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Assessing Labour’s frontbench

Written By: - Date published: 11:29 am, November 4th, 2012 - 166 comments
Categories: labour - Tags:

The failure of Labour to fire isn’t limited to the leadership team. A big part of Labour’s front bench simply aren’t doing their job.

I had to ask a mate last week who the health spokesperson was. I actually couldn’t remember. It’s indicative of what a poor job these guys are doing.

They should be standing up for our well-being, giving the less well off a voice, and most of all putting the knife into this truly hideous Tory government. But most of them are floundering.

Comparing them to the winning Labour team in 1999 really hammers home how awful our guys today are. I pitted each of the frontbenchers today against their 1999 equivalents. Out of the 9, only 2 of the 2012 crop come out on top. And only 3 (Parker, Cunliffe, Cosgrove) have done the job they’ve been put there to do.

Leader
David Shearer (2012) vs Helen Clark (1999)

No contest. Whatsoever. None. Clark looked like the next Prime Minister. Shearer’s minders wouldn’t even let him front on Q+A this morning for fear he would be shown up by Norman.

Deputy Leader
Grant Robertson (2012) vs Michael Cullen (1999)

Grant is better than his leader. Without a doubt. But he just doesn’t shape up compared to Cullen. While Cullen gave excellent support to Clark, oversaw a brilliant house strategy, and kept on top of every portfolio he was ever given (finance, tertiary education, attorney-general, acc etc.) Robertson has failed to fire. His strategic genius has put Labour in the shit they’re in now, and Labour are virtually invisible in the Tertiary Education and Environment space.

Finance
David Parker (2012) vs Michael Cullen (1999)

Parker has been one of the better performers, but has a way to go before ranking with Cullen. Tough competition though. Not ruling out that he may equal Cullen as he continues to develop. Sharp as a knife, he is the party’s thinker and, while he comes across nerdy, his careful work is helping to build Labour’s economic credibility and undermine National’s. Very well liked and promising, and could do wonders if he learns the killer instinct.

Social Welfare
Jacinda Ardern (2012) vs Steve Maharey (1999)

Maharey was a brilliant advocate and really held the government to account. Remember Christine Rankin hiring a plane for WINZ executives to visit an exclusive Taupo resort? Maharey uncovered it. Ardern on the other hand has been invisible, even after being gifted the MSD privacy uncovered by Keith Ng the Greens outshone Labour. She does not deserve the portfolio nor being put at number 4. New Zealand’s most vulnerable deserve better.

Economic Development
David Cunliffe (2012) vs Pete Hodgson (1999)

This is a tough contest. Like Parker, Cunliffe is one of the front benches’ performers. Articulate and makes a lot of headlines. Clearly hates what the Tories are doing to the country, and it shows in his work. His ability to bring economics into human terms and speak with vision and passion nicely compliments Parker to form a strong economic team when it’s given the chance. While Pete was also an incredibly effective opposition MP and knew his stuff, Cunliffe edges Pete out in the public performance stakes. Cunliffe clearly still has leadership potential.

SOEs (Commerce)
Clayton Cosgrove (2012) vs Paul Swain (1999)

I liked Paul Swain. He was a well spoken and hearty politician. But Clayton is at least his equal and has the potential to be better. He’s done an excellent job as SOEs spokesperson and keeping Labour in the middle of the campaign. Been a bit quiet lately, but bound to turn up again soon. Clayton along with Parker and Cunliffe make up the only performers our front bench has.

Foreign Affairs
Phil Goff (2012) vs Phil Goff (1999)

I’d have to go with 1999 Phil. He’s got his whole career in front of him.

Health
Maryan Street (2012) vs Annette King (1999)

While now past her use-by date, 1999 Annette was a brilliant opposition politician. While no one even knows who Maryan Street is, in 1999 Annette was ripping Wyatt Creech to shreds. Barely a day went by without health making the news and Annette always stood strong against good healthcare for only the rich. Street on the other hand is awful. She must go.

Education
Nanaia Mahuta (2012) vs Trevor Mallard (1999)

Trevor used to be good. Bloody good. This really is no contest. Nanaia hasn’t performed. Putting out a press release after getting hints she might be dumped doesn’t cut it. She ought to be slaying Parata. To be fair she’d probably beat 2012 Mallard. But how hard is that? Yesterday, Mallard thought it would be a good idea for a senior Labour MP, him, to publicly attack the head of Treasury after he made comments widely welcomed as open-minded and turning away from dry neoliberalism. At least Nanaia keeps her mouth shut rather than putting her foot in it.

166 comments on “Assessing Labour’s frontbench”

  1. Georgy 1

    Shearer has to go.

    Cunliffe has to take oer leadership.

    Possibly Hipkins as Deputy – fresh, energetic, focused.

  2. Chalupa Batman 2

    Serious question here, Labour seems to have a history of undermining leaders for example Shearer, Goff, Moore etc etc

    Any idea why?

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      Ask Boag and Shipley, she wrote the script for undermining leaders.

    • weka 2.2

      “Serious question here”
       
      Ha, ha, nice one Chalupa.

    • Zetetic 2.3

      Shearer, goff and moore were all bad leaders. Labour leaders who are a hindrance to the left winning should be undermined

      • Chalupa Batman 2.3.1

        Goff just about won and wasn’t there only a seat or two in it for Moore?

        Had Labours MPs got in behind their leaders they both would have won (probably) so does that say anything about Labour?

    • mac1 2.4

      I suspect that the undermining of Shearer on the Standard lately is an example of the Left eating its own apart from Hooton, Fisiani and other obvious nactoids who have their own agenda. But I also suspect that many of these left-wing comment makers are not coming from the Labour camp but from other places on the Left, which does call into question their motivation for attacking Labour leadership.

      I have seen attacks which called Shearer corrupt, inept and bumbling or a pawn of others-but not all three at once- which does call into question at least two of those three calls.

      The problem with such attacks for someone like me who is very interested in the quick access back into power of a centre-left government, is that firstly it doesn’t help that cause but at the moment also, through the nature of anonymity of authors (which I do agree with btw), we don’t get a feel for the writer’s point of view such as I would have as a long time student of history in being able to take into account an author’s particular and personal bias.

      I understand, I think, where Hooton and Fisiani are coming from- but most of the left-leaning commentators are not clear as to whether, for example, they are currently labour voters, supporters or activists and where they sit within the Labour ‘family’ or whether they are old school marxist/ hard left people, or Greens of what ever persuasion as that is a pretty broad church as well.

      What I guess I am asking is whether Labour has an internal division being voiced here, or whether it is a left voice which is disappointed either with Labour itself, or with certain Labour politicians, or in competition with Labour for the Left vote.

      • karol 2.4.1

        Planty of the criticisms of Shearer are from Labour Party members.
         
        For myself – I have criticisms of the leadership team in Labour, and some in the Greens (not keen on the way it’s become all about Russel Norman.
         
        Saying what party people currently vote for is no guide.  For myself, I’m not tribally attached to Labour.  I vote for whichever party or candidate
        comes closest to my left wing views. 
         
        I voted Labour in the past, but stopped during the Clark years because I was unhappy with some of their policies – especially the Foreshore and Seabed issue.  Gave my party vote to Greens ever since.   I am unlikely to vote for them until they turn their backs on neoliberalism.  And I’ll stop voting Greens if they become more centrist and/or more neoliberal than Labour is now.
         
        Leaves only Mana after that.

        But right now the NZ left needs Labour to step up.

