Hide on Labour and unions

November 24th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in NBR:

The stunning revelation of Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater’s e-book Dodgy Unions is how little they give the Labour Party.

I had always thought it was millions.  

That’s because of the power union bosses exercise over the party. Union bosses get to vote for party leader, they block vote candidate selection, get a say on the party list, have a seat at the all-powerful national council and carry a block vote at regional and national conferences. …

I had always assumed that the Labour Party put up with the unions for the money.

But what’s truly shocking from Dodgy Unions is that Labour sells itself so cheap.

The union movement takes in $120 million a year. It has equity of over $120 million.

But over the past 18 years the unions have given Labour only $700,000. That’s less than $40,000 a year. For every thousand dollars the unions rake in only 33c goes to Labour.

Labour sell themselves cheaply!!

Imagine if the national board of Federated Farmers had a vote for the leader of the National Party, National’s list, electorate candidates and had a guaranteed seat on the board of directors. There would be outrage. And rightly so.

But somehow the unions’ unhealthy sway over Labour is overlooked.

If National had such an arrangement there would be numerous books by Nicky Hager on it. It would condemned by every editorial writer in the land. But Labour gets a free pass for it.

The unions are fat and rich, they have enormous power within Labour but are tightwad funders; so much so that Labour is running deficits unable to afford its pretence of a democratic election for leader.

Labour MPs have long complained union domination is disheartening and disempowering them and their members. The question I have now, is why do they put up with it?

Because they get deselected if they complain publicly.

Labour’s constitution reads like something from the UN. The all-powerful National Council must have a Maori senior vice-president, an affiliate vice-president, a Pacific Islands vice-president, a women’s vice-president, a youth vice-president, a rainbow representative and two representatives elected by Te Kaunihera Maori, one of whom shall be a woman.

The party exhausts itself on identity politics overlaid with raw union power. It’s no wonder it’s broke and out-of-puff.

National’s board is much simpler. Apart from the leader and caucus rep, it has seven members – all elected by the National Conference. No quotas, no representatives – just the people deemed best suited to serve on the board.

The party needs deep constitutional and organisational reform to be fit for purpose. What’s needed is a leadership not pandering to special interests but smashing them.

As their current leader only got elected by the union block vote, that is unlikely.

Trevett previews Little’s reshuffle

November 23rd, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Andrew Little is expected to announce his reshuffle this afternoon. Claire Trevett says it is critical for his creidbility:

His team is small and he needs his performers to perform. There are precious few of those. Those who got opportunities and made the most of them will do the best, such as Kelvin Davis and Phil Twyford. Beyond those, few of the MPs have stood out in the public eye.

Both have been in the public eye a lot, and generally been performing well. However both have over-reached – Twyford with his Chinese surnames idiocy and Davis with his portrayal of the detainees on Christmas Island. But I agree both should be promoted.

Little has already indicated Jacinda Ardern will be moved up from her ninth position. That is likely to be a shift to fourth in the rankings. Although Labour’s top three are all from Wellington, they cannot be moved given one is the leader, the other the deputy and the third the finance spokesman.

Ardern’s job is to win over Auckland. She is also likely to take on a meaty portfolio in place of the justice portfolio, which is not a natural fit for her.

Jacinda remains opposed to the three strikes law despite the evidence that the reoffending rate for those convicted of strike offences has dropped around 60%..

Expect Kelvin Davis to leapfrog over Nanaia Mahuta to be the highest ranked Maori MP and for Mahuta to drop down.


Carmel Sepuloni was one of those Little promoted soon after he became leader – a show of faith which she is yet to repay.

Little had intended Sepuloni to take over as his deputy after his first year in the job but since then she has failed to fire, partly distracted by personal issues.

So King stayed on as no one was up to it!

The key target for that message is likely to be Cunliffe. Cunliffe has been relatively quiet since the election. Despite that, trust in him is low. He is currently ranked 14th. Little may well use this reshuffle to send a signal to him that there is no road for him into a Labour Cabinet. That in turn would be seen as a hint for Cunliffe to consider a life beyond Parliament.

Actually Cunliffe has been pretty active in his tertiary education portfolio.

Little’s focus will be instead on bringing forward talented newcomers from the 2011 and 2014 intakes, such as Jenny Salesa, Davis and Stuart Nash.

Labour is polling around 30%. If they manage to win Government with 30% of the vote, then they may only have 12 or so MPs in Cabinet. So only the top 12 are shoo-ins. A few more might get outside Cabinet.

