Personal or political?

May 1, 2019

Is the media’s determination to claim the scalp of National leader Simon Bridges personal or political?

Two months ago John Armstrong said the media script required Bridges to end up as dog tucker:

The media have proclaimed Simon Bridges to be dog tucker. Having issued that decree, the media will do its darnedest to make sure he does become exactly that – dog tucker.

That is the ugly truth now confronting Bridges in his continuing struggle to keep his leadership of the National Party intact and alive.

It might seem unfair. It will likely be regarded in National quarters as irrefutable evidence of media bias.

It is unfair. Some pundits had made up their minds that Bridges was the wrong person to lead National within weeks of him securing the job. Those verdicts were quickly followed by bold predictions that it would not be long before he was rolled by his fellow MPs. . . 

Those predictions are heating up again, but why?

Is it personal dislike of him?

Probably not.

There were similar campaigns against Bill English and Don Brash when they were opposition leader.

So is it partisan?

The media were just as quick to criticise and slow to praise Phil Goff, David Shearer, David Cunliffe and Andrew Little so no, it’s not necessarily partisan.

But is it political?

The media tends to be liberal on social issues and Bridges is more conservative.

Could the sustained campaign against Bridges be because he has said he will vote against the Bill to legalise euthanasia and is likely to oppose any liberalising of abortion law?


Drip, drip, drip

November 30, 2018

Leader of the Opposition is reputed to be the worst job in politics.

It’s certainly not an easy one, especially early in the term of a new government when few outside the politically tragic are interested in what you do and say.

The media doesn’t help by fixating on poll results and interviewing their own keyboards to write opinion pieces forecasting the end of the leader’s tenure.

They carry on, drip, drip, drip like water on a stone in the expectation they will eventually be proved right.

They did it to Phil Goff, David Shearer, David Cunliffe and Andrew Little and it worked because the Labour caucus was too fixated on itself and its divisions and the party panicked.

They did it to Helen Clark but it didn’t work. Even when all she could muster in the preferred Prime Minister poll was only 5% she stared her would-be coup leaders down.

They didn’t do it to John Key because he polled well from the start and he became leader towards the end of the Labour-led government’s third term when it was looking tired and stale.

They didn’t do it to Jacinda Ardern but she took over the leadership at the very end of the National-led government’s third term and so close to the election she got far more attention than a new opposition leader normally would.

The drip, drip, drip is happening to Simon Bridges but none of the pundits give their gloomy analysis context. He became leader only a few months after the election when it’s almost impossible for an opposition leader to shine.

Jami-Lee Ross’s sabotage  didn’t help but at least for now, it makes Bridges’ leadership stronger. The National caucus has learned from Labour’s bad example that disunity is electoral poison.

It is the caucus who decides who’s leader. None of them will want Ross to claim the leader’s scalp and anyone with the political nous to be leader would know that this early in the government’s term, it would be almost impossible to make headway in the preferred PM polls and no matter who took over, he or she too would be subject to the drip, drip, drip of negative columns.

What the columnists don’t see, or at least don’t write about, is what I saw yesterday – Simon Bridges speaking confidently and showing his intelligence, sincerity and warmth.

This is not the dead man walking about whom they opine.

He has, to borrow a line from former Invercargill MP Eric Roy, had a very bad lambing.

I don’t know how much tough stuff he’d faced before, but yesterday convinced me that like good farmers after bad lambings, Bridges has got up and is getting on, in spite of the drip,drip, drip that’s trying to take him down.


Another by-election

December 8, 2016

Labour MP, and former leader, David Shearer has been shoulder-tapped to lead a United Nations mission in South Sudan.

That will prompt another by-election in a safe Labour seat which is a cost to the taxpayer.

But the bigger cost will be to the party which will lose  another moderate MP

It won’t be a lot of fun going from Prime Minister to back bencher but John Key is staying in parliament so as not to trigger a by-election.

