Brian Edwards Media

On the extremely rare danger of overestimating Labour Party stupidity!

Stuff.co.nz

Stuff.co.nz

 

There is rarely any danger of overestimating Labour Party stupidity. Having described myself recently as ‘a sentimental socialist’, I’m inclined to think that sentiment may be the main, and possibly the only reason for my ongoing belief in an organism genetically predisposed to push the self-destruct button when faced with the slightest glimmer of electoral success.

With David Shearer’s resignation as Leader, something more than a glimmer of electoral success in 2014 now exists in the form of a Cunliffe/Robertson leadership with Cunliffe at the helm. This is the dream team. There will be an Opposition. A Labour/Green coalition will win the election.

So let’s get the ball moving. With only 14 months to go, time is of the essence. Agreed?

Well no. Not until we’ve canvassed the stuff-up option.  

Under the stuff-up option we’ll reduce a barely adequate 14 months to an unlucky-13 months of uncertainly, argy-bargy and free home-runs for John Key.

Why? Because, according to Party President Moira Coatsworth, ‘grassroots members will not accept a deal over the leadership done behind closed doors’.

You can see Ms Coatsworth’s dilemma, can’t you – fast, negotiated, peaceful transition or drawn-out bloodbath? It’s a tricky one all right. Better sleep on it for a month!

That will give you lots of time to dwell on your earlier mistakes and learn from them. Like the mistake you made on unlucky-13 December 2011 when you opted for David Shearer over David Cunliffe. That’s the mistake that got you where you are today, hovering around 30% in the polls. And why? Because you thought David Shearer was nice and David Cunliffe wasn’t. Better a nice loser than a nasty winner. Yah, boo, sucks, Cunliffe!  We won’t play with you!

Well, the same numbskulls  who were unable to set aside their personal prejudices against Cunliffe in 2011 are still there, so Ms Coatsworth may well be insisting on the wiser option. A ‘fast, negotiated, peaceful transition’ might not have been possible in a deeply divided caucus.

Pity!

But then, there’s rarely any danger of overestimating Labour Party stupidity or its capacity for self-destruction.  I’d just forgotten that for a moment.

*

Update – Since I wrote this, Labour Party President Moira Coatsworth has told TV One’s Q & A: “It’s too early for the public to have a clear view on who should be leader. I don’t think people will have given this much attention so far. So let’s wait and see when we know who the candidates are and they’re really up and campaigning.”  Good god! Is there anyone remotely interested in politics who doesn’t already know who David Cunliffe is, or for that matter, Grant Robertson or Shane Jones or Jacinda Ardern? And will anyone who doesn’t know who those people are have any clearer idea when when they’ve spent a month talking to the Labour Party faithful across the country? Don’t think so. Still, it’s good to find support for my thesis that the danger of overestimating Labour Party stupidity is extremely rare.

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97 Comments:

  1. So Brian, if Labour can’t even organize its own leadership sensibly why on earth should we think it can run a country?

    • I hate questions like that!

      • You could mention the small matters of philosophy and policy, Brian. It is not as if National are all brilliance and pristine purity. With an eloquent leader, Labour could make a rapid transformation from what Alan currently portrays.

      • I’m sure that doesn’t concern you in the slightest Brain because you’re a fraud.
        You’re about as left wing as richard prebbles right nut.

  2. I know Jacinda Ardern has ruled herself out as going for the leader so I think she should be the deputy :)

    • I agree on Jacinda’s potential and a male/female team has its attractions. But somewhat premature I’d have thought.

      • Well, Ardern has tried hard to look mature and competent, at times, but what has she actually delivered to deserve being deputy?

        I see her still needing more time to “evolve” and get more of a grip of her portfolio, but one also wonders, will she ever get a solid grip on it.

        While she is vocal and strong on child abuse and family and child welfare issues, she has been damned silent on other welfare issues, like the sadly too silent introduction of work capability testing of sick and disabled, a but like in the UK, where hundreds if not thousands lost their lives, partly through suicides, as they could not cope with draconian assessment methods by ATOS as sole assessor for the DWP. I know people who sent her revealing information, which she could and should have used to hammer Paula Bennett and National, but apart from the odd passionate speech, she has been damned silent.

        It raises the concern, that is certainly for sick and disabled beneficiaries, and those that may one day suffer the same, are Labour as open and honest about welfare, or did they not have similar plans and so in the drawers?

        Perhaps open your eyes, braincells and ears to see what all the reforms are really about:

        http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/15264-welfare-reform-the-health-and-disability-panel-msd-the-truth-behind-the-agenda/

        http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/15188-medical-and-work-capability-assessments-based-on-the-bps-model-aimed-at-disentiteling-affected-from-welfare-benefits-and-acc-compo/

        Any person who bothers to study what is behind it must see the hidden agenda behind it all, why are Ardern and Labour not seeing it???

