The free flights for the leadership contest

October 17th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The four Labour leadership contenders have defended using taxpayer funded flights for their campaigns, saying most of the other costs will have to come out of their own pockets.

The four — Andrew Little, Nanaia Mahuta, David Parker and Grant Robertson — were at Labour Party HQ this morning to sign a Code of Conduct and go through the campaign rules.

They can use the MPs’ unlimited air travel allowance to travel around the campaign — but have to pay for any other costs themselves including hotels, taxis and meals.

Mr Robertson said the use of air travel was within the rules. “[The taxpayer] is not picking up the tab for the contest. We are obeying the rules we have around airline travel. Everything else is our own cost.”

Mr Little said the contest did involve meeting with the public, which was part of an MPs’ job.

They’re meeting people to get them to vote for them – ie campaigning.

I think it is fine for MPs to get travel to party conferences, just as they also get free travel to speak to rotary clubs, business conferences, union conferences and the like.

But this is different. This is travelling to events which are specifically to get people there to vote for you. There is a direct personal benefit, rather than an indirect political benefit.

They should pay for their own airfares.

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Vernon Small on the Labour circus

October 16th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Vernon Small writes at Stuff:

By rights the political debate should be focused on the Government’s handling of two things.

How does it meet its self- imposed need to do something alongside traditional allies and friends in Iraq and Syria without getting too deeply embroiled in the war against Islamic State?

And how will John Key make a dent in the number of children in poverty, given the Government’s pre-eminent focus on work as the best route out of poverty? …

But then along came Andrew Little, Nanaia Mahuta, David Shearer and the whole Labour three-ringed circus to demand its place in the limelight.

Don’t forget David Parker who wasn’t standing and then did stand.

Just what Shearer, a former leader, hoped to achieve with his frustration-download is hard to tell.

He seemed to have an irony bypass attacking David Cunliffe, his supporters, the union voting strength and even Labour’s brand – all in the name of a call for party unity.

He probably has every right to feel aggrieved at Cunliffe’s behaviour at the 2012 annual conference, though Cunliffe continues to deny any involvement in a coup or intent to undermine him.

But to argue Cunliffe should have stayed in the race for leader in order to be defeated, as part of a scenario that would take him out of contention in perpetuity?

It all smacked of a stake through the heart – of taking revenge a kilometre too far.

He was right that Cunliffe’s backers in the blogosphere were off the wall, painting anyone but Cunliffe as a dangerous conservative running dog in harness with the mainstream media.

Danyl McL also has an opinion on how the Labour-aligned blogs are doing more harm than good to the left.

Also, Labour’s Maori caucus is asserting itself as a significant proportion of Labour’s reduced 32-person caucus.

Party sources say it is seeking greater autonomy within the caucus, and is even arguing for a share of research and other resources.

Oh that would be fun. A semi-autonomous caucus within a caucus. So if they formed Government, would they also be a semi-autonomous government within the Government?

 

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The other five affiliate unions should follow the SFWU lead

October 15th, 2014 at 10:58 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Shearer said the people who walked away from Labour were middle New Zealand – “white blokes” – and Labour needed to win them back.

He also believed every worker in the unions should vote for the leadership rather than delegates casting affiliated unions’ votes, which count for 20 per cent of the vote deciding the leader.

“If we are going to have affiliates contributing to the leadership it should be one person one vote,” he said.

“That’s democracy … not two dozen people voting on behalf of 4000.”

The most powerful delegates are the EPMU ones. Only 35 of them voted on behalf of probably 30,000 or so affiliate members.

In the last leadership election only 149 delegates over five unions decided the votes for the union. Only the SFWU gave all members a vote.

If the Labour Party itself decided that all members should vote, rather than just the caucus bosses, then why not apply the same to the unions?

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Mahuta stands for the leadership

October 15th, 2014 at 12:23 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour’s Hauraki-Waikato MP Nanaia Mahuta will contest the Labour Leadership.

Ms Mahuta said late this afternoon she had made the decision to stand after giving the matter serious consideration.

“This decision has been made with the knowledge that if the party reviews the election outcome, we can learn from the base of support that was demonstrated across Maori electorates in South Auckland and amongst Pacific and ethnic communities.”

Ms Mahuta’s announcement brings the number of contenders to replace David Cunliffe to four with former Deputy leader David Parker, Andrew Little and Grant Robertson also in the running.

Her candidacy announcement at 4.30pm came just before the deadline of 5pm.

