Bennett wins back Waitakere

December 16th, 2011 at 5:00 pm by David Farrar

The judicial recount of Waitakere has found a number of invalid votes for Carmel Sepuloni and the Judge has found that Paula Bennett received more valid votes, and with a majority of 9 is declared once again the MP for Waitakere. That’s a wonderful result for Paula, who so loves being the local MP out west. A big ups to her and her team.

For Carmel, she is out of Parliament entirely, and Raymond Huo is once again a Labour List MP. A bit of a blow to the rejuvenation efforts for Labour, but at least a boost to their fund-raising efforts.

Carmel might now regret her ungracious tone when she was declared winner after specials. Of course she has open to her the option of an electoral petition, but those things can cost $200,000 or so and off memory National has never lost an electoral petition, well for the last 40 years or so anyway.

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Another gracious winner

December 11th, 2011 at 6:37 pm by David Farrar

Labour wonder why they are known as the nasty party and their vote dropped. Look at Carmel Sepuloni’s response to winning Waitakere:

‘I don’t think Paula Bennett has been good for Waitakere,” she said.

”At the end of the day, the voters have spoken. And despite the fact it is close, it just goes to show that there are 11 more people that think she wasn’t [good].

This reminds me of how Labour MP Kris Faafoi after his narrow victory in the Mana by-election, labeled Hekia Parata a two time loser. So classy.

Has Kate Wilkinson got up and said nasty things about Clayton Cosgrove whom she beat? Has Nicky Wagner put the boot into Brendon Burns? Did Nikki Kaye’s team put the boot into Jacinda Ardern when she conceded, or did they give her a round of applause?

The only thing worse than sore losers is ungracious winners. Perhaps Carmel could have said things about what an honour and privilege it is, and how she will work her hardest for all her constituents – rather than put the boot into her opponent.

I hope the new Labour leader can help engender a culture change within Labour.

On a related note Phil Quin notes:

Don’t get me wrong, Carmel Sepuloni pipping Paula Bennett at the post is a pleasing outcome, but I was surprised to read a statement this afternoon from Labour’s President Moira Coatsworth and General Secretary Chris Flatt that described the 11-vote win as a “momentous” and “a great victory for Labour.”

By this measure, the Christchurch Central result must be a “shocking blow” and a “grave defeat”; Raymond Huo’s departure from Parliament must be “a tragic loss”; and my  lacklustre 40 minute cardio workout at the gym this morning must surely qualify as “an athletic triumph”.

Tone-deaf.

Waitakere is a seat which normally goes Labour. It is of course a blow to National and to Paula to lose it, but it was held by Labour from 1946 to 1981 continuously by Labour, and since being re-formed in 1993 has lost some of its bluer areas to Helensville so was always going to be tough to hold (even though I personally did think Paula would hold on).

Losing a seat like Christchurch Central which you have held for 60+ years is a far bigger event.

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Petulance

August 4th, 2011 at 4:44 pm by David Farrar

Have a look at this clip from the House today, starting around 7 minutes in.

Chris Tremain points out a Labour MP was yelling “liar” out at Paula Bennett. The Speaker asks if that happened and no one takes responsibility for it. Tremain then says it was Carmel Sepuloni.

Lockwood then asks Sepuloni to stand, withdraw and apologise unless she is saying she didn’t say it. She remains seated and the Speaker has to ask her directly did she say it.

She then admits she said it, but doesn’t do withdraw and apologise properly for it. Lockwood instructs here again to do so, and threatens to name her. She then gets up and says she does so “reluctantly”. Lockwood has to again threaten to name her, and finally she apologises looking like a petulant 10 year old.

I think Paula’s majority in Waitakere just got a bit larger!

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Carmel’s gracious apology

February 15th, 2011 at 11:59 am by David Farrar

Carmel has done a gracious apology for her blog post blaming the publication of two victims of sexual abuse on the National Government’s civil service cuts (it turned out to be an error by the Judge). Her gracious apology is:

Oh right wingers. The day I apologise to the National Government or any of its members, will be the day that the National Government publically apologise to us for falsely accusing the former Labour Governement of causing the first recession in this country, rising unemployment, rising debt and the second recession….ain’t gonna happen eh:)

I admire a politician who can apologise when they get something totally wrong.