        • Yes. Punisher Paula’s appalling legacy.

        • I think Jacinda has tried to convey her own beliefs about what social security should look like but she’s been hampered by Labour’s inability or reluctance to answer questions about what Labour’s current welfare policies in fact are and whether for example it still stands by decisions such as axing the special benefit (under urgency) and altering the statutory purpose of welfare provision in NZ. There were other changes Labour made that were equally right-wing in nature, as well. Jacinda also suffers from a general lack of understanding of the structure of the current legislation, how it’s meant to work and of the history of changes since the Ruth Richardson days. A knowledge of this is essential for anyone who doesn’t agree with what Key/Bennett et al are currently doing. Labour’s need for a “single core benefit”, for example, is so fundamentally flawed that anyone who was truly interested would understand. Unfortunately, nobody in Labour cares about social welfare which also means nobody in Labour understands it enough to even get close to being able to stand up to Key and Bennett and their utter disdain for the poor.

          • How can Jacinda Ardern be seriously considered as a potential deputy leader/vote-winner, when she can’t even win a traditional Labour seat like Auckland Central against a good, but hardly stellar National opponent, Nikki Kaye?

            I know Ponsonby, Grey Lynn, and the Brian Edwards estate in Herne Bay no longer reflect the original Irish Catholic working class who originally settled there, nor the the urban Maori and other Polynesian-immigration wave that replaced them from the 1960s on.

            But there are still plenty of urban liberals on the ground, and the Greens were supposedly amenable to pulling their punches to get Ardern over the line as the electorate MP in 2011.

            • In my opinion List MPs have less mana than Electorate MPs.

              Litte, Jones and Arder are non-starters. They have not had the forging that only comes from fighting hard for the direct vote of thousands of people.

              Shearer also lacked that forging. He was handed the best seat in the country. Shearer had not earned his stripes as an MP and did not have the foundation to be a party leader.

              Cunliffe worked Titirangi for a year and took it from the Nats. He now has a 5,000 vote personal majority in New Lynn. Cunliffe has been well forged!

            • 2.1.1.2.1.2

              Jacinda was promoted beyond her capability and experience as part of the ABC campaign. However, she may well appeal to the youngish urban liberal types who are not Cunliffe’s natural constituency. I doubt, though, whether she’d be acceptable as his deputy, as they’re both JAFAs. I don’t particularly like Robertson but he has tremendous skills as a parliamentarian, whilst also appealing to the urban liberal crowd. So, if Labour comes to its senses and elects Cunliffe, he might be well advised to have his rival “inside the tent pissing out”, as Key has done with English

  3. The first step they should take is to ban any further shadowy ,backroom meddling by Helen Clarke who’s been in town for the last few weeks. If you crossed Michael Laws with Machievelli you’d probably end up with Helen.

    After sucking the life out of the Labour party over her nine years of strong leadership she should just now simply ” go away “.

  4. Ok, so Labour has had its ‘Brash’ moment and now needs to move on. Although, having said that, Shearer would have made an acceptable PM in that he was generally well liked on both sides, Brash in my opinion would have been a disaster for obvious ‘toxic’ reasons.

    But your absolutely correct Brian, the only real choice is DC as leader. Having two Davids sitting side by side would only confuse the already befuddled speaker of the house so GR must get the nod for deputy.

    The leader election process will certainly be an interesting study of democratic factionalism in action.

  5. The left has shown it cannot operate at room temperature on big issues – everyone wades in with lots of name calling, with focus on the issue at hand buried/hidden under a cloud of hot steam. The recent GCSB debate was a classic case of lost focus, with lots of noise about the right stealing our freedom, rather than discussion about the Bill itself. Until Labour can develop clear strategies and stay tuned into an issue delivery clear messages – they doomed to be the Opposition.

  6. Brian your journo’s love of a good conflict is affecting your judgement! My experience of the Labour Party is that it uses internal debate as a constructive tool to develop better policy that we all end up feeling happy support when all options received a fair hearing. This is the core process of democracy and it is the best way to overcome ‘deep divisions’ (if they actually exist).

    More importantly the leadership ‘primary’ process will develop the contenders’ campaigning skills, ensure the winner has earned his/her stripes and is better equipped to become a successful Prime Minister.

    My preference (at this stage in the process) for Cunliffe is based on much more than his capacity to take it to Key – his ‘The Dolphin and the Dole Queue’ speech demonstrates his holistic integrative thinking. Sadly that may be too much for journos to cope with – they may have to grapple with creative win-win complexity rather than simplistic win-lose cliches.
    http://www.labour.org.nz/news/speech-the-dolphin-and-the-dole-queue

    • This speech should be required reading for everyone who is going to have a say in the election of the next Labour leader.

  7. @Michael: “No one, no one, no one believes that the human population on planet Earth can safely hit nine or ten billion without grave consequences” – Cunliffe.

