Trotter calls for Labour to expel some of its MPs

June 11th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

writes:

Like the Castle Street Branch of the 1980s, the Party of 2014 boasts a narrow left-wing majority. That majority, after changing the party rules, elected David Cunliffe as its leader and is in the process of constructing a binding policy platform for the next Government. At first glance, then, the lessons of the 1980s appear to have been learned.

All but one – and that the most important of them all. Majorities mean nothing outside the only Labour Party institution that truly matters: the parliamentary caucus. If you cannot control the caucus, then you simply cannot reassure the party that its best efforts will not be rendered worthless through the calculated insubordination of a clique of rebellious caucus members.

This is especially problematic when these insubordinate rebels (most of whom are securely ensconced in safe Labour seats) believe it will be easier for like-minded politicians to protect “the policies this country needs” if David Cunliffe and all that he represents loses the forthcoming general election.

Butcher’s gambit is as powerful today as it was 25 years ago.

What are Cunliffe’s options? Obviously the option of splitting the Labour Party and forming “NewLabour” – the Labour Left’s choice in 1989 – is not available to the party leader. Which leaves the other option put forward by Matt McCarten back in 1988.

“It seems obvious to me now that the right-wing MPs have put their hands up and threatened the party”, Matt told Labour’s president, Rex Jones. “So we should call a special conference of the party and expel them … The Labour Party made a mistake selecting these people so sack them. Throw them out and let them stand against us. They’ll lose and the Labour Party can rebuild itself.”

Chris should name the MPs that he thinks should be explled!

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62 Responses to “Trotter calls for Labour to expel some of its MPs”

  1. duggledog (1,555 comments) says:

    I’d say get rid of all of them except Damien O’Connor and start over. I’d say he’s the only one who knows how to skin a possum, perform a place kick, replace a lintel or drop a 100 year old macrocarpa where he wants it to go.

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  2. Scott1 (549 comments) says:

    Who’s side is Trotter on?
    Surely he is a plant….

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  3. redqueen (562 comments) says:

    That’s right, anyone who doesn’t follow the ‘party line’ is either a rebel or emigrant and should be swiftly dispossessed! Good to see the Communist instincts are alive and well.

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  4. Manolo (13,746 comments) says:

    O’Connor, Captain Mumblefuck Shearer, Goofy, Full Moon King, Mallard, Butthead Cosgrove, among others who have stayed well past their use-by date.

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  5. Harriet (4,969 comments) says:

    The sad thing is that National will remain as Labour lite, where they will have to compete for swinging voters with a far left opposition. Swinging voters are not going to vote to move further to the right unless they start to see better incomes. 9 yrs of just hearing promises will see them go left. Rising house prices coupled with unneeded immigration is a false economy.

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  6. big bruv (13,884 comments) says:

    If Trotter was being honest he would say that the MP Labour most need to rid themselves of is Cuntliffe.

    The public just don’t like Cuntliffe.

    Long may he head the Labour party.

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  7. JC (955 comments) says:

    Short memories…

    For 25 years Trotter is the voice of sweet reason except for the last 100 odd days before an election.. then we see less of Dr Jekyll and much more Mr Hyde.

    JC

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  8. PaulL (5,981 comments) says:

    @JC: I’ve not seen much reason coming from Trotter. He’s an unreconstructed cloth cap unionist. And he’s suggesting that anybody who doesn’t think like him should be expelled from Labour. I’m all in favour of that, it would guarantee that they were unelectable.

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  9. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    “Trouble at Mill”!

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  10. big bruv (13,884 comments) says:

    Are there any former lefties here who can explain what it is like to belong to a branch of the Labour party like Princess or Castle street?

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  11. kaykaybee (152 comments) says:

    So much for their much lauded and revered Broad Church. Seems the parishioners are deserting for the newer cults.

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  12. Griff (7,683 comments) says:

    Labour has lost the far left to the socialists that have infiltrated the greens and the rejected fringe moonbats clustering around Mana
    The only place I see for them is as a conservative center left party concentrating on the below median wage worker and Christian PI vote. These blocks are not happy with the budging class and not that motivated by the greens projected environmental concerns.
    Going further left leaves them trying to out left the extremists with no viable deference available in policy for the voters to discern This also leaves a significant number of left leaning conservative voters for national to hoover up into its mass appeal centralist monolith.