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Puerile attempt at blame game backfires on Labour

February 15th, 2011 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Many will have seen the story about how two victims of sex abuse were named on a Ministry of Justice website.

Simon Power announced there would be an independent review to find out how this happened.

Rather than wait for anything resmebling a fact, Labour MP Carmel Sepuloni announced she had worked out who was to blame – the National Government of course.

The breach of name suppression of two sex abuse victims by the Ministry of Justice is a mistake that should never have happened and is another example of the National Government’s failure to protect the rights of  victims.

Simon Power says he will be asking questions of the officials tomorrow morning to ascertain how this mistake occurred, when really he should be pointing the finger at himself and his Government.  The slash and burn cuts that the National Government have continued to make across the public sector, are inevitably going to result in mistakes being made.  The funding cuts to resources and jobs across the sector – equate to, additional pressure being placed on those still working there – leaving them stretched beyond the limit.

Rather sad that two victims of sexual abuse have had their identies revealed, and that Labour merely sees this as an opportunity to smear National and continue their ideological arguments that the public sector should be immune from the impact of a recession.

So was it some over-worked staffer in the Ministry of Justice who made an error, and ignored the Judge’s supression order? Is Carmel’s smear attack justified?

Well this later story reports:

The Chief High Court Judge, Justice Helen Winkelmann, says the court failed to note suppression rules on a judgement which led to the publication of the names of two sexual abuse victims on the Ministry of Justice website.

Justice Winkelmann, in a statement this evening following her inquiries, said it was an error and she very much regretted it had happened.

I’m amazed Labour have not yet found a way to blame the Canterbury Earthquake on public sector staff cuts.

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Taxpayer Funded Electioneering

December 9th, 2010 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Labour DLEFlyer

This pamphlet would definitely count as electioneering if done during the regulated period. The rules before the regulated period are less strict, but I wonder if even under those rules whether this qualifies. To qualify it must “have a parliamentary purpose” and “not contain electioneering”.

Electioneering is defined outside the regulated period as “explicitly seeks support for the re-election of a member or party, explicitly encourages party membership or explicitly solicits financial support”.

This pamphlet pushes those boundaries to the max. I am unsure it has a parliamentary purpose – it does not mention Parliament at all, or any specific law. It is basically 100% propaganda.

The front half is simply a photo and what appears to be a campaign slogan.

The second half gets close to soliciting for votes (implicit not explicit though) saying “Things have got tougher under the National Government but Labour has a plan for the people of Waitakere and all New Zealanders”.

There’s a not a single word about what Carmel has done for the community, about how you can approach her office for assistance, about any local issues. It is 100% a rant against National and a list of campaign slogans.

In fact an identical pamphlet could run in every seat. Perhaps that is the case? Has any readers received similar?

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Carmel says National is ending race based funding

November 23rd, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Labour List MP Carmel Sepuloni has blogged that National is ending race based funding. She is very very unhappy about this.

I urge her to keep blogging on this topic. Not just blogging though. I think Labour should launch a major campaign complaining that National is ending race based funding.

Now as it happens National isn’t, but the truth has never got in the way of a good Labour campaign. Remember their GST campaign?

So please Labour rev up the campaign bus, and stick up the billboards, all using Carmel’s slogan that John Key is ending race based funding.

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Labour’s future leadership

July 13th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

As I blogged yesterday, the chances of there being a Labour-led Government after the 2011 election is very remote. Not just because of the gap in the polls, but also because of their failure to rejuvenate, but more importantly their failure to mend bridges with the Maori Party who might hold the balance of power after the election.

So unless there is some big event such as a second recession, or a major scandal, Phil Goff is unlikely to become Prime Minister. So who will replace him, when and why?

When?

