Rejuvenation

November 9th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins writes:

Nowhere else does the word strike such fear into the heart as in politics.

There is a “for whom the bells toll” quality to the word, which to politicians is synonymous with less-comforting terminology like purge, dead wood and old guard.

Rejuvenation of political parties rarely happens without a word in the ear, blood on the floor and a row of colleagues lined up behind your back ready to plunge the knife in.

The fact then that has managed to retire seven of its MPs so far, with more rumoured to be on the way, and with not even a hint of a backbench revolt, is a truly remarkable feat.

It is – both for the party leadership, but also for the individual MPs who are quite selflessly putting party interests ahead of their own.

But of course the main value is internal – the injection of fresh blood is a breath of fresh air through a caucus, and encourages fresh talent to join up. It also ensures a Government does not become blind to its weaknesses.

David Cunliffe can only watch and weep.

His backing among the rank and file was as much grounded in a belief that he represented a new generation over ’s old guard, as it was in the direction he would take the party.

But the likes of Trevor Mallard and Phil Goff have planted their stake in the ground in Hutt South and Mt Roskill respectively.

Their determination to dig their heels in has very little to do with clinging on to the perks of office and everything to do with the fight for the control of Labour which continues to rumble on beneath the surface.

The lack of MPs rushing for the door is as good an indication as any that the hope of seeing off his leadership has not yet died among the caucus rump that bitterly opposed Cunliffe.

They’re going nowhere.

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17 Responses to “Rejuvenation”

  1. duggledog (1,555 comments) says:

    Labour’s front line are a bit like the Rolling Stones, except without the big hits, charisma, class, sold out tours, across the board respect and ideas.

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  2. WineOh (630 comments) says:

    Will be interesting to see who steps up to the plate to replace the outgoing people. It is a fantastic opportunity to bring people from differing backgrounds into the fold, with sufficient time for the public to vet their suitability. Genius in its timing.

    The problem I see the Nats having at the moment is that there is no natural successor to John Key. The combination of keen intellect, personal charisma, and a fair dose of self-deprecation (a little of this would go a long way in the Labour caucus at the moment). Plenty of technical know-how and skills in the Nats cabinet but nobody that has the full package of JK. Perhaps its just too early to talk next leader of the Nats… but with the possibility of a splintered-left coalition government that may not last a full term, its worth having those thoughts sooner rather than later.

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  3. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    >His backing among the rank and file was as much grounded in a belief that he represented a new generation over Labour’s old guard, as it was in the direction he would take the party.

    Cunliffe can hardly represent a new generation… he has been in parliament longer than Key has. If he wins next year, he’ll have been around for 15 years. This is like claiming your grandfather represents the new generation, but only because your great grandfather is still clinging on to life at the age of 95.

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  4. flipper (4,051 comments) says:

    As stated earlier this morning in the GD….
    ***
    flipper (2,724) Says:
    November 9th, 2013 at 8:27 am
    Keeping Stock (9,284) Says:
    November 9th, 2013 at 8:07 am
    Excellent piece from Tracy Watkins in the Dom-Post today about National’s process of rejuvenation. David Cunliffe’s hands are tied, because the Labour caucus dislikes him
    *****
    Not bad…. and a similar piece by Armstrong this AM.

    What many forget, or do not know, is that the Nats’ rejuvenation process has been alive and well back to when Keith Holyoake was the PM.

    In response to Labour/media claims that it was “Time for a change”, Kiwi Keith replied, forcefully, that he made changes to his Cabinet on a regular basis – ergo, no need for a change in Government. The public agreed for more years than Labour liked.

    Boag??? A very silly woman, who is rightly regarded as an aberration. She thought the Fay Richwhite ethos would be acceptable. It was not.

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  5. duggledog (1,555 comments) says:

    “The problem I see the Nats having at the moment is that there is no natural successor to John Key”

    Yes there is – are successors: Joyce would do a great job, doesn’t quite have the charisma but is an exceptionally able man. The charisma John has is one out of the box, very rare so let’s forget that. You can’t buy it or develop it, it’s there or it isn’t. It’s the X factor. Nobody in Labour has it, they’d like to think they do but there’s the rub.

    Judith Collins – has the same values as most NZers, tough and formidable.

    So there’s two that could walk straight in for at least a term, unlike Labour who really have very little (and Little). Put them next to Jones and Robertson and there’s just no comparison.

    Let’s not forget all the young lions either, exemplified by Bridges. Possible PM next time round

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  6. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    WineOh>Perhaps its just too early to talk next leader of the Nats

    That depends on whether Key decides to step down before the 2017 election or not. If he loses in 2014 or stands and loses in 2017 then the next National PM may not be elected until 2020 or 2023. In which case it is quite likely to be an MP elected in 2014. That’s the importance of rejuvenation… you want plenty of new blood next year to form the cabinet of the next National government.

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  7. duggledog (1,555 comments) says:

    Boag – a very silly woman? Wasn’t she the one who made the call to shoulder tap JK, NZ’s most popular PM since…?

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  8. flipper (4,051 comments) says:

    Duggle…
    There are ways and there are means.
    She failed to carry Members with her.
    Doesn’t mean that she alone tapped JK.

    Things don’t work like that.

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  9. Daigotsu (456 comments) says:

    David, it’s my fond hope that we saw the last Labour government leave office in 2011

    Jesus, having seen how much better the Nats can do, what kind of idiot would say “Yes please, I’ll have three more years of socialism?”

