Political story of the day

June 16, 2014

A round-up of political stories while Politics Daily is taking a break seemed  like a good idea but it is taking too much time.

Instead, I’ll feature a political story of the day and welcome you to add others.

My pick for today is  Donghua Liu’s donation to Labour.

Party secretary Tim Barnett has responded with this media release:

In response to media reports, Party staff have looked through the 2007 records today, and found no record of donations in the name of Donghua Liu.

That raises several questions:

Was there any record of a $15,000 donation under any other name, including anonymous?

If so was it declared?

If there is no record why would a party source say there had been a donation?

Has anyone asked Liu if he paid and if he did how much and how – cash, cheque, internet banking . . . ?


Labour’s listing

May 23, 2014

Labour MP Ruth Dyson is standing for the Port Hills electorate but isn’t seeking a place on her party’s list.

Dyson has dropped down the Labour Party rankings in a series of reshuffles, from No 5 under former leader Phil Goff in 2011, to recently being demoted by David Cunliffe to 28 (out of 34), behind the likes of Kelvin Davis.

Davis is not yet even an MP but will return to the Capital when Shane Jones leaves Parliament.

Barnett said it was “not unusual” for MPs not to chase list placings. . . .

He was never on the list when he was an MP and Lianne Dalziel didn’t seek a list place three years ago. Nor did Damien O’Connor who objected to the process being run by selection process run by “self-serving unionists and a gaggle of gays”.

Labour’s candidate in Napier, Stuart Nash isn’t seeking a list place this time either.

Dyson’s move was announced at a regional list selection meeting in Christchurch on Sunday, which Barnett said was “relaxed”. He believed the move was tactical, with Port Hills always a tightly contested seat.

“It’s not unusual for somebody in a seat which is going to be a pretty tight, hard race to focus entirely on being an electorate candidate,” Barnett said.

“My sense [speaking to Dyson] was the consideration was entirely about the electorate . . . It’s always been a tight seat for the 20 years that she’s been there; it’s the nature of that part of the city.” . . .

National won the party vote in the seat at the last election and boundary changes have made it far more marginal.

But under MMP, it is never entirely about the electorate.

Electorate votes get a candidate into parliament but it’s the list vote which gets a party into government.

Opting off the list can send a message to voters that if they want the candidate, they have to give them their electorate vote.

But this also reinforces the message that all’s not well on the not so good ship Labour, that candidates have no confidence in the list ranking process and emphasises the lack of unity in the party and caucus.

The nautical definition of listingis a tendency for a boat to tilt or lean to one side owing to an unstable load or ballast.

If it lists too far it can start losing cargo and eventually tip over.

Labour’s lurch to the left could be described as listing to port which ought to please Dyson who is one of its more left-wing MPs but she has decided to jump overboard from the list.

It could just be a message for voters to support her with their electorate votes. It could also be showing she doesn’t trust her party to give her the support she’s seeking from voters.


Selected on merit?

December 14, 2013

The Labour Party is selecting candidates for several electorates this weekend.

The Gore Ensign reports the Clutha Southland candidate will be selected by a panel of senior labour Party representatives and some local members.

There is only one candidate for that position and while party secretary Tim Barnett wouldn’t confirm this, it is thought to be a health researcher Elizabeth Craig.

This is a very blue seat and even though incumbent MP Bill English isn’t standing again, odds heavily favour the National Party candidate, whoever s/he will be.

Because of that it’s unlikely there was much competition for the Labour candidacy.

Other seats will be more hotly contested and because of the party’s female quota there will be a question over any women selected – did they get there on merit?

Are they there because they will be the best candidates or because they are women?

That won’t always be the same thing.

Of course candidates – men and women – aren’t always the best people, but that’s not usually a result of a policy determined to select anyone but the best.

And the policy raises another question – does it comply with electoral law which requires candidates to be selected by democratic processes?


How democratic is Labour’s selection process?

August 25, 2013

Labour’s change of rules for leadership contests gives 40% weighting to its caucus, 40% to members and 20% to affiliated unions.

Tim Barnett was interviewed on the radio on Friday and said he’d have two votes – one as a party member and one as a union member.

One man two votes – how democratic is that?

If the caucus and members are evenly divided over different candidates, the one the unions back will win.

How democratic is that?Regardless of the vote, the leader isn’t very secure.The NBR gave a lay guide to Labour’s rules:

A leadership vote will happen if there is a vacancy for the position, if it is requested by a simple majority of caucus at any time, or if the Leader fails to obtain the support of 60%-plus-one of the Caucus in a confidence vote held within three months of a general election.

That vote will have the 40, 40, 20 split between caucus, members and unions.

How democratic is that?


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