Small on Robertson

August 30th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Vernon Small at Stuff reports:

If the party believes it can win by an incremental improvement, replacing an inarticulate but decent man with a safe pair of hands who can front John Key without making any major slips, then it will choose Grant Robertson.

If it thinks it just needs to remove the negative and turn the focus back on the policy mix and the broader front bench, aiming to pick up a percentage point or five to allow it to form a Left-wing government, in harness with the Greens on 10-14 per cent, then the Wellington Central candidate is its man.

But if it thinks it needs to take risks, that whatever the policy mix a showman, an impresario is needed, then it will opt for David Cunliffe.

If it thinks a slow and steady climb is beyond it and the Labour Party needs a jolt, a risk – even one that could backfire and kill off its chance of a victory in 2014 – then the MP for New Lynn is the “peacock or feather duster” option it will choose.

This is pretty much what I have said also. Robertson is the safer option, but Cunliffe has greater potential reward – and risk.

Mr Cunliffe has clearly made the early running.

While Mr Robertson chose a low-key launch, including an interview in a strangely empty studio, and the third wheel Shane Jones took an even more random approach, Mr Cunliffe went for the doctor.

His launch, with cheering fans, his team of supporting MPs and a tub- thumping speech, could not have made the risks and rewards of choosing Mr Cunliffe clearer.

It made a far greater impact and will have energised his supporters, including his social media crew.

But it sailed dangerously close, if not over, the line between upbeat hoopla and a cringeworthy revival meeting lacking authenticity.

What you thought of the launch probably varied by your interest in politics.

To hardcore left activists, the launch was the Messiah in action. They loved seeing the chosen one in action. And there is a fairly large segment of the NZ population that would respond to a forceful charismatic speaker saying he is going to tax the rich and send the PM off to Hawaii.

To people who are very actively involved in politics (journalists, MPs, staff, former staff) it was somewhere between cringeworthy and hideous, and as Small says shows the risk of Cunliffe.

What is unknown is how it would go down with those who are not activists or “beltway” but just families at home not too happy with the Government and wondering if there is a better alternative.

My feeling is that it wouldn’t go down that well, or at least not if done to that extreme. However a more toned down version could well resonate.

Cunliffe is many things, and one of them is intelligent and he learns from his mistakes. I doubt we’d see a repeat of his campaign launch, hence why I think he is still Labour’s best bet for them.

However as Small says, he is a risk. The infamous speech at the Avondale Markets is a reminder that he can and does over-extend.

Did Cunliffe plagiarise Robertson?

August 26th, 2013 at 10:25 pm by David Farrar

dcfb

 

A reader sent this image in. The post doesn’t appear to still be there, but I assume was genuine.

Now compare it to the speech from Grant Robertson which is at this link.

Every word in the post on Facebook is identical to paragraphs in the speech from Grant Robertson.

UPDATE: Is being explained away as a “technical glitch“. That’s some technical glitch to take someone else’s speech, edit it down, and post it to your own site.

UPDATE2: Another interesting issue from Cunliffe’s campaign speech as reported at TV3 on why he lives in Herne Bay, not New Lynn:

When we were approaching having a young family and my wife was a Queen Street environmental lawyer we moved in closer so she could breast feed the children. That’s the answer.

I don’t care too much where someone lives, but I do find the rationale interesting. It would be interesting to check when they moved to Herne Bay, and the ages of the children. I’ve had someone suggest there is a considerable gap between the two events – but have no first hand knowledge myself.

UPDATE3: Bryce Edwards has some tweets about the campaign launch. They include:

Toby Manhire ‏@toby_etc

Cunliffe warns media not to get ahead of themselves, immediately after delivering speech fit for a third consecutive term victory.

Tim Murphy ‏@tmurphyNZH

Why does David Cunliffe’s picture on the wall dominate Savage and all the Labour PMs so grandly?

Giovanni Tiso ‏@gtiso

Do you enjoy seeing the spark of hope die in the eyes of the young? Then vote for someone else. Glad that is settled.

Jordan McCluskey ‏@JordanMcCluskey

The Cat hasn’t got the cream yet, Cunners. Easy Cunners. Easy.

Dan Satherley / ROM ‏@radioovermoscow

Did Cunliffe win already?

Toby Manhire ‏@toby_etc

Crowd at David Cunliffe’s electorate office expected to stand on desks any moment. “Captain, my Captain”.

Tova O’Brien ‏@TovaOBrien

Did anyone tell Cunliffe this is his leadership bid not the win?

Claire Trevett ‏@CTrevettNZH

Cunliffe’s announcement so far is more like a victory speech than the launch of a bid.

James Macbeth Dann ‏@edmuzik

Cunliffe says he’s been “very humbled”, but I think scientists have proven that that is not medically possible

 

Cunliffe v Robertson

August 26th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Grant Robertson has confirmed he is standing for the leadership, and made a very strong case on TV last night about being part of the future, not the past, and able to unify Labour.

Shane Jones has said he is standing and it is almost unthinkable David Cunliffe won’t stand. At this stage I am comparing just Cunliffe and Robertson as they are by far the most likely to win. Hard to see how Jones can win a majority of caucus, members or unions – however he could pick up enough support to stop the others getting 50% – meaning second preferences will be crucial.

I’ve done a quick comparison of the relative strengths of the two main candidates, in the table below. And then I give my pick as to who would give Labour the best chance of winning in 2014.

