Hard News by Russell Brown

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  • WH,

    Amazing how often people trot out the myth that the British Labour Party was unelectable until Blair won the leadership

    I think people tend to say that because of the result of the 1992 election, which Labour had been tipped to win. Even before he became leader, Blair sought to make a clear, public break with the parts of the party that were associated with the Militant tendency and the Hard left. The Clause 4 moment is probably the most famous aspect of this differentiation.

    Blair remains very unpopular with the leftist faction of the UK Labour Party - this can make it difficult to assess his legacy clearly. I recall, though, that the Guardian's polling showed that a majority of Labour voters wanted him to remain as PM at the time he ceded the leadership to Gordon Brown. You'd never have guessed this if you used the Guardian's coverage and commentary as a measure of party opinion.

    Of course, none of this is relevant to the New Zealand Labour Party, which just needs to put its internal differences behind it and work together for the common good. I don't think it's helpful to pick through the bones of the result. It is what it is, and regardless of your views no amount of complaining is going to change it.

    It's going to take some time to get things back on track. That means saying the right things (and not saying the wrong things) until we've regained the average voter's confidence. Best to just get on with it.

    Since Nov 2006 • 781 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Mr Mark,

    It goes without saying that the electoral fortunes of Labour/the Left are at an all-time low. Expecting Little to win an historically-Right-leaning seat in these circumstances is silly (or disingenuous). Why not leave that kind of spin to National and the MSM rather than contributing to it – presumably as a result of sour grapes.

    It's the Rowling we-love-a-loser era once more as NZ Labour retreats to become the party of condescending scolds. Is Hipkins the next Prebble?

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4590 posts Report Reply

  • warren mac,

    Again, tough crowd. Yes Little won by only a small margin, but does that make him the antichrist? I know that the Robertson/Arden ticket appealed to the urban liberal vote, but really, that vote isn't going to win elections. And I am saying that as an urban liberal voter. Despite Little having lost New Plymouth I think he has a much better chance at this vote than Robertson ever would. And that has absolutely nothing to do with his sexuality.

    What people need to do is actually give the guy a chance.

    New Zealand • Since Sep 2014 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Mr Mark, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Yeah, I'm not convinced that First Preferences mean all that much, Russell.

    Mahuta's Caucus supporters went entirely to Little in the second round, as did a clear majority of her supporters among the Party membership. Parker's supporters in both the Caucus and Party were relatively evenly-divided, in both cases opting for Robertson by fairly small margins.

    In terms of the all-important Third Round, I really don't think you can call a 55/45 split "a commanding head-to-head margin" Let's remember that in 2013, Robertson beat Cunliffe by 15 points in the Caucus vote.

    I'm not saying it's an ideal situation. As mentioned, I grimaced on seeing the breakdowns. But Little clearly does have a good deal of support (yes, a minority, but a very large 44/45% minority) both within the caucus and among the Party membership, together with overwhelming support from one of the Party's key constituencies.

    Not ideal, but not a tragedy either. And I'm concerned that the more you or Chris Trotter or Andrew Geddis throw around words like "disaster" and "tragedy" the more it plays into the hands of the Nats and their MSM acolytes.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2009 • 127 posts Report Reply

  • Mr Mark, in reply to WH,

    A good deal of what you say is true, WH. But I'd also point out that Labour under Kinnock had already loudly / publicly challenged Militant Tendency, including the expulsion of members and preventing Militant-associated MPs from being re-selected for the 1992 Election . People often forget that Kinnock and Gould took Labour through a pretty rigorous modernisation process through the 80s and early 90s.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2009 • 127 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Nothing without Labour...
    Seems to me that Andrew Little is 'old school Labour' - and that's not a bad thing - I'm thinking that the party members and voters - heck, society in general - is what has changed...
    I vote we give him a chance to settle in, take stock and start implementing his vision before prematurely pronouncing the death of Labour - as with any experimental medicine the new solution has been mixed, we must now wait to see how it tests in various real world situations - and not presuppose its efficacy or outcome based on personal preconceptions or biases.
    I fear that a breakaway group of disillusioned Labourites would dilute any chance of creating a viable and coherent opposition, let alone a government at the next election.
    National seems to have a charmed life as far as getting away with heinous gaffes and misdirections, that can't last forever, there will be a watershed moment (or we will be living in a seriously f**ked up world)...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7869 posts Report Reply

  • JacksonP, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    If he’s still there in three years I’ll be amazed … and I’ll be finding another party for which to vote.