      • AmaKiwi 2.4.2

        For your information, I am a party member, active in my local LEC, and a serious contributor to the Labour Party (given my income bracket). I delivered my first campaign leaflets when I was 14. I’ve been doing it ever since.

        People vote for personalities. Shearer does NOT fire up a crowd. He’s making two speeches at this month’s Labour annual conference. I’ll be evaluating the audience reaction more than his (or Robertson’s) words.

        We need a vote winner. End of story.

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    Mr Valley. Nice work dude.

  4. Stephen Doyle 4

    I take your point Michael, but a more useful idea would have been to put them up against the current ministers. Although most of them would still be invisible. As for Shearer not being on Q&A this morning, he is not the party’s finance spokesman, Norman is.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      As for Shearer not being on Q&A this morning, he is not the party’s finance spokesman, Norman is.

      Gotta love it.

    • Zetetic 4.2

      It’s true that shearer isn’t finance spokesperson but irrelevant. He was invited. In case you missed it, half the interview was on coalition deals

  5. Selwyn 5

    Labour in 1999 had had three hard years after the 1996 loss of developing solution-based politics, especially in the social portfolio areas. Every spokesperson was hungry for success, exposing the then government’s failures, demonstrating how it impacted on real people, positioning to be true advocates for the thousands of negatively affected people, and demanding their solutions be implemented without haste. There was a true Cabinet in Waiting culture emanating from the party, and its leadership and economic thinking was well advanced and connecting to the trending mindset of the nation.

    Times have changed, but the red-green voting bloc is cementing as an alternative, especially in the Cunliffe, Parker, Norman camp. Add to this NZ First’s long tradition of front-footing concerns about this country’s current account deficit and we have an opposition bloc that is beginning to hit its stride. The National-led Government is boxed into arguing its status quo policies are adequate, where clearly even it’s manufacturing/export stakeholder groups disagree with the Finance Minister’s line.

    For my five cents work, Labour’s caucus needs to bite the bullet and resolve its leadership woes. A test of its resolve in this area would be David Cunliffe joined by David Parker in a leader/deputy leader run. Nania Mahuta was never going to do it for Cunliffe last year. And the current leader/deputy leader arrangement is not building that essential front-bench team that can convince a nation that they are sound, competent, in possession of policies that solve the real problems that face real New Zealanders. What is needed is a team that is obviously hungry for not just an election success, but to win every debate, every day, on every issue, and to present as capable of running the country not just for one term, but for three.

    The writer of this piece is correct, in 1999 Labour was connecting on all the right points. Even it’s second bench MPs were household names. Today’s Labour MPs have no time to wait, either they inject into their own performance the enthusiasm and skill shown by Cunliffe and Parker in the finance/economic roles – or they move out of the way so someone else can.

    Sorry about the long write, but it is as simple as that.

  6. Anne 6

    His ability to bring economics into human terms and speak with vision and passion nicely compliments Parker to form a strong economic team when it’s given the chance.

    Couldn’t agree more. The problem seems to be that the ABC club – or what remains of it – are so immersed in their jeolousy-based dislike of Cunliffe that they won’t give a Parker/Cunliffe economic team a chance.

    I fear this group still wield too much influence inside caucus and for as long as it continues, nothing much is going to improve.

    • PlanetOrphan 6.1

      Why can’t a Party have 2 leaders?

      • Chalupa Batman 6.1.1

        Naah that’d be a joke…

      • ak 6.1.2

        Akshilly, Planet, one inordinately perceptive and intelligent commenter on this very site suggested a year ago that a Shearer/Cunliffe co-leadership for a year followed by a popular (membership) vote right now would have a) kept the media enthralled, b) kept the Davids focussed, and c) avoided the sort of cancerous infighting that has sure as eggs festered and will not be expunged even if Cunners is elevated – unless and only unless, all who purport to support Labour and its ideals swear to unite totally behind whomever is elected leader and the entire parliamentary team, and hold any criticism from now right through until 2014.

        Could happen. But Hooters and the media blowfish, and gullibility on our part, will probably see that it doesn’t.

    • Olwyn 6.2

      For similar reasons, one must be cautious about being too condemnatory of front bench members who seem to be under-performing. If you are a spokesperson in an area such as welfare, health or education, it is very hard to be a vigorous one if the “top team,” whoever they are, have deemed it imprudent to make any concrete promises or reveal socialist leanings. It is all very well to condemn such people as “careerists” but they are under the obligations of collective responsibility, and must do the best they can within the given parameters.

      The big question for me is, who presently sets the Labour Party’s direction? It is clearly not the leader, who forms the “face” of a crypto-centrist direction, and it cannot solely be Trevor Mallard.

  7. PlanetOrphan 7

    “Killer Instinct” = Conviction of belief and solid thought behind it.
    They all should be the “Leaders” of their given portfolio …..

  8. Ad 8

    Let’s try this then:

    PM
    Key V Bolger. Key is stumbling and pulling the team down a bit now. But still very popular for doing far less than Shipley or Bolger. But needs another term to really challenge the Best Prime Minister ranks with any seriousness. And Bolger brought in MMP against his own political interests.
    Result: Bolger

    Finance
    English V Birch or Richardson. English Far more stable than Richardson, and has found that fine sweetspot polling balance between cutbacks and balancing the books. Birch seriously needed to step in after Ruthanasia, but she had the big MO after the BNZ debacle. But Birch got to make all the major moves behind the scene for decades in the Nat war room, from Think Big on.
    Result: Birch

    Foreign Affairs
    McCully V McKinnon. Rack it up: the UN Framework on Climate Change, ratified Kyoto, Major Pacific Forum moves. Versus the RWC sugar rush. No contest.
    Result: McKinnon

    Attorney General
    Doug Graham V Finlayson.
    Both have racked a slew of Treaty settlements. Can’t count Graham’s directorship debacle as it was later. Both patrician asses. But Graham broke the back of the big settlements, and delivered the Human Rights Act.
    Result: Graham

    Health.
    Creech V Ryall. Creech was seduced / crushed by Birch and Richardson, and made a mess of corporatising hospitals into CHE’s. Ryall has been the first minister ever to take health off the political radar, barring minor outbreaks.
    Result: Ryall.

    So far the oldies have it apart from Health.

  9. Ed 9

    At 2 above, the question was asked “Serious question here, Labour seems to have a history of undermining leaders for example Shearer, Goff, Moore etc etc ”

    One possibility is that it is easier to criticise your own for not doing precisely what you want than to criticise the government. The Left is very open with discussion of options, possibilities, and of advice. National supporters are not so vocal – “Deliver the money” seems to be enough. Certainly no Nat supporter would ever vilify Key as the left vilify Shearer . .

    Looking for the positive, the left is more inclined to be inclusive, and to seek consensus through discussion. Shearers style is to be more consultative, more ‘chairman of the board’, but that is tough to get through to media – but get through it must. National embrace “the leader is everything” line which is certainly easier for the press to handle – they love a presidential fight, particularly if it can be spun as being neck to neck. The price of National’s slide of popularity is greater criticism of Labour.

    In some cases, National have been politically very good – at papering over the cracks. But are “man for man the shtronger team”? I guess that will have to wait for a later post.

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      In some cases, National have been politically very good – at papering over the cracks. But are “man for man the shtronger team”? I guess that will have to wait for a later post.

      My blue contact in a very wealthy part of Auckland says it has recently been made clear, from the top of the National Party hierarchy, that public dissent against the Government will result in loss of party membership. No if’s, no buts.