NZ Herald implores people to donate to Labour

November 20th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald editorial:

The Labour Party’s financial deficit problems should be of concern to all New Zealanders. It is not necessary to be aligned with National or Labour to recognise that a healthy democracy needs two parties capable of providing sound government. …

The country will go to the next election with sensible alternatives on offer, to re-elect National for a fourth term or decide it’s time for a change. Three-term governments have usually been enough for New Zealand voters, but normally the mood for change is evident by this time. Labour may have to hang in for a longer haul and it needs help. It deserves a fair deal from those doing well in an economy that took two parties to put right.

So the NZ Herald is imploring people to donate money to the Labour Party. Good to know where they stand.

Labour running deficits

November 17th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Claire Trevett reports:

The Labour Party has run at a deficit for at least two years, forcing it to dip into its cash reserves and highlighting one of the problems the party faced in last year’s election.

A copy of the party’s financial report obtained by the Herald shows it recorded a $71,373 deficit in 2014 and an even larger $104,915 deficit the year before, a shortfall president Professor Nigel Haworth put down to the costs of byelections and its leadership contests.

Running a deficit in election year may not be unusual, as you tend to gather income over a three year period and spend most of it in election year. But running a $105,000 deficit in 2013 indicates a serious financial problem in Labour.

Their net assets have dropped to under $200,000 in 2014. A couple more $100,000 deficits and they’re bankrupt.

Labour seeing sense

November 12th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Patrick Smellie writes at Stuff:

What’s really interesting is that peace has broken out not only inside the Labour Party, but also between Labour and National in some fundamental policy areas.

In part, that follows party leader Andrew Little’s finally euthanising some old policies he had long judged political poison, irrespective of their merits in a perfect world.

Behind closed doors and with very little fuss, capital gains tax, a higher pension entitlement age, and that complicated electricity policy that everyone worried wouldn’t work, were formally ditched.

Also behind closed doors and with even less fuss, housing spokesman Phil Twyford also got sign-off on three new legs to Labour’s housing policy, two of which have all but been announced by the government.

He announced a National Policy Statement would be used to dictate to city councils on urban densification and on removing urban boundaries that create a massive distortion between the price of land inside the boundary and land just outside it.

Twyford has concluded, along with everyone apart from anti-sprawl advocates and Nimbys, that a big part of why Auckland’s house prices are so crazy is the web of rules that drive the construction of costly homes.

I’m really pleased to see Labour seeing sense on this issue. For the past few years they have insisted that you can “fix” house prices by taxing capital gains and having the state build more, ignoring the unavailability of land in Auckland. And every independent report has said the availability of land was by far the biggest issue. So it is good to see Labour having changed its stance.

Dom Post says Little not the right leader

November 11th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Andrew Little wanted to clear the decks of old policy and shine a light on the new Labour captain – himself. The result was strangely depressing.

Little had moved long before last weekend’s annual party conference to kill off the remnants of the Leftish policy Labour touted last year. 

The capital gains tax and a rise in the pension age were officially dumped at the conference without fuss from delegates.

 Also dumped was the power policy, a joint effort with the Greens to tackle the electricity oligopoly that keeps forcing prices up. And much of the conference took place in secret.

This was creating a desert and calling it peace.

 Little now stands on a bare platform with no significant policy. The fact that nobody much cared when he threw out the old policies might be taken as a sign of a newly unified Labour Party. Or it might be a sign that Labour is a corpse. It doesn’t have the strength to fight or even to disagree with itself. So the attempt to hide everything behind closed doors wasn’t even needed.

Having no policy to sell, Little tried to sell himself. His “impassioned” speech was in fact awkward and unconvincing.

Labour’s strategy appears to be to have no actual policy and try to convince people they are both for and against the TPP!

Labour can’t even take the step of injecting new blood into its leadership with the fresh face of Jacinda Ardern.

Her qualities are modest, but she is a sign of life. Labour has few other such signs.

Little tries to build a personal link with voters by talking about his family. Perhaps he thinks that mentioning his flinty Tory dad will create a sense of paradox or at least a spark of interest. 

Neither as a union politician nor as a parliamentarian has Little been a bold or lively reformer. He has little charisma and a lack of new ideas. 

It’s hard to believe he will lead Labour out of the wilderness.

As far as I can tell their plan seems to be to aspire to get 34% of the vote (which is what they got when they lost in 2008) and hope Winston can do well enough to put them into Government along with the Greens.

Some good advice for Labour

November 10th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

One of the criticisms of Labour is that it suffers from a dearth of hopey-changey stuff. Little has taken to the opposing part of Opposition with relish – lashing out at everything from the flag referendums and pandas to the economy.