Retiring Labour MP, and another former leader, David Cunliffe, has also said he will stay long enough to not trigger a by-election.


Better than not very good

February 2, 2015

A 3news Reid-Research Poll shows  55% of voters think Andrew Little is potentially a better match for John Key than his predecessors.

How hard is that?

Helen Clark resigned on election night and anointed Phil Goff.

He never made any traction and had to work with a divided caucus.

He was followed by David Shearer who had to work with a divided caucus and who struggled to string sentences together in interviews.

A change in party rules resulted in the election of David Cunliffe who had to deal with a divided caucus and who could string sentences together but strung different ones for different audiences and tripped himself up with several of them.

Now we have Andrew Little who was elected on the strength of union votes not the majority of members or his caucus. But he can string sentences together, has yet to trip himself up with them and the caucus has managed to hold itself together over the Christmas break while it was largely out of the news.

Being better than three previous leaders who weren’t very good at all isn’t much of an achievement especially when measured against the popularity of the man whose job he wants:

Mr Key is on the up too though, and as for Labour’s bump in the polls, he’s got that covered.

“I’m not surprised,” says Mr Key. “I think Labour is cannibalising the vote on the left of politics as Andrew Little goes through his honeymoon period.”

Voters do like what they see, especially when compared to Mr Little’s predecessors. Asked if Mr Little looks like a better match for Mr Key, 55 percent, a clear majority, say yes, up against 12 percent who say just the same and 18 percent that reckon he will be worse.

But this is crucial. Out of National voters, exactly whom Mr Little needs to win over, almost one in every two, 48 percent, rate him as a better match for Mr Key.

“It’s nice to get all that feedback,” says Mr Little.

“If you think of the election result in 2014, Labour was led to their worst result,” says Mr Key. “A lot of people might think that given how bad that was you can probably only improve from there.”

3 News polls on the same questions regularly, and Mr Little has got some of the highest ratings since Helen Clark. For instance, 54 percent say he is a capable leader; only Ms Clark got higher.

But here’s the problem for Mr Little – 81 percent of voters rate Mr Key as capable. . .

As he is and that’s reflected in party support too:

  • National – 49.8 percent, up 2.8 percent on election night result
  • Labour – 29.1 percent, up 4 percent
  • Green – 9.3 percent, down 1.4 percent
  • New Zealand First – 6.9 percent, down 1.9 percent
  • Conservative – 2.7 percent, down 1.3 percent
  • Maori – 1.3 percent, N/C
  • Internet Mana – 0.6 percent, down 0.8 percent
  • ACT – 0.4 percent, down 0.3 percent
  • United Future – 0 percent, down 0.2 percent

As usually happens between elections the support for the wee parties drops.

 


Key # 1 again

December 11, 2014

TV3 political editor Patrick Gower has named Prime Minister John Key as politician of the year.

Trans Tasman named him politician of the year last week too.

There could simply be no other. John Key was out on his own this year for one simple reason – he won.

Yes, the Prime Minister’s performance ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous.

In fact, Key went from the crème-de-la-crème to the crème-de-la-crap at times.

But Key won. He got National across the line. It was an incredible victory. It defied the political gravity of a third-term and was against the odds of the campaign. . .

I am not sure that anyone except political tragics were particularly interested in the campaign.

To get that was far from easy for Key. The Dirty Politics scandal could have destroyed other campaigns and finished off other leaders.

The election campaign was weird. It was dark too. And it was incredibly brutal for all those involved.

There is no doubt that Dirty Politics knocked Key over at first – National lost control of its campaign.

Yet Key survived. He stood his ground.  In the words of son Max, he “manned up”.

It was like Key absorbed all of the negativity directed at him, and then, like some kind of comic book character, spewed it all out again as some kind of positive force.

There was unpredictability everywhere: Whaledump, Rawshark, Winston, Colin, rappers, hacker(s), Dotcom, Eminem, Cortex and don’t forget Speargun.

