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Posts Tagged 'Grant Robertson'

Lessons in “Followship” from the Labour Party

lolly-scramble

In the past I’ve written several posts and articles about voluntary euthanasia. The ‘voluntary’ bit is crucial, since no-one who wants to go on living, however great their pain or however inconvenient their continuing existence to others, should be cajoled or browbeaten into changing their mind.

But it is hard to come to terms with the overweening arrogance of someone who believes they have the right to deny another human being, whose ongoing suffering has deprived them of all joy in living and who wishes to end that suffering, the right to do so.

The laws that govern these decisions and procedures will of necessity be complex and they must be watertight. But they are not beyond our ability to design and implement. Other countries have done so.

I don’t want to restart this debate. That is not the purpose of this post. This post is about the significance of comments on euthanasia cited in this morning’s Herald by the four contenders for the Labour Party leadership.

Iain Lees-Galloway has taken over responsibility for the ‘End of Life Choice Bill’  after its sponsor, Maryan Street, failed to get elected in September. Lees-Galloway is apparently gauging support before deciding whether to put the Bill back on the private members’ bill ballot. It was removed last year under pressure from the Labour leadership who, according to the Herald, “were concerned it could be an election-year distraction or that it could deter conservative voters”. The new Labour leader, whoever that is, could apparently have the deciding voice on the voluntary euthanasia question.

So what did the contenders for that position have to say?

Well, Nanaia Manuta was in favour of reintroducing the bill  because it would show “that Labour would stand up for those difficult conversations that need to be had”.

I thought that was a pretty principled position to take.

David Parker, who voted against legalising voluntary euthanasia in 2003, didn’t want to comment till he’d talked to Lees-Galloway.

Non-committal and therefore less satisfactory perhaps.

Grant Robertson and Andrew Little both support voluntary euthanasia, but neither considered it a priority at the moment. The fairly clear subtext of their replies was that it was a vote-loser and that a party that had polled 25% in September couldn’t afford to be seen supporting unpopular policies.

I’d call that unprincipled.     Read the rest of this entry »

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Why my money’s on David Parker. And why Labour’s should be as well!

OK, eventually you have to put your money where your mouth is. So who, of the four declared contestants – Nanaia Mahuta, Grant Robertson, Andrew Little and David Parker –  should, in my opinion, win the Labour leadership contest? And let’s be clear: the only criterion for the job is that that person should have at least a snowball’s chance of beating John Key in 2017.

Nanaia Mahuta has already conceded that she’s unlikely to win the race and she is to be admired for her honesty.

Of the remaining three I’m going to discount Andrew Little first. I simply don’t believe that the country is ready for a grim-faced former union leader to be Prime Minister or to be this country’s envoy overseas.    Read the rest of this entry »

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I say, I say, I say: What is the secret of successful comedy?

“Common sense and a sense of humour are the same thing moving at different speeds. A sense of humour is just common sense dancing. Those who lack humour lack common sense and should be trusted with nothing.”

Clive James penned that glorious truth. Examples of the correlation between humourlessness and lack of common sense are all around us in present-day New Zealand. They proliferate like weeds. No doubt some will occur to you as you read these lines, but it may be wiser not to name them, to keep your counsel. The humourless weed is prickly and cannot see the joke.

I was reminded of Clive James’ words by the current race for the Labour Party leadership. If James is right  – and everything I have observed about my fellow man in more than seven decades persuades me that he is –  if those who lack humour should indeed “be trusted with nothing”, then we would be wise to include evidence of the presence of a sense of humour among our criteria for electing those who seek to govern us.    Read the rest of this entry »

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Congratulations David and Karen from Brian and Judy! And why John Key’s days are numbered.

Next step: the big desk on the ninth floor!

Next step – the big desk of the ninth floor!

 

I hadn’t intended to do anything more on this mini-post than congratulate David and Karen. But I’ve decided to stick my neck out and make a prediction. I predict that a Labour/Greens coalition will win the 2014 election and that David Cunliffe will be New Zealand’s next Prime Minister. Labour might even go it alone.