      • alex 9.1.1

        That would make sense, given the structure of the National Party. It exists to take and hold power at all costs, partly from a historical perspective to keep any sense of Socialism out and partly because they genuinely think that they are the smartest and best citizens, and should be in control accordingly. As a party dedicated to the status quo, why would they tolerate members rocking the boat?

  10. fisiani 10

    Oh Ye of little faith. Labour can still use the charisma and modesty of Cunliffe. The strategic genius of Grant (He polished up the handles) Robertson. The scalping savviness of Trevor Mallard. the withering oratory of Nanaia Mahuta and the eloquence of Parekura Horomia. With all this abundance of talent they can easily outshine Key, English, Joyce and Ryall

  11. Matthew Hooton 11

    Your analysis of the current Labour team is very similar to mine a month or so ago – see http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/labours-front-bench-report-card-mh-130218

    Although I have revised my view re Cunliffe a bit since then – see http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/will-grant-robertson-get-chop-lf-131298

    The reason for the revision was senior Labour sources calling me off the record about the initial report card and saying I was a month or two behind events.

    • IrishBill 11.1

      You’re always amusing when you try to bluff about your “contacts” in the left Matthew. “senior Labour sources”. Lol.

    • fender 11.2

      Hope Mike Williams is on RNZ to sweep your dribble into the gutter where it belongs this week, you may be able to bully Josie Pagani but Mike is able to cut you down as required.

      • hush minx 11.2.1

        Hey IB, i hear Trevor gets around all over the place…although they might have to reconsider using him in that ‘sources’ role as his credibility is not what it once was-as this post wisely points out!

    • @ Matthew Hooton,

      Since when did PR guys for right-wing parties become political analysts of left-wing parties?

      How come the media has degenerated so much since this government was voted in?

      Do you not see the importance of non-biassed information being imparted to the general public?

      Do you support this move of Government taking over the media and propagating biassed propaganda in the way it is occurring currently?

      What this “right-wing” Government is doing to the media seems like what fear-mongerers usually conjure in peoples’ minds to erroneously make them believe “socialist types” will do to the media.

    • Colonial Viper 11.4

      Matthew…your analysis was actually pretty much spot on…except for the invisible -3 penalty you gave Cunliffe (for being Cunliffe) of course, but glad to see that you acknowledged him as a top performer.

    • Saarbo 11.5

      Clearly Matthew Hooten is shit scared of David Cunliffe becoming leader of Labour. The fact is if Labour is led by an ex Boston Consulting Group Senior Consultant and Parker as Deputy (an ex Bio Tech entrepreneur), these two have the potential to persuade a large number of current National voters over to Labour. Particularly manufacturers in the export sector and other business people who are really struggling under Joyce’s do f%#* all strategy. Hooten is desperate to ensure Cunliffe doesn’t become leader of Labour, I’m always interested what strategy he is going to use next.

      • Rhinocrates 11.5.2

        Clearly Matthew Hooten is shit scared of David Cunliffe becoming leader of Labour.

        Yep, that’s obvious alright. The poor bastard just can’t help himself. It’s funny seeing fundamentally… ah, “average” people try to pretend that they’re cunning and subtle. I had an employer once who had a Ruby Wax costume and liked to pretend that she was witty (she wasn’t). I wonder if Hooters dresses up as Blackadder when he’s alone?

        That “reasonable” tone is just Hooters trying to build his brand as “respected commentator” by being mealy mouthed and link-whoring to his own work. Look at what he doesn’t say (any similar criticism of his masters), or where he comes out “on balance”.

        senior Labour sources calling me off the record

        Ooh! He’s so important! Important People talk to him, just like he was Woodward and Bernstein rolled into one! Golly!

        Or maybe he’s just hearing voices – they have medication for that you know. They’re also conveniently off the record I see, so he doesn’t have to substantiate his fantasies or lies.

        I really have no idea who he thinks he’s fooling. Himself, maybe. Possibly his clients.

        • blue leopard 11.5.2.1

          Well sadly, he maybe fooling New Zealanders who aren’t aware that he is simply a paid mouthpiece for wealthy right wing clients, people who mistake him the political analyst he is fraudulently posing as, although I guess a lot of people will see right through him, he’s not very subtle.

        • Bill 11.5.2.2

          I wonder if Hooters dresses up as Blackadder…

          Baldrick.

    • Matthew Hooton’s articles read like the made-up tales of fiction motivated by self interest that they are.

      Question:

      Matthew Hooton has no financial self interest that would conflict with him being a non-biassed voice in describing matters going on in the NZ political sphere.

      True or False?

      Hint: http://www.exceltium.com/where/index.html

      • Rhinocrates 11.6.1

        It’s all self-promotion… I’m not sure that he’s even trying to influence the soft left anymore, just his client base on the right who might want him as a shill.

        I wonder how comfortable he feels about Kathryn Ryan’s standard introduction of him as being “from the right” on Nine to Noon, because that’s just too obvious. He covets a brand as an “independent commentator” because that makes him more marketable as a spin doctor to the right.

        On the other hand, he might find himself appealing as an “enabler” like many shock jocks – that is, someone who says or dog-whistles things that people know aren’t really acceptable in civilised company, but want to hear someone else say first so that they can repeat it. He’s just a bit slicker than Leighton Smith or Cameron Slater, but selling himself to the same market and offering a more “respectable” veneer.

        Now, possibly Hooters, if he had the stamina (generally he doesn’t, being a drive-by shooter, mostly), might try to say that I seem “obsessed”, and he’d be right – I am. People like him are a cancer on democracy because democracy depends on an informed populace and as a spin doctor, he actively tries to poison the well of knowledge. Moreover he does it for personal gain.

        A persistent hatred of such slime is no flaw.

        • Rhinocrates 11.6.1.1

          By the way, if anyone still might think that Hooters is a halfway classy guy, check out this quote:

          http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2006/07/quote_of_the_week_2.html

          Yes folks, the death of a baby is just an opportunity for that sack of shit to try to score a cheap political point.

          Proud of your wit, your rhetoric Hooters? Your good taste? Does that combine the gravitas of Edward R. Murrow with the wit of Oscar Wilde? Personally, I think that it tends to undermine all that “reasonable, independent commentator” shit you’re peddling.

          • weka 11.6.1.1.1

            To save people the trip…

            “Ethical counselling from the Labour Party is like a parenting course from the Kahui family”

            – Matthew Hooton on Nine to Noon yesterday.

            That makes me feel sick.

          • blue leopard 11.6.1.1.2

            “People like him are a cancer on democracy because democracy depends on an informed populace and as a spin doctor, he actively tries to poison the well of knowledge. Moreover he does it for personal gain.” ~Rhinocrates
            ++1 Democracy depends on an informed populace, not a disinformed one :(

  12. ianmac 12

    Well done Michael Valley.
    When are we going to assess the value of National’s Front Bench?

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      Well, according to free market rules, let’s put them on TradeMe and see how much we can get to them. Free to a good home?

  13. gobsmacked 13

    It’s not just about talent and performance. It goes deeper than that … Motivation.

    Look at the 1999 team. Every single one of those MPs was (a) desperate to win the next election, and (b) hoping to serve at least two subsequent terms in government. (Which they did).

    Whatever differences they had (ideology, personality, etc), they had one common goal. And a similar time-frame ahead of them.

    Whereas today, there are those ready for one more term before retirement, and those ready for one more term in opposition before winning. They don’t work as a team because they have different goals.

    Politics isn’t complicated. People unite and work hard to win, when they really want to. Get a team who are hungry to win – and Heather Simpson to herd them! – and Labour would be transformed.

