Well, he would say that wouldn’t he – but does he mean it?
Well, he would say that wouldn’t he – but does he mean it?
Quote of the day:
. . . Labour couldn’t run a bath – and if they did, it would leak. But would the leak be deliberate or accidental? Who, after the last week, can say? There was a flurry of discussion over whether the leaks about David Cunliffe’s secret trust, and then the Clare Curran email snafu, were on purpose or by accident. Malice or stupidity? There is perhaps a third, blended category: Malicidity. A combination of malice and stupidity, treachery and boneheadedness. . . Trans Tasman
A majority of caucus saddled with a leader they didn’t prefer; fissions and factions within and between caucus and members . . .
It would be a reasonably safe bet that the leaks would be deliberate.
3 News can reveal Labour Party leader David Cunliffe failed to declare a financial trust, as MPs are required to do with investments.
He initially tried to keep the trust off the official record – but was forced to make a late change.
“I’m the beneficiary of the Bozzie Family Trust and a bare trust called ICSL which does savings and investments,” he says.
A check of the latest register of MP’s Pecuniary Interests shows only one of these two was actually declared on time – The Bozzie Trust, which owns his house.
He left out the ICSL trust and was forced to correct the register by making a late declaration posted on the website. . .
Mr Cunliffe refused to front to media on the issue, instead releasing a statement through his office saying it was initially left out because “legal advice” was it didn’t need to be disclosed.
Mr Cunliffe got further advice from the registrar, who said “if in doubt – declare it”. . .
. . . The register covers February 1, 2012 to January 31 last year and Mr Cunliffe joined the trust in March, 2012.
The deadline to declare was almost a year later on February 28, 2013, but he declared four months late on July 16. . .
One of the good points of MMP is that it ought to make it easier to find candidates to stand in electorates they have little if any hope of winning.
When it’s the party vote that counts, maximising that is more important than winning a seat and the candidate who does well campaigning in tiger territory has a better chance of entering parliament on the party list.
That’s the theory but it doesn’t seem to be helping Labour in practice:
The Labour Party is still without a candidate for the Rangitata electorate for this year’s general election.
A party spokesman said it had extended the deadline for another month after it did not receive any applications before the February 28 cut-off date.
Julian Blanchard stood unsuccessfully against incumbent Jo Goodhew of the National Party in 2008 and 2011, but has said he has no intention of standing this year.
Mrs Goodhew won by 8112 votes in 2008 and 6537 votes in 2011. . . .
Labour shouldn’t take any comfort for the drop in her majority.
Local support for Allan Hubbard in the face of SFO investigations, which was beyond the MP’s control, accounts for that.
So much for David Cunliffe’s claim that Rangitata was winnable for Labour.
That the party opened nominations without a likely candidate doesn’t say much for its organisational ability and problems with that are showing in Invercargill where they still don’t have a candidate either.
Lesley Soper was the only one nominated but the party re-opened nominations when sitting National’s MP Eric Roy announced his retirement.
Michael Gibson is now contesting the Labour nomination against Soper but the party has yet to announce which of the two it will be.
Whoever, it is, won’t find it easy to challenge National’s candidate, Sarah Dowie. While Labour’s still sorting out who will run, she has begun her campaign.
She was selected on Friday evening and hit the ground running or more literally walking – spending a good part of the weekend competing in the Relay for Life.
Given Labour’s dislike of Soper and its policy to have an equal number of men and women MPs, neither she nor Gibson can expect the reward of a list place for the work they do in the electorate.
Labour has confirmed that documents on its ICT strategy accidentally sent to the Government came from David Cunliffe’s office, not Clare Curran’s as widely reported yesterday.
Yesterday Curran, the Dunedin South MP, supplied Parliamentary media with copies of an email saying they had been accidentally sent from her office to that of Communications Minister Amy Adams.
The document contained a large number of policy ideas as well as speech notes signalling plans to announce free individual devices for pupils in low decile schools.
However late last night Labour’s chief press secretary Simon Cunliffe confirmed that the email sent in error actually came not from Curran’s office, but from that of the Labour leader.
While Simon Cunliffe would not say who the particular staffer was, Fairfax has been told it came from Rob Egan, a former communications manager for the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. . .
Was this a deliberate and misguided attempt to take the heat of Cunliffe over the untrustworthy trust donations debacle at the expense of the not-universally popular Curran?
Why did Curran say her office was responsible when it wasn’t?
Whatever the answer to those questions is, this is another example of Labour’s inability to run itself which shows it’s far from ready to run the country.
Finance Minister Bill English points out the difference between National and Labour in yesterday’s finance review debate:
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): Mr Chairman—
Hon Damien O’Connor: What can we trust?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Well, it is interesting to hear the interjection from the Labour side asking the question: “What can we trust?”, because I can tell you whom those members cannot trust, and that is their leader with his trust. That is the answer to the question. Damien O’Connor asked, today of all days: “What can you trust?” The answer, if you are a Labour member who voted against David Cunliffe, as most of them did, is that they cannot trust their leader with his trust. This is the leader who says: “I’m going to pay back the money to the people, whom I cannot identify, who gave it to me.” So that is what is going to happen.
