Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Next Labour Leader

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  • DeepRed,

    If Cunliffe is not to be made leader (and I doubt he’d accept a deputy role) I’d be happy with him being accorded a policy fiefdom; something broad and complex enough to soak up all his ambition. Finance, economic development, regulation.

    In the lead up to the 1999 election, the Sunday Star Times ran an article on Labour's prospective candidates, which included Cunliffe, Margaret Wilson, and John Tamihere. Cunliffe in particular was touted as a future Finance Minister, which still looks likely if Shearer takes the top spot.

    And I suspect Labour's party list issues is partly to do with placating its various factions.

    Stewart:

    I'm aware of the 'Waitakere Man' mythical voter-type (cf Essex Man in England) but wtf is Bowalley Rd all about and why 'back over' there?

    And similar to the Reagan Democrat in the States. Trotter still clings to the old 'smokestack' Left in a big way.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4064 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Christopher Dempsey,

    Like many Green policies, this one will be ‘stolen’ by National at some point (probably he of the improbable hair).

    I’d keep stolen in quotes there. I guess if you’re a “minor” party, you’re fucked if you do, fucked if you don’t and fucked no matter what you do. If the Maori Party and Greens secure any policy concessions whatsoever, they’ll get pissed on from the left as Uncle Toms and sell outs while the usual suspects on the right will have a collective stroke about New Zealand turning into North Korea. Can a good policy just be a good policy no matter where it comes from?

    ETA: For that matter, I'm sure there was a certain amount of discreet eye-rolling over this campaign as Labour patted itself on the back (with much assistance from the media) for its "courage" in adopting policies the Greens have been advocating for years - and getting attacked as extremist flakes from the same quarter.

    Looking slightly above the electoral horse-trading, I think the Greens could say shifting the centre of political gravity - slowly, painfully and unevenly - is also what green politics is about.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11786 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Labour have got two ways to combat that: their own leader with a strong competing mythology, or go negative and try to convince everyone JK is a rich prick. The last three years have been the latter, and it’s not working.

    Or, wild thought, they could take a stand on what it is they're about, and sell that, and not make it about personalities at all. They could do something that they have always pretended was what they were about, rule as a collective. But they don't - the party is organized top down like a corporation. Like a corporation, we're supposed to care about the Shakespearean power struggles, and wonder how it might affect our lot. I won't play. It won't make a lick of difference to me who rules Labour, what matters is what Labour would do if they got enough votes to rule. If they're going to do something fucked up, we'll bitterly rue whatever leader we anointed, as so many rued the helmsmanship of David Lange, when last our economy was neoliberalized by Labour.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Can a good policy just be a good policy no matter where it comes from?

    Absolutely, if every politician fully acknowledges the source of the policy.

    John Banks had one massive fault - he made the sun rise and set. Among many local body politicians, he was notorious for never acknowledging the source of the ideas or project, leading me to suspect that he would even claim to make the sun rise and set.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 639 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    For me it's just too much of a leap to forget that Labour started the selling to fund welfare, National is just going to finish it.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • James Littlewood*, in reply to Moz,

    the Greens vote went up, both absolutely and as a percentage

    Yeah, absolutely! And yes, some hundres of thousands also saw fit to vote for Winston. But that doesn't feel like the full story to me. To vote Labour in 2011 you had to be staunch. Green: adventurous. Winston: amnesiac.

    But to vote National? You had to like Key enough to not mind him doing everything he says he'll do (or actually want to see state assets sold). But didn't somebody's poll find that asset sales are opposed by 80% or something?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 191 posts Report Reply

  • Isaac Freeman, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Though this might have been easier if the Greens had stayed a one-trick Environment party.

    I'm not sure they ever were that, in the trees-and-flower-and-chirping-birds sense of "environment". If liberals are about freedom, conservatives are about stability and progressives are about equality, then Greens are about sustainability. That has social and economic aspects as well as physical ones.

    Sorry to pick on one sentence. I bet you knew when you typed it that someone would pounce on it.

    Both Labour and National would very much like for the Greens to be the tree-hugging party. Likewise they'd like New Zealand First to be the old-people party instead of having a broader nationalist agenda, and ACT to be the low-tax party instead of... whatever the hell they are now.

    If anything, it's easier for National to deal with the Greens than Labour. Nobody is pretending that the current National platform is remotely sustainable, so there's no need nor point in grappling with fundamental values. It's just a matter of picking some projects that National doesn't care about, such as home insulation and cycle tourism. When Labour people try to talk to Greens, they're stymied by the misapprehension that they already share the same values and speak the same language.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 129 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I think he rather surprised himself when that came out of his mouth.

