Leggett on Labour

July 2nd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

blogs at Pundit:

It seems the underlying premise of recent comments by some “outsider” activists and politicians like myself are correct: isn’t
 aiming for 40% plus of the vote because they neither want – nor know how – to go about winning it. Those in charge of the party know the only way to keep the agenda and the caucus small is by keeping the vote low and encouraging the Greens and Mana-Internet to grow their support in the next Parliament. “Hopefully,” they say, “we can stitch together a rag-tag coalition of the weird and the wonderful.”



As a life-long (moderate and pro-enterprise) Labour supporter, I would rather the party win significantly more people like me and get the vote to say 38%, than appear as they do, which seems to be a preference for Hone, Laila and the Greens to be elected to the next Parliament instead of good candidates further down the Labour list.



David Cunliffe said he wanted to poll higher than National. Then it was he wanted to make 40%. Then it was make the high 30s. Then it was the mid to low 30s was the target for victory. Now it seems Labour regards anything higher than the 28% they got last time as an improvement, and as Nick says, hope Hone, Laila, Kim, Winston, Russell and Metiria an get then over the line.

A talented Wellingtonian, with proven electoral appeal told me that last year he offered himself up as a prospective Labour candidate for Ohariu. He was advised however by the senior party person he asked not to bother because he wasn’t a woman. If I revealed who he is, I’m sure most people would agree that had he been selected, Peter Dunne would now be looking down the barrel of voter-enforced retirement.

The unofficial man ban at work!

Deciding also against a well-credentialed and popular local candidate in Kapiti District Councillor, Penny Gaylor, Labour sent an unmistakable message that winning Otaki off National is not a priority. 

(Ed - Rob McCann won that nomination). These are two examples that show how far Labour has positioned itself away from communities. The party appear not to care about re-establishing bases in and amongst communities in provincial and suburban New Zealand by selecting candidates who god forbid might actually win some votes.

Labour’s highest ranked new list candidate, their Ohariu and Otaki candidates all are (or were) public servants. Now nothing wrong with being a public servant – we have many good ones. But if you want to win seats and votes, you need broad appeal.

Meanwhile there are list MPs approaching their third and fourth election this year in seats that should be winnable but somehow they have never managed to win. Some of these MPs have again been rewarded with high list placings, so where is the incentive for them to win those electorates? The bigger question is, why doesn’t the party appear to care?

Labour faces the possibility of not getting a single new List MP into Parliament.

It seems Labour has given up on gaining votes from aspirational workers who want to own their own home, those who strive to run a small business and the people pottered throughout every class, culture and community in New Zealand who care deeply about reforming the systems and policies that continually fail our children.

Labour has to start behaving like a force that stands for a cause again, rather than a defender of the status quo that screams madly every time the government says it wants to reform something. It must move again to become a party for the public, not just the public service. 

Better still, it would be great to see some reform ideas from my party.

Absolutely. That’s a great line – a party for the public, not just the public service.

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30 Responses to “Leggett on Labour”

  1. mjw (352 comments) says:

    Can’t have it both ways – if there is an unofficial man ban, then why did it not apply in Otaki?

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  2. RRM (9,667 comments) says:

    What Labour needs is a few more working class heroes of the Sir Peter Leitch mould. Men you can count on to have an idea, build it and make it work.

    NOT hitherto-unheard-of young policy analysts living in Masterton, incapable of public speaking let alone getting the public excited about their capabilities, who promise to do whatever the commisariat says, and think they’ll probably move to Auckland if they get in (and, hence, get an awesome payrise!)

    And NOT empty vessels like Cunliffe, Mallard et al at the top.

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  3. Kimble (4,417 comments) says:

    Sir Peter Leitch would not be a successful businessman if he started today.

    Different times.

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  4. Jinky (181 comments) says:

    Labour need more people like Nick Leggett. People like Nick Leggett need a better Labour Party.