Cunliffe Robertson
Speaking Ability Can be a charismatic speaker, but has to be careful not to overdo the hyperbole Not traditionally charismatic, but can do a powerful speech
Likeability The dislike of Cunliffe is intense but not as widely shared as some portray. Most people who know Cunliffe like him Generally acknowledged as likeable and affable, even by opponents
Political Management Cunliffe has very good political strategy and tactical skills. He would not allow Labour to operate in an un-cordinated fashion Robertson is a good political operator tactically, but some questions over his strategic judgement. Had a leading role in the unsucessful 2011 campaign
Issue Management Cunliffe has shown an excellent ability to drive an issue both inside and outside Parliament as we saw with carpark tax and snapper limits Robertson has been at various time health, tertiary education and employment spokesperson and never really bruised any of the respective Ministers
Question Time Cunliffe is a more than competent questioner, and can think on his feet, but not landed any killer blows Robertson is probably the most effective Labour MP at taking on the PM – no mean feat
Unity The big risk. If Cunliffe wins the leadership, the caucus could remain divided and undermining the leader Robertson, if he beats Cunliffe, would have a very strong mandate and the party would unite behind him
Party Hierarchy Most of the NZ Council back Robertson, but Cunliffe would be supported if he wins Robertson is very close to most of the NZ Council, and would have strong backing from them
Party Members Cunliffe has strong support in Auckland, and Labour has few members left in provincial cities. He also has the backing of many activists on social media. What will be crucial is how strongly Cunliffe wins Auckland Robertson has stronger support than many realise. He has the Lower North Island locked up, reasonable South Island support and Young Labour are (mainly) his personal fiefdom
Policy Cunliffe has been pushing a very left line, but that has been rather tactical to position himself vs Shearer. Unknown what his true policy prescription would be. Robertson is probably more left in his beliefs than Cunliffe, but is in the Helen Clark school of gradual sustainable change.
Economic Credentials Cunliffe is a former finance spokesperson, had a very good private sector career including Boston Consulting Group and strong economic credentials Robertson has never worked in the private sector (as in a post uni significant job)
Media relations Cunliffe has a reasonably good relationship with media, but not especially strong. No reporters he is particularly close to. Robertson is assiduous at courting the press gallery, is very close to several journalists, and popular with most of them
Media interviews Cunliffe is very good generally in interviews, but can come off a bit “smarmy’ Robertson also generally very good, and has the ability to sound very reasonable

So both candidates are well qualified, and will (at least initially) give Labour a boost in the polls. But which one should Labour choose?

Well if I was a Labour member, I’d vote for David Cunliffe. He is a bigger risk for Labour, but he also has the bigger potential to gain votes.

The risk with Cunliffe is Labour will remain divided, and that New Zealand won’t warm to him – on the basis his own colleagues haven’t.

But the reason I think he is worth the risk is his economic credentials. The major issue for the last election and the next one will be economic management.  One of the reasons National has done so well is John Key resonates economic credibility with his strong business background.

Labour needs a leader that can be equally credible, or at least reasonably credible. While Grant is a skilled politician, his background is basically entirely within Government. He was a student politician, then a parliamentary staffer and then an MP, with a couple of brief spells with MFAT and Otago University.  That makes it hard for him to convince New Zealanders that he can run the economy better than John Key and Bill English.

Cunliffe has studied at Harvard Business School, and worked at Boston Consulting Group. He was also a very competent Communications and ICT Minister. That gives him a greater opportunity (but not a guarantee) to convince New Zealanders that Labour can manage the economy. They don’t need to convince people that they will spend more on welfare and families and the like. They need to convince on economic management.

So as I said David Cunliffe is a bigger risk for Labour. Grant Robertson is a very solid performer and is certainly a more than safe option. If their ambition is to just gain 4% and govern with the support of the Greens, Winston and Hone, then Grant could well achieve that. But if they want to get a result in the high 30s or even higher, they need to take a risk on David Cunliffe.

Beyer says NZ not ready for a gay PM

August 25th, 2013 at 9:11 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Georgina Beyer, the world’s first transsexual mayor and MP, warns New Zealand is not ready for a gay prime minister and may be seeing a social conservative backlash.

With the Labour leadership up for grabs, it raises the question of whether Grant Robertson, the gay deputy leader, could be elevated to head the party, making him a strong possibility for prime minister.

But Beyer, who was an MP for eight years until 2007, said Labour needed to be realistic.

“I don’t think we’re ready yet,” Beyer said. “It’s not because Grant isn’t capable, I think he’s very capable . . . but the stigma that rests over those of us who are out, proud and gay who get into public office becomes untenable because you never shake it off and you get pigeon-holed.”

I disagree. I think it is up to the MP how much they pigeon-hole themselves. There is a spectrum when it comes to gay and lesbian MPs. At one end of the spectrum you have MPs like Chris Carter and Georgina who were very much identity politicians whose persona was around being the first gay MP or the first transsexual MP.

At the other end of the spectrum are MPs like Chris Finlayson who is an MP who happens to be gay. He doesn’t believe his sexuality defines him as an MP, it is just part of who he is.

Grant Robertson is somewhere in between those two extremes. He does promote “gay causes” but has been careful not to let them define him. He is more at the “MP who is gay” end of the spectrum than “gay MP” end.

So I don’t think Grant’s sexuality would pigeon-hole him. It is not to say it will have no impact at all, but I think it is relatively minor.

Beyer said it was possible the debate over gay marriage, which became legal this month, had invigorated social conservatives, meaning New Zealand was less ready for a gay prime minister now than it was a year ago.

Actually I think the legalisation of gay marriage has helped Grant. If it remained illegal then he would be asked constantly as a party leader (if he won) whether he wants the right to marry. He would of course say yes, and the stories would focus on that, and that would pigeon hole him as being into politics for his own agenda, rather than the agenda of the wider group Labour aspires to represent.

John Tamihere, a former Labour MP turned radio presenter, said New Zealand could, in theory, accept a gay prime minister, but it would have to be someone whose sexuality was not core to their reason for entering politics.

Tamihere sums it up well.

Shearer resigns

August 22nd, 2013 at 1:41 pm by David Farrar

David Shearer has resigned as Leader of the Labour Party. He will remain an MP. At this stage it looks like Grant Robertson and David Cunliffe will both contest the leadership which means a full membership ballot with the caucus getting 40%, the members 405 and the unions 20%.

Looks like he got killed by his own snapper stunt, with that being the last straw. Which staffer’s idea was that I wonder?

The gallery reported he had until Spring (1 September) to perform or go, and it has come true.

More twins?

June 19th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

drinrobert

 

NZ Herald media columnist John Drinnan and Labour Party Deputy Leader Grant Robertson.

That didn’t take long

April 22nd, 2013 at 12:50 pm by David Farrar

BIafSMOCcAAQrfG

 

Just yesterday David Shearer made the immortal line on television that “John Key is just talking out of his mouth” and today Grant is already leader!

Much ado about nothing

February 12th, 2013 at 1:14 pm by David Farrar

Hamish Rutherford reports at Stuff:

Maurice Williamson is under pressure to stand down as Building and Construction Minister, because of his role as a director of a company associated with collapsed construction group Mainzeal.

Associated with! Sounds bad. Did Maurice make Mainzeal collapse? No the company is what is known as a supplier!