    Sure, but when you're trying to position yourself as the experienced, safe pair of hands in the race you can't afford to be writing too many large cheques in interviews. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11786 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    Perhaps the self employed tradies-aka Waitakere Man should look at the Construction Contracts Act 2002 and who introduced that - surely not the social engineering-regulationists of the Helen Clark Government.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 204 posts Report Reply

  • Euan Mason, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    "..we know what Cunliffe thinks about [buying back state assets]"

    Craig, yes, I think Cunliffe was caught out by that question, and when pressed to confirm he equivocated. I'm not necessarily promoting either candidate. However, a leader of a major party has to be an effective communicator and Shearer has some work to do on that account. ........Yeah, I know, but NZ First doesn't qualify as a "major party" :).

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 164 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Isaac Freeman,

    Sorry to pick on one sentence. I bet you knew when you typed it that someone would pounce on it.

    Yeah, I should have said "perceived as". I'm sort of boggled by how much the general perception of the Greens has changed over the years, while they've basically, in terms of essentials if not presentation, stayed exactly the same.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4328 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Or even 'Te Atatu man'

    Or "stupid cliche". The wild West is my digs, at least half of the people I associate with on a regular basis come from the surrounding hills. More than half of my extended family are in the lower foothills. The cliches don't really work. They're a complex brew. Every extreme. Every business, every race, every class, every sexuality. People engaged, and totally disengaged. Hard honest workers and criminals. Students, the unemployed, hobby farmers. Gangsters. Cops. Artists, poets, dancers, writers. Stoners and meth-heads, and party pill poppers. Extreme sports lovers. Factory workers, office workers, tradespeople, professionals, technicians, businesspeople. And thousands more sub groups.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth, in reply to James Littlewood*,

    And yes, some hundres of thousands also saw fit to vote for Winston.

    Not quite that many - 135,000 plus whatever the specials add - maybe 150k in round terms.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Sacha,

    'Te Atatu man'

    Te Atatū went for Phil Twyford over Tau Henare this time around. Just sayin'.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2328 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Isaac Freeman,

    When Labour people try to talk to Greens, they’re stymied by the misapprehension that they already share the same values and speak the same language.

    I think they're more "stymied" by the bizarre misapprehension that they can go out and trash the Greens and Maori Party then expect them to come running, tails a wagging, whenever they snap their fingers. I don't think Turei and Norman (or Sharples and Turia) are utterly psychotic - they know the gaping policy gaps with National. But it's interesting how far "don't be a dick" can get you in grown up politics.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11786 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Cox,

    Or, wild thought, they could take a stand on what it is they’re about, and sell that, and not make it about personalities at all.

    I don't think those two things are mutually exclusive. But I think National have proven that you can be extremely popular without the former, as long as you have the latter.

    I guess we can probably agree to disagree, but I think the talk of collectives is nice and all in theory, but evidence suggests you're gonna need a strong leadership for people to unite behind.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • James Littlewood*, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    shifting the centre of political gravity – slowly, painfully and unevenly – is also what green politics is about

    Probably. But where? Many greens get very bored with L-R spectral politics and dogma. But at the cost of policy theft? Perhaps.

    Certainly, the Greens have proven that there is a viable strategy for policy gains in opposition under MMP.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 191 posts Report Reply

  • Patrick Reynolds,

    Seems clear to me that the best answer is Shearer with Cuniliffe as Finance spokesman. Only downside is if the latter can't man up [a lá English] and spends the next three years snipping at Shearer as he learns on the job....? That aside it's win/win. Fresh face, new story and 'authenticity' with attack dog numbers dude as his 'wing man' [pace Mr Key].

    The reverse doesn't work, Cuniliffe's power in that portfolio would be neutered by the leadership role and Shearer is more Foreign Affairs or similar....

    Choose a deputy to unite the country, Robertson? Or, of course, a woman or South Islander [any?O'Connor, cough!]. Ardern has turned either post down, which is fair enough at 31. Don't want to go back to old Labour ministers so other options? Parker is impressive, but would that make the team too Auckland...? And again he'll have a key [oooops] role to play on the front bench, as will Ardern.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2010 • 35 posts Report Reply

  • Euan Mason, in reply to merc,

    "...Labour started the selling to fund welfare.."

