Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Calling the race before it's over

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  • Barnard, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    <q>That Cunliffe wants to be leader is not news, that he doesn’t have enough support to be leader is also not news.<q>

    Unless feels he can get 40% in February, and has the support in the wider party?

    All what you say may be true, but the media will do what they always do (plots win over policy every time). Labour's problem is that whatever the reality internally may be, they have to deal the media reality. They run risk of it drowning out anything else they're trying to say.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2012 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • Felix Marwick,

    I'd have to say there was some chaos around the remits on the leadership selection. There was a distinct period on Saturday afternoon where few people appeared completely aware of exactly what was being voted on and how it affected votes previously taken.

    There was at least one occasion where someone stood up and asked ';what are we voting for?" There was another where two people, who were both arguing for exactly the same point (albeit in different ways) actually voted against each other.

    I sought clarification from three separate senior party members on the implications of the amendments passed - just to be sure my understanding was correct. I got three different, and contradictory, answers.

    There was certainly a groundswell from members for more say, and this did add to the passion of the debate. (That's to be expected as they've pretty much been kept at arms length in the recent past.) However to think this wasn't affected by factional politics within the party is (IMHO) a little naive. The passing of the remit for the 40% trigger was significant, and so too were some of the people that spoke in support of it and against it. In a sense it outlined what's been going on in caucus for some time.

    And it was more than just democratic debate. I think Carmel Sepuloni's statement that she thought some MPs made the wrong decision in the leadership vote last year showed the discussion went beyond constitutional reform and directly into leadership views.

    Andrew Little also directly referenced the leadership issue in the remit debate, albeit with a different view to that of Carmel Sepuloni.

    As for the focus on Cunliffe. There are only so many interpretations that can be put on his recent actions. He could easily have shut down the leadership issue at any time over the weekend. He chose not to.

    I know some in the Labour Party are upset the media focussed on the leadership issue over the other reforms. However the issue was started by those in the party, not us. A leadership spill has to be reporter and we weren't the ones that timed it so that it coincided with the party conference. Responsibility for that lies elsewhere.

    For the record I did write (and tweet) about other events at the conference. Though I'm not sure anyone paid them much attention.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 198 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Well, this has now gone beyond my comprehension altogether. As widely predicted yesterday afternoon, Shearer seems to be going for an early caucus vote to confirm his position.

    But suddenly, it's an outrage ("Stalinism," according to Idiot/Savant; "caucus exacting swift revenge on the party membership," says Gio). Curiously, this doesn't seem to have been the case when David Cunliffe said this yesterday:

    MP David Cunliffe, who is widely acknowledged to have leadership ambitions, said he would be in favour of an early vote.

    "I would welcome that... because I believe it would be to the party's advantage to deal with these issues earlier rather than later," he said.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18877 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Felix, I paid attention, and as a grumpy delegate I found no fault with the way you covered it (also, shout out to Toby M at the Listener, likewise).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2962 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Barnard,

    It's nice to think of it as healthy internal democracy, but it almost always appears as infighting, weakness, and self indulgence to the public.

    And yet, through all of that, Labour's steadily risen and National has steadily fallen in the polls. It just happens to be a slow, steady move, rather than the Brash-Orewa bounce everyone seems to think Shearer has to pull at some time, or face the guillotine.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8519 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Felix Marwick,

    As for the focus on Cunliffe. There are only so many interpretations that can be put on his recent actions. He could easily have shut down the leadership issue at any time over the weekend. He chose not to.

    I'm not suggesting there shouldn't have been a focus on it -- that would be mad. But I really thought Gower was making the story about himself and his attempt to get a gotcha, and most of the reports I saw didn't note the broader context of the rule change, which clearly wasn't just an attempt to get Cunliffe elected.

    Thanks for the response and the detail though, Felix. Much appreciated.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18877 posts Report Reply

  • BlairMacca, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    . Which should hopefully also mean some more child and young people friendly policies.

    Yes, but they would also have to vote in strong numbers for that to happen. Currently young people don't vote in great numbers, hence why there aren't many youth friendly policies

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 201 posts Report Reply

  • BlairMacca, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It was quite interesting seeing last nights coverage of TV1 and TV3. You wouldn't think they were at the same conference.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 201 posts Report Reply

  • Marcus Turner, in reply to Andre,

    They still seem like they want to do the least amount possible to retain support from their elderly home-owning members rather than changing the system completely to reduce inter-generational theft and inequality though.

    I found this chilling. Would you expand on it, please? Can you explain what you mean?

    Since Nov 2006 • 202 posts Report Reply

  • Barnard, in reply to BenWilson,

    True, but the longer this drags on the more likely it is that it will have an effect on the public's perception.

    As we get closer to the election, and the possibility of a Lab/Green + government becomes a possibility, the more any perception of the governing party at war with itself will scare voters off.

    Also, no clue as to what some want Shearer to do? They claim to be behind him, but then have accuse him of 'attacking' Cunliffe.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2012 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Russell Brown,

    As widely predicted yesterday afternoon, Shearer seems to be going for an early caucus vote to confirm his position.

    And now TVNZ has updated with this:

    Labour leader David Shearer has summoned an urgent caucus meeting for tomorrow to seek endorsement from members of the party.

    The move follows an announcement this morning that MP David Cunliffe is set to be demoted for effectively mounting a leadership challenge against Shearer after refusing to guarantee he would back the leader next February.