Jennifer Marshment-Lees, a Auckland University expert in political marketing, says that is one of the problems. “[Little] needs to stop criticising everything the National Government do. The voters voted them in, so if you keep criticising a party that is still relatively popular and respected then you’re criticising the voters.”

She pointed to “peripheral” examples such as the flag as well as bigger issues including the TPP, talking down the economy and Labour’s gloomy response to the return to surplus. “Hitting a government on its main strength is a bit stupid.”

Yep, long may it last.

She also pointed to Labour railing against the deployment of trainers to Iraq. “Andrew Little started with negativity and he should have acknowledged it’s a difficult decision for a Prime Minister.”

It’s a view Labour Party member and political commentator Josie Pagani shares. “There is no political movement in history that’s ever won without being hopeful. Think of Martin Luther King or Justin Trudeau. At the moment it feels like Labour’s message is, ‘New Zealand is going to hell in handbasket, the Chinese are coming to get us, your lives are miserable and, by the way, you’re fat. Vote for us.‘ It’s just not going to work.”

That’s so true.

Labour’s daft sugar policy

November 9th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Deputy leader and health spokeswoman Annette King told the party’s annual conference in Palmerston North on Saturday that Labour would also require “front of package labelling” that was easy to understand based around the number of teaspoons of sugar in a product.

So what will and will not be included?

However, King said some treat foods, such as lollies, would not be covered by the policy.

“They are a treat, they are a sweet. But if you look at the food that has got sugar in it that didn’t use to have sugar in it… We’ve got sugar in peanut butter. we’ve even got a bit of sugar in our Marmite, we’ve got  sugar in our yoghurt that has a heart tick on it.”

Umm, the sugar in peanut butter mainly comes from the peanuts and is pretty small. It has around 1 gram per 15 grams.

Also most of the sugar in yoghurt comes from the milk and the fruit. There’s not huge amounts added in.

But Labour are saying peanut butter may be given a health warning, but not lollies! You’d need to have 1.35 kgs of peanut butter to exceed the recommended sugar limit in a day!

3 News also reported:

She envisaged the policy would apply to foods such as cereals, peanut butter, yoghurt and tomato sauce that did not have sugar added to them in the past.

But Ms King said treat foods such as lollies, chocolate and ice-cream would not be caught out by the requirements.

So ice cream won’t have Labour’s health warming, but other products may. What else could be caught by their policy to have health warnings on processed food with sugar in it?

Now milk is a processed food and it contains nearly 13 teaspoons of sugar per bottle. So under Labour’s policy a one litre milk bottle will carry a health warning saying it has 12.5 teaspoons of sugar!


Look at the sugar in these peas.  The packet has over 12 teaspoons of sugar. Labour’s policy would see peas given a health warning!

I look forward to Labour promoting their idiotic policy where milk, peas and peanut butter are given health warnings, but ice cream and lollies are not!

Labour conference to mainly ban media

November 5th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Labour Party has closed the doors on vast tracts of its 99th annual conference this weekend, saying it wants to keep debate “in the family”.

The programme for its Palmerston North talkfest shows debate on policy proposals is closed to the media – a session that has been open in the past.

Campaign sessions are normally media excluded, but it is very rare to exclude media from policy debates. Not a good sign.

Not sorry

October 27th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The man who called John Key “Shylock” has retracted his apology and accused the Labour Party of undermining him.

Steve Gibson, the unsuccessful Labour candidate for Rangitata in last year’s general election, said he had been reflecting on his comments since he lost the electorate contest last year.

Gibson, who has since disavowed any links with Labour, said he regretted apologising for his remarks about the prime minister.

Heh a year later he unapologises.

Gibson, who now works in Christchurch, said the election had been on his mind for some time. Voters returned National incumbent Jo Goodhew to the seat with an increased majority.

Gibson believed he could have won the electorate on a platform of stronger water quality measures and increasing trade with countries other than China’s “totalitarian dictatorship, which disappears thousands of people every year”.

He does know it was Labour who signed the FTA with China?

And was for winning the seat, well he lost by only 14,107 votes.

Gibson doubted Labour could govern again without making NZ First leader Winston Peters the Prime Minister for the first two years of its term.

That’s what Winnie wants!

Little brings little

October 26th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

John Sargeant at Taranaki Daily News writes:

At the moment Labour have all their eggs in Andrew Little’s basket as the leader to take them ever towards the General Election in 2017. A while away admittedly but with the annual conference coming up in a few weeks’ time it’s about celebrating success and setting a strategic direction for the future. This will also be a time of reflection for Little it also marks the first year of Little as Labour’s leader.

