The Labour “pack”

March 1st, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

writes in the Taranaki Daily News:

 I’m told there were six of them, and that they hunted as a pack. Their prey?

Delegates who had voted the wrong way.

Moving through the excited crowds at the Ellerslie Conference Centre last November, an angry group of MPs was seen taking dissidents aside and telling them, in no uncertain terms, which way was up.

Leading the pack was Labour’s employment relations spokeswoman, Darien Fenton, and her grim lieutenant, Dunedin South MP Clare Curran.

No surprises there. Ms Fenton and Ms Curran were among the caucus members most alarmed by the Labour Party rank-and-files’ sudden outbreak of democratic distemper. The other members of the pack, however, came as a surprise.

I had never thought of Jacinda Ardern, Megan Woods, Kris Faafoi or Phil Twyford as attack dogs, but my sources assure me that they were there – chewing people out. So what?

The fact that Chris has enough information to name the six “pack” members shows how many people in Labour must be spilling details of their internal conflicts.

It was Chris Hipkins who drew me aside long before the dramatic conference floor fight to murmur conspiratorially: “Our problems aren’t external – they’re internal.”

The “enemy within” that Chauvel referred to.

Even from the media table, the animosity directed towards caucus members who spoke in favour of the rank- and-file’s resolutions (the most effective of whom, by far, was Leanne Dalziel) was unmistakable.

Dalziel has now been dumped from the shadow Cabinet.

The first thing all politicians learn how to do is count and the people backing Mr Shearer were fearful that a democratised party (with sufficient support in caucus) might decide to wrest the power of choosing the party leader from their hands.

They were terrified that they would then be saddled with the rank-and-file’s choice of December 2011: David Cunliffe. And it wasn’t Mr Shearer’s faction alone, who were counting heads.

Labour’s deputy leader, Grant Robertson, had as much to fear from the leadership question being decided early, by the party, as his boss.

Absolutely.

On November 20, Mr Cunliffe is demoted and his faction isolated. On February 4, Mr Shearer manages – just – to secure the backing of 60 per cent-plus-one of his caucus colleagues. On February 19, six days before the long- awaited shadow cabinet reshuffle, Charles Chauvel, a supporter of Mr Cunliffe, quits Parliament.

On February 25, Mr Shearer’s new lineup is announced. The Pack are well rewarded. Ms Fenton and Ms Curran both rise two places in the pecking order, while Mr Twyford goes up three to take a seat on the front bench.

Megan Woods enters the top 20 – a backbencher no longer.

Mr Little rises with her.

Mr Shearer’s chief swordsman, Mr Hipkins, climbs five places to claim the shadow portfolio of education from Mr Cunliffe’s running- mate, Nanaia Mahuta.

Ms Dalziel’s eloquence on behalf of rank-and-file democracy is rewarded with demotion to the back benches.

Mr Cunliffe remains outside the magic circle. In Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express all the suspects wielded the fatal knife.

Labour’s MPs seem equally impressed by the advantages of collectivised bloodletting.

Long may it continue.

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27 Responses to “The Labour “pack””

  1. Peter (1,578 comments) says:

    Burn!

    Ouch

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  2. BeaB (2,060 comments) says:

    What big teeth you have, grandma I mean Jacinda.

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  3. Cunningham (821 comments) says:

    The left may not be good at much (particularly running a country) but they sure as hell are good at stabbing each other in the back!

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  4. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    Chris Hipkins: “Our problems aren’t external – they’re internal.”

    And that thinking is why they remain in the position they have been in since the loss in 2008.

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  5. Peter (1,578 comments) says:

    Their problems are both internal and external.

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  6. radvad (666 comments) says:

    Let’s hope their problems are not just internal and external, but also eternal.

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  7. david (2,539 comments) says:

    Hark back to that song “Leader of the Pack” and recall the most noticeqable extraneous sound on the track. Remarkably like Phil Goff’s motorsickle methinks.

