Armstrong on Jones

February 15th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

writes:

The applause from his colleagues ought to be long and loud when arrives for Labour’s weekly caucus meeting on Tuesday. This week was Labour’s by a country mile thanks to Jones’ carefully conceived, astutely timed and precisely targeted blitzkrieg-style offensive on Countdown, the Australian-owned supermarket chain.

In the space of just a few minutes in Parliament on Wednesday afternoon, Jones made an extremely serious allegation regarding Countdown’s business practices. In doing so, he also entrenched Labour as the White Knight on the frontline of the Supermarket Wars.

It’s all about repositioning Labour more firmly in voters’ minds as the consumer’s friend who will confront big business greed rather than being a corporate lap-dog like National.

It’s about ensuring the economic debate at this year’s election concentrates on prices, wages, income inequality and child poverty – not economic growth forecasts, Budget surpluses and debt repayment where National has a huge advantage.

Yep a very good week for Shane Jones. It may backfire if he has over-egged the problem, but from what I have heard it does seem that there is some fire behind the smoke.

In fact, it could have been the perfect week for Labour had not wasted an opportunity to nail the Greens to the wall, thereby making it very clear to the public who is going to be the boss in any Labour-Greens coalition Government.

Norman’s musings aloud on the Greens’ stance on Dotcom’s fight against extradition was a major gaffe. The Greens seem to believe that the wide discretion the law gives to the Minister of Justice amounts to carte blanche for the minister to pick and and choose who goes and who stays.

That discretion in the law is obviously there to deal with any anomalies or unforeseen circumstances.

Norman’s mistake was to talk about blocking Dotcom’s extradition if given the chance, while in almost the same breath referring to Dotcom not going ahead with the launch of his Internet Party which would have dragged votes off the Greens and other left-leaning parties.

Norman might argue he was talking about two very different things. But it was inevitable Key would link them and declare the Greens, who have attacked National’s electoral accommodations with minor parties, were about to strike a far more dodgy one of their own.

It is unwise to declare publicly you would try and veto extradition of someone, at the same time as you’re trying to negotiate an agreement for him to support your party, instead of setting up his own one.

So a good week for Jones, and not a good one for Cunliffe.

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22 Responses to “Armstrong on Jones”

  1. Yogibear (361 comments) says:

    The most disappointing aspect of this is this is the exact type of issue the Association of Consumers and Taxpayers should have fronted.

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  2. bringbackdemocracy (423 comments) says:

    Jones is positioning himself well for the post-election leadership change.

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  3. Pete George (23,437 comments) says:

    Ity’s a good sort of issue for an opposition MP to work on, it’s good to see Jones trying to do something useful. And acting like himself rather than some caricature concocted by party PR.

    His colleagues could learn a lot from Jones but I doubt that many or any will. They are too busy dancing to Dotcom’s tune at the moment.

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  4. Than (451 comments) says:

    I think Armstrong is over-estimating how good a week this was for Labour. Jones scored a solid point with the Countdown accusation, but the impact was reduced by John Key quickly conceding there may be a problem and supporting an investigation. Cunliffe didn’t just miss an opportunity to nail the Greens, he caught some of the flak resulting from Norman’s comments by initially appearing to support them.

    The week wasn’t “Labour’s by a country mile”, it was a one-all draw.

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  5. metcalph (1,427 comments) says:

    It is unwise to declare publicly you would try and veto extradition of someone, at the same time as you’re trying to negotiate an agreement for him to support your party, instead of setting up his own one.

    It is extremely unwise to declare publicly the intention to veto someone’s extradition full stop. It renders you vulnerable at the very least to a Judicial Review.

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  6. Joanne (177 comments) says:

    Cunliffe sort of suggested it but Norman went far too far.

    Norman is Labour’s biggest liability and that’s a huge statement to make given that getting a five year old to rewrite their policy (Labour) would make it infinitely more understandable.

    Norman’s an arrogant little smurf but so then is Cunliffe and that is the biggest hindrance to success.