Cynically I think this is more about a play for the deputy leadership, or at a minimum ensuring she remains a front bencher.

However it may also be as a result of complaints that all the contenders had been middle aged white men.

There are seven Maori MPs in caucus. If she picks all of them up, then that gets her over 20% of caucus. But hard to see here getting many votes from members or unions.

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Shearer says Cunliffe should quit politics

October 14th, 2014 at 2:11 pm by David Farrar

I think we are starting to see the reality of life in Labour. One former leader is telling another to quit politics. The Herald reports:

Mr Shearer said he would have preferred it for the new leader’s sake if Mr Cunliffe had stayed in the race and lost.

“I think it would have been easier for whoever wins if he had stood and lost. It would be a cleaner break for whoever takes over. His followers undermined Phil Goff and myself and I think he continues to be a presence that will make it difficult for a new leader.”

He said if Mr Cunliffe had lost this would have sent a clear message to his supporters, rather than let them have the impression he could have won if he hadn’t withdrawn. He was also disappointed with Mr Cunliffe’s decision to stay on as an MP. “It would be easier for the new leader if he decided to move on.”

It was a sentiment echoed by several other MPs, although none would be named.

To quote Lady Macbeth – Out, damn’d spot! out, I say!

Cunliffe has pointed out:

Mr Cunliffe pointed out Mr Shearer was also a former leader.

“I think that’s an unfortunate thing for him to say and it belies my long-term loyalty to the party and caucus.”

But Shearer has only been an MP for one and a bit terms. Cunliffe has had five full terms. And I think Phil Goff and David Shearer have a different idea of what loyalty looks like.

“It’s about making sure we set ourselves up for the future so the new leader doesn’t have the same experience I had.”

He had been white-anted by Cunliffe’s supporters when he was leader and did not want the same thing to happen to the new leader.

If Parker or Robertson wins, it is inevitable I’d say that they will also face undermining.

“The people who had attacked himself and Mr Goff were mostly anonymous, Mr Shearer said.

“There are certainly some who’s names I think I know, but these are people who sit behind darkened screens and blog and undermine people.

And several of them now work in the Labour Leader’s office – which explains why so many are so unhappy.

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Cunliffe pulls out

October 13th, 2014 at 3:16 pm by David Farrar

This afternoon David Cunliffe announced he is pulling out of the contest for the Labour Party leadership, and is endorsing Andrew Little. This should boost Little’s chances considerably and may have David Parker regretting his entry into the race, as I suspect if Little wins, that Cunliffe will be his Finance Spokesperson.

This is obviously the end of the road for David Cunliffe’s prime ministerial ambitions. Cunliffe had many political skills, but being able to lead his caucus was not one of them.

It is worth reflecting though that his political career should be judged on more than his 15 months or so as Labour Leader.

He was one of Helen Clark’s better performing Cabinet Ministers. I’ve said many times that I thought he was an excellent Communications and ICT Minister. Also his reign as Health Minister was relatively successful, with the exception of his sacking of the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board.

While I would have disagreed with many of his policies, I always thought that David Cunliffe could have been an excellent Labour Finance Minister. While he has gone left to win over the activist base, he does have a rare (in Labour) understanding of the business world and private sector.

While Cunliffe had many skills, there was no better display of his weaknesses that on election night, and in the weeks following. Launching his campaign to stay leader on the night of the worst election result for Labour in 90 years was incredibly dumb. And then declaring he won’t resign to try and get caucus to sack him, and then resigning, and trying to cling on despite barely 20% of caucus backing him – well it was a sad end to a career which deserved better.

It will be interesting to see what portfolio Cunliffe ends up under the new leader, whoever that may be. Finance is the logical pick, but I can’t see that happening with Robertson or Parker.

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How have the leadership contenders gone in their electorates?

October 13th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

I thought it would be interesting to look at how the four (if Shearer stands) Labour leadership contenders have gone in their respective electorates. This may give some idea of their personal appeal, and also their ability to convince people to party vote Labour.

So I looked at the changes in their local party and electorate votes from 2008 to 2014 (or for Shearer from 2009 for his electorate vote).

This is what has happened:

Party Vote

  • David Cunliffe (New Lynn) -4.2%
  • Andrew Little (New Plymouth) -10.3%
  • Grant Robertson (Wellington Central) -10.7%
  • David Shearer (Mt Albert) -13.1%

So New Lynn has actually held up best on the party vote, compared to 2008. The other three electorates have all lost more than 10%.

