Labour pains, National delivers

October 17, 2014

Trans Tasman on Labour’s pains:

Members of the party of co-operation, collectivism, and fraternal brotherhood and sisterhood were all over the media this week publicly knifing each other. This is to say nothing of the usual susurration of behind the scenes snarkiness from the various sides of the Labour Party factions. We can expect to hear much, between now and the leadership ballot next month, about “Labour values.”
One can’t help but get the feeling this does not mean what Labour’s activists think it means.
Certainly the last leader but one, David Shearer, did not seem to be full of the milk of human kindness for his fellow party members. Shearer called on his successor, David Cunliffe, to withdraw from politics completely now Cunliffe has ruled out another leadership bid. This looked like a brief outburst – and certainly the party’s organisational wing would be horrified at the prospect of a by-election in New Lynn or anywhere, given the current state of Labour’s funds.
But Shearer did not just say this once. He went on radio and also spoke to journalists outside the party’s caucus room. Revenge is a dish best eaten cold, they say, and Shearer was tucking in to a very large ice-cream tub of the stuff. Mostly, Shearer says, he is concerned Cunliffe’s supporters will undermine whoever gets the leadership in the same way they undermined him. It is not a bad assumption to make. The Labour Left still – somewhat bizarrely – see Cunliffe as a champion of red blooded socialism and if their second choice, acting leader David Parker, doesn’t get the job they will turn feral.
But Cunliffe isn’t going anywhere, it seems. . .

While Labour is engrossed in its own pains, National has negotiated coalition agreements, its ministers have been sworn in and are already working for New Zealand.


Cunliffe leaves race backs Little

October 14, 2014

David Cunliffe has pulled out of Labour’s leadership race and is backing Andrew Little to succeed him.

He says the decision to withdraw was a difficult one, and says he had been “under a lot of pressure to keep running”.

Mr Cunliffe will stay on as an MP in Parliament and made the decision to pull out last week. He said his decision was final.

“I believe I still have a useful role to play in the party and in the Labour movement and as MP for New Lynn.

I’ve really enjoyed the election campaign. I can look myself in the mirror and know that I gave absolutely everything to it and left it all on the track, and that’s what I think the party deserves.”

He says Mr Little has a strong vision for the party, and will bring “greater cohesion”.

“I have enormous respect for Andrew. I believe he is the right man for the job.”

Mr Cunliffe believes pulling out of the race is in the best interest of the Labour Party.

“I will be staunchly supportive of the party whoever the leader will be.” . . .

I’m not sure Cunliffe’s chances of winning the leadership contest were very good but had he done so it would have been a disaster for the party when so few in caucus supported him.

Whether those who don’t support him will take any notice of his support for Little will remain to be seen.

With three candidates remaining, Little, Grant Robertson and David Parker, and both David Shearer and Stuart Nash having contemplated running, that’s nearly a fifth of caucus with leadership aspirations.

The first challenge of whoever wins the race will be uniting his colleagues.


Cunliffe resigns – for now

September 27, 2014

David Cunliffe will resign as leader of the Labour Party after Tuesday’s caucus but plans to seek re-election:

I have today decided to resign the leadership of the Labour Party, effective from the end of caucus on Tuesday.

The party has suffered an historic election loss and in resigning as leader I take responsibility for that.

The party will review all the contributing factors. That process has begun and I give it my full support. . . .

We need to renew and rebuild our culture, accountabilities, how we do things and present to the world.

Achieving that in time for the 2017 election will require experienced and determined leadership with a broad mandate.

Whatever decisions are made must be in the best interests of New Zealand to have a strong and vital Labour Party.

The Party’s interests must come before any personal interests. I have thought carefully before responding to the calls to re-offer myself for the leadership of the party. 

Consultation with colleagues, members and affiliates has affirmed that the whole party must participate in this choice, and not just one part of it.

Therefore I am announcing today that I will nominate for a primary contest, which will be held across the caucus, the party membership and the affiliates as the party constitution requires. . . .

Cunliffe was never the first choice of most of his caucus. Duncan Garner reckons it’s now even fewer:

. . . My sources tell me he can count his supporters on one hand, with only four MPs left backing him. Even his most loyal and ardent supporters, such as Palmerston North’s Iain Lees-Galloway, have deserted him. . .

For graphic evidence of why Cunliffe appears to be on another planet, take a look at these photos of him – at the beach in a suit.

He was elected on the strength of the unions and ordinary members and they still have the same voting power.

Will they accept that the leader must have the confidence of his/her caucus or will they again impose someone they don’t want on them?

 


Down but . . .

September 27, 2014

Cartoon of the week:

knock out

For a bigger image and more of Garrick Tremain’s wonderful cartoons click here.

 


Bigger than one man

September 26, 2014

David Cunliffe is expected to resign as Labour leader:

Labour leader David Cunliffe is expected to resign within three days but is still seriously considering going back into battle to reclaim the leadership, despite his own supporters urging that it is time to give up.