The National MP for Pakuranga is a director on Holyoake Industries, an air conditioning specialist which had worked on a number of projects with Mainzeal, which collapsed into receivership last week.

Yes. Companies work together on building sites. Plumbers and electricians work together. Architects and builders. Still yet to see what the issue is.

Labour Party deputy leader Grant Robertson said it was inappropriate for Williamson to hold the building portfolio while he was potentially making decisions concerning Mainzeal.

”He [Williamson] is the director of a company which has had a long and deep relationship with Mainzeal,” with projects the two companies had worked together on including the Supreme Court,” Robertson said.

”Our concern is that if he is making decisions about the future of Mainzeal, that may well have an effect on Holyoake industries.”

This is really desperate stuff. The Minister is not making decisions on the future of Mainzeal. The receivership is a matter for directors, shareholders and staff.

Labour and Green MPs have generally never worked in business. This allows them to claim any MP with any business interest is somehow conflicted. In their ideal world I guess no MP would have any business background.

Let us look at this issue. Grant Robertson is saying that it is possible that Maurice Williamson may make a decision on Mainzeal and that this theoretical decision could possibly have an effect on Holyoake and hence the Minister must resign his portfolio.

Are you serious?

In a statement Williamson said he had instructed officials that he would ”not receive papers on and would withdraw from discussions about heating and ventilation” because of his association with Holyoake Industries.

”I will continue to deal with issues related to Mainzeal, where that does not conflict with my declared personal interest.”

As is appropriate. But to claim that he can’t deal with any issue re Mainzeal because he is involved with a company that has done some work with Mainzeal is just ridiculous. It’s like saying if you are involved in a trucking business you can’t deal with any issues around supermarkets because they get their food delivered by truck.

A spokesman for prime minister John Key declined to comment other than to say it was ”not a story”.

Or shouldn’t be.

I would make the general point that I do think it is best for Ministers not to have outside directorships – for a number of reasons. But if you have them, you declare them and recuse yourself on issues affecting them – as Maurice has done. Calling for his resignation on the basis of he may make a decision on Mainzeal that may affect Holyoake is just silly politics.

UPDATE: This has just fizzled even more. PM has confirmed in the House that Holyoake is not a contractor or sub-contractor to Mainzeal. Basically they once worked on a couple of building sites together!

Labour’s Political Management

November 22nd, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Jane Clifton writes in the Listener:

Like a dozen plotters before him, David Cunliffe has today paid the price for believing, against all historical precedent, that he could mime his disloyalty, and not get into trouble because he didn’t actually utter the naughty words out loud.

For all that his supporters, inside and outside the caucus, are insisting that he did nothing wrong, he really and truly did the coupster’s equivalent of waving his knickers at disembarking sailors. He followed several of the bog-standard, by-the-numbers steps taught in Coups 101, to the point that he might have studied at the knee of Maurice Williamson, Brian Connell or Richard Prebble.

1. You make speeches with tacit but heavily coded inferences that if they made you the leader, you would introduce kick-butt policies that the incumbent is too gutless/politically unsound/incompetent to contemplate – carefully omitting specifics.

2. You tickle up edginess among the many anxious party supporters who are panicking at what they perceive is a lack of progress in the party’s profile and poll fortunes.

3. You agree to a live TV interview on the morning of the party’s annual conference debate about the rules for electing the leader at which you conspicuously avoid expressing support for the leader.

Jane is right that DC did play a bit too cute at times with his speeches and his failure to appear more supportive of Shearer. However as Jane notes, this demotion is different to other ones:

It was easy enough for past perpetrators of disloyalty like Chris Carter, Brian Connell and Maurice Williamson to be dogboxed. At the time of their treacherous outings, they weren’t particularly valuable contributors to the big picture – or even useful low-profile Cinderellas. But the backbenching of Cunliffe is a massive loss for Labour. …

Of course, the uncomfortable corollary to Shearer’s no-brainer decision to dogbox Cunliffe is that the wider party is by no means of the same mind as the caucus. The flavour of decision-making at the weekend’s conference made this very clear. This remains both a risk for Shearer and an opportunity for Cunliffe. A lot of the party activists have bought the line that Cunliffe is the party’s criminally unrecognised saviour, and what they will doubtless see as his crucifixion today will intensify Cunliffe’s support base.

I’ve been thinking about how this all came to unfold. The catalyst was Cunliffe’s lines at the Labour Party conference, and this got me thinking.

Why in God’s name hadn’t all Labour Party MPs been given clear talking points about what to say regarding the leadership, for the conference?

I mean, the main focus of the conference was about the rules for electing the leader.  Did no one think that a journalist or two might ask some questions about where MPs stand on the leadership? Did the fact several bloggers and commentators on the left called for Shearer to go not ring a bell in the Labour Leader’s office that maybe some journalists will ask questions?

It is an absolute failure of political management that someone very senior didn’t make sure that all Labour MPs had very clear instructions on what to say if the media ask them how they will vote in February. And most of all, an absolute failure that someone had not sat down with David Cunliffe and negotiated acceptable wording for him. Cunliffe may have been ambitious, but if some lines had been negotiated in advance I believe he would have kept to them. MPs know a failure to stick to an agreed position is political death.

Some may say that is being wise with hindsight. That’s nonsense. I’ve been a parliamentary staffer through several coups. I’ve seen press secretaries spend hours negotiating exact wording of positions with MPs so they can keep their future options open (No aspiring leader ever wants to give a Shermanesque denial that they will never ever stand for the leadership) but minimise any speculation that they are seeking it now. I saw this negotiated with Bill English when Jenny Shipley was leader. I also saw (more from a distance) the negotiations when Don Brash resigned involving Key, English and Brownlee. By being pro-active on it, it meant that leadership changes were relatively orderly.

Even the stupidest political staffer should have worked out that it would be a good idea to negotiate exact talking points with David Cunliffe (in fact the entire Labour caucus) before the conference. And even if the Chief of Staff somehow overlooks this most basic step, then surely the Deputy Leader (who used to be H3) or the Chief Whip (also an experienced former staffer) should have thought of this.

All they had to do was give to caucus a set of acceptable lines to be used in case people asked about the February vote. If they had, then this sacking may not have happened.

So it begs the question. Was the failure to do so incompetence or deliberate?

How many will be sacked?