  14. kea 14

    I enjoyed reading Nick Hager speech at the Bruce Jesson Foundation annual lecture in Auckland in which he describes the changes in the NZ political scene.

    He describes the way politics in NZ has changed ..

    “Another legacy of those years is more insidious. When I became active in politics in my teens and twenties, many of the most active people around me were public servants, teachers, scientists: people who were well informed and motivated about public issues. They would finish their work as suitably neutral public servants or whatever and then go to a political meeting as a citizen. But this has changed. Today many public servants believe they are not allowed or that somehow it may hurt their job to be involved in politics. The public service code guarantees their rights as citizens, but other more or less subtle messages have discouraged or frightened most of them. It is the same with scientists and other professionals. Too many ordinary people also feel uncomfortable about sticking their heads up in politics, wondering if it might hurt their job or maybe stop them getting a visa when they travel overseas. None of this should be happening for people in a democratic country.

    The result has been a loss of people from democratic politics at exactly the same time when political activism by paid corporate spokespeople, lobbyists and PR people has never been so vigorous. These shifts naturally affect the types of people seen and heard most often in the news and politics, which in turn directly affects what happens and what is possible in politics. If a new social or economic policy is announced and most people who comment ridicule it, it is much less likely ever to be implemented. If it is welcomed and discussed positively, it it far more likely to happen. ”

    http://www.brucejesson.com/?p=394

    On that basis I would question the validity of comparing today’s MP’s with those of the past.

    Hang in there, times are changing.

  15. tamati 15

    David Clark would be great on the front bench. Tertiary Education or MOBI perhaps?

    Does anyone know what faction he’s aligned with?

    • alex 15.1

      I think your last sentence just hit the nail on the head as to why Labour of 2012 isn’t ready to take back the government.

      • hush minx 15.1.1

        My understanding is that he’s on the shearer side of the fence – but perhaps one of the Dunedin locals could fill us in?

      • hush minx 15.1.2

        I’ve heard he supported shearer(bought over via Grant) but there are a few Dunedinites who write and comment here who may be able to confirm?

  16. karol 16

    Where have all the women gone?  Labour is becoming as masculine-centred as National – maybe even more so?
     
    Partly this has to do with the decreas in numbers at last election.  But I also think the playing field has been shifted by NAct and to their benefit.  It’s all become about scoring king hits in the house and getting dramatic media attention (from pundits also impressed by the NAct approach: an approach of it’s a score if you get away with it, no matter how irrational or off target).
     
    Annette King has done solid work on housing.  I have seen Maryan Street talking live, during the last election campaign. She came across as knowledable, principled and with some heart.  I have seen a lot of Clare Curran’s stuff on public broadcasting – a campaign dear to my heart, and I’m glad she has been busy on that case.  Leanne Dalzielle, from where I’m sitting in Auckland, also seems to sterling work on Christchurch issues and brought stuff to the media & public’s attention that would have otherwise been swept aside.
     
    But most of all, Sue Moroney needs re-instatement to a more prominent position in the party. Deputy leader?  She’s an engaging and clued-up speaker, and did excellent work on education during the last parliamentary term.  She could carry the public with her.
     
    Jacinda Ardern is a disappointment. – too tied up with Team Robertson for her own good.
     
    The pushing aside of women, who tend to be strongly focused on social issues in favour of the macho business of economics, is also happening in the Greens.  The social issues is where the principles and heart of politics lie as far as I’m concerned.
     
    It’s not just Labour that’s lost its way.  It’s parties of the ‘left’ who are letting themselves get drawn into neoliberal rulz, as played by our unprincipled PM and his government.
     
    Wrong Way – go back!
     
     

    • weka 16.1

      Well said Karol.

      • Colonial Viper 16.1.1

        I wouldn’t agree that caucus is becoming “more masculine centred” as such. It simply looks to me that virtually every Labour MP’s public profile has diminished. And that as a whole, Labour has simply gone quiet on both economic, and social issues.

        The pushing aside of women, who tend to be strongly focused on social issues in favour of the macho business of economics, is also happening in the Greens.

        But who are you suggesting is doing the “pushing aside”? The Leader and Deputy are the only ones who might be able to do that in Labour.

        In general, the stake has to be put into the heart of neoliberalism. Right now. Because if it isn’t, Education and Health policy are simply going to be coping with the societal symptoms of social inequality and poverty for years to come.

        • karol 16.1.1.1

          But who are you suggesting is doing the “pushing aside”? The Leader and Deputy are the only ones who might be able to do that in Labour.
           
          Yes, that is where the blame should lie as the most immediate cause.  For trying to play it in the NAct terms.
           
          In general, the stake has to be put into the heart of neoliberalism.
           
          This is where the ultimate blame lies, in my view….. probably has some explaining, but I have a post on it playing around in my head.

          • Colonial Viper 16.1.1.1.1

            Yep. Neoliberalism smashed solidarity, undermined towns, communities and neighbourhoods, made it difficult for families to spend time together and bond, divided workers against each other, pushed an ethos of individualism above all else.

            In the case where all these elements of society are weakened or deleted, withdrawing support for social causes and taking away the commons is simple; everyone is too hurt or weak to fight back effectively, and many have already forgotten why they were important to start with.

            • karol 16.1.1.1.1.1

              Agree, CV.
               
              Neoliberalism has also made life about money – knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.  And it’s not just about individualism, but competition.
               
              All that ultimately works against a the majority of women, IMO, although some thrive on competing as an individual woman in a man’s world.

            • RedLogix 16.1.1.1.1.2

              Could not agree with you both more. And what you are saying can be read in context with Chris Trotter’s latest:

              But in 1951 that country was brutally assaulted by its government. Twenty thousand of its most independent citizens were subjected to months of sustained institutional violence. Their compatriots froze in horror. For the next three decades fear and appeasement of the government was ingrained in a whole generation of New Zealanders.

              And when their children reached adulthood the state attacked again. Between 1981 and 1991 a series of savage blows against the progressive legacy of the 1930s and 40s sent New Zealanders reeling. Parties and politicians they had trusted and supported their whole lives suddenly turned on them. Stripped of their jobs; robbed of their security; a significant fraction of the nation went into political shock.

              Like their parents before them, a new generation of traumatised New Zealanders were encouraged to regard the state as something to be feared and distrusted. Like so many battered wives, they learned to keep their heads down and their mouths shut. They learned the importance of reading the moods of their violent masters; of anticipating their violent rages; of keeping clear of their fists.

              And read in conjunction too with Nicky Hagar’s lecture that makes it clear how many people are simply reluctant to be seen to be political. Much too risky in a small nation where the strings that control income, career and success are gripped by a small clique of Tory’s quite willing to give them a vicious little tug when necessary to protect their privilege.

              • karol

                To some extent I agree with Trotter.  However, as I said in my post on Sugarbags, and the subsequent discussion, I think the appeasement of those anti-union and anti-welfare began under the Fraser Labour government.    The population were already primed by the time National took power in 1949, and really took it where they wanted to go.
                 
                So the left needs to re-group – establish truly left values and stand by them.

                • RedLogix

                  Re-group? It’s been asked before, but is the Labour Party as we know it capable of re-shaping itself in this way?

                  For while I’ve often said that Labour can point to a long and proud heritage, it seems to me that the Greens are the future of the left.

                  (I’m sure Trotter would agree with you about the Fraser govt; I recall him writing on exactly that topic some years ago.)

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    It’s been asked before, but is the Labour Party as we know it capable of re-shaping itself in this way?

