Will the unions select the leader?

August 24th, 2013 at 8:12 am by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins at Stuff reports:

That puts the leadership in limbo for the next three weeks while up to 50,000 voting papers are sent out and candidates make their pitch at a series of meetings across New Zealand.

I suspect it will be far fewer than that. It is widely known Labour has less than 10,000 members despite my best efforts on their behalf.

The six affiliated may have another 30,000 to 40,000 members between them but as I understand it most are not letting their rank and file members vote – just their union delegates, which are far fewer in number. By restricting it to delegates it will allow that union to promise its support more easily to the candidate who offers that union the most legislative favours.

Each delegate votes individually, and in secret, but make no mistake they will have been told the view of the union leadership about who to vote for and I predict that no union will be a close vote – the candidate the hierarchy supports will get at least 80% of the vote from that union. What is possible is different unions could vote different ways depending on what each has been offered, but Helen Kelly has already said they are talking to each other.

 

The new rules were an attempt by the party’s grassroots to rein in caucus after a widening rift over policy and direction. But they could drive an even deeper wedge if the party and caucus back opposing candidates and cancel each other out, because the caucus vote counts for only 40 per cent of the total.

That makes Labour’s union affiliates, whose votes count for 20 per cent, the potential king makers and could deliver the caucus a leader that a majority of MPs don’t support.

This will be the first time that corporate bodies will get to directly elect the leader of a political party. Imagine the fuss if for example you had business organisations getting a vote for a political party leader.

If Robertson and Cunliffe do stand, it is highly likely it will come down to who gets the unions on side – and that is easy. Unions will vote for what is in their best interest, so the candidate who promises them (publicly or privately) the most favourable law changes to increase their wealth and power, will get their support.

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26 Responses to “Will the unions select the leader?”

  1. Paulus (2,559 comments) says:

    Why do you think the Rules governing the Labour Party were changed ?

    Helen Kelly actually rules now, as the union members fund the Labour Party.

    Party HO are struggling, to say the least, to get serious sponsors.

    Cactus is propping them up with her $20 membership now.

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  2. tas (596 comments) says:

    The unions will doubtlessly block vote, so they are more important that their 20% weighting would make it seem. If a candidate gets the 20% union block vote, half of the membership vote and a quarter of the caucus vote (or vice versa), they are in.

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  3. flipper (3,834 comments) says:

    That proposed Peter Dunne Bill requiring a three yearly audit of party membership would help keep Labour honest on real membership. As you infer the claimed membership is bullshit. Good that Collins, silly as she is on most other matters, has not ruled out support of the proposed measure.

    On the issue proper, it is worth remembering that one anticipated candidate – the tubby rainbow Robertson – was a party to overt, nay deliberate, and with malice, series of acts, which stole more than $500,00 of our money for their illegal 2005 election campaign. They escaped prosecution and prison because the Police were chicken livered, and poetersparty1 plus greens helped ramrod legislation to legalise their theft.

    The tubby rainbow is not fit to be a Member of the Parliament, let alone a leader of a party, and would be Prime Minister.

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

    The whole system that elects the leader of the Labour Party is just a rort. I mean, really, unions having a 40% say in the process? Come on? The Employers Federation is often accused by the left wing as having far too much influence on the National Party, but never on a scale such as this!

    If you, as a political party, have to formalise your support base in legislation, rather than try to appeal to an as yet undetermined section of the electorate, then you have already lost! This is a democracy, and if you wish to participate in a democracy, you must act to gain the support of the electorate. You do this by putting up well thought out and constructive policies. Unions do not really represent the interests of the workers any more, they are a bunch of troughers, determined to place themselves above the rest of the “workers”. They don’t care about jobs, they care about power and prestige! This was evidenced in no small way by the drama over the filming of The Hobbitt trilogy, which was very nearly hijacked by a blatant power play by the unions!

    They are so blinded by the ‘class struggle’ that no longer exists. The last Labour Prime Minister went to elite schools and grew up in a situation that many would envy. The current National Prime Minister was raised in a state house by his solo mother!

    This current Labour Party are simply not keeping up with the paradigm shift in thinking across the globe. Like the Mainstream Media, they have been unable to adapt to a new reality, and in a process that is brutally Darwinian, those who cannot adapt will die.

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  5. Viking2 (11,261 comments) says:

    IMHO it was clear from the evening of the last election that the Labour Party was going to collapse. Clark was such a despot that she encouraged no talent, she controlled everything so much that only her choices made the grade. Well the Labour Party have got themselve to blame.