National and Key’s defence was simple – they had a plan, and they stuck to it.

“The plan” is a grinding, relentless strategy based on simple messaging and a self-belief that the Key juggernaut can eventually ride out almost anything.

It has been proven time and time again, and this time was proven on the biggest stage (an entire election campaign) facing the greatest degree of difficulty (an entire book of scandal).

Helped in no small part by a dismal and divided opposition which wasn’t looking like a government in waiting.

Key’s politics this year was a potent combination of on the “macro” level, stubbornly sticking to strategy, and on the “micro” level, being what’s called a “clutch hitter” or “big game player” who rises to the occasion.

Key made big moves at a strategic level and stuck to them, and he made big calls in day-to-politics that worked for him too.

On the macro level, one part of the plan that worked well this year was Key’s semi-upfront declaration of his potential coalition partners at the start of the year.

Looking back, it really was a masterstroke – it gave voters a clear picture of how a National Government would work.

Key also gave himself the space with the decision about giving Colin Craig a electorate seat deal and even more space when it came to working with Winston Peters.

In the end, he ruled out a seat deal for Craig because he looked too crazy and wanted him at arms-length. It was a big call but a good call – imagine if Key had been apologising for Craig on the campaign trail as well as dealing with Dirty Politics.

With Winston, Key kept him at arms’ length. But by not ruling Peters out, he always kept himself in the game, it always looked like National could form a Government no matter how bad the polls got.

The PM had the courage and sense to let voters know what they would and would not get with a National-led government.

That provided another stark contrast with then-Labour leader David Cunliffe who stupidly copied Winston Peters’ line that he’d let the voters choose without giving them all the information they’d need to choose wisely.

Key’s and National’s strategy included a bedrock of policies tailored for the centre voter, and conservative political management. They then turbo-charged this with an overload of “Brand Key” marketing.

Key used these to keep his vice-like grip on the centre-ground, and if he has that – National wins. . .

But there was nothing certain about that win.

Steven Joyce’s recent admission that National was polling at 44 percent in the final week and might have needed Winston to govern shows just how different it could have been. . .

Gower’s other awards:

Runner-up politician of the year: Andrew Little.

Back-bencher Kelvin Davis.

Runner-up political non-politician: Kim Dotcom, Whale Oil and Nicky Hager.

Radio Live’s Duncan Garner lists the year’s political winners and losers:

1. JOHN KEY

For all the obvious reasons. He is still the PM and he is still widely popular according to the polls. He had the kitchen sink thrown at him and he almost won the election outright. He’ll have to watch it doesn’t go to his head.

2. ANDREW LITTLE

Couldn’t win a fight in a kindergarten but ends the year on top. His caucus didn’t want him, his party didn’t want him, his electorate didn’t want him. Yet he ends the year looking strong and competent as Labour’s new leader.

3. KELVIN DAVIS

He beat Hone Harawira and therefore beat Kim Dotcom – do I have to say anymore?

4. SUE BRADFORD

She knew Dotcom and Harawira were in an unholy alliance and she put her principles before it all. She called it right – she has values and principles that are beyond reproach whether you agree with her politics or not.

5. CAM SLATER – WHALEOIL.

Yes he’s a dirt-bag, muck-raking, scum-bag attack blogger, but he likes it that way. He doesn’t play by any rule book yet he’s been judged a journalist by the courts. Despite having his dirty laundry aired for the world to see he remains talked about, his blog gets more hits than ever, he breaks stories and the PM returns his texts. Oh and he wins mainstream media awards.

(Close mention: Paula Bennett, now talked about as the next National Party Leader)

His losers are:

1. KIM DOTCOM

Threw millions at trying to rig an election, but the public weren’t fooled. He’s now fighting to stay out of jail. Rest my case.

2. HONE HARAWIRA

He picked the wrong rich friends. Should have stayed poor. At least he’d still be in Parliament. Woeful judgement.

