Meet the candidates online

September 5th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Clare Curran blogs at Red Alert:

The Labour Party Leadership roadshow continues around New Zealand this week. There are 12 hustings meetings being held from Whangarei to Dunedin. Today we see the announcement of a “virtual hustings” meeting which is yet another new initiative in our quest to bring greater membership participation in the party.

Under the rules for its current Leadership Election, the Labour Party is required to hold a “virtual hustings meeting”. This is an opportunity for eligible voters to put questions to the candidates online, created by the New Zealand Labour Party working with the Scoop Independent News website. It starts today.

Today the Party is putting out a call to eligible voters to submit questions to the three candidates. To submit a question to be put to the Candidates please send an email to . The cut-off date for sending your question is midnight on Wednesday 10th of September.

Then from 10-13 September selected questions (from eligible voters) will be answered in a series of blog posts here on the Red Alert. Everyone will then be welcome to join in the discussion (currently moderation policy will apply). The discussion will continue into the weekend on 14 September and online voting closes at midday on Sunday 15 September.

The online promotion is being organised by and promoted over the Scoop Media Cartel group of websites.

Not really that much of an online meeting. More just a non-live Q+A. What would be fun would be a live video-conference where people can tweet, e-mail, text questions in and have them answer them on the spot. But still a good opportunity for Labour members to ask questions, and of course anyone can join in the discussion on Red Alert.


Clark and Cullen on the Leadership

September 4th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Several people have wondered who Helen Clark and Michael Cullen will vote for (as party members they get a vote) in the leadership.

Helen Clark is hard to pick. Grant worked for her for many years. Cunliffe was her choice as successor to keep Goff out (if she won a 4th term).

I suspect on balance Clark will back Cunliffe. He has ministerial experience, and was her chosen successor. She also understands the importance of Auckland. She may well think that Grant also has time on his side – they may both end up as leaders at some stage.

Michael Cullen has endorsed Grant. That is not secret. What is less well known is his severe dislike of David Cunliffe. Just last week he joked at a book awards function that David Cunliffe could not be there to pick up a prize for his book “Learning to walk on water – what I learnt from Jesus of Nazereth, and what he learnt from me”.

The fact he would so openly diss Cunliffe, seems to hark back to the Cabinet days when it was too obvious Cunliffe wanted Cullen’s job.

However his dislike appears to be even greater than Trevor Mallard’s. A source overheard a conversation last week where Dr Cullen was reported to be more vitriolic about Cunliffe, than he was about, well anything.

So Clark and Cullen may be backing different candidates. It is a sign of how divided things are!

UPDATE: I understand that Dr Cullen is not standing on the sidelines like Helen, but is actively lobbying on behalf of Robertson. This is helping him with some members, but others resent figures from the past being involved.

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Labour caucus vote closer than I thought

September 4th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Over the last couple of days I’ve been chatting to a number of Labour people about how they think MPs will vote in the leadership contest. I started this thinking it would show Robertson well ahead, with over two thirds support. But it looks like the caucus is much closer than that. I’ve specifically been asking about second preferences also, to try and work out what may happen with any reallocated preferences.

Most of the data is based on publicly known preferences or history. Some of it is based on educated guesses such as their geographic location, who their friends in caucus are etc. Some MPs have not yet decided, so for them it is predicting where they are likely to go. So what I’m saying is that while much of the data is solid, some is speculation. It is not claiming to be a guarantee of how the vote will go. It is an good stab at how things are shaping up. I will update it as more data comes to hand.

Cunliffe Jones Robertson
Ardern, Jacinda 3 2 1
Beaumont, Carol 1 3 2
Clark, David 2 3 1
Cosgrove, Clayton 3 1 2
Cunliffe, David 1 2 3
Curran, Clare 2 3 1
Dalziel, Lianne 1 3 2
Dyson, Ruth 2 3 1
Faafoi, Kris 3 2 1
Fenton, Darien 2 3 1
Goff, Phil 3 2 1
Hipkins, Chris 3 2 1
Huo, Raymond 1 2 3
Jones, Shane 2 1 3
King, Annette 3 2 1
Lees-Galloway, Iain 1 2 3
Little, Andrew 3 2 1
Mackey, Moana 1 2 3
Mahuta, Nanaia 1 2 3
Mallard, Trevor 3 2 1
Moroney, Sue 1 2 3
O’Connor, Damien 2 1 3
Parker, David 2 3 1
Prasad, Rajen 1 3 2
Robertson, Grant 3 2 1
Robertson, Ross 2 1 3
Shearer, David 3 1 2
Sio, Su’a William 1 2 3
Street, Maryan 2 3 1
Tirikatene, Rino 2 1 3
Twyford, Phil 2 3 1
Wall, Louisa 1 2 3
Whaitiri, Meka 1 2 3
Woods, Megan 2 3 1
1 12 6 16
2 12 17 5
3 10 11 13
34 34 34
Round 1 12 6 16
Round 2 16 18
Caucus % 47% 53%
Total % 19% 21%

As I said, I was surprised that things appear to be so close between Cunliffe and Robertson. If this is how the vote turns out in caucus, then I would say Cunliffe is looking very solid to win overall as most think he will get a majority of the members and unions.