    Nonsense. It is already 7 billion and highly urbanised so there is plenty of physical space. Agriculture is either primative or subsidized inefficient in many countries so food will not be a problem. There is enough fossil fuel to last several centuries and vast amounts of untapped energy in the universe for future technologies to utilize.

    And the great global warming moral panic is evaporating year by year as the evidence mounts it was both over-hyped and fraudulent – like the carbon market rackets it spawned.

    Cunliffe is trying to out-green the Greens. I wouldn’t believe a word he says, and I’m not sure he would either.

    • 7.1

      Twit.

    • ‘Primitive’ is spelled with three i’s not two

    • We are living in a closed eco-system, Alan, and it is at the risk of our species’ very survival that you join the chorus of those who assume that the system is open, and that cherry-picking of stats can frustrate those who seem to threaten the sacred economy. Satellite photos of the overbearing trend of retreating glaciers worldwide ought to sober you up. But I wonder if you are among those who simply cannot stand the thought that the Greens and Greenpeace may actually be right. On any matter at all.
      I have yet to make my mind up about Cunliffe – I know little of him.

      • 7.3.1

        Generalized waffle. There’s nothing cherry-picking about looking at actual temperature and sea level records as opposed to scary failed models.

        • ‘Generalized waffle’ = wilful ignorance on your part.
          Fortunately your online postings are so reflexively full of anti-left or anti-green bombast that I can choose to ignore them for the most part.
          But carry on in the echo chamber.

          • 7.3.1.1.1

            Funny way of ignoring them. Anyway, challenge any of Matt Ridley’s facts if you wish, or any others but I won’t hold my breath waiting.

            • Every heard of the precautionary principle Alan?

              Or for that matter science?

              I respect science when I do so little as turn on a light switch, and certainly when it comes to the future of the planet.

              The 97-99% of scientists who confirm global warming is real and most certainly anthropogenic do rightly invoke the precautionary principle because while we only have one planet, we are living as we have three.

              And I would be very happy to see leadership in Zealand like that of David Cunliffe and/or Russell Norman who are as cautionary about our irreplaceable environmental heritage, as they are passionate about equal opportunity across class, race, and crucially: generations.

  8. Well at least “the charisma bypass” has opted out, ie. Andrew Little, as you Brian put it so eloquently on radio the other day. I still haven’t got over his Chris Auchinvole jersey episode in Parliament, it’s worth repeating here, for it’s utter stupidity, even Trevor Mallard thought so…

    Hansard:
    (continued on Saturday, 18 May 2013)
    Crown Minerals Amendment Act 2013 Amendment Bill
    In Committee

    ANDREW LITTLE (Labour) : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I wish to draw a matter to your attention to do with standard of dress in the Chamber. I see there is a member opposite[Chris Auchinvole of pro gay marriage fame] who has graced the Chamber with his presence this morning wearing a jersey. It is correct that he is also wearing a jacket over the top of it, but I understood the required standard of dress was business attire. I have had a lot of dealings in business settings over many years. I have not yet seen a business person, man or woman, wearing a jersey in a business setting. I just wonder whether you might consider whether or not the member is suitably dressed for this Chamber.

    Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Leader of the House) : I think that is a most frivolous contribution from the member, and not one that you should give any time to whatsoever. I notice members—[Interruption] I am speaking to the point of order.

    The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): Order! We have a point of order.

    Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: I notice members in the Chamber—there was one member in the Chamber today dressed in a denim suit. Apparently that works.

    Brendan Horan: Who’s that?

    Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Well, if you look around—looking over there at one of our colleagues—it is somewhat sartorial. But, none the less, if we are going to start doing these things, there are other members—I have always thought that there is a huge gap between the dress standards for male and female members in here, but this is not a way to raise it—

    The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): Thank you.

    Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: It is not an appropriate time to raise it, and I would ask you to please ignore it.

    Hon Trevor Mallard: Speaking to the point of order, Mr Speaker.

    The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): Well, I guess it is Saturday morning. I call the Hon Trevor Mallard.

    Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Labour—Hutt South) : I would like, sort of unusually, to join with Gerry Brownlee, not in his negative comments about my colleague Andrew Little but on the substance of the point of order. I think you will be aware, because you were here when urgency used to be a regular feature of Saturdays, that the Saturday business dress tended to be slightly less formal—as it is in most businesses—than it might be Monday to Thursday or, in some cases, on Friday. I think Speakers have taken a more relaxed attitude on a Friday. I can remember Roger Douglas here in a jacket and a jersey. He apparently had a collar and tie underneath but the jersey was polo neck so you could not even tell.

    The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): Thank you.

    Brendan Horan: Point of order.

    The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): No, I do not need any more help. I have listened to the contributions from all sides. I realise it is Saturday morning and we would probably rather be somewhere else. [Interruption] Order! I am on feet. Recognising that the member might be cold, I accept that sometimes we do need to wear a jersey under a suit.

