Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Triangulated by Fools

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  • Russell Brown,

    I feel I should note that two journalists -- Brian Fallow and Vernon Small -- turned up at the Wellington Voyage and stuck around to talk with the speakers. That was encouraging.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18807 posts Report Reply

  • Ianmac,

    I have enjoyed the passion and ideas on the Standard but this time the recriminations cause me great sadness. For once I agree with John Armstrong. This time I think he is so right with the big picture:

    "_Labour cannot afford to end up with what would be a hopelessly divided caucus. That is not a recipe for good government - or even good Opposition. It would poison Labour's chances of winning the 2014 election._"

    Bleneim • Since Aug 2008 • 66 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    The Wellington voyage was interesting and positive. Most heartening was the sensible and confident contribution of the two young people (young ie early 20s?), and there seemed to be several of their peers in the audience. I didn't ralise that they were also Young Labour members and actively involved in the conference remits; all of theirs were won. Someone from Young Labour tweeted yesterday words to the effect that we young people can sort our stuff out and remain friends, why can't you oldies?

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2068 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Labour cannot afford to end up with what would be a hopelessly divided caucus. That is not a recipe for good government - or even good Opposition.

    I'm not sure about that. They've slowly risen in the polls all the time that this division has been there. I don't think that piece of political wisdom is guaranteed to stand the test of time. Divided leadership can be highly functional, at times, just as powerful unified leadership can be disastrous.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8432 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    A really good article in The Listener: anyone who claims Cunliffe wasn't in the stages of mounting a coup is a bit disingenuous (at best).

    It's a shame in the sense that Cunliffe was one of the few reasonable performers on a pretty woeful Labour front bench. At a time when National is going from bad-to-worse, they really need a more energetic and competent line up. There are at least 5 chronic under performers in the top 10.

    Just like the Black Caps really.

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Barnard, in reply to BenWilson,

    I'm not sure about that. They've slowly risen in the polls all the time that this division has been there.

    Surely it's likely to be more of an issue the closer you get to an election, or the more plausible the idea of Labour government becomes?

    I must say, all this has given me even greater admiration for the Greens ability to have quite strong principled differences over direction without it coming across as a public meltdown.
    Is that, and the generational difference in Labour a sign that those who know nothing but the MMP era have a fundamentally difference way of thinking?
    If it is it can only be a positive.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2012 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi, in reply to dc_red,

    At a time when National is going from bad-to-worse, they really need a more energetic and competent line up.

    Amen. How many times have National dropped the ball in the last year, only to have the current Labour front row all step back and wait for the Greens to swoop in? (Ed Note: I have no idea why I'm using sporting metaphors so often recently.)

    Expecting to win an election because you're the default choice when people are tired of National is a terrible strategy, yet that's been the impression most outsiders have of Labour under the current leadership. If I was a Labour voter (which I no longer am) I would be asking myself how well this strategy will work in a hard fought campaign.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 861 posts Report Reply

  • Barnard,

    Expecting to win an election because you're the default choice when people are tired of National is a terrible strategy,

    Do you think the infighting nonsense aside, last weekend was sign that that's changing?
    There's certainly seemed to be the beginnings of a coherent strategy emerge.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2012 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Barnard,

    Surely it's likely to be more of an issue the closer you get to an election, or the more plausible the idea of Labour government becomes?

    Not sure. We have MMP here. It won't be a Labour government, it will be a coalition. The public is slowly coming to acknowledge this, and the idea of targeting only one pool of voters is dying at about the same rate that the pool itself is dying (which does come rather hard and fast at the end). If Labour is to have a future, it needs young vote, and it needs it now. But it will continue to be supported by old vote for a while. If the two camps can't co-exist, the party will shrink.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8432 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red, in reply to Barnard,

    Well Shearer was stirred into life - so that was something.

    Truth be told though he's received little support from that problematic front bench over the last year.

    Even in Education, National's problems have been almost mostly self-inflicted. Labour's Christchurch-based MPs helped out over the school closures debacle, but the official Opposition Spokesperson for Education seems to be completely, um, "inert" (to put it politely).

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Barnard, in reply to BenWilson,

    Not sure. We have MMP here. It won’t be a Labour government, it will be a coalition.

    Of course, but if that's to happen & especially if it's to happen without relying on Winston then Labour do need to be taking votes off National & targeting the current crop of non voters.
    My concern is perceived instability or perceived factional self interest can easily be used to scare the first lot, and be a disincentive to the second lot to bother.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2012 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    David Parker just called to clarify that his trip wasn't entirely self-funded -- he is entitled to a 75% subsidy for research trips.

    He also emphasised that there was and is no personal enmity between him and Cunliffe, and I didn't pick that up. It was just a funny moment.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18807 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Labour will lose the next election if Mallard and co are re-selected for the party or are kept on in any important role. While everyone is concentrating on Cunliffe and Shearer, they are just figureheads in a fight to the finish between the rump of leftover neo-liberal do nothings and a membership which now has no memory of the gutting of the party by the traitors Douglas and Prebble but do know about the GFC and want to hear about smashing the neo-liberal consensus. The membership has again moved considerably to the left of the caucus, and it will simply not turn up to help get out the vote or do anything for the party as long as the neo-liberal rump remains in positions of influence and in a postion to ensure neo-liberalism continues as business as usual in this country.

    It seems that in the last four years the only thing that has energised Mallard to get of his arse and work the media. get on message etc has been saving his own fat cat salary for doing nothing. If only Goff, King, Hipkins and Mallard had put the effort they’ve put into the last week into opposing National over the last four years!