I’ve been provoked into this rash course of action by my former media partner on The Nation, Bill Ralston, who tweeted something to the effect that Cunliffe’s win was just another example of rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

Here’s my principal reason for thinking that Bill’s got it wrong.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Yond Cunliffe has a lean and hungry look!

SNPA/ Ross Setford

SNPA/ Ross Setford

I note the many reasoned calls for unity in the Labour Party once the new Leader has been selected. I’ll happily add my name to that list, but the odds on a harmonious outcome seem to me slim.

It’s a matter of simple mathematics. The largest group in the current Caucus is the ‘Anyone But Cunliffe’ group, including no doubt most Robertson supporters and a few Jones supporters.

If David Cunliffe wins the leadership, this large group will, to put it mildly, be extremely miffed. Faced with the near impossibility of mounting a challenge to a newly elected Leader, making Cunliffe’s life as difficult as possible for the next 14 months might just seem an attractive option. True, the resultant disharmony and internal division would almost certainly mean losing the 2014 election, but the upside of that is that, having led the party to defeat, Cunliffe would be gone. So strongly is this group opposed to the Member for New Lynn, that they might just see three more years in the wilderness as worth it.   Read the rest of this entry »

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On Shane Jones – Cock of the Walk

 

odt.co.nz

odt.co.nz

 

Shane Jones is one of only two people I have ever hung up on. Trevor Mallard is the other. I don’t take well to being bullied or abused.

I do Mallard an injustice by mentioning him in the same context as Jones. I have considerable respect for Trevor and nothing but contempt for Jones.

If I ever had doubts that such contempt was deserved, they would have vanished over the past couple of weeks in the face of his numerous appearances on television. This is not a man the Labour Party can ever afford to have as its Leader. This is not a man the country can ever afford to have as its Prime Minister. He would almost certainly bring shame to both offices.

When the story of Jones using his ministerial credit card to pay to watch porn in his hotel rooms first came to light, my primary reaction was that it was evidence of extremely poor judgement. The morality of watching porn concerned me less. Tens of thousands of New Zealand men watch pornography on the Internet every day. Porn-watchers form the Internet’s largest audience.

But I was impressed by the way Jones fronted up to the unacceptable nature of what he had done and, without overdoing it, apologised to his colleagues and the nation.

Jones is no longer apologetic.  He is in fact now making capital out of his sleazy reputation.   Read the rest of this entry »

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If a picture is worth a thousand words, just what are these three pictures trying to tell us?

 

Michael Bradley/Fairfax

Michael Bradley/Fairfax

Kevin Stent/Fairfax

Kevin Stent/Fairfax

Chris Skelton/Fairfax

Chris Skelton/Fairfax

The Sunday Star Times chose these three photographs to illustrate its story today about the impact being Leader of the Opposition might have on the candidates’ partners. Shane Jones is seen with his partner Dot Pumipi, Grant Robertson with his partner Alf Kaiwai, and David Cunliffe with his wife Karen Price. The paper labelled David Cunliffe ‘protective; Shane Jones ‘reinvigorated'; but offered no summary of Robertson’s mindset.

Why did the paper choose these particular photographs, what was it trying to convey by that choice, and what, if anything, do you think the photographs tell us about the candidates themselves?

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A Sort Of Open Letter to the ABCs in the Labour Caucus

A good mate pointed out to me that it wasn’t very smart to heap abuse on the heads of people whose opinion you hoped to change. He was referring to my most recent post On the extremely rare danger of overestimating Labour Party Stupidity, in which I called the ‘Anyone But Cunliffe’ brigade ‘numbskulls’.

My good mate is right. It wasn’t very smart and you aren’t all numbskulls. But I was angry with you. Very angry.

I’m still angry with you because, though I’m not a member of the Labour Party, that’s where my political sympathies lie – left of left. Like you, I want Labour to win the next election. I want to see the back of a government that rewards the rich and powerful and punishes the poor and powerless. So I’m unlikely to have time or sympathy for anyone whose words or actions make that Labour win unlikely.  That is what you are doing by supporting either Grant Robertson’s or Shane Jones’ bid for the leadership. Robertson can’t win for Labour and Jones is a harmful distraction.   Read the rest of this entry »

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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.   Read the rest of this entry »

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John Key on 41%, David Shearer on 10%. That can’t be right. Can it?

images (8)images (7)

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s been debate about the latest TV3 Reid Research poll. The poll, which was taken between February 12 and February 21, has National on 51.4%, Labour on 32.6% and the Greens on 11%. No other party reaches the 5% threshold.