Turning to the when, and I still maintain that Goff is safe until the election – even if Labour stay below 30%. There are three reasons for this:

  1. Lack of enthusiasm for the alternatives
  2. The shared delusion that the public will wake up to its mistake and restore them to power once they prove that John Key really is a nasty nasty man
  3. The impact of MMP, sheltering Caucus more than FPP did

The last point is quite important. Under FPP MPs got more panicked by the polls. If the polls showed they were in trouble in their seat, then they were facing the end of their political career, so they would desperately vote to change leaders to try and hold on to their seats – as Labour did in 1990.l

But under MMP, MPs can be protected on the list, so they do not fear bad polling so much. And even though the polls may show Labour losing as many as seven List MPs, the fact is no one knows which seven MPs may be toast until Labour ranks its list, and by then it is too late.

So I am quite confident that Phil Goff will remain Leader until after the 2011 election. But if they lose, I would expect he will retire from the leadership and politics within 6 – 12 months of the 2011 election.

Who?

I believe the next leader of the Labour Party will be David Cunliffe. And yes, of course I have my money where my mouth is and am backing that stock on iPredict.

Why?

It isn’t exactly a closely guarded secret that David Cunliffe isn’t the most popular MP with his colleagues. He probably isn’t the first choice for Leader of more than a handful of MPs. But he will become Leader, because he is basically everyone’s acceptable second choice.

Being the acceptable second choice can be a better position than a faction’s first choice. Similiar politics happened in the Waitakere selection – one faction was backing Twyford strongly and one faction (union) backing McCracken. Carmel Sepuloni came through the middle as the choice acceptable to all sides who could unify the electorate – either Twyford or McCracken would have left a significant minority disgruntled.

It is also worth remembering that Helen was positioning Cunliffe as a future leader, if she got a fourth term. She wanted to keep Goff out, and after Maharey retired and Mallard imploded, Cunliffe was her favoured candidate to succeed her. The 2008 loss, meant that Cunliffe did not have enough experience to be viable at that stage, so she let the leadership temporarily transfer to the man she she had worked so hard to keep away from it.

Why Not?

Cunliffe is basically the only acceptable alternative to the caucus. One can ascertain this by going through the others known to want the job.

Shane Jones – even before the hotel porn saga, Jones was not going to become leader. The women in Labour would rather slit their wrists than elect Jones, and while they are not a majority in caucus, they are a minority too powerful to ignore. Also Jones hasn’t shown the required hard work to become leader – he overly relies on his (quite considerable) natural talent. He is also too right wing economically to become Leader.

Andrew Little – Andrew has made a tactical mistake by combining the three roles of party president, union leader and aspiring MP. There is considerable resentment of this in the caucus, and he is blamed for the lacklustre fundraising to date. One Labour person commented to me that how can you expect the President one week to be getting donations from CEOs, when the next week he is delivering strike notices to them. Add onto that the resentment from List MPs that Andrew will be automatically given a high list ranking, knocking them down the order.

So Andrew will enter caucus with a degree of pre-existing hostility. While he may one day become Leader if he proves himself, he will not be given a Bob Hawke type coronation after just a year in Parliament.

Ruth Dyson – John Key would start going to church (to thank God)  if Labour elected Ruth Dyson as Leader. Nothing against Ruth’s skills, but she is a polarising figure strongly associated with the former Government.

Maryan Street – I rate Street as one of the smartest MPs, and she has the ability to be a strong Minister and maybe even Deputy Leader.  But I don’t see at all the charisma to become leader or prime minister. Maryan being elected as Leader would also see John Key, if not start attending church, at least sending his kids to Sunday School!

Grant Robertson – Grant is a very smart political operator. Too smart to try and become leader after just one term in Parliament. He has what I expect will become a fairly safe seat for him, and time is on his side. I think the bastard might even be younger than me! If Grant stood in 2012, he might do surprisingly well, but I think he knows he is better to wait his time and get more experience before he tries to ascend.

Ashraf Choudhary – just kidding :-)

Then what?

It is dangerous to look too far ahead, but my best pick at this stage is David Cunliffe become Leader in 2012, and he contests the 2014 election.

