Strike Three

March 5th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

writes at Stuff:

Three months and three gaffes.

It is an understatement to say it has not been the greatest start to election year for leader David Cunliffe.

The slip over the baby bonus, by failing to disclose in his speech that it would not be paid on top of parental leave, took much of the wind out of his January sails.

It also deflected attention from a $500 million spending pledge that Labour had hoped would set the agenda.

No sooner was the House back in February than the $2.5m property-owning man was attacking Prime Minister John Key for living in a leafy suburb and defining his own mansion as a doer-upper and his own situation as middle of the road.

The climb-down came at the weekend.

This morning he has admitted it had been wrong to set up a trust for donations to his leadership bid. (If the cost was about $20,000 for his leadership campaign, why seek donations at all?)

That from a man and a party that has attacked National’s old habit of funneling donations through entities like the Waitemata Trust and joined in the condemnation of Finance Minister Bill English using a trust structure for his Wellington pile.

Cue, too, unwelcome echoes of former Labour leader David Shearer’s memory lapse over his undeclared United States bank account.

One gaffe might be unfortunate, two careless.

Three in three months is bordering on accident-prone.

Making Shearer look like a safe pair of hands.

Kiwi Poll Guy looks at what has been happening on iPredict:

is running a contract on National winning the 2014 election.  It was originally launched on 26 October 2011, a month before the 2011 General Election, and has been floating around between $0.40 and $0.60 since then.  It’s only in the last month that the stock has moved significantly beyond $0.60, so it’s worth taking a quick look.  Full trade history is taken from Luke Howison’s excellent API interface for iPredict, and then tweaked with a bit of Excel.

As shown in the graph below, the increase in price since has been pretty constant since it was trading at about $0.45 in October 2013, about a month or so after David Cunliffe was elected leader of the Labour Party.  The average daily price hasn’t dropped below $0.60 since 8 February 2014.

And last night was at 68.5%. In four months the probability of National winning the election has increased by over 20%. That is a huge movement, and while some of it is related to the economy and National’s improved performance, a fair bit must be about Labour not looking anywhere near ready to govern.

The Dom Post editorial:

David Cunliffe has made a hash of the donations issue. He was slow to admit that he used a trust to hide those who gave to his campaign for the Labour leadership.

He was slow to admit that this was problematic. Now he says he doesn’t think ”in hindsight” the trust ”fully represents the values” he wants to bring to the job of Labour leader.

These are awkward phrases which reveal a deeper conflict. The brutal truth is that hiding the donations inside a trust opens Mr Cunliffe to charges of hypocrisy. This is partly because he belonged to the Labour-led government which specifically outlawed the use of trusts to hide political donations. And hiding election donations is against basic principles of openness.

Now he has disclosed the names of three donors but not of others who he says required anonymity. You would think this kind of thing would have set off alarm bells for an aspiring Opposition leader. Hadn’t he heard the fuss caused by other ”anonymous political donations?”

This is what astonished me – that it never rang alarm bells for him, or any of his team. How could anyone in Labour think a secret trust was a good idea after they spent the last decade railing against them. Cunliffe and Presland had both railed against them personally. Either they’e incredibly stupid or their previous opposition to secret trusts was fake – they’re only against other people having one.

The Labour leader got into a similar pickle when he attacked Prime Minister John Key for living in a big house in a wealthy suburb. So does Mr Cunliffe, and once again the critics called him a hypocrite. It didn’t help that he then blustered about his house being a ”do-upper”, the worst house in the (very expensive) street.

This cuts no ice at all. Most voters see little difference between Mr Cunliffe’s $2.5m house in Herne Bay and John Key’s $10m house in Parnell. Both are by ordinary standards opulent homes owned by obviously wealthy people. Mr Cunliffe made an ass of himself by posing as the champion of the proletariat against the toff.

He needs to decide who he really is and what he stands for.

Here’s the trouble. If you need to “decide”, then it isn’t real.