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  5. waripori (7 comments) says:

    There is a post over at Whale Oil from a leftish voter who would rather vote National this time than cast a vote that might help give KDC any influence. This piece is from a leftish voter who cant see what relevance the current Labour party has to most of its traditional constituency. Labour probably do have some good candidates and I have heard their candidate in Wairarapa give a 20 minute presentation that puts their case better than anyone I have heard at National level in 6 years but the way things are going there is no reason for Labour to poll any better than they did last time. They seem likely to bleed votes to the left and if Nick Leggat is anything to go by they will bleed votes to the right as well.

    Key and his team look like safe hands that have steered the country through troubled times without doing anything that has frightened the electorate much. Labour look like a group of people too busy talking to themselves to connect with voters and dependant on an unholy collection of minor parties to govern.

    With Cunliffe instead of Goff and no Asset sales spectre looming in a third term for National I would have thought 28% was aspirational.

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  6. m@tt (612 comments) says:

    “now it seems Labour regards anything higher than the 28% they got last time as an improvement,”
    I think ‘higher than last time’ is by definition an improvement and always would have been regarded as such, unless you are using some of those statistical magicmatics that can be used to prove higher is actually lower and vice versa according to the needs of the client.

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  7. m@tt (612 comments) says:

    “There is a post over at Whale Oil from a leftish voter”
    That post should have a authorisation statement on it.

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  8. Pete George (23,351 comments) says:

    Related to the ‘man ban’ an interesting comment from Rachel Jones, a rookie Labour candidate for Tauranga who is 25 on their list.

    I started learning about how the Labour Party and campaigning worked. I went to every meeting and function I could, including campaign college.

    There, I was in the campaign managers’ stream when a woman came out of the candidates’ room, muttering about how typical it was that there were few women candidates.

    She said she thought it was because men look at a job and think “I can do 20% of that really well and I’ll learn the rest when I get the position,” whereas women look at a job and think “I can do 80% of that really well but not the rest so I won’t apply.” That really resonated with me.

    Rachel seems to have some good credentials but some of her comments (like buying into trite generalities like this) are a bit odd an idealistic.

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  9. Fox (202 comments) says:

    He was advised however by the senior party person he asked not to bother because he wasn’t a woman.

    I’d be extremely tempted to test this with the Human Rights Commission.

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  10. Pete George (23,351 comments) says:

    Link to Rachel Jones post: http://thestandard.org.nz/rachel-who/

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  11. dime (9,677 comments) says:

    “Sir Peter Leitch would not be a successful businessman if he started today.

    Different times.”

    what on earth do you base that on?

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  12. publicwatchdog (2,294 comments) says:

    The election is not until 20 September 2014.

    If ‘a week is a long time in politics’ – there is QUITE some time to go ….

    Kind regards

    Penny Bright

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  13. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    Labour: A party of deviants, perverts, losers, envious, and leeches; Labour: The party for deviants, perverts, losers, envious, and leeches.

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  14. BeaB (2,084 comments) says:

    Why would they get off their backsides when life is one long gabfest with lots of perks. I am amazed we keep paying these layabouts. Like the Greens they do little for us except pinch our hard-earned dollars and make sport of politics.

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  15. Rich Prick (1,635 comments) says:

    But Penny, you only have 124 wackjobs to talk to. Labour has a far bigger, many would say impossible, job on its hands.

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  16. Judith (8,462 comments) says:

    Is it time to mention English’s 21%? So many said the same about National back then, when all the rats jumped from a supposedly sinking ship, and yet, here you are

    Short memories are great things to have when you embrace illusion.

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  17. Steve Wrathall (261 comments) says:

    “Labour regards anything higher than the 28% they got last time as an improvement”
    28% would be an improvement. They got 27.48%

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  18. RRM (9,667 comments) says:

    Pete George (22,367 comments) says:
    July 2nd, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Rachel seems to have some good credentials but some of her comments (like buying into trite generalities like this) are a bit odd an idealistic.

    PG:

    the funny thing about trite generalisations, is, real life has the oddest way of endorsing them!

    At Canterbury Engineering school they appreciate that they are turning out 22yo degree graduates who will soon have to go to building sites and tell earthworks contractors they’re doing it all wrong.
    Therefore, before we got our degrees we had to do a 2-day block course at CPIT learning a very little about using arc welders, milling machines, oxyacetylene etc etc in the hope that we would learn some appreciation of the challenges faced by those that actually have to make stuff with their hands.

