We’ve received a set of guest posts arising from the Stab In the Back comments that Duncan Garner reported on Tuesday and Su’a William Sio. We’ll compile the best here. As always, we exercise judgement in not publishing truly nutty stuff but there’s no editorial line, no endorsement of guest posts we publish – they just have to pass the test of being informative, lucid, and left.
Where’s the leadership?
Veterans of the 5th Labour Government see a lot that’s familiar in The Thick of It. If you fucked up – no matter who you were, from the most junior staffer to the most senior minister – Helen’s right hand would at your throat and writing your apology for you. If you really fucked up, you would have to answer to Helen herself.
If Su’a William Sio had done what he did yesterday under Helen, he would have been issuing a ‘clarification’ by midday backing away from his earlier comments that Louisa Wall should withdraw her private members’ bill.
He wouldn’t have had explained to him why what he did as wrong . He would have been expected to work it out himself. And these are the things a) he’s factually wrong that Pasifika oppose marriage equality, they support it more than Pakeha, b) saying ‘we should be concentrating on more important things’ is wrong because Labour does have economic private members’ bills out there and there’s a limit to what you can do in opposition with private members’ bills thanks to the financial veto, c) it’s his right to vote how he likes on a conscience vote but not his right to say a private members bill, which has received caucus approval before being put in the ballot and d) you don’t go fomenting stories about internal divisions in your party – ever.
But, more likely, he wouldn’t have fucked up in the first place. That’s what discipline is. And discipline comes from both firm and successful leadership, which people both think is taking them to power and fear getting on the wrong side of. I haven’t seen that ‘clarification’ from Sio. That’s a failure of leadership.
Since Helen’s been gone, the B Team has been in charge and they’ve relished not having to watch their every step any more. The problem is, they keep on tripping themselves up.
An exercise for the reader
I think it’s interesting to consider ‘why now’? That often leads to answers as to ‘why’.
Why is Duckie trying to white ant Cunliffe now?
Ok, Shearer’s had some bad polls. Boo hoo.
If you have a few bad polls and your plan is to stick with Shearer, then you work on improving him, get his numbers up at least enough to stave off any run from Cunliffe in the 2013 leadership vote. The last thing you want to do when a leader you back has some bad polls is attack a potential leadership challenger.
You don’t attack Cunliffe if your plan is to stick with Shearer because – as noted by others – it makes Shearer’s leadership look in question. It weakens Shearer’s leadership security when Duckie attacks Cunliffe.
But what if you want Shearer’s leadership in question, except you don’t want Cunliffe to be the alternative because you’ve got your own man lined up, and you want blame for leadership questions sheeted home to someone other than you and your man?
Well, then, you start attacking Cunliffe.
The problem for Duckie and the third contender for leader is that, why the strategy might be sound, the execution was rubbish. It was obvious to everyone, including Garner if you read between the lines, what was going on.
So obvious that the story became not ‘oops, Shearer’s leadership’s looking shakey but Cunliffe’s no good, if only there were some other option’ as Duckie intended but, instead, ‘who’s Duckie working for now, trying to sabotage both David’s at the same time?’ and ‘why do Duckie and whomever he is working for put their personal interests ahead of the party’s?’
Who Duckie’s new front-man might be, I leave as an exercise to the reader. Clue: his name isn’t David.
Duncan Garner’s infamous blog post is the straw that broke the camel’s back. The situation with the Labour Party has now become untenable. Something must be done about the rogue Labour Party caucus.
It’s common knowledge that the caucus and the membership were divided over the leadership contest. The membership clearly backed David Cunliffe, but they couldn’t vote, and the caucus imposed their born-of-desperation candidate, David Shearer.
Shearer has never been anyone’s idea of a rising star. He is too inexperienced to lead the party, meaning the ‘leadership’ is done by proxy by the shadowy backers who pushed him forward on the paltry strength of his charming backstory.
But Shearer, while by all accounts a very nice guy, is a very poor communicator. It doesn’t help that he has nothing to communicate. Labour has hardly any publicly confirmed policy positions. The public want to know what Labour would do in government, and they need time to absorb those messages. Shearer is going out on a heartland tour to meet the public, with nothing to sell.
The idea that the public would ever buy Shearer as a PM with training wheels still on, is ludicrous. This insanity was foisted upon us by the ABC faction – Anyone But Cunliffe.
That’s not how you choose a leader. And that’s why we ended up with a guy who couldn’t lead his way out of a soggy paper bag.
The reasons Duncan Garner’s ‘sources’ give against Cunliffe – that he is ‘lazy’, ‘sneaky’ and ‘doesn’t deliver on his promises’ are serious allegations indeed.
But let’s compare apples with apples and see who comes out ahead.