The above is, again, not based just on my views, but on others who are closer to the action. Here’s some of the rationales:

  • Ardern – Robertson’s likely Deputy Leader
  • Beaumont – publicly supporting Cunliffe
  • Clark – likely to vote with old guard, as doing well with them
  • Cosgrove – Anyone but Cunliffe
  • Cunliffe – Jones his second choice over Robertson, and may (quietly) ask Jones to be Deputy
  • Curran – very hard to pick. Cunliffe has helped her with ICT portfolio when she was new MP, so may lean to him, but is close to more people in Robertson camp. Assuming Robertson for now. Has now declared she is voting Robertson in a letter to members.
  • Dalziel – publicly backed Cunliffe
  • Dyson – publicly backing Robertson
  • Faafoi – seen drinking with Robertson on Seven Sharp, likely to vote as Goff does
  • Fenton – probably backing Cunliffe as most union MPs are. Am told she is in Camp Robertson, tends to go where Annette King goes.
  • Goff – Cunliffe last as partly blames him for election loss
  • Hipkins – has little future under Cunliffe
  • Huo – very hard to pick. Prob leaning Cunliffe as Auckland based. Also Chinese community (but not Hup himself) quite conservative on sexuality issues
  • Jones – of course him as first choice. Cunliffe as second choice, as more likely to do well with him
  • King – Anyone but Cunliffe
  • Lees-Galloway – publicly backing Robertson Cunliffe
  • Little – A key vote. His chance of future leadership is better with Cunliffe or Jones than Robertson. But sources now say much more likely Robertson.
  • Mackey – publicly backing Cunliffe
  • Mahuta - publicly backing Cunliffe
  • Mallard – will probably retire if Cunliffe wins
  • Moroney – probably go with Cunliffe as most unionists are
  • O’Connor – Jones, then Cunliffe rather than the gaggle
  • Parker – Not declaring but likely to vote Robertson as most of front bench are. But could go elsewhere if guaranteed he keeps Finance
  • Prasad – was thought to be organising for Cunliffe at last year’s conference
  • Robertson – the surprise is he probably will rank Jones over Cunliffe for his second preference. There is considerable antipathy between Camp Robertson and Cunliffe, so Jones is the second choice for many
  • Ross Robertson – likely to vote for Jones as the least left wing one
  • Shearer – likely to vote Jones I understand as the only one of the three that didn’t stab him in the back
  • Sio – publicly backing Cunliffe
  • Street – Jones clearly last choice!
  • Tirikatene – publicly backing Jones
  • Twyford – a swinging voter. Is in with old guard and likely to do better with Robertson. But does he vote against a fellow West Auckland MP? Probably will go with Robertson
  • Wall – close to Cunliffe
  • Whaitiri – a surprise here, but I am told she is leaning Cunliffe
  • Woods – publicly backing Robertson

Again, fell free to e-mail me with any corrections or updates. Sources will, as always, be protected.

UPDATE: A Labour person messages:

Fenton giving Cunliffe first preference? I don’t think so…

 Ditto, Andrew Little (although, I’m not so certain about that)
Where Andrew Little goes will be interesting. Of course we may never know, as we only get told the overall results of the caucus ballot – not how each MP votes. In the UK Labour Party leadership election they actually published how each MP and MEP voted!
UPDATE2: A second Labourite says Fenton is backing Robertson, so have moved her to his column. That makes it 15 Robertson, 13 Cunliffe, Jones 6.
UPDATE3: Two sources (from different camps) say Little is far more likely Robertson than Cunliffe, so have shifted him. That makes it 16 to 12 to 6.
Also have heard that both Huo and Goff may be leaning towards Jones as first preference. That would be very significant if that happens. Also that O’Connor may have Robertson as his second preference after Jones. I tend to update the table upon double  verification so let me know if you have further info.
UPDATE4: I understand that Tirikatene’s second preference after Jones is Cunliffe so that moves it back to 18 Robertson and 16 Cunliffe. Knife edge!

Who is promising what

September 3rd, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The three Labour leadership contenders are making so many promises, that I’ve done this little table below for easy reference. Please, please let me know (e-mail preferably) if there are any pledges I have missed. I will keep updating this.

  Cunliffe Jones Robertson
Raise taxes on rich pricks Yes   Yes
Living wage for all Govt staff and contractors Yes   Yes
Minimum wage $15/hr Yes   Yes
Full employment Yes   Yes
Living wage for all Yes    
Pacifica TV channel Yes Yes  
Regulate food prices   Yes  
A home for everyone     Yes
Taxi drivers to earn more Yes    
Increase tax rate on trusts Yes    
Subsidies for tree planting Yes    
Repeal all of National’s employment changes Yes   Yes
Expand ban on house purchases to Australians   Yes  
Extend Northern Rail Link to North Port Yes    
Extend Part 6A from vulnerable workers to all workers Yes    
50% female quota for caucus Yes   Yes
Not block the “man ban” if party wants it Yes   Yes
Scrap Kapiti Expressway Yes    
Possibly buy back SOEs Yes    
Possibly keep Super age at 65, not 67 Yes    
Subsidies or “support” for wood processing     Yes
A second cable to the United States     Yes
Extend 2014 target for Treaty settlements to 2020     Yes
Make Police Commissioner apologise to Tuhoe     Yes
National awards within 100 days of election Yes    

Cunliffe’s pledge to extend Part 6A to all workers takes the prize for the most destructive policy.

Part 6A is the part which states that if a company wins a contract off another company, they have to employ all the staff of the other company.

At present this only applies to industries such as catering, cleaning, orderly and laundry. Cunliffe’s pledge would massively expand this.Say you work for a copy centre, and you lose a major contract to a competitor. The winning copy centre has to hire your staff!In theory it would apply to law firms also. Say a law firm loses a major client to another law firm. All the lawyers who worked for that client at the old firm, would have to be hired by the new firm!It would in fact destroy competition, mergers and acquisitions in New Zealand. It is bad enough we have Part 6A for some industries, but to apply it to all workers is indeed a great leap backwards. The unions though will love it. Getting 20% of the vote in the leadership contests has given them power beyond their wildest dreams.

UPDATE: Have added on Grant’s pledge to have taxpayers fund a second fibre cable to the United States.

UPDATE2: Cunliffe also promising a Pacifica TV channel

UPDATE3: Robertson on Te Karere said he wants Treaty settlement target shifted from 2014 to 2020 and the Police Commission to apologise to Tuhoe.

 UPDATE4: Cunlife promised in a speech he would introduce national awards or “industry standard agreements” within 100 days of an election.

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A fair point

September 3rd, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Twisted Hive blogs:

Questions from the NZ Herald to candidates:

Q: Why is Labour not connecting with voters?