    One of the aging pommy fitters & turners teaching the course said that he found the women students always produced the best work in the class, because in his experience of teaching the course, the women would stop and ask questions when in doubt, whereas macho pride would see the male students struggle doggedly on until they’d completely f**ked up beyond any possible redemption, whatever it was that they had been trying to make…

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  19. mjwilknz (612 comments) says:

    Did anyone else notice Labour’s plan of providing annual per-student grants if it gets into Government? Sounds a bit like a voucher system to me, reminiscent of ACT’s plan to allow schools to choose to become charter schools. Finally, a reform plan that middle NZers might aspire to. Not sure just how much it was intended, though.

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  20. Kimble (4,417 comments) says:

    what on earth do you base that on?

    No, you are right. Absolutely nothing has changed in the economy in the decades since he started his business. Other than everything.

    Why did he become a butcher?
    How did he grow his business?
    What was he competing against?

    Joe Montana would be crushed in todays NFL. Larry Bird would not thrive in todays NBA. Buck Shelford would struggle in Super rugby. Bruce Mclaren would also not be able to compete in F1. You can say that each of these people would have learned the new techniques and put in the required work to be successful, but that’s your assumption. And you are ignoring the element of luck that successful businesses require.

    Regarding Leitch, he is dyslexic and benefited from an apprenticeship. The first wouldnt have hurt too badly in 1960′s NZ, but it would today. Apprenticeships are all but dead.

    You could run the Peter Leitch life experiment a million times, and the vast majority would not be as successful. The fact that he built a successful business decades ago does not mean that he would be able to do so today.

    Its not impossible, but it is tremendously unlikely.

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  21. greenjacket (437 comments) says:

    Labour have not rejuvenated at all. There is no way that they will be able to form the dominant partner of a future left-wing government – they simply do not have the talent amongst their MPs. By 2017 Labour will be reduced to the CTU junior partner of the Green Party.

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  22. freemark (519 comments) says:

    RRM (9,334 comments) says:
    July 2nd, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    RRM, there is no point in any Civil Engineering Graduates know about machine tools, welders etc. Possibly they should jump on a digger, do some STMS work or such like. The recent graduates I have worked with on a few Projects lately have actually been bloody good – keen to get their hands dirty, run out grid lines, check for gradient, plumb, level etc.
    Unfortunately about 30% of productive time on any construction site these days is spent on safety procedure & paperwork, which doesn’t seem to be keeping anyone any safer…
    But I would put Structural students in a Structural workshop for a while, and Architectural students on a building site – although most of them if they are any good will be doing this in their holidays anyway.

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

    m@tt,
    You are correct – in a technical sense. But I think the point is that a 0.5% gain on your lowest ever vote is a pretty mediocre accomplishment to call a victory. In fact most people would call that a pretty major fail. I suspect that they won’t even achieve this modest goal and will clock in somewhere below 27%.

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  24. altiora (221 comments) says:

    Whaleoil didn’t have a “leftish” voter; the writer of the opinion piece used the term “kulak” to describe DotCon even, so I would think hard left is more apt a description. But there again, the author suggested that the remedy for dealing with DotCon was to politely refuse his money; whereas true hard leftists would have demanded show trials followed by summary execution. So now I think of it perhaps “leftish” is appropriate.

    Anyway, more importantly, what is happening in Labour is the same thing that is happening at many workplaces, and pretty much all public sector workplaces in New Zealand: babyboomers who have achieved very little, whose egos are comfortable with the status quo and who are downright suspicious of outsiders or younger people who might show them up and make changes. I have observed this in all my workplaces, and I suspect it is the main reason for the brain drain and for this country’s mediocre productivity levels.

    I think John Key knows full well from his past work experience that every organisation must have fresh blood from time-to-time in order to remain “with it”, and he accordingly doesn’t have any qualms turfing out those who are beyond their used buy date.

    Nick has done very well for himself winning the Porirua mayoralty at such a young age and on his own efforts. If Labour had any sense, they would get him into Parliament and then fast promote him like National did with John Key.