    The membership, particularly in Auckland, seems implacable in its desire to see the party purged of the hangovers of the Douglas/neo-liberal era. In turn, those hangovers clearly now consider themselves more important than the party and sitting pretty, impregnable and untouchable in their two vote caucus majority that at the moment prevents the party getting a say in the leadership.

    Unfortunately, this battle isn’t over.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1791 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari,

    I think you're being too harsh and condescending with regards The Standard.

    Its a daily stop off in my pursuit of stimulating reading, insightful commentary and left leaning vitriol and adds to the perspectives and opinions available to the moderately interested

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 334 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to dc_red,

    Just like the Black Caps really.

    Oh don't say that! It's a Great NZ Delusion that one day, with a bit of coaching, we'll produce a world class cricket team. While in fact we don't have enough people and don't play enough cricket to get anywhere near India, Australia and even England.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4438 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Barnard,

    Of course, but if that's to happen & especially if it's to happen without relying on Winston then Labour do need to be taking votes off National & targeting the current crop of non voters.

    Yes, this is the real dilemma. There are two directions they can strike. Left is where they probably have the richest pickings if the want to be a bigger party. But if it comes entirely at the cost of their coalition partners, it's not going to win an election. Right is a direction in which their support will probably stay the same size, but each vote that they take from National counts towards their chances.

    Or they can strike in both directions at the same time, which is what they seem to be doing. This can either make a broad church, or it can tear it apart. The latter is probably more likely, if it continues down the path of increasing internal democracy. I don't think that would be disastrous at all. They could easily make two perfectly healthy 20% parties which are natural bedfellows, utterly routing National between them and the Green Party, and then running a highly consensus-based government without needing wildcards like Winston Peters. Hell, if that kind of thing continued, we might end up with representative democracy again, like how our system was designed in the first place, before the party system crushed it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8432 posts Report Reply

  • Barnard, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    The membership has again moved considerably to the left of the caucus,

    Memberships of most major parties are to the left/right of their caucuses. And whilst a political party should be democratic, they do have to win over the public not their own members. The whole drift the neo liberal orthodoxy is one of the reasons I'm no longer a Labour voter, but by the same token they'd hardly be the first party to shoot themselves in the foot by the membership being totally out of sink with the public they need to win over.
    I think it's a case of be careful what you wish for.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2012 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • Will de Cleene,

    A big ta to everyone who made the Voyage of a Lifetime stopover possible. I tried to hang around afterwards, but the glossolalia was killing me.

    Raumati • Since Jul 2011 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Barnard, in reply to BenWilson,

    There are two directions they can strike. Left is where they probably have the richest pickings if the want to be a bigger party. But if it comes entirely at the cost of their coalition partners, it’s not going to win an election. Right is a direction in which their support will probably stay the same size, but each vote that they take from National counts towards their chances.

    I tend to agree with The Egonomist, that it need not be defined in terms of going 'left' or 'right', but in terms of changing the question in the minds of public, and then being seen to have innovative 21st solutions to those questions.
    I think that what's behind The Greens success, rather than them simply being seen to be of the left of Labour.
    To me the biggest failing of the whole 'third way' thing is there's such banal assumptions as to what people care about. If you start with those assumptions or don't challenge them, then of course anything traditionally Labour will be seen as 'nanny state', 'anti aspirational', 'anti growth' and a 'drift left' loses you votes.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2012 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Barnard,

    Labour do need to be taking votes off National & targeting the current crop of non voters.

    Much less the former, much, much more the latter. National only managed to scrounge another 5k party votes in 2011 over 2008. It was the massive non-voter pool that swung it their way, with over 100k fewer votes cast despite three years of population growth and the babies of the 1990s mini-boom pretty much all 18+.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3901 posts Report Reply

  • Barnard, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Much less the former, much, much more the latter. National only managed to scrounge another 5k party votes in 2011 over 2008. It was the massive non-voter pool that swung it their way, with over 100k fewer votes cast despite three years of population growth and the babies of the 1990s mini-boom pretty much all 18+.

    Question is then, what gets them off their arse?
    Not convinced it's just some old fashioned move to the left.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2012 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    It's grossly unfair to tag Goff with the neoliberal do nothing brush. And he doesn't stay still long enough to get a fat arse. He remains one of Labour's hardest working and most effective MPs (and there's too few that display half the energy he does).

    Your opprobrium re: Mallard is well directed however.

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Eh, so how can we manage to produce a world-class rugby team, given the same population pool? Cricket is even more of a niche sport, so you would think the competition would be comparatively less stringent.

    ...I'm not sure why I'm commenting given my complete lack of give-a-f#ck factor about either sport. ;-)

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 470 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Rugby is way more niche than cricket.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1327 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Barnard,

    I agree with all of that, and have said so many times on this site, that the terms left and right are big sweeping brooms. I use them only as a convenient way of ordering the parties, a look at them across one dimension. It's just one way of visualizing what Labour torn in half would look like.

    Labour do need to be taking votes off National & targeting the current crop of non voters.

    Much less the former, much, much more the latter.

    Or it could be much more of both, if they were actually two parties. One would be far more credible to potential swing voters from National, the other would be less repulsive to the huge pool of people opposed to neoliberalism who can't bring themselves to go all Green. The overall pool grows, even though both parties are smaller. National swing voters might actually want to pump up the centrist party to make it a stronger foil against the other coalition partners, if they see the writing on the wall for National.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8432 posts Report Reply

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