Dom Post says Cunliffe leadership is a train wreck

June 21st, 2014 at 10:47 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Labour ditched former leader David Shearer because he struggled to string two sentences together on a good day. So surely it couldn’t have got any worse, right? Wrong.

It’s a train wreck under and Labour’s MPs are grumpy, nervous and wondering what they may be doing for a crust after September 20. The prospect of losing your job and the $150,000 salary always focuses the mind.

And by bad timing, the Labour Party list gets released this weekend. On the latest Fairfax poll, Labour would get only six List MPs. So anyone outside the top six of the effective list, may be toast.

Cunliffe has taken the party backwards when he promised to take it forward. Could Labour be on track to record its worst-ever election defeat? Yes.

When Cunliffe utters a word or two these days the collective intake of breath among his MPs is simply frightening.

He’s had a host of gaffes this year – and the best he’s looked was when he shut up and stood in the background while his wife, Karen Price, talked about the birds (chickens) and the bees in an interview at their home.

That was the high point.

Cunliffe was parachuted into the job of leader, not because his MPs really wanted him – most dislike him – but because Labour Party members and union affiliates were desperate for someone to articulate their values.

To say he’s been a disappointment is an understatement. After this week’s horrors he looks unelectable as the next prime minister. He’s genuinely gone from bad to worse.

My God, that is a harsh editorial.

Look at these basic mistakes. He started the year not knowing the crucial details of his baby bonus speech, he then foolishly accused Prime Minister John Key of living in a flash pad while he slummed it in a downmarket $2.5 million mansion in Herne Bay.

He set up a secret trust for his leadership bid and was caught out. He claimed his grandfather won a war medal when it was his great uncle. His CV had mistakes in it. He used Grant Robertson’s leadership statement as his own and this week – the howler – denied he knew Donghua Liu or had ever advocated for him – before a letter emerged to prove otherwise.

It isn’t the one or two mistakes. It is that they are so regular.

Former Labour Party president Mike Williams admitted to me this week that Labour’s MPs will all be discussing the possibility of replacing Cunliffe. They now have 48 hours to prepare to roll him.

They can ditch him on Tuesday – but they won’t.

I expect Robertson has the numbers if he wanted to press the issue. But he doesn’t want the job – just yet. Hence his support for Cunliffe this week and his rather cheeky throwaway line that Cunliffe will serve three of four terms as prime minister, before he takes his chance. You just know he didn’t mean that.

There is no doubt Grant has the numbers. It isn’t even close. But he doesn’t want to be Mike Moore. so he will sit back.

UPDATE: According to people who have read the print edition this is not an editorial but a column by Duncan Garner. No wonder it was quite blunt!

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35 Responses to “Dom Post says Cunliffe leadership is a train wreck”

  1. dirty harry (482 comments) says:

    Labour will never get it right and they will be relegated to the opposition bench for years to come. The truly are a train wreck.
    Key will be loving it. He will get his 4th term in 2017, well deserved.

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  2. dog_eat_dog (780 comments) says:

    This is why Labour is doomed to mediocrity. They need to roll Cunliffe, take this election on the chin and use the lead-up as a chance to road-trip the country and talk about the future of the Labour Party. Thinking that just changing the leader will solve their problem is exactly what got them into this mess.

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  3. thedavincimode (6,759 comments) says:

    I wonder if cunners has gone to the kids’ soccer this morning to see what it’s like when the ball goes into the opposition goal.

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  4. Unity (575 comments) says:

    I can’t see anyone in the Labour Party who I would like to see as Leader – if I was a supporter of course. They are such a mixed rag tag bunch and have any of them ever worked in the real world? I think Cunliffe did but have any of the others? You need real business experience given that running the country is akin to running a big business.

    The only one I feel is true to himself is Damien O’Connor and I’m rather thinking that perhaps he should run as an Independent in this election as I can’t imagine him anywhere near the Greens.

    I’m certainly not a fan but I have a feeling Cunliffe will now put all the bad stuff behind him and will start to look more like a Leader leading up to the election. However, if he makes any more gaffes, he will be toast.

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  5. gravedodger (1,566 comments) says:

    My head says roll him if there is to be a viable future for the once proud party of the workers and those disadvantaged by circumstances outside their control.