    I agree that our western malaise is to crave government services but be unwilling to front up with taxes to pay for them, but this isn't what neoliberals are about. They sell assets out of principle; Alan Gibbs said he didn't believe that the state had ever made anything of value, despite having hundreds of millions of dollars worth of state forests to sell. It doesn't matter to them if SOEs are earning 17% for us, they simply have to be in private hands and then the world will be an acceptable place. It's mental illness, really.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 164 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Euan Mason,

    However, a leader of a major party has to be an effective communicator and Shearer has some work to do on that account. ……..

    I wouldn't disagree with you there - but I also think the CW that Cunliffe is the media master (and I though Paul Holmes got a little over-heated on that score on Q&A) needs qualification. He's been a very good finance spokesman; but the leader of the Opposition can't afford any crude outbursts about the post-apocalyptic MILF-osity of Judith Collins distracting from policy. It's not just the "smug" that irritates me about Cunliffe, but the occasional fits of big swinging dick machismo that are as ridiculous as they are distasteful. (Really, did anyone need to know that John Key and Phil Goff both think Liz Hurley is a smokin' hot piece of totty?)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11786 posts Report Reply

  • Patrick Reynolds, in reply to Patrick Reynolds,

    ..... or Jones as deputy?? Seems a more powerful Maori presence than Mahuta to me...? Though I'm no student of the politics of this.... Would signal a foregrounding of Maori issues that would then have to be successfully acted upon....

    Auckland • Since Jan 2010 • 35 posts Report Reply

  • Jan Farr,

    Nonetheless, Labour must learn to co-operate with the Greens in Opposition if anyone is to believe the two parties can co-operate in government. The Greens are not vote-stealers, they are a genuine political movement presently doing a very good job for itself.

    Russell – I so very much agree with you. Labour and the Greens are allies – we’re on the same side – with a different emphasis perhaps. We should be working together – talking – not making assumptions about each other. For Labour to accuse the Greens of vote-stealing is to shoot ourselves in the other foot.

    Carterton • Since Apr 2008 • 394 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    I don’t think Labour has much to fear from the Greens, largely because I am yet to be convinced the Greens know themselves what they stand for. I find the idea that somehow the environment is going to become the most important issue confronting voters when they come to voting a complete load of old clarts. More important than jobs? The economy? health? Really? Yet this seems to be the assumption that is lying at the very heart of the thinking of the Green party supporters right now.

    Claire Browning commits some confused thoughts to the internet here on Pundit, and since the comments are largely laudatory I can only assume her words accurately represent a lot of the current Green “philosophy”. Based on that piece, to my mind the Greens can offer no vision for the future for the poor, low and middle income New Zealanders struggling to actually live in this country in 2011. That is because as a party they are unable to offer a sensible analysis of the world we live in and what to do about it. The Greens have no answers to poverty or unemployment, merely a fantastical appeal for us to all indulge in double think (neither left nor right! The Greens will never be an environment party!) and a use of the fig leaf of semantics (“…Social Justice is a conceptual part of Socialism and is but a fraction of the big picture encompassed by Social Responsibility…”) both of which seem to me to reveal a Party having an intellectually mushy base of vaguely neo-liberal thinking. Bring out the healing crystals and the self-empowerment seminars, dude.

    If Browning is to be taken at her word, then the fundamental thinking underlying the Greens is that incipient environmental crisis is somehow going to unite us all in a (Green party led) global crusade to save the planet. I see no historical evidence for this and it looks like little more than wishful thinking born from watching to many re-runs of Star Trek. the more likely outcome is for environmental damage to worsen both internal class and external international conflicts over resources. Standing on the beaches imploring the resource hungry and desperate invaders to be reasonable will butter no parsnips with most people, who will see a more immediate logic in voting for the party that plans to tool us up with missiles and machine guns.

    Charitably, you might ascribe Browning’s piece as a bit of a late night stream of conciousness on her part – in which case it reads like a steaming load of confused horseshit. The less charitable might ascribe some actual thought having gone into her piece, in which case it emerges as a slightly sinister call for some kind of one party state solution, the typical authoritarian new age twaddle that seems to always be the Green’s final philosophical refuge of choice.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1743 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Cox,

    Shearer did have some strong moments in that interview though. The fumbling felt like it was around trying to connect his overseas work with domestic issues: 'helping a palestinian through an Israeli checkpoint'? So he's good at helping the 'little guy'. Well, that's nice and all, but it's not really comparable.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Euan Mason,

    It’s mental illness, really.

    No. It's not. And could I ask you sincerely and in good faith to be really mindful of how you talk about mental illness in this context, and how it might sound to PAS readers who are living with such conditions either in themselves or friends and family? Thanks.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11786 posts Report Reply

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