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  13. gravedodger (1,566 comments) says:

    @ PaulL 7 31.
    Plus one, Trotter is rather unique in his ability to preach and express his view through his pen.
    Even when “every one is out of step but Our wee Geordie”, Chris Trotter follows his marxist aligned view of Labour in defiance of pragmatism and perception.
    He can support, follow then knife anyone with impunity when their “newbroom” fades to a block of wood on a stick with no bristles.

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  14. kowtow (8,439 comments) says:

    igm

    “Trouble at mill” suggests these cretins are members of the working classes. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    More apt would be ;

    Trouble at the steam baths…..

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  15. flipper (4,051 comments) says:

    Harriet (4,206 comments) says:

    June 11th, 2014 at 7:17 am

    The sad thing is that National will remain as Labour lite, where they will have to compete for swinging voters with a far left opposition. Swinging voters are not going to vote to move further to the right unless they start to see better incomes. 9 yrs of just hearing promises will see them go left. Rising house prices coupled with unneeded immigration is a false economy.
    ****

    You are better when you confine your contributions to religion.

    Before you write on political matters again, stop and think.

    You may not like where J Key and S Joyce are taking us. I would have them do many things differently, or not at all.

    But their path is one hell of a lot better than the possible alternative.

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  16. Nostalgia-NZ (5,193 comments) says:

    Poor Chris he’s lost in goo gaa land, Labour should be embracing their ‘right’ leaning MPs they’re all that is resisting the Nats resolute March into Labour’s heartland of the left. Instead of going off the cliff Labour should be doing a shunt to the right, maybe to the music of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Speaking of which maybe a bit of light hearted dance music with Cunliffe dancing and smiling broadly on the podium might give some relief to the long suffering electorate and allow folks to finally take him seriously. For an encore he could give the audience a wink and then a version of “Would I lie to you?”

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  17. Ed Snack (1,872 comments) says:

    Splitters !

    But, even if for the wrong reasons, Trotter has correctly divined that some of Labour’s MPs are well past their “best by” date. If you did it now (and with procedural shenanigans, something the left is usually very good at) it wouldn’t happen for weeks, you might well finish up with a much diminished party just in time for the election.

    I see this as yet another round in the battle between doctrinal purity and electability that can at times bedevil the left.

    You could do a respectable Monty Python parody with this, complete with “And what did the capitalists ever do for us….”

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  18. WineOh (630 comments) says:

    Lets actually imagine that hypothetical situation of Labour splitting into two separate parties. Lets call them “Left Labour and Centre Labour.”

    LL would consist of the firebrand unionists and the ‘Gaggle’, hard line policies around workplace contracts, overhaul of benefit regimes, Reserve Bank, Kiwipower, and other initatives to centralise government. Expect a core policy would be Capital Gains and reinstating top tax bracket. Anti-corporate agenda. Would take votes out of the Greens.

    CL would still be left leaning, but stained with that terrible dose of what we call ‘reality.’ Pragmatists, those that don’t want to wreck the economy overnight, hang the rich etc. They would still be joined at the hip to the loony line in terms of coalition. They would have policy stances based on winning back the centre voters from National. Expanded middle-class welfare, not so anti-business and development, but still a tax-and-spend attitude. Think-Big type initiatives that would fail financially in the long run but win a few new jobs in the mean time. A nice anti-immigration spin added into the mix. Would leach some votes from the right, and from Winston.

    Lets give it a go!

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  19. Nigel Kearney (1,012 comments) says:

    Don’t expel them, just send them to the Gulag for re-education.

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  20. PaulL (5,981 comments) says:

    The bottom line is that elections are won in the centre. Chris is, as always, preaching that Labour should be more pure and more left wing. He’s like the mirror image of RedBaiter – nobody is pure enough for him. He’s diagnosed the correct symptoms, but he has the wrong diagnosis. That is to say, Mallard and co should piss off, but not because they’re too centrist, but rather because they’ve been around too long and have too little to contribute.

    Having said all that, remember back to when National was last out of power. Basically everything people are writing here could apply to them – moving too much to the right, forgetting that you win elections in the centre. It turned out that actually they just didn’t have an electable leader – fix that and most of the rest takes care of itself. National got their electable leader from outside politics. Maybe Labour should consider doing the same?

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  21. Harriet (4,969 comments) says:

    Flipper I’m not having a go at National, I’m just saying that in 2017 they may go up against a far left opposition where swinging voters will make a differance if they arn’t improving by then. National in that position could hardly go further right – if that direction hasn’t delivered in 9yrs to swinging voters.