                    No, they’ve shifted too far to the right. A few within Labour are probably still of the left but Labour as a group is not and is incapable of shifting back to the left. People joining Labour today will be joining because of what Labour is now and not what it used to be.

                    If you want a truly left party then look for another one.

              • Anne

                Chris Trotter’s resume – as reported by Redlogix – could not be more correct.

                I am of the same generation as Trotter and, as a small child, I can remember witnessing my father’s fury at what was being done to the Watersiders. No, he wasn’t a Watersider but he understood their predicament. From that time on he hated Syd Holland and the National Party with a passion. Indeed, it prompted him to join the Labour Party.

                And I was also one of their children who were attacked again in the 1980s and 1990s. In my case, the story had some extra twists and turns (involving a sensitive area of government) and when I deem it safe to do so, I intend to tell the story.

                • Anne

                  To be more precise that ‘sensitive area’ involved the Air Force. Very interesting how they were responding to the anti-nuclear legislation of the 4th Labour govt. Not happy chappies. :)

          • Wayne 16.1.1.1.2

            Part of Labour’s problem is constantly referring to NACT or NAct. It is simply not believable. Middle New Zealand simply does not believe the Nats are dictated to by ACT or indeed do much to accommodate them. Assets sales done with 49% instead of the whole is a classic Nat way of approaching an issue. The policy is designed to be a middle way through an issue. It is how Nats instinctively think about the options. So long as you characterise the current Govt as if it is in thrall of ACt you will keep chasing phantoms.

            • Colonial Viper 16.1.1.1.2.1

              What would happen to the current Government if they split from ACT, Wayne?

              Would the Government fall, causing a snap election to be announced that very same week?

            • McFlock 16.1.1.1.2.2

              Quite so. It sounds so much better if National aren’t beholden to ACT, they just feel comfortable sharing the Cabinet table with John Banks.

              • Wayne

                And do you see the Nats being directed by John Banks. Yes ACT has charter schools and that is about it. Act has no choice but to go along with National, but if you want to believe that Act directs National, well thats your view.

                • McFlock

                  lol
                  Do you see the nats keeping banks out of loyalty or friendship? They need him to enable asset sales and the assault on workers, which are areas of mutual agreements. “NACT” is a very apt term. 

                • gobsmacked

                  @Wayne

                  Complete this sentence …

                  “John Banks is still a Minister because …”

                  1) Key believes Banks.

                  2) Key needs Banks.

                  I choose 2). How about you?

            • Draco T Bastard 16.1.1.1.2.3

              I don’t characterise National as in thrall of Act – I point out that there’s no difference between the two which is why National were able to parachute Don and John into the leadership positions of Act without too many ripples.

    • Rhinocrates 16.2

      “Who defines the terms wins the argument” as a supposedly ancient Chinese proverb has it. Even if… you know, ah… they might be – or might not be… I mean Labour… they could be… Labour that is – or not, if that appeals to other people, people who won’t vote Labour – we want them, ah, I mean people who didn’t vote Labour matter more than people who would vote Labour, um… “Labour” is a title, but you needn’t follow that in itself, I mean, if you believe in… believe in good things… whether you’re L- ah, maybe I don’t mean to say… that name, that party… I mean… should we really be ashamed of the label… it’s only a label, some use it… “National-Lite”? People – some people (others have other ideas) say that I’m not, but I might be… National Lite… I mean, if I make an assertion, does it matter if I say “National”? We’re just nicer – isn’t that enough?

      OK, sorry, back on track: if “Labour” (I’ll use the quote marks to avoid all of the Shearer-esque waffle and stammering) is letting NACT dictate the terms, then they have already given in. Even if they “oppose”, that means they have accepted the basic terms of the argument and only want to present themselves as “nicer”.

      • Colonial Viper 16.2.1

        Indeed. The terms given are an entrenched neoliberal perspective of the economy and of society. Labour has yet to break truly free from that.

        Within that neoliberal framework of thinking it is almost impossible to even suggest any socialist steps for strengthening society.

    • OneTrack 16.3

      WTF. Labour has less female representation and it’s John Key’s fault. Are you saying JK is a demigod or something? I never realised. Is there no limit to his influence and power?

  17. BLiP 17

    .

    The failure of Labour to fire . . .

    ^^^ Who says this, what does it even mean, and what data is there to support it? The Tories are saying it, it doesn’t really mean anything, and about the only data I can see is a recent, slight drop off in the polls.

    . . . A big part of Labour’s front bench simply aren’t doing their job.

    Oh, fuck off Michael Valley. If you can’t recall the name of the Labour health spokeshole its indicative of your lack of engagement and qualification to be contributing here. Your once across the top lightly comparison with the 1999 crew is littered with assertions paraded as fact and misleading in that you are actually comparing the current front bench with the Labour 2001 front bench. The 1999 crew barely scraped in. It only won 49 seats and, even with the ten seats from the Alliance, still needed another two seats which only just materialised when the Greens scraped in. Remember also, National Ltd ™ had been fucking things up for nine years by that stage, if the 1999 crew were half as good as your assert, Labour should have romped in.

    No doubt you have expressed your genuinely-held opinion but, tell me, how do you know Shearer didn’t show because his minders were scared of Norman showing him up, why is there “no doubt” that Grant Robertson is “better than his leader” – dunno why you’ve got a hard on for David Parker nor why you doubt he lacks a killer instinct – Jacinda Ardern, invisible, What. Ever. – and how is it her fault that a whistle-blower went to the Greens – and so it dribbles on. A more accurate comparison would have been with the 1998 crew – Labour wasn’t looking too hot then and Jenny Shitley already had the palour of FAIL about her. But, like I said, Labour only just scraped in.

    Seriously, if you want to have a go at “our side” in a front-page post, and desire to be taken seriously, you are going to have to deliver significantly more intellectual firepower and offer up something more substantial than a parody of a small rugby club’s match programme “side-by-side” page. If you want to take cheaps shots, stick to the comments section where repeating Tory attack lines will do less harm. I am disappoint.

    D -

    • Mickey Mouse 17.1

      Hear hear!

      • hush minx 17.1.1

        No. While it’s true that the political landscape was very different in the late 90s one thing is certain.Labour was a very different beast and a fight hardened organization determined to bring the Nats down. The Labour of today is a mere shadow of that former self.

        • Colonial Viper 17.1.1.1

          It’s a lot of deterioration in just 12 years. Where will Labour be in 12 more.

          • mac1 17.1.1.1.1

            CV, at the present rate of progress, the centre left will be in power for twenty years, and Labour will lead that government.

            BLiP, well said.

    • Reagan Cline 17.2

      I hope Shearer stays leader of Labour because I can see him as PM and not the other possible contenders.

      The next election is far enough away for him to slowly and inexorably get the voters’ attention and respect.

      He seems to me to be preparing for a battle he is sure he can win.

      He is a person of depth and people wonder about him – he keeps them guessing – like a winner.

      • Colonial Viper 17.2.1

        He is a person of depth and people wonder about him – he keeps them guessing – like a winner.

        Shit mate you forgot the quote about floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee.

        Seriously though, “keeps them guessing like a winner” WTF???

    • Taxi 17.3

      There’s a lot of anger in that comment.

      A lot.

      But it’s directed at the wrong target.

      It should be directed at our failing MPs, not well meaning leftie contributors to a blog site or Labour members. We didn’t choose to lose.

      • BLiP 17.3.1

        .