Electorate Vote

  • Grant Robertson (Wellington Central) +9.8%
  • David Cunliffe (New Lynn) +0.5%
  • David Shearer (Mt Albert) -4.8%
  • Andrew Little (New Plymouth) -15.9%

This indicates that Grant Robertson is very good at increasing his personal vote, but not so the party vote. Cunliffe has held steady, Shearer has declined a bit (but from a by-election high) while Little got 16% less than the former Labour MP in New Plymouth.

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Will there be five?

October 11th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Nominations close on Tuesday and it appears increasingly likely acting leader David Parker will be a last-minute entrant.

A group of MPs, understood to include Kelvin Davis, have been pushing for him to put his name in although yesterday he again said his position had not changed. …

Former Labour leader David Shearer is also still considering a tilt. Yesterday he echoed concerns also expressed by Damien O’Connor that the leadership contest meant the candidates had to appeal to Labour members – but that did not necessarily translate into appealing to the wider voter base.

Little and Robertson are both on the left of the party. Cunliffe in reality is more centrist but went left to gain the leadership. Therefore all three candidates are fighting in the same space.

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Robertson’s plan

October 11th, 2014 at 9:04 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Grant Robertson has made his pitch for the party leadership, signalling a crackdown on banks, supermarkets and power companies and a plan to rebuild the party.

As he moved to counter the momentum building behind former party president Andrew Little’s bid, Robertson formally filed his nomination yesterday, signed symbolically by Maori MP Rino Tirikatene and Mana MP Kris Faafoi.

He is expected to launch his campaign in Auckland next week aiming to reverse the 2011 leadership launches where David Cunliffe overshadowed him.

As rumours swirled in the party that Cunliffe may withdraw, given Little’s hit on his union base, Robertson yesterday promised ‘‘a three-year programme to rebuild and reconnect the Labour Party as the driving force for progressive change’’.

The rumours over Cunliffe withdrawing have been around for weeks, but I’ll believe it when it happens.

But he defended key policies, saying Little had ‘‘possibly got ahead of himself’’ by questioning plans for a higher pension age, centralised wholesale power prices and a capital gains tax.

It’s a good thing, not a bad thing, if the different contenders put forward different policy programmes.

He endorsed aspects of former MP Shane Jones’ criticisms of supermarkets as one way to address issues that mattered to voters.

‘‘New Zealanders pay way too much for food  …  in a country where we produce enormous amounts of food. We need to look at supermarkets in the sense of the duopoly and what needs to change in the Commerce Act and how do we protect consumers,’’ he said.

foodinflation

I remind people of this graph, when Labour start talking food prices.

Low pay in supermarkets was also a problem.

‘‘We say to the supermarkets, ‘you’re in our society this is how we want it to be’.’’ 

Does anyone else see the problem here? In one breath you say food prices are too high and in the next that you want to increase costs for supermarkets.

He said Labour did not make the argument for lifting the minimum wage, which he agreed with.

‘‘But when he went into workplaces  …  you could see the workers there were worried that their boss couldn’t afford the minimum wage.’’ 

Smart workers.

But Labour first needed to build confidence and lift its vote to 40 per cent. It was easy for National to run a scare campaign about the Greens or Internet-Mana when Labour was on only 25 per cent, he said.

Yep. People don’t worry that much about the coalition partners when the main party is strong, but when the main party is weak, then it is more of an issue.

Lifting the vote from 25% to 40% is no small thing. That’s convincing 360,000 New Zealanders to change their vote to Labour.

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Robertson is nominated

October 10th, 2014 at 1:49 pm by David Farrar

The choice of nominees is interesting. Kris was a strong Shearer supporter and Rino is a member of the Maori caucus, and voted against same sex marriage. While one can read too much into these things, I suspect the choices were made to show Grant can unify and appeal widely.

I noted that it is dated today. I do wonder if it was actually signed around six months ago? :-)

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Little puts policies on the table

October 10th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Little signalled a major shift in direction if he won the leadership, including the likely ditching of unpopular policies such as raising the pension age.

At a press conference today, the former union boss also signalled a rethink of a capital gains tax, power reforms and free doctor visits for over-65s.

Little said the policies were raised constantly on the campaign trail as either scary or unaffordable.

Most Kiwis were pragmatic enough to realise when some policies seemed “too good to be true”, he said.

His approach could pitch him against finance spokesman and acting leader David Parker, who advocated strongly for Labour’s policy mix.

