Brian Edwards Media

10 Questions and Answers About What Chris Carter Did

 

Q.   Were you surprised by Carter’s  action today?

A.    I think ‘gobsmacked’ is the only word to describe my reaction.

Q.   Why do you think Carter did what he did?

A.    A mixture of two things, I suspect: a genuine belief that Labour cannot win under Goff and bitterness at the humiliation he suffered when Goff forced him to make a second public apology over his travel spending. At the time I described this as Goff ‘taking his pound of flesh”. That is still my view.

Q.   How would you describe Carter’s actions?

A.    Utterly stupid and hugely damaging to his personal reputation.

Q.   Is he right that there is widespread dissatisfaction in the Labour caucus with Goff’s performance as Leader?

A.    My understanding is that there is widespread dissatisfaction with his performance in the polls.

Q.   Is Carter right that a majority of the Labour caucus doubt that Labour can win the next election?

A.    That is my information.

Q. Doesn’t the unanimous caucus vote to suspend Carter indicate that the entire caucus is behind Goff?

A.    Not at all. Anyone who voted not to suspend Carter would effectively have been declaring that they agreed with his view that Goff could not hope to win the election. Anything other than a unanimous vote would have had the Press Gallery hunting to find the disaffected.

Q.   Can Goff win the next election?

A.    Probably not. But the honeymoon is definitely ending. The electorate is beginning to see Key’s shameless, give-them-anything-they-want populism as weak leadership. And the promise of ‘catching up with Australia’ already looks hollow.

Q:   Did Goff do the right thing in sacking Carter?

A.   Yes, it was the only thing he could do.  Carter’s action was disloyal to the party and intended to be damaging to  its leader.

Q.   Will these events be damaging to Goff’s leadership?

A.    On the contrary, they will probably strengthen his position as Leader and his image in the eyes of the public. He will be seen as decisive and strong.

Q.   What chance has Carter of winning Te Atatu as an Independent or Independent Labour candidate?

A.    None. Labour voters are Labour voters. Their loyalty is first and foremost to the Party.

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43 Comments:

  1. 1

    I agree with your position Brian
    It was also unhelpful timing by Chris Carter, National has been taking hits these last couple of weeks and suddenly the gift that keeps on giving (to National) is back in the headlines

    As you point out Labour has a poor opinion of disloyalty, as John A Lee discovered

  2. Helen Clark was leader for nearly 6 years before she won an election. To be fair in 1996 Bolger was never as popular as John Key is today and Labour did have a chance of winning that first MMP Election. Winston was the difference. Chris Carter (and possibly other Labour MPs), should think a bit about their own history before jumping on Phil Goff’s low poll ratings. I think Chris Carter’s actions, not only today but over the past few months, speak volumes about how much he enjoyed the power, prestige and perks he had when in Government. He wanted that back at all costs.

    • Helen Clark was leader for nearly 6 years before she won an election.

      Correct. But Clark would have won in 1996 had it not been for Peters’ betrayal. Peters could again make the difference in 2011 and it would not surprise me at all if we see him back in the driver’s seat. But without that, Goff has a real problem, which has a lot to do with image.

  3. Before today’s events I thought Labour had little chance of winning the next election. There is now no chance whoever they have as leader.

    I might have had some respect for Carter had he not written the letter anonymously. I have never had any regard for the man and his actions merely confirm that Merv and I have been right in our contempt for him, which has absolutely nothing to do with his sexual orientation.

    I also predict that notwithstanding his pledge to support Labour, Carter will be standing for New Zealand First in Te Atatu at the next election. He will not readily relinquish the gravy train.

    I am afraid that your belief that the honeymoon is over for John Key is wishful thinking on your part. You may see through him but his apparent affabilty will continue to sway the majority of the elctorate. And why should anyone vote for the rabble that is now the Labour Party? goff is in exactly the same position as English was before the 2003 election. The next election wil be a disaster for Labour.

    • I also predict that notwithstanding his pledge to support Labour, Carter will be standing for New Zealand First in Te Atatu at the next election. He will not readily relinquish the gravy train.

      I think, if I were a betting man, I’d be prepared to take a pretty hefty bet against that ever happening. Whatever you think of Carter, he is a Labour man through and through.

  4. I believe someone in Labour must address Goffs inability to decry Keys limited ability.This issue wasnt well handled by all involved,Goff included.Public infighting is never a good look and removes pressure from National.Keys ability to agree with both sides of a policy in a single sentence beggars belief.Unless Labour hugs and makes up its going to be another mindless three years.

    • I believe someone in Labour must address Goffs inability to decry Keys limited ability.This issue wasnt well handled by all involved,Goff included.

      Goff certainly has a problem in coming across to the electorate. But I don’t believe he handled Carter’s implosion badly. On the contrary, I think he’ll get brownie points for it.

