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Posts Tagged 'Chris Carter'

A Dissenting View on Chris Carter’s Expulsion from the Labour Party

In May 1996, six months out from a general election, the New Zealand Labour Party was in dire straits. Its poll ratings were in the low teens, while its leader’s ratings as preferred prime minister were around what is generally referred to as ‘the margin of error’.

In the same month Helen Clark received a delegation which she recalls as having included Phil Goff, Michael Cullen, Annette King, Koro Wetere and Jim Sutton.

“These people had rushed around the caucus counting numbers and then decided they’d come and confront me and ask me to stand down, and say there was a majority who wanted that to happen. And the line was, you’re a nice person, blah, blah, blah, but you can’t win the election and we don’t want to have to challenge you directly at the caucus, so it would just be better if you resigned. And I said to them, “Well, if you want a change of leader, you’re going to have to go into the caucus and move a motion.”’ 

The plotters declined to take that course of action. Clark’s decision to call their  bluff was not because she was certain she had the numbers, but because she knew that there was no-one capable of taking her place. Twelve years later there was still no-one capable of taking her place. Fourteen years later Labour is polling significantly better than in  was in May 1996, but its leader is languishing on single figures as preferred Prime Minister, while his predecessor, a non-candidate, still has support for the job.

In the interim, Helen Clark would keep the Labour Party in office for an unprecedented nine years. I’m uncertain which of the coup leaders had ambitions to wrest the leadership from her in 1996, but I’m willing to give  odds that, had he or she been successful, neither would be able to lay claim to that record today.

Even more interesting than the remarkable similarity between the situation in 1996 and 2010 – Labour miles behind National in the polls and its leader more than 40 points behind John Key as preferred prime minister – is the way Clark dealt with the mutineers in her party. Far from demoting or exiling them, she not merely brought them in, she promoted them as well. Better, as Lyndon Johnson observed, to have one’s opponents inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.  

Read the rest of this entry »


Thoughts on the Recent Life of an Embattled MP – An Invitation to Imagine

Imagine this. You’re a public figure. An accusation has been made against you, not of any criminal act, not even of breaching any rule, but of displaying an attitude of entitlement to the perks of office. Others have been as guilty as you, some more guilty. But the world seems largely uninterested in them. Its focus is almost entirely on you.

Imagine that for months you are vilified daily in the press, on radio, on television, on the Internet, to your face, behind your back.  Imagine that this relentless attack goes beyond what you have done to what you are said to be –  a person without integrity, without conscience, egotistical, narcissistic, a sponger on the public purse, a waste of space. Imagine being branded ‘worthless’.

Imagine not being able to open a newspaper, listen to radio, watch television, surf the Net without finding this judgement of your character somewhere expressed. Imagine it happening every hour of every day for months.   Read the rest of this entry »


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.


TV3 News Returns to the Trough

Last Friday, in its regular segment featuring the on-line editor’s selection of items from the channel’s website,  TV3 returned to the topic of Chris Carter:

“How to have dinner with MP Chris Carter: Find out how you can have dinner with Labour MP Chris Carter. He’s promising lots of wine.”

Viewers who went to the site, could read the following post:

Dinner with Carter, Kaiser – BYO flowers, masseuse

Trade Me bidders can win dinner with troubled Labour MP Chris Carter and his partner Peter Kaiser, but they are adamant that gifts of flowers are at the public’s expense.   

 Mr Carter and Mr Kaiser will entertain the successful bidder at their home in Te Atatu South, providing food and a “generous amount” of wine. 

On the post the pair make fun of Mr Carter’s recent problem with inappropriate spending on his ministerial credit card.

“Chris and Peter accept flowers – at your expense,” they write.

 Massages and flights to and from Auckland are also at the bidder’s expense.

In the ‘Question and Answers’ section of the post one potential bidder asks whether Mr Carter would be paying for the dinner on his Government credit card.

The pair evade the question; writing: “It’s a charity auction. Feel happy to bid if you like.”

All funds from the auction, listed on Trade Me, will go to the GABA Charitable Trust – a fund set up to support the health and welfare of New Zealand’s gay community.

Bidding for the dinner – to be held on a date agreed between the two parties – is currently at $100.

The only problem with this story is  that the following statements are entirely untrue:

- they are adamant that gifts of flowers are at the public’s expense. 

 – On the post the pair make fun of Mr Carter’s recent problem with inappropriate spending on his ministerial credit card.

 – “Chris and Peter accept flowers – at your expense,” they write.