As far as reflection goes there is little to celebrate. I’m sure there will be the rah-rah of empty vessels but the reality is that Little has spectacularly failed to get any traction in any of the polls in his tenure to date. The party itself is woefully behind on just 31 percent, hardly breaking any ground since the disastrous times of David Cunliffe.

They are up on their election result, but are polling worse than they were three years ago (were polling 33%). They’re under the 34% they lost office on and well off the 40% they need to govern with the Greens.

They simply haven’t made any progress in Little’s first year, none at all. It’s more than a weak signal Labour need to be aware of. After a year of listening and getting some major policies out such as the much vaunted ‘Future of Work’ there is still little to celebrate and you have to wonder if there’s any talk of whether Little should remain in the job. After all, he’s on the same miserable 8 per cent as preferred prime minister as when Cunliffe was apologising for being a man and Labour’s Trevor Mallard was crowing about bringing back the Moa but delivered a turkey.

Cunliffe a year ago was on 12% and Shearer three years ago also on 12%.

We need a strong and credible Left wing party to put up some decent opposition. Something more than just a machine to regurgitate the same old messages we are all sick of hearing. If not, voter boredom will be their biggest enemy. Let’s hope Little has a better second year or his third may be his last.

And then will it be Jacinida’s turn?

Should Labour decline Helen Clark’s membership?

October 23rd, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I blogged on how a former Labour list nominee was refused membership of Labour because he had operated a Facebook page which “contained unhelpful comments”.

Well Helen Clark’s comments on how it would be unthinkable not to sign up to the TPP have been extremely unhelpful to Labour.

So will Labour’s NZ Council refuse Helen Clark as a member as she has said something unhelpful to them?

King to stay on as Deputy

October 22nd, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour leader Andrew Little has snubbed rising star Jacinda Ardern for the deputy leadership after confirming veteran MP Annette King will stay in the role.

Little had previously signalled King’s appointment as deputy was only an interim measure while he sized up potential candidates in his first 12 months in the job.

With Ardern’s star on the rise it was widely expected she would get the job because of her broad appeal in the Auckland electorate.

You need to poll well in Auckland to win Government. The top three MPs in Labour are all Wellington based MPs.  They also make up four of the top six.

The irony is that Little has announced this on 21 October 2015 – the official Back to the Future Day.

Because when Back o The Future screened in 1985, Annette was already an MP. The film makers chose a date so far in the future they thought the world would be massively changed (and it has with the Internet). But Labour’s going to go into the 2017 election with a deputy leader who represents the past, not the future.

I can understand why. It is beyond dispute that Annette is their most capable MP. But it is hardly a vote of confidence in the rest of caucus, that Little doesn’t have anyone else up to it.

Watkins on Little

October 21st, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins writes:

It is said that one bad day in government is worth 100 good days in Opposition.

But Labour leader Andrew Little can’t afford to be too proud at the moment; he would probably gladly settle for 100 good days in Opposition.

Labour badly needs to end the year on a high and not just for the sake of party morale at the upcoming annual conference. Barbecue season is just weeks away, and the only talk at the moment will be about National winning a fourth term. If  Labour wants to change that story, the time is now.

I always enjoy barbecue season.

But if there’s anyone on a high at the moment it’s John Key, not Andrew Little.

The last few weeks must seem all too familiar to Little’s team.

The wins have all been National’s.

Voters might be wearied by the on-again off-again nature of Bill English’s much promised surplus but it no doubt registered that he finally got there this week.

That’s all that counts in the countdown to Christmas when voters will increasingly start to tune out of politics, especially with the Rugby World Cup reaching fever pitch.

John Key’s time on the international stage, meanwhile, has sucked the oxygen out of domestic politics, particularly his headline grabbing trip to Iraq.

It helps too that the mood seems to have lifted on the economy, pushed along by record low interest rates.

Tracy forgot to mention the TPP. Not that it was a great victory for the Government, but Labour’s handling has been shambolic for them.

Annette King is doing a great job. So is Phil Goff. But they are the face of the last Labour government not the future. Little is said to be in a dilemma over his looming reshuffle and whether or not to remove King as his deputy and appoint Jacinda Ardern in her place. This shouldn’t even be a thing.

King would be a popular choice with the party but Little’s got their votes. If he wants to broaden Labour’s appeal he needs to promote Ardern. Or Kelvin Davis. Or anyone really who looks like the face of Labour’s future, not its past.

Actually they were the faces of the 4th Labour Government in the 1980s.

2.29 million New Zealanders have been born since Phil Goff became an MP.

Labour learning relentless negativity doesn’t appeal

October 20th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

An interesting article at Stuff:

When asked what he wanted Cantabrians to think about the Labour Party this time next year, Little said: “I want people to say they’re hearing and seeing from Labour more often and that we’re making constructive comments about the future for Canterbury.