November 20th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Vernon Small at Stuff reports:

David Cunliffe will be stripped of his portfolios and banished to the back benches for disloyalty today after a leadership vote in which Labour leader David Shearer is set to win unanimous backing.

As expected, yesterday Mr Shearer summoned his MPs to Wellington for an urgent vote today in an attempt to force Mr Cunliffe to “put up or shut up”. …

Party sources said once he received the expected unanimous backing from MPs he would dump Mr Cunliffe from the top 20 and send him to the “unranked” back benches.

Some in the caucus are calling for his close supporters to also be demoted, which could mean bad news for shadow attorney-general Charles Chauvel and energy spokeswoman Moana Mackey.

MP Sue Moroney, seen as in the Cunliffe camp, said she would back Mr Shearer.

But no-one would say what they would do in February’s vote.

“I don’t think there has been any challenge issued, actually.”

Before Mr Shearer had sought her backing, no-one had asked for her support for a leadership bid.

She had seen no evidence of disloyalty by Mr Cunliffe.

“I’m quite surprised at the level of the attack on David Cunliffe . . . in the last 24 hours,” she said.

There’s a fair few in Labour arguing that it is unreasonable to expect any MP to state how they will vote in a secret ballot in three month’s time. Having said that, I think Cunliffe could have chosen words that would not have been so destabilising, yet left him wriggle room.

Former Labour Party General Secretary Mike Smith says there was clearly a coup planned:

My first indication that something was up was the rising temperature of comments on the Standard, culminating with anonymous posts days before the conference calling for Shearer to stand down. I don’t know if the posters are Labour members or not, but it now looks like an attempt to destabilise Shearer days before his first conference speech. …

The next intimation I had that something more was afoot was when I turned up at the Conference on Friday night to be told that the affiliates meeting had ignored the Party Council’s recommendation for what may trigger a leadership vote across the Party, and supported a motion from Northland and Te Tai Tokerau to turn the long-standing majority confidence vote, held at the start of each year, to an endorsement vote with a 60% threshold. 

This was quite unexpected by the Party leadership but as became clear in the debate the following day, not unexpected by some in the unions, a few caucus members and some of the electorates. …

Cunliffe refused to rule out a February challenge. If it walks like a duck…

I was the first to say that the three posts (and one column) calling for Shearer to go were orchestrated. Quite a few doubted that. I’m pleased to see Mike Smith saying that he also saw it as part of a destabilization attempt.

A pro-Cunliffe view comes from “Blue” at The Standard:

The ABC club would have us believe that David Cunliffe has ‘openly undermined’ both David Shearer’s leadership and Phil Goff’s before him.

They appeal to the need for a ‘unified team’ and want David Cunliffe shot at dawn for supposedly threatening it.

These attempts to rewrite history are amusing but factually inaccurate. We all know who undermined Phil Goff’s leadership and it wasn’t David Cunliffe.

It was Grant Robertson and Trevor Mallard who made the decision to keep Phil Goff off the Labour billboards at the last election, openly admitting during an election campaign that they considered their leader a liability. Phil Goff’s stumble in the ‘show me the money’ debate was no one’s fault but his own – he got caught out not having done his homework on a flagship policy and only the most determined denier of reality could try to pin that one on anyone else.

We also know who has been undermining party unity during David Shearer’s leadership, and again, it isn’t David Cunliffe. It’s the ABC club who ring up Duncan Garner for a giggle about how much they hate their own colleague.

I think the great winner from all this has been Grant Robertson. He has kept entirely out of this, allowing the two Camp Davids to go to war against each other. If Shearer’s leadership becomes unviable at some stage then Robertson is poised to take over.

Grant has huge sway within the party. His supporters are in all the influential positions on the NZ Council and the like. If he had taken a call in the debate and argued against the 60% threshold for a vote in February, then I believe that would have made the difference in what was a very close vote. But he was smart and has kept his name away from all the infighting – making him the unifying choice in future.

UPDATE: NZ Herald editorial says:

A more experienced leader would have dismissed any suggestion he should try to “call out” a challenge with an early vote. When a leader wins – as usually happens the first time – the question does not go away. It merely leaves the party divided and ensures the discontented faction will choose its moment to make another bid.

The damage is long lasting. The Cunliffe faction will be seething at the fact that Chris Hipkins so publicly slammed David Cunliffe and accused him of undermining both Goff and Shearer. They understand that such a public denunciation means that Cunliffe can never have a meaningful role again under Shearer. You can’t say someone has been backstabbing leaders for the last four years and then rehabilitate them.

But if at some stage Cunliffe did become Leader, then MPs such as Hipkins would be unable to continue in a senior role also. Having called Cunliffe a backstabbing fink, he could never serve under him. This is why it is so very rare for MPs to openly denounce each other. They have to work together day in day out – sometimes for years to come.

What will be fascinating to watch next year is what new rules get agreed to for selections and list ranking.

UPDATE2: Zetetic at The Standard names names:

For the past four years, Labour has been controlled by a clique of 3 has-beens and 2 beltway hacks: Goff, King, Mallard, Robertson, and Hipkins.

This old guard clique led Labour to its worst defeat.

Trevor and Grant ran the campaign. Goff and King fronted. Not sure what Chippie did!

A year later, with their second choice frontman as leader after they ignored the members’ will, Labour’s still below its 2008 result and on track for another defeat. (Funny story, since the start of the year, Hipkins has been telling all and sundry in all seriousness that ‘if these trends continue’ Labour will win in a landslide in 2014 – I parodied him here – now, take a look at the real trend)

Oh Chippie is the polling guru!

The Douglas clique at least had an ideology they were working for. This clique what do they stand for? What are their values other than power for themselves? The failure of Labour to define a value set over the past four years is a reflection of this clique’s lack of values.

The membership voted no confidence in the old guard on Saturday. In retaliation, they’ve gone nuclear on the membership. The response of the old guard has been to unleash a nasty side that many who watch Labour politics have known about for some time, but never thought we’d see expressed quite this openly.

Next year’s conference could be fascinating.

The attacks on Cunliffe usually take the form of what we’re seeing right now, with unnamed ‘senior Labour MPs’ telling media Cunliffe is a ‘fink’ and an ‘egotist’ and calling for him to be ‘cut down’. This talking campaign has been going on since beore the last election and I know because I’ve heard it from the old guard’s proxies more times than I care to count. Mostly this doesn’t surface publicly, except for the odd stuff up like when Goff and King went to Garner to shop a story that Cunliffe was despised by the caucus in an effort to undermine his position. It’s been relentless.