    Hon Gerry Brownlee: It’s top-class merino.

    The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): I am not going to get into what class it is. Who was on their feet? I call the honourable member Eugenie Sage.

  9. 9 Billion might be great if your not an extinct species or at the bottom of the Socio Economic order. Over population which has helped create pollution of our environment is possibly the first hurdle to negotiate as the human race struggles to provide for its masses. Take away the global warming effect and the planet is still in a mess. Care for a one way trip to Fukushima or Chernobyl.The Labour Party leadership dilemma ,its already passed one public hurdle which is the removal of David Shearer.

  10. The world population may already be 7 billion, and there are already grave consequences. I hope Alan Wilkinson will pardon me for ignoring his fantasies about fuel and food supply. The only upside for Alan is that he won’t be around to eat his words.

    • 10.1

      Terrible consequences, Trevor. People are living longer and healthier than ever. Many millions fewer live in abject poverty. The wealthier the country the better its environment. Knowledge and technology continue to advance at pace.

      The downside is that you weren’t around a couple of hundred years ago to understand the difference.

      • “The wealthier the country the better its environment”.

        China has the fastest growing economy, and the largest gold reserve in the world, however this has come at an environmental cost…to be sure!

        • 10.1.1.1

          Yes, there is an initial cost but look to the wealth generated and spreading to now start to alleviate and rectify those problems in China.

          Have a listen to Matt Ridley’s YouTube talk I linked for a good overview of the real world-wide trends.

    • 10.2

      Here’s a little talk to help you understand: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=S-nsU_DaIZE#t=1

  11. I think a year and a bit is plenty of time to show off the abilities and vision of a new Labour leader. We know them all, they’ve been in Parliament making speeches, attacking National’s legislation, they are not strangers to us. I watched some of Cinliffe’s speeches, they were excellent. Robertson can also be brilliant but he does not portray the same passionate vision for NZ. Jones has not impressed. I’m pleased Labour is going to give its grass roots a vote, how else can our politicians really engage with members & voters. All parties need to follow suit. Whoever is the next Labour leader will have 13 months to articulate a vision that New Zealanders can support. The month of electioneering for the new leader will be a good start and will increase labour’s visibility on key issues ov concern to members. Sounds good to me!

    • My understanding is that this roadshow is for the benefit of party members only. They may learn a lot about the qualities of the contenders. The general voting public won’t.

      • Colin James said the media will be allowed into the meetings. Aside from that the contest will mean Labour MPs and members will constantly be in the news talking about their vision for the next four weeks. I struggle to see how that could be a bad thing.

        Of course there is the chance that Trevor, Phil, etc will poison the well with another campaign of smears and backstabbing. If they do they’ll ruin it for everyone.

        • Trevor Mallard, the gift that keeps on giving…for National

          • Team NZ won the Louis Vuitton this morning and have a good chance of winning the Americas Cup. This would be worth millions to the NZ boating industry and broader economy, again. Even if they don’t beat Oracle the spin off now is huge.

            Something to thank Mr Mallard for at least.

            • 11.1.1.1.1.1

              I agree with that, Kat. Now you just have to persuade most Labour supporters let alone the red Greens.

              • 11.1.1.1.1.1.1

                Most Labour supporters I know hold similar views, especially in the marine industry with apprenticeships etc. I guess its the circles we move in.

                • 11.1.1.1.1.1.1.1

                  Any chance of similar views amongst that circle you swim in, kat, considering the similarity of outcomes for…the Sky City Convention Center?

  12. Brian, I doubt whether support for your thesis will be forthcoming from those responsible for setting the 40/40/20 process in motion.

  13. Brian, do you really think DC and GR would work together well?
    I had the impression that GR has been a key fueler of the factional jealousy in the party that made life difficult for DC – am I wrong about that?

  14. The Labour Party caucus has devolved into the collective incarnation of a cartoonish singularity: Mr. Magoo.

  15. Hi Brian,

    I whole-heartedly agree with your article, I have been trying to find commentary that summed-up my thoughts ion this whole debacle, and now I have found it.

    I feel that Moira and others are trying to save face and make up for the travesty of last time. However, they simply do not get it. It should have been Cunliffe’s from the start, he was the heir apparent. And Cunliffe has proved over the past year, that he is worthy. Taking a probably $80,000 pay cut is horrible and I don’t wish it upon anyone, but he stayed on, proving his loyalty. His time is now.

    Regards,

    Luke.

  16. To dwell for a moment on the hapless – but somehow likeable – david shearer. if you elect someone not for their proven ability rather than because who they are not it”s hardly surprising it all ended in tears.
    I have no idea if Cunliffe is likeable.
    Surely even the NZ labour party can see he is far more likely to catch the public eye than anyone else in these days of presidential style politics.
    Key versus Cunliffe would be a close call.
    But as you say BE it is the labour party…….