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  8. Paulus (2,503 comments) says:

    What is more frightening is that there is every possibility that we will have a Labour led ?, Greenpeace led ?, Winston Government in 2014.
    That is MMP.

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

    What is more frightening is that there is every possibility that we will have a Labour led ?, Greenpeace led ?, Winston Government in 2014.

    That seems very unlikely.

    What seems to be happening is that disaffected Labour voters are increasingly withholding their votes. My guess is that a lot of them will move over to the non-voter column next year. There really isn’t any alternative for left leaning working class people that isn’t tainted by conservatism (NZF), granola munching (Greens), or race-based politics (Mana). My guess is that they would rather punish Labour than see the present Labour caucus in government.

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  10. Steve (North Shore) (4,499 comments) says:

    The ‘Pack’ is acting just like a Union, how strange is that?
    There are many who wish to vote Labour next Election, but they won’t vote for this bunch of thieving self centered bunch of pricks

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  11. RF (1,272 comments) says:

    Jesus H Christ. What a pure evil bunch of dead beats in the Labour Party. I almost feel sorry for the silent T as he was well and truly shafted.

    I know Fenton & Curran are toxic but who is this Wood person thats being fast tracked. I saw her on TV once and its very obvious that she has a very high opinion of herself plus a very nasty tongue. Looks as if she could benefit from a jog around the park.

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  12. slightlyrighty (2,496 comments) says:

    While this is becoming common knowledge among those of us with more than just a passing interest in politics, the wider NZ Public will continue to be unaware of the machinations of Labour, and it’s factional nature. This should disturb us all, as the only way that this motley crew would assume the treasury benches would involve the unholiest of unholy alliances with Winston, the Greens, Mana and the Maori Party. Anyone who feels that this would result in stable government would have voted for the legalise cannabis party.

    What concerns me is that there are enough people out there ignorant enough to make this a possibility.

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  13. RRM (9,477 comments) says:

    Four legs good – two legs BETTER!! :-)

    And they wonder why they are losing votes to the Greens.

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  14. Right of way is Way of Right (1,129 comments) says:

    “Ooooo, this whole democracy thing, and that expressed will of the people, but just as long as the will you express is in accordance with what we want you to express, if you don’t mind, thanks very much for your support!

    What, you have a different point of view? Oh do be quiet and vote how you’ve been instructed to, thanks very much.”

    The above differs from a Stalinist apporach only in terms of extremety! We all know how he used to silence dissidents, some 20 million of them as I recall!

    There is no way this current crop of raving socialists should be allowed anywhere near the treasury benches, but the frightening thing is that this is precisely what MMP has the potential to deliver.

    Can all sane people please remember, two ticks for National!

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  15. greenjacket (418 comments) says:

    It illustrates the fundamental demographic problems Labour face. Urban liberals are increasingly supportive of the Greens. Maoris are either pursuing their own particularlist ethnic/iwi interests or don’t care. Labour’s policies (pro-welfare beneficiaries, anti-business) have burned off most support from middling New Zealand (‘Waitakere Man’). That leaves Labour reliant on the increasingly marginalised unions – and that is not enough to build a mass party on.

    Labour is going from a broad-based party that once commanded 40% of the vote to a union-based party that will gain at most 25% of the vote. So what you have is like a sort of Labour Party musical chairs – too many sitting MPs and aspiring MPs, squabbling over a shrinking number of seats. Just watch the fighting when the Labour Party has to rank its MPs before the election!

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  16. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    What regularly amazes me about Chris the Trotter is that the ideology he supports is the same as the ideology of the labour party – yet he criticizes them over and over.

    Chris – the ideology of the left is all about imposing your thoughts into and into others because they dont know whats good for them, and those of the left KNOW whats right for everyone else and by God theyll learn to like it……even if it means digging out the counter revolutionaries in their own party…….

    and – as we saw in Cambodia and the soviet union – if needed they have to be removed from society to make things better…..

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  17. SHG (364 comments) says:

    What regularly amazes me about Chris the Trotter is that the ideology he supports is the same as the ideology of the labour party – yet he criticizes them over and over.