Grant Robertson: We’ve struggled to get a clear direct message that speaks to people’s everyday lives and to connect our values with the policies we are putting forward. I do believe we’ve got a good mix of policies, with more to come. The challenge is articulating them in a way New Zealanders say “my life will be better under a Labour Government”. I think I can do that.

Sorry Grant, can you explain to me how if you’ve struggled to get a clear message out, with the vast majority of the office staffed by your people, you will manage any better if you were Leader? As Deputy, and part of the strategic planning team since 2008 haven’t you already tried?

It is a fair point. Grant was a major part of the disastrous 2011 campaign, and as deputy leader can’t totally distance himself from the last 18 months.

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The earth, moon and stars

September 2nd, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Cunliffe said that he was going to deliver “the basics for families”.

“You know, it is easy for a politician to promise the earth, moon and stars. To say that everyone will have a job tomorrow and a living wage. That is what I want and I won’t settle for less.”

Umm, I’d say that is promising the earth, moon and stars.

Putting aside the economic contradiction of promising a massive increases in wages, and more jobs, what Cunliffe and Robertson are pledging is a hoax.

Can they name one country on earth which has full employment?

And note that the living wage pledge has now shifted from people working for Government and contracting to Government, to a living wage for everyone. Everyday their policies move further to the left. The Greens will soon be seen as more centrist than Labour at this rate.

When do they start pledging they also want everyone to live to be 100?

Tracy Watkins warns that their pork barrel promises may make them unelectable:

Labour’s leadership hopefuls should be wary of losing the war to win the battle.

The pork barrel style campaigning of the first two days of their leadership roadshow may or may not give one of them an edge over their rivals among the party faithful. But it goes without saying that the delegates who get to decide the next Labour leader are not the voters Labour needs to reach out to in 2014 to win the next election. To win back those swinging voters, Labour needs to grow its support in the political centre. With the exception of wild card Shane Jones, however, this leadership race has been all about the two main candidates, Grant Robertson and David Cunliffe,  racing to shore up their credentials on the Left. If they are not careful, the underdog Jones will steal a march on both of them. While his rivals have their gaze turned inward, he is reaching out over both of them to appeal to the voters who aren’t card carrying Labour members. And his smoko room politics and harking back to old fashioned Labour values are far more likely to resonate with the wider public.

I used to think Jones would get say 5% only, but I’d say he is picking up significant support, so that no candidate will win on first preferences. It will come down to who his supporters rank second.

The first day on the hustings had the candidates vying to gazump each other on policy including a living wage, repealing the Government’s industrial relations law changes, a Pacifica TV channel, raise taxes on the wealthy,  regulate food prices and raise the minimum wage.

Oh I missed the TV channel!

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Pity Labour’s male MPs and candidates

September 2nd, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Both Grant Robertson and David Cunliffe have pledged that Labour’s post 2014 caucus under their leadership will be 50% women. Technically this is a decision for the Labour Party organisation, but what they are effectively saying is that as Leader they will encourage the party to use whatever mechanisms they have to achieve this. This means that the man ban may be back, as they have both said they won’t stop the party adopting it.

But regardless of whether the man ban returns, the pledge for 50% women in their caucus is very bad news for their rival Shane Jones, and also for former Party President Andrew Little. You see in 2011 a 50/50 quota would have seen both Andrew Little and Shane Jones not make it into Parliament.

In this blog post in July, I looked at what a 50/50 quota would have meant for Labour under every MMP election. It would have been the equivalent of a suicide note. They would have lost Michael Cullen in 1999 and 2002 for example as they would not have got any male List MPs at all. So it doesn’t matter how they ranked their Male candidates – none would have got in on the list under the quota favoured by Robertson and Cunliffe.

Now it is almost inevitable that one of them will become Leader, unless Jones can pull off an upset, which means that Labour will have this quota for 2014. So who are the losers?

First are the current male List MPs. Basically they’re outski. Little, Jones and maybe even Cosgrove are gone. If O’Connor doesn’t hold his seat he could be gone also.

The other losers are new male candidates. The message is that there is no chance of a winnable list spot if they are male.

Labour holds 22 electorate seats. If a male replaces Dalziel, then 15 electorate MPs are male and seven are female. That means the top eight places on the list must be reserved for women.

This will make it harder for male candidates not just to get into Parliament but also to win electorate seats, as to win a seat off the other party often needs a two or three term strategy where you come in as a List MP, and then use that to build up profile so you can win the seat itself the next election.

This makes it very interesting for Andrew Little. If either Robertson or Cunliffe win, he may end up being out of Parliament under their quota policies. So who will he support? Could Jones pick up vote in caucus by pointing out to the male List MPs that many of them are goners if the other two win?

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Now it is houses and jobs for all, and something about taxis!

September 1st, 2013 at 6:11 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Robertson was first up to speak and invoked the memory of former Labour Prime Minster Norman Kirk, by promising a government he lead would fulfil Kirk’s dream of a home and a job for everyone.

On Saturday Grant just promised jobs for everyone, plus a living wage of $18.40 for all. He’s now gone one better and is promising a house for everyone also. By Monday will it be a car for everyone also?

Cunliffe also reiterated the promise of a living wage and talked about the plight of taxi drivers living on $4.50 an hour.

So even if one accepts this is correct (I doubt it), what will Labour’s policy be to fix this? Shoot or sack every second taxi driver so the survivors have more jobs? Or set a minimum price for taxi services? Make it illegal for a taxi firm to charge less than $5 a minute?


Jones joins the lurch to the left

September 1st, 2013 at 3:29 pm by David Farrar

From Q+A today:

SHANE Number one, I will not write one single cheque the Labour Party cannot cash. Get that right from me. Secondly, there are some bastions that need to be overcome. The brown shirts of the food industry are the supermarkets. Under my leadership, they will be reviewed, and if it’s necessary to regulate them to bring the cost of food down, take my word, we will do it.

So Shane says the supermarket chains are akin to Nazis, and he thinks the Government should regulate the price of food.