That would foil attempts by Grant Robertson’s supporters, who are already putting pressure on other potential contenders to clear the way to hand the Wellington Central MP the leadership without a contest.

Last night, Napier MP Stuart Nash joined deputy leader David Parker in confirming he would not seek the position.

Mr Cunliffe is expected to decide before next Tuesday’s caucus meeting – possibly on Sunday, when Labour’s ruling council meets to set up a review of the election result.

He is understood to believe he will still win a leadership contest under Labour’s primary-style system because of support among members and unions.

However, after talking to colleagues he is weighing up whether his difficulties with the caucus are too entrenched to heal, and what effect that could have on Labour’s chances of winning the 2017 election. . . .

Labour’s problems are bigger than one man, even if he is the leader.

One of the causes of its woes is its rules which enabled the unions and wider membership to inflict a leader on the caucus who didn’t have MPs’ support.

Those rules still stand.

The caucus never had confidence in Cunliffe and are pushing him to go, but the members and unions still have the power to return him or lump another leader on MPs whom they don’t support.

The theory of allowing members to vote for the leader might sound attractive but it has difficulties in practice.

With Labour all it does is illustrate the chasm between members and MPs.

That won’t change by just changing the leader because the party’s problems go far deeper and broader than the leadership.


Chaos on left, calm on right

September 24, 2014

From National’s Facebook page:

New Zealand National Party

Over the last three days we’ve been overwhelmed by messages of goodwill from our supporters.

I want to thank all of you who voted for us, contributed to our campaign or have taken the time to send your best wishes. It’s not an exaggeration to say we couldn’t have done it without you.

The Prime Minister has already started work on forming a government so we can continue to implement National’s clear plan for a more prosperous New Zealand. It’s a big task, but our strong, fresh and united team is up to the challenge.

As always, we won’t be taking the support of New Zealanders for granted. National will continue to be a Government that is working for ALL New Zealanders.

Thank you for being the most dedicated, optimistic, and hard working party supporters.

Peter Goodfellow
Party President

And:

New Zealand National Party's photo.
New Zealand National Party's photo.New Zealand National Party's photo.
New Zealand National Party's photo.

Contrast that with:

John Armstrong on Labour’s morning of absolute mayhem:

An extraordinary morning in the Labour Party’s wing of Parliament Buildings. There were only two words to describe things – absolute mayhem.

And that was even before Labour MPs had even begun their crucial post-election caucus meeting, at which there was expected to be some very blunt language during a preliminary post-mortem on last Saturday s crushing defeat.

David Cunliffe is fighting tooth and nail to hang on as leader. His chances of doing so would seem to deteriorate further with every wrong tactic and mistaken ploy he uses to shore up his crumbling position. . .

Patrick Gower on Labour Party in civil war over leadership:

Labour is in crisis tonight with leader David Cunliffe apparently refusing to give up the leadership, despite the party’s humiliating election defeat.

MPs emerged from a seven-hour-long caucus meeting at Parliament early this evening, with no comment from Mr Cunliffe. The gathering began this morning with Mr Cunliffe calling on them to vote him down so he could take them on.

“I will have my hat in the ring,” says Mr Cunliffe.

So as for Labour’s devastating loss, he says he won’t apologise. . .

And Andrea Vance & Aimee Gulliver on Cunliffe emerges from crisis meeting still in charge:

Labour MPs have emerged from a seven-hour crisis meeting – and leader David Cunliffe is still refusing to go.

After presenting the party’s new chief whip Chris Hipkins and his junior Carmel Sepuloni, he gave a short statement, but refused to say what happened in the meeting.

His MPs have given him a bloody nose with their choices. Openly critical of Cunliffe in the past, Hipkins was a whip under former leader David Shearer. He was also demoted in a reshuffle earlier this year.  

Cunliffe wants his MPs to hold a confidence vote in him, triggering a primary-style run-off before Christmas. But the caucus wants to hold off until they have reflected on the crushing defeat at the ballot box on Saturday. . .

This might be entertaining for political tragics but the longer the focus is on Labour’s internal dysfunction the further the party will have to go to restore voter confidence.


Labour’s leadership woes will linger

September 23, 2014

David Cunliffe has just finished a media conference in which he announced a full leadership vote before Christmas:

The party suffered its worst election result in 92 years at the weekend, obtaining just 24 percent of the party vote.

“I, as leader, am responsible for that result,” Mr Cunliffe said this morning. “Voters are always right. We are not yet seen as a credible alternative.”

Mr Cunliffe says he has thrown his “hat in the ring” for the top job.

“[But], if the leader isn’t me, I will get behind the new one.” . . .

There are already six contenders to replace him.

The party needs to do a full post-mortem and the leadership is part of that.

But this announcement will mean the party’s leadership woes will linger until the vote and delay any action on any other changes.

Labour needs to change a lot more than its leader and unless the members and unions back someone the caucus also backs a new leader could make matters worse.

UPDATE:

 


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