    I concur. It means this is likely the start of a 6 year rebuild, rather than 3 year. I can't see him going the distance, and there's a fraction too much faction for any coherence in the foreseeable future.

    Opportunity lost.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 2448 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    There is a big youth/activist base that has built up around Grant and Jacinda. Not necessarily party members.That energy is how you win elections. Hopefully Andrew Little can somehow tap into that. I reckon he should give G and J some sort of party promotional role as well as senior positions.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3188 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    I'd also point out that Labour under Kinnock had already loudly / publicly challenged Militant Tendency, including the expulsion of members and preventing Militant-associated MPs from being re-selected for the 1992 Election . People often forget that Kinnock and Gould took Labour through a pretty rigorous modernisation process through the 80s and early 90s

    That's a fair point, Mr Mark.

    I only dwell on the UK experience because the need to attract voters from the centre of the political spectrum strains progressive coalitions in very predictable ways. I think a Labour leader needs to be given licence to attract majority support.

    I'd also just note that not all left wing criticism of Labour comes from likely Labour voters.

    Since Nov 2006 • 781 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to JacksonP,

    splitting heirs...

    ...there's a fraction too much faction...
    Opportunity lost.

    Crisis! What crisis?

    in a world built on chance
    let's give him one...

    I don't think they've let their magic tortoise go yet...
    :- )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7869 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to warren mac,

    And that has absolutely nothing to do with his sexuality.

    Mabe not so much with the urban liberal vote. but let's not be naïve about it.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4163 posts Report Reply

  • lynne walker, in reply to warren mac,

    Yep I agree, a chance. This has happened.It is. People jumping straight into bagging mode doesn't seem very helpful.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2011 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • llew40,

    Amazing how often people trot out the myth that the British Labour Party was unelectable until Blair won the leadership

    Well ..... it is factually correct to say that the British Labour Party - at least from Thatcher onwards - was unelected until Blair won the leadership. I guess we can all draw our own conclusions as to the correlation.

    Since Nov 2012 • 140 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    I don’t think they’ve let their magic tortoise go yet…
    :- )

    Book of Changes, Hexagram 27:
    Nine at the beginning means:

    You let your magic tortoise go,
    And look at me with the corners of your mouth drooping.
    Misfortune.

    The magic tortoise is a creature possessed of such supernatural powers that it lives on air and needs no earthly nourishment. The image means that a man fitted by nature and position to live freely and independently renounces this self-reliance and instead looks with envy and discontent at others who are outwardly in better circumstances. But such base envy only arouses derision and contempt in those others. This has bad results.

    I don't think Little actually envies Key, which is a good start, but then none of the other contenders appeared to. Cunliffe, however....

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4590 posts Report Reply

  • Luke Williamson,

    I'm really surprised at how negative you are Russell. They've gone through a process and that process has produced a leader that the whole party (yes it includes the unions) wants, not just the intellectual, closeted caucus.
    To me he represents someone fresh, astute, smart and free of the baggage of the last 10+ years of Labour Party. He also represents some of the original flavour of Labour instead of the last six years of Labour leaders wishing they could be John Key and the party wishing it could be National-lite.
    He will have to prove himself quickly and effectively or he will just get the same slow death from the MSM as the last few leaders.
    I see it as positive and I look forward to him tearing into John and National.
    The Labour Party can continue to sulk and wish it had been different (much like this thread on PA) or they can fight for a top position on the front bench and get out and kick some arse. That applies to you too Russell :-)

    Warkworth • Since Oct 2007 • 296 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    It seems Russell Brown and his merry band of liberal Gen Xers want a democratic Labour party, but only as long as it is a democracy that suits them.

    The Labour leadership is elected in the way it is as a direct result of the rift between the desires of the membership and unions and the caucus. It is an outcome of disunity and not the cause of it.