In the ‘Preferred Prime Minister’ stakes John Key is on 41% with David Shearer on 10%.

Where the parties are concerned, the poll is out of step with recent TV1, Fairfax, Herald and Roy Morgan polls by between 2% and 7%. Commentators have also pointed out that in the last election all the major polls overstated National’s support by between 3% and 7%.

Given Labour’s and Phil Goff’s woeful results in that election, one might think it barely mattered.

But when you take into account the current level of unemployment, the Government’s abysmal handling of the Christchurch school amalgamations and closures, the Novopay debacle and the Prime Minister’s complicity in the shonkiest political deal I can remember since I’ve been in this country, National’s and its leader’s high ratings do seem somewhat strange.

But in one sense, the accuracy or lack of accuracy of the polls really is irrelevant. This is because the pollsters are objectively proved right or wrong only once every three years: after the election, when it’s too late for their influence on the outcome to be undone.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Confidence in the House: a layman’s guide to Labour’s new voting rules and their possible consequences.

Vote

WitchOn Monday, 4 February 2013, members of the Labour Caucus will take a confidence vote on the leadership of the parliamentary party. This happens in the middle year of each electoral cycle, and generally passes without note. Not so on this occasion. November’s Labour Party Conference put the cat among the pigeons by deciding that this confidence vote would be held under unique conditions. 

In past electoral cycles Labour Party rules required the leader to gain a simple majority of the mid-term vote  to retain the leadership. That will also be the rule in future. However, this year is a one-off: the leader needs 60% of the vote plus one. That means David Shearer needs 22 of the Caucus of to vote for him on Monday.  Should 13 or more of his colleagues vote against him, it will trigger a leadership contest.

Monday’s vote is a secret ballot. There will be independent scrutineers, usually senior members of the Labour Party such as the General Secretary and the President.

Previously the Caucus alone voted on the leadership, but the party wrested that absolute power out of its hands at the last conference. From now on a Labour Party leadership contest will be decided not by Caucus alone, but by an electoral college which includes the party members and its affiliates. Read the rest of this entry »

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Is New Zealand ready for its first gay Prime Minister?

The premise behind my question is that this National Government is stuffed and has little or no chance of retaining office after the 2014 election. A serious mishandling by the Prime Minister of the infamous ‘cup of tea’ episode, the Crafer Farms cock-up, asset sales in general, the ACC debacle, the factionalism within National which that debacle has revealed and the emergence of a less assured and grumpier John Key, all point to an administration in meltdown. Given all of that, the next Government ought to be a Labour-led coalition. But led by whom?

In his weekly Herald on Sunday column, Matt McCarten correctly states that ‘this has been a good week for the left. Labour has been useless for so long we’ve forgotten what it’s like for it to have the National Party on the back foot in Parliament. This week Labour was on fire.’

The column is accompanied by a photograph of Labour Leader David Shearer with the caption: David Shearer and his colleagues finally have the Government in their sights.

But there is no mention of Shearer anywhere in McCarten’s piece. Instead he singles out Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little as ‘pressing the attack’.

In a column headed ‘Scrappers thrive as Shearer acts statesman’, The Sunday Star Times’ John Hartevelt singles out Labour’s Deputy Leader Grant Robertson as ‘the party’s political scrapper’:

‘He’s been called up repeatedly as the point guy in the debating chamber on ACC and asset sales – two of the government’s worst bleeding sores.’

He also singles out Andrew Little:

‘If there were any doubts Little was genuine leadership material, his unflinching performance against a steely-eyed Collins should have put them to bed. That may be discomforting news to Shearer but it will be welcomed by his party.’

No more discomfiting to the Labour leader perhaps than Hartevelt’s description of him as ‘still dangerously bereft of a firm identity and without a proper grip on the leadership.’

Just four months after an election then, political commentators are suggesting replacements  for the current Labour Party leader.  Read the rest of this entry »

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