Labour will have a challenge in replacing him as Finance Spokesperson, with a so few MPs having the necessary skills or background. To my mind, the only credible option would be David Parker. So the leadership team could be Cunliffe as Leader, Street as Deputy and Parker as Finance.

Like Goff, Cunliffe will probably be a one shot leader unless he wins the election. They call this the Mike Moore slot. He doesn’t have (at this stage anyway) the loyalty of enough MPs to keep him in the job if he loses.

If National wins the 2014 election (and no predictions this far out), then Labour will have another leadership change. I believe their post 2014 leader will be their long-term leader – like Clark they will be in the job for 10 – 15 years or so, and they will become Prime Minister.

This could see a Grant Robertson vs Andrew Little battle. That would be very interesting. I’ve been pretty impressed with David Shearer also, and wouldn’t rule him out as a contender also. Kelvin Davis has potential also – but I see him more as a future Education Minister.

Of course a John Key or Don Brash type candidate may enter Parliament for Labour in 2011, and also by 2014 become a potential leader. However the fact almost all their Caucus is standing again, makes it harder for them to parachute any stars in.

Time will tell if my predictions come true.

Tomorrow, I will blog on how I would “sell” David Cunliffe once he is Leader.

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Good comments

March 31st, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

On most blogs the actual posts tend to be quite reasonable and well argued, and it is the comments that can sometimes go off the track and get hysterical.

But I’m pleased to report the opposite has happened on Red Alert. Carmel Sepuloni did a somewhat off the track post claiming:

Todd McClay says that beneficiaries are more likely to murder children

I thought this would set off a round of abuse of Todd, but in fact many of the comments were quite thoughtful, such as:

Rebecca:
Carmel I agree it was incredibly distasteful however, in many ways, while awkwardly put, Todd is right.

The bulk of the physical child abuse, neglect and maltreatment statistics comes out of the quarters of the lower socio-economic groups, most of whom are predominantly on benefits.

Lindsay Mitchell posted a useful link to some CYFS stats which “establishes that there is a statistical association between the two factors examined: benefit receipt and CYPFS notifications”.

Todd himself pops up and posts a draft of Hansard, with what he actually said:

And Lindsay again provides a useful point:

You have to understand that ‘are more likely to’ can co-exist with ‘most don’t’. For argument’s sake;

8 out of 100 beneficiaries abuse their children.
2 out of 100 non-beneficiaries abuse their children.

Therefore beneficiaries are 4 times more likely to abuse their children BUT most don’t.

However, inasmuch as child murder usually occurs at the extreme end of abuse, it is more likely to happen when the parent or other caregiver is a beneficiary.

So stop taking offence and start asking whether there is a link between welfare and child abuse.

Of course not all comments were high quality:

Olwyn said:

Furthermore, we did not have people regularly beating kids to death before we took up neo-conservative economic policies

Blame the neo-cons!

But overall I found the comments thread quite a useful wee debate. Someone also pointed out the difference between correlation and causation.

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Promote, not contrast

March 22nd, 2010 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald has a profile of and interview with Waitakere candidate Carmel Sepuloni.

Now as I said on Sunday, before she was selected, I regard Sepuloni as the candidate who would do best against Paula Bennett. Chris Trotter is less convinced incidentially, and a fascinating discussion in the comments there.

Anyway some extracts:

Ms Sepuloni, who is from Waitara in Taranaki, said Ms Bennett’s local connections played some part in her victory, but “it was because of the shift that occurred toward the National Party generally”.

To some degree I agree that in 2008, it was primarily the shift to National. Paula had less split votes from Labour voters, than the national average.

However back then Paula was relatively obscure. She is not obscure today, and I would not assume that the 2008 voting pattern will be the same in 2011. I think Paula may attract considerable non-National support.

Of her own links to the electorate, “it’s more what the electorate looks like that I’m connected to”, said Ms Sepuloni, who is of Tongan, Samoan and European descent.

And from Taranaki.

“It’s got a strong working-class base and quite a large Pacific population. It’s got a comparatively large number of sole-parent households and generally, in terms of the people that live there, I think I’m quite capable of connecting with them.”