    Robertson schemed with a faction of the party to undermine the leadership of Cunliffe and has paid the price for his disloyalty and identification with that ABC faction by there being a significant reaction to his becoming leader. A lot of people voted for ABR – anyone but Robertson. Sure, the Maori caucus voted for Mahuta but don’t be fooled, their second preferences were for Little.

    Representatives of two of biggest sections of New Zealanders that still heavily vote Labour (Maori and unionised workers) therefore supported Little. Hopefully, he will now get on and talk about issues that concern those supporters.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2210 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Luke Williamson,

    I’m really surprised at how negative you are Russell.

    +1

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7869 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Never say never, Russell. I am inclined to give Andrew Little the benefit of the doubt and not play identity politics. Although perhaps the party should reconsider the primary format for its leadership elections, and preferential voting as its electoral system in that context.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 543 posts Report Reply

  • warren mac, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    I’m really surprised at how negative you are Russell.+1

    Hear hear

    New Zealand • Since Sep 2014 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    It seems Russell Brown and his merry band of liberal Gen Xers want a democratic Labour party

    Simply saying that using the system that they have, the Labour party has chosen a direction that I cannot see being successful nor can I see it aligning with my political beliefs. They have every right to become the party that they choose, just as I have the right to choose how I will vote next election.

    Things may change, I may be surprised by Little's leadership, but everything I've seen from him indicates he will bring more of the same approach and direction that Cunliffe brought.

    That approach failed miserably last election but who knows repeating the same experiment again may give a different result.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4449 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Representatives of two of biggest sections of New Zealanders that still heavily vote Labour (Maori and unionised workers) therefore supported Little. Hopefully, he will now get on and talk about issues that concern those supporters.

    Agreed.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • Luke Williamson, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Bingo Tom.
    The people who actually vote a party in (unions, communities) have said no to Grant Robertson and yes to Andrew Little. It makes a good change, I think, from the same 20-odd closeted Parliamentarians bickering over ABC or ABR or whatever their silly minds come up with next.
    Andrew may now have to take on a bit of the John Key brutality and axe anyone who dissents, and quickly.

    Warkworth • Since Oct 2007 • 296 posts Report Reply

  • Gillian Ranstead,

    I don't know if you went to any of the hustings meetings, Russell, but I was surprised at how impressive Andrew Little was at the Wellington one. He was forceful, fluent, with a droll wit, & amidst somewhat predictable speeches & responses, he was memorable, both in what he said & how he said it. I came away thinking that the dirty tricks machine will not be able to get to him quite so easily. Looking at his record whilst considering my vote, there was plenty enough to agree & disagree with, which is how things go with labour parties & leaders ; in the end, it seemed to me that he was better equipped to deal to what is risibly known as our current government. I still think that.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2014 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    I vote we give him a chance to settle in, take stock and start implementing his vision before prematurely pronouncing the death of Labour

    That's got my vote too. As a leader he's untried, but aren't they all, until they try? He does have long credentials as an organizer, and at least I'm not left wondering whether he actually cares about poor people.

    Also, despite that I'd personally probably very slightly lean toward Gracinda if I were voting, I'm not voting, nor am I likely to vote for them at the election (but I'll wait to see what the new guy comes up with). So under the circumstances it looks like they chose a good compromise for their likely constituency, something that their process was designed to do.

    Sure he didn't get an outright majority in the third round amongst the caucus and the party, but he didn't get a big no-confidence either. They leaned toward Gracinda, but the other group in there, the oldest and most traditional core of support for their party overwhelmingly preferred Little. Under those circumstances, were I in caucus or the party, I'd probably feel that those who feel strongly should carry the day.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10629 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to BenWilson,

    I’d probably feel that those who feel strongly should carry the day.

    And, of course, those are their rules anyway, so how I felt wouldn't change anything. But I'm saying that the process doesn't seem broken to me. This seems like the best election I've seen Labour go through in the last 3 years and I feel more optimistic than at any time in the last 8 years that there is a chance of holding National to 3 terms.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10629 posts Report Reply

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