    Like the Aussie Labour they will no longer be relevant after this election.
    King, Mallard, and Goff are holding onto memories and need to realize that these current crops are not hard working blue collar but rag tag misfits.

    The sooner it dies the better. what will be interesting to watch is what happens to the assets and funds. Watch the Unions go for getting thier hands on them if they haven’t already done so.

    Most unions will go the same way with the vistors collecting the real estate spoils.

    Of course Kelly will be one of the 10%

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  6. Viking2 (11,261 comments) says:

    They are so blinded by the ‘class struggle’ that no longer exists. The last Labour Prime Minister went to elite schools and grew up in a situation that many would envy. The current National Prime Minister was raised in a state house by his solo mother!

    Bwhhahahahaha

    are you saying they should swap colours?

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  7. Pete George (23,309 comments) says:

    I mean, really, unions having a 40% say in the process?

    No, unions have 20%. I don’t know how many effectively get to vote on that.
    Caucus has 34 people with 40% of the vote.
    And there’s maybe 10,000 members with 40% of the vote.

    An interesting mishmash of democracy.

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  8. tvb (4,247 comments) says:

    And Ms Kelly is wanting the Unions to block vote. This Mugabe style manipulation of the vote leaves the game wide open for John Key to exploit.

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  9. Monique Angel (264 comments) says:

    Cunliffe and Robertson will cut a deal and socialist Cindy will be the one who gets to fluff the unions. If she wants to take #3 she should and will be able to be the power broker there.

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  10. slightlyrighty (2,499 comments) says:

    So if the unions vote for a candidate, and then tell it’s members who are also Labour party members to vote for that candidate, are they having 2 bites at the cherry? How many of the party rank and file are also union members? Will they vote the same way the union does?

    The 20% voting block to the unions have consigned Labour to a definite move to the political left, leaving the center ground wide open. The system put in place has lead to the often seen unintended consequence that a lack of forethought brings.

    Of course the stuff leadership poll still has “None of the Above” as a clear favourite.

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  11. Pete George (23,309 comments) says:

    Duncan Garner ‏@Garner_Live

    Do political journos who are union members get to vote on the Labour leadership? Serious question not stirring.

    Interesting question.

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  12. Judith (8,419 comments) says:

    So how does the National Party pick their leader? Do all members of the National party get to vote, or is it done by a select few? Would be interesting to see how the other parties go about their selection.

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  13. Monique Angel (264 comments) says:

    I understand the board has the major say on who is selected for leader. But don’t quote me.

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  14. leftyliberal (642 comments) says:

    The unions might have an influence, but there are some protections in place against bloc voting:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11113603

    At least the membership get some say in the matter.

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  15. kiwigunner (223 comments) says:

    ‘Unions will vote for what is in their best interest, so the candidate who promises them (publicly or privately) the most favourable law changes to increase their wealth and power, will get their support’.

    So the unions are like everyone else then.

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  16. peterwn (3,211 comments) says:

    flipper – Peter Dunne’s bill would be watered down to the extent that once the Commission is satisfied a party has 500 members, it will pack up and go home – it would be a waste of taxpayer’s money to check out tens of thousands of memberships when this has no electoral significance.

    The idea of ‘private’ policy promises is rather scarey especially when these would not be revealed to the membership.

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  17. beautox (434 comments) says:

    I hope they pick the caring and charismatic Andrew Little

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  18. mikemikemikemike (319 comments) says:

    “Unions will vote for what is in their best interest, so the candidate who promises them (publicly or privately) the most favourable law changes to increase their wealth and power, will get their support” – this is different you, me, and any corporate/business how?

    National sell themselves to the highest bidders. Labour sell themselves to the dumbest ones. Both parties are whores it’s only their client base that differs.

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  19. Roflcopter (446 comments) says:

    Yesterday, at The Standard, I asked the following question …

    “Is it possible for the Unions to advise their individual members to vote for a particular candidate to secure the 40% membership slice, then the Unions to vote the same, securing the 20% Union vote (which would like a double-dip by the Unions), thereby giving the Unions the ability to effectively control who becomes Labour Party Leader?”

    … this was responded to by Bunji with …

    “No.

    Well, they can advise their members to do what they like, but a lot of their members won’t be Labour party members (separate subscription to union subscription), just affiliate members, so won’t get to vote in 40% slice. And they can advise those who are all they like, but they won’t necessarily do that – I can advise you and Red Baiter to vote Labour but you probably won’t.