David Cunliffe’s contribution to the economic debate today is: “People gave me money confidentially to a trust so I could avoid declaring it on the pecuniary interests register. And now that I’ve said I’m going to pay it back, I’m going to pay it back to people whose names I don’t know.” His own members of his own caucus do not believe that. Of course, the real shame of all this is that many New Zealanders who used to rely on the Labour Party to protect and advance their interests, including those who show they are on below 60 percent of the median wage, now find that the Labour Party is enmeshed in a tangle of its own making over whether its own leader is trying to get around the pecuniary interests of MPs. And who is left? Who is left to advance the interests of the lowest-paid New Zealanders? The John Key – led, National-led Government. That is who. We spend more time talking about the most vulnerable and those on the lowest incomes, because we are the Government, which last week, working with aspirational, low-income New Zealanders, got 1,200 of them off a welfare benefit and into a job. And if there is one thing Labour does not like, it is people getting off welfare and into work, because they might become ungrateful. They might become more interested in lower taxes than in higher benefits. Is that not a risk? Those people might start saying: “We want decent education for our kids because we understand the power of work.”, whereas Labour would rather they stayed on welfare and accepted mediocre education, because if you are disadvantaged, you cannot expect to learn. And that is another big difference. The National Party believes that the point of a public education system is precisely to overcome disadvantage. The Labour Party believes that the point of a public education system is to make sure that those who are disadvantaged do not learn. Because you cannot teach them. They are beyond hope. They do not deserve aspiration. They cannot learn. And then you can rely on them voting Labour, if that is their situation. Well, the evidence is that more and more of the people who used to vote Labour when Labour was a working-class party now do not believe that Labour can advance their interests. In the old days Labour was a working-class party; now it represents the measuring class.
Hon John Banks: Who?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: The measuring class—people with tertiary education who spend all their time telling us how much misery there is in our community. Labour knows even less than ever about what to do about it. Who is doing something about it? The National Party. We are not sitting around spending for ever arguing over measuring the misery; we are trying to break the patterns that locked it in. That is what is behind the whole-of-Government approach to this financial review. It is a National Government focused on getting results and working with people who have got hope and aspiration, and this year we are going to get to argue with a party that believes that none of those things can be achieved because people are too disadvantaged to be able to get ahead. We do not write them off; we work with their aspirations and their hope.
Labour and its potential coalition partners on the left – the Green and Mana Parties, want to throw money at problems without trying to solve them.
National has put a lot of effort into understanding the causes of the problems and directing money where it will do most good.
The left want people to stay dependent, National is helping people become independent.
The left would make work for the measuring class but keep the poor in need. National is helping people get real work to enable them to help themselves, give them choices and prosper.
Labour and its friends favour the soft options which entrench dependency and poverty.
National understands the importance of education and the power of work to break the patterns that lock in poverty and all the social and economic problem which go with it.
David Cunliffe’s many mistakes over the use of a trust to hide donations to help his leadership campaign have provided his opponents with the opportunity to accuse him of all sorts of things, including hypocrisy.
Probably none relishes this more keenly than John Banks who can be forgiven for more than a wee bit of schadenfreude:
ACT MP John Banks labelled Mr Cunliffe and former leader David Shearer, who initially failed to declare an overseas bank account, as hypocrites.
“These are the same people who paraded in the house as paragons of virtue and railed against me day after day, week after week and month after month. They should look at themselves – these people are hypocrites.” . . .
Duncan Garner also employs the h word:
. . . David Cunliffe is a former high-flying business consultant – his wife is a top lawyer – they know how these things work. His friends are business people. His wife knew about it and kept all this secret. How on earth did she think they were going to get away with this approach? Their collective judgement on this is woeful.
Where was he when Labour rallied against National’s use of trusts to fund its many elections campaigns? It’s why Labour changed the law and brought in the Electoral Finance Law. Was he not in the Parliament at the time? No, he was there. Did he speak up against National’s use of secret trusts? Oh yes he did.
Labour politicians of all shapes and sizes criticised National for months for receiving secret money. Cunliffe was in there, boots-’n'-all. Trevor Mallard went further and claimed there was a ‘secret American bag-man.’ It was never proved.
I’ll never forget Labour climbing into National over electoral finances. Now Cunliffe looks like a complete hypocrite despite the apology. National has every right to pile into him on this. Just like Labour piled into National over secret trusts and campaign donations.
I’m starting to wonder just who Cunliffe is. What does he stand for? Is he anti-business or pro-business? Does he care about the poor? Or hang out with the rich? My big question really is this: Who is the real David Cunliffe?
Is he a fake?
That’s an f word no politician can afford to have directed at them, especially when more than half his caucus will also be feeling more than a wee bit of schadenfreude.
It took a while but David Cunliffe has realised, or been persuaded, that he should come clean about the donations to a trust which funded his leadership campaign:
Labour leader David Cunliffe has come clean about the trust set up to handle his donations during the leadership contest last year, naming three donors but saying two others were not willing to be named so their donations would be returned.
Mr Cunliffe has also said that using the trust for the campaign was a lapse in judgement.
He said the three donors willing to be named were Selwyn Pellett, Perry Keenan and Tony Gibbs, who gave a combined total of $9,500. Mr Pellett, a businessman, is a longstanding Labour supporter who has donated to the party and Mr Cunliffe in the past. . .