  17. As I was saying at lunch today, to an unusually attentive audience, Shane Jones–tactically, at least–would look like a good Deputy Leader. Maori vote. Good commercial credibility–etc.

    Tonight he announces he’s in the race. Deputy is a caucus-only choice. So if the winner (Cunliffe/Robertson) wants to shaft the loser, or the caucus wants to shaft the winner, then Jones would be a useful tool (so to speak) either way.

    Any thoughts about what that might do to party unity?

    • The mind boggles, Bill. By the way, sorry, I don’t recall your having said that at lunch. Can’t have been listening.

      • Finally worked it out. Try and pay attention this time, Brian.

        Shane Jones also runs for Leader. More than two in the race, so preferential voting system kicks in. Shane suggests (i.e. quietly puts the word out) that it would be nice if his supporters gave their second preferences to–just saying–Robertson.

        That puts Robertson over the line, so he’s looking for a deputy. Neither the Cunliffe caucus supporters nor his detractors want to get offside with the new boss, what with spokespersonships and select committee assignments to be handed out.

        And there’s no need to! There’s a slick (if sporadically idle) literate blokey non-Wellington business-friendly affable Maori immediately to hand. Just the chap to pull in the 700,000 Labour heartland supporters who couldn’t be bothered voting last time.

        If Shane steers his second preferences to Robertson…reverse the scenario. Is he now open to offers from both Robertson and Cunliffe?

        Sorry, Moira–the leadership roadshow might turn out to be a stich-up after all.

        There isn’t going to be a Robertson + Cunliffe or a Cunliffe + Robertson leadership team. Can anyone suggest which bits of the Labour Party will ex/implode once Shane gets to ride shotgun?

  18. What Labour need for leadership is first of all a “cleansing air competition and vote”, and then the leader, likely to be Cunliffe, to be backed up by the follow up, or next best for being deputy. Swallow your pride all, who may lose and not get your ways, learn to work together, and for Cunliffe, he has started doing it on the back benches.

    Keep him tied to a deputy that will represent forces that keep him “connected’ to the wider cause, and not let his individual ambitions run amok. And with that, and the party, affiliates and caucus behind it, they will have the damned winning team they need to usher Key out for a senior banking advisory role in Wall Street, or into early retirement in sunny Hawaii, where he can play golf with Obama, and watch his culturally adventurous daughter shock the establishment and voyeurs in Europe and elsewhere.

    With a bit of common sense and discipline all this could have been done and arranged a year ago, but Labour likes to fight the little battles, to finally get it right, that is at least, what I hope, in the end.

    • Tax the rich to support the poor was Cunliffe’s theme yesterday. Haven’t heard that from the Labour Party in quite a while. Sounds good.

      • 18.1.1

        Last time Labour did that I think they defined as rich anyone earning more than $60k. And the result was that the share of tax paid by the really rich fell as they became more motivated to avoid tax.

        Never mind the actual consequences so long as the cause sounds noble and the slogans bring in the votes.

  19. Why do the media (no matter their political leanings) have such a dim view of democratic processes?

    • I certainly haven’t got a dim view of democratic processes. but this one is slow, cumbersome and skewed. There is a degree of urgency now arising from the need to give the new leader adequate time to confront the government and Key. And this is a curious democracy: A small group, though with a large interest, get 40% of the vote; a very large group (party members) also get 40% of the vote; and a powerful group (the unions) get 20% of the vote. I’m not entirely sure how or whether this will produce the best man or woman for the job. And, to add insult to injury, the leader doesn’t get to choose his deputy. Does that make for good governance? I wouldn’t have thought so.

      • 19.1.1

        I hate to be pedantic (actually I quite like it if I’m to be honest with myself) but I do wish people would stop referring to ‘the unions’ when what they mean is the unions affiliated to the Labour Party and who are by no means the complete union movement in this country. The PSA, for openers, is actually prevented by its rules from affiliating to the Labour Party and I don’t think the teacher unions (three of the biggest) are either.

        BTW Brian – did you get my message about some dinner on 5 September? I think you have my email address if you want to respond

        • We both worked for the PSA, Tony, and, affiliated or not, it was a Labour Party hotbed. And a haven for failed Labour Party candidates! All in all, an excellent organisation.

  20. “You can see Ms Coatsworth’s dilemma, can’t you – fast, negotiated, peaceful transition or drawn-out bloodbath? It’s a tricky one all right. Better sleep on it for a month!”

    But this was always going to be the result of the changes made to the constitution at last year’s Labour Party conference.

    When they did it they waxed lyrical about “democratic inclusion”, and “participation”. As Chris Hipkins made the very good point yesterday on Q+A, we are a Westminster democracy, so the “boots-and-all” approach of US primaries is not appropriate. So why create the likelihood/near certainty that will happen?!

