Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Next Labour Leader

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    It’s a weird (but not entirely unhealthy) thing, that if you mashed up Shearer and Cunliffe you’d have a damn near perfect opposition leader/potential Prime Minister. But I caught a bit of both men on the Sunday talk shows and think you’re pretty much on the money, Russell:

    1) I watched Guyon Espiner bait traps for Shearer to show a lightweight noob he is - pretty much the narrative Cunliffe is passive-aggressively pushing. He's going to have to stop falling into them face-first, because while they're not fatal individually they do chip away at his credibility. (Hell, I couldn’t name Labour’s climate change spokesman either, but I’m not running for the Labour leadership.)

    2) Someone in Team Cunliffe needs to tell him he's not just talking to the party faithful – and the caucus who actually get a vote –, but everyone else. So cut the sniping, and stay focused on your agenda and make it a positive one. I don’t think people are inclined to support parties perceived, fairly or not, as one where the front bench are preoccupied with friendly fire. Its not entirely facetious to say Tony Blair’s greatest electoral asset was the Conservatives themselves; ditto for Doctor No across the ditch. He’s been the happy, and entirely unworthy, beneficiary of the ALP going feral on itself.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12034 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    then Parker was gone and his support flowed over to Parker – because, it seemed, Parker was not David Cunliffe.

    Something not quite right about that sentence; keeping a handle on which David is which = difficult.

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

  • Russell Brown, in reply to dc_red,

    Something not quite right about that sentence; keeping a handle on which David is which = difficult.

    Heh. Yes. Fixed that just after you saw it :-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18969 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston,

    I don't know what it takes to "refound" a political party but I imagine it takes more than a leader of either David's hue. The weak list seems one indication the party advisers are the trouble, who are the people in the background that do these things?
    I heard that Helen Clarke's approach was comprehensive from the grassroots up , she had "her people" at every level. Will either of these Davids be able to pull something like that off?
    Maybe Shearer has the potential but what else (who else) needs to change at the top level of Labour for it to be transformed?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 503 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Green-aligned Gordon Campbell suggests a focus for Labour.

    For what its worth, I think the way forward for Labour’s new leader is one entirely consistent with its traditions. It would involve a focus on jobs, jobs, jobs. Just as the Greens’ identity is grounded in its advocacy for the environment, Labour’s raison d’etre has always been work opportunities and better conditions for Kiwi battlers and the hard pressed middle class.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16771 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    learn to co-operate

    For me part of the founding process is coming to understand that with MMP the idea that one party has 50% of the people in the country who agree with their policies enough to vote for them is wrong. It simply is not true that half the people in the country think the same way about anything, let alone governing the country.

    What MMP allows is for significant blocks of people who really do have mostly the same views on governing to have representatives in government. That is a good thing. That is something we should all strive for including the Labour party.

    But there is a consequence that Labour and National still have not grasped. If you have several parties in parliament representing their constituents then no party will have 50% or 40% even - maybe 30% is reasonable. And yes National got 50% this election, but that was mostly because there is no other party of the Right, something that will change.

    To govern in that system requires co-operation between parties, something neither Labour nor National understand as yet, or admit to understanding.

    What that means for Labour is that instead of trying to define themselves as a party kinda sorta appealing to 50% of kiwis they should instead define themselves as appealing strongly to 30% of kiwis ... AND ... demonstrate the ability to co-operate with other representatives in parliament to govern.

    If they do that then the coalition they are part of may win the next election. If they try and win on their own they will fail again.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3420 posts Report Reply

  • Euan Mason,

    On Sunday's Q+A Cunliffe was a better communicator by far than Shearer. I may not always agree with Cunliffe, but at least I know what he thinks. Shearer waffled, went down blind syntax alleys, backtracked, changed mid-sentence, ummed, ahhed, and left viewers with very little to latch onto.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 192 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Nonetheless, Labur 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.

    Yes. Though this might have been easier if the Greens had stayed a one-trick Environment party. My feeling from talking to people who voted Green for the first time this time around is that was partly to do with personnel and partly because this:

    our social democratic values: our commitment to fairness and equality for all.

    is right where the Greens have cut into "Labour's" vote*. I think there's a real sense that you simply cannot trust the party as a whole (as opposed to some of its obviously talented and committed members) not to decide that they will actually concentrate less on the "feminists and gays". If I party-vote Green, I have a much surer sense that I'll not be bringing someone in off the list who will vote "conservatively" on social issues.

    A genuine commitment to "equality for all" includes the dreaded "identity politics". I really feel Labour needs to pick a side on this one. If you choose to be Chris Trotter's party, then you concede the social conscience to the Greens.


    *It's not, least this should need saying again, Labour's vote.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4369 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    Russell, I'm afraid you'll need to explain this to me:

    Waitakere Man is back over at Bowalley Road.

    as I don't understand what it means, and as a Waitakere man I feel I should .

    Te Ika A Maui - Waitakere… • Since Oct 2008 • 572 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston, in reply to Stewart,

    Waitakere man = David Cunliffe

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 503 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Euan Mason,

    I may not always agree with Cunliffe, but at least I know what he thinks.

    I think we know what Cunliffe thinks on this, but he may end up joining the lost list of politicians who’ve lived to regret writing policy through the media.