He said other donors had given a total of $8,300 but were not willing to be named. “That is their legal right. I respect their decision and can’t control it. In their case, the trust will be returning their donations to them.” He said he did not know who those donors were, or whether they were individuals or corporates.
Mr Cunliffe said it was an error of judgement to use the trust. It had meant he did not have to disclose donations in the Register of Pecuniary Interests.
“I don’t think in hindsight that a trust structure fully represented the values I would like to bring to this leadership. Decisions that were made to set up the trust could have been better. I have learned form that and am now making sure I do whatever I can to ensure transparency.”
He said if returning those donations left any shortfall in his campaign funding, he would cover the amount out of his own pocket. He estimated his campaign cost about $20,000. . .
No Right Turn doesn’t buy this:
. . . Which is just sociopathic “sorry I got caught” bullshit. The thing about values is that you live them, and they’re instinctive. Cunliffe’s aren’t. When faced with a choice between transparency and corruption-enabling secrecy, he chose the latter, and then tried to cling to that choice when it was questioned. These are not the actions of an ethical man who believes in open politics – they are the actions of someone trying to get away with something they know is wrong. And actions like this are yet another example of why the New Zealand public thinks all politicians are liars, cheats and scoundrels. . .
The best of people make mistakes, but ethical people do live by their values and this is the third gaffe in three months:
The slip over the baby bonus, by failing to disclose in his speech that it would not be paid on top of parental leave, took much of the wind out of his January sails.
It also deflected attention from a $500 million spending pledge that Labour had hoped would set the agenda.
No sooner was the House back in February than the $2.5m property-owning man was attacking Prime Minister John Key for living in a leafy suburb and defining his own mansion as a doer-upper and his own situation as middle of the road.
The climb-down came at the weekend.
This morning he has admitted it had been wrong to set up a trust for donations to his leadership bid. (If the cost was about $20,000 for his leadership campaign, why seek donations at all?) . . .
Every election is about trust but Cunliffe has also made it about trusts.
He was foist upon the caucus by the unions and party and he’s surrounded by people whose will to return to government is in strong conflict with their wish for another leader.
With every slip he makes, that wish will intensify.
P.S. Liberation has top tweets on the trust which include:
Meanwhile, in Matt McCarten’s office …..http://stream1.gifsoup.com/view5/2320932/blackadder-headdesk-
How can you return the money if you don’t know who the donors were?
Respectfully suggest if your household income is north of $500,000 and a leadership contest costs $20,000 …. pay for it yourself.
Of Trusts Regretted and Accounts Forgotten: a short history of NZ Labour leadership since 2012.
@nzdodo You can have an election Trust or the electors’ trust – but not both
And now we’re all saying “trust” like it’s a bad thing. #newspeak
Would Cunliffe be happy if the Rena’s owners paid the entire amount anonymously through a trust?
Mr Cunliffe and the word trust in the same news article. Not in quite the way he was hoping…
“I didn’t know the money came from Dotcom – Cunliffe” – Predicted headline ~6 weeks from now
Liam Dann asks a very good question:
What is David Cunliffe offering? A dramatic experiment with a winning formula? A worrying fix for something that isn’t broken?
He’s referring to Labour’s determination to follow Green Party policy to meddle with the Reserve Bank.
Labour’s embrace of Green Party policy to reform the Reserve Bank Act is a big stumbling block for the party if it wants mainstream acceptance from the business community.
It surely gains the party few fresh votes from the wide pool of mainstream voters who find monetary policy debate arcane.
Yet it makes Labour almost impossible to endorse for many of the nation’s most powerful and influential business leaders.
The monetary policy reformists are full of ideas about the magic a broader definition of the Reserve Bank Act might achieve. But they ignore the extent to which having one target – inflation – has worked. And just how fundamental controlling inflation is to creating a stable economy on which growth can be built.
Why, when the Act has just seen us through such an enormous global downturn so efficiently, would you change it. In the hope it might bring the dollar down?
Well, if you damage the economy the dollar will certainly fall. But it seems a brutal path to take.
And why, if you were going to make changes, would you loosen the shackles during the growth phase of the economic cycle – just when inflation starts to become a serious risk.
We should be grateful we don’t have to make radical changes to our economy. We’ve come through the downturn well, and while National can take some credit for steering the ship, so too can the last Labour Government for the healthy growth it oversaw.
Radical change is for those nations that have run out of options. Let’s leave it to the Greeks.
National has generally trod a cautious path, some would say too cautious. But it’s getting results.
The economy is growing, and other economic indicators like business confidence, investment intentions and employment are positive.
All of this would be at risk if inflation is let loose with the inevitable steep increase in interest rates that would follow.
In 2008, when Labour was last in power interest rates were about 11%.
Now they’re about half that and while they’re expected to rise providing inflation is kept under control, they shouldn’t get back to double figures.
But if a Labour/Green government starts meddling with the RBA, inflation will surge and interest rates will too with the high cost that imposes on business and households.
If people are concerned about the affordability of houses and farms now, how much worse will it be when interest rates are twice the current rate, or higher?
That’s what Cunliffe is offering.
Then Prime Minister Helen Clark opened her announcement of the 2008 election date by saying:
This election is about trust.