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42 Responses to “Strike Three”

  1. Pete George (23,345 comments) says:

    Coincidentally Labour promoter Rob Salmond posted Three ramshackle PR fiascos and you’re out

    He was having a dig at the Taxpayers’ Union: Three strikes – they’re out.

    The same could be applied to Cunliffe. Not Salmond though:

    The sight now of of a leading Labour politician, with the help of a blogger at The Standard, setting up a trust to shield substantial leadership donors from public view, is most unhelpful.

    I am really pleased, however, to see Selwyn Pellett, Perry Keenan, and Tony Gibbs openly declare their generous support for Cunliffe’s campaign. I thank them for their generosity towards social democracy in New Zealand. All are substantial figures in the business community, and their support speaks volumes about Labour’s visionary plans to help new Zealanders add value to our economy.

    He calls that post “Untidy and unnecessary” and describes the third PR fiasco of Cunliffe this year as “most unhelpful” – and then turns his post into a Labour promo.

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  2. Manolo (13,517 comments) says:

    The Chardonnay socialist Silent T is not only a liar, but an incompetent fool.
    Bring back the articulate Captain Mumblefuck Shearer. Just kidding.

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  3. Pete George (23,345 comments) says:

    Rob’s bio on his Polity blog…

    Rob has wide experience relevant to public affairs. He has been a Parliamentary adviser to two leaders of New Zealand’s Labour party (Helen Clark, David Shearer), and through Polity continues to work with Labour leader David Cunliffe.

    Perhaps Rob wants to continue to work with Cunliffe so is waiving his Three Strikes principle.

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  4. Mags (38 comments) says:

    The level of incompetence and ‘oops I did it again’ ‘sorry about that’ is just staggering. It is a real concern that he, and Labour, consider they are suitable to lead the country. Not by a long shot.

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  5. dishy (234 comments) says:

    This underpins the desperation involved in trying to deflect attention away from Cunface and on to Collins’ China trip. A useless port in a terrible storm.

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  6. alex Masterley (1,501 comments) says:

    Rob is the guy who has acquired the domain names for the Kiwiassure Policy as well.
    For what that is worth.

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  7. freedom101 (481 comments) says:

    Returning three donations to donors long after the campaign has ended does not mean that the donations were not made, and therefore must be declared. It’s a bit like a burglar being caught by the police and offering to return the goods to undo the burglary and avoid prosecution.

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  8. Minnie (96 comments) says:

    And all of this must be affecting Labour’s ability to attract candidates in tough seats:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/timaru-herald/opinion/editorials/9790602/Editorial-Anyone-out-there

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  9. NK (1,138 comments) says:

    Rodney Hide was forced to make a public apology for playing within the rules. Cunliffe should face the same ignominy.

    And where was mickysavage in all this? He should have seen this a mile away.

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  10. big bruv (13,562 comments) says:

    Having Matt McCarten in the leaders office is going well.

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  11. Mobile Michael (432 comments) says:

    Remind me again, who endorsed Cunliffe for leader? Oh yes, John Key. Key correctly judged that Cunliffe is an unprincipled lightweight who is prepared to say anything he thinks will get him into power. It works for Winston, but only with 10% of the electorate. Is that Cunliffe’s aim as well?

    Don’t write him off yet. Don Brash was leader for almost 6 months before he made any impact – and what an impact that was.

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  12. tvb (4,255 comments) says:

    It was TVNZ who ran the Coillins story immediately on the back of the Cunliffe story which lead TV3 news. There is a Labour cell operating in TVNZ news mark my works. Taurima is just the tip of a very big iceberg.

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  13. Grant (428 comments) says:

    Freedom 101: My thoughts exactly, and you have drawn the same analogy that occurred to me yesterday.

    The money from those still anonymous donations was, presumably, spent ages ago, so the donors should be revealed for the same reasons that the others were outed.

    Paying the money back simply doesn’t cut it.

    Though by paying the money back, doesn’t that turn the gift into a loan? Perhaps loans to candidates for election purposes need to be declared too? Anyone know?