David Cunliffe was gracious to a fault both during and after the leadership contest. He publicly offered his support to whoever was chosen as leader during the contest. He offered his full support to David Shearer after he won, and has continued to refuse to say a bad word about him. He stuck with Labour, accepting the loss of his beloved Finance portfolio, and knowing that every day he goes into work he is working with disloyal, nasty little twerps who are bagging him behind his back. His commitment and loyalty give the lie to those scummy comments that the cowards in Labour’s caucus fed to Garner.
Now, for the other side of the ledger. The ABC club who hate Cunliffe so much. These are the guys who leak nasty comments about their own colleague to the media. While said colleague is out of the country. While their party is struggling in the polls and needs a dose of infighting like a hole in the head. They are the geniuses who elected David Shearer as leader, trashing Labour’s one opportunity to win the 2014 election, just to indulge in their hatred of David Cunliffe.
Their behaviour speaks for itself. If you want to know who the problem is in Labour, look no further.
When Chris Carter was kicked out of the Labour Party, I said good riddance, because anyone who puts their own ego above the welfare of the wider party needs to be kicked out.
The ABC club have Chris Carter syndrome. They believe that they know best, and that they are the true and the right and the just, and everyone else is wrong. If that means dragging their own party through the mud to ensure that they get their own way, so be it.
It’s time for it to stop. Right now.
The membership knows what the party needs. It needs a jolly good clean-out of the ABC faction, sharpish.
If anyone wants to know who these people are, the list below reflects the MPs who publicly declared their vote for Shearer early on:
David Shearer, Grant Robertson, David Parker, Annette King, Maryan Street, Damien O’Connor, Phil Goff, Phil Twyford, Kris Faafoi, Darien Fenton, Clayton Cosgrove, Trevor Mallard, Jacinda Ardern, and Chris Hipkins.
As far as I’m concerned, it is up to each of them to declare now if they are not part of this dirty little faction, and if they stay silent, then that’s all the answer that’s needed.
The question now is what do we do? The membership have very limited power. We can’t force a leadership vote.
I am calling on any decent members of Labour’s caucus to make their voices heard. If you don’t support what the ABC faction has done, trashing your party’s reputation and throwing an election out of spite, then speak now.
Labour’s caucus has the power to force David Shearer to step down. Do the numbers, and do the decent thing. Roll Shearer and elect David Cunliffe.
I can’t believe that we’re still seeing this rubbish after four years. Don’t these people know that they stand on the shoulders of people who have struggled for nearly a century to build this party? How dare they behave like this – ruining what we have built with generations of toil as if its their mere plaything?
No show without punch
I know you’re all dying for my two cents. Well, I won’t be signing the online petition for Shearer to step down. And not just because my membership has lapsed.
I think Shearer was chosen for the wrong reasons. If 2 or 3 MPs (yes, it was that close) had voted for the good of their party rather than out of high school-style siding with the ‘cool’ clique against Cunliffe and his supporters, then we would all be talking about whether Labour would match National by year’s end and speculating on how important portfolios would be divided up with the Greens after 2014 (which is an interesting question that I mean to write about, because I’m still highly confident of a centre-left win in 2014). But they chose Shearer instead.
Shearer’s not a bad guy. He’s raw but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Key was raw, Lange was raw. They both won two elections (sure, they governed awfully but one problem at a time!). The problem with Shearer is he’s dreadfully advised by the same useless group of senior staffers who advised Goff into the worst election result in 80 years.
That latest speech – as much of it as I could bear to read – was classic Pagani: opportunistically rightwing, insincere, and a complete failure. And what the fuck is up with getting him to wander around the countryside? That’s what he did for the first three months, remember? The votes Labour has lost are in middle suburban belt in Auckland, in Christchurch, and in Dunedin. That’s where Shearer should be. You’ve got to spend your time targeting the richest concentrations of soft Lab/Nat voters, and those aren’t in Waipukurau.
A more suspicious person would suggest that Shearer has been sent away purposely to lower his profile. But I would suggest it’s really just crappy advisors. It’s their fault we never see him, because they’re not working to create good anti-government stories and putting him up to front on them.
Shearer’s still got 6 months to prove he’s up to it.
Running small target all the way to the election might just work but it’s pretty much leaving it up to Key to continue to fuck up. After six years, I think we’ve all learned that’s not a safe bet.
I think that some ‘senior MPs’ have decided that small target isn’t going to work for Shearer. They’ve been spooked by the end of the dead cat bounce. At the same time, they don’t want Cunliffe because he’s not their buddy. They are that petty. So you see that disgraceful, disloyal, destructive leaking to Garner designed to hurt both Shearer and Cunliffe as they try to clear the field for someone else. And there’s only really one person who that could be.
I don’t know which way it’s going to go but I’m going to make sure my membership’s up to date before the leadership vote next year.