-one knows the full plot playing out before us. It’s got humour, tragedy, pathos, evil, a little bit of good here and there.

    So let’s hope it just keeps going, for ever and ever. Meanwhile I’ll invent myself a disguise at The Stranded and become a Scarlett Pimpernel.

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

    Nah Slater is cool. That’s his way of dismissing the ludicrous proposition that high taxes and nanny statism is the golden panacea. Much more honest than just pointing the finger and saying, you’re not nice to the poor wee cwiminals you nasty right winger, you. That cock knocker Matt McCarten was using that tactic today in the dribble that passes for a column. As for mental illness, try being a women. I’d’ve ticked the boxes for ppd and alcoholism at different stages. Madness is a lot closer than you think, sweetheart and it’s a lot more liberating than being a fully paid up member of the zombie collective you represent. I suggest a big cup of, “harden the fuck up.”

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  18. thor42 (971 comments) says:

    Well said, Reid! :)

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  19. Sam Buchanan (501 comments) says:

    As someone who takes very little notice of what the Labour Party is up to, the situation Hooton describes just seems the norm for a party with a politically ineffective leader who doesn’t seem to be able to strike a chord with the public. I don’t think there’s any conspiracy or ‘internal fanaticism’. What are Labour supporters supposed to do – obey orders and blindly support their boss?

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  20. Reid (16,472 comments) says:

    What are Labour supporters supposed to do – obey orders and blindly support their boss?

    It’s just that normally the grassroots activists don’t openly undermine the current leader Sam, that’s the only issue really.

    I’m not quite sure why they do it, myself. I would have thought the activist wing of the Liarbore party would simply gush over someone with Shearer’s background. Cunliffe’s philosophies also contradict with my reading of what those activists’ world views are and I don’t know why they prefer Cunliffe over Shearer, because you’d have thought by comparison Cunliffe would be seen as more akin to Key.

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  21. Pete George (23,572 comments) says:

    Naturesong:

    Contrast that with Kiwiblog and The Standard; both allow discussion of ideas from different points of view, though the standard is less tolerant of trolls, and if you are right wing, your arguments had better be robust (they are more tolerant of left wing arguments that don’t stack up).

    Kiwiblog and The Standard are totally different environments.

    There’s some robust attacking of views across the spectrum, and some pissy nastiness, but it’s a level playing field. Moderation doesn’t interfere with debates.

    The Standard is entirely different. Up until a few months ago anyone deemed enemy (and you didn’t have to be right wing, just labeled right) was attacked and harrassed under the protection of moderators. In fact moderators joined in – with threats of bans hovering. Any questioning of authors risked a ban, no matter how blatant their bullshit. There was an example of this last week where three people were banned for gently taking IrishBill to task for a claim he made.

    It’s more interesting at The standard now because those once protected by the slanted moderation are now fighting amongst themselves.

    There are irnonies galore. One regular who commented was the Jackal, he hissy fitted when anyone disagreed with him. Yesterday he complained about others trying to shut down “fair discussion) through question him. Some chickens coming home to roost there.

    Naturesong, you may have not been a target at The Standard so you might not understand, but surely you could see some of the bashwagon bully and harrassment tactics that have been rife at TS.

    It was particulalry ironic when howls of protest rent The Standard when Clare Curran heavied some regulars to shut up their party dissent. They just don’t like it when it happens to them.

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  22. Sam Buchanan (501 comments) says:

    “normally the grassroots activists don’t openly undermine the current leader”

    If you’re a member of a political party and you’re convinced your leader’s not going to win you the next election, surely that’s the logical thing to do? It just seems Labour activists are a little more open about it than in some other parties.

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  23. Reid (16,472 comments) says:

    It was particularly ironic when howls of protest rent The Standard

    It’s a straight-forward outcome of the self-righteous gene which all lefties have running rampant. It’s not an accident that the more leftist one is the more fervently one believes that one’s ideas, borne out of one’s limitless compassion, more limitless than anyone, are the correct and only correct view and anyone who disagrees is a great big ogre. I mean, yes of course, it’s completely nuts. But who ever said leftist thinking has to be sane or even rational?

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  24. Pete George (23,572 comments) says:

    Cunliffe’s philosophies also contradict with my reading of what those activists’ world views are and I don’t know why they prefer Cunliffe over Shearer, because you’d have thought by comparison Cunliffe would be seen as more akin to Key.

    That’s always puzzled me, but I think Cunliffe has been canoodling union interests and to the activists. They really think he would move Labour to the left. My feeling is he’s just using them (unsuccessfully so far) without being a genuine fit with their philosophical leanings.

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  25. Paulus (2,628 comments) says:

    Analysing all been said for the last few months there will be no February election – it’s too dangerous for the whole Labour Party to be seen eviscerating itself in public.
    Present perception is that they should stick with Shearer until after the election when despite being Prime Minister they will gut him, as allowed under the new rules.
    Somebody like Helen Kelly with Andrew Little, or more probably Russel Norman, in support, will take over.
    Under MMP the swing to the left of something like 2% will allow a Labour/Greenpeace Government and by virtue of his current position Shearer should hold the line, being perceived by the media, and the general public therefore, as a nice guy, until the shit hits the fan in the February after the election.
    By then the Unionists and Greenpeace will have done a deal, and Shearer becomes political dog tucker, (and back to the corrupt UN).

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  26. Reid (16,472 comments) says:

    Under MMP the swing to the left of something like 2% will allow a Labour/Greenpeace Government and by virtue of his current position Shearer should hold the line, being perceived by the media, and the general public therefore, as a nice guy, until the shit hits the fan in the February after the election.

