Mana wants two electorate deals from Labour

July 31, 2014

Internet Mana candidate Annette Sykes says Labour’s done a secret Epsom-style electorate deal with Hone Harawira.

She’s also calling on Labour to do a deal for her – in the Maori seat of Waiariki.

Labour is denying the claim however, saying all seat deals are off.

Internet Mana is an unusual political beast, but whether you think it’s a roadshow or sideshow – it’s Parliament-bound on Mr Harawira’s coattails.

His lieutenant, Ms Sykes, says Labour’s done a deal which will help ensure he wins Te Tai Tokerau.

“I think it’s already happening there,” says Ms Sykes.”It’s been informally signalled.”

The Veteran, at No Minister, says Labour’s conspicuous by its absence in Te Tai Tokerau, indicating it’s conceded the seat to sitting MP and Mana leader Hone Harawira.

David Cunliffe’s refusal to rule Internet-Mana out of a government he leads has  torpedoed Kelvin Davis’s chances of winning Te Tai Tokerau.

Whether or not there’s a formal deal, that is effectively an electoral accommodation Harawira.

Sykes can’t be blamed for asking for a deal in Waiariki too, if only because asking is getting her publicity she’d otherwise struggle for.

 

 

 


Too desperate to rule out Dotcom

July 30, 2014

Labour leader David Cunliffe had a chance to take the moral high ground and he blew it:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has denied he has double standards for refusing to rule out relying on the Internet Mana party to form a government despite deriding National for its coat tailing deals in Epsom and Ohariu.

Mr Cunliffe has accused National of manipulating voters by using the coat-tailing provisions to try to boost its support partners’ chances through electorate deals in Epsom and Ohariu.

However, he will not rule out calling on the Internet Mana Party if needed to form a Government.

The Internet-Mana alliance was set up to try to get the Internet Party into Parliament on the back of Hone Harawira’s seat, Te Tai Tokerau.

MMP allows parties which win an electorate seat to bring in other MPs even if they do not reach 5 per cent of the party vote.

Prime Minister John Key said Mr Cunliffe would try to form a government with the Internet Mana which had a similar deal and Labour had tried similar deals with Alliance and Green MPs in the past.

“A little bit of consistency would be good.” He believed voters knew MMP well enough to make the choices they considered best.

The PM has been open about which parties he is prepared to have in a government he leads and which he won’t.

He’s given voters the information they need to make a fully informed choice and it’s up to them how they exercise that choice.

But Cunliffe is taking Winston Peters’ line in refusing to confirm exactly what he’ll do, or not do, until after the election.

Mr Cunliffe said he had made it clear it was “extremely unlikely” any Internet Mana Party MPs would get ministerial positions, or even lower level associate or undersecretary roles in a Labour-led Government.

But he would not rule out policy concessions in return for their votes, saying that was a matter to discuss after the election. “We will talk to whoever the voters serve up.” . .

That’s another yeah-nah position.

Labour’s consistently polling below 30% an is very unlikely to have a strong foundation of voter support from which to bargain.

Mr Key said he doubted Labour would not include Internet Mana in Cabinet if it was needed to form a government.

“The reality is David Cunliffe about 10 months ago came into the job of Leader of the Opposition and said he was going to deliver a result in the high 30s for Labour and that would see them as the next government. Then he downsized that to the low 30s. In recent times, he’s been saying Labour in the 20s could still theoretically become the government. What we know is when you’re Leader of the Opposition you’re desperate to become Prime Minister and will probably do anything. He’s in the camp of forming an alliance with anybody to get over the line.” . . .

Cunliffe will be desperate to be Prime Minister and if the Green, New Zealand First and Internet Mana parties have enough sets to enable him to cobble together a coalition of the losers he’ll make any concessions he needs to be in government.

He had a chance to show strength as the PM did when he ruled out Winston Peters before previous elections.

But Cunliffe’s too desperate to win at any cost to rule out Dotcom and the Internet Mana Party he funds and controls.

However, rather than helping Labour into government it could well set them even further back.

Moderate voters who are undecided will be repulsed by the spectre of Labour and the GIMPs.

The rules allow the smaller of the bigger parties and an ill-assorted bunch of also-rans to form a government but that’s unlikely to be the sort of government most voters would find palatable.

They have the the prospect of a strong and refreshed National Party likely to need only minor support from other parties who have proven to work well in government  or a weak and stale Labour Party requiring major support from an unproven and disparate assortment of parties.

It’s a choice between progress and stability on one side and regression and instability on the other.


Gotcha doesn’t get voters

July 29, 2014

John Armstrong writes on the disease of gotcha politics:

It sure ain’t pretty. It sure ain’t enlightening. It is most definitely insidious. It is a creeping cancer of the New Zealand body politic.

Regardless of whether it is John Key or David Cunliffe who has the numbers on election night to pick up the reins of power, so-called “gotcha politics” is almost guaranteed to be the big winner of the 2014 election campaign.

If it is voters will be the losers.

“Gotcha politics” is all about focusing voters’ attention on the gaffes and mistakes of opponents rather than trying to win the election by winning the battle of ideas.

It is personality-based politics, not issue-driven politics. It is all about wrecking your opponents’ campaign by landing major hits on their credibility.

It is also negative.

That’s what makes Labour’s exhortation to vote positive so oxymoronic because they’ve spent so much of this parliamentary term being so negative.

At its worst, gotcha politics can be an old-fashioned witch-hunt dressed up in modern-day notions of accountability. None of this new, of course.