Most people assume it was Trevor. Interesting speculation that it was Goff.

They’ll try to take him down today with an open ballot leadership vote – a Stalinist tactic that will hurt them next year and will be fruitless today because Cunliffe has launched no challenge and today’s vote will be unanimous. Their goal is to get Cunliffe and the membership out of the way so that when Shearer is replaced – it will be an open field for Robertson

While I doubt there is a lot I agree with Zetetic on, I agree with him that the real end goal is Robertson succeeding unopposed. Not so sure it will work.

Garner on Shearer

November 2nd, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

3 News Political Editor Duncan Garner blogs:

Labour promised an exciting back story that would impress and a new front man to rival the Prime Minister.

Sadly for Labour – they’re still looking for that person. David Shearer has failed. Labour’s lucky it’s not getting done under the law for false advertising.

Let’s be honest, Labour leader David Shearer doesn’t have it. He’s a nice, mild mannered, likeable, warm but a stuttering, incoherent mess that is the opposite of what an alternative Prime Minister should look like.

And before you say ‘give him some time’, he’s had a year and I think he’s gone backwards – not forwards.

He has no presence and his television performances are a disaster. That’s where voters make up their minds.

However Labour is up in the polls from the election.

The reason Shearer remains safe is disingenuous and it’s time to call it.

Labour MPs believe Grant Robertson is perhaps the next leader, but they don’t believe he’s quite ready – nor do they want to install a gay leader just yet. It shouldn’t be an issue – but it always is.

That’s why he remains the deputy. He knows politics is all about timing. Shearer has become the fall guy. Like Phil Goff was. It’s dishonest.

I think that is basically correct in that Robertson will be the next Leader, beating out Cunliffe and possibly Little. It could be messy though as Auckland Labour people are not that keen on their local guy being passed over in favour.

Duncan then tells a story about how strong the paranoia is about Cunliffe in Labour:

I tried to get a Labour face on TV this week to talk about capital gains taxes. I approached Shearer who was in Hokitika and too far away, David Parker in Dunedin and Cunliffe in Auckland.

Cunliffe was the easiest to get hold of. But, without naming names, the hoopla I was put through before he was ‘allowed’ on TV was fascinating. Even Cunliffe was nervous – but keen.

It took six hours of negotiating to get him on. It was quite simply, outrageous. It took me one text to get Russel Norman on the telly. It took two phone calls to get the Prime Minister to agree to a one-on-one interview.

So just two phone calls to get the Prime Minister of the country on, and six hours of negotiations to get the Opposition Economic Development Spokesperson?

Shearer has been promoted above what he’s capable of in my view.

I’m sure he’s entirely capable behind the scenes – you don’t do what he’s done by being stupid – but I’m just saying he’s not cut out for the hurly-burly, think-on-your-feet world of opposition politics. Robertson and Cunliffe are.

Shearer was handed the benefit of the doubt as pointed out by Gordon Campbell in a column this week and he’s failed to deliver on any of it.

For my 2c I think Shearer’s problem is more than he hasn’t been able to stamp a policy direction on the party. Even his own spokespersons contradict him.

Put simply, Shearer does not look, act or sound like a man ready to take over the Treasury benches and drive New Zealand out of this recession. The voters see it.

They see a Labour Party unconvinced and confused by their own choice. Until that changes, Labour will stay in opposition.

Possibly, but the current Government only has a one seat majority, without the Maori Party. Labour could well end up in Government, even if they are unconvinced and confused.

Transtasman on Robertson and Cosgrove

July 12th, 2012 at 1:35 pm by David Farrar

Transtasman reports:

Cosgrove’s party did not exactly leap to defend him either.

Deputy leader Grant Robertson said all Cosgrove did was help a constituent, and everyone immediately recalled the last Labour MP this defence was used for, Philip Field, went to prison.

What’s more, Robertson was in then-PM Helen Clark’s office when she used the defence. It is theoretically possible Robertson’s comments were made innocently, just as it is theoretically possible to build a perpetual motion machine.

Heh. I actually think the phrasing was incompetence, not malice, but I seem to be in a minority on this issue.

Heh

April 28th, 2012 at 1:28 pm by David Farrar

From today’s Herald.

Two more Shearer staffers leave

April 27th, 2012 at 11:22 am by David Farrar

I understand that David Shearer’s Chief Press Secretary, has resigned her job and will be leaving the Labour Leader’s office in the near future.

Also Senior Advisor John Pagani’s contract terminated this week, and he no longer works for David Shearer.

Grant Robertson is almost going to run out of friends to fill these new vacancies 🙂

UPDATE: A reporter has tweeted A Labour media spokesperson says “as far as we’re aware Fran has not resigned”. She’s not answering phone calls.

My understanding is that Mold did resign by e-mail some time ago. This was before Nash left the office. However even after Nash’s departure was confirmed, she told other senior staff that she still intended to leave. Maybe she has been persuaded to change her mind. I have this from a very reliable source. I would suggest media ask specifically about any e-mails that include the word resignation or resign in them.

UPDATE2: A reporter has tweeted Mold denies she has resigned. Again I suggest people ask about whether or not she e-mailed her resignation or at least an offer of resignation in recent times. It is possible she has been persuaded to change her mind for now.

UPDATE3: A commenter has stated:

She resigned and announced it to colleagues some time ago. She has been talking about going off on an OE.

Maybe it has all changed now Nash is out of the way.

The commenter is someone with Labour Party connections, as is my original source. That is two independent people who have said Mold has or had resigned and more so announced it to some of her colleagues. Changing one’s mind (if it has changed) does not negate the fact it was announced originally.