    The floaters will never vote for Liarbore unless and until they have a leader who isn’t being sniped at by his own people. This is because the floaters are so stupid they’re incapable of working out for themselves the quality of the people they’re planning to vote for so they instead look for “indicators” of which, in their profoundly small worlds, the question of “what do others think about him/her” looms largest.

    My advice to Shearer at the time of the last conference was that he should give his speech dressed as a gladiator and then challenge the other David to a fight. Which he didn’t take. Silly him.

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  27. Pete George (23,572 comments) says:

    Greg Presland (mickysavage) has taken umbrage at Hooton’s claims about him, and refers to “Matthew Hooton Master Spinner” and “the use of paid hacks working out how to spin a story within an inch of unreality”.

    That’s ironic, because mickysavage has for a long time aided and abetted the spinning hacks at The Standard, and he has attacked attempts to hold them to task.

    Presland on paid hacks and spin

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  28. Yoza (1,879 comments) says:

    The dissenting voices over at The Standard reflect a deeper malaise running through a growing section of society, people are becoming subject to decisions being made which have adverse effects on their living standards and it is these same decisions which they are alienated from forming.

    Shearer is little more than a lightening rod for this discontent, the real problem seems to be a scarcity of meaningful participation in the Labour Party’s selection process of its parliamentary wing. The disproportionate power exercised by caucus appears to be the main bone of contention.

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  29. Naturesong (23 comments) says:

    Apologies in advance for the length of the post.

    Redbaiter: On calling my bluff
    You are right, I can pay more tax than I owe.
    I could protest and say that I do not want to pay additional taxes because the current government will spend them in ways I disagree with, but this would be a specious argument as they already spend some of my tax money on things I disagree with.
    The real answer is I would prefer to advocate (and vote) for policy changes than subject myself to a competitive disadvantage. Feel free to call me names.

    duggledog: On your blind and irrational dogma.
    There are clear correlations between poverty, crime and low education; use google, ensure the data and studies you find are from reputable sources (peer reviewed, check funding, is it public or private, if private what industry and are they pushing an agenda etc).
    New Zealand is a liberal democracy and historically recognises this, so has enacted policies to ensure low barriers to quality education, income support to help combat child poverty and primary health care. There is also superannuation, but old people suffering extreme poverty tend to starve and die rather than kill and rob people.
    I think more could be done to lower the cost of education. Fonterra’s Milk in Schools program is not only good PR, it will also produce positive education outcomes.
    I would also prefer to see WFF (read employer subsidy) scrapped and in its place a higher minimum wage.

    thor: On Reading
    Please re-read my post, I was talking about poverty not the unemployed. While it’s true that most unemployed are also poor, it’s not always the case.
    However, since you bring them up; since the National government was voted in, in 2008 unemployment has steadily rising from 4.6 (Dec 2008) to 7.3 (Dec 2012). This while unemployment fell slowly in other OECD countries. So, you assert that 2.7% of the people in New Zealand suddenly changed from being productive members of society to dole bludgers worthy of your scorn and ridicule?
    You have a point regarding importing labour in preference to hiring locals, how do you suggest we address this?
    Btw, your comment “Throwing money at people worked “really well” for Greece, ay?” speaks for itself.

    Reid: On dogma in general
    I disagree that the “left” have a monopoly on dogmatic thinking, no one is immune. As individuals we must challenge ourselves to constantly reassess our assumptions, be able to change should circumstances dictate, to not be wedded to specific ideas – you know, think like a liberal.
    I’ve noticed that dogma does tend to be more prevalent in religion though, something JC himself railed against without success (also usury, which he violently opposed).

    Monique Watson: On mental Illness
    I’ve known several people over the years who have suffered from mental illness. As someone who tends toward liberal policies (change, but not for changes sake), rather than conservative ones (no change, omg! stop changing things!) I suspect may here will think I know large numbers of crazy people.
    Most have suffered from depression, and a couple who are bi-polar. None of them are wankers.
    I do not advocate being “nice” to people who break the law, and you may wish to re-read my post as you clearly misunderstood it. On the other hand I do not make the mistake of confusing retribution with justice (Sensible Sentencing Trust).

    Pete George: On your considered reply
    You may be right, I have been largely politically apathetic and only recently become concerned with the way this government governs. As a result I am unaware of some of the history of the various New Zealand political blogs.

    While comparable OECD countries are coming back from the recession caused by the massive economic contraction which started in 2007, New Zealand has
    – rising unemployment
    – greater economic inequality
    – rising NZD against the USD which is undermining manufacturing (and then explicitly kneecapping Hillside rail workshops)
    – an increasing trade deficit as we import debt and export profits
    – seriously damaged it’s 100% pure brand (valued at $20.17 billion in 2005) by comparing it to McDonalds “we’re loving it”. A brand which everyone knows bears no relation to their labour practices. I.E John Key is happy to tell the world that we’re not pure, we’re just polishing turds folks.
    – the record number of laws passed under urgency which reduces legislative accountability (no select committee, no public submissions etc).

    The last time New Zealand embraced neo-liberalism was “Rogernomics”. GDP fell or stagnated in every year between 1986/87 and 1993/94. It was the longest recession in the post-war era. At its bottom, economic activity was 9% below trend – unemployment rose to 11.1% of the labour force in March 1992. http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/economic-history/11

    And then there is the sheer incompetence of a number of Ministers, from Hekia Parata to Nick Smith, to John Key’s (or was it Bill English?) knowledge of GCSB’s illegal surveillance.

    It amazes me that these folks have not been run out of town already … and then I look at the Labour Party ……

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