    My heart says leave the prick front and center until the remnants abandon the factionalism and disunity that they plunged into on the departure of H1

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  6. Brett Hudson (4,740 comments) says:

    They need to roll Cunliffe, take this election on the chin and use the lead-up as a chance to road-trip the country and talk about the future of the Labour Party.

    That is what they needed to do in 2011 too, when Goff was tanking, but both Robertson and Cunliffe held back like craven, simpering courtiers. A role Robertson is reprising now.

    But Robertson really should act now. Seize the opportunity to steer Labour back to the things that matter most – just like he has been trying to do for the past year. Things like:

    – who knew Dotcom?
    – does New Zealand milk taste nice?

    You know, those things that really grip the attention of everyday Kiwis as they go about their work and raising their families. The things that torture their minds every waking moment.

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  7. Matthew Hooton (131 comments) says:

    David, you write: “On the latest Fairfax poll, Labour would get only six List MPs. So anyone outside the top six of the effective list, may be toast.”

    I think this is wrong. My calculations are that, under the Fairfax poll, Labour would get no list MPs at all. Even David Parker, at number two, would miss out.

    I have written about this in this week’s NBR (in print edition and also behind paywall):
    http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/labours-list-crisis-looms-p-157780
    http://www.nbr.co.nz/sites/default/files/labour%20probably%20post%20election%20causus.pdf

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  8. queenstfarmer (782 comments) says:

    The Labour caucus alone cannot change the leader, except in the 3-month pre-election window. But am I correct that, if Labour miraculously forms a Govt, nothing can stop them changing which of their MPs is the Prime Minister (assuming they retain support party confidence)?

    If so, the scenarios are:

    1. Cunliffe stays on, loses election, gets replaced as leader by Robertson.
    2. Robertson rolls Cunliffe before the election, loses election, but stays on to contest in 2017.
    3. Cunliffe stays on, WINS election (!), but days later gets rolled by caucus & replaced as PM by Robertson.

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  9. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    A couple of questions:

    1. Will Labour electorate committees be printing publicity material with Cunliffe’s face on them or not? If they do then they’d have to scrap them if he is rolled between now and the election. If they don’t then it looks like they’re completely dissociating themselves from Cunliffe.

    2. If Labour MPs roll Cunliffe and replace him with Robertson, and by some miracle they actually win in September. (An unlikely scenario. But it is possible that if John Key was arrested and it was found he had imprisoned an Austrian girl in his basement for the last twenty years and used her as a sex slave, and it emerged that there were photos of him shooting pandas in China in return for secret donations then the election might turn out to be a cliffhanger.) Then under the Labour Party constitution, can the members and unions replace Robertson after the election?

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  10. thedavincimode (6,759 comments) says:

    My calculations are that, under the Fairfax poll, Labour would get no list MPs at all

    Stop it MH. My ribs are at breaking point.

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  11. Pita (373 comments) says:

    Cunliffe will serve three of four terms… for breaches of the Electoral Act

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  12. PaulP (150 comments) says:

    A slight correction DPF

    It’s not the Dompost editorial but an opinion piece by Duncan Garner.

    The print edition is clearly under his name although the online version doesnt attribute it to him

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  13. thor42 (971 comments) says:

    A very good editorial!

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  14. PaulP (150 comments) says:

    It would be if it were thor42 but a it’s an opinion piece by Duncan Garner not correctly attributed to him online.

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  15. Chris R (70 comments) says:

    I see that Labour will likely oppose the new legislation to clear fallen trees in Westland. Why? Is it because their war-room is full of dead wood too? I can understand the lunacy of the Greens in opposing this legislation but why would a “workers’ party” agree with that lot? This stance perfectly exhibits what a directionless and soulless bunch Labour are.

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  16. beautox (422 comments) says:

    “The prospect of losing your job and the $150,000 salary always focuses the mind.”

    Especially if you are useless twat who could never find a job that paid even half that amount.

    Unless it was a “job” that involved sucking on the taxpayer tit. Bah.