The unfortunate experiment

April 27th, 2012 at 8:58 am by David Farrar

Chris Trotter writes:

CONFESSION, THEY SAY, is good for the soul, so I have a confession to make. I was wrong about David Shearer. I made the mistake of believing that a politician with a brilliant back-story couldn’t fail to give us an equally brilliant front-story. Well, as Sportin’ Life tells the true believers in Porgy & Bess:

 “It ain’t necessarily so.”
And, now I (and I suspect you) know it ain’t so. David Shearer is a thoroughly likeable, thoroughly decent bloke, and his record at the United Nations is truly inspirational, but, come on, let’s face it: he ain’t anybody’s kind of leader.
David Shearer, like David Lange, is a creature of the factional and personal animosities dividing the Labour caucus. Bluntly: he was put there by an unholy alliance of right- and left-wing MPs to prevent the Labour Party’s choice, David Cunliffe, from taking the top job.
Personally I think people are over-reacting. It has only been three months since Parliament resumed this year. But stories like this become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
But those two speeches showed not the slightest trace of “big picture” thinking. On the contrary, they showed every sign of having been inspired by an Auckland-based focus-group, and composed by a Wellington-based committee. The only picture they painted was one that revealed Labour’s deficiencies. That not only did the party lack leadership, but it also lacked ideas. 
This is the problem you get when Labour doesn’t know what it stands for, apart from opposing National.

So, what have we learned from this debacle? What has Labour learned?

If by “Labour” you mean its caucus, I would say absolutely nothing. If you’re talking about the party itself, nothing it didn’t know already: that Caucus picked the wrong guy.
It’s time for the Labour Caucus to put an end to “the unfortunate experiment” and begin a new one. They could call it “democracy” – and stop taking their party for Grant-ed.
I read this as a pretty clear sign that if or when Shearer falls, Robertson will not become Leader unopposed. You can see this in the Waitakere News blog by Mickey Savage who says:

Nothing good will come of this activity.  It is damaging to the party.  Despite National being in disarray the polls are static.  Labour is not moving upward.  A hint of disarray is the worst thing that a party can show.

And interestingly Cunliffe may now be Shearer’s best chance of survival as Labour Head Office and the Beehive are filled with Robertson supporters. 
This continuous attack on Cunliffe and the current undermining of Shearer show the same techniques being used and suggest strongly that the same “mastermind” is behind this.  In the interests of the party and of the country they should stop. 
MS does not say who this mastermind is, but by process of elimination there can’t be many choices. The Shearer v Cunliffe leadership contest was a fairly friendly good natured affair. I’m not sure a Robertson v Cunliffe contest will be.
In related news, Tracy Watkins at the Dom Post reports:

The Labour leader’s office appears to be in turmoil after David Shearer’s chief of staff abruptly left Wellington.

Former Labour MP Stuart Nash, who has been in the job just a few months, was seen leaving Parliament yesterday after a meeting with Mr Shearer’s incoming chief of staff Alistair Cameron. He later confirmed that he would be working on projects from his home in Napier for the next couple of weeks. He is due to finish on May 31.

Mr Nash rejected suggestions he had been “frogmarched” out of the building or given orders to clear his desk but his abrupt departure coincides with rising conflict in the Labour Party over Mr Shearer’s continued poor polling and lack of a clear strategy.

It is highly unusual for there not to be a cross-over period, and for one COS to leave before the next one starts – especially if the outgoing one has no job to go to.

Some of that conflict has been laid bare in leaks to a Right-wing blog that could only have come from either senior MPs or highly placed members of the leadership team.

Or both 🙂

UPDATE: And by coincidence David Cunliffe has a column in the Herald on how NZ needs better leadership.

Pressure on Shearer

April 23rd, 2012 at 8:13 am by David Farrar

The two latest polls will increase the pressure on David Shearer. I actually think it would be silly for Labour to panic over polls just six months after an election. Rebuilding and changing a brand takes time. Their biggest challenge is not their leadership but defining what they stand for.

However it is clear there are rumblings in Labour. The Standard and Tumeke have both run posts openly disscussing whether there will be a leadership challenge. It is also clear from reading comments that many Auckland activists still think that the caucus erred in not choosing David Cunliffe, who arguably was the party’s preferred candidate.

Also Steve Gray has blogged (in less diplomatic terms than expressed here) that the Wellington gay community has been discussing that Grant Robertson will challenge Shearer in the near future.

I may be wrong, but I don’t think that anything will happen this year. But neither is Shearer guaranteed to the election, as Goff pretty much was. I think the danger zone would be early next year, if Labour stay flatlined all year.

The problem for Shearer is that he may now be in a vicious cycle. The more speculation over the leadership, the harder it is to get resonance with the public. However it is worth noting he is still being given a fair chance by the public. Only 26% say they think he is performing poorly, while Goff’s comparative figure peaked at 54% performing poorly.

Edwards endorses Robertson

April 2nd, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Brian Edwards blogs:

Just four months after an election then, political commentators are suggesting replacements  for the current Labour Party leader.

My own view is that the strategy, devised by his Chief of Staff Stuart Nash, of having Shearer stump the country making speeches, rather than leading the charge against the Government in the House, has been misguided. The effect has been that Shearer is rarely seen on prime time television, while the Greens, Winston Peters and his own Deputy make the 6 o’clock  running. Out of sight really can mean out of mind.

So let’s just indulge in a little speculation. Between McCarten’s and Hartevelt’s front-runners – Little and Robertson – who might make it to the finishing line? I’m going to plump for Robertson. Yes, Little enjoys the support of the unions and is a forceful debater in the House. But it’s hard to see this rather dour, uncharismatic unionist as the face of a rejuvenated Labour Party. At 41, Robertson, on the other hand, who lists his interests as ‘watching too much sport, playing a bit of indoor netball and squash, cooking, movies, listening to New Zealand music and reading New Zealand literature’, projects a youthful, energetic, upbeat  and thoroughly modern image. And he’s fiercely ambitious.

In talking this issue through with a gallery journalist I suggest the danger time for Shearer was the beginning of 2013. The journo reckoned it will all be over well before then.

So are we ready for a gay Prime Minister? I can only speak for myself. I find the idea invigorating. Other than prejudice, I can’t really think of any objection to it. And we Kiwis are for the most part an open-minded lot. After all, we had no trouble electing the world’s first transsexual MP.  And we didn’t seem to mind a mincing John Key.

It’s true that gay Prime Ministers are thin on the ground. Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, elected Prime Minister of Iceland in 2009, was not only the country’s first woman Prime Minister but also Europe’s first openly gay head of state. She was followed in 2011 by Belgium’s Elio Di Rupo. When asked whether he was gay, the new Prime Minister replied, ‘Yes. So What?’ That strikes me as the only sensible answer to the question.

I don’t think it is useful to conflate mincing with being gay, but for the wider point I agree that the sensible answer is “Yes, so what”.