What has changed is the extent and intensity of gotcha politics.

Even the Greens are not immune. Last Friday, that party joined others in stressing its campaign would focus on the issues, rather than the sideshows.

Was this the same Green Party whose co-leader Metiria Turei had spent much of the week demanding a prime ministerial apology for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs blunder regarding the granting of diplomatic immunity to a defence attache at the Malaysian High Commission charged with sexual assault?

No matter that various apologies had already been forthcoming. No matter that the State Sector Act and the Cabinet Manual set clear boundaries to prevent ministers interfering in operational matters – thereby begging the question of exactly what John Key was supposed to be apologising for. No matter that the Greens had politicised the whole affair to the point of jeopardising the prosecution of the Malaysian official.

When politicians get ahead of the judicial process justice for both the victim and the accused are the losers.

It is unfair to single out the Greens. Both National and Labour are just as guilty, if not more so. National’s being in Government makes it more likely to be a target of such attacks, however.

One reason “gotcha politics” is becoming more endemic is that Key has neutralised so many issues that Opposition parties are having to resort to personality-based attacks to make any kind of impact.

It’s the Opposition’s role to hold a government to account but it should be able to do that on issues rather than personalities.

If it can’t then it is not ready for government.

The other major factor is conflict-driven news media. The seemingly insatiable 24-hours-a-day appetite of internet news sites means quality has to be sacrificed for quantity when it comes to investigations and analysis.

In these circumstances, it is temptingly easier to manufacture the news through the media playing their own version of gotcha politics by trying to catch politicians out.

And an election campaign provides the happiest of all hunting grounds for such practices.

I am sure this is one of the reasons so many people are disenchanted with politics and that voter turnout is dropping.

Serious analysis and intelligent debate of issues has been replaced by a focus on personalities and sideshows.

Gotcha politics might be entertaining but it doesn’t get the majority of voters, on the contrary it turns many off.

 


What matters

July 26, 2014

Early in the week Labour leader David Cunliffe issued some more apologies then vowed to stick to what matters.

If we’re to take him at his word, what matters is who’s hosting the TVNZ debate between the Prime Minister and Opposition leader.

What matters isn’t that people in the media are biased but that we know what their bias is.

When we listen to John Campbell we know his personal bias is left.

When we listen to Mike Hosking we know his personal bias is right.

That is something we can take into account when thinking about what they say and how they conduct themselves and any interviews they do.

That is far better than having people in the media with a bias who aren’t overt about it and, deliberately or not, let it influence their work.

That’s when bias matters in the media.

But this issue isn’t what matters in politics and once more Cunliffe has fallen into a hole of his own making by complaining about something that doesn’t matter which leaves no oxygen for the big things that do – the economy, education, health and welfare.

 

 

 

 


It’s not about the scarf

July 24, 2014

David Cunliffe has said a lot of sorrys recently, the latest and silliest is for his scarf:

. . . After being criticised for his red scarf, Mr Cunliffe says he won’t wear it as much.

“You know what – I reserve the right to put it back on occasionally,” he says. “But it won’t be on every day… I quite like the colour red.” . . .

If anyone’s vote is influenced by a scarf they deserve what they get.

It’s not about the scarf, it’s about the fact that it looked like part of a costume for a part he’s playing and his wearing it seemed  affected as a lot of what Cunliffe does and says does.

One of the big criticisms of him is that he’s a different man to different audiences and that he’s not comfortable in his own skin.

When he gets down to being sorry for his scarf, is it any wonder?

 

 


Paying price for prevarication

July 21, 2014

Last night’s 3 News-Reid Research poll gave Labour more bad news:

PARTY VOTE:

National: 49.4 percent (down 0.3 percent)
Labour: 26.7 percent (down 0.6 percent)
Green: 12.4 percent (down 0.3 percent)
NZ First: 4.3 percent  (up 0.7 percent)
Conservative: 2.7 percent (down 0.1 percent)
Internet Mana: 2.3 percent (up 0.5 percent)
Maori: 1.1 percent (down 0.4 percent)
United Future: 0.2 percent (up 0.2 percent)
ACT: 0.1 percent (down 0.3 percent)

The reason’s for Labour’s poor showing are many, but one of those is Cunliffe’s prevarication over whether or not he’d do a post-election deal with the Internet-mana Party:

SHOULD LABOUR WORK WITH INTERNET MANA IN FORMING A GOVERNMENT:

NO: 59 percent
YES: 29 percent
Don’t know: 12 percent
-
Labour voters:
NO: 47 percent
YES: 40 percent
Don’t know: 13 percent

Cunliffe’s following the Winston Peters’ line on this – he’ll play the cards the voters deal.

But by doing this both men are leaving voters without information they need to cast their votes with confidence.

John Key told everyone months ago which parties he would and would not work with.

People know  what they’d get if they give National their party votes.

In contrast, Cunliffe and Peters continue to prevaricate which leaves voters having to take a gamble.

If they give Labour their party votes they can’t be sure they wouldn’t be helping the Internet-Mana Party into government and if they vote for New Zealand First they have no idea if Peters would move right or left.

In spite of what he says about the possibility of staying on the cross-benches, the lure of some baubles would almost certainly persuade him to change his mind.

A vote for either Labour or New Zealand first is a vote for uncertainty and instability.


It’s still the trend that matters

July 20, 2014

Labour has lost four points in the latest Herald DigiPoll, slumping to 26.5%,  its worst level of support in 15 years.

 . . . On this poll of decided voters National would be able to govern alone comfortably and gain another 10 MPs.

