Guest Post: A tale of two cities

A guest post by Cr Chris Milne:

A great mystery of 2022 is how it came to be that the Upper Hutt and Lower Hutt Mayors formed polar opposite views on Three Waters.

Three public opinion polls in the two cities have revealed strong resident opposition to the Labour Government’s centralisation of water management, including 50% iwi control through co-governance.

So how is it that, despite public opposition in both cities, Mayor Wayne Guppy of Upper Hutt is opposed but Mayor Campbell Barry is not?

The answer is pretty straight-forward. In 2019 Cr Campbell Barry campaigned for the Hutt City mayoralty under a Labour ticket. What the public were never told is that the Labour Party exacts a high price from who use their trademark.

It will surprise most people to learn that the Labour Party requires that using the Labour logo sign a pledge to support and implement Labour policy irrespective of the views of local residents. Further, all Labour candidates in a local body election pledge to block vote on issues of Labour policy.

The rewards for this abdication of local loyalty are political career opportunities and campaign assistance – databases, email systems, door knocking volunteers, billboard teams and support. One recent bauble was Mayor Barry’s appointment to the Labour Government’s Three Waters review taskforce, a body that reported back very recently with, you guessed it, no substantial changes to the policy opposed by the majority of Lower Hutt’s residents.

The Labour Party Constitution in force during the 2019 council elections contains Rule 95 (linked below):

R95: Any person accepting nomination as a Party candidate shall sign a pledge ….R95(e): I will faithfully observe the Constitution and Policy of the Party and the policy of the party for the [Lower Hutt] district.

R95(f): If elected, I will vote … in accordance with the decisions [of the Labour ticket members].

And the following rule dictates that Labour will support each other no matter what:R95(c): I will wholeheartedly support the duly selected candidates of the Party in the [Lower Hutt] district.

And do note that the first Objective (R3) of the Labour Party is “to elect [candidates] for the purpose of giving effect to Party policy and principles”. Rule 152 says that “The Policy Platform is binding on … all Labour Party members elected to public office who describe their affiliation as “Labour” or “Labour Party” on the ballot.

Labour are subject to a Disciplinary Process with multiple possible sanctions if they breach their pledge [R309]:

Rule 313: Disciplinary action shall be applied for and ruled upon on the grounds of:

(a): contravention of the Principles, Rules and Policies of the Party as contained in the current Constitution and policy documents of the Party, including under (c) – being automatically suspended for two years for publicly campaigning against another Labour candidate.

Notes:1) Link to the 2013 Labour Party Constitution: https://drive.google.com/…/18H2WIoLC9s2yNUnVfUW…/view…2)

Link to the 2020 Constitution (the relevant provisions are virtually unchanged – see Rule 12.4.1). This will apply to the 2022 Council elections. https://drive.google.com/…/1dWdUexV6fwd8rb3eMWo…/view…

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities(the first sentence of the book)

DPF: Another aspect of this constitutional requirement for Labour Mayors and Councillors to follow the dictates of the Labour Party over their local communities is that it is future binding, not just backwards binding. Even if Labour doesn’t have a policy on something at the time of the local body elections, any future policy becomes retrospectively binding on Labour Mayors and Councillors from the moment it is adopted.

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