    I know lifelong Labour people that won’t vote Labour because of Norman.

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  7. tvb (4,330 comments) says:

    Yes Jones spotted a problem which was quickly neutralised by Key. The problem was over before Labour could do anything about it. The Shapeshifter triumphed again.

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  8. holysheet (339 comments) says:

    How many times has it been said before?
    Vote for liabore and you get the green luddites.

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  9. OneTrack (2,987 comments) says:

    bringbackdemocracy – “Jones is positioning himself well for the post-election leadership change”

    Jones is positioning himself well for the pre-election leadership change. fify :-)

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  10. BeaB (2,108 comments) says:

    I hope the inquiry will include Foodstuffs too because you can bet what one supermarket chain is doing the other is doing too.

    In the meantime I think we should hold our horses on a boycott. 18,000 Kiwi jobs plus the Kiwi suppliers who supply 94% of Countdown stock shouldn’t be put in jeopardy on the basis of hysterical accusations by a Labour MP.

    I love my supermarkets and appreciate their low prices and wide choice. Surely all the big suppliers (and there are very few small ones) have the individual and combined muscle to stand up to any so-called bullying. After all, it’s not in supermarkets’ interests to put suppliers out of business or lose popular products from their shelves. A supermarket is only as good as the lines it stocks.

    I suspect a fair bit of over-egging by Jones, some urban myths and an unpleasant attempt to whip up anti-Aussie sentiment. A lot of damage could be done and we need to tread carefully or we may find it’s the ordinary Kiwi who is the loser – all for the sake of some political posturing and bloated oratory that make the media wet their knickers.

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  11. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    Jones was not the first one to make these claims, Cameron Slater mentioned them ages ago. I hope Winnie doesn’t pick up on it . . . his bro taking info from WO.

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  12. spanish_tudor (63 comments) says:

    This was more about a win for Shane Jones than anything to do with Labour. He’s connected to an issue in a way that only he, and perhaps Damien O’Connor, can do on the Labour side. Can you imagine any of the hatchet-faced Labour wimmin running with this?

    And he’s positioned himself well for when Cunliffe starts to tank further.

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  13. tvb (4,330 comments) says:

    Winston would have started slowly. Saying there is a major scandal brewing that affects all New Zealanders. He would be dropping hints for days with the media trying to guess what it was. Then in a triumph he would announce it to get maximum publicity. Hopefully boxing Key into a corner. If he could play this game for several days any move by Key may seem too slow at best. With Jones it came out no warning Key responded immediately before the public knew anything had happened.

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  14. Yoza (1,786 comments) says:

    Yogibear (193 comments) says:
    February 15th, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    The most disappointing aspect of this is this is the exact type of issue the Association of Consumers and Taxpayers should have fronted.

    By demanding the state disestablish the Commerce Commission so at least one of the supermarket duopoly could continue to use their free market commercial advantage to extort money from its suppliers?

    bringbackdemocracy (334 comments) says:
    February 15th, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Jones is positioning himself well for the post-election leadership change.

    I think even Jones knows he will never be leader of the Labour party.

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  15. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    I think even Jones knows he will never be leader of the Labour party.

    Maybe the performance was part of his interview for the role of successor for NZ First leadership

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  16. kiwi in america (2,428 comments) says:

    Armstrong’s comment about Labour’s great week is another demonstration of inside the beltway navel gazing. Jones has hit on an excellent populist issue because it happens to have large elements of truth to it. As someone who does business in Australia, the US, Canada and New Zealand, the Aussies are over the top ruthless in their tactics and practices. Corin Dann made the same mistake on TV 1 the day before; asserting pathetically that somehow Winston Peters’ allegation that Key got the SIS to spy on Peters being the reason how he learned of the his three visits to the fat German posed a major political problem for Key. Dann, Armstrong and many of their MSM colleagues all opined about the electoral damage the GCSB law change would do to National ….until it became obvious that it didn’t.