It is about which leader and which major party we New Zealanders trust our families’ and our country’s future with.
This election is a choice between a government which has shown it can make the tough choices and an opposition which flip flops on almost every major issue which emerges.
It is an election between a government which takes principled positions and an opposition which says what it thinks the audience in front of it wants to hear.
It is an election about who can be trusted to take our nation ahead to a prosperous and confident 21st century, where all our families and communities can thrive. . .
She was a few years early.
Those statements apply to this government and this opposition.
Today’s flip flop from David Cunliffe has been over the use of trusts.
Labour leader David Cunliffe has confirmed he used a trust to deal with donations to his leadership campaign in last year’s run-off for Labour’s top job.
Yesterday Mr Cunliffe refused to say whether a trust was used or whether he had declared donations in the Register of Pecuniary Interests as from a trust or from the original donors. . .
Yet another yeah, nah moment.
If this election is going to be about trust, bring it on!
Labour leader David Cunliffe is in the news for the wrong reasons again:
Labour leader David Cunliffe used an “agent arrangement” to take donations to his leadership campaign last November and is refusing to say whether he has disclosed individual donors in the MPs’ register of financial interests or whether they were disclosed as being from a trust.
It will be one or the other, why won’t he say which?
The returns for the Register of Pecuniary Interests were due last Friday, and Mr Cunliffe said his return met both the rules of the register, which requires disclosure of donations of more than $500, and those of the Labour Party, which said all donations would be confidential.
He refused to say how he had met both rules, or whether he had declared donations as being from a trust rather than the original donors.
But he confirmed his campaign was run through an “agent arrangement” rather than taking donations directly. He sought a legal opinion before filing his return and defended the use of trusts.
“In the event donations are made to a trust, the trustee will have information about donations which a candidate or campaign team won’t have. So [if] there is a trust involved, it will be the donations of the trust to the campaign that are declared, as per the rules. If there is a trust, trustees owe obligations of confidentiality.” . . .
How do we reconcile that statement with this:
In 2005, Labour changed electoral finance rules to stop National filtering large anonymous donations through trusts. Grants made through a trust must now be disclosed separately if larger than the disclosable limit of $15,000 to a party or $1500 for an individual candidate.
Mr Cunliffe said there was “nothing at all” to embarrass him in his return.
“It does appear there is a difference between the rules of the party and the rules of the Pecuniary Interests Register. MPs are bound to satisfy both. I’m confident that to the best of my knowledge I have done so, and the results will be in public view to the extent required by the Pecuniary Interests Register.” . . .
It will take someone with a better understanding of the law than I have to explain how two apparently contradictory requirements can be reconciled.
But regardless of that, Keeping Stock points out:
During the debates on the Electoral Finance Bill (since repealed and replaced) speaker after speaker from Labour, the Greens and NZ First railed against the National Party for legally declaring donations through a trust or trusts.
What he did could well be within the rules but isn’t it more than a wee bit hypocritical to rail against trusts to vehemently then use one himself?
The point of the rules was to give transparency which is necessary so we can have trust.
It looks like Cunliffe used a trust but there’s a problem with transparency which makes it all look a bit tricky and therefore it’s difficult to have trust.
Last Monday when interviewed by Kathryn Ryan, Labour leader David Cunliffe said:
“We all know the Government is going to change. It’s either going to change this time or next time. I think it’s more likely to change this time, and if it does, the question in front of New Zealanders is what is the composition of that new government going to be?”
For a leader to suggest he’s focussed on anything other than a win in the next election is unusual.
Could it be that he has a two-election strategy, to increase Labour’s vote at the expense of the Green Party this year in the hope that will give him a really strong foundation to win the election in 2017?
His interview on The Nation adds to that suspicion:
• Cunliffe refuses to guarantee the Greens’ place in Labour-led government – “that depends on how the voters decide.”
• Withdraws promise by previous Labour leader David Shearer that Greens will get a proportionate share of Cabinet seats – “we’re different roosters, I’m not doing it that way” – and won’t discuss coalition deals before election.
How the voters decide is the sort of game-playing Winston Peters indulges in.
Giving voters a good indication of what sort of government their votes might result in gives them the power. This shilly-shallying leaves the power with the parties.
But Cunliffe is firing a warning shot across the Green’s bow on purpose.
Voters in the centre aren’t keen on the radical left policies of the Green Party and many would prefer a strong National-led government than a weak Labour-led one beholden to the Greens.
All polls put National well ahead of Labour which would need Green support to govern, and probably some of the other minor players as well.
If Cunliffe could suck votes from the Greens on its left flank it wouldn’t increase the left-bloc but would make Labour stronger.
The swapping of votes within the left wouldn’t be enough to win this election.
But a stronger Labour Party would have a much better chance in the next one if it relegated the Green Party to a very distant third and therefore a much more minor player in government that it would be on current polling.
The trick for Cunliffe would be to lose but not so badly that he’d be deposed as leader.
That would be a delicate balancing act at the best of times and will be even more difficult if the ABC - Anyone But Cunliffe – decide they’d prefer a big loss and the chance of a new leader.
When Environment Minister Amy Adams announced an improvement to the EEZ Act, Labour leader David Cunliffe leapt in to say:
The Government has today revealed its true contempt for democratic rights by ploughing on with plans to override Parliamentary majority and gag local communities, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. . .