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  22. WineOh (630 comments) says:

    Komrades, we must purge the intellectuals for the purity of the party.
    Only then can we save the country from itself.
    http://i.imgur.com/uwPM96k.png

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  23. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    Where National brought in Brash and Key, Labour only had Shearer and “little” back up plan.

    Paul L is right that without outsiders, insider cliques/factions/rivalries can obstruct renewal.

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  24. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    Kowtow: My humble apologies, it appears once again, I have erred.

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  25. hj (6,991 comments) says:

    The Social Democratic Party was founded in January 1913 at a so-called “Basis of Unity” Conference (often simply called the “Unity Conference”). This meeting drew together the most prominent left-wing groups in New Zealand, including both political parties and trade unions. The aim was to unite the fractious labour movement into a cohesive force. At the end of the Conference, most of the attendees agreed to merge into two new organisations — the new United Federation of Labour would co-ordinate the trade unions, while the two main political parties (the hard-line Socialist Party and the moderate United Labour Party) would merge to form the Social Democrats. Not all members of the United Labour Party accepted the plan, however, and some continued on under the same banner.

    Frederick Cooke from the Socialist Party was elected vice president in 1914, and president in 1915.[1]

    John Alexander McCullough was the organiser for the Lower Riccarton branch and also organised campaigns for Christchurch City Council elections.[2]
    Strike & 1914 Election

    The Social Democrats gained a rapid boost when, shortly after their formation, Paddy Webb and James McCombs won by-elections and entered Parliament. Later the same year, however, a controversial strike broke out among groups of dockworkers and miners. Moderates in the union movement considered the strike ill-advised and dangerous, while radicals strongly supported it. The strike was heavily suppressed by the government of William Massey, and the United Federation of Labour was left broken and disorganised. The Social Democrats, still closely linked to the UFL, were plunged into disarray, with three of the party’s leaders being jailed for their roles in the strike.

    As a result of the chaos, the Social Democrats went into the 1914 elections with little in the way of planning. Co-operation with local labour organisations was sporadic, as was co-operation with the remnants of the United Labour Party. However, union anger at the government for its “heavy-handed” response to the 1913 strikes was still strong, and the outbreak of World War I had also strengthened the labour vote. In the election, Paddy Webb and James McCombs retained their seats under the Social Democratic banner. The remnants of the United Labour Party won three seats, and a labour-orientated independent John Payne was also successful. The six labour-aligned MPs worked together in Parliament despite being from different parties, with Alfred Hindmarsh of the ULP acting as de facto leader.
    Formation of the Labour Party

    Two years later, in 1916, the close working relationship between the Social Democrats and the ULP remnant was formalised with a merger — the two officially came together as the Labour Party, the same organisation that survives today.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Democratic_Party_%28New_Zealand%29

    Except that we no longer live in that world. The world is in transition and the current issue is whether labour should be free to go where ever it chooses in a world where we are more aware of environmental issue (although population is still the elephant in the room).

    Unsurprisingly, 84 percent of NZ First voters want immigration restricted. Sixty-eight percent of Labour voters agree, along with 58 percent of Green Party voters.


    Despite Mr Key being on the wrong side of public opinion, he won’t budge.

    Logie wont budge either

    Migrants contribute a massive amount economically to this country. They also contribute a lot socially and culturally. Our country is clearly a far more interesting place now than when we were less diverse.

    http://blog.greens.org.nz/2014/06/03/immigration-the-green-party-perspective/

    and Cunliffe has people hanging on his arms

    Cunliffe on Brekkie TV3 this morning finally got the message out that the immigration thing was a beat up. And all started because Blinglish lost the chapter on housing.

    http://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-28052014/

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  26. stigie (1,172 comments) says:

    For gods sake, leave them where they are….for the good of the country !~

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  27. hj (6,991 comments) says:

    I think we have learned Cook’s and stewards, meat workers, wharfies and we have learned the kahui twins (whanau took in $1800/week), the feral underbelly of badly brought up welfare kids and now we are learning population increase for diversity?

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  28. kowtow (8,439 comments) says:

    igm

    Don’t mention it old bean.

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  29. Pita (373 comments) says:

    The avuncular Chris Trotter, like Uncle Joe before him, exposes his dark side.

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  30. Peter (1,712 comments) says:

    I have friends who think this way. They genuinely think Labour’s problem is that they’re not left enough. Let them keep thinking this way and thus secure National permanent residence in power.