DAVID What we did last time round was 39 cents with a pretty high threshold of $150,000, so we weren’t hitting middle New Zealand. We had a top rate for the wealthiest. We’ve got to be very careful to make sure that the trust rate is at or close to the top marginal personal rate, because we don’t want to create an avoidance—

So Cunliffe says the trust rate may also increase to 39%. Will they also increase the company tax rate to 39%?

DAVID What about a new civilian conservation corps to use carbon credits to subsidise the planting of trees up and down some of those dry areas on our east coast? We could get a whole lot of young New Zealanders out there on the hills planting trees and creating the Kaingaroa of tomorrow. The economics are pretty good if you get a carbon price of around $20. I think that’s a project worth pushing.

Oh dear, this could cost hundreds of millions. You see the global carbon price is not $20. It is 4.7 Euros. And in NZ it is even lower at 41c.

GRANT I’m about maximising the Labour vote, but let’s remember there’s never been a single party government under MMP. We will have to work with somebody. We’ve got a lot in common with the Greens, and we’ve got differences with them. We’ve got a lot in common with New Zealand First, and we’ve got differences with them. The voters will decide, but I’m with Shane. There has to be a four at the start of the Labour vote.

So two of the three candidates are pledging to get Labour to 40% or higher. They will get a honeymoon boost, but let’s see where things are early next year.


Roll out the (pork) barrels

September 1st, 2013 at 8:30 am by David Farrar

Claire Trevett at NZ Herald reports:

The pork barrels have been rolled out in the Labour Party leadership battle, with Grant Robertson promising to introduce a “living wage” of more than $18 an hour for all government workers.

He told 350 party members and unionists in Levin yesterday that he would set a timeframe to phase in the living wage, which is currently set at $18.40 an hour for a family to live without suffering poverty.

He also pledged to lift the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour and repeal all of National’s industrial relations laws.

All? So there goes the 90 day trial law, which would make us almost the only country in the OECD not to have one.

With 20% of the vote, the contenders are forced to promise the unions everything they want.

Robertson later said he did not yet know the full cost of his promise, and that would determine how soon it could be introduced.

Who needs to worry about cost! Just send the bill to the taxpayers!

Robertson’s announcement gazumped rival David Cunliffe, who was expected to make similar announcements at the two meetings in Auckland today.

Cunliffe declared he, too, would repeal employment relations laws, and introduce a Government-wide living wage over time.

If one of them declared that they will nationalise the banks and ban all foreign investment in New Zealand, I suspect the other will have pledged to do the same by the end of the meeting based on how loud the cheers are.

“It will be a strong package of policies that will put unions back in the centre of the fight for equality.”

He denied it was simply an attempt to court the union vote, saying the party had always held a strong role in industrial relations.

“It has an industrial wing and a political wing. We will win when those two wings fly together.”

What this means is that Labour passes laws to benefit unions, and unions use their extra funds to help Labour stay in power so that Labour can keep passing laws to benefit them. At the last election unions represented the vast bulk of the third party spending.

The third leadership contender, Shane Jones, focused on the need to build up small-town New Zealand.

He said he would focus more on Pasifika and working-class issues at today’s South Auckland meeting and “more intellectual” issues for the audience in West Auckland.

Intellectual issues for West Auckland? And if there is a forum at Wainuiomata, he’ll talk about his arts policy there I guess :-)



A win for Robertson

August 31st, 2013 at 5:03 pm by David Farrar

Just got back from Levin where they had the first of 12 meetings for Labour members and affiliates to hear the leadership contenders and ask questions.

Media were invited to the speeches part, hence why I went along. They initially said I could not report on it, as they get to decide who is and is not media. But then a compromise was done where I could report on it from just outside the building. I was more than happy with the compromise, as it was in fact nicer in the sun than in a crowded room.

Labour had around 300 people there, which is pretty impressive for a meeting in Levin. They’ll be pretty happy with that.

There are stories up on NZ Herald and Stuff on the speeches.

Shane Jones was first up. He used a couple of his previous lines, including taking on the $50 million gorilla which went down well. The key thrust of his speech was that he is the only candidate who can reclaim or recover the territory Labour used to have, which National now has. He spoke on the need for more regional development and said that does involve mining and drilling (not those exact words though). Called himself the embodiment of both old and new NZ, and related his mixed heritage.

He finished with saying that the real enemy was apathy (I thought it was the gorilla!), and had a classic line about how he wants Labour to get over 40% so that it doesn’t need a Green urologist to lift them up!

A good speech from Shane, which played to his strengths. I would be surprised if he got a lot of votes though. A reasonable level of applause at times, and at the end.

Second up was David Cunliffe. He started a bit subdued, but this may have been deliberate to avoid going over the top like at his campaign launch.  He spent most of the first half attacking the Government and saying that for 250,000 kids in poverty the Kiwi Dream is a nightmare. Lots of applause. He said the current kids may be the first generation to end up worse off than their parents and said Labour is the best hope for restoring the dreams.

He also borrowed from Helen, and called the Key Government corrosive. Then he showed he had done his homework by quoting regional unemployment stats and finally pledged to abolish the Kapiti Expressway if elected PM (not quite sure how that will help create local jobs!).

He also played to his strength by saying Labour managed economy well when last in Govt, and would do so again with him. said National focuses too much on welfare fraud and not enough on tax evasion, which was very popular. Tried to deal with the JAFA issue by saying he was born in the Waikato. He concluded by saying the red tide is rising and will take NZ forward. I almost expected them to start singing the international socialist song!

Overall a very good speech, that went down very well with the members there. One member tweeted that while he liked the speech, Cunliffe mainly repeated Labour policy and didn’t make the case for why he, not the others, should be leader.

Finally they/we heard from Grant Robertson. He started low key but got people warmed up with a joke about how John Key had said the leadership contest is a reality TV show. he pointed out reality TV shows are popular and that John Key has his own show, called You Are The Weakest Link – which of course they loved.

