Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Calling the race before it's over

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  • BenWilson,

    Another way of seeing things, which goes against the tendency towards presidentialism, is to see the Shearer/Cunliffe dynamic as extremely healthy democratic practice, and both of them are lifted by it. Having a strongly opinionated character near the top is actually a bloody good thing, to be fully encouraged in any organization that values reality over groupthink. I'm quite stoked by what Labour has come up with here*, for the first time in ages, and if that's come about because Shearer didn't stomp on Cunliffe's face on day one, then all the more power to Shearer.

    *With the proviso that I think it might not be strategically wise - Labour moving rhetorically right without any clear policy was a strategy that could eat the equally vacuous National policy and rhetoric, leaving room for partners to the left. But for Labour to come out clearly with more socialistic policy is not something I'm going to lament, it's nice to think they really do believe that stuff still. I do prefer honest politics, and I really do think Shearer is going to be rewarded in the polls by this, quite quickly.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8591 posts Report Reply

  • Andre,

    The most interesting question posted last week was who is best qualified to lead a new alliance between the Greens, Mana and Labour? That would be the outcome if an election was held today I reckon, since the pollsters are still phoning landlines and based on the pre-election polls that were badly skewed towards the right-wing parties. Hopefully NZ First doesn't need to be included in any new government. At present, Russel Norman is a valid possibility. Shearer's main job may be doing enough to actually lead the country after the next election. Very glad to hear some left-wing views from Labour for a change. 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.

    New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 277 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    I wish I could remember where I read recently -- perhaps it was Josh Marshall on Talking Points Memo -- a discussion on how if we want to understand and predict how things will unfold in these matters, a measured analysis of publicly available information from many sources tends to out-perform insider gossip.

    Also, can we from now on please refer to Roads of Significance to National? Thank you.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2968 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I'm also not convinced that the supposed Machiavellian nature of Cunliffe that is ironically being constantly leaked to all these journalists who won't come clean on any sources, isn't just a ploy by someone a little lower down the food chain using them to jockey for position.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8591 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    The thing about Armstrong’s column, and I speak as a delegate who was present, is that there is no necessary connection between voting for a change that disadvantages Shearer and wanting to knife him, if you believe that those changes are necessary for democratic reasons.

    I have no doubt that Cunliffe supporters smelt the opportunity and organised support for that amendment (which was proposed a long time ago, not on the day) in order to further his prospects, but I also have no doubt that many voted for completely other motives. The coverage of the vote in the press elides the number who voted against – it wasn’t a landslide by any means –and the complex motives of those who voted for.

    Finally there’s a very significant story in how policy will be far more driven by members and less by caucus owing to the way the new platform document is enshrined in the constitution, and I haven’t seen any discussion of the impact of that in the press at all.

    Disclaimer: I am not in either camp. I have other goals in the Labour party than promoting one particular MP as leader.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2968 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    a measured analysis of publicly available information from many sources tends to out-perform insider gossip.

    Yes! But caveat that by saying "in the long run". There are surely times when you get the scoop. I just don't see it this time.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8591 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    Finally there’s a very significant story in how policy will be far more driven by members and less by caucus owing to the way the new platform document is enshrined in the constitution, and I haven’t seen any discussion of the impact of that in the press at all.

    Me neither. It's relevant to the leadership battle and an unreported story in its own right.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18964 posts Report Reply

  • Bill Bennett,

    "You can’t convince the voters if you can’t convince your own caucus."

    Would only be true if the caucus reflected the wider electorate or even the half or so who might conceivably vote Labour. I'm not convinced that's the case.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2012 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Bill Bennett,

    Would only be true if the caucus reflected the wider electorate or even the half or so who might conceivably vote Labour. I’m not convinced that’s the case.

    They're still the group you have to lead on a daily basis.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18964 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    ''New Zealand is a small open economy that needs to make its way in the world. A lot are pro-forma...but the [visits] I would say were discretionary were LA - we didn't have to do that trip but we thought it was worthwhile [and] the trip to Australia - it's our biggest market.''

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/7967913/Key-defends-overseas-travel

    His opponent has moved to the Royal We.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    The thing about Armstrong’s column, and I speak as a delegate who was present, is that there is no necessary connection between voting for a change that disadvantages Shearer and wanting to knife him, if you believe that those changes are necessary for democratic reasons.

    That was my thought watching the news over the weekend - I suspect a lot of Labour Party members enjoyed having a say after Goff stepped down and want more of that kind of influence - regardless of who they support.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6205 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    The least that Shearer can do now is to keep Cunliffe on board in a senior portfolio. And likewise if Cunliffe rolls Shearer.

    Would only be true if the caucus reflected the wider electorate or even the half or so who might conceivably vote Labour. I’m not convinced that’s the case.

    That said, there’s a bit of dead wood in said caucus. Is there some kind of Aussie Labor Party-style Unity-Left factionalism going on, only not quite as formal?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4353 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    I was there over the weekend, and what I saw was the party reasserting itself in the relationship between party and caucus.