“Kiwis also lose their rights to have a say on exploratory drilling off their local beaches under new rules coming into effect today.
But the Minister points out the new legislation is an improvement on what happened under Labour:
David Cunliffe latest attempt to rewrite history on oil and gas exploration highlights an on-going, casual relationship with the truth, Environment Minister Amy Adams says.
“As a minister in the previous Labour Government, David Cunliffe knows there was no environment oversight and certainly no public involvement in the exploratory drilling process under his watch,” Ms Adams says.
“Once again he has been caught out being tricky with the truth. He is trying to create a distraction from Labour’s woeful environmental credentials.
“Under his government, 36 wells were drilled in the EEZ between 1999 and 2008 with no legislation in place to protect the environment.
“In fact, the Labour regime only required the Minister for Energy and Resources to sign a permit and required no formal environmental assessment at all. That’s it – no public comment, no submissions, no consideration of environmental effects.
“The ridiculous thing about David Cunliffe’s argument is that the EEZ Act introduced by this Government actually replaces a non-existent environmental regulatory regime for drilling in the EEZ, where the public had no say.
“Under this Government, the public will for the first time get a chance to have a say. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can call for submissions from the public prior to granting a consent for exploratory drilling, if the EPA feels it is required. And before any production drilling can take place, a full public process must be held.
“This means before an oil company can make a single dollar of profit, they have to go in front of the people of New Zealand and make sure everyone has a say in the full process.”
Oh dear, Cunliffe has been caught out again.
The new measure gives the public more say than they had before.
Perhaps Cunliffe’s new chief of staff will have a better grasp of what happened when Labour was last in government and be able to stop him leaping into an argument without the facts to back up his assertion.
Last night’s One News Colmar Brunton Poll appeared to show National gaining at the Green Party’s expense.
The blue vote went up 6 points and the Green one fell 5 while Labour stayed the same.
But rather than swapping from green to blue it’s more likely that green went red and pink went blue.
Green voters liked Labour’s lurch to the left so moved to the red party but a similar number of voters towards the centre didn’t like the lurch left and moved centre right over to National.
That is the conundrum Labour faces – policies which bolster its support from the left lose it support from the centre.
The poll follows the trend showing steady support for National and little or no progress for the left. The PM is still popular and Labour leader David Cunliffe is not.
There is however, no room for complacency:
Meanwhile National’s election year pitch of boosting teacher performance is proving popular.
But the Prime Minister says his party won’t rest on its laurels, or on the tailwind of a booming economy.
“It’s a good poll but we need to be cautious,” John Key says. “There will be a lot of polls before the election they will bounce around a lot.” . .
The six-point surge in the ONE News Colmar Brunton poll to 51% may well reflect a strong economy and the feel good factor of summer.
However, it also must be acknowledged that Prime Minister John Key has made a strong start to the year.
His popular education policy sending a clear signal to voters that National is capable of fresh ideas and is not a tired government.
Labour leader David Cunliffe meanwhile had his policy launch of a baby bonus derailed by a gaffe and has seemed to struggle for confidence and exposure since. . .
As for the Greens’ big fall in the poll, that is harder to explain. It may be that Russel Norman’s liaisons with Kim Dot Com have hurt the party, or it could also be a reflection of National’s efforts to discredit the party as extremist.
It could also be that more exposure for the Greens is showing up flaws in its policies and that its supporters don’t accept the compromises that would be necessary if it was in government.
Bill English was on fire on Wednesday, pointing out the different Davids, David Cunliffe presents to different audiences:
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Deputy Prime Minister): Well, 12 months on and some things have not changed about the Labour Party. I think I have said this before. The leader is still called David. Most of his caucus still do not support him.
Tim Macindoe: Probably more.
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Probably more, actually. Grant Robertson is still going around the country undermining a leader called David. But one thing has not changed: this David is a tricky David. With the other one you at least kind of knew what he was. And at least he knew what he was. But, of course, David Cunliffe is not quite so sure. This is a man who is a unionist with the unions, a Māori with the Māori, and a farmer with the farmers. But one thing that he tried not to be was a leafy suburb guy in the leafy suburbs. But what happened? He got caught standing in front of a yacht—a picture he could not get them to delete in Taranaki, unlike the other ones. It turns out that for all of his references to large homes in leafy suburbs, he has one. And, of course, being the working-class hero with the working class does not quite fit with being the leafy suburbs guy in the leafy suburbs. So what I thought I would do is have just a quick look at the latest update on his CV, because, as we know, that is a dynamic document to say the least. Bits appear on it and then disappear. He is the founder of Fonterra—actually, he is not; he is something else now. I came across this thing called DavidCunliffe.com—a digital identity. He is a digital guy when he is with the digital natives. This is a DavidCunliffe.com website, and I thought maybe I had found him. It says: “David has guided and supported individuals with matters of the soul for decades,”.
I thought maybe he is a monk with the monks. But then it goes on to say he has “become a respected figure …”—well, that does not sound quite like the person we are after. It says he is “often described as a … insightful individual,”—and he is, in his CV, described that way often. But the next one killed it: “refreshingly humble”. That was when we knew this was not the real David Cunliffe, because although he may be refreshing, it is not with humility. That is absolutely sure. Then I knew for sure when it said: “Surprisingly, his spiritual path has remained … refreshingly unboastful.” This is a party that cannot boast about its leader, that is for sure, and does not want to.