This I agree with – in fact is why I said she would do best of the four Labour nominees.

Both women are sole parents, but Ms Sepuloni says she is “more down to Earth, more authentic, more genuine”.

This is the statement that really grates, and I genuinely suggest Carmel not use it again.

First of all, it looks strange to apply labels such as authentic and genuine to yourself. By their nature, they are attributes others will decide whether they apply to you. Some attributes such as hard-working, compassionate, sounds fine when talking about yourself, but calling yourself authetntic and genuine doesn’t sound very down to earth.

But the statement goes beyond that, and specifically says more down to earth, more genuine and more authentic than Paula. Again, you look somewhat ridicolous when you claim that as if you are some sort of neutral observer, and it comes over a personal attack on Paula’s character.

Now if you want to run a character based campaign against Paula, so be it. But I really wouldn’t.

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Generalisations

March 22nd, 2010 at 8:57 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Air New Zealand last night apologised for a crew manual which profiled passengers by nationality and suggested flight attendants watch Tongans who wanted to “drink the bar dry”.

The airline said the document, made public yesterday, was written in 2008 for flight crews. It had since been updated and did not now touch on alcohol or “cultural components”.

This is not surprising. Even if Air NZ has observed such drinking with some Tongan passengers, they could have made clear it was only a minority, and/or made it a general warning about all passengers.

Labour Party list MP Carmel Sepuloni, who is of Tongan descent, said the remarks were offensive, and she was considering lodging a complaint.

“I don’t know what Air New Zealand was thinking in putting something like that together,” she said. “They shouldn’t be making any generalisations of any ethnic group.”

I wonder whether that statement is going too far. I agree the Tongan alcohol reference causes offence, but taking another statement:

Staff were told not to be surprised “if you ask a Japanese female a question and a male customer answers on her behalf”.

I would argue that providing staff with this information can be helpful. If a staff member has not been warned, they might react with surprise and say something inappropriate the first time a male answers on behalf of his wife.

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Labour’s Waitakere selection

March 20th, 2010 at 4:43 pm by David Farrar

Labour’s selection meeting for Waitakere started at 10.30 am, and is still going.

It started with a contested election for the meeting’s rep on the selection panel. The panel effectively has seven members.

  • Three members appointed by Head Office
  • Two members appointed by the Waitakere electorate committee
  • One member appointed by and at the beginning of the selection meeting
  • One vote reflecting the secret ballot after the speeches

The secret ballot vote, as I understand it, is a simple first past the post vote and counts as a vote on the panel for the candidate who gets a plurality. If that candidate falls out of contention (ie it is between two other candidates), then the vote doesn’t count.

The order of speaking was Phil Twyford, Hamish McCracken, Carmel Sepuloni and Ann Pala.

Voting after the speeches concluded around three hours ago, so there is obviously some sort of deadlock on the panel, which is taking a while to resolve.

As I understand it McCracken has EPMU support, as he works for them or did work for them. So some of the head office vote may be with him. Pillay, the retiring MP, was EMPU so they probably see the seat as theirs.

Sepuloni is probably the candidate with the best chance to take the fight to Paula Bennett. I don’t think she’ll beat Paula, but she’ll do better than a white middle aged guy would, to be blunt.

Twyford was proclaimed as one of the new high flyers. However if he loses tonight, it will shoot his credibility to shreds, considering it will be his third effective rejection in a row, having been scared off Mt Albert and Auckland Central. Some in Labour will not want to embarrass Twyford like that, even if they think Sepuloni has a better chance.

Eventually the panel will need to eliminate one of the three favourites and then it is a simple two way race, where one candidate needs four out of seven votes.

I’ll blog the result once I hear it.

UPDATE: And it is Carmel Sepuloni. Congratulations to her. As I said above, this is hugely embarassing to Phil Twyford whose nickname already was “Opposition Spokesperson for the Homeless”. He may have to end up Labour candidate in Helensville, or some other unwinnable seat. Or he could move to Mt Roskill and wait until after the next election!