    In fact the Unions will be consulting their members to find out how they should vote, not vice-versa…”

    … I asked for some clarification on a point …

    “Understood on the difference between union membership vs rank and file… was interested in if members of both could be sufficient in numbers, in securing a majority of the 40%?”

    … answered with …

    “No, there wouldn’t be close to sufficient numbers.

    And each of the 3 votes is not a bloc – if A gets 55% of union votes and 51% of party votes they don’t get 60% of the vote – and they can still be defeated by B who got 45% union and 49% party if B gets a sufficient majority in caucus.”

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  20. Fisiani (993 comments) says:

    In the UK at a Labour Party conference 4 trade union leaders nipped out to a nearby café.
    Who’s for tea and who’s for coffee said one.
    The three others chimed in with “Tea”
    Well said the first “That’s 3 million votes for tea, I’ve got 5 million votes for coffee so coffee it is for all then.”

    Sadly this is how it will work. The executive of the EPMU will always decide who is the next potential Prime Minister.

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  21. Sir Cullen's Sidekick (835 comments) says:

    Labour and unions – taking NZ to prosperity – yeah right.

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  22. burt (8,022 comments) says:

    The lowest paid workers dig deep and give their hard earned money and precious time so that one of New Zealand’s 1% can get a big pay rise …. Priceless…..

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  23. kiwi in america (2,473 comments) says:

    If I am interpreting what I heard David Parker, Moira Coatsworth and Mike Williams say on Nine to Noon yesterday, then there are three salient points to bear in mind about this process:
    1 – Only 1 of the 6 affiliated unions will put the leadership vote to its individual members – the rest will allow the delegates to block vote (after internal union consultation).
    2 – Each block is NOT winner take all (i.e. if Robertson wins a plurality of caucus he gets the whole 40% caucus allocation) – each candidate’s share of the vote is apportioned as a percentage of that block’s vote and then adjusted according to the percentage that block is allocated for example assuming a straight Cunliffe v Robertson contest. The swing vote impact of the union block is clearly observed below:

    PARTY/Raw % /Adjusted %
    Cunliffe 3565/62.11/ 24.84
    Robertson 2175/37.89/15.16

    CAUCUS
    Cunliffe 15/44.12/17.65
    Robertson 19/55.88/22.35

    Before the unions are added in, Cunliffe easily wins the party and Robertson narrowly wins the Caucus giving Cunliffe a 5% edge (42.49 vs 37.51) before the union vote is added. The unions will block vote for a preferred candidate. If this is Robertson then he gets 100% of the union block adjusted to 20%. Add 20% to Robertson and he easily trounces Cunliffe thanks to the union block vote. It is conceivable for one candidate to narrowly win both the caucus and the party and STILL be beaten by his opponent who carries the union vote
    3 – The power of the union block is enormous and unless one of the candidates is clearly the runaway favourite across the party and the caucus, the candidate who promises the most the unions will invariably win. However the total winning margin only will be reported and unless the media are able to poll party members and caucus with some degree of accuracy, the Labour Party will keep secret the fact that the unions’ man carried the day.

    This creates an excellent window of opportunity for National to call whoever is the new Labour leader as being in the position courtesy of the unions and to ask what policies will Labour introduce to pay the unions back. Given the unpopularity of the unions, this high and mighty sounding experiment in grass roots democracy could end up being an electoral noose around the new leader’s neck. Union influence on Labour before the Constitution change was always there but was indirect, behind the scenes (at selection meetings) and financial. Now it is all of that AND now able to pick the leader. Does NZ want a PM that is the union’s poodle?

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  24. burt (8,022 comments) says:

    Does NZ want a PM that is the union’s poodle?

    Happy Union Day NZ. It’s a new public holiday where the low paid workers all donate to highly paid politicians so the latter can have a monstrous party weekend at the expense of the low paid workers.

    All union members must donate and after the new Union membership law of 2014, that’s every person alive in NZ who will be legally required to donate 10% of their income to the Labour party.

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  25. burt (8,022 comments) says:

    Oh, needless to say – pretty billboards will be posted on every street corner of dear union leaders.

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  26. MT_Tinman (3,043 comments) says:

    Unions will vote for what is in their best interest, so the candidate who promises them (publicly or privately) the most favourable law changes to increase their wealth and power, will get their support.

    DPF, you are only partially correct.

    Unions will vote for what benefits the union hierarchy, allowing them to increase their wealth and power. The actual union, those who pay the union fees, have no bearing on that vote.

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