Vance on Cunliffe

Andrea Vance writes in the SST:

Who will be the next Lord of the Flies?

A great analogy. But is Cunliffe Ralph or Jack. Who is Simon? David Shearer?

Normally coups are quick and bloody.

But by his own hand, David Cunliffe’s exit was torturous. A slow-motion train-wreck that played out over a week. His caucus ignored him, defied him, humiliated and deserted him.

And now he’s coming back for some more of the same. David Cunliffe either has the resilience of a cockroach or a total lack of self-awareness. He schemed and manipulated his way into the top job – just as his caucus colleagues schemed and manipulated to keep him out of it.

Could you have imagined what the Government would be like, if they had won? It would be a more civil version of Bosnia!

Cunliffe won the power struggle. But his party lost. Lost their support base. Lost the economic argument for the third election in a row. Lost the election. Lost their third leader in three years. And lost their heart and soul.


David Cunliffe is not the sole reason why Labour is now on its knees. But he made things profoundly worse. He not only failed to connect with voters, he turned them off. And because he failed to inspire the loyalty of his colleagues, he is finished.

The divisions are too pronounced. It seems that there was fault on both sides of the caucus. Parts of Camp David believe the Anyone But Cunliffe faction set him up to fail by sabotaging the campaign. In turn the ABCs believe his focus was always on this post-election fight.

Either way, it now seems impossible for Cunliffe to continue as leader – he patently can’t work with the caucus. To foist him on them again is just cementing a 2017 loss. One man can leave the job – only an immediate exodus of 20 MPs from Parliament would give him a chance of uniting the caucus.

That is basically it – either Cunliffe goes, or half the caucus goes. You could argue that a Cunliffe victory might be good for Labour in the long term, but how could they win in 2017, with that sort of purge?

Cunliffe’s childhood dream to be Prime Minister has died. He’s now got the noose around Labour’s neck, and by driving it into another bitter leadership run-off, he is kicking the chair out from under it.

It will be fascinating to see how the primary election goes. What if Cunliffe wins, but only 20% of caucus has voted for him?

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