3. LAILA HARRE

See above.

4. JUDITH COLLINS

Was on track to be the next National Party Leader – now she’s struggling to be heard from the backbenchers. Huge fall from grace. Career in tatters.

5. DAVID CUNLIFFE

Came across as a fake and then apologised for being a man. Do we have to say anything more? Awful defeat.

(Close mention: Grant Robertson, rejected twice as Labour’s future leader. That will hurt and in politics if winning if everything, Robertson has twice failed. Ouch. Still, he has huge chance to recover well.)

 

 


Key #1

December 4, 2014

Prime Minister John Key is Trans Tasman’s politician of the year:

This year’s 10th annual Roll Call can reveal John Key as its Politician of the Year. It was a straightforward choice. Key has stood head and shoulders above the rest in the polls, and his party romped home in its third election, the third time in a row it has added extra seats as well.

Key polled highest among the Trans Tasman Editors, contributors and their Capital insiders who make up the panel which compiles Roll Call, and despite signs there may be trouble ahead for Key if he is not careful, 2014 was his year.

Of course winning a fourth term will be dependent as much on the party’s support staff and their management as the Parliamentary team. The same goes for Labour as it battles to rebuild after its shattering defeat.

Roll Call says Key is “still phenomenally popular and if he comes through a third term without serious damage, a fourth could be within his grasp. But he’ll have to be careful.”

Trans Tasman’s Editors note “Key has not only performed strongly at home, he has become an international figure as well, cementing his and NZ’s reputation abroad with his election as chairman of the International Democratic Union.”

“However there are clouds. The fallout from the “Dirty Politics” saga continues. It should have been firmly put to bed in the campaign. And Key’s tendency to “forget,” or “mishear” the question is becoming a worrying feature of the way he involves himself in the Parliamentary and media discourse.”

“He has the respect – almost the love – of the voters, he needs to be careful he does not treat them with contempt. A fourth term does beckon, but the PM’s tendency to be just a bit smug, a bit arrogant, and at times a bit childish could derail it.”

“For now he is a titan, but Labour has a new leader and a new sense of purpose, and the next election is a long way away.”

National’s Front Bench performed exceptionally well in 2014, with just a single Cabinet Minister losing ground. Nikki Kaye fell from 6.5 to 6, after the “bright young thing” nearly lost Auckland Central. Roll Call suggests she must work harder.

Steven Joyce adds half a mark, taking the man most see as John Key’s successor to 8. “He doesn’t drop the ball and handles a raft of senior portfolios with calm confidence. Outside Parliament he was National’s campaign manager and must share some of the credit for its victory.”

Bill English, last year’s Politician of the Year, maintained his score of 9 out of 10. He is still “the safest pair of hands in the cabinet. Cautious, dependable and now mostly steering clear of debating chamber rhetoric.”

After a bad year in 2013, Hekia Parata has battled back to take her score from 5 to 7. “Key believes she’s competent and wasn’t going to hang her out to dry. He’s giving her the benefit of the doubt in delivering on a gutsy vision for the Education sector.”

Murray McCully takes his score from 6.5 to 7.5 after putting together the team which won NZ a seat on the UN Security Council and doing many of the hard yards himself, while Maggie Barry gets kudos for fitting in well to Conservation and being who “some say is the most popular National MP behind Key himself.” Her score jumps from 3 to 5.5.

The Ministers outside Cabinet are more average with Craig Foss, and Jo Goodhew, going down in score, Louise Upston and Paul Goldsmith staying the same and just Nicky Wagner boosting her score from 4.5 to 5.

Both support party Ministers, Peter Dunne and Te Ururoa Flavell boosted their scores. Dunne from 4 to 5 “gets a point for coming through a horrible year with his head/hair up” while Maori Party leader Flavell goes from 6 to 6.5. “We’ll make a call and say he’s going to be an outstanding Minister.”