- The pair evade the question, writing, “It’s a charity auction. Feel happy to bid if you like.” Read the rest of this entry »


A Full Stop on Carter/Garner

With more than 100 comments posted , I am putting a full stop to this debate. I will not publish any more comments. Too many contain little more than abuse of one party or the other.

The incontrovertible facts are as follows:

*Garner and Carter had a confrontation in the Auckland Koru Club roughly 11 months ago.

*Carter claims that later, on the plane, Garner said to him: I am going to fucking get you, Carter. If it takes me to Christmas I am going to fucking destroy you.

*Garner responds:  I ’swear’ I did not say to Chris, “I am going to fucking get you, if it takes me to Christmas I am going to destroy you.”

*Whatever the actual words used by Garner, they were overheard by Dame Margaret Bazley who was seated directly behind Carter.  Dame Margaret was appalled by whatever it was she heard and said to Carter:  What a disgraceful man. You don’t have to put up with rubbish like that on a plane, Mr Carter.

We will leave it there.

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Incident on an Air New Zealand Flight

Picture: NZPA

Picture: NZPA

Picture: TV3

Picture: TV3





It will come as no surprise to readers of this blog that I am no fan of TV3’s Political Editor, Duncan Garner. I have written several posts about him. They include a post on April 7 in which I raised the question: Should TV3 be considering  whether their Political Editor is fit to hold the job?  I headed the post Duncan Garner on Chris Carter – Journalism or Personal Campaign?  I believe I now have the answer to that question and it comes from Garner’s own lips. 

But first a little history. It is no secret around Parliament  that, roughly 11 months ago,  Garner and Carter had a verbal stoush in the Auckland Koru Club.  Following the release of the report detailing the 2008 travel expenses of Labour Ministers, Garner had run a TV3 story alleging that Carter was a big-spending Minister whose travel could not be justified in what was essentially a domestic portfolio – Education. The story also referred to Carter’s long-time partner and travelling companion, Peter Kaiser, and included the name of the primary school of which Kaiser is principal.  

Not surprisingly, there was bad blood between the two men. Carter and Darren Hughes were in the Koru Club waiting for their flight to Wellington to be called when Garner approached them. He is reported as having said, ‘Travelling on the fucking taxpayer again, Chris.’ Carter told him to ‘fuck off!’  Read the rest of this entry »


Goff Totally Loses The Plot

Herald/Paul Escourt

Herald/Paul Escourt

Either Phil Goff is getting appalling advice from his media advisers or he is ignoring good advice. Either way, his recent handling of Chris Carter would suggest that he has totally lost the plot.

One of the most basic tenets of public relations and of politics is that the ultimate goal in handling any problem is to make it go away. Our training mantra – be straightforward, tell the truth, admit your mistakes – is undoubtedly the best way to achieve that result. But however you handle the problem, the silliest thing you can do is to prolong bad media coverage by giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a dying issue. That is precisely what Goff is doing by demanding that Carter front the media on the issue of his alleged abuse of his ministerial expenses, if and when he is allowed to return to parliament.

The biggest news story in New Zealand at the moment is the good news story about the All Whites’ stunning performances in South Africa. The country is in a feel-good mood and the ministerial expenses issue has faded in the print media and been largely absent from our television screens for a few days. Goff ought to be breathing a sigh of relief, more especially since his disciplining of Carter,  which the pundits said would win  him brownie points, has had no positive effect on his personal ratings as preferred Prime Minister. He is barely above the non-candidate Helen Clark.

In summary, publicity around the Carter affair has damaged Labour, and Goff’s handling of the affair has not done him or the party any good. So, with the country obsessed with soccer and the Carter issue moribund, if not actually dead, the smart thing to do would have been to get back to business as usual. Goff, however, appears to want his pound of flesh. Why?  Read the rest of this entry »


Duncan Garner on Chris Carter – Journalism or Personal Campaign?

Mark Mitchell/NZ Herald

Mark Mitchell/NZ Herald









In returning to the topic of Duncan Garner, I am in danger of being accused of conducting a personal campaign against TV3’s political editor. That would be doubly unfortunate since it is my view that he, and/or TV3,  is conducting just such a campaign  against Labour ‘s  Foreign Affairs spokesman Chris Carter.

On last night’s  bulletin, Garner devoted 2’17”  – a long item in television terms – to a 2½ week trip Carter will make later this month to Europe. It was the third item in the bulletin, suggesting major significance in that day’s news.  Read the rest of this entry »