    A good example of how Labour’s good intentions often go awry courtesy of the law of unintended consequences. So the swinging voter asks, “why should I let them do the same to the country…?”. And why National’s pragmatism allows them to stand by, while Labour snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.

    • “So the swinging voter asks, “why should I let them do the same to the country…?”

      Labour = 9 years of surpluses

      National = 5 years of deficits

      • That’s fair enough, johan, although it is a “high-risk/high reward” opportunity, especially as we all know what the media’s angle will be throughout…lack of unity

        Now let’s see if the unions, party, caucus and candidates have the discipline to make it work

      • Sorry, kat – posted a reply to my other friend, johan.

        Uh huh. The problem you may have with that is, as he promised in 2008 and since, Key looks like he will shortly deliver a surplus on schedule.

        But your instincts of what and where Labour has to target are not far-wrong. But a word of friendly advice – as Stephen Franks intimated on Q+A yesterday, party activists tend to be drawn into an echo-chamber of their own opinions, and due to the stridency and consistency of what they hear, confuse it for a groundswell of public opinion.

        Also, if I was Labour I’d be very wary of allowing Green supporters to add to that echo-chamber over the leadership. The Greens may be a likely coalition partner (although Helen Clark didn’t use them when she had the option 3x), but they are also a rival…

        • A large number don’t seem too convinced of Keys honesty at present, Kimbo, let alone his promises. If English does manage to post a surplus, one out of six will certainly be a huge celebration for National.

          Key is trying his best spin along with cheer leading rabble such as Hooton on the now ‘imminent’ opposition lurch to the left. Seems the Greens are in for some up-tempo criticism from National.

          If Labour elects Cunliffe as leader then I would expect a definite rise in Labours fortunes before and at the next election. If Cunliffe is not now elected leader then I agree wholeheartedly with the topic of this post.

          • “Key is trying his best spin along with cheer leading rabble such as Hooton on the now ‘imminent’ opposition lurch to the left. Seems the Greens are in for some up-tempo criticism from National.”

            Which tells you what they really fear – Labour positioning itself in the middle where elections are won and lost. As Kirk (the opponent of protesters, academics, and social liberals), Lange/Douglas (the new economic management), and Clark (a pragmatic centrist sensitive to the pulse of public opinion) proved.

            Which is why this fellow (whom I happily consider, to use your rather graceless phrase, “cheer leading rabble”) has it partly right and partly wrong: -

            http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11114191

            Yes, you need coalition partners to form a government under MMP, but no, partners don’t usually ultimately win it for you. As Helen Clark showed when she beat off Don Brash in 2005, it is about where the percentages fall at the main dividing line. National hoovered up the vote of others (ACT, United Future, NZ First) after their catastrophic result of 2002, but Labour going for the middle, with the Greens on their left flank, held steady. Which gave Clark the option of bargaining with NZ First and Dunne, and throwing the Greens under the bus.

            So which candidate best suits that strategy?

            • As I said in my earlier post if Labour elects David Cunliffe as leader then I would expect a definite rise in Labours fortunes before, and at the next election. If it wins the election Labour, with David Cunliffe as PM, may again have the luxury of choosing its coalition partners.

              • 20.1.2.1.1.1.1

                Yep.

                Another word of advice re Key and honesty. The death-by-a-thousand-cuts strategy as “master-minded” by the Trevor Mallard’s of this world should be secondary, or needs careful tempering.

                The electorate suspects Cunnliffe is a devious, cunning, potentially dis-honest chameleon, because that is the experience of those who have to work with him and know him. However, that does not exclude him from Prime Ministership. Far from it. The ability to wear the teflon suit so you don’t get caught with the smoking gun (forgive the mangling of metaphors) is (rightly) rewarded by the electorate. Like, for example, who was likely involved in the leaking of the Don Brash emails…

                • 20.1.2.1.1.1.1.1

                  I am sure Mallard would accept your flattery, however, Key is the master of his own strategy.

          • “A large number don’t seem too convinced of Keys honesty at present, Kimbo, let alone his promises”.

            That’s right. The honesty of politicians, of its very nature, is rightly always suspected, doubted, or down-right scorned.

            So only 23.5% “fully believe what John Key says”: -

            http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/9085347/John-Keys-believability-low

            However, the death-by-a-thousand-cuts/”Liar, liar, pants on fire”/Paintergate strategy doesn’t automatically translate into a dividend for Key’s opponents, and trying to target it can dissipate the focus. There are two numbers that have to fall before Labour is in the game:

            50.4% think “Key is someone I trust to run the country”, and 59% think he is a “strong and effective PM”.

      • 20.1.3

        It’s easy to have tax surpluses – just raise the tax rates as Labour did and enjoyed a commodity boom before the crash. Meanwhile the country’s debt burden expoded in the private sector while Clark and Cullen extorted money from it hand over fist.

        Labour voters = tax spenders. National voters = tax payers.