    Another thought: Are Cunliffe and his pet goat from Glen Eden inferring that Labour party rules trump Parliamentary laws? FFS don’t let any other gangs hear about that. They might apply the same principle and assume that their own laws are of more importance than the law of the land.
    G

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  14. thedavincimode (6,590 comments) says:

    Speculation continues to mount that Cunners and Francesco Schettino are twin brothers mysteriously separated at birth – quite possibly by insurance underwriters.

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  15. kiwi in america (2,477 comments) says:

    Vernon Small makes a significant point almost as an aside – if the campaign only cost $20,000, why was Cunliffe seeking donations? After all between him and his wife they must make north of $700k per annum.

    The answer is simple. The left will rarely pay for something themselves when someone else could pick up the tab.

    Pressure must go on over the names of the donors who were refunded their money.

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  16. annie (540 comments) says:

    From today’s Stuff:

    His wife Karen was not a trustee but he did not know if she was involved in seeking donations. As a lawyer she knew there were some things she should not discuss with him.

    Credible?

    Would you use a lawyer who was involved with this slippery-sounding omishambles?

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  17. RRM (9,667 comments) says:

    he needs to fail hard in the general election. Fail Bill English 2002 hard. Maybe then labour will wake up to the errors of their ways.

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  18. Reid (16,111 comments) says:

    He needs to decide who he really is and what he stands for.

    Here’s the trouble. If you need to “decide”, then it isn’t real.

    Cunliffe has spent his whole life presenting a front to others based on what he has assessed those others want to hear. This appeared from his earliest days in his first job at Treasury when he ignored his contemporaries and spent all his time being a sycophant to those managers he’d assessed could help him along and its been evident in all his actions as leader where he says the thing his current audience wants to hear regardless of whether or not its consistent with other things he’s said.

    Clearly he’s intelligent so his mind works OK but this trait indicates to me he has no emotional security, no anchor. Because this is something all of us we have to get it from somewhere and he gets it not from trusting himself but by seeking it from others.

    Because he’s done this all his life and we have to assume he didn’t just start it in his first job he’s almost certainly done this since childhood, it’s become part of his persona. This strategy is what has got him all the results in life he has ever had. From his job at Treasury to the BCG projects to the political arena, this is what has carried him through every single time. So he’s not going to change.

    But tell you what, electing someone who constantly refers to this lifetime coping strategy to PM is incredibly dangerous is it not? Just like having Len with his NPD in charge of a $1.3b budget is incredibly dangerous, but this would be a thousand times worse.

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  19. cas (28 comments) says:

    Surely he is only repentatnt in hindsight becuase he has been caught out.

    I’ve only just watched his interview with Paddy Gower. Anyone who says “I’ll be upfront with you” and then calls Paddy mate all the time is not sincere at all.

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  20. davidp (3,558 comments) says:

    >Now he has disclosed the names of three donors but not of others who he says required anonymity.

    Why do these donors want anonymity? There must have been a reason Cunliffe and his bagman Presland set up a secret and illegal trust to hide their identity. The only reason I can imagine is that Cunliffe has promised some corrupt favours. Like his mate Norman, selling immigration decisions in return for political favours.

    It is like a coalition of Greek politicians.

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  21. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    All this sorry, sordid mess has achieved for Labour is to leave voters with the question on Cunliffe: “What else is he hiding?”

    If Rob Salmond considers that a positive outcome then long may he advise Labour leaders.

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  22. Pete George (23,345 comments) says:

    And did Cunliffe avoid Strike Four yesterday by throwing Clare Curran under a bus? There’s some odd aspects to yesterday’s cock-up, including the question of why Curran had a different version of the document to the one that was emailed, and why different people were involved in the followup.

    Has Curran been thrown under a bus in snowballing SNAFU?