    And remember Labour will never be able to steal from the taxpayer to fund their election campaigns again. I think that when forced to rely on their miniscule supporters’ wallets they just can’t afford a proper campaign. And thank christ for that.

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  10. Mobile Michael (451 comments) says:

    Boag gave us Key, Collins, and a few others. Not bad.

    I saw he once try to shut down discontent at a National Party Conference – if Goodfellow had any sense he would have taken her advice, but for some reason he let a pointless debate carry on. Boag carried the can for Bill English’s terrible campaigning skills.

    And I say this as someone who thinks Boag is a class A b****.

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  11. kiwi in america (2,441 comments) says:

    Excellent piece by Tracy Watkins. One advantage of the 2 year election cycle of the US House of Representatives – its a form of enforced rejuvenation!

    Cunliffe knows the knives are not yet fully sheathed. That’s because his poll bounce dissipated so quickly and he continues to be wrong footed in a way that he promised not to be – especially compared to the hapless David Shearer. His media silence, his shunning potentially unfriendly audiences in the provinces, his ill conceived KiwiAssure and his making continued rookie mistakes in the House were not what his supporters after the heady leadership race were expecting. His pratfall over the ownership of Tower Insurance was a huge own goal and the spectre of David Parker stepping in to end what was winding up to be a Parliamentary Question time humiliation was not lost on the ABCs or Grant Robinson. Cunliffe then compounds his PQ mistakes by choosing union audiences over conflict with Key in the House, reinforcing the meme that he was bought and is now owned by the unions.

    There is a steady self assuredness about the Nats retirements and the likely new talent that will come into their 2014 intake. When I was inside Labour I always marveled at the deeper and wider pool of talent National could draw on. As I witnessed the ongoing purge of the sisterhood, I knew this would have a number of unintended consequences that are now being played out inside modern Labour. The leadership election rule changes brought to the leadership a flawed leader that caucus inside knowledge and wisdom had already previously ruled out. But even more restricting and ultimately electorally damning for Labour is that its activist base (from which it draws its nominees for winnable seats and list rankings) has become so narrow, left wing and partisan as to accelerate Labour away from its long historical position as a comfortable broad church home for many on the centre left to a union dominated rainbow coalition locked in mortal combat with the greens for the hard left’s vote leaving the vote rich centre to a moderate and cautious National led by a popular and capable leader. Its no wonder that restlessness is creeping back in the Labour’s ranks.

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  12. hj (6,991 comments) says:

    As The Savings Working Group Lamented

    SWG Report:
    The Government’s role
    Clearly, there are serious questions to be asked about New Zealand’s economic policy and how we got into this mess. Why was it not better designed and managed, and more focussed, coordinated and strategic? Did the electorate simply get what it voted for, without realising what was really happening, or have New Zealanders not been well served over the years?

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

    Parties suffer from group capture and always will. We have a flawed system because they behave as if it were a game show: “what will we spend our vote on?.. We won X votes with overt policy and we may (with a bit of luck) get waya with the policy we kept out the back ” Our system is also flawed if there is a consensus amongst elites as in non questioning immigration policy and house prices/infrastructure deficit.

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  13. smttc (752 comments) says:

    Another threadjack by hj.

    hj you are a troll who insists on polluting nearly every thread with your crap about immigration and house prices. Go and set up your own blog and then you can crap on about whatever you like whenever you like.

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  14. peterwn (3,271 comments) says:

    For many MP’s, especially those who have achieved something before coming a MP eg partnership in a professional firm, creating a business, having a REAL job at a senior level, etc, reverting to a life outside Parliament would mean opportunities, not fear. They would have too many ants in their pants to sit back and ‘retire’.

    Some of the newcomers need to be ‘head hunted’ just as John Key was, this is all part of the dynamics of candidate selection which is much more complex than people in a room listening to the wannabes’ pitches then voting. The ‘head hunters’ also need to see the ‘head’ right through to candidacy and victory.

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  15. hj (6,991 comments) says:

    smttc (529) Says:
    Another threadjack by hj.

    ……………………..

    The topic was factionalism in political parties?

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  16. KapitiCoast (114 comments) says:

    Agreed PeterW, but Labour and supporters just cannot see it…..The big difference is in the candidates that ‘rejuvenation’ brings to National/Labour. Nationals new faces will have had mostly a working life in the private sector and can converse/debate about difficulties new or established small or large business face in todays climate. Labours new faces will be from unions or academia and NEVER worked out with tax payers funded salaries. This may seem a somewhat pointless point, but if you are part of a new Govt (opposition even) you have to be ‘spokesperson’ on something and with just a one sided experience the ‘debate’ really isn’t up to much if your job was paid by tax payers (or contributions by members, unions) and being part of the successful and making a profitable business/company means nothing to them!

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  17. KapitiCoast (114 comments) says:

    @ Diagotsu..”And remember Labour will never be able to steal from the taxpayer to fund their election campaigns again. I think that when forced to rely on their miniscule supporters’ wallets they just can’t afford a proper campaign. And thank christ for that”

    They already have done and will do, where do you think the millions the UNIONS pour into Labours campaign chest comes from?
    Agreed not ALL are Labour supporters, but their contributions are funnelled into Labour every 3years. Look at the thief McCartens UNITE party, he stopped paying PAYE and Kiwisaver contributions of his members contributions and where did the money go to?…was election year wasn’t it?

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