That was the funny part, but the next bit was more serious:
But usually in the Opposition when the leader is having a bad patch like he is, the front bench does the work. It actually took Shane Jones to show everybody just how weak and lazy the Labour front and middle benches are, because when they should be carrying their leader—because he is going to need a lot of that—by running issues that put pressure on the Government and attract the public’s attention, they are not doing any of that. They are not focused on anything that matters. In fact, it is infecting David Cunliffe. On my little phone I got a tweet from David Cunliffe that was about a big issue of the day. It said something like “I am very sorry to see the end of @massivemagNZ.” What the hell is that? It is the big issue for not just the Leader of the Opposition, because he also says to refer to Grant Robertson.
I think it must be a student magazine. That is the big issue of the day. I know that Grant Robertson never really left student politics, so the end of @massivemagNZ from Massey’s campus probably is the biggest single issue that has preoccupied him all week. But he should be doing more than that to carry his leader who needs guidance, who needs to be carried, who needs a team around him to feed him issues instead of him making them up as he goes.
John Armstrong points out that the Minister knows only too well what happens when a caucus isn’t behind its leader:
Although English’s voice was its usual mixture of dry humour and sarcasm, it had the occasional tinge of sympathy as the Minister of Finance spoke in Parliament on Wednesday afternoon, doing what he loves doing – dissecting the Labour Party, diagnosing its various ailments and predicting it will fail to overcome them before voters roll up to the polling booths.
English blamed “lazy and weak” Labour MPs for failing to take the pressure off their leader. He said Shane Jones gaining headlines with regard to his allegations against Countdown had only served to show up the poor performances of his colleagues.
It is something English understands full well. It was from the same uncomfortable but potentially rewarding position that Cunliffe now occupies – Leader of the Opposition – that English led National in 2002 to its worst defeat in the party’s history.
The 2011 election was bad for Labour, but it wasn’t as bad as 2002 was for National.
However, that defeat weeded out a lot of the dead wood and after the election Bill and then-president Judy Kirk led a significant and much-needed reorganisation of the party. That laid the foundation which helped the party nearly win the following election.
Labour changed its rules after the last election but that’s saddled it with a leader without majority support in caucus. It kept most of its dead wood and there’s no sign of the significant pruning which is required.
The party has had two new leaders since the last election but it hasn’t made the other changes which would help make it look like a government in waiting.
Rather, day by day it’s looking more and more like its en route to an even worse result than it got three years ago.
Political fortunes can change very quickly and there’s no certainty about the election result, but Labour is fast running out of time to show it’s capable of running itself let alone running the country.
Labour’s rule change over leadership selection got the party the man the unions and members preferred but he wasn’t the first choice of the majority of MPs.
The caucus was tired, stale and divided before the leadership change and David Cunliffe hasn’t been able to make a noticeable difference yet.
He’s still got only one MP who’s announced his retirement, the divisions are still obvious and the caucus still doesn’t look like a government in waiting.
Cunliffe needed to make a strong start to the year and he didn’t.
He made a mess of his first big announcement by fudging the figures on the baby bribe and his caucus was noticeable by its absence in the aftermath of that.
This week, while he was getting attention for all the wrong reasons for musing on conspiracy theories, upsetting a photographer and trying to downplay his wealth this week, one of the two men who contested the leadership against him, Shane Jones, was getting attention for the right reasons with his allegations about supermarket skullduggery.
The Commerce Commission has launched a formal investigation into the allegations.
. . . The investigation will involve seeking a wide range of information from a variety of sources, including organisations from all areas of the supermarket sector. The investigation is expected to take a number of months.
The Commission will not be making any further comment on this active investigation.
Anyone who has information relevant to the allegations is encouraged to contact us on 0800 943 600. They can request that the Commission keep their identity and/or the information provided confidential. The Commission will not disclose the identity and/or information unless consent is given or the Commission is required to by law. If confidentiality is a concern then it should be raised when first contact is made with the Commission.
The election could well be over by the time the investigation is finished but that doesn’t matter.
Raising the issue wasn’t the end for Jones but the means for him to promote himself and provide a positive contrast to the leader he’ll be hoping to replace.
It would be a desperate act to depose Cunliffe in the next few months and go into the election with the fourth leader since the party’s big defeat in 2011.
But Cunliffe couldn’t survive another loss and maybe that’s why it looks like Labour doesn’t want to win.
Party members and the unions do.
But the caucus looks like it neither wants to win nor is capable of winning.
And maybe that’s the plan – lose the election, and if Cunliffe doesn’t jump he would be pushed by the vote of confidence the party rules require after the election.
That won’t guarantee caucus get the leader they want, because the unions and members will be able to vote them again.
But maybe they’ll be satisfied by ABC – Anyone But Cunliffe.
Labour’s had another bad week.
David Cunliffe lurched into loony territory with suspicions that the Government’s paying someone to keep tabs on other Party leaders, following revelations of Winston Peters visiting the Dotcom mansion.
This was followed by the news that some TVNZ employees have been using their employer’s premises for Labour Party activities.