National has jumped 4.5 points to 54.9 per cent. A Stuff/Ipsos poll earlier this week also put support for National at 54.8 per cent.

Prime Minister John Key is more popular than he has ever been, scoring preferred prime minister on 73.3 per cent, compared with Cunliffe on 10.5 per cent and New Zealand First’s Winston Peters on 5.5 per cent.

The second-most-preferred PM out of Labour MPs is David Shearer, with 2.2 per cent, followed by Jacinda Ardern on 1.4 per cent. . .

Labour’s total support is down from 30.5 per cent in June, but it is disproportionately down among male voters, with only 23.9 per cent of men backing Labour, compared with 29.1 per cent of women.

Political commentator Chris Trotter said the poll indicated Labour was “more or less bereft of hope”.

“Labour is in an extremely parlous position, and the situation is deteriorating.” 

And the news gets worse for the left:

Contrary to other polls, the DigiPoll had the Green Party losing popularity, which was also bad news for Labour and the left’s prospects. . .

A single poll could be a rogue one but a trend has to be taken more seriously and the left will even though this support reflects the views of those who have decided:

. . . Undecided voters were 11.5 per cent. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 per cent. . . .

It’s still the trend that counts and the trend is very good for National but it’s still a couple of months to the election and the result of that, trend not withstanding, is still not certain.

The left might be panicking but there is absolutely no room for complacency on the centre-right.

However, there is


Will unions let Cunliffe lead Labour back from left?

July 13, 2014

Both Matthew Hooton and Fran O’Sullivan think Cunliffe is trying to lead Labour back from its lurch to the left.

That would be a sensible move because the swinging votes are in the centre and many of those voters are strongly averse to the thought of Labour’s leftwards lurch and it being dragged even further left by its potential coalition partners.

But Labour is beholden to unions for money and people power, and Cunliffe is beholden to them for his leadership.

They won’t be keen on more centrist policies.

In the print edition of the NBR Michael Coote writes:

. . . The phony war raging around David Cunliffe’s leadership of Labour overlooks that the trades union movement has reassumed a decisive role in selecting the head of the party’s parliamentary wing.

Mr Cunliffe is the choice of the unions, Labour’s primary funding source.

If Labour’s predominantly bourgeois parliamentary wing defenestrated its born-again proletarian Mr Cunliffe, its unionist bankrollers could simply cut off the cashflow and let the class traitors turn on the gallows. . .

Even if Cunliffe did manage to lead a lurch back to the centre how long could he hold that position if he was leading a government beholden to the Green, Internet and Mana parties?

They are full of radical left-wingers who will exert every bit of bargaining power they have to implement their hard left economic, environmental and social agendas.


What they’ll need to do

July 12, 2014

Vernon Small muses on one of MMP’s downsides – the need for coalition partners:

. . . In Cunliffe’s case, he can be relatively certain Internet-Mana will be there.

His bigger concern is the political Centre’s negative views of Harawira, his Left-wing allies and Internet founder Kim Dotcom – and more generally about the increasingly fractured Centre-Left vote.

Labour’s vote softened measurably after the Internet-Mana deal became known. It believes that was not because the new party took Labour votes but more because it was a bridge too far for floating voters to contemplate a four or five-way alternative government.

And Labour knows – because it has already started – that National will use that against it.

It is a difficult line for Cunliffe to walk. He needs to emphasise the stability of a three-way deal with the Greens and NZ First – both of which have the advantage of being parties that win in their own right and will, if in Parliament, have achieved more than 5 per cent support. He can contrast that with National’s vassal parties, there only at Key’s favour.

Voters could choose a weak Labour Party propped up by the Green and NZ First parties with the added frightener of Internet Mana or a strong National Party with two or three very small coalition partners.

That’s a choice between instability, uncertainty and backwards policies from the left or stability, certainty and forward momentum from the centre right.

But strategising at the party’s weekend Congress pointed up the problem. Labour was stacking up its potential pluses just to get over the line.

It could push up to about 30, with a good ground game and organisation, the Greens bring about 12 per cent, NZ First would add another 5-6 per cent and Internet-Mana would add the final cherry on top. Presto, 51 per cent.

Over at the National conference the previous week, the mirror-image argument was being played out by its strategists.

Achieve close to 50 per cent and we govern alone. Fall to the mid 40s, and Labour with its allies could get the numbers. Subtext? Deals with our minor allies may be crucial, so brace yourself for Key’s announcement of deals with the minnows.

Memo to Cunliffe and Key: if you are counting them into your thinking, so will the voters.

Memo to voters: look less at what they say they will do and more at what they may need to do to win power.

A weak Labour Party would have to do, and concede, a lot more than a strong National party would.

We're for stable government.


Silly or weak

July 11, 2014

One of the challenges for the leader of the opposition is to look like a Prime Minister in waiting.

It’s one which David Cunliffe has yet to master, and his silly apology for being a man was another example of that.

 Trans-Tasman points out:

. . . The Labour Party election year congress dominated the first part of the week, with Cunliffe’s rather strange apology for having both an X and a Y chromosome. It was all very well for Labour’s apologists to splutter – as they did – about the apology being taken out of context. The only context which matters is Cunliffe wants to be PM of this country, and is campaigning ferociously to get the job.

In this context, the apology made him look either silly or weak. People don’t, by and large, go for leaders who look silly or weak. And, looking back, the thought of, say, Norman Kirk, Peter Fraser or Michael Savage apologising for being a man boggles the mind a bit. . .

