Garner on Labour MPs breaking ranks

July 16th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar


Three Labour MPs have broken ranks in recent weeks – quite loudly and very publicly.

They are interested in one thing: self-preservation. They want to win their seats and they’ve given up relying on their party. They are clearly concerned Labour will poll poorly on election night, so they’ve decided to run their own campaigns – away from head office and away from the leader.

These MPs have either chosen not to be on the list or they have a low-list spot. They are vulnerable. It’s all or nothing for them.

They must win their seats to return to Parliament; this sort of pressure usually focuses an MP’s mind. They want to be back in Parliament and they want the $150k salary.

I’m talking about West Coast-Tasman MP, Damien O’Connor, Hutt South MP, Trevor Mallard and list MP and Te Tai Tokerau candidate, .

Take Davis: yesterday he engaged Labour in its biggest u-turn in years. He told me he supported the Puhoi-Wellsford road project that his party has openly mocked and criticised.

Labour MPs call it the holiday highway; David Cunliffe has campaigned against it. Labour, until yesterday, was going to can the project upon taking office. Who knows where they stand now!

Labour appear to have now done a u-turn on it, saying their policy now is only to delay it not cancel it. I guess it took the floods for them to realise that campaigning against better roads into Northland isn’t too popular there.

O’Connor and Davis certainly look in touch with middle New Zealand, their electorates and their issues. They have given the one-fingered salute to their struggling party and put self-preservation first.

Who can blame them?

We may see more of this.

23 Responses to “Garner on Labour MPs breaking ranks”

  1. Mr_Blobby (955 comments) says:


    Personally I think the people running our Country and making decisions on behalf of their constituents should have an opinion and that the rest of us should know where they stand.

    Damien O’Connor is the man he speaks his mind, who did not enjoy the gaggle of gays comment, and he got reelected.

    Trevor Mallard beat the Whale (Blubber Boy) at his own game, came to Auckland and beat his sorry arse, it should be Trevors bitch boy.

    Kelvin Davis seems like a nice guy but what does he really stand for.

    Towing the party line when it really counts is one thing but not everything.

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  2. ShawnLH (14,339 comments) says:

    Obviously I don’t support Labour, but I would love for Kelvin to win the seat and rid us of Hone. Apart from that Kelvin comes across as a descent and sensible guy (I met him once briefly) and would be a far better representative for his people.

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  3. Huevon (815 comments) says:

    How is this bad exactly? They are (or would be) electorate MPs advocating on behalf who elect them. National could benefit allowing a bit more diversity of thought too, you know.

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  4. simpleton1 (589 comments) says:

    Still no point in voting for them.

    If their party gains forms a coalition, they will just become a pawn for the the Labour cabal and coalition.

    Will they really have any effect, besides making a bit of noise, before an election, and will be really do anything for the people in Northland?

    So another 3 years in government, just gold plating that eventual superannuation.

    I do admit that Kelvin Davis effect on his electorate and other parties could be helpful, but the bring back te reo and that fits in well with the greens etc.

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  5. Manolo (21,951 comments) says:

    I expect the much-discredited Judith to criticise these “deserters and traitors” to socialism.

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  6. tom hunter (7,633 comments) says:



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  7. Mr_Blobby (955 comments) says:

    Scares the living shit out of me. The possibility of Honke (John Hadfield) Hokiwera, that green Muppet (give me my flag back) Norman, anywhere near the Government benches.

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  8. Unity (1,464 comments) says:

    Very interesting. I don’t support Labour at all but voted for Damien O’Connor in the last election because he is his own man, supports his constituency and speaks up if he disagrees with something and I didn’t like National’s candidate Chris Auchinvole who really aggravated me at a pre-election meeting.

    However, I may have to reluctantly place my constitutency vote elsewhere this time because I don’t want any possibility whatsoever that Labour might get in with the Greens clinging to their coat tails. It just doesn’t bear thinking about.

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  9. tvb (5,509 comments) says:

    Delay is a softer way of saying you are going to cancel it. This is especially so when the money for the project is going to be diverted elsewhere. So where is the money going to come from?? Why not delay the other project that is getting the money. Delay means cancellation for the foreseeable future.

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  10. OneTrack (4,602 comments) says:

    “Delay is a softer way of saying you are going to cancel it.”

    Just another one of Labour’s Yeah/nah policies – tell the current audience what Labour think they want to hear.