However sexuality can have some bearing, if it impacts politics. There is a difference between a politician who happens to be gay, and a politician that campaigns on gay issues. Chris Finlayson is very much in the former category while Chris Carter and Tim Barnett were in the latter category. I’d place Grant Robertson somewhere in-between.

I agree that at this stage the next leader of the Labour Party is probably a contest between Grant Robertson and Andrew Litttle, and Robertson is heaving favoured to win. The bigger issue is when will the vacancy occur!

Listener on Grant Robertson

March 8th, 2012 at 2:10 pm by David Farrar

An interesting profile of Labour Deputy Leader Grant Robertson in the Listener:

Look at Robertson and you see a big guy with glasses, a slightly sloppy student politician. Talk with him and you find a highly professional MP with a disciplined and meticulous mind. Call him cautious, though, and you make him angry. He doesn’t want to believe that the hesitation that allows him to avoid political pratfalls could also sap his courage to make change. At times his courage trumps his caution. To advance the equality agenda he believes gays should be able to marry and also to adopt children.

“I can’t see any reason why a gay couple who are good functioning human beings can’t provide that environment. It’s about the best interests of the children.” He also wants Labour to adopt a policy of allowing gay marriage. “I am really proud of what we did with civil unions, but I get that for people it is not absolute equality,” he says.

I agree with Grant on gay marriage. However I do think the cautious tag is an accurate one for him. Grant is very cautious in his press releases, in his statements etc. It’s the caution of someone who expects to be a party leader one day, and doesn’t want to have words from the past comeback to haunt him.

“There are gay bus drivers. There are people in all walks of life. It is important that people understand that. That’s one of the issues we have to get past: believing that there is a particular type of gay person.” He knows his sexuality would be more of an issue if he were Labour’s leader and considered that when deciding whether to challenge for the top job. “I thought about, is New Zealand ready for there to be a gay Prime Minister, or a gay leader, and I actually think we are.

I agree. If the good citizens of Wairarapa don’t blink at electing a transsexual as their MP, I can’t imagine the majority of New Zealanders will have a great issue over the sexuality of the Prime Minister. The challenge for Grant, once he ascends to the leadership, will be that his sexuality doesn’t define him (there is a difference between being an MP who is gay, and a gay MP), but I don’t think he is at any risk of that.

The next question was, am I ready? Is this where I should be?”

His answer was no. “I’m 40 and I think I’ve still got a bit more to learn.”

A bit more? As in a year or two?

Labour will also review its policy of extending Working for Families tax credits to beneficiaries. He says there may be other policies to ensure income is “redistributed” to help those children.

Or one could redistribute their parents from welfare to work?

Robertson has little experience in the private sector, but doesn’t see that limiting his understanding of businesses. “You can be the Minister of Health and not be a heart surgeon.”

True. But not have any practical knowledge of how the private sector works is not the same as not being a specialist in an area. Far too many MPs do not have any background at all in the private sector.

I once went from doing the finances for a charity to doing the finances for a small advertising agency. The difference was huge. In just a few weeks I discovered the huge difference between being profitable on paper, and  cashflow and the challenges of paying bills on time. No textbook really teaches that. My two years with that small business taught me a huge deal about the realities of business.

Key started the recent trend of “non-political” leaders and Shearer was chosen to match him. Clark was a politician, Robertson muses. Jim Bolger was, too. And they both led long-term governments. He knows that this is not yet his time, but he senses it may come. “I want to take it as far as I can take it and we’ll see how long that takes.”

Is Grant talking weeks, months or years?

Better late than never

February 11th, 2012 at 2:05 pm by David Farrar

Claire Trevett reports at NZ Herald:

Labour’s deputy leader Grant Robertson said Parliament should consider changing the process of dealing with electoral law breaches to speed it up – including giving the Electoral Commission powers to fine or penalise for some breaches.

Mr Robertson said the Electoral Commission was the expert body on electoral law, yet it had to send any breaches to Police to decide whether to act on them.

I’ve been advocating this for years, including in submission to select committees. Sadly, Labour never voted in favour of changing the law.

While their sudden enthusiasm to do so, seems rather opportunistic, it is the right thing to do.

“The bigger issue is the number of complaints they’ve sent to the Police that nothing has happened with. So maybe there is another way. For instance, could you set a threshold under which the Electoral Commission was able to impose some sort of penalty rather than have to have Police prosecute it.”

Time and time again the Police have shown, with all due respect, a total disinterest in enforcing electoral law (the most notorious case being the non charging of Labour over their $400,000 deliberate over-spend in 2005). They would obviously rather be catching muggers  etc.

Even worse, the Police seem to have a deliberate policy to not decide on any complaints until after the election. They see this as not interfering with the election, but it is in fact a worse form of interference. It means parties and candidates and others can breach electoral laws, and not have to worry about the stigma of being charged prior to the election. This encourages rule breaking.

I will once again be submitting to change the law to the 2011 election review later this year. I look forward to Labour voting for removing the Police from any role in electoral law enforcement, and other parties doing the same.

What should happen is that the Electoral Commission itself can levy small fines for relatively minor issues such as late returns and the like, or missing promoter statements on ads that still have a clear author. For more major issues they should be able to lay charges directly with the courts.

Views on Blanket Man

January 17th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Pat Brittenden writes:

If society can be judged by how we treat the least, then the death of ‘Blanket Man’ tells us we suck

I disagree.

We spend $13 billion a year on welfare. Hama would have qualified for welfare if had wanted it. He qualified for community or emergency housing. A number of places had standing offers for him to stay there. He declined them.

The Wellington City Mission checked up on him weekly.

Places like Burger King gave him free food.

He got free health care, and died in a public hospital, where people who cared had taken him.

Grant Robertson also blogs:

He was the face of homelessness in Wellington. It is true to say that he shunned the idea of moving off the streets in recent years, and indeed of taking on much in the way of formalised help. He was beyond that, and wanted none of it.

Hana was a very sad case, but i reject that his death is in any way any sort of reflection on the generous society that is New Zealand. The old saying goes that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.

Unless you wish to champion a law that allows the state to forcibly detain those who lives on the streets and lock them in community housing, there will always be cases like Hana.

We have a real shortage of emergency accomodation, affordable accomodation and accomodation for those with mental illness. The different agencies involved are getting better at working together to find solutions, but still need to be more coordinated and flexible if we are to truly address these issues. Its not just government either, the community has a responsibility too. Many private landlords will not take on those who have a history of mental illness.