That would make a nice change.

Woods said she was excited about her new role and felt the earthquake recovery was at a “hugely important point in terms of what happens next”.

She said she intended to hold Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee to account when necessary but also wanted to work alongside the Government on quake-related issues.

Hard to imagine Clayton ever working alongside the Government on anything, so the appointment of Woods is a positive step.

Cosgrove, who lost his seat in Waimakariri to National’s Matt Doocey in 2014, said bringing quake-related portfolios together made sense.

Actually he lost it to Kate Wilkinson in 2011. Matt Doocey also beat him in 2014 but he didn’t lose it to Doocey.

Left-wing blogger Martyn Bradbury said Christchurch had been a “bastion” for Labour, but instead of rallying behind the party after the quakes, the region had “walked away to National”.

“If you line up all the problems that have occurred [with the rebuild] there’s been plenty of fertile ground for Labour to attack the Government, and they have attacked but it just hasn’t resonated.”

Because relentless negativity doesn’t appeal.

In 2005 National trailed Labour in Christchurch 7.6%

In 2008 National beat Labour in Christchurch by only 5.1%.

In 2011 National beat Labour in Christchurch by 22.7%.

In 2014 National beat Labour in Christchurch by 24.1%.

That’s not just not resonating. That’s going backwards.


Imperator Fish on Labour and TPP

October 17th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Imperator Fish blogs:

People have been telling me that they don’t really understand Labour’s position on the Trans Pacific Partnership. …

Our opposition to the TPP is principled and based on what we think is best for New Zealand. We don’t want New Zealand to sign up to the TPP, but nor would we pull New Zealand out of the deal.

While this is satire, it appears to also be Labour’s actual position,

Labour is not opposed to free trade. We recognise that as an exporting nation we need to honour our international commitments. What kind of example would we be setting as a developed nation if we looked to back out of our international obligations? That’s why a Labour government won’t pull New Zealand out of the TPP. We’ll instead just ignore the bits we don’t like.

Again this appears to be Labour’s actual position.

New Zealand is not a banana republic, and we can’t just tear up the treaties we sign with other countries. That’s why a Labour government will honour all of the international commitments entered into by this government on behalf of New Zealand, even if we don’t like them, unless we change our minds and decide we won’t honour those commitment because we don’t like them.

See, that wasn’t difficult to grasp, was it?

Not at all.

Sense from Goff who comes out in support of TPP

October 16th, 2015 at 11:22 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Senior Labour MP Phil Goff says it is unlikely the party would have to breach parts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPPA) free trade deal if it came to power, with “more than one way to skin the cat” regarding its concerns.

What Goff is saying that while TPP wil not let you ban foreigners from buying houses, it would allow you to impose 100% stamp duty on them, which is effectively the same.

This is very different to the ramblings from Little who has said they’ll just ignore the parts they don’t like!

Goff, a former Labour leader and the trade minister who signed a free trade agreement with China in 2008, told TV3’s Paul Henry he had encouraged his party colleagues to consider the costs of opting out of the deal, which was “not the monster” that opponents were afraid of.

Goff is right. The problem is his colleagues have spent two years claiming it is a monster and Little campaigned for the leadership on the basis of opposing it.

Goff say he “maybe [knew] a little bit more about the trade than some of the others” in Labour due to his involvement in initial negotiations, and said he had asked his colleagues to consider the costs of not being in the TPPA.

“This is a deal that’s going to get bigger: It’s 12 countries now, but I can conceive that China will come in, South Korea will come in.

There would be significant costs to not being in the TPPA. As Clark said your biggest fear is a trade bloc forming you are not part of.

Well done to Phil Goff for being the first sane voice from Labour so far on TPP.

Quin doubts Labour is ready to govern

October 16th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Former Labour staffer Phil Quin writes:

In the unlikely event it ever came to pass, Labour’s proposed course of action on the Trans-Pacific Partnership – flout the bits it doesn’t like – would constitute the most reckless act by any New Zealand government of the post-Muldoon era.

For those of us who want to see Labour re-emerge as a plausible alternative government, it was dispiriting enough to witness finance spokesman Grant Robertson first float the idea Labour might ban foreigners from buying New Zealand property even if it contravened the TPP. But not only has Andrew Little’s repeated doubling down on this reckless notion raised the stakes sharply, it has called into question Labour’s capacity to govern responsibly.

Andrew Little echoes Robertson’s contention that a government he leads can simply legislate around irksome elements of the TPP – an unconscionable policy position for a serious political party. No trade deal, nor international treaty of any kind, would be worth the paper it’s written on if signatories opted out of unfavourable clauses on the grounds of national interest.