Little is right to say their policies were part of their failure. Kudos to him for being the only candidate willing to say so.

Parker is the architect of three of those policies, and it will be fascinating to see what he now does.

In terms of the four policies, here’s my views on them.

  • Power reforms – this one is near barking mad. If any one policy scared the entire business community off Labour, this was it. A de facto nationalisation of the industry, with the state setting the price for all generation. Even the guy whose work they claim it is based on, came out and said it was crackers (in more polite terms). This policy must go for them to be credible.
  • Super age to 67. Personally I think this is one of their better policies. But Little is right that there was a backlash from union members about it. Blue collar workers saw it as Labour wanting them to work two years more than previously. However it is fiscally the entirely correct thing to do. The motivation for the policy was to embarrass Key over his silly pledge not to raise it, but they’ve tried that twice now and failed. Also Labour can’t govern without Winston, and Winston will never agree to it, so why take the flak for it?
  • Capital Gains Tax. Apart from being riddled with exemptions, the problem with their CGT policy is that it was one of several new taxes, and NZers saw it as Labour just wanting to tax families and businesses more. I shouldn’t give Labour free advice, but what they should do is copy the Greens with their carbon tax, and say yes we will have a CGT, but we will reduce income and company tax to compensate. This way it is about a fairer tax system, not about taking more money off families and businesses. That would neutralise the issue. However it would mean Labour not having all the extra money for spending.
  • Free doctors visits for over 65s. I don’t think that was a particularly unpopular policy for Labour – just a cynical one that didn’t work.

As I said I think it is a good thing to have a leadership candidate campaign on specific policy changes, as it gives members a chance to vote on them.

Little’s performance in New Plymouth may be an issue however. Not only has did his electorate vote in 2014 drop 12% from what it was in 2011 (and is 28% lower than Duynhoven in 2008), but Labour’s party vote in New Plymouth dropped 9% in 2014 and is 28% lower than in 2008. In absolute terms 2,954 fewer people in New Plymouth voted Labour in 2014 than 2008 and 4,646 fewer people voted Little than Duynhoven.

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And Little makes three

October 9th, 2014 at 12:28 pm by David Farrar

Andrew Little has announced:

I have decided to contest the Labour Party leadership.

There are three immediate issues to deal with: creating greater cohesion across the caucus, rebuilding the relationship between caucus and the Party and, most importantly getting the process under way to listen to the voters who have abandoned us.

I have demonstrated skills from my time as a union secretary and former Party president in challenging the status quo and lifting organisational performance.

Andrew has a reasonable chance of winning the contest.

If he can avoid being the lowest polling candidate on first preferences, then he is likely to pick up most of the second preferences from Cunliffe or Robertson supporters.

So Andrew has two challenges, to allow him to win:

  1. Gaining enough first preferences to get him to at least second place.
  2. Having enough caucus votes so that if he wins the overall ballot, he doesn’t face Cunliffe’s problem of being seen not to be backed by his own caucus

I think he has a reasonable chance of achieving the first. I would have thought he would take votes off Cunliffe mainly, especially the union votes.

The bigger challenge is getting a credible number of caucus voters. Very roughly (have not yet done exact count), Grant has around half the caucus, Cunliffe a quarter and a quarter don’t want either (sort of Camp Shearer people). Even if Little gets six or seven of the ones who don’t want either, that is not enough to be credible. Camp Robertson is fairly solid for him. So again his best strategy will be to win two or three Cunliffe caucus members over so he can get to 10 or so.

We’ve yet to see if David Parker enters the race. I’ll do more detailed analysis once the final contenders are known.

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Small on Labour leadership

October 9th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Vernon Small writes:

Cunliffe cannot possibly be the answer. Leading the party to a historic defeat is one reason.

Having not much more than a handful of first preferences in the caucus ought to be another.

The lack of any public (as opposed to party activist) enthusiasm for him is a third.

A return to Shearer ought to be unthinkable. He has the back story of bravery, can do the statesman thing and is formidable on foreign affairs.

But he still has not mastered the fatal hesitancy when dealing with other topics that dogged him through his leadership.

Like Cunliffe he would mark a return to the past.

Stuart Nash and Kelvin Davis have also been mooted. But they are too inexperienced and come from too far back in the caucus.

They may be the dream of a faction of the caucus, notably the ones who were enamoured of Jones, but neither is a viable choice at this stage.

So who?

There seems to be a growing expectation then, that whoever stands Robertson will win.