  5. Carter has been a Labour liability for years. His Building Act 2004 alienated a huge swathe of their core support and spawned the “Nanny State” meme which probably cost them the election.
    This is a very positive take-off point for Labour if they don’t blow it.

  6. So, if Labour went into the looming election with Cunliffe or …….they could capture the imagination – rather than this death of a hundred cuts waiting-for-the-Natz-to lose-it palaver

  7. Q. Were you surprised by Carter’s action today?

    A. Not at all, it was in keeping with his character. Totally.

    Q. Why do you think Carter did what he did?

    A. Payback time: with a liberal sprinkling of vindictiveness and just some garnishing of malice.

    Q. How would you describe Carter’s actions?

    A. Self-serving, venal, treachery and betrayal, untrustworthy, cowardice, dishonest, hypocritical, duplicitous, two-faced, meretricious.

    Q. Is he right that there is widespread dissatisfaction in the Labour
    caucus with Goff’s performance as Leader?

    A. There would have to be. Goff’s judgment — including his sense of self-awareness — is being eroded.

    Q. Is Carter right that a majority of the Labour caucus doubt that Labour can win the next election?

    A. Probably. But the Labour Party’s fortunes, very much, takes a back seat to his own. He, cynically, leveraged of that, to justify his actions, enabling to portray himself as a sacrificial lamb, whose blood will be spilled on the moral high ground. It was sanctimonious.

    Q. Doesn’t the unanimous caucus vote to suspend Carter indicate that the entire caucus is behind Goff?

    A. No. They’d be pissed, that he’s pre-empted — even usurped — preliminary moves to effect an ouster. A vote against suspension, would be
    the same as an endorsement to Carter’s disloyal and underhanded behaviour. Anything less that outright repudiation of Carter, appears to legitimise his actions.

    Q. Can Goff win the next election?

    A. Check.

    Q: Did Goff do the right thing in sacking Carter?

    A. Goff, made the mistake of cutting him slack, a few weeks ago.

    Q. Will these events be damaging to Goff’s leadership?

    A. It depends on the — disaffected — undercurrent within the caucus. Goff’s damning of Carter was accompanied by the declarative statement, that he has the support of the rest of caucus. For the moment, it puts the disaffected in an invidious position: where their vote to expel Carter, is not necessarily tantamount to an expression of satisfaction, with Goff. It
    puts them between a rock and a hard place. For the moment.

    Q. What chance has Carter of winning Te Atatu as an Independent or Independent Labour candidate?

    A. Little. But, as mentioned: “you’ll never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the voter”.Though, TV One’s on-the-street polling in Te Atatu, gives rise to some optimism.

  8. I would have thought Goff’s down-to-earth working class appeal should draw support from a broad cross-section of NZ society. Labour needs to forget about any knee-jerk reactions to flagging fortunes in the polls and persevere with him. His qualities will eventually shine through. However, the fact remains whoever’s in charge at election time will have a tough road to hoe; NZers are liable to give National a 2nd term – if only for the fact that the electorate knows a government needs more than three years to implement its programme of reform. If Goff loses in 2011, I hope he’s still there in 2014.

    • I would have thought Goff’s down-to-earth working class appeal should draw support from a broad cross-section of NZ society.

      I really don’t think Phil has down-to-earth working class appeal. His image is rather academic if anything. If Goff loses in 2011, he will certainly not be leader in 2014.

  9. Labour voters are Labour voters. Their loyalty is first and foremost to the Party.

    Gee someone should have told me, and several hundred thousand other Kiwis, all of whom voted against Labour for the first time in the 2008 election.

  10. On the Herald’s web page:

    ‘I guess in a way I wanted to get caught’

    Said, in hindsight, to excuse the bumbling way, he went out about constructing his ruse: a hand-written envelope, with his distinctive style of writing. This display of idiocy, alone, should be sufficient grounds for disqualification.

  11. Brian. You’ve suggested more than once that Chris Carter was being treated differently because of his sexuality and that he hasn’t really done anything worse than other politicians. Is it not time for you to admit that Chris Carter’s ego, a feeling of destiny and an unfortunate sense of entitlement, is the root cause of his gaffes and final fall from grace, not his sexuality?

    • Brian. You’ve suggested more than once that Chris Carter was being treated differently because of his sexuality

      I’m not sure that I have suggested that. I spoke of ‘undertones of homophobia’ in one of my earlier pieces on TV3’s coverage, but nothing stronger than that. However, if you looked at the response to the dinner auction on Trade Me or to TV3’s website invitation to readers to nominate someone to have dinner with Chris and Peter, you might just get the feeling that, however liberated we may all feel, homophobia is alive and well in Godzone. You will find no reference to homophobia in my ’10 questions and answers’. I think my view of Carter’s behaviour in this is perfectly clear.