If Labour’s policy of selective implementation were adopted by the 11 other signatories, the TPP would dissolve overnight.

Not just the TPP. Labour claims it wants countries to enter into a binding agreement on reducing carbon emissions. You can’t credibly wish for that, and also claim you will ignore provisions of binding agreements you don’t like.

Helen Clark’s comments in support of the TPP made crystal clear how the case for New Zealand staying out of the deal, however flawed, is an impossibly hard political lift. After all, we’re talking about 11 of our most important export markets that, between them, comprise 40 per cent of global GDP.

In any case, unlike the Greens or protectionist elements of the former Alliance (several of whose most prominent activists populate Andrew Little’s office), Labour is a pro-free trade party, specifically endorsing the TPP process as recently as 2013.

In trying to placate opponents of the TPP without further trashing the party’s tenuous economic credentials, Labour has half baked a policy that nobody in their right mind could take seriously.

Little claiming Labour will just ignore the parts of TPP it doesn’t like is his worst blunder as leader. It will haunt him with long-term damage.

Trotter on Little’s credibility

October 15th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Chris Trotter writes:

Not that Mr Little was without a strategy on Tuesday morning. His proposed way of dealing with the TPPA was to see it ratified; to assist the National Government in bringing New Zealand’s laws into conformity with its provisions; and then, upon becoming the Government, simply “flout” those TPPA rules which conflict with his government’s plans.

As a gift to Labour’s political opponents, this strategy is hard to beat. No responsible political party loudly announces to the world that, if it wins office, no other nation should place the slightest trust in their country’s solemnly given word. Such behaviour would turn this country into an international pariah.

Yep.It may be the stupidest thing he has said.

Not that it’s likely to happen. From now until the 2017 election, National will use Mr Little’s words to shred Labour’s political credibility. Not only that, but Little’s decision to “flout” will also allow Mr Key to present New Zealand’s adherence to the TPPA as a matter of national honour. Labour will be made to look like an untrustworthy bunch of thieves and liars.

In the House on Wednesday, Labour had only one question on TPP, and National had three. This shows that National thinks Labour is in deep trouble over what Little has said.


Gower on Labour’s dead TPP rats

October 15th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Patrick Gower writes:

The Labour Party is swallowing a dead rat, and not just any old dead rat.

Labour is swallowing an enormous, filthy, stinking, rotten, maggot-infested dead rat called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Labour’s 32 MPs looked deflated and rattled in Parliament’s question time today.

Sounds like normal question time.

It was like 32 individual TPP rats were served up as a ghastly afternoon feed.

Labour looked as if it had nowhere to go when attacking the TPP the Government had agreed to.

Labour seemed to be flailing about, its questions effectively patsies that allowed Prime Minister John Key and company extol the virtues of the trade deal.

The lowest point for Labour was the inevitable and humiliating recital by Key of Helen Clark’s public statement that it was “unthinkable” for New Zealand to be left out of the TPP.

It was always going to come, but it looked like it really hurt the Labourites. Their hero, Clark, was in support of TPP – her words thrown back at them as a disgusting garnish on their dead rat feed.


It wasn’t so much that she endorsed it, but her language – saying it was unthinkable not to be part of it.

It is looking like the TPP was nowhere near as bad as Labour made it out to be.

The big fears have been muted: the PHARMAC model is looking intact and there are restrictions on tobacco corporations suing the Government. And while the deal’s not great for dairy, there’s a lot in it for other export industries.

In fact, the TPP seems pretty much okay and it looks like Labour should be supporting it.

This is the problem you get when you scaremonger on the worst case scenario, and then that doesn’t eventuate.

At the moment, Little is trying to play both sides, refusing to say whether Labour supports the agreement or not. Basically Little is playing word games as he plays for time, knowing that National is going to rub his nose in the TPP dead rat feed.

My pick is that Labour will continue to play out this silly game for a while before finally giving its support to TPP. Labour wants to try and trick its base supporters that it is still against the TPP, but let the public think it is for it.

It really is untenable for Labour to refuse to say either way. However, it has until the final text is out to continue its charade.

Labour’s best hope is that there is some massive face-saving fishhook, but that seems unlikely and Labour’s sad faces show it knows it.

It seems Labour’s TPP game is up. It should just swallow the TPP dead rat and get on with it.

The paragraph bolded is key.