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  23. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    I am interested in what this “Tojo” Cunliffe jerk is going to do on Anzac Day? He has, in the past, stated in DomPost how he would have seen Allied troops sacrificed in preference to dropping the bombs; a bit strong when his father was a conscientious objector, not even making himself available to protect the country, his son now attempting to run. Further to this, “Tojo” had the audacity to study at Harvard, an establishment deriving much of its funding from taxes paid by those he would have preferred dead. This guy is a real danger, not only to himself and his perverted party, but the country as a whole. He also would like to see the RSA movement disestablished as he thinks it glorifies war . . . what a Wally!

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  24. Pete George (23,345 comments) says:

    Why do these donors want anonymity? There must have been a reason Cunliffe and his bagman Presland set up a secret and illegal trust to hide their identity. The only reason I can imagine is that Cunliffe has promised some corrupt favours.

    Not necessarily corrupt favours, it could just be embarrassing. Examples that have been floated are if Dotcom was a donor – especially with the coincidental leak of the IT document yesterday – or an affiliate union that voted for Cunliffe as leader.

    Whale Oil is on to the Dotcom connection.

    How much of Labour’s ICT policy did Dotcom write?

    My sources inside the grounds of the Dotcom Mansion tell me that these proposals were the exact ones discussed with Dotcom, indeed promoted by him and that extensive meetings were held after Curran’s two visits to the mansion to discuss them and flesh them out. Make no mistake this policy is Dotcom’s policy…the source are adamant that this is what has been planned all along.

    With all the secret meetings, and now secret donation trusts one has to wonder just who are the anonymous other parties who donated, and given the leak of a policy document that bears an uncanny resemblance to policy discussions held at the mansion questions might be validly raised.

    http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2014/03/much-labours-ict-policy-dotcom-write/

    Snowballing SNAFU.

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  25. davidp (3,558 comments) says:

    Pete George>And did Cunliffe avoid Strike Four yesterday by throwing Clare Curran under a bus?

    Labour want to tax the internet, in order to give the money to their mates in the entertainment industry. And they’ve threatened to ban Facebook. It’s like their ICT policy involves declaring war on the internet. I just don’t understand it.

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  26. tvb (4,255 comments) says:

    Using trusts to launder political donations has been toxic politically for a number of years. It takes a special kind of arrogance to think he could get away with it this time. Likewise the fuss over his house. Cunliffe is trying to conceal that he is well off and has some rich friends. He is two faced to his supporters and to the public. He must be deeply cynical as well. None of this adds up. Throw into the mix that his parliamentary colleagues are clearly ambivalent about him means there is now a problem with the public. All of this is gold to John Key and in election year as well. Labour’s rules means they have to stick with him and I suppose he will put on a credible show and small things can affect an election campaign. But National has cleared the decks politically, they have a good story to tell on the economy, the polls are good and John Key has had some very good luck. I predict an election sooner rather than later.

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  27. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    Is one of “Tojo’s” contributors overweight sloth Dotcom?

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  28. Alan (1,082 comments) says:

    It’s sloppy, but ultimately not all that important. The vast majority (95%+) of the electorate aren’t paying any attention yet. One assumes McCarten has been brought in to deal with this and impose some disciple.

    Normal people aren’t going to start paying attention until after Easter at the earliest.

    Until we see the labour manifesto with it’s tax and spending plans we’re really in a phoney war situation.

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  29. Pete George (23,345 comments) says:

    It’s sloppy, but ultimately not all that important.

    It is quite important if just about all of the political journalists are shaking their heads in amazement at how inept Cunliffe and his office seems to be – and there’s no sign of any McCarten magic making it all better.

    Cunliffe has lost the confidence of the media. That’s a big deal. When they smell blood they look for more.

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  30. NK (1,138 comments) says:

    And MMP elections are now mostly about the leaders, and it’s looking like Cunliffe couldn’t find a shoe in a Hannahs store. Key will show him up in a major way during the campaign. Cunliffe will be fighting the ABC’ers and the centre right. So funny.

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  31. Harriet (4,616 comments) says:

    “…..He needs to decide who he really is and what he stands for.

    Here’s the trouble. If you need to “decide”, then it isn’t real…..”