The dubious honour of low score for National goes to Melissa Lee. “Hard working but faded after a good start.”

Among the thoroughly shattered Labour MPs, there was little to write home about. David Cunliffe’s score falls from 7.5-6 after the election defeat. But “history may judge him more kindly than last week’s headlines. Is he NZ’s Kevin Rudd?”

Andrew Little’s star starts to shine though. His score jumps from 4.5 to 7. “No-one is going to die wondering what Little thinks. He’s a tough talking union man from way back who isn’t going to compromise his beliefs.”

Labour’s low scorer is Rino Tirikatene who stays on just 2.5 out of 10. “Do still waters run deep or are they just still? Has had time to find his feet and still no impact.”

For the Greens co-leader Russel Norman is the standout, holding his score on 7 out of 10. “After John Key Norman works the media better than any other party leader… If the Greens had gone into coalition with Labour he would have been hard to handle.”

And of course the old war horse Winston Peters is still there, blowing a bit harder than usual. He boosts his score from 7 to 7.5. “Does he have the will and the stamina for another three years on the opposition benches and a campaign in 2017?”

This year for the first time Roll Call also looks at the impact those MPs who left Parliament at the election had, and it is here we find this year’s low scorers Claudette Hauiti and John Banks, both on 1 out of 10.

As for the numbers:

Of National’s 60 MPs, 30 improved their score on last year, 7 went down, and 10 stayed the same. There were 15 new MPs who were not ranked.

Of Labour’s 32, 12 went up, 8 went down, 5 remained on the same score as last year and 7 were unable to be ranked.

ACT’s single MP was unable to be ranked. Of the Maori party’s 2 MPs 1 went up, and the other was unable to be ranked, while United Future’s single MP improved his score.

The Greens had 3 of their 14 MPs improve their score, 4 went down while 6 remained the same, one was unable to be ranked.

For NZ First 2 MPs improved their scores, 1 went down and 2 remained the same. 6 were unable to be ranked.

Of the National MPs able to be rated this year, 32 had a score of 5 or higher, while 13 scored below 5, while for Labour it had 16 of its MPs rated 5 or above, while 9 scored below 5.

The 2014 roll call is here.

 

 


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:

 


What might have been

September 21, 2014

Thank you New Zealand voters from saving us from that.


Rural round-up

September 18, 2014

The most boring bankrupt economic argument–“we export raw logs when we could be adding value and making jobs” : Eye to the Long Run:

The rot set in in the late 1940s on this. Jim Anderton was maybe the first in the modern era to believe we wantonly refused to profit from the blindingly obvious money and jobs to be had from processing timber.

In recent times only Winston Peters has been bright enough to see what the entire business sector has apparently completely missed.

Now, joining him as a value add timber processing expert we have the lawyer from Herne Bay – Mr Cunliffe who has spotted the opportunity.

It is, you understand, not so profitable that any of them would give up their day job… it never is, is it? . . .

Future of red meat promotion under threat – Allan Barber:

Next year’s Commodity Levy Act referendum is one of the factors concentrating meat industry minds on the question of red meat promotional investment. B+LNZ is currently conducting a consultation round with individual meat companies to find out how this critically important, if contentious, topic should be agreed for the benefit of all industry participants.

B+LNZ Chief Executive Scott Champion told me it’s too early to make any predictions about the outcome, at least until after completion of the consultation round at the end of September. With the referendum about 12 months away, the process is geared to providing time to gather enough detail for promotional strategy development before taking this out to farmers to test it in advance of the vote. . . 

New Zealand’s Hake and Ling Join Top 8% of World’s Sustainable Fisheries:

Hake and ling from New Zealand are now among the top 8% of global sustainable fish species after being recognised by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

Each of the three New Zealand hake trawl fisheries, five ling trawl fisheries and five ling long line fisheries have been certified as sustainable against the MSC standard – the ‘gold standard’ for sustainable seafood production.