Labour declines membership of a former candidate because he criticised them on Facebook

October 14th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

A former lost nominee for Labour recently tried to rejoin the party. His application was declined by the NZ Council:

As you know, you resigned your membership of the NZ Labour Party on May 14th 2015 and sought to rejoin on August 28th 2015.  Council retains the right to decide on membership applications, and in your case has decided to decline the application.  Under Rule 6 of the Constitution we will be informing the Taranaki King Country LEC of the decision which we have made.

Although there is no obligation to provide reasons for this decision, Council were well aware that you operate a “Labour Members and Supporters” Facebook page which has from time to time contained unhelpful comments which could well be regarded as risking disrepute.

So if you are a supporter of Labour and saying anything unhelpful to them on Facebook, they don’t want you as a member!

I would have thought they needed all the members they could get.

Labour’s latest TPP position

October 14th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour leader Andrew Little says it is unlikely the party would withdraw from the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPPA) free trade deal if it gains power, following a meeting with Trade Minister Tim Groser to discuss the agreement.

Little and Trade Minister Tim Groser met on Monday evening to discuss the provisions of the TPPA in further detail, after the 12-nation free trade agreement was signed last week.

Little told Radio New Zealand the party still had a number of unanswered questions about the deal, but was unlikely to pull out of the agreement if it gained power at the next election.

It would be politically suicidal for them to do so.

But does this mean they are still insisting it is a truly horrible deal? If so, why wouldn’t they pull out?

Little said a Labour government would take a “responsible” approach to the deal, but would flout provisions of the deal if they were not in New Zealanders’ best interests.

This man wants to be Prime Minister?

Does he also think NZ should flout all the UN conventions we have signed, if he deems it not in our best interests? Does he think Iran should flout the deal they brokered on not developing nuclear weapons, if the Supreme Leader deems it not in their best interests?

Does Little think the other TPP countries should simply ignore provisions of an agreement they don’t like? Does he think Australia should ignore the WTO ruling and ban our apple imports again?

This is pathetic sophistry from Labour. You can not have a policy saying we will not withdraw from TPP but will ignore parts we want to.

Dann on TPP

October 13th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Herald business editor Liam Dann writes:

Helen Clark, who as Prime Minister kicked off the trade talks that evolved into the TPP, doesn’t seem to think so.

Last month she told New Zealand media in New York: “What always haunts a Prime Minister is: ‘Will there be a series of trade blocs develop that you are not part of?’ Because that is unthinkable for New Zealand as an export-oriented, small trading nation.

“So of course New Zealand has to be in on the action with the TPP and go for the very best deal it can.”

Clark’s words must seem brutally pragmatic to many of those still clinging to the notion that New Zealand should walk away from the TPP.

But her point seems to be that the bar for not signing up to this trade deal would have to be extremely high.

She was talking before the agreement was signed but one doubts the final text will have changed her stance.

It is hard to see any deal breaker in the detail so far which would justify New Zealand isolating itself from a trading block that represents 40 per cent of global GDP.

We’d be the laughing stock of the world to walk away from a deal we spent seven years negotiating.

This is problematic for Labour if it remains opposed to this deal based on specific points of detail.

And this has raised the prospect that Labour may oppose it on ideological grounds.

That might seem a populist approach when it comes to Facebook clicks, but would put the party into serious conflict with the current realities of the New Zealand economy.

As a tiny country, New Zealand is considerably less well placed to go down an isolationist path than, say, the UK under a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Government.

It would be an almost revolutionary position for a major political party to take here.

Vietnam – hardly an easy target for US imperialism – is set to sign the deal.

It would seem strange, I think, to see the New Zealand Labour Party taking a harder ideological stance than the Communist Party in Hanoi.

Sadly, it is quite possible.

Labour called rudderless

October 12th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stacey Kirk writes at Stuff:

Any semblance of a Labour political strategy has been conspicuously absent this past week. 

One of the most important free-trade announcements in decades was made, and Labour leader Andrew Little was nowhere to be seen.  …

But never underestimate the power of the Auckland vote, because that is where Labour needs to turn it around. 

An all-Wellington leadership team in Little and King would do nothing for that cause. 

Ardern has significant support in Auckland, and has also earnt the respect of many members of the business crowd. That could prove the decider.  

The upcoming review and consequent reshuffle is a crucial part of Labour’s strategy in the leadup to the 2017 election. 

They can’t allow the Governmentto dictate discussion as they have done on the TPP this past week. 

It’s understood the Government and Treasury had a line-by-line plan prepared to rebut any of vocal detractor Jane Kelsey’s possible arguments.

Irrespective of which side of the discussion you fall, that is the level of organisation Labour needs to be striving for. 

However, Little was on a pre-planned holiday and King was difficult to access. 

A refusal to rule in or out whether the party would even stick with the deal, if it was in Government, instills no confidence that it is a party with a direction. 