    Trotter supports Labour the movement, not Labour the political party. It seems to me that he comes across as what might be cordially described as an old-fashioned Trotskyite. He actually has beliefs and principles, whether you agree with them or not. In comparison I have no idea what the NZ Labour Party of the 21st century stands for, because it’s dominated by old hacks from the 20th. As far as I can tell the Labour Party’s core principles are “get power” and “keep power”.

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  18. scrubone (3,048 comments) says:

    Jacinda Ardern I’ve seen defending the indefensible so I don’t honestly have a high opinion of her and this doesn’t surprise me. My observation of young leftist leaders in general is that they are not good people.
    Megan Woods, I recall the insulting way she talked about her opponent when running for Christchurch Mayor, and some of the ridiculous attack tactics she used in her campaign to win the seat so again, no surprise.
    Kris Faafoi was a demonstrable liar during his election campaign. So again, this doesn’t surprise me.

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  19. peterwn (3,166 comments) says:

    Just a sobering thought – years ago a National MP told a meeting not to get complacent when the ‘other side’ is in turmoil, since they can patch up and pull together remarkably quickly in the run-up to an election. A last minute deal with the Greens cannot be ruled out either. For example, Grant Robertson could stand for Labour in Rongotai to give the Green’s candidate a clear run in Wellington Central.

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

    Chris – the ideology of the left is all about imposing your thoughts into and into others because they dont know whats good for them, and those of the left KNOW whats right for everyone else and by God theyll learn to like it……

    What are you talking about, you loon? You’re the equivalent of left wing people calling the National Party fascists. The NZ left is pretty much social democratic, favouring a mixed economy with a slightly more egalitarian distribution of wealth than we now have (and that’s the truth – there will still be very rich people and somewhat poor people, even if the Labour party got all its wishes, which it won’t).

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  21. David Garrett (6,461 comments) says:

    Tom: Are you a young man by any chance? Fairly new to involvement in left wing politics as she is played today?

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  22. s.russell (1,564 comments) says:

    What regularly amazes me about Chris the Trotter is that the ideology he supports is the same as the ideology of the labour party – yet he criticizes them over and over.

    Their ideologies are completely different. Labour believes that it takes 51,275 unionists dancing on the corpse of a capitalist to change a light bulb. Evil scum! The pure and true believers like Trotter know that it takes 51,276 unionists dancing on the corpse of a capitalist to change a light bulb. The hertics must be purged!

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  23. Ancient Dan (39 comments) says:

    The purges commenced in 88, five political parties were spawned from the remnant heretics.

    helen taught them well.

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  24. scrubone (3,048 comments) says:

    Just a sobering thought – years ago a National MP told a meeting not to get complacent when the ‘other side’ is in turmoil, since they can patch up and pull together remarkably quickly in the run-up to an election.

    Absolutely.

    Never underestimate the desire of a politician for power. Once these guys realise that the public is watching and deciding their vote, there’s potential for them to change their tune very quickly.

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  25. scrubone (3,048 comments) says:

    s.russell: comment of the week :D

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  26. hj (6,373 comments) says:

    Trotter isn’t saying what the issues are about but my guess is the Shearers immigration comments at the Hornby Working man’s Club are a watershed for Labour. While it is technically correct that immigrants are needed to replace workers going to Australia that is only one part of the picture. What working people are told (“needed skills”) and what they see (90 or so Asian restaurants struggling on Dominion Road) are two different things, not to mention being out bid in the housing market and the great leap forward into apartments. All started by the brilliant Cunliffe and Clark Combo.

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  27. wat dabney (3,672 comments) says:

    What seems to be happening is that disaffected Labour voters are increasingly withholding their votes.

    Most likely waking up to the fact that the Labour Party is nothing but a political vehicle for unionised state-sector employees to plunder everyone else.

    For a worker in the cooperative sector to vote Labour is like a turkey voting for Christmas.

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