    ETA: Highpoint of the weekend for me? Meeting the excellent Mr Judd. (Also lots of other things, but it really was great to meet and talk to Stephen.)

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1323 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Deborah,

    I was there over the weekend, and what I saw was the party reasserting itself in the relationship between party and caucus.

    That's what came through on the wires too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18964 posts Report Reply

  • ScottY,

    I was also lucky enough to attend on Saturday and Sunday. There was definitely a mood for change, and I think this motivated the voting more than a desire to make Cunliffe leader. Delegates wanted to send a message to caucus that caucus exist to serve the wishes of the party, not the other way around.

    The voting on Saturday was messy and at times confused, and often boisterous. It was also glorious to be a part of (as an observer: I was a non-voting delegate); and whatever short term mess the party may now find itself in as a result, it will be stronger for the changes in the longer term.

    Yorke of The Atatu • Since Feb 2009 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    I agree with Deborah and Scott (it was great to meet both of you at last!) but the Cunliffe manouevring is real too. It's just not the overwhelming will of the party that the commentators think it is.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2968 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Andre,

    Hopefully NZ First doesn't need to be included in any new government

    It appears that people have realised that 6-point-whatever percent of the party vote doesn't give Winston that much more parliamentary influence personally but, rather, brings in a whole lot of other people as well. The "But I didn't vote for him" reactions just after the election were amusing, and spoke to a high level of ignorance about the true functioning of the party vote system, but were also comforting in pointing to this term being Winston's last, glorious hurrah rather than a resurgence of NZF. It would certainly explain why NZF is polling at fractions of the margin of error.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3909 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    the Cunliffe manouevring is real too

    Can you flesh that out? What sort of maneuvering did you see or hear about?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8591 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    It would certainly explain why NZF is polling at fractions of the margin of error.

    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.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3009 posts Report Reply

  • Barnard, in reply to BenWilson,

    Can you flesh that out? What sort of manoeuvring did you see or hear about?

    He must be aware of how this would play in the msm, and therefore the implications of the Will I, won't I' stuff?
    I'm sure it's all true that the vote and the membership having a greater role in any leadership vote or shaping policy is genuinely a positive thing. There would be a real story to tell about the party becoming more democratic and confident, if it didn't seem pretty likely Cuncliffe's simply going to wait to February when he think he might have a chance of winning.
    It's all very well criticising the media for the way they've spun the vote and it's timing, but they're always going to do that with the speculation about a Cuncliffe challenge. Cluncliffe must of known that, must of known it would overshadow whatever else happened, and has to take most of the blame.

    I can't see this playing well with potential voters, and you therefore have to question Cuncliffe's priorities. Definitely his suitability to lead the party, and possible even him playing a senior role, if he can't seem to separate his own interests from those of the good of the party.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2012 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    He must be aware of how this would play in the msm, and therefore the implications of the Will I, won't I' stuff?

    I'm not sure. All but a small number of the MPs being hounded to pledge their undying souls to Shearer have refused, because the idea that it's a secret ballot is actually an important one, as is the fact that February is in the future, and it's perfectly possible for Shearer to drop the ball majorly before then. I'm not committing to how I feel about Shearer in February either, you know, because I'm a rational being, capable of changing my mind.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8591 posts Report Reply

  • Scott Chris,

    And in a perfect world, the people we rely on to tell us what is happening would spent more time reporting what they see and hear, rather than what’s been whispered urgently in their ears.

    Time destroys the speculation of men, but it confirms nature.- Cicero

    Auckland • Since Feb 2012 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Barnard, in reply to BenWilson,

    But no one usually achieves 100% support ever, and of course people change their minds, so by that token any leader could at some theoretical point lose majority support. You can't successfully operate on that basis. Those involved if they have the party's interest at heart have to have a sense of how constant open speculation comes across.
    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.
    I don't see how you can put a cohesive alternative vision to the public at the same time as your leader's future remains in doubt.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2012 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    I managed to avoid most of the news this weekend but what I saw of Paatrick Gower was depressing. I remember him providing information and analysis in the past that informed. Now he seems desparate to get “the soundbite” that will make his career. He could do well by looking back at his older performances and returning to that style.

    As for the wrangles in Labour. Huh? The change in policy seemed to be one that gave the wider party more input into the actions of the MPs – it’s hard to view that as a bad thing. That Cunliffe wants to be leader is not news, that he doesn’t have enough support to be leader is also not news.

    The real story was the policy but it would have taken some actual effort on the part of the reporters to provide insight analysis and information.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3417 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    I wish there could have been more reporting of the remits passed as there seems to be some good stuff among it all, from reports. My favourite is the decision to lower the voting age to 16, which means that those who are at intermediate school now could be voting by the time this comes in for the 2017 election. Which should hopefully also mean some more child and young people friendly policies.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2096 posts Report Reply

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