BUT Robertson also comes with a problem. Not his gay-ness, though for some it is a still an issue. Some in the party are concerned that conservative voters, especially Pasifika ones in South Auckland, would rebel and may even start their own party if Robertson is chosen.

New Zealanders are likely to be more tolerant than many in Labour and the unions think, but it is playing on some minds.

A bigger difficulty for him, though, is not caucus, confidence or competence . . . it’s speaking to voters in an everyday way, stripped of platitudes and bureau-speak. If a consensus does emerge it may be around him, and that may be the safest option.

Labour can ill-afford another mis-start. But he has work to do to present a coherent “vision” for the party and the country in a way that speaks to everyone.

Grant’s biggest challenge will be convincing New Zealanders that someone who has never spent a day working in the private sector (well post study anyway) can lead a Government with competent economic management.

But if we are to suffer a primary race, is there a third player who could energise it and offer a genuine alternative to a hackneyed run-off?

David Parker has been there before and pulled out, but his speech to the Labour conference was a surprise package that had many in the party sitting up and taking notice.

He manages to espouse Labour values while steering away from identity politics.

There is a lot of pressure on Parker to stand. He’s pulled out or refused twice before.

Andrew Little – a former union boss and party president – could energise the troops, would be an easy sell to the unions and speaks to the Left and Right of the party from Labour’s solar plexus.

He is also respected in business circles and that can only be good for fund-raising.

But at this stage he would probably draw fewer first preference votes in caucus than Cunliffe.

Little could potentially win, but if has the support of just five MPs or so, then he risks also looking like a leader without his team behind him.

So the best outcome for Labour? Robertson as leader, with caveats.

Little, Parker and Jacinda Ardern providing the deputy, finance and social policy leadership.

The only thing missing from that is a prominent role for any Maori and Pasifika MPs to reflect their importance and loyalty to Labour.

Two at least must be on the front bench when the dust settles after the leadership race.

Davis and Sepuloni?

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Little for Leader

October 7th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Andrew Little is talking up his connections outside the Labour caucus, amid signals he may stand for the Labour leadership.

The former Labour Party president who has twice failed to win the seat of New Plymouth, was confirmed as an MP on Saturday only after a dramatic swing in special votes away from the Government.

But Little, a former head of the EPMU, said that in the hours since the election result was finalised he had been “prevailed upon by a large number of people” to consider nominating for the party leadership.

While saying that Labour should ideally reflect on its poor election result before a leadership contest, Little talked up his broad connections.

“I know the party because I’ve been party president, in terms of my union work I . . . continue to have a lot of contact with the corporate sector, with working people, a whole range of people. It’s those networks we need to get out to,” Little told TVNZ’s Q+A.

Andrew is a credible and strong contender for the leadership. He is right that a lot of members and activists are saying they want more than two candidates, as the contest risks turning into a referendum on who is to blame – the leader or the caucus.

The Cunliffe and Robertson factions have little time for each other. If Little can gain enough support to not be the lowest polling candidate, he could then pick up second preferences from the candidate eliminated and have a decent chance of winning.

Having a former union boss as the Labour leader, would of course entrench the perception that Labour is beholden to sectional interests, rather than the national interest. This is part of why they got 25%.

But on the positive side, he is in a better position than Cunliffe or Robertson to unify the party.

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This time around Labour bans secret trusts

October 4th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour will tighten the rules around donations for its leadership contest to ensure there is no repeat of the use of trusts, such as that used by David Cunliffe in the first run-off, and any donations of more than $500 will still have to be publicly revealed.

Labour’s new leader will be announced on November 18 after members and union delegates vote following a three-week campaign during which the contestants will travel the country to woo party members. Nominations to compete for the job close in 12 days.

The party is redrafting its rules of conduct for the contest – including donation and spending rules. General secretary Tim Barnett said those rules would be tightened – including banning the use of trusts to hide donors’ identities such as that used by Mr Cunliffe last time.

Not often a party has to change its rules, to stop the (former) leader from using a secret trust to hide donors!

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Will Little, Shearer or Nash run?

October 3rd, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The race to be Labour’s leader may no longer be a two-way contest, with Stuart Nash said to be seriously considering a tilt at the top job.

The newly elected Napier MP is biding his time to see if former union boss Andrew Little will throw his hat in the ring. Little’s political future hangs in the balance until tomorrow, when the official election results are declared.