    And elsewhere, I don’t know about anyone else but a knuckle-dragging diss from John Tamihere has raised Nanaia Mahuta in my estimation. If nothing else, her winning the deputy leadership would lower the overwhelming stench of Caucasian testosterone and sweaty, beaten hairy chests in the room. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12034 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Stewart,

    Waitakere Man is Trotter's theory about the type of voter Labour should be sucking up to.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16771 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Richard Aston,

    Waitakere man = David Cunliffe

    Heh. Don't think so. Smart(arse) Herne Bay millionaires hardly fit the archetype.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16771 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah, in reply to Richard Aston,

    Waitakere man = David Cunliffe

    What??!!! Best you explain that, Richard, because I don't see the connection at all.

    Stewart, Waitakere man is Chris Trotter's idealisation of what Labour ought to be about - working class men in caps who don't have any truck with women or gays or identity politics of any sort. Trotter seems to think that if Labour goes back to being all about the men, then it will get a higher share of the vote.

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1323 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    is right where the Greens have cut into “Labour’s” vote*.

    There's another thing, though -- and perhaps it was most pronounced in Auckland. The Greens' little hint of laissez-faire was enough to pull over voters who might actually have gone to National. I know of several people in Auckland Central who voted Green + Kaye.

    And the Greens' small-business tax policy was both good policy (it's essentially what the Society of Chartered Accountants recommended) and good politics. It promised to make it easier for small businesspeople to pay their taxes. That's actually quite a compelling thing to say to those people. And it's something they're not presently prepared to believe of Labour.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18969 posts Report Reply

  • Bradcar,

    I don't understand this thing about sniping? It seems fair to me to mention the lighter shade of blue thing, I mean, I was a member of Labour for a while and have since moved to the Greens, know why? Because the crew I see mentioned that are behind Mr Shearer are the same crew who took Labour to the Right.

    I know they dislike Mr Cunliffe, you can see it in the media with their proxies like Pagani writing up questions about him. I don't like this, it's what I don't like about Labour, there are factions and they deny they exist. They keep being called the "Old Guard", I guess that's right (excuse a pun) and we all know the stuff they've been saying about Cunliffe for years.

    Mr Shearer looks great, but he's not ready and he hasn't done the thinking about this. He wants to talk to his colleagues over summer? Mate, if you can't start a programme now and I don't think you can, you can't take on National. Cunliffe I believe can. I've met them both twice, both nice guys, both smart but Mr Shearer Sir, I don't think you are ready.

    As for the sniping, a plague on both their houses because when Trevor Mallard is doing your numbers, you know it's going to be dirty. I also don't get why Grant Robertson is running as Deputy to Mr Shearer, I thought Grant was a progressive MP? Seems odd if you ask me, the big right wing machine in Labour tackling someone from the left, what's wrong with Labour?

    Wellington • Since Dec 2011 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Deborah,

    Stewart, Waitakere man is Chris Trotter’s idealisation of what Labour ought to be about – working class men in caps who don’t have any truck with women or gays or identity politics of any sort.

    Which is precisely the kind of stupid internal battle for "the Left" that no one else cares about and that Labour needs to leave behind.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18969 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The Greens' little hint of laissez-faire

    I reckon you're overstating that angle. Has anyone else written about it you could link to?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16771 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    the Greens' small-business tax policy

    However that policy *is* going for the self-employed who Trotter stereotypes as meathead tradies.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16771 posts Report Reply

  • 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?

    [Apologies for being a thicko, but I'm a Waitakere Man and I can't help myself. Oh, no, that was 'Wino Man' - F Zappa...]

    Te Ika A Maui - Waitakere… • Since Oct 2008 • 572 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Bradcar,

    I guess that’s right (excuse a pun) and we all know the stuff they’ve been saying about Cunliffe for years.

    On the other hand, it doesn't speak well of Cunliffe's ability to unite and lead that he seems to alienate so many of his colleagues. And I don't think it's about policy either.

    But these things do pass. English was bitching to journalists (remarkably, even to me) about Key even after Key was appointed. I recall predicting Blair vs Brown-style strife, but even though English often makes little jokes about their respective roles, they give the appearance of working together, perhaps because English is simply left to get on with his rather difficult job.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18969 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    And the Greens’ small-business tax policy was both good policy

    It's crappy tax policy, for a whole variety of reasons. The best reason is that such policies tend to increase compliance costs, as small businesses calculate their potential taxes under both available methods, and then pay whichever is the lesser. They treat it as a tax break, instead of treating it as a reduction in compliance costs.

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1323 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    However that policy *is* going for the self-employed who Trotter stereotypes as meathead tradies.

    Which really, really misses the point. Waitakere Man has a good little plumbing business and fancies a house at Pauanui.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18969 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Deborah,

    working class men in caps who don't have any truck

    but utes are OK

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16771 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Bradcar,

    It seems fair to me to mention the lighter shade of blue thing, I mean, I was a member of Labour for a while and have since moved to the Greens, know why? Because the crew I see mentioned that are behind Mr Shearer are the same crew who took Labour to the Right.

    You’re going to have to explain to this bear of little brains how Shearer is a Tory in drag, while Cunliffe is bearing the truth faith. It's a great sound bite for Cunliffe to be promising to re-nationalise on Q&A, but I think he's smart enough to know that's all it is.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12034 posts Report Reply

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