Grant obviously decided there is no way he was going to let Cunliffe be seen as the candidate of the left, so he pledged in quick order full employment, a living wage for all and a 50% female quota for caucus. They cheered and cheered.

The living wage commitment was specific – he will give a date by which every state agency must pay every employee at least a living wage (over $18 an hour) and also every contracted company to them must do the same. This is basically a 40% pay increase for every cleaner. By no coincidence, the room was full of Service and Food Worker members, many of whom are no doubt cleaners.

Grant also pledged to repeal National’s employment law changes, which again went down well. Then he had another line on how Steven Joyce thinks economic development is a night out at Sky City.

Grant’s use of humour to attack Key and Joyce is, for my money, an effective strategy. Just calling them evil uncaring people won’t convince anyone but the base. Humour used effectively though can undermine.

Then at the end Grant spoke on the need to win the next election at all costs, and how Labour needs to be unified to do that, and he is the person who can lead and unify the party.

I thought at the end of it, that Grant clearly was best on the day. Cunliffe was very good, but Robertson excelled. he got the mix of policy, rhetoric, humour and “why me” just right. Cunliffe did a great attack speech, but didn’t make the case so effectively for why it should be him.

The danger for Robertson is that if Cunliffe clearly outclassed him at the first debate, or two, then the uncommitted MPs and unions would swing behind Cunliffe as the likely victor. I think he did more than enough to keep the contest very finely balanced.

After the speeches, they went into committee for the Q+A. Amusingly they kept the doors open so one could hear everything said outside if you tried to listen to it (I didn’t).

Chatted to a few people afterwards, and the consensus seemed to be that Robertson performed the best. However 11 more meetings to go.

What really struck me was how far left Grant was prepared to go to head off Cunliffe. This is in fact quite good for National. If Grant wins, he is on record at pledging to effectively increase the minimum wage to over $18, and to have a gender quota for caucus, plus full employment. I love how he pledges 40% pay increases plus full employment! What will be interesting is if Cunliffe tries to match these pledges. He did unilaterally announce the scrapping of the Kapiti Expressway so by the end of their campaign, I hate to think what they will be promising – all motorways closed down, rail for all, jobs for all, and $29 an hour minimum wage!

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The contenders speak

August 31st, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald interviews the contenders. Some extracts:

Q: What is the first thing you would do as Labour’s leader?

• Shane Jones: Upgrade the Leader’s Office, get some smart people in there and get a professional office manager so that the Leader’s Office is a permanent man-o’-war.

Harsh. Jones has just implied the current office has no smart people in there.

Q: Is the Green Party making too many gains at Labour’s expense? If so, what will you do about it?

• Shane Jones: I am going to harvest and find my votes in Middle Earth – not flat earth.

A great line!

Q: Why is Labour not connecting with voters?

• David Cunliffe: The first task is to ensure our own party base is enthusiastically behind the leadership and policies. We also need to give the 800,000 who didn’t vote last time a reason to believe. And we need to restore the confidence of many people who used to vote Labour, but drifted to the Green Party or voted Labour under Helen Clark but have gone to National under John Key.

• Shane Jones: There is an unfortunate perception that Labour is dominated by middle-class intellectuals who no longer know how to relate to the bloke lugging meat at 4 in the morning into the supermarket or the woman putting her kids off to school before they go and work two jobs in a day. A lot of politics is about emotionally connecting with people. One way of connecting is for them to see a bit of themselves in the personality putting his hand up to do the work.

• Grant Robertson: We’ve struggled to get a clear direct message that speaks to people’s everyday lives and to connect our values with the policies we are putting forward. I do believe we’ve got a good mix of policies, with more to come. The challenge is articulating them in a way New Zealanders say “my life will be better under a Labour Government”. I think I can do that.

Effectively Cunliffe is saying he will energise the base, Jones is saying he will expand the base and Robertson is saying he’ll change little and just communicate better than Shearer.


Jones want to rip up CER?

August 31st, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

I thought Shane Jones was the most economically sensible Labour leadership contender but maybe not. Claire Trevett at NZ Herald reports:

If he becomes Prime Minister, one of Shane Jones’ first moves will be to deliver a one-fingered salute to Australia by extending Labour’s policy restricting overseas-based foreigners from buying property in New Zealand to include Australians.

That would be a breach of CER, and imagine if Australia responded by banning Kiwis from being able to buy property in Australia? Shows how bad economic literacy is in Labour, when even Shane Jones is coming out with such idiocy.

Labour’s policy, which is aimed at preventing foreign speculators from pushing up house prices, currently excludes Australians, partly because of the Closer Economic Relations agreement and because Canberra’s similar restriction on foreign buyers does not include New Zealanders.

We want fewer barriers between Australia and NZ, not more.

Mr Robertson said National’s changes to the law were particularly hard on vulnerable people, such as those in the cleaning and catering areas, and he would repeal them swiftly. He said that in his first months in office, he would also bring together a “summit” of business, community, Maori and other leaders to work on a manifesto. His government would agree to be held accountable for the results of that summit.

Is Grant saying he would implement what ever comes out of that summit? I thought Labour were against out-sourcing, but now they want to outsource their manifesto!


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.

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Was Shearer set up?

August 29th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

This is unbelievable. 3 News reports:

If David Shearer didn’t jump he was probably going to be rolled – that much, we already know.

But now it’s emerged that it wasn’t just a small faction inside the Labour Party that wanted him gone – it was his entire caucus.

In fact, every single one of them knew Mr Shearer was going to present two dead fish in Parliament last week, and no one stopped him.

They all knew? Not one Labour MP said that it was a massively bad idea? The poor bastard. They set him up. No wonder he is taking a few weeks off.

Whose idea was it? Will we find out?

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Jones calls it!

August 29th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A union rally should have been fertile ground for canvassing for Labour’s leadership contenders to glad hand prospective votes.

But while underdog Shane Jones worked the crowd, the two main contenders, Grant Robertson and David Cunliffe, were conspicuously absent.