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  11. spanish_tudor (181 comments) says:

    Garner forgot to mention Rino Tirikatene, who crossed the floor with O’Connor – probably the first time he got noticed in the House.

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  12. sHr0oMaN (39 comments) says:

    Should they then campaign as independents rather than as Labour?

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  13. soundhill1 (844 comments) says:

    Labour allows dissent. In the recent Government vote for more casino licences for Auckland, National allowed no dissent/conscience vote to be applied in its party, unlike Labour, and unlike history of gambling votes. How did that sit with the 6 or so conservative Christians in the party?

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  14. Bob (466 comments) says:

    I rather like Kelvin Davis and his views. I think he should immediately resign from Labour and join National. Either that or National should offer him a good public service job joining Shane Jones.

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  15. Inky_the_Red (832 comments) says:

    Do all National MPs all agree with what they are to think?

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  16. Ross Miller (1,762 comments) says:

    Kinda makes a mockery of ‘their’ rules or is it case of with Labour Rules mean nowt ……

    Rule 303 of the Labour Party Constitution

    “The Policy Platform and policy of the Party shall be binding on all members of the Parliamentary Labour Party but, on matters other than Policy Platform and policy, members shall vote in accordance with the decision of a duly constituted Caucus”.

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  17. Liberty (617 comments) says:

    Where has Damien Oconner been for the last 3 years
    Where was his support for the Dennison Mine?
    Where was his support for the Lee valley Dam?
    Conspicuous by his absence was Damien
    To busy crawling up the greens for the electorate vote.
    Because with out the green electorate vote Damien is history.

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  18. soundhill1 (844 comments) says:

    Ross Miller, I don’t feel good about a system in which to have input to how a country is governed I have to become a member of the party I expect to become the government and then hope to influence their party policy

    I think it is great that Labour is forming its policy in the public hearing for all to influence.

    If there are things the party has not formed a policy on then Labour caucus assesses the situation and can allow party members to express their individual votes as part of that caucus decision. Or it could be part of general policy that it is not worth it to expel an electorate MP who dissents from party policy.

    Damien O’Connor opposed the Labour/Alliance/Green Government’s stopping of West Coast logging of Rimu. He wanted votes from and work for West Coasters, and was allowed to say that, even though the Party did not agree with all the rimu going cheaper than pine and being used for concrete boxing. So the Labour Party Government set aside a large amount of money for alternative development on the West Coast. Now again he has voted to allow hauling out of windfall trees. While other Labour people are saying what will it do to other rimu businesses as the price would severely but temporarily fall for 6 years. Plus loss of the natural process. And they will be working for alternative employment, and making sure the fund is being used properly.

    If you think about it it is a bit like Peter Dunne who comes from Labour but wants Government to be co-operative. He had quite a number from Labour when he started his party. But people have dropped away possibly because of clever manipulation of the competition instinct.

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  19. soundhill1 (844 comments) says:

    Damien O’Connor crossed the floor on the removal of windfall trees, hoping that he could improve the way Nick Smith is intending. Nick Smith’s approach does not favour existing companies working on the Coast, but could involve overseas interests gaining easy access and no need for environmental concerns.

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  20. Liberty (617 comments) says:

    Soundhill “Labour allows dissent” Lol Only while labour is leaderless.
    Labour MPs were to petrified under Clark to breath.
    Any idea of radical thought. Just didn’t happen.

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  21. Shazzadude (587 comments) says:

    I don’t understand why this is talked about in a negative light. I think it would be ideal if more MPs put the needs of their electorate before towing the party line.

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  22. Rex Widerstrom (5,113 comments) says:

    @Shazzadude: exactly!

    These people are elected to the House of Representatives not the House of Party Lickspittles.

    It’s all very well to expect them to adhere to the broad philosophical direction of the party under whose banner they stand but the final arbiters of their vote should be the people they represent.

    It’s supremely easy nowadays to poll your constituents electronically (and securely) on issues. There is no excuse for every MP not behaving in this way, other than a combination of their overweening arrogance and the fact that, while independence and accountability may be positives in an election, they’re not in pre-selection, unless the party follows Act’s example and has a primary.

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  23. Unity (1,464 comments) says:

    With the Nats, even a conscience vote isn’t their own conscience, but Key’s!! It’s all wrong. In fact perhaps they should all be independents and not with a Party at all. Then, in the absence of binding referenda, we just might be listened to more and they could vote for what the majority of their constituents wanted.

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