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Labour selections

February 1st, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Labour has announced four selections, reports the Herald:

Labour has already chosen its 2011 election candidates for Auckland Central, West Coast-Tasman, Ohariu and Maungakiekie.

First-term list MP Jacinda Ardhern will contest Auckland Central and Carol Beaumont, also a list MP, will contest Maungakiekie. Both are held by National.

List MP Damien O’Connor will try to take back West Coast-Tasman, the seat he lost to National in the last election.

Senior MP Charles Chauvel, another list MP, will contest Ohariu, which is held by United Future leader Peter Dunne.

I wonder why Labour did not open nominations for NZ’s most marginal seat of New Plymouth? Is it because Andrew Little plans to parachute in there later, as that is his home town?

There were four nominations for Waitakere, the seat held by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett, and a selection meeting will be held on March 20. The nominations were Ann Pala, Carmel Sepuloni, Hamish McCracken and Phil Twyford.

It will be pretty devastating to Twyford’s career if he fails to win the nomination, after having been scared out of both Mt Albert and Auckland Central.

He is a more polished politician than Sepuloni, but Labourites may not be keen to put up a “white middle aged male” against the young at heart fiesty Paula Bennett.

McCracken is a perennial candidate – his list ratings have been in 1999 he was no 60, in 2002 no 52, in 2005 no 49 and in 2005 no 50. I can’t see him beating one, let alone two, MPs to the nominaton.

Ann Pala is a Fijian immigrant who was President of the Waitakere Ethnic Board, a director of Winmac Computer Solutions, member of the Islamic Women’s Council. To her great credit she has criticised her party’s association with Winston Peters.

Less agreeably, Pala called for an “ethnic ward” for the Auckland Council, which would elect two or three Councillors. Pala seems to be the only actual West Auckland standing for the Waitakere nomination.

Meanwhile the Dominion Post reports:

United Future leader Peter Dunne faces a tough battle for his Ohariu seat after Labour kicked off its campaign and National vowed it would not stand aside to give him a free ride.

List MP Charles Chauvel will begin door knocking and leaflet drops within weeks after he was the only nomination as Labour’s candidate.

The seat is the eighth most marginal in the country. It was held by Mr Dunne by just 1006 votes at the last election – well down on his 7702 majority in 2005 and the 12,000-plus margin he racked up in 2002. …

Mr Dunne won 12,303 votes in 2008, compared to 11,297 for Mr Chauvel and 10,009 for Ms Shanks.

I expect National will vigorously contest the seat. The reality is that if both National and Dunne stand, then it is possible Chauvel could win the seat due to vote splitting. However if Peter retires from Parliament, then it would be a safe seat for National. Take a look at recent election results.

In 2008 National’s party vote was 17,670 to 12,728 for Labour. In a clear two way contest National should win the seat by 3,000 to 5,000 votes (depending on if many Greens tactically vote).

The split voting statistics tell a story in Ohariu. This is where Dunne has picked up votes in the last three elections:

  • 2002 – Dunne got 47% of Labour voters and 57% of National voters
  • 2005 – Dunne got 34% of Labour voters and 52% of National voters
  • 2008 – Dunne got 16% of Labour voters and 44% of National voters

Peter used to pick up strong support from Labour and National voters. However from 2002 to 2008, he support from Labour voters declined by two thirds. Ironically it was during this period he supported them with confidence and supply, so there is no gratitude in politics!

Now that Dunne can’t attract large number of Labour voters, the main impact is to split the electorate vote of centre-right voters between him and the National candidate. Hence why Chauvel would have a reasonable chance of winning, if Dunne stands in 2011.

But if Dunne retires, then Ohariu should become the only National held seat in Wellington.

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Goff’s goofs

July 23rd, 2009 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

I had to laugh at Labour List MP Carmel Sepuloni trying to insist on Breakfast TV that it had been a great week for Phil Goff.  It was like a finance company spokesperson trying to insist they were sound.

Where do I start. First the Herald reveals that Phil Goff did not tell them the sob story he fed to them, owned a total of three properties, and it was not the case of someone with no assets being forced out of their family home. It was just a case of someone being unwilling to sell their property investments for a loss. I hope this story appears in as prominent place in the print edition as yesterday’s story.