If Little, a former EPMU president, did make it back to Parliament on the list, and decided to enter the primary contest to choose the leader, Nash would not run, a source said.

Nash had earlier ruled it out, saying it was too soon for him.

An insider said he backed away as the caucus waited to see if David Cunliffe would resign and leave Grant Robertson to run unchallenged.

“[He] didn’t want to be the one to trigger a leadership battle that the party had no appetite for.”

But sources say he is reconsidering as the rivalry between Cunliffe and Robertson has turned increasingly bitter. “This is the last thing our party needs, two people going hammer and tongs at each other. It will just turn off New Zealand,” one source said.

Nash is being lobbied hard by Maori and Pasifika members of the party, who believe neither of the two declared contenders can unite the divided factions.

A wildcard option, Nash, 47, represents a break from the rivalries that have torn the party apart in the last three years.

A Cunliffe vs Robertson contest risks being a who is to blame for the loss referendum – the leader or the caucus. Having more than two contenders may focus it more on the future than the past.

It’s not known if the possible nomination of his old boss David Shearer would change his decision. Shearer is still undecided and did not return calls yesterday.

In his Napier electorate yesterday, Nash said his status had not changed. “At this point, I won’t be seeking the leadership of the party.”

The new leader will be installed by November, with the party’s council setting the timetable for the runoff. Nominations will close on October 14, followed by 14 hustings meetings around the country.

Party members, the 32 MPs and affiliated unions all get a say and the result of the vote will be announced on November 18.

I’m picking up a lot of disillusionment among Labour members. I would predict that the number of members who vote will be well down on their last leadership election. This will make the relative power of union votes even more powerful.

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Transtasman on Cunliffe’s deputy choice

October 3rd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Transtasman notes:

Labour provided a continuation of a bizarre election year this week, while National made itself as small a target as possible. Former leader David Cunliffe went on Campbell Live and told its genial host he thought having the Wellington Central MP and leadership aspirant Grant Robertson as his deputy was kind of a neat idea

He might want to check with David Shearer about just how good a deputy Robertson can be. But of course it would not be just Robertson as deputy: an hour after telling John Campbell’s adoring viewers of this, Cunliffe told Native Affairs’ Mihirangi Forbeshe also kind of liked the idea of having a Maori deputy leader. If the Cunliffe Family visits Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World this weekend, don’t rule out an announcement next week Cunliffe’s running mates are a brace of stingray and a handful of krill.

Heh, very good.

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How Labour could pay for its leadership ballot

October 2nd, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

An issue that has been raised is that Labour could struggle t pay for the cost of its leadership ballot, as the last one was estimated to cost $80,000 or so.

A friend of mine is standing for the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, and they have an interesting funding model:

The party requires a registration fee of $75,000 from leadership candidate and a refundable deposit of $25,000.

Make the candidates pay! If David Cunliffe still has his secret trust, he could fundraise through that.

The party demands that the PC Ontario Fund get a 20% cut of the fundraising after the first $100,000 and those voting for the leader must be a member of the Ontario PCs by Feb. 28, 2015.

And they take a percentage of the fundraising.

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Ilam candidate says he can’t be part of Labour if Cunliffe remains

September 30th, 2014 at 2:51 pm by David Farrar

James Macbeth Dann was Labour’s candidate for Ilam in 2011. He writes at Public Address:

We delivered tens of thousands of pieces of paper with your face on it. But the reality, the hard truth, is that people in the electorate just didn’t connect with you. I lost count of the number of times I door knocked someone who told me they had voted Labour all their life, but wouldn’t vote for us as long as you were leader. People who would have a Labour sign – but not one with your face on it.

Ouch.

The Labour Party isn’t a vehicle for you to indulge your fantasy of being Prime Minister. While you might think that it’s your destiny to be the visionary leader of this country, the country has a very different vision – and it doesn’t involve you.

Double ouch.

I think I did a good job in a very difficult electorate, and would like to build on it at the next election.

However, I won’t be part of a party that you lead. Not because I don’t like you, but because I simply don’t want to lose again. That’s the reality David. The people of New Zealand don’t want you to be their leader. The comparisons that you and your supporters have thrown up don’t hold water – you aren’t Norm Kirk and you aren’t Helen Clark. You’re David Cunliffe and you led the Labour Party to it’s most devastating result in modern history.

Triple ouch.