Labour was once the party of the working man – and woman.

It’s strayed a long way from those roots.

That’s reflected in its loss of support in successive polls – and it’s showing up in other places too:

Hat tip for tweet: Keeping Stock

As for the issue which has been lost in the slipstream of the stupid apology, Peter Dunne writes:

. . . Meanwhile, the scourge of domestic violence continues across all communities, sadly without discrimination, right across the country. Let there be no doubt about the severity and complete unacceptability of any violence against women and children in our society. That has to stop – now – and, as the major perpetrators of that violence, men have to face up to their responsibilities in addressing it. Bold action, across the board, is required right now – not simpering, gesturing apologies for a biological fact that cannot be easily altered.

We need to take the wraps off domestic violence and expose its prevalence wherever we can. Police revelations there are around 200 reported cases every day of the year are part of that. Our aim has to be to make any tolerance of domestic violence as unacceptable as drink-driving and smoking have been made in earlier times, so that underlying social attitudes are changed. . . .

 The last thing we need is the absolute trivialising of a serious social problem by fake and insincere apologies, designed more for a headline, than to do any meaningful good. The women and children of New Zealand who live in constant fear and suffering because of domestic violence deserve a far better response than that.

And I make no apology for saying so. . .

Dunne has no need to apologise for taking a serious issue seriously.


Fish out of water

July 9, 2014

One of the strengths that Prime Minister John Key has is that he is comfortable in his own skin.

He knows who he is, what he believes in, what he stands for and has no need to apologise for it.

That gives him the confidence to be comfortable in front of almost any audience.

Claire Robinson writes that this can’t be said for Labour leader David Cunliffe:

Can I begin by suggesting that at a personal level David Cunliffe is not really sorry he’s a man right now. In fact I’m sure that he’s quite pleased to be a husband and a father. It’s not something that he would give up, never, ever. I’m also sure that, like most men, he’s not sorry that he has a penis. In fact I’d wager that he quite enjoys having it, and I doubt he’d want to lose it as remedy for his remorse. Can I also suggest that there’s nothing for him to personally apologise for, at least in terms of domestic violence, because as far as we know he hasn’t done anything to be guilty of in that department.

So if his apology was not personal, was it political? On the surface yes, as a message targeted at female voters; . . .

But no, it wasn’t political in that as a statement it appeared to be more ad-libbed than scripted; loose lipped rather than tactically crafted for best effect. Did David just sense the love in the room and on the spur of the moment decide it was safe to unleash his inner-feminist? Many women and men on social media seem to think so; arguing it was courageous calling out the “bullshit, deep-seated sexism” still prevalent in New Zealand.

But that is quite out of character for David. Feminism isn’t his strong point. Otherwise he would have known that it’s way too simplistic to attribute the cause of sexual/domestic violence to sexism. That David reducts the issue to the ignorance and inability of men to “man up”, suggests a superficial understanding of what is a deeply complex, and insidious reality. Moreover, if David was truly aware of what happens in abusive situations he would not have used the apology in the communication of his message. He would know that victims of repeated domestic violence are also victims to the apology. The apology is what repeat abusers do to hoover their victims back to them; a psychological handcuff to prevent them from breaking free, thereby perpetuating the cycle of abuse. Over time victims of abuse learn to distrust the apology because it means nothing.

Apologies are part of the pattern of abuse and one of the weapons abusers use to manipulate their victims.

What is in character, however, and is the most plausible scenario, is that he walked into that room and immediately recognized he was a fish out of water. His fight or flight brain jumped to the conclusion that he was talking to a group of hostile man-haters (stereotypical assumption when confronted by a bunch of feminists). To reassure that he had come in peace he instinctively dialed up a number of clichés from his study of American political behaviour, and in one fell swoop conflated Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” remark (down-with-the-homies), with the political apology that American politicians frequently use when they have done something wrong and need to appear vulnerably human and remorseful. It wasn’t a genuine apology; it was a cliché’d response to his own personal discomfort. Which is why so many felt that it lacked authenticity and sincerity, and why it came across as insulting. It is yet another example of the yawning gap that exists between the real David and what uncontrollably falls out of his mouth.

One of the criticisms often levelled at Cunliffe is a lack of sincerity. He often looks and sounds like he’s saying what an audience wants to hear not what he really believes.

If David had come in authentically saying, I’m feeling like a fish out of water, forgive me for not being an expert in this area, but we have been consulting with real experts and I hope you will agree that Labour’s new policy is going to go some way towards dealing with sexual and family violence, he would have been credible and convincing. And he would not have potentially offended a lot of the male voters he needs to stave off disaster in the polls. . . 

You can’t fake sincerity and the more Cunliffe tries the harder it is to work out exactly who he is and what he believes in.

If discomfort with his female audience led him to show he was buying into the hard-line feminist all-men-are-rapists line, what would discomfort in front of a group of the working men who were once the foundation of his party lead him to say?

The Prime Minister doesn’t try to be all things to all people and that’s one of the reasons for his popularity.

What you see is what you get.

With Cunliffe different audiences get different messages from a different version of the man and it’s impossible to know which he really believes and who he really is.

 

 


Labour’s numbers don’t add up

July 8, 2014

Labour has left lots of unanswered questions about the costs of its policies.

Two and a half months out from this year’s election and already Labour cannot answer basic questions about the details and fiscal costs of its expensive early promises, Associate Finance Minister Steven Joyce says.