But Hana was offered plenty of accommodation. There was no shortage when it came to him.

His real problem was his mental illness fuelled by drug addiction. The problem is there is no sure fire way to cure either mental illness or drug addiction. There are many courses (mostly 100% taxpayer funded) that help cure or heal some of the people some of the time. But with mental illness there is no universal cure.

If there is any lesson to be taken from the death of Hana, it is not to turn the homeless into icons and glorify their existence. Once this started, Hana refused more and more help.

Labour and MUNZ

January 13th, 2012 at 10:01 am by David Farrar

Whale has this photo sent in by a reader. MUNZ receives $285,000 rent for space in their building.It is unknown how much comes from the electorate office rental.

MUNZ only has 2,580 members today. Doing pretty well to own their own building. Of course it helps if you have Labour MPs having the taxpayer pay rent on their behalf.

I’m generally against electorate offices being rented from political parties, or people or groups affiliated to a political party. A total ban is difficult as some MPs have purchased an electorate office so that they can secure the location, and in fact rent them back at well below market rentals.

However despite their good intentions, I think it is time to put in place a ban, so that unions and parties do not get this backdoor funding. The latest review of parliamentary spending recommended:

That MPs entering Parliament from the next general election not be able to receive public funding for out-of-Parliament offices owned by an MP or an interested party. The funding for premises owned directly or indirectly by current MPs should be grand-parented while the MP continues in Parliament.

MUNZ is affiliated to the Labour Party and should be seen as an interested party.

Another alternative to a ban, is my suggestion to have the rent set at say 66% or 75% of the market rate, so that the party or union or MP is not seen to be benefiting from the arrangement.

The market backing Robertson

December 7th, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The latest prices on iPredict for the Labour leadership and the next PM continue to intrigue.

David Shearer is at 70.4% to become the Labour leader. The stock on whether the PM after the 2014 election will be Labour is 52%, so if you multiply them together the chance Shearer will become PM should be 36.6%. However the price for Shearer to become PM is 29.6c or 29.6% which suggests that the market thinks Shearer becoming leader is a negative for Labour winning in 2014 by 7.0%.

But Cunliffe has the same issue. His leader stock is 28.2% suggesting his PM stock should be 14.7%. But in fact it is 7.4%, which suggests that Cunliffe as leader damages Labour chances by 7.3% – much the same as for Shearer.

So how is this possible? Well the answer is that despite not being a candidate for this leadership ballot, Grant Robertson is at 5.7% to be PM after the election. As the price for a Labour victory is 52% this suggests that the market thinks there is an 11% chance Grant will roll whomever gets elected Leader before the 2014 election.

Mike Smith endorses Robertson to replace Goff

November 25th, 2011 at 6:34 pm by David Farrar

Mike Smith is the former General Secretary of the Labour Party. He has just blogged:

Grant Robertson – good electorate MP, got a strategic brain, good communicator. It’s time for a new generation leading Labour in my view.

That is significant for such a senior former official to say Goff should go on the eve of the election.

I think Grant will be Labour Leader and Prime Minister one day. If I was Grant though I would not stand next Tuesday, but instead wait until after the 2014 election.

Labour on Key

October 27th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

An unusual media strategy from Labour’s Campaign Spokesman Grant Robertson:

I think that everyone can see that John Key is an extremely popular Prime Minister …

I hope Grant keeps on talking about how Key is so popular, and what he is implying about his own leader.

Labour’s Rainbow Policy

October 13th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Labour’s just released Rainbow policy states:

Many GLBTI New Zealanders continue to be subject to insult, verbal and physical abuse, and to be made to feel inferior, most damagingly in schools.

This comes from the party whose MPs (Mallard and Cosgrove) yell out “Tinkerbell” when a gay National Minister is speaking in the House.

ACT Wellington Central candidate Stephen Whittington referred to this in the Rainbow Candidates meeting last night. And do you know what Grant Robertson and Charles Chauvel said? Did they apologise for their colleagues? Did they say they had asked them to stop? No, they lied and denied that any Labour MP had ever said that. They actually accused Whittington of making a personal attack on them.

In case anyone actually thinks Robertson and Chauvel told the truth, look at this video here of Trevor Mallard (start at 2.30). Also note this interview with Green MP Kevin Hague who said:

Hague said he had never been the target of taunting over his sexual orientation since entering the halls of parliament in 2008.

The same, he said, couldn’t be said for other gay MPs, citing “prejudice” directed at Attorney-General and Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Chris Finlayson.

“Trevor Mallard, and also Clayton Cosgrove, refer to Chris Finlayson as `tinkerbell’. And I f—ing hate it,” Hague said. “That sort of overt taunting as a `fairy’, it is nothing other than prejudice. I don’t like that culture of abuse.”

Now in case you think the video is doctored and that Kevin Hague is the liar, instead of Robertson and Chauvel, you can also look at Hansard here and here.

Discrimination against GLBTI people worldwide continues. The worst manifestation of this is the criminalisation of consensual adult same-sex activity, and its punishment as a capital offence.

This comes from the party which has a List MP who said (from Wikipedia):

In July 2005 Choudhary came to the public’s attention again when he refused to condemn outright the practice of stoning people for homosexual and extramarital sexual behaviour. In TV3’s 60 Minutes show on July 4, 2005, Dr. Choudhary was asked: “Are you saying the Qur’an is wrong to recommend that gays in certain circumstances be stoned to death?” He replied: ” No, no. Certainly what the Qur’an says is correct.” He then qualified his statement, “In those societies, not here in New Zealand”.

When Whittington raised this at the Rainbow debate last night, again Labour again accused him of lying.

So how does Labour reconcile its rainbow policy with having an MP who said it is fine to stone homosexuals and adulters to death, so long as it is not here in New Zealand?

National is far from progressive on gay issues, but I can’t recall a National MP ever saying that it is fine to kill homosexuals, if it is done in other countries.

Then we look at their detailed policy.

Modernise the law relating to the care of children to ensure that the widest pool of suitable adults is lawfully available to provide care to children in need

My God, why can’t they just say they will allow gay couples to adopt? Are they so scared of having the words gay and adoption in the same sentence? There are thousands of children being raised by gay parents and gay couples already. The law should focus on what is best for the child, and if that is a gay couple, then they should be allowed to adopt. What is so hard about saying that explicitly?