If you win, I’ll step aside from the party, to let you and your supporters mould it into the party you want. But in return I ask this: if you lose this primary, you resign from parliament. In your time in opposition, we’ve had you on the front bench, where you let down your leader at the most critical point of the 2011 campaign. You ran for leader and lost, then destabilised the elected leader. Then when you got your chance as leader, you led Labour a party that was polling in the mid-30’s to one that sits firmly in the mid-20’s. There is no place for you in this party anymore.

And the quadruple ouch.

I won’t be entirely surprised if at some stage Cunliffe withdraws from the leadership race, as I suspect Mr Dann will not be the last candidate, MP or activist to make such a declaration.

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Cunliffe proposes a Maori co-deputy leader

September 30th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Outgoing Labour leader David Cunliffe has offered leadership rival Grant Robertson the job of deputy leader.

“If Grant is not successful, I would like to hold out my hand to him as my deputy so we can bring both sides of the team together and we can go forward together,” Mr Cunliffe said on TV3’s Campbell Live tonight.

He also said he had approached Mr Robertson last week with a peace-making deal.

“That’s why I reached out to Grant last week and I said ‘mate, is there any way we can do this thing to bring people together?’ – and that’s why I’ll tell you now that I’d be very happy to have Grant as my deputy if I am elected by the broader party and caucus to lead this thing for another three years.”

When asked to comment tonight, Mr Robertson said: “I’m running for leader. I have not made a decision about a deputy yet.”

Grant is not that stupid as to accept.

Mr Cunliffe indicated on Campbell Live he had lost the support of his deputy and finance spokesman, David Parker, who is expected to become acting leader after tomorrow’s Labour Party caucus meeting.

Doesn’t that say something?

A short time after appearing on TV3, Mr Cunliffe appeared on Maori Television’sNative Affairs and then TV3’s Paul Henry show. On Native Affairs, he raised the prospect of Labour having co-deputy leaders, one of whom would be a Maori MP.

“We need to see more Maori MPs in senior levels,” he said “and one of the ideas that is floating around – that is a party matter because it would require a constitutional change – is to examine the possibility of having co-deputy positions where one may be Maori.

This is an attempt to get the Maori caucus on side. He is basically offering them a permanent co-deputy leadership position.

But why stop there. Surely there must also be a female co-deputy leader also?

Mr Cunliffe said the culture of the party had to change and that playing “musical chairs” with the leadership was not the answer.

From the man who undermined the last two leaders.

He also implied that the party had become too focused on special interests at the cost of appealing to middle New Zealand.

“We’ve got to get the alchemy right between being true and faithful to our base, our Maori and Pacific and our affiliates and reaching out to middle New Zealand,” he said.

“We can’t be seen as a party of special interests. We have to be inclusive. We have to stand for aspiration.”

He says they can not be a part of special interests at the same time as mooting that there be a co deputy position reserved for a Maori MP.

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How much each vote is worth in the Labour leadership contest?

September 29th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Thanks to some reverse engineering, we’ve been able to work out the relative strength of the eight voting blocs in the 2013 Labour leadership ballot. Presumably, they’ll be much the same next time.

The relative strengths are:

  • 5,392 members – 1 vote each
  • 497 SFWU members who voted – 1 vote each
  • 23 Maritime Union delegates – 3.8 votes each
  • 39 Dairy Workers Union delegates – 6.9 votes each
  • 23 Rail Union delegates – 8.3 votes each
  • 29 Meat Workers Union delegates – 22 votes each
  • 35 EPMU delegates – 29 votes each
  • 34 caucus members – 159 votes each

Some observations.

  • Only 2% of the total SFWU members cared enough about the Labour leadership to vote
  • Despite their significant power less than half (35/80) EPMU delegates bothered to vote
  • If we assume that say two thirds of the paid up party members voted, Labour has up to 8,000 members
  • The EPMU delegates and Meat Workers delegates are relatively powerful.
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Cunliffe standing again!

September 27th, 2014 at 2:35 pm by David Farrar

61 National MPs have just cheered as David Cunliffe announced he will contest the leadership of the Labour Party in the upcoming primary.

He will resign as leader at the end of caucus on Tuesday. I presume David Parker will become Acting Leader.

It is inevitable at least Grant Robertson will stand against him.

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A reverse engineering problem

September 27th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

I want to try and work out what the relative voting strength of each union was in Labour’s leadership primary. My maths is too rusty to calculate it myself, but hoping some readers can help.