Any leadership team would struggle to hold course without a rudder. 

Maybe this sums up their direction:

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream

Hooton on Labour and TPP

October 9th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Hooton writes:

John Key must be sorely tempted to put the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to a formal ratification vote in parliament. If the prime minister did so, he would split the ridiculous rabble that sits across from him.

Two former Labour leaders, Phil Goff and David Shearer, would cross the floor to back the deal, along with Napier MP Stuart Nash, Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis and Tāmaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare, party insiders say. They alone would inherit Peter Fraser, Norman Kirk, David Lange and Helen Clark’s liberal-internationalist mantle.

There is no vote on ratification, but there will be a vote on legislation to implement parts of it.

For 20 years, New Zealand’s number one foreign policy goal has been a free-trade agreement (FTA) with the world’s largest economy, the US. If the TPP is ratified – which remains a big if – that NZ-US FTA has now been achieved, and FTAs with the world’s third and 11th largest economies, Japan and Canada, both hitherto highly protectionist, have been thrown into the bargain.

That’s three of the G7.

As a first tentative step in the long-term strategy, Dr Smith and Mrs Shipley launched negotiations in September 1999 for an FTA with Singapore, an agreement without economic significance but designed as a template for a wider 21st century deal.

The greatest share of political credit, though, lies with Ms Clark and her trade ministers Jim Sutton and Mr Goff.

It was the Clark government that concluded the Singapore deal, launched and completed the initial TPP with Singapore, Chile and Brunei and then drew in the US, Australia, Peru and Vietnam in 2008, following Ms Clark’s successful 2007 meeting with George W Bush.

The New Zealand origins of the deal are why Wellington had the diplomatic honour of being the depository and administrator of the treaty.

Worth remembering that. This is not a deal that the US approach NZ with. This was part of a 20 year strategy by both National and Labour Governments to get an FTA with the US.

To take one somewhat ironic example of the deal’s effects, given the music industry’s usual politics, the TPP’s copyright provisions mean the likes of Lorde, Tiki Taane, and SIX60 have ended up bigger winners from the TPP than Fonterra – which is surely fair enough given they actually bother to add value to their raw material and market it creatively offshore.

I don’t support the extension of the term of copyright to life plus 70 years, but did note on Twitter today that Lorde’s great grand children will be happy they can get money from her music in the year 2167!

The TPP also includes rules demanding higher labour and environmental standards, which are enforceable through ISDS, a first for a trade deal of this nature. Pharmac is left alone. Tobacco companies are excluded from being able to benefit from the deal. The Treaty of Waitangi is protected. So are marine mammals and even sharks.

If Labour vote against, they will be voting against an agreement that no member can weaken their environmental or labour laws and must introduce a minimum wage.

The union bosses, student politicians and former Alliance activists who now control Labour will have none of this.

Under Labour’s new rules that further empower its more fanatical grass-root members, the party has fallen under the spell of UK Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, unwavering anti-globalisation activist Jane Kelsey, Marxist twitter addicts and extreme-left bloggers at The Standard and The Daily Blog.

The party’s antics over the TPP this week suggest its missing-in-action leader, Mr Little, and its woeful finance spokesman, Grant Robertson, have never moved on from their time leading student rabble as presidents of the New Zealand University Students’ Association.

The student politicians have taken over the party!

Mr Little’s chief of staff is Matt McCarten, the former Alliance president who broke with Jim Anderton because the then deputy prime minister believed New Zealand should support the US in retaliating against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan for the September 11 attacks.

Insiders say that when Labour’s senior MPs and staff discuss policy and political positioning, the likely reaction of the left-wing Twitterati and blogsophere is given greater weight than that of any union, environmental group or social-policy advocates, let alone any industry association or business.

Surely this is not true?

The party’s hierarchy is now seriously considering actively campaigning against the TPP and making a manifesto commitment to activate the agreement’s withdrawal procedures should it become government.

It would be good for National if they do, but bad for NZ to have Labour go further left.

You read that right: today’s Labour hierarchy is seriously considering promising to withdraw from a trade deal with 40% of the world’s economy, including the US, Japan and Canada, for which Ms Clark, its greatest prime minister for a generation and its first ever to win three elections, deserves the lion’s share of the credit.

Have nothing to do with these people. Do not give them money. Do not help them with their policy development. Do not let them visit your business for cute photo-ops designed to suggest today’s Labour is interested in listening to mainstream people. For all the current government’s usual purposelessness and drift, the lunatics now running Labour’s asylum must never be let near power.


UPDATE: Labour is denying an internal rift on TPP, which means of course there is one!