Only 8% of the world’s wild-capture harvest is certified through the global MSC programme which sets high internationally-accepted standards for sustainable fishing and provides consumers with assurance that MSC certified seafood is sustainable, based on sound, independent science. . .

 

Rural New Zealand wants gigabit equality:

Federated Farmers and TUANZ believe it is essential the next Government delivers better connectivity to rural New Zealand, and is keen to work with them to make that happen.

“We are encouraged by the National Party’s further commitment of $150million, if they’re re-elected, and hope to see a similar commitment from our next Government announced this Saturday” says Anders Crofoot, Federated Farmers Telecommunications Spokesperson.

“Federated Farmers and TUANZ support a Gigabit Agenda for Rural New Zealand that doesn’t leave our productive sector behind. We need to talk about gigabit speeds, where farmers can eventually get their gigabytes as fast as the townies do. . . .

 The right people trained the right way –  Craig Littin:

Our recently released Manifesto talks about building a sustainable farm system giving us the collective means to go forward as a nation.  We can and we will be more than we are today, but to do that we need the right people trained the right way.

Firstly we need to look at what we are trying to achieve. We need to have the young people of New Zealand believing that farming is the attractive career option that it is. We also need to put our money where our mouth is in terms of investing in education, science, research and innovation.

There are some great stories out there of the highly skilled people in our industry who have worked through the agricultural industry to now run multimillion dollar businesses, on very attractive salaries. These opportunities are available to anyone with the enthusiasm, intellect and discipline required to make it in the dairy industry, but we need sound education systems to get the right people into the industry. To do this we need to align the requirements and standards to fulfil job roles with the qualifications offered within primary industry training/education institutes. . . .

Molkerei Ammerland Completes First Sweet Whey Powder Auction on Globaldairytrade:

Sweet whey powder has been sold for the first time on GlobalDairyTrade (GDT), the world’s leading online dairy auction platform, with Molkerei Ammerland selling the product they offered at their first trading event.

Molkerei Ammerland CEO Ralf Hinrichs said the company was pleased with the results from the first SWP online auction.

“Through GDT we have been able to extend our reach to a larger number of customers, and to transact with them much faster. We’re looking forward to using GDT to grow our export market,” he said. . .

Tasman Tanks Appoints Craig Hemmings as Dairy Effluent Sector Manager:

Leading New Zealand and Australian storage tank company Tasman Tanks, has appointed Craig Hemmings as dairy effluent sector manager.

Mr Hemmings brings to his position more than a decade of management experience with nationally and internationally recognised agricultural companies.

As dairy effluent sector manager for Tasman Tanks, Mr Hemmings will oversee the operational management of the company’s dairy effluent division in New Zealand.

“From small beginnings in 1996, Tasman Tanks has built its reputation on designing, manufacturing and installing fully engineered and certified tanks,” said Mr Hemmings. . .

 Central Otago Wine Industry no longer a “One Trick Pony”:

As we have come to expect, Central Otago wines dominated the medals for pinot noir at the 2014 New Zealand International Wine Show, taking out 10 of the 15 Gold Medals awarded. But what is more interesting about the results of this show is that Central Otago wines won medals in a total of 10 different wine categories – Methode Traditionelle, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Dessert Wine, Rose, Pinot Noir, and Syrah.

Now in its tenth year, The New Zealand International Wine Show is firmly established as the largest wine competition held in New Zealand each year. The 2014 New Zealand International Wine Show was judged from 8th to 10th September in Auckland and attracted a total of 2130 entries. Trophies will be awarded at the Awards Dinner on 27 September. . .


Win for Cunliffe, win for Dotcom

September 17, 2014

Kim Dotcom threatened to bring down John Key and National.

His moment of truth turned into a moment of strewth, is that all there is?

The email on which he was depending to prove John Key a liar is a fake.