And then Cunliffe did the peculiar my-house-isn’t-as-big-as-his about which Danyl at Dim Post writes:
. . . (I keep seeing people on my twitter feed demanding to know the difference between Shane Taurima and, say, Mike Hosking or Paul Henry. I think the main difference is that if Mike Hosking wanted to set up a fundraising operation inside TVNZ the National Party wouldn’t let him because it would look terrible and destroy his career).
But it was a clip from another TV3 story the same night that’s really haunting me. Here’s a screen-grab of Labour leader David Cunliffe standing in front of a super-luxury yacht company explaining that his $2.5 million dollar mansion is just a ‘do-up’, after criticising Key for living in a nice house.
It’s hard to compress so much failure into a single image. Up to now I’ve felt that the outcome of the election is too close to call. The sides are pretty even, small changes at the margins could have huge impacts on the results. But my gut feeling now is that Labour’s support will collapse and National will win a third term. It feels like a replay of the 2011 election in which Labour keep doing baffling, stupid things and then demand to know why the media is biased against them and how anyone could like John Key. People don’t want idiots running their country.
Among the comments in response to this are:
My thoughts exactly. Labour’s refusal/inability to accept returning to government is not a divine right is getting really irritating. . .
So it’s not a triad of evil born from the GCSB, Cameron Slater and John Key that is destroying the righteous partnership of Kim Dot Com and David Cunliffe. Bugger me. . .
. . . Well there was a theory that Cunliffe was a smart operator. Indeed I thought all the “gaffs” he made that helped undermine Shearer were all actually very clever political ploys. Now I just think he hasn’t a clue and they were all just bumbling gaffs that worked out for him. . .
. . .
I guess the trouble is, have a well-to-do Harvard educated former consultant now technocrat masquerading as a working-man populist was always going to be somewhat of a gift to the NP startegists. It’s pretty hard to set the agenda when you can be easily painted as part of the problem.
Unfortunately the only other leadership options to date have been careerist jobsworths, who think they’re owed a living by the proles.
I think Danyl is on the money though – this feels like the moment that the LP blew it.
People looking for the problem need look no further than this thread: It’s the media’s fault, it’s Crosby Textor, it’s some sort of conspiracy…No it really isn’t. Labour just needs to stop being idiots. Until people are prepared to take a critical look at their own party and stop blaming everyone else, nothing will change. . . .
Sanctuary, stop trying to blame the media for the cock ups of Cunliffe and the Labour Party. What’s happening is the Labour Party is simply demonstrating what we all know deep down. Labour has neither the talent and policies nor the fitness to govern at the moment. . .
I popped in to see the Young Nats at Otago University’s O-Week tent city on Monday and asked a visiting MP how things were.
She said the contrast between MPs in parliament was palpable.
National MPs were united and positive, when she looked over to the other side of the House the body language was clear – Labour is divided and disheartened.
Whaleoil has another example of this:
. . . A mate of mine who travels a lot has noticed a distinct difference between National MPS and Labour MPs. He sits in the Koru lounge in Wellington and Auckland and observes.
He has noticed that Labour MPs operate in cliques. When other caucus members walk in or past they rarely acknowledge each other, in fact disdain is the most prevalent demeanour. There is real and palpable hostility between some members of the caucus.
In contrast National MPs have a more collegial atmosphere, holding court and joking and enjoying each others company. There is a stark difference.
National look and act like a winning team.
Labour look and act like petulant school children with no apparent teamwork unless forced by media arrangements to grin and bear the company of their peers
I think all of this shows that Labour and in particular David Cunliffe are in a deep malaise…so deep they cannot survive it. . . .
If this isn’t bad enough, Chris Trotter writes of the canaries in the mine as The Daily Blog’s poll shows the Green Party overtaking Labour:
. . . For the first time that I could recall the Greens were in the lead – and there was nothing narrow about it. Labour hadn’t simply been dislodged into second place, it was running third behind the National Party. Overnight the Greens had moved from a rough parity with Labour to a 2:1 advantage.
I shook my head in disbelief. It had to be a rogue result. But this morning, when I checked, there it was again, a practically identical result. Greens 32 percent; Labour 22 percent; National 21 percent; Mana 9 percent; Internet Party 5 percent; Act 4 percent; NZ First 4 percent; Conservatives 2 percent; Maori Party 1 percent; United Future 0 percent.
Okay! I know, I know! There’s nothing in the least bit scientific about this sort of on-line poll. The 382 participants in the survey were all self-selected and the Daily Blog’s audience is a very long way from being representative of the wider New Zealand population.
But, don’t you see, that’s the whole point! If you exclude the National Party types getting to “know thy enemy”, the people who regularly read The Daily Blog, are overwhelmingly more Left than Centre. If Labour has shed 10 percentage points from the readership of this blog, its most sympathetic of audiences, how long can it be until the big, media-commissioned polls – Colmar Brunton, Reid Research, DigiPoll – all register a similar sudden collapse of Labour support among the general population?
That poll wasn’t scientific but the Fairfax Media-Ipsos one was and it had more bad news for Labour and its leader:
. . . Prime Minister John Key is by far our most liked and trusted politician, with 59.3 per cent of people liking him, and 58.7 per cent also trusting him.