Council of Trade Union boss Helen Kelly told the South Auckland rally that Cunliffe and Robertson had decided their presence would be a distraction – but it appears the MPs were headed off by union bosses as they were on their way to the event.

Robertson confirmed he was on his way to Wellington Airport when he turned back after a talk with union officials.

Jones decided to attend anyway. Given that his status as underdog is due partly to his having little prospect of garnering an endorsement from union bosses, that was probably not surprising. But he said he only got the word about not attending after jumping on a flight for Auckland.

Given I had already wasted taxpayers’ money in coming here it didn’t seem it was a good idea in using taxpayers money and not fronting,” he said.

Good to see Shane call it correctly.

Did the taxpayer pay the bill for the cancelled flights for the others?

3 News reports that some unionists are not keen on Robertson, for the wrong reasons:

Labour leader hopeful Grant Robertson was dealt a blow in south Auckland today, when members of the religious and socially conservative faction of the party came out in force to make it clear they don’t like that he is gay and won’t be voting for him.

The unions will play a big part in deciding the next Labour leader, but many in south Auckland have another union – with God. And that wasn’t working well for Mr Robertson. 

“I don’t like gay people. I don’t like him,” said one person 3 News spoke to.

“I don’t like gay people. I don’t want to see him as the Prime Minister,” said another.

Maybe giving the unions 20% of the vote wasn’t such a good idea after all, some Labour activists may now be thinking.


MPs and unions wanting to back the winner

August 28th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The feedback I’m getting is that a number of MPs and unions who might have been expected to back Grant Robertson are holding off as to be blunt they don’t want to end up backing the guy who loses. They would prefer Robertson, but if Cunliffe looks too far ahead they will fall in behind Cunliffe.

This means the 12 semi-public meetings could be crucial. If one of the candidates dominates in the first couple, then the opportunistic MPs and unions will swing in behind them. They don’t want to back the loser as the fear is promotions and favours will be based on who you supported.

The 12 meetings are:












1pm – 3pm Levin Horowhenua Events Centre, A&P Show Grounds Levin
Sunday 1/09/2013 Afternoon Auckland TBC
6pm Auckland Western Springs College Hall
Monday 2/09/2013 6pm Whangarei Forum North, Whangarei
Tuesday 3/09/2013 Evening Hawkes Bay TBC
Wednesday 4/09/2013 7pm – 9pm Tauranga Wesley Centre  100   13th Ave Tauranga
Thursday 5/09/2013 7pm – 9pm Hamilton Te Rapa Racecourse  Centennial Lounge, Hamilton
Saturday 7/09/2013 1pm – 3pm Nelson Victory Community Centre, 2 Totara St, Victory, Nelson.
Evening Wellington Wellington Girls High College TBA
Sunday 8/09/2013 3.30pm Dunedin Kings & Queens Performing Arts Centre, 270 Bay View Road, South Dunedin
Monday 9/09/2013 Evening West Coast Blackball / Greymouth
Tuesday 10/09/2013 7.30pm – 9.30pm Christchurch Christian Cullen Lounge, Addington Raceway, Christchurch

 Also of interest is the race for deputy. Hamish Rutherford at Stuff reports:

Labour leadership contest outsider Shane Jones says he will not try to chose a preferred deputy, but is certain the caucus will choose a woman to fill the role. …

“Without a doubt the Labour caucus will choose, in my view, a woman to be their deputy and I’ll just leave that with them,” he said.

That suggests that if Robertson does not win the leadership, he will lose the deputy spot. All or nothing!

Who are the women who might be in line for deputy.

  • Jacinda Ardern – close to Robertson, who former staff colleague. But would Cunliffe or Jones choose her?
  • Maryan Street – a powerful force in caucus, but maybe better behind the scenes?
  • Nanaia Mahuta – a previous running mate for Cunliffe
  • Sue Moroney – has lost five electorate races, but could end up deputy
  • Darien Fenton – currently a whip, and could help deliver union votes
  • Clare Curran – a South Islander, well connected in influential ICT industry
  • Megan Woods – also a South Islander, would help get the vote out in Christchurch
  • Ruth Dyson – probably seen as too much part of the past
  • Moana Mackey – close to Cunliffe, a possibility if he wins and Mahuta too busy with family
  • Carol Beaumont – pedigree union background

Is Political Idol over?

August 28th, 2013 at 10:54 am by David Farrar

It seems question time may have been too much for the Labour leadership contenders yesterday. In a very rare move, no Labour MP is asking a question to the Prime Minister today, even though it will be his last question time for three weeks (as overseas next week).

Maybe a National MP could seek leave of the House for all the three contenders to get a free question to the PM on any topic they choose?

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The campaign you’re all paying for!

August 27th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins at Stuff reports:

The three contenders for the Labour leadership have confirmed taxpayers are stumping up for the cost of them flying around the country to pitch for votes.

Labour MPs are also likely to charge their flights to the taxpayer for attending any of the 12 candidates meetings planned around the country over the next two weeks.

The three contenders – Grant Robertson, David Cunliffe and Shane Jones – confirmed they would use the travel perk to campaign over the next twarging their o weeks.

But they will pay for all their other expenses, such as accommodation, out of their own pockets.

Annette King has tried to justify this by saying MPs flights to party conferences get paid by Parliament also.

But I think there is a difference. MPs get invited to or are expected to attend many conferences and engagements around New Zealand. They attend business conferences, union conferences, party conferences, rotary club meetings and the like.

But this is different. This is three MPs choosing to stand for the leadership of a party, and attending meetings explicitly to persuade people to vote for them to become leader.

I think that is closer to a campaign expense, than a parliamentary expense, even though it is within the rules.

Just as the party leaders don’t charge their campaign travel to the taxpayer in a general election, prospective party leaders should not do so in a leadership election. They’re in line for a huge pay rise if they win, so surely paying for a few flights is a good investment?

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Labour winners and losers to date

August 27th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

So who are the winners and losers to date.