        Oh, fuck. Here they come: the concern trolls attempting to dismiss fair comment as “misdirected emotion” while simultaneously vectoring a repetition of the same fallacious Tory attack lines presented in the OP. I suppose I should be quietly pleased that National Ltd™ is trying to game the blogs. It indicates real fear and provides more evidence, as if any is needed, of its reliance on subterfuge and mendacity to obfuscate the fact that its policies cannot otherwise be implemented.

        What do you mean “we”, Paleface?

    • OneTrack 17.4

      Shoot the messenger

  18. I think Labour has to shape up for 2014, people don’t just want to hear bad things about National; they want to know what a New Zealand run by Labour would be like. So far all we have heard is ‘no asset sales’, ‘New Zealanders leaving to Australia’ and ‘National is keeping kids in poverty’, but thus far we have heard nothing about the actual way Labour intend to get New Zealand out of high unemployment and slow growth.

    • Colonial Viper 18.1

      actually, you want a party which understands how we can build a strong, cohesive society even through a lengthy period of economic stagnation and eventual liquid fossil fuels energy depletion.

  19. Rhinocrates 19

    http://news.msn.co.nz/nationalnews/8559031/labour-slides-in-latest-poll

    Shearer, you’ve got to go.

    You can’t impose discipline, you can’t or won’t manage or inspire the parliamentary wing to perform.

    It wasn’t a rogue poll, because even if it had been, with the government being so bad, so blundering, they should have been rising sharply. It should have been obvious.

    Lately, Parata’s been at her most egregious – but where is Mahuta, the spokesperson on education? Tweeting about “enemies within”.

    You say jobs matter, but where is Sio, the spokesperson on employment? Campaigning against marriage equality, choosing to say nothing about employment. Because he really doesn’t give a shit.

    Bennett’s fucked up big time, but where is… help me, who’s supposed to have the job to oppose her in opposition????!!!1111!!!!ELEVEN1111!!!!

    Are you, you useless dipshit, actually telling them to do their fucking jobs? Are they listening? Do they respect you? Do you think that their behaviour represents respect for you, the party, it’s principles (do you know what they are?) and its hopes of being in government?

    No. You’re wandering about the landscape, wringing your hands over the sad stories that people tell you, sanctimoniously claiming that you care and avoiding saying anything about what you would actually do in office because you really don’t believe in anything.

    Meanwhile, what is that master of party organisation Robertson doing to get the activists organised? Nothing. He’s more interested in building his own internal party empire and consuming Bellamy’s pies.

    Where is the most eloquent and charismatic party MP, Cunliffe? Gagged.

    Where is Mallard? What, still not fed into a woodchipper feet-first while still conscious? Who the Hell overlooked that job? Can’t you at least find a trash compacter? How about a combine harvester? It should be easy; just drive it over him. How about just beating the crap out of him in an alleyway somewhere? Surely some droogs can organise that? [In the spirit of a fine rant I’ll assume you do not mean this literally in any sense …RL]

    Where is Jones? Oh yeah, advocating for Sealord over Dyson… slapped him over the wrist with a wet mango rind yet? …and where’s Dyson? Never mind.

    I have absolutely no doubt that none of these questions will be answered in the next “Shearer Mumbles” “e-newsletter”.

    No Shearer, that’s not good enough. That’s not even inadequate, that’s not even failure. That’s fucking up, knowing that you’ve fucked up and staying on anyway. The only reason you’re staying on now is vanity. You think that you own the job, that you deserve it and more, but you plainly don’t. That’s been made clear now for almost an entire year. Helen Clark took longer, true, but that was then and this is now and times have changed.

    The fact is that you’re worse than useless; you’re a hindrance. Go. Go now because you’re in the way of someone who can do the job, and worse than that, for the sake of your own ego and the comfort of the ABC club, you’re letting the rest of New Zealand suffer, you worthless, vain, self-absorbed berg.

    You’re not the solution and you don’t need more time – you’re the problem, an obstacle. Go. Go now. Just fuck off now.

    If you had any honour, you’d acknowledge that you meant well, but just weren’t good enough and would step aside for someone who would actually get your claimed goals accomplished rather than staying around to ensure by default that they weren’t – but you won’t because you’re too vain.

    And it’s a pity you told the story about mangoes, because if it had been pineapples, I’d know exactly where to put them.

    • Colonial Viper 19.1

      Well I don’t think anyone needs the woodchipper but a quiet pink slip or 10 wouldn’t go amiss.

    • Rhinocrates 19.2

      I regret one thing about that tirade: “berg” was meant to be “berk
      ” or “idiot”.

      • mac1 19.2.1

        Rhinocrates @ 19 and CV @ 18.1.2.1,
        According to the poll you’re so excited about, Labour 32%, Greens 12%, Mana 1%, NZ First 6% versus National 45% plus Conservatives 1%, Maori 1% and ACT .6%.

        Two years to go to the next election, boys.

        • McFlock 19.2.1.1

          Ah, but if Cunliffe were in charge Labour would be polling 53% and its policies would make Lenin look like Roger Douglas.

          • Colonial Viper 19.2.1.1.1

            I agree that light Blue is better than Tory Blue. Shame we’ve had two polls in a row now where Labour support has sunk despite how National’s stunk.

          • Bill 19.2.1.1.2

            What? That makes no obvious bloody sense whatsoever. Lenin? Douglas? Cunliffe? Care to explain that one McFlock?

            • McFlock 19.2.1.1.2.1

              sarcasm on the shoot-shearer brigade

              • Colonial Viper

                At the end of the day, several very experienced Labour MPs encouraged Shearer, a 2 year MP who has never been spokesperson or Minister for anything significant ever, to become Leader. “Shooting Shearer” would solve very little.

              • Bill

                Oh. Em. So was the gun on the inside or a you just shooting blanks kinda wildly? Because I can’t see the impact.

                • McFlock

                  Must have gone over your head and hit CV standing behind you. He seems to have gotten the point.

                • Rhinocrates

                  I am slowly and reluctantly coming to the realisation that it is impossible to wound a void (parliamentary Labour) by shooting at it. The flash and recoil of a bit of wild firing is at least good for my tension.

            • Colonial Viper 19.2.1.1.2.2

              McFlock has been pissed off with me for not cheerleading “my” team, Labour, one of my main issues being that Labour is no longer the left wing party NZ needs.

              edit – I suppose McFlock used the example of Lenin to sarcastically typify what he sees as the ‘hard left’ ideology I am pushing for.

              • Bill

                But Labour aren’t left wing. And Cunliffe would be moderately left wing. Meanwhile Douglas was about as far right as it has ever got in this country and Lenin was an authoritarian dick that sensible leftists of the time disavowed.

                And McFlock is claiming that Cunliffe would be so far to the authoritarian left as to make Lenin appear as far to the authoritarian right as Douglas?

                Fucking stupid.

                For one thing, Cunliffe wouldn’t have leftists like me rounded up and jailed/shot/hanged. Lenin did. And I could believe that Douglas, given the opportunity and the need to preserve his twisted and arse over tit version of libertarianism, would have.

                • McFlock

                  Oh, I see the comms issue.
                       
                  You are stuck in literal mode.
                  So where would labour realistically be polling if Cunliffe took over from Goff?
                  And would labour policies be substantively different? 

                  • Bill

                    If we take it that Cunliffe isn’t the neo-liberal apologist that Shearer is and that Goff was and is and that Roberston is, then the policies will be different. And I get the sense that people are sick and tired of the neo-liberal Hobson choices that have come to mark NZ’s parliamentary democracy. And that people would back any well articulated alternative that resonated with their natural values…y’know, a fairly simple and straightforward social democratic vision that didn’t lash society to the yoke of the international financial sector.