Now even before this episode was exposed, Guyon Espiner blogged:

Labour’s ill-judged foray into the benefit policy debate – offering the dole to anyone who losses their job regardless of their spouse’s income – is a strategic blunder which ignores these basic facts of political life….

Labour now claims it isn’t going to allow the dole to be paid to anyone, regardless of income. But that’s a back down because that is exactly what they were saying on Monday.

You could sense the desperation on Monday after the story was broken in the Herald. Goff had clearly blurted out the story too early because Labour party officials and MPs were scrambling to fill in the details as other media worked to follow up the story.

On Tuesday Goff was desperately trying to claim that he was talking about the principle of middle income people not missing out on welfare and not the details. All the more reason then for not announcing the plan until the details are worked through.

Guyon makes it fairly clear Goff personally blundered by making policy up on the hoof. Guyon also covers their banking inquiry:

I see Labour is having another go. Having failed to win a proper select committee inquiry into whether the banks’ interest rates are too high, they are teaming up with the Greens and Jim Anderton to hold their own “inquiry” – one with no standing, no authority and no power.

Essentially they’ll be sitting in a room, preaching to the converted. Looks like a gimmick to me. Looks like Labour hasn’t fully realised it was turfed out of power.

Indeed.Hat Tip: Keeping Stock

John Armstrong writes this morning:

This has been an especially awful week for Phil Goff. It is not just that the Labour leader has made two blunders – the first being a policy mishap and the second being caught out by failing to reveal pertinent information. It is that a pattern of bad judgment calls is starting to emerge. That will be causing his colleagues some serious concern.

The problem for his colleagues is the lack of options. After 2011 there will be options, but there are not yet.

Twice within the past two months, Goff has sought to cause National discomfort only to end up pinging himself by failing to disclose facts which ended up being revealed by his opponents to his embarrassment.

The first example was Neelam Choudary, the Indian woman who alleged former minister Richard Worth sexually harassed her. She turned out to be a Labour Party activist.

The latest example is a Helensville man, Bruce Burgess, who seemed the perfect example of the kind of middle-class distress Goff had been talking about when he floated a shift in Labour policy so the dole would be paid to redundant workers for up to a year regardless of the income of their partners.

There is a warning in Armstrong’s writing. Having twice sat on highly relevant information, the gallery is going to be far more suspicious of any information from Goff in future. His effectiveness will be reduced due to this.

Goff is kidding only himself if he thinks this new information would not change people’s perceptions of Mr Burgess’s predicament.

Labour knew Mr Burgess owned the properties. It should have dropped his case immediately it knew that. However, presumably Goff was blinded by Mr Burgess being one of John Key’s constituents. The Prime Minister had done nothing to help him. Goff could see the headlines before they appeared. Through his own fault, they have ended up being the wrong ones.

The information totally changed people’s perceptions. Just as Choudary’s identity did also. I actually felt a bit guilty, at the time, for blogging yesterday on the Burgesses as I felt sorry for them being on the verge of losing their only home. While still sympathetic they are in tough times, the fact they have two other properties means they do have options – far better options than most families.

If he fails to win in 2011, Goff knows his party will look for someone else to lead them into the next election. If he keeps performing in the fashion displayed this week his colleagues might start asking themselves whether they should not look elsewhere before then.

I think Goff is safe until 2011, again due to the lack of alternatives.

Duncan Garner also blogs:

Labour sat on the fact he owned three homes. To Labour it was irrelevant to its case – that hardworking Kiwis are missing out under National.

How many Kiwis can cry poor with three homes? It’s a bad look Labour – and I suspect you know it.

Can you imagine how Helen Clark, as Prime Minister, presented with this sort of information – would have acted?

She, and/or Michael Cullen would have not only crucified Burgess – but she or he would have damn well made sure John Key was cut into three pieces,

So Labour needs to go away and look at what it’s doing.

It needs to take a breather. Goff has been too damn keen this week. He’s cocked up. He’s acted like a cut snake.