“David Cunliffe, David Parker and Chris Hipkins had a ‘hey Clint’ moment on TV last night, when all three of them failed to answer a simple question about the total cost of their grab-bag of education announcements,” Mr Joyce says.

Labour has rejected having a Treasury analyst in its office, and it really is showing.”

Talking to media yesterday after announcing it would spend $403 million over four years to employ more teachers, neither David Cunliffe, nor David Parker nor Chris Hipkins could do the simple maths on how much their other promises would cost.

“That’s because their numbers don’t add up and their claims are misleading,” Mr Joyce says.

“For a start, the Government currently funds secondary schools for an average 20 students per classroom, well below Labour’s ‘new’ target of 23 students per classroom.

“When it comes to their costings, Labour’s figures include only the cost of the extra teachers’ salaries. They need to come clean on what the total costs would be including ACC, training, support superannuation, and all the other overheads involved in supporting more teachers.”

Mr Joyce says this is not the first time in recent days that Labour has undercooked its costings and exaggerated its promises to New Zealanders.

“Last week their press release clearly said they were going to end voluntary school donations – yet they put up only half the money needed to cover existing donations and none of the school activity fees parents pay.

And on Saturday they claimed they would provide every student between years five and 13 with a digital device worth $600 by providing a $100 subsidy and having parents pay $3.50 a week for 18 months. This will be news to Labour, but this adds up to only $373 per device.

“And just to top it all off, David Cunliffe yesterday confirmed he would look at buying back shares in mixed ownership model companies – even though he’s committed to spend all the money raised by the share offer programme and then some.

“After nearly six years in opposition, Labour has learned nothing about responsible economic and fiscal management. They really do need to start showing New Zealanders the money,” Mr Joyce says. “Labour 2014 is already starting to look a lot like the 2011 version, only trickier.”

If Labour’s policy was being marked it might get a pass for rhetoric but it would get a not-achieved for costings.

The party’s got the words but it hasn’t got the numbers to back them up.


Cunliffe says nah yeah to Internet Mana

July 7, 2014

Labour leader David Cunliffe isn’t ruling out going into coalition with the Internet Mana Party:

Deal or no deal? That’s a question Labour Party leader David Cunliffe is facing.

He’s trying to have it both ways with Internet Mana, leaving the door open to working with them in government, but not to the cabinet table. . .

Rousing the party faithful, Labour has one goal in mind – to change the Government. That means hello Internet Mana and its cash-cow, Kim Dotcom.

“After the election we will work with whomever we need to work with to change the Government,” says Mr Cunliffe. “We will have our door and phone line open to whoever wants to change the Government.”

It’s a political dead rat Labour may have to swallow. Some are fighting against, wanting to rule out working with Internet Mana in government.

That includes some of his caucus and at least one candidate.

Phil Goff is on record calling the deal a rort, with Dotcom buying influence. Chris Hipkins says they’re “unprincipled sell-outs” and Dotcom is a “discredited German”.

“I don’t have much time for Kim Dotcom at all to be honest,” says Napier candidate Stuart Nash.

Mr Nash says the same about Hone Harawira. . .

Mr Cunliffe knows he may need the Dotcom, Harawira, Laila Harre combo but doesn’t want them too close.

“Frankly I would be surprised to see anybody other than the Greens and perhaps New Zealand First at our cabinet table,” says Mr Cunliffe. “I think that’s extremely unlikely, extremely unlikely, they’ll be ministers – extremely unlikely.”

So that means no seats in cabinet but a deal still possible.

Internet Mana is a political weakness for Labour and Mr Cunliffe is trying to have it both ways. . .

Like a lot of his other positions it’s a yeah nah – or in this case a nay-yeah one.

He doesn’t want them but he’s not ruling them out and neither Hone Harawiara nor Laila Harre are the sort of people to roll over without being thrown a bone or two which may well include a place in the top kennel.

That won’t go down well with some in Labour on principle and also because they are already facing missing out on cabinet places to accommodate Green and NZ First MPs.

It won’t go down well with either of those other prospective partners and it won’t go down well with most voters.


Silly sorry

July 4, 2014

If David Cunliffe wasn’t really sorry before he said he was sorry for being a man he will be now.

. . . “I don’t often say it, [but] I’m sorry for being a man because family and sexual violence is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men,” he said. . .

He doesn’t often say he’s sorry or he doesn’t often say he’s sorry for being a man?

Either way that sentence is getting far more publicity than the policy it prefaced and most of the publicity is negative.

Prime Minister  John Key said the apology was silly:

. . . John Key says that’s no reason to regret being a man.

“The problem isn’t being a man. The problem is if you’re an abusive man and I think it’s a bit insulting to imply that all men are abusive.

 “A small group are and they need to change their behaviour and be held to an account.”

Key says with his apology, Mr Cunliffe is implying that all men fall into that category.

“To get up and say, ‘I’m sorry for being a man’ really is, I think, a bit insulting to all men in New Zealand because the vast overwhelming bulk of them are good, loving fathers, brothers, uncles.” . . .

Exactly.

Violence, and family violence in particular, are problems but while men are the majority of perpetrators, the majority of men aren’t.

Cunliffe’s silly sorry is the sort of comment that starts people muttering about political correctness and feminazis.

It insults the majority of men who are good men.

It might even make those who aren’t good think that being a man is the problem which therefore excuses them because it’s something they can’t change.

One of the problems we face is too few positive male role models for many children who are brought up by women, taught by women and have very little to do with good, caring, strong men who never use their strength to intimidate, punish or harm.