  • David Shearer, can now remove all the knifes from his back
  • Andrew Little, gets kudos of being talked about as potential leader, and could end up Deputy
  • Shane Jones, his endorsement for second preferences may be crucial guaranteeing him a promotion
  • David Cunliffe, may get to become leader or at a minimum return to front bench
  • Unions, their votes may decide the winner, so will have the leader indebted to them
  • Helen Kelly, now the most powerful woman in politics?
  • Maryan Street, successfully knifed the leader
  • Moira Coatesworth, strongly campaigned against caucus working out a deal with no membership vote
  • The 45 powerful EPMU delegates who may all end up with future Government board appointments, list rankings, or electorate selections


  • David Parker, as his finance portfolio may go to Cunliffe or even Jones
  • Grant Robertson, as if he does not win may lose Deputy
  • Chris Hipkins, a goner as chief whip if Cunliffe wins
  • Fran Mold, loses her job as Chief of Staff around a week after starting it. May be rehired by next leader but depends on who wins
  • Clayton Cosgrove, a goner if Cunliffe wins
  • Old Guard, their strangle-hold on power may be wrenched off them
  • Rajen Prasad, Shearer’s resignation interfered with his planned coup for 2017
  • Russel Norman, may soon no longer be the de facto Leader of the Opposition

Did Cunliffe plagiarise Robertson?

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



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


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How the Labour leadership vote will work

August 26th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Labour electoral college for the leadership has three components to it. Two of them are simple and one is complex. Also a complicating factor is that with three candidates, it is a preferential ballot.

Let’s take the three sections one by one.

Caucus Vote

The caucus gets 40% of the vote. They used to get 100%. They are the ones who actually get led by the Leader, and have to work with the leader on a day by day basis.

There are 34 MPs, so effectively each MPs vote is worth 1.18% of the total vote. If the vote is after Lianne Dalziel resigns then there are 33 votes worth 1.21% each.

Members Vote

They get 40% of the vote. Labour have not revealed how many members they have, but let’s say it is 10,000. If they all vote they get 0.004% each. So an individual vote counts for little, but the overall vote of the members does count for the same as the caucus.

Union vote

The affiliated unions gets 20% of the vote. This is proportional to the number of affiliated members each union has. Again this is not publicly known but we can estimate it. Basically the number of affiliated members is their total number of members multiplied by what percentage voted to affiliate with Labour when they voted to do so. This by definition is a proportion between 50% and 100%.

If we assume all the unions had a similar proportion in favour, then we can estimate their relative voting strength based on their latest returns of members to the Registrar of Unions. The six unions in order of size are:

  1. EPMU (Engineering etc) 36,987 members, 41.5% of union vote, 8.3% of total vote
  2. SWFU (Service Food etc) 22,351 members, 25.1% of union vote, 5.0% of total vote
  3. MWU (Meat) 15,313 members, 17.2% of union vote, 3.4% of total vote
  4. DWU (Dairy) 7,000 members, 7.9% of union vote, 1.6% of total vote
  5. RMTU (Rail) 4,747 members 5.3% of union vote, 1.1% of total vote
  6. MUNZ (Maritime) 2,635 members, 3.0% of union vote, 0.6% of total vote

As one can see the power of unions such as the EPMU and SWFU is considerable and they could well decide who the winner is. This is what happened in the UK Labour Party 2010 election. Ed Miliband won only 46% of the members vote and 47% of the caucus vote but got 60% of the union vote and beat his brother David Miliband. So the elected leader had minority support from both members and caucus, but got there thanks to the unions. The unions actually broke Labour’s rules by including promotion material for their preferred candidate in the same envelope as the voting paper!

But the situation is even worse in NZ Labour, than UK Labour. In UK Labour the unions allow all their members to have a vote. Ballot papers went out to around 2.7 million union members. This diluted the power of the union hierarchy to affect the ballot. They certainly endorsed candidates, and their endorsement won the day for Ed Miliband, but it was still a 60:40 split.

NZ Labour has decided that it is up to each union as to whether all their members will vote, or just their national conference delegates. Only one union, the SWFU, is allowing all members to vote. Good on them for doing so.

The other five unions are having their conference delegates vote only. So how many people is this? Well I’ve gone through the rules for each union to try and estimate this.

  1. EPMU – 1 delegate per 1000 members, 45 delegates
  2. SWFU – full membership vote
  3. MWU  - 1 delegate per 350 members, 54 delegates
  4. DWU - 1 delegate per site with more than 30 members, estimate 70 delegates
  5. RMTU - determined by previous conference so unknown
  6. MUNZ - 1 – 4 delegate per branch (13 branches), estimate 30 delegates

The power of those 45 EMPU delegates is considerable. That is a small enough number for them to meet collectively and decide who to support. Of course it is a secret ballot and they can vote however they like, but as loyal delegates they will vote for what is best for the EPMU. Those 45 EPMU delegates will be worth 8.3% of the total vote. I doubt they will be splitting 50/50 or even 60/40. I predict 80/20 or 90/10 or more.

Each EMPU delegate will get approximately 46 times as much of a say as a normal Labour Party member (if they are a member, they get an additional vote in that section also). A MWU delegate will get 16 times the say of a normal Labour Party member.

The 170 or so delegates from the EPMU, MWU and DWU are worth 13.3% of the total vote.  It is hard to see any leadership candidate winning without them. Those lucky 170 delegates will be getting lots of phone calls as they play a major part in picking the person who could be the next Prime Minister.

UPDATE: Very happy for any union to provide the exact number of voting delegates they have, so I can update the post.

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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.

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Jones standing also

August 25th, 2013 at 7:28 pm by David Farrar

Duncan Garner has tweeted that Shane Jones will also stand for the Labour Party leadership. Robertson declared today and inevitable Cunliffe will declare, so it looks to be a three horse race.

I suspect Jones is not in it to win, but to gain enough support that the other candidates need his support to win, and to give him maybe Deputy or Finance.

Certainly livens the race up, and will be good to have a more economically moderate candidate in the mix.