        • No, it is not quite that “easy” “just raise taxes”. First you have to convince enough people there is a need to raise them, as Labour successfully did for 3 elections in a row. And as their new leader inevitably must try again.

          Cold hard logic and facts alone will never win the day, whether for raising or lowering taxes. For example, this guy…

          http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11113880

          may be technically correct, but his criticism of the “mass exodus” after the recent Wellington tremors confirms he still has a tin ear for when the electorate is voting…with their feet!

          • 20.1.3.1.1

            Labour managed to bribe its supporters with other people’s money until the cupboard was bare and bracket creep started to impact its support. Then Key’s tax cut pledge put a winning squeeze on them.

            • Some fine days ahead up in the Bay Alan, I suggest you would do better from a spot of real fishing than trying to dangle that tired old ‘other peoples money’ line.

              • 20.1.3.1.1.1.1

                Have you got another description for it, Kat? Something suitably Orwellian?

                • 20.1.3.1.1.1.1.1

                  It’s just money. The idea of trying to correlate one’s income with any sort of merit died a philosophical death decades ago. A few Marxists still believe in the Labour theory of value, but even Libertarians are careful not to assert that one’s pay packet correlates to merit – because prices just don’t work that way. Income has to do with incentives, not desert.

                  The idea that the government is taking “your” money when it taxes is based upon a superstition. There’s no reason (indeed it was even once suggested) that employers pay what are now income taxes for their employees instead of the employee paying them. This shows that what counts as “yours” depends solely on which style of accounting we choose – it’s not a real difference.

                  Of course, people continue to believe in it, probably because we are hardwired by evolution to believe in an economy of desert. That’s just another folk belief that needs to follow animism and religion onto the scrapheap.

                • 20.1.3.1.1.1.1.2

                  Yes, that qualifies as sufficiently Orwellian, Lee.

                  The idea that hard or clever work can earn rewards is entirely passe. You will be paid what the State decrees is suitable and no more. Obviously if you deviate from political correctness you will be paid less. Merit is such a fluid concept and inclined to change according to the political flavour of the month.

                  Personal property likewise no longer exists. All is subject to political allocation according to perceived need or worthiness. Tax is merely the partial revocation of earlier allocation – a mere accounting adjustment.

                  Old George Orwell would recognise you and yours at a hundred paces. No doubt you have written him out of history already.

                • 20.1.3.1.1.1.1.3

                  <>

                  You need to stop thinking that you automatically know better than everyone else, and actually think these things through. Your modus operandi is to assume that your basic assumptions are inviolable truths and refuse to subject them to examination. The result of that is that you end up looking like a tiresome blowhard to people who’ve actually studied and thought about the issues.

                  <>

                  Was not said or implied. You’re attacking a straw man. The point of the market is to efficiently allocate resources. Providing incentives is instrumental to that goal, it is not the goal itself.

                  <>

                  This wasn’t said or implied either. Again, you’re attacking a straw man. Pretending that the state would be able to allocate income on the basis of merit is just as barmy as assuming the market does.

                  <>

                  Again, this wasn’t said or implied either. What was claimed was that you could not intelligibly correlate merit with property holdings or income in any workable fashion. This is a conceptual failure – the most devastating kind – not a practical failure.

                  Since you claim to be an advocate of free markets, you should understand this. A purely free market – even though such a thing cannot really exist – operates only on the principle of voluntary transfer, and prices obey the law of supply and demand. If we insisted that people were paid according to merit, then we would be preventing voluntary transfers among those who wished to do otherwise. Of course we like free markets because they provide incentives some of the time, but the point of that is to have efficient allocations of resources, and not to reward moral probity. That’s why when markets fail, we reallocate holdings via the various forms of tax. The notion that people have some sort of desert on the basis of merit has no place as an end of the market system.

                  If you really want people paid in proportion to how hard they work, there is a proposed system that is based upon that principle – the Labour Theory of Value – it’s called Marxism.

                  One would think you would be au fait with the underlying principles of the economic system you claim to support, but I guess that was too much to hope for.

                • 20.1.3.1.1.1.1.4

                  Please delete the previous quoteless post, DBE.

                  “Yes, that qualifies as sufficiently Orwellian, Lee.”

                  You need to stop thinking that you automatically know better than everyone else, and actually think these things through. Your modus operandi is to assume that your basic assumptions are inviolable truths and refuse to subject them to examination. The result of that is that you end up looking like a tiresome blowhard to people who’ve actually studied and thought about the issues.

                  “The idea that hard or clever work can earn rewards is entirely passe.”

                  Was not said or implied. You’re attacking a straw man. The point of the market is to efficiently allocate resources. Providing incentives is instrumental to that goal, it is not the goal itself.

                  “You will be paid what the State decrees is suitable and no more.”

                  This wasn’t said or implied either. Again, you’re attacking a straw man. Pretending that the state would be able to allocate income on the basis of merit is just as barmy as assuming the market does.