    Tomorrow's meeting will be held in Wellington at 4pm. Several Labour MPs are calling for Cunliffe to put up or shut up, including the party's chief whip, Chris Hipkins.

    I like what Chris Hipkins said.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2099 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Barnard,

    But no one usually achieves 100% support ever

    Peter Dunne and John Banks have 100% support from their respective caucuses :-)

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3004 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Labour leader David Shearer has summoned an urgent caucus meeting for tomorrow to seek endorsement from members of the party.

    Members of the Party? Shearer wants caucus support to take this to the membership?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3004 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But suddenly, it's an outrage ("Stalinism," according to Idiot/Savant; "caucus exacting swift revenge on the party membership," says Gio).

    I'm more thinking of the related threats to discipline and expel. So, they're going to have a vote in February, but they're going to punish and intimidate people so they get the right result. Not exactly democratic, is it?

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1641 posts Report Reply

  • Barnard, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Something for Labour to aspire to then :-)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2012 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Members of the Party? Shearer wants caucus support to take this to the membership?

    Dunno. TVNZ wrote that, not me. I would've assumed he was going to caucus to get caucus' support.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2099 posts Report Reply

  • Barnard, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    I’m more thinking of the related threats to discipline and expel. So, they’re going to have a vote in February, but they’re going to punish and intimidate people so they get the right result. Not exactly democratic, is it?

    That seems to be driven far more by a desire to get it sorted once and for all, than any attempt to bully a particular result.
    How much damage is the drip drip going to do between now & February? Plus Cunliffe's behaviour is not exactly that of someone committed to putting the good of the party ahead of any private interests. In those circumstances talk of disciplining is hardly surprising.
    It's not like it's difficult for Cuncliffe to end the speculation.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2012 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Peter Dunne and John Banks have 100% support from their respective caucuses :-)

    Are you sure?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3389 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to BlairMacca,

    Part of that isn't apathy, it's the way registration works on a residence basis.

    Currently, voters get chased when they move house, or in regular update campaigns. So once in the system, people tend to stay in it, but at the start, it can take a few years to get locked in (especially if you move often as many 18-21yr olds will).

    A solution would be a system where an entitlement database (based on birth and immigration data) is maintained, and anyone can vote either in the traditional way or by showing ID that can be validated.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4459 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But I really thought Gower was making the story about himself and his attempt to get a gotcha

    As you note, there's something to be desired from the pack. But I don't think I've ever seen a story of his which wasn't about shoehorning an issue or event into a conflict, frequently well beyond what actually happened. If it's personal, and he can make himself into the great fisher of truth, then more's the better. If you're ever in a situation where he will report events, think carefully about how he will frame things, and present yourself accordingly.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2135 posts Report Reply

  • HenryB, in reply to Barnard,

    That seems to be driven far more by a desire to get it sorted once and for all,

    But isn't that a sort of bullying?

    I don't get it: Cunliffe has said Shearer will get his vote if there is vote on the issue of leadership in the next couple of weeks. Between his comments at the Conference and this morning he clearly must have done the math - as it said - and guaged his chances as low.

    Quite rightly, when asked about next February's vote, Cunliffe says he doesn't know. I would have hoped all intelligent MPs would have said the same. If the February vote is to mean anything then it is a time for the leadership issue to be addressed again afresh.

    For me, this hasn't been about Shearer versus Cunliffe. It has been about Shearer versus Key. And, until the Conference speech, Shearer had done nothing to convince me that he was winning the contest of getting a Labour view across in any context - let alone on the floor of debating chamber. The conference speech showed that in certain contexts he can and the speech was, for me, good to hear. But will this new found voice translate into more agonistic contexts?

    Of course, Shearer could demote Cunliffe for not saying now how he'd vote next February. That's his privilege. But trying to discpline and not just demote a caucus member, something that Chris Hipkins seems to be implying, for exercising his rights would be really worrying.

    As far as the media are concerned, it really has been a truly confusing picture that has emerged - and I share the regret of many that so much of substance has been ignored in pursuit of a horse race story.

    Palmerston North • Since Sep 2008 • 106 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to George Darroch,

    But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a story of his which wasn’t about shoehorning an issue or event into a conflict

    He wasn't always like that. I remember a, perhaps younger and less jaded, Gower that helped me understand what was happening in parliament. I don't know if it is him or if it is the producers demanding a different style.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3389 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    The last Colmar Brunton Poll had NZF at 4.9%. With n=856 for the party vote question, this poll alone gives NZF a ~46% chance of making it into Parliament.

    Besides which, writing off NZF when they're anywhere near a threshold (which might be lowering soon) is crazy. Hate him or... hate him, he's certainly capable of coming back from the brink of political death.

    What does everyone think of the unions having 20% of the vote (and presumably many of their members being members so voting again?). Feels very 1970s to me, but I'm not involved at all so I wonder what the reasoning is.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6172 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Scott Yorke offers a faithful rendition of a day in the life of Patrick Gower.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2135 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to HenryB,

    But trying to discpline and not just demote a caucus member, something that Chris Hipkins seems to be implying, for exercising his rights would be really worrying.

    Too bleeding right. But then I find the way “party discipline” is managed to be pretty fascist in general. People should know what party policy is, and acknowledge it if the personal views they happen to be expressing are not party policy, but I do actually want to know what those views are. I can’t see how not being allowed to express dissenting views or disagree with the party Leader is anything other than fascism.

    /wanders off wondering if I’m related to that “Barnard” person…

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 369 posts Report Reply

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