Sonny Tau has put out a personal statement in support of Shane Jones:

With the Labour leadership contest now underway, many Māori have thrown their support behind Shane Jones, proud son of Ngāpuhi, who has what it takes to lead Labour, and is the sharpest knife in party’s drawer.

Shane has a formidable intellect, great political instincts and is a brilliant orator in both Te Reo Māori and English. No one can touch Shane – not even John Key or any other politician – when he is in full-flight addressing Parliament.

Shane brings critical constituencies that Labour needs if it is to be in a position to form a Government.

He brings the Māori vote, which Labour knows it can no longer take for granted. Listening to Māori political pundits over the past few days, all have said it is imperative for Māoridom that Shane either leads Labour or is appointed deputy.

No other Labour MP has the understanding, authority or mana to drive through the Māori agenda as Shane can.

Another important constituency he brings is the business world. Shane has chaired a major fishing company and has acquired business acumen within the corporate world. There are precious few within Labour ranks who have this string to their bow. …

I urge Māori to be in touch with their Labour associates over the following days, to express their support for Shane Jones. I will be doing this myself.

That reinforces my belief that Shane is really standing for Deputy.

If Cunliffe beats Robertson, he could well make Jones Deputy. Where does that leave Grant? He can’t be Finance Spokesperson.

If Grant wins, he needs someone from Auckland as his Deputy. Either Cunliffe or possibly Jacinda. Does Jones get Finance?

The loser in all this may be David Parker. Hard to see him holding Finance regardless of who wins.


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Nash blames caucus and Mold for Shearer’s downfall

August 25th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

From The Nation today:

Rachel           Alright Mike we’ll come back to you a little later in the programme.  We’re going to go back now to Hastings where I think we have Stuart Nash, and I think he can hear us now?  You can I think.  Excellent.  Thank you for joining us there.  Can I put that to you actually as David Shearer’s former Chief of Staff.  Was it David Shearer who failed or did the team around him, the immediate team around him?  Did that team fail him?

 Stuart Nash – Former Labour MP

 Well I would say two things Rachel.  There were two things that went wrong.  First of all, you know your political history as well as I do, I cannot think of a party that won an election either in government or in opposition that had an openly dysunified caucus, and the second thing I think went wrong is the strategy was wrong in the Leader’s office.

Rachel           Okay so let’s start with the caucus.  What did the Labour caucus think of Shearer?

Stuart             Well they elected him.  When you elect a leader you stand behind that leader, you work very hard for that leader, and you make sure you give that leader the best possible opportunity to win an election.  Politics is about winning elections.  I personally think David would have been a very good Prime Minister, he’s a smart guy.  Look I don’t buy into the argument that he was too nice.  This was a bloke who lived in Mogadishu.  This was a bloke that led the UN in Iraq.  Mr Nice does not do those sorts of jobs.  This was a hard man.  He was a very good bloke, and like I said I think he would have been a very good Prime Minister given the opportunity.

Rachel           What was going on in the Leader’s office then?

Stuart             Well I firmly believe that if you want to be Prime Minister  you’ve gotta give every New Zealander the opportunity to have met you.  Now if you think about if you want to be President of the United States that person has to travel up and down the country and speak in nearly every little hamlet, town, city, right across America.  And it’s the same in New Zealand.  Helen Clark between 1996 and 1999 spent all her time just travelling up and down and right across New Zealand, speaking to every little Rotary Club, Lions Club, Workingmen’s Club, you know you name it Helen talked to it.  You’ve gotta have meetings with town halls that contain 10 people and contain a 100 people.  You’ve gotta give 10 speeches a week, and then you’ve gotta get up and you’ve gotta give another 10 the next week.  Every single year when you are in Opposition is election year.  There is now sort of hiatus, there’s no holiday, you’ve gotta start campaigning the day after the election.

Rachel           So they had the wrong strategy for him then do you think?

Stuart             They did.  I firmly believe that what David needed to do was – well do what Helen did.  Tuesday and Wednesday in parliament, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, up and down the country speaking to New Zealanders.  Like I said if New Zealanders feel they’ve had the opportunity to meet you it doesn’t mean they’ve necessarily taken up that opportunity, but if they feel as if they have had that opportunity then they’re much more likely to vote for you.  And keep in mind if you come to a place like Hastings, or like Napier, the Leader of the Opposition turning up is still big news, you’re still gonna get your photo in the community daily, or the community weekly.

Rachel           So who do you blame for this failure?  Who do you blame for this failure in strategy?

Stuart             Well David had some staff around him that he listened to, that he took advice from.  The bottom line is, David has resigned as Leader of the Opposition because he felt as if he didn’t have the confidence of his caucus colleagues, and that basically is because the polls weren’t rising in a way that the caucus felt he should have.  So you know I think his chief strategists have actually got to put up their hand and say hey we got it wrong.

Rachel           Who?  Exactly who?

Stuart             Well I actually think Fran Mold needs to put up here hand and say look, maybe I didn’t do things as well as I could have in terms of media relations.  Alistair Cameron perhaps has to as Chief of Staff.  But Alistair’s a very good man and I’ve had a couple of conversations with Alistair, but you know the bottom line is David is the Leader, but I just think if he had spent all his time up and down the country, cos he is a good man, he’s a man of absolute integrity, he’s a man of fantastic values, and he could have been a good Prime Minister.  But what I’m talking about, this isn’t rocket science Rachel, this isn’t the first time this has been said.  This is what every leader in New Zealand and across the western world does if they want to be Prime Minister, President, you name it.  They get out and they meet the people, and they find out what the real issues are.

It will be very interesting to see what happens to both the caucus and the leader’s office if Robertson or Cunliffe wins. Robertson is close to most of the leader’s office staff so I suspect little change there if he wins. Cunliffe however could well bring in new people.

Likewise in the caucus, I see little change in the shadow cabinet except a promotion for Ardern is Robertson wins. Cunliffe however could well dispense with some of the old guard who have spent years briefing against him.

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