  12. “when Goff forced him to make a second public apology over his travel spending…”

    I stand to be corrected, but I only remember one apology from Carter, the Goff-ordered one. On a broader note, the coverage has given rise to a couple of bits of near-brilliance, I thought. The DomPost’s headline “Keystone Carter” was bang on the money and Emerson’s cartoon on the Herald website was magnificent.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/news-cartoons/news/article.cfm?c_id=500814&objectid=10662218

    • I stand to be corrected, but I only remember one apology from Carter, the Goff-ordered one.

      No, there was a previous written apology, which Goff evidently considered inadequate or insincere.

  13. If Goff loses in 2011, he will certainly not be leader in 2014.

    I’m not sure you can say that Brian, as much as I value your opinions. Helen Clark was unpopular for a long while as leader of the opposition in the 90s, but her ability to hang on to the job paid off for the Labour Party in the long term.

    I’ve seen Goff working in person, he is actually impressive. I believe the media, in time, will pick up on that.

  14. Regardless of whether or not Goff has working class appeal, I doubt whether he or any other leader could win the next election. This is a first term government, and electorates tend to cut governments a bit of slack in the first three years barring a total cock up.

    The three years is not long enough for a disgruntled electorate to have forgotten all the ills of the previous government.

    The challenge for Labour is to avoid electoral disaster in 2011, similar to the fate that befell National and Bill English. I am not convinced they can achieve even this. The real worry is that their core support will drain off to NZF. That would be a disaster. You may as well grit your teeth and get used to the thought of a National government for at least two more terms.

    As for Carter; he will not go quietly. I am convinced he will fight and he has more chance under a party lable than as an independent. Perhaps he could take over the Progressive Party when Jim dons the mayoral robes of Christchurch.

  15. It might have been more accurate to say that Goff ‘should have’ working-class appeal. I certainly dont think he’s as intellectual/academic as most of the other contenders for leadership, like Cunliffe, Barker, Parker etc. Who of the main contenders would have the working-class appeal?

  16. “Labour voters are Labour voters. Their loyalty is first and foremost to the Party.”

    An interesting idea. I’m not sure the old National/Labour tribal lines still exist and if they do, they have been skewed.

    The old comfortable view that the working class votes solidly for Labour is no longer true and voters generally will vote for whoever they feel most aligns with their world view.

    I’d hazard a guess that “Labour voters” these days are overwhelmingly middle class and university educated; so talk of who has working class appeal may well be moot.

    • An interesting idea. I’m not sure the old National/Labour tribal lines still exist and if they do, they have been skewed.

      Well, I’m probably basing my comment on all the Labour Party functions I’ve been to. Most of the people there are ‘Labour through and through’ and would die in a ditch rather than vote for any other party.

  17. 17

    My guess is the reason Chris Carter thought it a non-issue the letter was addressed in his own handwriting is because he didn’t think the media would show it to Phil Goff. My understanding is there is a lot of this wink-wink, nudge-nudge in politics.

    But either Guyon Espiner or Duncan Garner (DUN DUN DUNN)or friends didn’t follow this line of thought.

    • My guess is the reason Chris Carter thought it a non-issue the letter was addressed in his own handwriting is because he didn’t think the media would show it to Phil Goff.

      Hmmm. If you write an explosive letter and you have particularly distinctive handwriting, you would scarcely write the addresses of the recipients in that hand if your intention was to remain anonymous. The more I think about this, the more Chris’s actions seem self-destructive.

  18. Isn’t Judith Tizard the next in line on the Party list? She would make a fine leader.

  19. “Well, I’m probably basing my comment on all the Labour Party functions I’ve been to. Most of the people there are ‘Labour through and through’”

    I acknowledge Brian that your knowledge of the party machine is far ahead of mine, however, there is a difference between Labour voters and Labour members who are indeed the ones who will “die in a ditch” for the party. They are also the ones you meet at party functions (and I’m willing to bet there are more middle-class, university-educated folk among them than panel-beaters, miners or dockworkers). That’s what I meant when I talked about who Labour’s world view most aligns with.
    When I mentioned “Labour voters” I was talking about people who are not members of the party but have traditionally voted for it. I’m pretty sure “Labour voters” did indeed vote for other parties at the last election.

  20. “Well, I’m probably basing my comment on all the Labour Party functions I’ve been to.”

    With all due respect that is hardly the real world and more than a National Party function.

    Those who attend political party functions probably account for less than 1% of the population.

    The rest of us are far more fickle!

  21. Who, in their right mind, would want to pick up the mantle of Leader, when it’s such a poisoned chalice? It needs more than one term in Opposition, to expunge the awful Helen Clark years.