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  17. stigie (1,164 comments) says:

    “I can’t see anyone in the Labour Party who I would like to see as Leader”

    As Chris Trotter said, The next Labour Prime Minister is not in parliament yet…How very true !~

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  18. Viking2 (11,467 comments) says:

    Labour is a dinosaur. There is no logical reason for it to exist. A resounding defeat is what is needed and then we can watch the sharks scrap over the spoils.
    Lots of assets to sell.
    Cash to be had much like the unions.

    National have stolen their reason to exist completely now so why would anyone vote for Labour.
    what is needed is some right side politics.
    Alas I doubt we are going to see that this term. It will come as the socialists who masquerade as the National Party go out of favour.

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  19. hubbers (139 comments) says:

    The knives are out

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  20. Manolo (13,739 comments) says:

    DomPost today’s cartoon: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/comment/cartoons/

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  21. alloytoo (540 comments) says:

    With little or no list to fall back on, those MP’s with constituant seats are going to fight tooth and nail to retain them (even at expense of party vote). Those like Kelvin Davis who can take a seat (from Hone) will, with bugger all concern for grand strategy.

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  22. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    I prefer this one, on Nationals fundraising system: http://liberation.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83451d75d69e2013489b0f8aa970c-500wi

    and even though this one was published in 2010, I think it better reflects the current: http://liberation.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83451d75d69e2013489b0f6b4970c-500wi

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  23. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ Viking2 (11,040 comments) says:
    June 21st, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Virtually the same things were said about National when English was wearing the ‘ties’, and now look at them? 21% was not a good look.

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  24. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ Chris R (65 comments) says:
    June 21st, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Clearing those trees is such a great idea – we can pay people to move them, then we can pay absolutely millions to re-fertilise the land and to replant it. Why should do the sensible and no cost natural thing and let nature deal with it, in the same efficient way it has for millions of years, when we can make an issue of it and waste even more money.

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  25. stigie (1,164 comments) says:

    You dont seem to making any sense Judith !~

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  26. Steve Wrathall (284 comments) says:

    If someone got a life-threatening disease, should we “do the sensible and no cost natural thing and let nature deal with it, in the same efficient way it has for millions of years”?

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  27. johnwellingtonwells (137 comments) says:

    Train wreck because of Robertson – the Fat Controller

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  28. Igotta Numbum (463 comments) says:

    I wonder if there’s pressure on Robertson to take over. Even if they lose, him taking over would look like he’s trying to minimise the damage.

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  29. ShawnLH (4,998 comments) says:

    “Gone in this period is this madness of allowing the inmates across the party membership to choose who’ll run the asylum.”

    !!!!! :) :) :) !!!!!

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  30. stigie (1,164 comments) says:

    With all those smileys going on there Shawn, you may have him back here soon !~

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  31. doggone7 (801 comments) says:

    Counting the time until the Fran O’Sullivan article appears.

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  32. UpandComer (536 comments) says:

    You’re right Judith. The cartoon on Labour’s would just be a blank page, because Labour doesn’t disclose their donors, if they do get any. Must suck for you seeing English so successful.

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  33. ross411 (834 comments) says:

    gravedodger (1,470 comments) says:
    June 21st, 2014 at 11:02 am
    My head says roll him if there is to be a viable future for the once proud party of the workers and those disadvantaged by circumstances outside their control.

    If you find out your garden has been getting polluted by the various people who garden it over the years, do you banish the gardeners and slouch around the polluted muck? Or do you go find another garden? I say the Labour party is beyond saving, much the same as the polluted garden is unaffordably irretrievable.

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  34. blue0cean (1 comment) says:

    Barely over nine months as Opposition Leader, and Cunliffe’s already cracking under the pressure. Yet he wants to be Prime Minister? The middle boggles. The man needs a career change. Pronto. ‘Clown’ would be a viable option. Being permanently red-faced from the endless gaffes can thus be explained away as face paint. And much easier to explain away than a letter of support not being “advocacy”.

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  35. Stamper (32 comments) says:

    I think the chap with the problem here is Robertson:
    If he wants to be the next Leader of the Opposition he needs to become Leader before the Election.
    If he waits until Cunliffe looses, then the Leadership issue goes back to the Unions/Party, and Andrew Little will be their boy.

    That should ensure Key a fourth term. Then again, could be a fourth term either way.

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