Rather than apologising, good men should be standing tall, celebrating manliness and showing that violence and abuse aren’t manly.

Labour’s congress is an opportunity for the party to get free publicity.

They’ve sabotaged themselves by barring the media from most sessions and in the vacuum that’s created, the focus will go on this silly sorry for which Cunliffe should indeed by sorry.


The importance of certainty

July 4, 2014

Trans-Tasman notes the appeal of certainty and stability:

National emerged neat and tidy from its election year conference. Delegates went home knowing what they have to do to ensure the party can re-form a governing coalition. It’s this disciplined approach which carries its own message to the electorate, contrasting with the inchoate array of parties lined up on the other side of the fence. Private polling shows within the electorate, opinion is beginning to harden on the parties of the left being so disparate, (even if they gained a majority of seats in the next Parliament), a coalition of those parties would be highly unstable and couldn’t last.

Certainty, along with stability, is the priority for most voters. The difficulty for the parties of the left is they project not just instability, but incoherence in the policies they are espousing. The realisation has grown Labour would have to share power with the Greens, NZ First and possibly the Mana/Internet alliance. How would it work? In the NZ Herald this week John Armstrong noted Labour seems to be increasingly paralysed by the division between MPs who put a priority on economic development and those who want environmental concerns to be very much part of that development.

The Opposition has forgotten what Helen Clark did in the run-up to the 1999 election, staging a reconciliation with Jim Anderton and his Alliance to project a united front and give electors an idea of what a Clark-led Govt would look like (even though it must have savaged her personal pride to cosy up to her old foe). . . 

 The more voters see of what a Cunliffe-led Labour/Green/NZ First/Mana/Internet Party might look like the less appeal it has.

There are enough uncertainties in most people’s lives without adding an uncertain coalition and the instability that would come with it especially when its contrast with the certainty and stability of a National-led government with John Key as Prime Minister.


Moa madness

July 1, 2014

Trevor Mallard election winning strategy is to bring back the moa.

Does this mean he:

a) Is acting in his capacity as a member of the ABC – Anyone But Cunliffe – club.

b) Is trying to distract us from something good National is doing.

c) Is trying to distract us from something bad that Labour is doing.

d) Is aiming for a back to the future version of Mike Moore’s lamb burgers with moa burgers.

e) Is trying to differentiate Labour from the Green Party in its opposition to genetic modification.

f) Has lost the plot.

g) All of the above.

 

 


Winning team won’t necessarily be winner

June 29, 2014

A party enjoying poll ratings which show it could govern alone might be in danger of complacency.

There is absolutely none of that at the National Party conference where the very clear message was

Prime Minister John Key told Patrick Gower:

. . . I know the polls look strong for us. And I know on the 3 Reid Research poll we’ll be able to govern alone and I’m really personally desperately hope that’s what election night looks like. But you and I both know it’ll probably be tighter than that and there’s every chance that we don’t win.. .

Chris Finlayson and Steven Joyce gave a similar message to the conference:

. . . Attorney General Chris Finlayson talked about the “hydra” this morning that grows new heads when the old ones are chopped off.

“Cut off Phil Goff and up shoots David Shearer and Hone Harawira. Saw off David Shearer and up springs David Cunliffe and Laila Harre.

“The fragmentation on the left hasn’t made the hydra weaker,” said Mr Finlayson “only more unstable if it can force its way into power again.”

Campaign chairman Steven Joyce warned delegates that the campaign was “still a little puppy” and that anything at all could happen in the next 84 days before the election – the wackiest thing imaginable, he said.

“A retired Maori activist who has become an MP working with a hard left unionist and let’s just throw in a wealthy German millionaire right-winger, they could form a political party,” said.

“That’s the sort of wacky thing that could happen between now and September 20.

“If Laila Harre, Hone Harawira, Pam Corkery, Kim Dotcom, Russel Norman, Metiria Turei, David Cunliffe, Matt McCarten, and John Minto are the answer, can we please have another look at the question?” . .

National’s got a winning team but it’s up to voters to decide whether to give the winning team the support it needs to  be the winner, or whether they’re going to trust government to the hydra on the left led by a weak Labour dominated by the Green, NZ First and Internet Mana parties.

With less than three months to go, there's no room for complacency. Join #TeamKey today.  http://mynational.org.nz/support


Taxing prosperity

June 26, 2014

A comprehensive Capital Gains Tax compensated for by a lowering in other taxes might have something to recommend it.

But Labour’s CGT isn’t comprehensive and won’t be matched by compensatory drops in other taxes.

Labour leader David Cunliffe tried to sell the policy via questions to Prime Minister John Key in question time yesterday – and failed:

1. Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he accept inequality, including asset inequality, is increasing in New Zealand?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): No. The best evidence shows that income inequality is not increasing in New Zealand, and I am advised that there is no reliable time series on changes in wealth inequality. As the Minister of Finance noted yesterday, the OECD has reported that New Zealand was one of only six developed economies in which both income inequality and disposable income inequality were flat or slightly better between 2007 and 2011. This is quite an achievement through one of the worst recessions in decades.

Hon David Cunliffe: How does the Prime Minister feel about the Oxfam report that shows that the top 10 percent of wealthy New Zealanders own more than the other 90 percent put together?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I suspect that is probably similar to lots of parts of the world, but what I can say is that under a Labour Government, with its announcements today, every single New Zealander in KiwiSaver will be worse off when they have a capital gains tax on their KiwiSaver account.