    Labour forget the people. The people don’t want socialists.

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  31. Ross12 (1,425 comments) says:

    Everyone says Labour should get rid of Goff , King and a few others. They may have been around for a while but they can explain a point of view clearly which is something Cunliffe cannot do. That is why Cunliffe is National’s greatest asset.

    I, for one, do not want to see Labour routed because that probably means the Greens will increase their vote, which is the last thing NZ needs.

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  32. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    Nigel K>Don’t expel them, just send them to the Gulag for re-education.

    And airbrush them from all photos. People looking at photos of the Lange Cabinet will wonder why it was so small, and why there are curious gaps between some of the ministers.

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  33. Harriet (4,969 comments) says:

    hj

    “……Unsurprisingly, 84 percent of NZ First voters want immigration restricted. Sixty-eight percent of Labour voters agree, along with 58 percent of Green Party voters.

    Despite Mr Key being on the wrong side of public opinion, he won’t budge……”

    Most National voters and swinging voters own houses – so Key won’t stop ‘increasing the net worth’ of those voters any time soon – from the Reserve Bank to Mana he’d be called the village idiot if he did.

    Key is backing ‘net worth’ rather than going with the left’s “the ‘cost’ of houses are being driven up by immigration.’ “You’re richer” is a positive message.

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  34. tom hunter (4,809 comments) says:

    “Who’s going to remember all this riff-raff in ten or twenty years time? No one.”

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  35. Fisiani (1,039 comments) says:

    The Left don’t do unity. they each think that their version of received truth is the only one and that those who differ are heretics. They are all fighting for the same constituency and thus will fight each other. The National Party must aim for >50% this election. Let the Left squabble over the rest.

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  36. flipper (4,051 comments) says:

    Harriet….

    OK

    Noted

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  37. tom hunter (4,809 comments) says:

    … we knew that the policy of amputation was fraught with great dangers for the Party, that the method of amputation, the method of blood-letting — and they demanded blood — was dangerous, infectious: today you amputate one limb, tomorrow another, the day after tomorrow a third — what will we have left in the Party?

    …..
    The leaders come and go, but the people remain. Only the people are immortal, everything else is ephemeral. That is why it is necessary to appreciate the full value of the confidence of the people.

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  38. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Quoting Stalin now?

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  39. BeaB (2,123 comments) says:

    I don’t know how a just, compassionate society is ‘Labour Lite”. I think all NZers want public education and health systems, welfare for the needy, low crime rates etc. How the Left claim all this as their own is beyond me. National governments have always been middle of the road and can rightfully claim this ground too.

    I get tired of hearing people on the ‘right’ saying National policies belong to Labour. They belong to National and are a legitimate and natural part of the National philosophy. That’s why so many of us are happy voting National – we know they look after both the economy and the community.

    National needs to challenge the media and Labour whenever Labour tries to claim ownership.

    And of course no major party can cater to the fringes – that’s why we have plenty of parties for the discontents, the purists and hobby horse riders.

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  40. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    ‘National needs to challenge the media and Labour whenever Labour tries to claim ownership’
    What should John Key say? ‘Well, sure they used to be Labour’s policies, but they’re definitely ours now!’

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

    Trotter yearns for an early 70’s style FPP Labour. Under FPP it was easier to get rid of a government if people were tired of it (like they were of National after 12 years in 1972). MMP has allowed the Greens (and now IMP) to permanently fracture the left’s vote in a way that a moderate Key led National has managed to avoid. Even if the Conservatives are gifted East Coast Bays and get in say 2 MPs and assume ACT win Epsom and Dunne wins Ohariu, that still represents are small percentage of the centre right vote.

    Dotcom merging the IP into Mana has really flipped Trotter’s left wing sensors. He’s so desperate to unite the left that he’s indulging in that time honoured tradition of the left – that of requiring total adherence to ideology and intolerance to anyone who wonders off the reservation.

    Pass the popcorn!

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  42. ChardonnayGuy (1,206 comments) says:

    Chris is a bit far gone and has negligible tactical and strategic sense about pragmatic politics. I don’t think most people on the left take him seriously. I suspect that there are those on the righthand side of the highway whom centre-rightists might similarly find of dubious merit.

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  43. David Garrett (7,271 comments) says:

    This is fantastic! Three months from an election and one of their most prominent “thinkers” is openly advocating expulsion of (unnamed) members of the caucus…which means that behind the scenes there is absolute turmoil about their leadership, their lack of unity, their direction (if someone can discern one) their policies – have they actually got any?