And finally we have Colin Espiner:

Labour’s also attacking the appointment of former National leader Don Brash to the new productivity taskforce, calling him a stalking horse for privatisation. Goff says it will lead to a renewal of ideas soundly rejected at the 2005 election.

Actually, as Key pointed out in the House yesterday, National wasn’t “soundly rejected” at the 05 election – it only lost by the narrowest of margins. And it was probably the Exclusive Brethren that spooked voters more than National’s privatisation agenda.

Indeed. Mps who call Don “Lord Voldemort” may want to reflect on the fact he got only 2% less than Helen Clark in 2005, and that their references to him as such actually alienate a large segment of the population. Anyway back to Goff:

Goff had another terrible day in Parliament today after the case of poor old Bruce Burgess, a constituent in John Key’s electorate no less, who having worked hard all his life now couldn’t get any assistance from the state after losing his job.

Labour shopped the story to the Herald this morning, which ran it without question. Trouble was, poor old Bruce owns two rental properties besides his lifestyle block in a leafy part of Helensville – in other words, he has assets of at least a million dollars. Now, that doesn’t mean he isn’t suffering, but that wasn’t the picture presented to the public by Goff or the Herald this morning.

Also, according to the Government, Bruce is eligible for $92 a week state assistance – something that wasn’t pointed out earlier either.

Once again, an issue that should have run in Labour’s favour ended up backfiring badly.

So this is what Carmel Sepuloni calls a great week for Phil Goff. I’d love to see what she calls a bad week.

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Three more MPs

January 15th, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

And another three MPs profiled in the Herald- Grant Robertson, Aaron Gilmore and Carmel Sepuloni.

Grant Robertson

Mr Robertson cited the proposition put forward in 1939 by Education Minister Peter Fraser and leading educationalist Clarence Beeby that every citizen, whether rich and poor, town or country, had a right to a free education of the kind best fitted to them.

He said he had come to Parliament to develop this vision for the 21st century.

No surprise Grant is a former student associaton president.

He said being gay was a part of who he was, as was being a fan of the Ranfurly Shield – currently held by the Wellington Lions. His sexuality had defined his politics “only inasmuch as it has given me an insight into how people can be marginalised and how much I abhor that”.

Mr Robertson, 36, said he and his partner of 10 years, Alf Kaiwai, “were living proof it pays not to stereotype”.

“We met playing rugby. I was the number eight and he was the halfback – a great combination.”

This month the pair swapped vows and rings in a civil union ceremony at Old St Paul’s in Wellington.

And congrats on the wedding civil union.

Aaron Gilmore

Aged 35. Came in as number 56, the last on National’s list. Is the luckiest new member having got in by less than 40 party votes from throughout the whole country.

It does not get much closer than that with over 2 million votes cast.

Named after “the great Elvis Aaron Presley”. Is an amalgam of “Irish, Scottish, Danish and a little bit Maori but I am 100 per cent Kiwi”. Admits to having done well enough to be known by some as a “rich prick”. Contracted a rare eye condition when he was 25 and told he would never see again, but thanks to modern technology he can.

“About 25 years ago I sat in the living room of our family state house in Corhampton St, Aranui. It was early August and freezing cold as that night we didn’t have enough money to put into the meter for electricity. We had some light from large candles on the table and my grandmother and I were having Weetbix for dinner. The next morning we couldn’t afford breakfast and I went hungry till a teacher bought me lunch.”

Another state house kid who has done well. How dare National keep attracting such people!

Carmel Seploni

Former equity manager, research project manager in Pacific health and student mentor adviser at University of Auckland. A trained teacher, who worked at the Robert Louis Stevenson School in Samoa. First MP of Tongan descent.

Born and raised in Waitara. Father was a Samoan-Tongan-migrant who worked at the freezing works and was a staunch unionist and Labour man. Mother’s parents were Pakeha sheep farmers from Stratford and “resolute Tories”. Is the mother of a young son.

I don’t know Carmel, but she is well regarded within Labour I understand, and like Grant is likely to be a Minister the next time Labour get into Government.

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