    However, I expect that his comments will be dismissed by the old guard in Labour as being made by a “young person who lacks our level of experience”. I suspect he will also be denounced as a traitor by the usual dregs on the Standard.

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  25. Viking2 (11,284 comments) says:

    RRM (9,337 comments) says:
    July 2nd, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    What Labour needs is a few more working class heroes of the Sir Peter Leitch mould. Men you can count on to have an idea, build it and make it work.

    NOT hitherto-unheard-of young policy analysts living in Masterton, incapable of public speaking let alone getting the public excited about their capabilities, who promise to do whatever the commisariat says, and think they’ll probably move to Auckland if they get in (and, hence, get an awesome payrise!)

    =================================================

    That applies to the Nats. as well.

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  26. Viking2 (11,284 comments) says:

    Kimble (4,295 comments) says:
    July 2nd, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Sir Peter Leitch would not be a successful businessman if he started today.

    Different times.
    =========================
    Business is always the same.

    Its all about the passion that drives the entrepreneur to build his business. Its the Ideas and Ideal of the business. That’s why Rich People employ others who will never be as rich.

    Being dyslectic doesn’t stop people from being successful. Its and impediment but these days its much easier to work around.

    Ask Sir Richard Branson.

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  27. publicwatchdog (2,294 comments) says:

    What’s better? A party for the private sector ‘contractocracy’ on corporate welfare? Penny Bright

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  28. altiora (221 comments) says:

    Penny: many National supporters also oppose Joyce’s subsidies to business as well. The problem is however leftist thinking that permeates our political system. If National didn’t throw a subsidy at, for example that smelter, Labour and Greens would be attacking National for “not caring about jobs and the provincial centres” and certain swing voters seem to think it the government’s role to intervene in such a manner to “prop up and remedy market failure” (ignoring the fact that the market is operating perfectly well in bringing uneconomical smelters to an end).

    So if these sorts of subsidies are abhorrent to you, then you should support classical Liberal policies and self-reliance. But I suspect that you like big Government throwing money around provided that the recipients of the largess are considered by you to be “deserving”.

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  29. kiwi in america (2,478 comments) says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with Nick’s comments. They echo what I said in my guest post at Easter http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2014/04/guest_post_-_why_is_labour_struggling_in_2014_an_essay_on_the_history_of_labours_predicament_.html

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  30. Kimble (4,417 comments) says:

    Business is always the same.

    Its all about the passion that drives the entrepreneur to build his business. Its the Ideas and Ideal of the business. That’s why Rich People employ others who will never be as rich.

    Being dyslectic doesn’t stop people from being successful. Its and impediment but these days its much easier to work around.

    Ask Sir Richard Branson.

    Business is not always the same. Nothing is. The business environment when Leitch was starting and growing his business does not exist today.

    His “Ideas” and “Ideals” fit that time and that environment. Could he build the same butchery empire today? No. Because it already exists. You are just assuming he would be able to come up with an equally successful Idea now, but you have nothing to base that guess on other than his previous success.

    Successful entrepreneurs are not destined to be successful, not matter what they or their biographies try to tell you otherwise.

    Being dyslexic doesnt stop people from being successful. But it doesnt help, and a dyslexic person today is diagnosed. They can work around the impediment, but thats not the same as being blissfully unaware of it.

    Using Branson as an example is a mistake. He also started his business in a different era. He has taken risks on new enterprises more recently (has Leitch?), but he was starting from a position as a millionaire, not from scratch.

    Leitch had one idea, worked hard, had some good fortune and retired rich. Play the same hand again and things could be different. Play the same hand again in a different business environment and it would be different.

    Notice I am using poker analogies? That’s because the best poker player in the world wont win every tournament. There is too much outside of their control. Tournaments will usually be won by good poker players, but there are great poker players who have never won a tournament, and there are also a huge number who have won a tournament but only by getting really lucky.

    You can’t say someone is a bad poker player because they never won a tournament. And you definitely cant say that someone is a great poker player because they have. That is being “results oriented”, you should google that term as it relates to poker.

    And you would be a fool to assume a tournament winner is the best person to get to train you simply because they won a tournament.

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