That ought to be the end of it, but it won’t be if Labour is in a position to form a government because in spite of Cunliffe’s yeah-nahing about working with Dotcom’s puppets in Internet Mana, he would if it meant he could be Prime Minister.

He has a chance to ensure IMP doesn’t get anywhere by firmly ruling out any post-election deal with it.

Instead of this he’s wishy-washy:

. . . Mr Cunliffe says he’s not particularly concerned if Mr Harawira loses and Labour is without a potential support partner.

Not particularly concerned? If he had the best interests of New Zealand and New Zealanders at heart he would be absolutely unequivocal that he’d be delighted if that happened.

“I want to see Kelvin Davis as the MP for Te Tai Tokerau,” he told reporters in Hamilton.

Mr Cunliffe has ruled Internet Mana out of a Labour-led government, but the door is still open for a confidence and supply agreement.

If he really wanted to see Davis as the MP for Te Tai Tokerau he’d make it quite clear that he was ruling IMP out completely.

He’s not prepared to do that which means a vote for Labour would also be a vote for Dotcom pulling the strings of MPs supporting it in government.

A win for Cunliffe would be a win for Dotcom.

The only way to rule out Dotcom is to rule out a Labour-led government.

The only way to do that is to give your party vote to National.

 


Foulers cry foul

September 14, 2014

Internet Mana  is complaining about Prime Minister John Key’s decision to declassify documents which will prove accusations against him are baseless.

. . .In a joint statement, Mr Harawira and Ms Harre say the reported intention of the Prime Minister “to arrange the selective declassification and release of documents for his own political purposes” represents an abuse of the Prime Minister’s authority in his capacity as the Minister in charge of the GCSB and the SIS. . .

If the PM didn’t release documents they’d accuse him of hiding something but when he says he will release documents they’re still complaining.

This is a case of the foulers crying foul.

They’re the ones who’ve allowed themselves to be bought by Kim Dotcom who is doing his best to interfere in the election.

The PM not only has the right to release this he has a duty.

This isn’t just about him. It’s about New Zealand, New Zealanders and our security.

Those who don’t understand that should read Charles Finny’s excellent guest post at Kiwiblog:

. . .  The Labour Government that saw us through World War II, and those from 1957-60, 1972-75, 1984-90 and 1999-2008 have not sought to change our position in “five eyes” because the leaders and senior Ministers of those Governments have realized how lucky we are to be part of this agreement and knew how fundamental the intelligence derived from it was to the security of New Zealand.  Ultimately the most important function of government is to protect the people.  “Five eyes” plays a very important role in our ongoing security.  There was a wobble under Lange which saw New Zealand denied access to some processed intelligence from the US, but access to the raw communications intercepted by the four allies continued throughout.  Under Helen Clark the full flow of processed intelligence resumed.

I cannot believe what I have just heard saying about today.  What we now call is as much a creation of Labour as it is the National Party.  It is crucial to our continuing security.  It protects us against the hostile actions of foreign governments, terrorist organizations, and international criminals.  Of course the same foreign governments, terrorist organizations and criminals hate the ‘’fives eyes agreement” and want it dismantled because it stands in their way.  I can’t believe that a Labour Leader would align himself with these forces and put this agreement and our position in it so much at risk.  If his senior colleagues do not call Cunliffe on this, shame on them too.  Our national security is too important to be put at risk by short term political opportunism.

Even when Helen Clark thought we lived in a benign strategic environment her government didn’t short-change  or subvert our security the way the left is now attempting to.

 

 


Only National can provide stability

September 12, 2014

Trans Tasman:

Polls midway through the campaign are continuing to point to a win for the incumbents on September 20, but Ministers reckon it will be a “tight finish.” On current polling, the Centre-Right parties appear to be about 15 points ahead of those on the Centre-Left. So is NZ becoming more conservative? Or is the Centre-Right domination of the political landscape due to John Key shifting National to the centre? The answers to those questions may only emerge in time, but after the hard slog through the global financial crisis and the Christchurch earthquakes, NZers have a clear and pressing priority. They overwhelmingly want a stable Govt to deliver steady, if not spectacular, progress.