The voting breakdown for each union was:

  • DWU – Cunliffe 33, Robertson 0, Jones 6
  • EPMU – Cunliffe 25, Robertson 8, Jones 2
  • Maritime – Cunliffe 18, Robertson 3, Jones 2
  • MWU – Cunliffe 22, Robertson 1, Jones 6
  • Rail – Cunliffe 18, Robertson 3, Jones 2
  • SFWU – Cunliffe 254, Robertson 177, Jones 66

We know that the overall result was Cunliffe 70.77%, Robertson 17.3% and Jones 11.9%. So the question is what weighting is given to each union, to get that result?

Based on registered members, the DWU should be around 8%, EPMU around 40%, Maritime 3%, MWU 17%, Rail 7% and SWFU 25%. But the voting strength is based on affiliated members, not weighted members. The percentages above could vary by several per cent.

If someone can work out a formula to calculate voting strengths, that would be great. Why I want that, is to calculate the relative strength of a delegate in each union.

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Garner on Cunliffe

September 27th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

It’s beyond doubt that Labour’s caucus doesn’t like David Cunliffe.

Voters don’t either, with a woeful 24 per cent election result, the party’s second worst in history.

The voters are never wrong. Never. So Cunliffe must do the obvious and decent thing and resign before Tuesday’s caucus.

Failure to do anything less means his MPs will nail him.

My sources tell me he can count his supporters on one hand, with only four MPs left backing him. Even his most loyal and ardent supporters, such as Palmerston North’s Iain Lees-Galloway, have deserted him. Staying on is simply not an option any more.

The fact that Cunliffe can’t, or won’t, see the writing on the wall is part of his problem. He’s prolonging the agony and heaping more attention on Labour’s misery. He’s equally blind to his own failings and weaknesses. He sang the wrong tune on election night and he’s missed his notes all week.

Telling his deputy, David Parker, not to talk while Parker stood beside him was simply wrong. It was patronising and poor.

Yep his support base has gone from seven to four. Yet he could still win a wider ballot.

Robertson is the one to watch, and expect him to have Jacinda Ardern as his deputy.

She was at his side during the last primary when the party voted for a new leader. She is one of his biggest supporters.

I think it will be Robertson and Ardern. Both are talented politicians. Both worked for Helen Clark. Ther strength is their weakness – they are what you call professional politicians, who have only ever effectively worked for Government, or as political staff. Neither have ever worked post-study in the private sector.

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How will Cunliffe go?

September 26th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins writes:

David Cunliffe’s resignation from the Labour leadership is certain. It is only the matter of his going that is yet to be decided.

In the old days he would have been gone already.

Tuesday’s brutalising caucus was a coup in all but name. It showed Cunliffe no longer has any authority over his caucus, who can outvote him at will. They already have, over his choice of Whip.  

A leader who can’t control his caucus or win a vote cannot credibly front National as the Leader of the Opposition.  But under Labour’s rules a coup is no longer a simple numbers game in the caucus.

If it were, Cunliffe’s rival Grant Robertson would already be leader.

He has had the numbers to roll Cunliffe for more than a year.

Yep. But even if there was not the issue of a membership vote, Robertson is wary of having a non unified party behind him.

Robertson’s supporters could force a vote of no confidence in Cunliffe, but that effectively puts the decision in the hands of the wider party and Labour’s union affiliates. In a vote, they could decide to re-install Cunliffe over a hostile caucus. They did so the last time the leadership was put to the vote, a year ago.

Whether they would do so again after the chaotic scenes of recent days remains to be seen.  Camp Cunliffe are convinced they would.

It appears Camp Robertson are not sure enough of their ground yet to put it to the test. Otherwise they would have forced the confidence vote on Tuesday and got the leadership ball rolling.  

That suggests Cunliffe may have sufficient leverage still to negotiate a dignified exit  – one that would give him a senior role in Robertson’s caucus, with no loss of face for him or his supporters.  Neither side was talking up that option yesterday.

But wise heads are surely counselling both sides that the last thing Labour wants on top of its humiliating election loss and this week’s damaging fallout is a divisive and draining leadership race.

I think it would be silly for Cunliffe to contest the leadership, as he clearly has lost the confidence of his caucus.

However I think it would be better for Grant to have a party wide leadership contest, between himself and David Shearer.

Grant would win, but it would allow the party to unify behind him, as they will have had their say. He may face sniping from activists and left bloggers if he is put in by caucus with no say from members.

Also Grant is well to the left of Shearer. It would be help unify the party to have a clear centrist and a clear left candidate, as once their choice is made, people can respect the direction the party will then take.

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