                    • McFlock

                      While calling Shearer neoliberal isn’t quite as absurd as saying that Labour under Cunliffe would make Lenin look like Douglas, I do think it’s unfair.
                                 
                      Shearer has much more in common with Cunliffe than he does with Key.
                                   
                      IMO Labour did well in the campaign trying to get back to their roots, but it was left too late so it simply looked like a campaign tactic rather than a genuine repudiation. While Shearer has backed off on the rhetoric (and yes, the roof-painter line is plain wrong), I’m not sure at this stage that the Labour caucus took their vote as being an indictment against the politics of principle. 
                             
                      When’s the Labour party conference? Or did I miss it in the news? I reckon that plus the change to the leadership selection process (not necessarily a change in leadership) will iron things out.  
                           
                      Hell, maybe I’m wrong, in which case I’ll probably end up voting Alliance again (don’t quite recall, think I was labour 2011 or 2008).

                    • Jim Nald

                      Quite surprising you are such a cheerleader for the Labour Party and you don’t know when the party conference is.

                      I am not a Labour party member but I know it is something like next weekend.

                      I am keen to see Labour get into government for the sake of the country’s wellbeing but I am currently struggling to find a reason to support Labour with their current (lack of) leadership.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Shearer has much more in common with Cunliffe than he does with Key.

                      How do you know this? What has convinced you that Shearer fundamentally objects to Key’s politics and Key’s economics?

                      All I see is Shearer reading out whatever is put in front of him. I see very little of Shearer’s own political economic thinking or judgement anywhere.

                    • McFlock

                      lol
                           
                      It actually is kind’ve funny that here I seem to be the one who is defending Labour, while others who are apparently much more closely connected to it and know more about the internal issues facing it can’t seem to get over their own frustrations and recognise that Labour, even under Shearer, is still light years better than National. 
                           
                      Especially as I merely see Labour as bulking out a government that will be good or bad based largely on the policies driven by its smaller constituent parties. 
                             
                      CV:
                      Shearer is in Labour. Labour campaigned against asset sales etc. Unless you can point to the speech where shearer unilaterally reversed Labour policy and supports the Key government, I’m happy to stick with the broad assumption that Shearer is not a neoliberal baby-killer. 

              • McFlock

                More that you fail to show support for anything except vitriol and pipedreams without intermediate steps.

                • Colonial Viper

                  OK, I’ll work on supporting vitriol and pipedreams but plan it a bit better with some incremental, intermediate steps. All cool?

                  • McFlock

                    I’ll believe it when I see it. 
                         
                    But actually, yes that would be cool, because that is how lasting change happens

          • mac1 19.2.1.1.3

            If you regard the left/right continuum not as a straight line but as a circle then that would indeed be true. Lenin and Douglas are both also members of the Authoritarian quadrant of politics.

            Cunliffe is a good’un and part of that team in 19.2.1.

            • Bill 19.2.1.1.3.1

              Well, I think it’s fair to say that in a representative democracy all political leaders are to some degree authoritarian. But to conflate the policies of bastard dictators like Lenin and bastard wanna be dictators like Douglas with Cunliffe is just plain wierd.

              And in the interests of dispelling any mounting feeling I might be experiencing on the particularily stupid front this evening, I now have to ask what the fuck 19.2.1 means.

              • mac1

                Bill, I don’t believe I conflated Cunliffe with either dictator.

                19.2.1 is the number assigned to my comment above, just as 19.2.1.1.3 is the number assigned to my comment to which you have responded.

                Cunliffe as part of the Labour Party is also part of the centre/left coalition which is currently showing well in the Colmar Brunton poll, a poll which I might add is generally regarded as favourable to the right.

        • blue leopard 19.2.1.2

          @mac1,
          “Two years to go to the next election, boys.”

          How can you honestly say that?
          Am I living in a parallel universe here?

          I could have sworn that I have just survived a year where our Government has numerous departments in a blithering mess,
          privacy issues have abounded,
          secret service out of control,
          we have a democratically elected body fired and being disallowed to resume elections in one part of the country
          a PM who clearly lies through his teeth
          A PM along with his ministers whom are resembling contemptuous and petulant schoolboys increasingly each week,
          noone in Government is taking responsibility for any of the many messes that are occurring, in fact clearly stating that they are not responsible (oh yeah? wtf? who is then?)

          And you are trying to relay that 32% for the main opposition party is good under such circumstances?

          • mac1 19.2.1.2.1

            Two years to go, level pegging between the two main political blocs and Colmar Brunton favouring the right generally, and considering we live in a MMP universe now and that the media are definitely not favourable to the left- yeah, not so bad………..

            Could be better, but then you’d have to have Cunliffe and 53% etc as McFlock says with his lovely sarcasm.

            • blue leopard 19.2.1.2.1.1

              Well isn’t this the way you were thinking 1-2 years ago, thinking about the approaching 2011 election?
              Did it pan out for you?
              Because that is much the way I was thinking. As well as looking at the Labour Party then and wondering whether they were really that keen on getting into Government.

              I am having similar thoughts re the Labour Party’s motivation now too and will not be persuaded to be fooled into the same hope and belief that I was encouraged into a few years back.

              Labour need to get themselves in order NOW not next week, not next year now. And if they don’t, left-wing people need to realise that the show is over for them, they are not up to governing and move toward parties that are.

              Remember that this is these people’s jobs, they are being paid to promote certain political views and create a counter to the current Government. What they are achieving is very, very weak.

              • mac1

                A fair enough position, bl. Not one that I personally hold but that is why I mention the MMP universe. So long as voters/activists of the left get involved, good. I personally don’t mind if Labour gets a gee-up and a nudge as the Greens climb up. A grouping of Labour, the Greens and Mana I would have little problem with. I do have a problem, though, with the anti-Shearer clamour- I find that it’s getting a wee bit OTT hysterical. Too many assertions, too much anger, too much other agenda being played out.

                • The “anti-Shearer clamour”, may simply be frustration at the non-action of Labour as a whole.

                  I take it that an opposition party with the most votes, gets the most funding and low-voter turn out is an issue with the left.

                  In a climate where a PM has popularity simply through his persona, while he and his Government are making a joke of their responsibilities and where a media isn’t particularly enamoured with the opposition, the main opposition party need to be showing loudly and clearly that they disapprove of the multitude of shenanigans that are occurring. This will show people that there is another way to deal with issues. If the main left-wing party do not show any dissimilarity to the main right-wing party this will demotivate people from politics and I guarantee you there will be a low voter turnout in the next election.

                  The Labour Party are not making the most of their opportunities and this is a seriously foolhardy game to play, and especially under MMP is not solely destroying the chances for their own party, it is destroying the chances of us having a left wing government in the next term.

    • weka 19.3

      As much as I want Labour to sort their shit out, that comment by you Rhinocrates is symbolic of why we have the wrong people in parliament. Waaay too harsh.

    • Just thinking though, all this talk of “the leader” and the “front benchers”, however what is the score with opposition parties and strategists and PR advisers? I assume that there are people employed for these roles in an opposition party(?).

      Has anyone checked the pulses of these people recently? Checked their pupils, hooked them up to a hospital machine, you know, checked for signs of life? Also hearing checks for all members of the caucus?

      Because it seems to me that either the strategy people of Labour have quietly popped off and noone’s noticed or the caucus are refusing to heed their advice? The other option is that Labour does have strategists and they are very much out of touch with and failing in the job that they are there to do.