                  “Merit is such a fluid concept.”

                  Again, this wasn’t said or implied either. What was claimed was that you could not intelligibly correlate merit with property holdings or income in any workable fashion. This is a conceptual failure – the most devastating kind – not a practical failure.

                  Since you claim to be an advocate of free markets, you should understand this. A purely free market – even though such a thing cannot really exist – operates only on the principle of voluntary transfer, and prices obey the law of supply and demand. If we insisted that people were paid according to merit, then we would be preventing voluntary transfers among those who wished to do otherwise. Of course we like free markets because they provide incentives some of the time, but the point of that is to have efficient allocations of resources, and not to reward moral probity. That’s why when markets fail, we reallocate holdings via the various forms of tax. The notion that people have some sort of desert on the basis of merit has no place as an end of the market system.

                  If you really want people paid in proportion to how hard they work, there is a proposed system that is based upon that principle – the Labour Theory of Value – it’s called Marxism.

                  One would think you would be au fait with the underlying principles of the economic system you claim to support, but I guess that was too much to hope for.

                • 20.1.3.1.1.1.1.5

                  Markets don’t function when incentives are destroyed or when property rights are destroyed.

                  Your attack on merit is your own straw man. Merit is a factor, inevitably subjective, that we recognise in people’s actions but it has nothing to do with property rights or theft of them.

                  Wages are not universal. Many have clients, not employers. Taxes are not levied only on income. Whether an employee or employer pays tax is irrelevant.

  21. What a tremendous opportunity for Labour to form the next government. The focus needs to be on party unity, strenghten local party support in an effort to get more people to the voting booth, and a strong articulate leader who can persuade the swinging voters to vote Labour.

    • That’s fair enough, johan, although it is a “high-risk/high reward” opportunity, especially as we all know what the media’s angle will be throughout…lack of unity

      Now let’s see if the unions, party, caucus and candidates have the discipline to make it work

    • I’m sure there’s a protocol involved, but if not, I wonder why Key doesn’t call a snap election in mid-September?

  22. The Labour Party has a real chance of gaining solid traction, if they can make a smooth transition to a new unified leadership. Never before, has the country been so disillusioned and put-out by John Key and the Nats. Not holding my breath, though.

  23. I wonder if the chances of David Cunliffe being Labour leader might have reduced behind closed doors. This longer process may be more drawn out and painful, but perhaps there is less chance of the wrong person getting the job.

  24. I think this process is great. For one it will reinvigorate the party, I am now for the first time considering joining labour. If labour focus on the positives they will be in the headlines for 3 weeks. If we had a fast leadership change then the first thing that would happen is the media would run a pole and the pole would say his great everyone thinks John Key is. The other thing is the leader will have a mandate something caucus members will need to take notice of … This was the problem with shearer…

  25. Leadership is only one of the problems the left face. Increasing voter turnout could easily give them a insurmountable advantage irrespective of the leader chosen. It may be a situation where Shane Jones could hold an advantage.

  26. No one is actually thinking straight with this situation. No one realises that the general public is a shallow emotionally imature bunch who prefer (despite their political position) a media savvy, confident asshole who looks a little moviestarrish to be the one to represent NZ in the world arena and can smooze with the nasties in the U.S.A. (just so they like us).

    We had potential with David Shearer who simply needed a little grooming in delivery and presentation. A fake tan and maybe a hair transplant to up the anty and win the hearts and minds of the kiwi voter.

    You might get away with a fat man, if he is a bolshy sort – a real one. David Cuniliffe looks like a groper fish – bloated in both meanings of the word and too much of a fake winner. He hasnt got the real panache – acting like a movie star who just got his first interview for the starring role. He is too ugly. We need someone to match the popular school boy appeal of John Key (not my opinion) to push him out. Its not just about politics. Jacinta would have a chance at this – a shame everyone thinks she isnt ready. I think she is more than ready especially if Helen would help her out when required.

  27. > He is too ugly

    Yeah Rob Muldoon, Jim Bolger, and Helen Clark were all lookers. :)

  28. Ross

    You forgot about Lange, Mike Moore and Big Jen.

    That just leaves Sir Geoffrey in the pulchritude stakes. What a weird thought!

  29. Personally I disagree with your proposition Brian. A jack up is what is not a good idea.

    And for a number of reasons:

    1/ I personally believe that democracy is always the better option over backroom wheeling and dealing and horse trading behind closed doors. OK it takes time. But as the saying goes and has been proved with, Shearer Sin in haste repent at leisure.

    2/ This contest has raised Labour’s profile with the public like no other, driving Key and the Nats from the headlines.

    3/ It is making the candidates, the members, the unions and the public engage in considering and discussing the issues. (Even if they have been reluctant too.).

    4/ Overall I believe this is good for our democracy. (Luckily and wisely, a limit has been set on spending, preventing big money interests capturing this ballot.)