    Jones’ speech and Parliamentary Question reminded middle NZ (whom Cunliffe needs to woo back to Labour to have any hope of beating Key) who really should’ve been elected Labour leader. Cunliffe’s various pratfalls (so eloquently summed up in Matthew Hooten’s excellent piece in the NBR http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/cunliffes-four-fails-dc-151791) contrast starkly with ease with which Jones exploited the Aussie Woolworths owned Countdown stand over tactics. Craig Foss was weak in his PQ answers to Jones but ever the safe political pair of hands, John Key, ensured that within 24 hours this issue was where it should be – in the hands of the Commerce Commission complete with the ability to hear supplier testimony in confidence. It’s hard to see how Jones reminding Labour that they voted for the wrong leader and the PM neutralizing this potent issue within hours constitutes a great week for Labour.

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  17. alloytoo (526 comments) says:

    Jones appears to be completely out of step with labour, whether that’s with foresight and deliberation, or simply the way things are, it does serve to highlight just how out of touch the Labour party, as a whole, are at the moment.

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  18. slijmbal (1,227 comments) says:

    When Progressive bought Woolies they were pretty aggressive in their negotiations with their suppliers. They signalled that they would not accept any terms worse than those received by Foodstuffs until it was pointed out this was probably illegal. There was a lot of squealing from suppliers at that time. They were somewhat annoyed when they found out that a number of suppliers had given better deals to Woolies over what was then Foodtown.

    With three customers it was harder for the suppliers to be commoditised and anecdotally they have been on slimmer margins since the reduction in competition. It depends whether you see the supermarkets reducing costs (and presumably passing them on) as a good thing or a bad thing if it reduces profits for suppliers.

    A large proportion of suppliers were actually distributors of imported goods and based on the vehicles they drove when meeting at Woolies seemed to be doing alright for themselves (yes not very scientific) especially as for many importers overheads are pretty low for wholesale goods.

    The mention of the payment by the liquor vendor to Progressive is irrelevant. It is the industry norm to do various deals (called co-op when I was involved in Woolies). These often involved dollar amounts whether for volume discounts, ‘shared’ marketing costs i.e. the supermarket advertising their goods, agreed contribution to discounts during discounted sales campaigns, basically purchasing the appropriate shelf space, guaranteed buy-backs of unsold goods etc. It’s more likely to be a discount rather than a payment normally.

    It would not surprise me if something was said during negotiations along the lines of we had a bad year/your line didn’t do that well and they’ve pushed for a discount on a current deal over a couple of years and the net result is they receive a payment or some such …

    It is probably illegal for suppliers to collude to keep prices up and generally I would expect the supermarkets to have the stronger hand as there are only two of them.

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  19. DJP6-25 (1,364 comments) says:

    It’s been more tolerable than good. JK has defused the problem already. Let’s hope this is as good as it gets for Liarbour.

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  20. OneTrack (2,987 comments) says:

    yoza – “I think even Jones knows he will never be leader of the Labour party.”

    True. And that is a startling indictment of Labour who represent themselves as the party of the “workers”, in that Jones appears to be one of the few of them who actually knows what a worker is. “Labour” are now the party of the beneficiary, LGBT and fabian socialism.

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  21. Pongo (371 comments) says:

    He has completely over cooked it, embarrassingly so. Then in typical labour stupidity they referred it to the commerce commission ! Fucken idiots why not hang Foss (pathetic looser) out to dry for a week rather than giving him the chance to say ” it’s in front of the commerce commision so I can comment” .
    Idiot labour, it’s as bad as Cunliffes baby back down

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  22. Yoza (1,786 comments) says:

    OneTrack (1,643 comments) says:
    February 15th, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    True. And that is a startling indictment of Labour who represent themselves as the party of the “workers”, in that Jones appears to be one of the few of them who actually knows what a worker is.

    Jones has too much baggage, the Hooton/Trotter dissection of his activities when he was Minister of Immigration is good for a laugh: The Shane Jones discussion starts at 11:45

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