Hon David Cunliffe: How can he be so relaxed about the growing gap between the rich and poor, when the median income in, say, St Heliers has increased by $6,700 a year since 2006 to $42,700, while the median income in Māngere has fallen by $200 to just $19,700?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I did not actually say what the member said that I said. What I would say is that at a time when the economy is in surplus, when it is earning more than it is spending, putting a tax on every farm, on every business, and on every KiwiSaver will simply make the situation worse for so many New Zealanders. No wonder they will not vote for that.

Hon David Cunliffe: In light of that answer, does the Prime Minister agree that a 35 percent increase in luxury car sales over the past 2 years while at the same time the number of children living in poverty has grown to 285,000 shows that inequality is rising, or does he not?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, that is not a reliable measure of income inequality. What would be worth noting, though, is that households that earn $60,000 or less—that is, 50 percent of all New Zealand households—pay $2.5 billion in tax and they receive over $7 billion in benefits. Through the worst of the economic times this Government has supported those most vulnerable New Zealanders.

Hon David Cunliffe: How does the Prime Minister feel about the fact that homeownership rates are at their lowest levels in 50 years, and does he think it acceptable that half of the pupils in schools in our lower income areas are changing schools once a year or more? So we have declining homeownership, dislocated children, and growing inequality—how does he feel about that?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: One thing I do know is that if you put a capital gains tax on rental properties, as the member is suggesting—because, in fact, virtually all property is excluded under the Labour plan—what that will do is put rents up. So those who are renting a property and watching parliamentary question time today better know that under a Labour Government they will pay more. In other words, they will have less to spend. No wonder they will never support that policy. . . .

Hon David Cunliffe: Does the Prime Minister think it is fair that the incomes of the top 1 percent of income earners in New Zealand have risen 10 times faster than the bottom 10 percent, and does he think that a capital gains tax might just help equalise some of that growing gap between the rich and the poor?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: In answer to the last part of the question, no. What is really important that New Zealanders understand is that a capital gains tax in the way that Labour has described today will be on every small business in New Zealand, every business in New Zealand, every KiwiSaver account in New Zealand, and every part of the productive sector of New Zealand. If we want people in poverty, then we should cancel their jobs, and that is what Labour would be doing—putting a tax on prosperity for New Zealand. . . .

Good tax might be an oxymoron but better taxes are aimed at things we want to discourage.

Labour’s CGT by contrast will hit things we need to encourage – savings, investment and businesses big, medium and small that earn the money and provide the jobs we need for prosperity.


Wrong too long to be right

June 23, 2014

The Southland Times says David Cunliffe’s in a mess of his own making and it’s right:

There’s a Watergate-era poster of Richard Nixon as a wee boy, looking back over his own shoulder and complaining: Somebody poohed my pants.

David Cunliffe is scarcely more plausible as he tries to represent himself as the victim of a Government smear campaign.

He is conspicuously besmirched, all right, but however much the Government may have benefited from the process, enjoyed it, and perhaps even at prime ministerial level taken Bonaparte’s advice not to interrupt an opponent when he’s making a mistake, none of this changes the fact the Government’s role was, at very worst, peripheral to the self-inflicted damage.

Cunliffe was guilty of the same offences he had loftily criticised. His accusations against Maurice Williamson for meddling with a police investigation into Donghua Liu, a party donor, turned rancid when it emerged that he had himself written in support of Liu on a residency matter, which he initially denied. And Liu had donated to Labour as well as National. . . .

Even a political novice should know you don’t start throwing stones until you’re quite sure you’re not in a glass house.

There is an explanation for the party’s own lack of records about the letter Cunliffe wrote but someone should have thought to do an OIO about the matter in case there was a record in the public service, as it turns out there was.

At the moment its Liu’s word against Labour’s on the matter of donations. But if a newspaper could get a photo of the donor’s wife receiving a bottle of wine from an MP at what looks suspiciously like party fundraiser, surely someone in the paper must have had some knowledge of that event and drawn some dots which would have advised caution?

Now he talks darkly of the Government managing the release of this – less face it, entirely accurate – information about his own follies.

This was a case of “playing politics” he said, and people were starting to realise he was the victim of a “political beat-up”.

So here we have a politician complaining that rival politicians have been playing politics in response to his own political recriminations. Does he mean to astonish us? . . .

He’s been throwing mud for months, continuing the party’s desperate attempts to dent the popularity of Prime Minister John Key and National and now he’s splattered himself and his own party.

It is dirty politics and it’s his own dirt he’s covered in.

Every time one of these sideshows which exercise political tragics comes up the PM has said that’s not what really matters to voters.

It works for him because he’s been concentrating on what does matter – running the country to make a positive difference to the economy, health, education, welfare and the other areas which resonate with people.

Cunliffe is now, belatedly, trying to say the same thing but he’s been wrong about that too long to look and sound right when he’s in a mess that’s very much of his own making.


Show us the money

June 22, 2014

Last week wasn’t one of Labour’s finest and it would be hard to get a worse start to this week than the news that Donghua Liu spent more than $150,000 on the previous Labour government, including $100,000 on a bottle of wine signed by former prime minister Helen Clark at a party fundraiser.

The embarrassing revelations are contained in a signed statement from Liu, which the Herald on Sunday has obtained.

They come at the end of a horror week for Labour, already under pressure after the New Zealand Herald revealed that Liu paid $15,000 for a book at the same fundraiser in 2007. Labour has said it had no record of any donations from Liu. And leader David Cunliffe had to fight to keep his job after revelations he wrote a letter for Liu’s residency, despite previous denials. . .

he latest developments have sparked calls for a police inquiry.