    That’s not to say, there aren’t elements within the ranks, hoping that the ripples of disillusionment, eddy out from the caucus and out into the wider Party and into the public domain, itself. The seeds of Discontent are being sowed- and-watered, in preparation of the inevitable leadership change.

    Goff would know, that, he has to carry the burden of Clark’s barren legacy. He can only hope, that — a massive blunder and/or scandal will befall the National Party. Other than that forlorn hope, he really is “dead man walking”.

    Be assured, there are no aspirant-leaders busting their gut, to step into his shoes, just yet. The Labour Party, still, has to go through years of purgatory, for the cleansing and the removal of the deadwood — of which there is plenty — before the rejuvenation can begin.

  22. I wonder who, if anyone, has been providing media advice to Carter since he cut himself adrift?

  23. It’s not often I make wild forecasts online, but (blame the rather fine 15-year-old Springbank) I can’t see Labour getting up in 2011 and the prospect of another three years of Gerry Brownlee smirking from Parliament makes me want to jack it in and head home. Sad thing to say for me, given my 15 (mostly) happy years here. But a further mandate for Joyce, Jerry and English will likely be the end for me. And I can’t see any alternative at present. Labour left me years ago.

  24. @ Clarissa J: please tell me this was a suggestion you forwarded to Tui as a billboard.JT achieved very little in her last term and not a great deal before that.Her closeness to Clark(whom I greatly admire)probably saved her before the voters finally dumped her.IMO she and Carter are most unlikely to ever be back in favour with the Party hierachy,and rightly so.

  25. Interesting read. Feel as though I AM attending a Labour Party function which is a first for me. Getting back to CC seems to me this is less about party politics than Greek tragedy. Many years ago I did my MA in history alongside CC. Remember him as a nice guy. His appearance and behaviour of late certainly do strike me as of someone under severe pressure. Not helped of course by the reprehensible behaviour of media in chasing him through Parliament. Hope he gets well!

    • His appearance and behaviour of late certainly do strike me as of someone under severe pressure. Not helped of course by the reprehensible behaviour of media in chasing him through Parliament. Hope he gets well!

      Amen to that.

  26. Carter represents the worst kind of socialist. He pontificates hand on heart that he’s in politics and the Labour party to serve and defend the interests of the disadvantaged working man and woman. His behaviour however suggests the opposite. He’s in politics to milk the system for the benefits that he can acrue to himself…..there is no evidence that he gives a toss for the working class. Even as recently as this current parliamentary recess, he was off to Tibet on a junket rather than back in his constituency attending to the needs of his working class consituents, as other MP’s wuld have been. He’s nothing more than self serving hypocrite. The Labour party and NZ politics is better off with him gone.

  27. From Grants above summation Perhaps Chris Carter is more suited to the national party

  28. I wondered how long it would be before some apologist put the blame for Carter’s actions on the media; Tony has duly obliged.

    I am increasingly irritated about talk of his mental state. It is purely a mechanism for the Labour Party to be able to dismiss his actions as those of someone who is unbalanced and therefore not worthy of consideration.

    For years, Cater was cosseted and indulged by Helen Clarke. He was allowed to get away with blue murder.

    Like so many ‘celebrities’ he actively courted the media when it suited his purpose.

    With the changing of the guard he suddenly finds the world a hostile place. He reacts quite predictably as so many nonentities have done in the past when their lack of substance has been exposed. He has a tantrum. It is as simple as that.

    All his talk of being loyal to the Labout Party should be seen as sheer hypocricy. Those who value loyalty do not behave in such a manner. As for his not standing as an independent, I do not believe it for one minute. He is clinging to the very faint hope that the Labour Party wil not expel him. When the inevitable happens he will have another tantrum and out of ‘loyalty’ do his best to destroy Goff and the Labour Party.

  29. What has helped the National/Act/Maori right wing alliance has been two things. 1.)The economic crisis has been the perfect excuse to impose spending cuts and a level of right wing ideology in a covert way without alarming the centrist voters, and 2.)The backlash from centrist voters of the previous Labour Governments alliance with the Greens and some of their non-acceptable left wing ideology. The power vacuum left by Helen Clarks departure gave Phill Goff the Labour leadership almost by default, and I think centrist voters are really waiting for a strong, charismatic Labour leader to step up to the plate. Unfortunately Phill Goff is not that charismatic leader, and therefore he will not lead a centre left Government to power in 2011.Chris Carter was not politically underhand enough to pull off a coup.

  30. The most succinct summation of the malaise I have seen to date (elsewhere) is:

    “Labour isn’t going to lose the next election because of Goff, its going to lose it because of Clark.”

  31. The sad thing about this is that Carter’s antics confirmed all my prejudices about gay boys and egotistical schoolteachers.O god, I’m shallow.

  32. Lettice expresses my thoughts very well.