Two post-election mistakes that will haunt Cunliffe

David Cunliffe had a reasonable chance of not being challenged for his job despite the loss, but he has made a challenge almost inevitable. It wasn’t foregone as Grant Robertson is incredibly nervous about standing and losing for a second time.

The first mistake was Cunliffe’s election night speech. It sounded like a victory speech at times.

Stuff reports:

Leader David Cunliffe’s demeanour will fuel their rage.

Cunliffe found many factors to blame for Labour’s defeat – the economy, being starved of oxygen by dirty politics, the Dotcom bomb and secret surveillance, and the party’s utter failure to fundraise.

But the one finger he did not point was at himself.

Another Stuff article reported:

Behind the scenes, the finger pointing began in earnest, with some in the caucus questioning Cunliffe’s commitment to win the election.

One suggested he gave up on the election campaign weeks ago and shifted his attention to manoeuvring to launch a primary campaign as quickly as possible.

This is the other big issue that has pissed the caucus off. Cunliffe gave up on winning the election and started focusing on how to remain leader.

The Herald reported:

In an apparent attempt to get a headstart on any likely rival, Mr Cunliffe effectively started his re-election campaign on election night by sending out an email to the party members and unionists who vote on the leadership.

In that email, obtained by the Herald, he said the party needed to refresh and modernise. “That’s why I will be seeking a new mandate from the party, the affiliates and the caucus by the end of the year.”

So get this. He actually had the e-mail written declaring he wants to stay on as leader, before the election, and his focus on election night was not what went wrong, but how to keep his job.

These two things have galvanised the caucus, and many activists. Former President Mike Williams has effectively said he thinks Cunliffe should go, and Mike is a very astute and connected observer of Labour.

The Herald further reports:

Labour MPs will demand David Cunliffe release potentially embarrassing internal polling results on his popularity to them in caucus as part of a brutally frank post-mortem of Labour’s dismal election campaign.

The party’s new caucus will meet for the first time today to review what went wrong and Mr Cunliffe’s wish to put his leadership to the vote. Mr Cunliffe will face calls to release Labour’s tightly guarded internal polling and focus group research – something that could be potentially embarrassing to him.

Several MPs said with the rest of the party under scrutiny over its performance, caucus should be also able to assess how much of a factor his own leadership was in the result. Labour’s polling company, UMR Research, polls on how favourable voters’ impressions are of the party leader and other key MPs – but the results are closely held by the leadership team.

If David Cunliffe won’t share Labour’s polling with his caucus, maybe the Labour MPs should ask National if they can see National’s polling on leader favourability. Steven Joyce might be quite co-operative 🙂

Stuff looks at the contenders for leader and deputy:

  • David Cunliffe
  • Grant Robertson
  • David Shearer
  • David Parker
  • Jacinda Ardern
  • Andrew Little
  • Stuart Nash
  • Nanaia Mahuta
  • Annette King
  • Sue Moroney
  • Chris Hipkins

So over one third of the Labour caucus fancy themselves as leader or deputy leader. This is going to be fun!

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