“This is scandalous from the public’s perspective. There has to be some sort of official investigation, whether it’s a police one or a parliamentary one,” said political commentator Bryce Edwards. “There must be some sort of official investigation, whether it’s a police or parliamentary.”

Asked about a potential investigation under electoral finance laws, Liu’s lawyer Todd Simmonds indicated that Liu was comfortable with his financial support and would cooperate with any inquiry.

Cunliffe last night dodged questions, saying it was a “matter for Labour Party’s head office”. Labour Party general secretary Tim Barnett said the party had no record of the donation.

Liu’s signed statement was dated May 3, two days after Williamson’s resignation. It said:

• Liu paid “close to $100,000″ for wine at a 2007 Labour Party fundraiser;

• That he spent $50-60,000 hosting then-labour minister Rick Barker on a cruise on the Yangtze River in China in 2007; and

• That Liu visited Barker in Hawke’s Bay in 2006, having dinner with him at an exclusive lodge and then meeting for breakfast the next morning. Liu said he made a donation to Hawke’s Bay Rowing, which Barker was associated with.

Barker previously told the Herald that he could barely remember having dinner.

Last night Barker, now a regional councillor, said the revelations came “as a surprise and a complete reversal” of Liu’s previous comments.

Edwards said while it was not clear if Labour had broken any laws, public confidence in the party had been dented. . .

Edwards added that although the blame did not lie with Cunliffe personally, he had to deal with egg on his face. “It does create a charge of hypocrisy because he’s campaigned strongly against the Government relationship with Donghua Liu and it appears Labour’s relationship is just as deep.”

Liu yesterday told the Herald that his donations had been in good faith without any expectation. “It is over to the politicians to make any appropriate declarations. . .

MPs  don’t always, perhaps even usually, know the details of who gives how much money to their parties.

That is to separate them from any accusations of money for favours.

But if the NZ Herald could get a photo of Liu’s wife accepting a bottle of wine from an MP, surely someone in the party could have too before they started slinging mud at National?

Surely someone who was there could remember the event and if not the exact sum, that it was a biggie?

Surely someone in Labour – whether currently involved or not –  who had the party’s interests at heart would have remembered someone paying close to $100,000 for a bottle of wine at a fund-raiser and reminded Cunliffe of that before he led the charge and devoted weeks trying to dirty National instead of concentrating on what really matters.

In his last few interviews he’s finally got his lines straight on that – the sideshows he’s tried to orchestrate to dirty national aren’t what matters but his problem is hypocrisy and poor political management do concern voters and he and his party are continuing to show both.

Before this latest revelation, Duncan Garner called Labour under David Cunliffe a train wreck.

. . . When Cunliffe utters a word or two these days the collective intake of breath among his MPs is simply frightening.

He’s had a host of gaffes this year – and the best he’s looked was when he shut up and stood in the background while his wife, Karen Price, talked about the birds (chickens) and the bees in an interview at their home.

Cunliffe was parachuted into the job of leader, not because his MPs really wanted him – most dislike him – but because Labour Party members and union affiliates were desperate for someone to articulate their values.

To say he’s been a disappointment is an understatement. After this week’s horrors he looks unelectable as the next prime minister. He’s genuinely gone from bad to worse. . .

John Armstrong said Cunliffe has steered Labour on to the rocks:

When it comes to casting aspersions, few insults are as venomous, vicious or more driven by utter contempt than accusing someone of being a “scab”.

That is particularly the case on the left of the political spectrum where the battles of old between capital and labour provided the source of the term to describe those who broke rank from the union and who were then ostracised forever.

A workforce which is now largely non-unionised has made such name-calling far more infrequent, and at times sound rather dated.

But there was nothing quaint about the leader of the Labour Party this week insinuating colleagues who did not give him their full support were scabs.

It was astonishing. It implied treachery in the extreme. What the outburst really revealed was someone looking for scapegoats for his own self-inflicted woes. . .

It wasn’t the letter written 11 years ago and forgotten about that did the damage.

It was that he’s fronted months of attacks on National for links to donors without the political nous to ensure that he and his party were squeaky clean first.

Where the leader’s chief of staff and supposed political strategist Matt McCarten was in this mess is not obvious. But whether or not he was let down by others,  Cunliffe led the attack without having first secured his own position.

Mud clings to the hand that throws it and this week Cunliffe managed to splatter himself, and his party with it.

But having steered the ship on to the rocks, he’s not about to hand over the captaincy, and it’s doubtful anyone could be found willing to accept responsibility for the leaky boat.

Today’s revelations have endangered the boat even more.

Liu said he donated a large sum of money to Labour. The party says it has no record of it.

That’s a very big breach of electoral law and raises a very big question – if the party has no record of the donation where did it go?

And to add to accusations against the party which tries to show itself as welcoming of diversity, let’s not forget the Labour used someone who was granted residency by a Labour Immigration minister to score political points and there’s a nasty undertone, deliberate or not of xenophobia in their attacks:

“However, because I’ve built relationships with politicians, made donations, because it’s election year and, dare I say, because I’m Chinese, I suppose I’ve been an easy target for some to gain some political mileage and score some points.”

In the last election campaign, Phil Goff was let down by his then finance spokesman, Cunliffe, when he was asked to show us the money for his policies.

Less than three months from the next election, the party is going to have to show us the missing money or confirm that a party which can’t account for money it’s been given for its own use can’t be trusted to handle money it takes from taxpayers for public use.

 


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