Key is also well ahead of his opponents as preferred prime minister on 51.2 per cent.
Labour leader David Cunliffe appears to be more polarising, with those who like and trust him, and those who don’t, falling into roughly equal camps. His rating as preferred prime minister is just 18.2 per cent.
The bad news for Cunliffe is that only Conservative Party leader Colin Craig, Mana Party leader Hone Harawira and Internet Party leader Kim Dotcom are more disliked. Harawira and Dotcom are also the least trusted. . .
To top it off, while the party isn’t responsible for the electoral fraud of one of its local body candidates, the sentencing of Daljit Singh is another bad news story in a bad week for Labour.
David Cunliffe is playing silly beggars over the value of his house:
A battle of the million-dollar houses has broken out between the Prime Minister and Labour leader David Cunliffe.
But there’s a snag with Mr Cunliffe’s attempts to attack John Key for living in a mansion; his own home is worth millions too, and the Prime Minister says he’s trying to hide it.
“I live in Parnell and I am proud of it,” Mr Key told Parliament. “That member [Mr Cunliffe] lives in Herne Bay. He just does not want his supporters to know.”
Herne Bay is one of the country’s most expensive suburbs. Mr Cunliffe’s road, Marine Parade, is considered the suburb’s best street.
Mr Key’s house is worth nearly $10 million, while Mr Cunliffe’s is valued at $2.5 million.
“We bought the worst house in the best street,” says Mr Cunliffe. “It was a do-up; it probably wouldn’t be the average of the area.
“Mr Key spent time in the money markets and has a personal fortune, which is many times our reasonably middle-range existence.” . . .
The combined salaries of a senior MP and lawyer might be middle-range on the planet where people on $150,000 need a $60 a week baby bribe, but most of us would call it well above the middle.
There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact there’s a lot right about it.
No-one who understands the value of aspiration would try to hide it, they would, as the PM does, use it to show what hard work can do. That’s not showing off, it’s providing a positive role model.
In contrast to that good example, the Labour leader is trying to hide his wealth.
Is he ashamed of it, or is he just being tricky again?
David Cunliffe and Russel Norman said a Labour-Greens government might block Kim Dotcom from being extradicted to the US.
“I’ve always said I didn’t support the extradition process,” Mr Norman told 3News last night. “In a number of respects, I just don’t think it’s fair.”
Mr Cunliffe offered more qualified support for the accused pirate, saying, telling the broadcaster, “Prima face, the current government’s operation against Mr Dotcom appears to have been outside the law in a number of respects.”
In 3News’ report, the Labour leader doesn’t voice support for blocking extradition but later, when challenged on social media, 3News political editor Patrick Gower later said Mr Cunliffe said he was open to considering the option.
Prime Minister John Key said while the government could block and extradition, it would jeopardise the US-NZ extradition treaty. He noted that the treaty had been used to repatriate several “abhorrent” criminals from the US to NZ.
That’s the customary yeah-nah from Cunliffe and common sense from the Prime Minister.
Extradition treaties work both ways and we can’t expect the US to support our requests if we don’t support theirs.
A 3News Reid-Research poll found 21% or just over one in five voters would consider voting for Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party.
However, Mr Gower said of 1000 people surveyed, zero supported the Internet Party today.
But while a Labour-Greens government could “save Dotcom’s bacon” as Mr Gower puts it, the irony is that his political push could potentially strip away 1% or 2% support from the two parties – potentially enough to deny them power in a tight race for the MMP list vote. . .
The logical response to this is for Dotcom to forget forming his own party and back Labour and/or the Greens.
He’s already thinking of that.
The reds and greens are sure to swallow their animosity towards rich pricks and accept that offer.
Prime Minister John Key has issued a challenge to people protesting against oil exploration:
. . . Mr Key said protesters have been misled over the deep sea drilling issue. He told reporters he didn’t see the hikoi, but did hear from its leader inside the whare and much of what they said was ill-informed or wrong.
“The comments I made in rebuttal were to the leader look, come to Wellington, spend a week with my ministers and their ministries. If at the end of that week you’re proved to be right in the assertions you’re making, I’ll join your protest.
“But if you’re proved to be wrong, go out there and tell the protesters, because many of the things he was saying were just simply and utterly not correct. And that’s why those people are protesting – because they’ve effectively got misinformation.” . . .
They also have mixed messages from Labour leader David Cunliffe:
MIKE HOSKING: And you are – they’ve got an anti-mining message – you’ve come out – I mean a slightly different way I know, but nevertheless you’re pro-drilling and pro-mining in that sense…
DAVID CUNLIFFE: No [laughs]…
MIKE HOSKING: Are you expecting some heat?
DAVID CUNLIFFE: Oh no there’s a bit of license in that one Mike. Our position is that there may be a place for some exploration as a transitional measure offset. We’re not opposed in principle. It’s got to be done as it’s done to world best practice environment standards including clean up and liability cover. It ain’t there yet buddy and there’s a whole lot of tightening up to do on the law before we would allow it. So it would be wrong to say we are pro-drilling. We’re not opposed in principle but there’s a long way to go in terms of the regulatory framework. . .
That sounds awfully like a Clayton’s answer – the one you give when you’re not giving one – which is what you might expect from someone with a growing reputation for being a tricky.