    How could you write a better script for the centre right?

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  44. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    I think you might be assume a wider influence for Trotter than there actually is.

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  45. tom hunter (4,809 comments) says:

    What left-wing “thinkers” in NZ do have wider influence these days?

    Aside from Kim Dotcom of course.

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  46. David Garrett (7,271 comments) says:

    I am not talking about influence Mikey…Just that this is published – combined with Cunliffe’s lack of impact etc. – means that just below the surface there is turmoil in the ranks….but it was ever so on the left…

    About 30 years too late I saw the “Peoples Front of Judea” skit which someone kindly linked to on here the other day…truth is stranger than fiction and all that…

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  47. ross411 (834 comments) says:

    The Labour party is in fine form. Cunliffe is doing a masterful job. They would be crazy to tamper with this winning formula. It’s going to kick in any day now. Annnyy daaay..

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  48. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Your question could be a little broader, tom. Which thinkers have any influence in New Zealand today?

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  49. ROJ (121 comments) says:

    Unintended consequence of MMP: instead of a binary election outcome, we now have a party which has clicked that the VAST BULK of the electorate is in the centre, and since Brash went Key has exploited this to the max.

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  50. tom hunter (4,809 comments) says:

    That comment mikenmild, puts me in mind of those European socialists who scurried down here in the 1890’s to see their ideas being put into practice by the Liberal governments of the day – only to come away disappointed that there seemed to be no socialist theory present in the reforms.

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  51. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Politicians are understandably wary of ascribing their actions to following any particular piece of philosophy. Much better to ascribe their views to ‘common sense’ or some such rubric. Imagine asking John Key or David Cunliffe to name the theorist most influential in forming their personal political philosophy.

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  52. hubbers (139 comments) says:

    Is there a Labour leader that Chris hasn’t suggested knifing?

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  53. kowtow (8,439 comments) says:

    Many politicians seem to want to claim to be “progressive”. Clinton and Blair particularly . John Key more recently. That’s a worry.

    “Progressive” is code for leftist.

    “John Key talks about progressive policies with nary a blush”

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11255662

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  54. Matthew Hooton (131 comments) says:

    This is an excellent idea from Chris Trotter. The expulsions should continue until morale improves.

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  55. David Garrett (7,271 comments) says:

    Kowtow: Wash your mouth out man!! Red has firmly instructed me that “progressive” and “leftist” or socialist are all very different things…Working out the precise difference would keep him busy during those long days at the Mount RSA I guess…

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  56. Dead Earnest (160 comments) says:

    They only had one guy worth keeping, and he is now a fisheries ambassador up in the Pacific somewhere!

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  57. gump (1,647 comments) says:

    @big bruv

    “Are there any former lefties here who can explain what it is like to belong to a branch of the Labour party like Princess or Castle street?”

    ————————–

    They’re references to the student branches that used to be highly active at Auckland (Princess St) and Dunedin (Castle St).

    Try to imagine student activists in the 1980s and you’ll get the general idea.

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  58. OneTrack (3,089 comments) says:

    WineOh – “Lets actually imagine that hypothetical situation of Labour splitting into two separate parties. Lets call them “Left Labour and Centre Labour.””

    Ok, lets play the game. Lets have some existing names for the new “Centre Labour”. I can think of one possibility.

    That horse has already bolted – Labour is now Left Labour and Hard-Left Labour. And they are still in culling mode for any heretics.

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  59. OneTrack (3,089 comments) says:

    “They only had one guy worth keeping, and he is now a fisheries ambassador up in the Pacific somewhere!”

    He saw the writing was on the wall and got out before the purges started.

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  60. jcuknz (704 comments) says:

    Peter (1,549 comments) says:

    June 11th, 2014 at 9:00 am
    Labour forget the people. The people don’t want socialists.

    If the truth were known only a very few people do not want socialists in power but many prefer not to call themselves that :)

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  61. PaulL (5,981 comments) says:

    I’d say the purges will start in earnest after losing the election. They’ll either move further left (on the basis that they lost the election because the parties to the left of them stole their vote – bad logic, but commonly what the activists think), or move aggressively to the centre, dumping all the people who were dragging them right. Either way, the blood will be flowing.

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

    So Chris Trotter thinks a move further Left is what is required for Labour to sweep to victory.

    I think Labour should hire him as their campaign strategist.

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