They are averse to radical, dislocating change, or of “reformers” who want to re-shape their world. . . .

Only National can provide stable government.

The internal divisions in Labour  have been overshadowed by other events and issues in the election campaign.

But they haven’t gone away and are one of the reasons the party is polling so poorly.

The unions and members lumbered caucus with a leader they didn’t want and who some still don’t support.

Throw in the Green Party wanting around half the cabinet positions plus Winston Peters, Hone Harawira, Laila Harre . . .  and you get a recipe for instability and no progress.

Thanks for tuning in tonight. If you want a National Government, party vote National. #Decision14 #Working4NZ


Not as blue as polls paint it

September 9, 2014

Successive polls are showing National at around 50%.

That ought to be good news, but a Facebook friend looked at polls and elections results and found:

. . . In the final month of polling in 2011, we averaged 52.1%. On election day, we got 47.31% – a drop of about 4.8%.

In the final month of polling in 2008, we averaged 47.1%. On election day? 44.93% – a drop of about 2.2%.

In the polls currently taken in the month before E Day, we are averaging 48.91%. The polls that dragged the mean down in the final month of polling in the previous two elections (the ones taken in the final two weeks), have not been taken yet.

What does this mean?

The polls may go down. We may lose support. E Day could be worse.

If we expect previous trends to repeat themselves, we are on track for an MMP, nail-biting, screaming-at-the-tv, 1 seat majority, hum-dinger. . .

The election result is very, very unlikely to be as blue as the polls are painting it.

An outright majority was very rare under First Past the Post. It hasn’t happened yet under MMP and is very unlikely to this year.

The trend for Labour is downwards but if National’s vote drops much below the polls, we might not get a John Key- led government and it could be possible for David Cunliffe to cobble together a coalition with the collection of mis-matched parties on the far left.


Stronger voice for Maori with National

September 8, 2014

Helen Clark called the Maori Party the last cab off the rank.

That comment soured relationships between Labour and the Maori Party.

John Key recognised the mana of co-leaders Tariana Turia, Pita Sharples and their party by inviting them into coalition in 2008 and 2011 even though he could have governed without them.

Although it voted with  National for confidence and supply the Maori party often voted against it on other legislation and it has said it could support either a National or Labour government.

But David Cunliffe isn’t prepared to offer them that opportunity:

. . . Speaking to Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking this morning, Mr Cunliffe said he intended to only include the Green Party and NZ First in any government.

Asked if he was also ruling out the Maori Party, he said he would possibly talk to Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell after the election but “I just won’t have them in Government.”

He did not believe Mr Flavell would opt to side with Labour if it was in a kingmaker position, despite Mr Flavell saying they were open to working with either side and would take their lead from what Maori voters wanted.

“People need to know before the election that a vote for the Maori Party is a vote for the National Party.” . . .

This is the man who earlier in the year was doing a Winston Peters in yeah-nahing over whether he’d work with Internet Mana because it was up to voters to decide.

Now he’s ruling out the much more moderate Maori Party.

He’s probably gambling that this will hurt the Maori Party but the message he’s sending Maori is that they’ll have a much stronger voice and more influence with a National-led government.

Tama Iti has already got that message:

. . .  Iti said he had always supported the Maori Party and had decided to stand to boost the party’s support and because he endorsed the work it had done in government.

“Not very long ago I wouldn’t have thought about it but I see there’s more achievement…with National in terms of the treaty settlements so we have come a long way,” he said.

Having a Maori voice in power had led to gains in areas such as health and social services for Maori and it was important for Maori “to be sitting on the table rather than across the road throwing rocks at each other”. . .

Labour took the Maori seats for granted for years and now it’s ruling the Maori party out of any government it would lead.


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