Manhire says Labour needs Cunliffe

June 21st, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Just as pundits are saying Australian Labor needs Kevin Rudd back, Toby Manhire is saying NZ Labour needs to promote David Cunliffe. He writes in the NZ Herald. First he looks at the Sky City issue:

For the decision by a quartet of Labour MPs to accept the invitation from SkyCity to enjoy their generous hospitality and a sweet view of the first France test was staggering in its myopia.

Then the bank account:

David Shearer’s admission in March that he had overlooked and failed to declare several thousand dollars in a New York bank account was a nightmare for Labour, skewering two of the attacks levelled at the prime minister: that his wealth distances him from normal people, and those forgetfulness issues.

And the recent debate:

On its own, the SkyCity box thing does not a Labour party crisis make. But it fits a pattern. The commanding effort by David Shearer at the party conference late last year increasingly looks like an anomaly. In his contribution to the urgent parliamentary debate on the Peter Dunne resignation the other day – a debate Shearer personally demanded – the Labour leader appeared to be reading from a script that had been torn up and sellotaped together at random.

There has been much chatter about Shearer’s performance in that debate.  What makes it really bad is that this was a snap debate demanded by Shearer. It was almost as if he didn’t expect to get it and hadn’t prepared.

It’s true that Labour could end up leading a government if it continues in the current vein, but it would be one of hell of a shaky coalition, with the party outnumbered in Parliament by National by some distance.

They need a shake. An adrenaline shot. A risk, even. It’s now seven months since David Cunliffe was sent to the naughty step – expelled from the front bench for failing to squash talk of an insurrection.

Clearly he continues to be seen as a divisive figure, but he’s also shown, even from the backwater of the tax spokesmanship, that he remains a formidable politician. Confronted with National’s niggly, muscular front-row of Joyce, Brownlee and Collins, Labour can’t afford to leave Cunliffe in the shed.

But how about the ABCs?

As for the – ahem – optics, the promotion of an MP who had served his time would project strength, evidence of the leader’s vaunted experience in conciliation. To those MPs who continue to feel aggrieved on Cunliffe’s part it would send a message that the infighting must end.

A risk, yes. But a necessary one. Shearer’s elevation to and retention of the leadership has been enabled, so we’re told, by the weight of the Anyone-but-Cunliffe sentiment in the Labour caucus.

Less than 18 months out from the election, that ABC needs rethinking. Anything but carry on like this.

I would be surprised if Cunliffe was promoted to the front bench. His supporters are all being weeded out. Chauvel has gone. Dalziel is going. Mahuta has been demoted.

The real battle will be if Shearer loses in 2014. Then we see Cunliffe vs Robertson for the leadership. Cunliffe could win the membership vote by 2:1 so Robertson will need to win the caucus vote by at least 2:1 to balance that out (they get 40% each). Hence they will continue to try and weed pro-Cunliffe MPs out of caucus.

The so called honeymoon

April 12th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Media often talk about a new Government having a honeymoon, and it is pretty garbage journalism as it suggests that the Government’s support up until the end of the honeymoon is artificial or delusional, rather than earnt.

Toby Manhire has blogged how the media have declared the GCSB issue is the end of John Key’s media honeymoon, and then gives 12 previous references dating from 2007 to 2012 when various media or commentators also declared the honeymoon over.

It’s a cliche that should be buried. It has some validity in the first six months of a Government’s term, but after their first Budget, I think it is a near meaningless term.

The year in review in advance

January 26th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Toby Manhire does a hilarious review of 2013 in advance. Extracts:

The appointment of Steven Joyce as minister responsible for Novopay proved a masterstroke. In mid-April, Joyce announced that the school payroll software would be abandoned, and replaced with Paula Rebstock.

Hekia Parata demonstrated her staying power, despite mounting dissent, which coalesced in a 10,000-strong march on Parliament, attended by teachers, parents, Phil Heatley and the Hansard transcribers. And how about those All Blacks?

Steven Joyce was appointed minister responsible for New Zealand cricket and other bat-based sports.

Not a bad idea!

Steven Joyce was appointed minister responsible for the royal baby (Denise!), as well as minister responsible for Marmite and other strategic breakfast spreads.

I sense a theme!

Labour lurched from crisis to crisis. Only the harshest critic could begrudge David Shearer his newfound contentment as a freelance motivational speaker, guitar tutor and editor of the popular “Things to Do in Mt Albert” blog.

David Cunliffe had already blown his chance after Patrick Gower discovered a recording device secreted in his beard. That left Grant Robertson a shoo-in for the leadership. Shane Jones won all the same, seducing everyone before him by weaving Harvard babble, Kiwi vernacular and preacher-speak into a single sentence. Scandal came soon after, and follows him into the new year.

I’d love to see Shane as the Labour Leader!

Steven Joyce was appointed minister responsible for appointing himself responsible for things. He swiftly moved to appoint himself minister responsible for Judith Collins.


It was a surprisingly quiet year from Kim Dotcom. Apart from the revelation that he had for more than two years been storing data in the Prime Minister’s cerebrum – mostly pirated copies of the blockbuster film Johnny English – as part of his “MegaKey” project.

John Key defused the incident with a joke about the cricket. His poll numbers soared. As they did after he tried to get Obama to drink a yard-glass, and when he arrived at Question Time dressed as Bilbo Baggins.

Don’t give him ideas!

He was universally lauded for his decision to change his formal title from “Prime Minister” to “Chief Executive of New Zealand” – with the exception of a single damning editorial in the Southland Times and a handful of extremist bloggers – and there was broad support for his proposal to leverage the brand as”SkyCity New Zealand”.

That will cost far more than a convention centre!

Excellent satire. At least I hope it is satire.

The Greens and inquiries

July 3rd, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Toby Manhire blogs at The Listener:

John Key has dismissed the Green party call for an inquiry into the raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion by saying that the Greens call for an inquiry on virtually everything.

“It’s sort of the boy who cried wolf a few too many times I think,” the prime minister said on TVNZ Breakfast this morning.

Is he right?

Here are some of the things Green MPs have demanded independent inquiries into (some have been successful) over the last 18 months.

The Dotcom Mansion raid.

Australian shipments of uranium passing through NZ ports.

The price of milk.

Hydraulic fracturing (successful).

The death of SAS solider Leon Smith in Afghanistan.

SAS prison transfers in Afghanistan.

Charter schools.

South Canterbury Finance affair.

The police case against Urewera Four.

Leak of Ports of Auckland worker’s details.

Genetic experiments on animals.

ACC claims management.

ACC conflicts of interest.

The Sky City convention centre negotiations.

Alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka in 2009.

The Rena accident and oil spill response.

NZ’s dependence on imported oil.

Auckland transport on World Cup opening night.

Huawei’s involvement in ultra-fast broadband.

Good to see a journalist doing research to substantiate a claim. That is indeed a fair number of inquiries demanded.

The sad thing is that the Greens will ignore the results of an inquiry, if it clashes with their beliefs. Take for example the Royal Commission on Genetic Engineering.