    Rainbow Party’s Julia Cunliffe. :cool:

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  32. OneTrack (2,823 comments) says:

    “Pressure must go on over the names of the donors who were refunded their money”

    Pressure must go on over the names of all the donors, whether they want to be identified or not. There is only reason I can think of why the wouldn’t want to be identified, and it stinks to high heaven.

    nb Furthermore, we really only have Cunliffe’s word as to why he can’t release the names. Cunliffe’s word isn’t worth anything at the moment.

    nb2 What is wrong with these lefties? They seem to believe that they have a god (Marx) given right to rule, and the rules are just for other people. And why isn’t the Labour Party throwing him out. I know they are all very tribal and for the collective, and such, but Cunliffe is absolutely trashing their brand.

    Bring back Goff.

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  33. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    How many strikes for National, and how could Judith Collins be so incompetent as to endorse a company that has thrown money at National and for which her hubby is a director? Especially following Tim Grosser (Sept 2013) and John Key (Oct 2012) being caught doing similar.

    A cynic might say that this is National’s way of saying thank you to Oravida.

    http://agrihq.co.nz/article/milk-runner-tangles-pm-in-product-endorsement?p=7

    http://www.oravida.com/lwl/newsen/

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10564659

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  34. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    Cunliffe has lost the confidence of the media. That’s a big deal. When they smell blood they look for more.

    Pete, the media are more interested in Judith Collins’ incompetence. :)

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  35. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    The left will rarely pay for something themselves when someone else could pick up the tab.

    So, KIA, when John key played a round of golf with Oravida’s chairman, did Key pick up the tab?

    When Bill English gets a cleaner to clean his house in Wellington, does Bill pick up the tab? How much do Bill and Mary English (a doctor) rake in between them?

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  36. KiwiGreg (3,224 comments) says:

    HQ phoned ross. They said “keep up the good work”.

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  37. BeaB (2,084 comments) says:

    Isn’t Perry Heenan in Chicago? The city of Al Capone? Working for a big American corporation?
    Is Cunliffe in the pay of the Americans? Or of Big Business? What favours do they expect in return?
    Why are American corporations funding a NZ politician? What is the agenda?

    Just trying to think like a Leftie and see the sinister conspiracy. I thought John Key was in the thrall of Big Money. Now Cunliffe is too! Looks like it’s the old adage about accusing others of what you are guilty of yourself.

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  38. BeaB (2,084 comments) says:

    Ross 69

    What do you mean by ‘being caught’? I thought it was openly reported every time and only someone like you could see anything sinister. Time for you to do a bit of digging in Chicago as I suggest above. Or can Cunliffe get away with murder in your one-eyed view of the world?

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  39. Lance (2,565 comments) says:

    Note Ross69′s sad and desperate attempt to shift attention away from Labour’s latest (almost daily) fuckup.

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  40. OneTrack (2,823 comments) says:

    ross69 – “Pete, the media are more interested in Judith Collins’ incompetence”

    As the MSM are all partisan left-wing apparatchiks, is anybody surprised that they are spinning as hard as they can to keep The Cunliffe out of the news? Even it if means dredging up stories from October last year? Pathetic.

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  41. s.russell (1,580 comments) says:

    I’m surprised no-one has mentioned this:

    Cunliffe uses machine gun for foot-shooting

    Labour leader David Cunliffe must have wondered why he got out of bed yesterday. After cancelling morning media slots to sort out the trust donations debacle, he turned up at Parliament without his security swipe card.

    He was discovered, looking forlorn, on the wrong side of the door by press gallery reporters. It was a day of blunders, when his speech notes and ICT policy were emailed to a minister, he had to apologise to colleagues over his trust gaffe.

    (from Stuff: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/9790459/Today-in-politics-Wednesday-March-5)

    Hilarious.

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  42. OneTrack (2,823 comments) says:

    Cunliffe – ““I believe I have his number, and I believe he knows I do.”

    I think we have all got your number Mr C. Its a very round number.

    Ok, who’s next. It must be time for Jacinda to have a go. The sexist Labour party haven’t had a female leader for almost six years and it’s time they set that right.

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