      All this criticism of the individuals in the party may well be misguided when they have advisors that are there to support and assist with the aim at a cohesive approach for all the individuals in the party to follow, also with creating opportunities with public appearances and getting a clear message across at every opportunity and these areas seem to be where Labour’s approach is lacking. Could it be that the strategic advice is where it would be fairer to focus the criticism on?

      • Bill 19.4.1

        bl, if the Labour Party hierarchy had an upper echelon driven and informed by principles and values then they would be the ones directing the strategists. Y’know, like this is the message we want out there. Now you go and make it happen…help us help you to do your job as it were.

        But they haven’t. So they’re not. And so everything is piecemeal.

        • blue leopard 19.4.1.1

          Ah thanks Bill,
          The strategists give them advice though don’t they? E.g. the party members may say to them “I wan’t to make this point” and the strategists say “here is how to make it”

          Like how Nats were saying “fair and reasonable” in every comment they made last year. Who told them to do that? The strategists is my guess.

          • Bill 19.4.1.1.1

            Yes, the strategists give them advice. But the caucus or the leadership just simply don’t have any fucking ponts to make. So the strategists don’t know what the fuck it is they are meant to making happen.

            • blue leopard 19.4.1.1.1.1

              lol
              Thanks for the explanation

              Well if that is really what is going on, then I have to assume that Labour do not want to be in government next term and I suggest that we should all be focussing on a team that does.

              • Colonial Viper

                Well if that is really what is going on, then I have to assume that Labour do not want to be in government next term

                Well Labour certainly does want to be in Government, but it almost seems to be just by unthinking reflex now. I think its understanding of WHY and HOW is unclear – to everyone.

                • Well until they can be bothered to make it clear to everyone, I think we all should consider that they are not that keen.

                  It isn’t rocket science to get a message across (I mean even the Nats manage it), I shall be reading their non-message as condoning this dreadful Government and I hope many others understand this silence as such too. This is a safer approach than assuming what they really mean/want/hope/intend…

                  There is a real danger that the reason they are remaining so silent is that they quietly intend to do much the same when they are in government.

                  • Bill

                    Quiet little fish in small and shrinking pond content to be the biggest fish in that, well…it’ll be a puddle soon enough won’t it?…perhaps big enough to accommodate the arse of a Mallard duck or….no, not two, just one Mallard arse with some caucus fishes thrashing around beneath it.

    • BLiP 19.5

      .

      Cry me a river, why dontchya? Its two years to the next election and just at the moment everything National Ltd™ touches is turning to shit. Now is not a good time to interrupt the enemy, and our MPs know that. Take a pineapple and call me next year.

      • gobsmacked 19.5.1

        Now is not a good time to interrupt the enemy, and our MPs know that.

        Yes, I agree with Napoleon’s famous advice. But … isn’t that exactly what Labour MPs have been doing?

        The lack of discipline – from the leader on down – gives National and their cheerleaders the interrruption they want. Time and again.

        Why does this keep happening? Because people rant on blogs? I don’t think that’s the real problem with Labour.

        • Colonial Viper 19.5.1.1

          Don’t interrupt the enemy?

          Good advice. There’s a tape of that somewhere, I’ve been told.

    • Rhinocrates 19.6

      [In the spirit of a fine rant I’ll assume you do not mean this literally in any sense …RL]

      Correctomundo. Instead, to make that clear, perhaps I should suggest that he strapped into a chair, a la Alex in A Clockwork Orange and forced to endure Justin Bieber and Rebecca Black perform the entire oeuvre of Celine Dion in duet, accompanied by an orchestra of kazoos.

    • sarrbo 19.7

      Kia ora, kia ora…you speak for me bro or sis. Spot on the mark!

  20. karol 20

    Trotter made an interesting report on Bomber’s Citizen A show last week.  He said that Shearer is scheduled to be the last speaker at the up-coming party confernece.  Trotter said if the party had confidence in Shearer he would be first seaker, to set the tone of the conference.
     
    Stand-down speech?

    • Stephen Doyle 20.1

      I thought that the Leader always closed the conference with the “up and at ‘em” rallying speech.

    • Pete Fraser 20.2

      Good lord. You are an idiot aren’t you? Sector day is on Friday morning. Conference itself opens on Friday afternoon, with a bunch of policy workshops.

      Now, Friday afternoon has certain characteristics. It’s a work day: lots of people can’t just turn up on a work day to hear a speech. It’s also, classically, when you bury news.

      Sunday, on the other hand, is a weekend. People have free time. Sunday evening news, reputedly, gets very high viewership figures. Maybe these things explain scheduling better than Trotter’s vague memories of how Party Conference used to work, back in the Dark Ages.

    • felix 20.3

      To be fair, you’d hardly want him setting the tone would you?

  21. Fortran 21

    It appears that the Greens are now the party of the left.
    Russel Norman is coming over more and more as real leader material.
    Seeing/listening to him he comes forward as the true Labour/Socialist leader.
    As the real Labour will not stop digging in the hole.
    It is easy to see him as PM material in a coalition government

    • OneTrack 21.1

      What is Russel and his co-leader actually going to do when they get in power. If he is PM, what does that mean for Labour party policies. Or will they be pushed to the side in favour of Green policies. How many job losses (due to dairy farm reductions, mines closures, ETS full recovery, minimum wage hikes, Sme bankrupts, ..) will Labour be able to stand before they start to speak the unmentionable that maybe they should have a coalition with National instead. Some wit made the point some time ago that JK was left of Helen Clark and they were right. Or, are Labour now so “progressive” that the workers dont matter anymore and the battle against the “Tories” is all that matters.

      • felix 21.1.1

        Mines closures?

        Green policy is to not close any existing mine you fool, those are people’s jobs at stake and jobs are absolutely central to green policy.

        Your National party has – actually, in the real world – spent the last 4 years putting thousands of people out of work, but what bothers you are the hypothetical Green policies you just made up.

        Sheesh.

        • blue leopard 21.1.1.1

          Well said Felix,

          Although I think you are giving One Track too much credit in saying he/she “just made it up”. One Track is simply falling hook, line and sinker for the right-wing disinformation/framing that is being propagate. It would be good if people like One Track stopped being so naive and realised that these memes are not based on any reality, simply put out there by PR people, so that Mr Key & his ilk can keep their jobs, profits and monopolies.

          Whilst people continue to believe this crap being propagated by these monopolists, they enable them to effectively stop a whole lot of new realms of activity that would create progress and jobs for a whole lot of others. Our country is being choked by such beliefs.

  22. Interesting comment Karol from Trotter. Just shows Shearer’s inexperience again. The Leader always speaks early at Conference. How did Robertson persuade him to take the graveyard slot when there’s not too many left to hear the speech?! Clark always had top billing and Cullen did the sweep up at the end. Or is this a ‘handover’ plan from Shearer to Robertson?

    Are you all happy with that? Just watch it unfold….

  23. newsense 23

    this.
    this this this.

    I thought of starting a blog rating the front bench out of ten on a week by week basis, but then I figured what do I know.

    Time to treat politics more like sport.

    It’s not just that the leadership is weak, the front bench is weak. Clark and Cullen were good leaders but they had some talent behind them.

    • Colonial Viper 23.1

      Time to treat politics more like sport.

      Now you’re talking. Whose fitness is up to scratch and who isn’t. Who needs to be benched and who needs to be given a chance on the field. Are the coaches doing their job, is their strategy right. What are the playing conditions and is the team successfully adapting to them. Is there a fighting spirit and hunger to win.

      And above all, are they showing appropriate respect and deference to their fans and their fans deserving expectations.

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