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Leadership and unity

Written By: - Date published: 7:03 am, November 20th, 2012 - 152 comments
Categories: david cunliffe, david shearer, labour, leadership - Tags: , ,

I wasn’t paying much attention to politics back in the 80′s, so the current leadership stoush within Labour is quite an eye-opener for me. I have friends, people I admire, well informed people whose opinions I greatly respect, in each of the two Camp Davids. Tempers are running hot, and at the moment the risk of a serious fracture in the Labour Party seems very real. What to make of it all?

My position is on record. During the selection process last year I found Cunliffe more impressive, but I’ve been happy to support Shearer as leader. I support him still. I understand (and share) the frustration of those who would like to see a bigger and a quicker turnaround in the polls, but I think that their impatience has driven them to set unrealistic expectations of Shearer, and then abandon him far too soon. I think that solid unity around Shearer would have won the 2014 election.

But that was not to be. Impatience overflowed. Cunliffe positioned himself for a leadership challenge at conference (those who protest his innocence are naive in the extreme). It distracted attention from excellent policy, an excellent speech, and an opportunity to position Labour as the government in waiting. All very regrettable.

So much for the past. What about the future? The perception is that Cunliffe over-reached, and the tide has turned against him. There is a caucus meeting later today where, it is widely reported, Cunliffe is going to be demoted.

I understand the temptation for Shearer. When challenged on his leadership he wants to portray the strong leader. When pushed to show some “mongrel” he wants to bare his teeth. His supporters want “revenge”. It is what the political world expects, bread and circuses, the loser goes to the lions.

But there is a better way. A different kind of strength and leadership in turning the other cheek. In reconciliation. Overturning the conventional wisdom could see both Shearer’s leadership, and the Party, emerge much stronger.

Cunliffe is too good a politician to waste, and his supporters are too big a constituency to discard. Shearer should leave Cunliffe in his current role, reach out to him and the people that he represents. Cunliffe in his turn should admit that the game is up, put his leadership ambitions on hold for the foreseeable future, and publicly pledge his unconditional support until the next election. A joint statement, two men shaking hands, then they can both get to work on winning 2014. Cue picturesque sunset and closing credits.

Yeah I know, only in Hollywood right? Still, a blogger has to dream. Because the alternative, frankly, looks like a bit of a nightmare.

152 comments on “Leadership and unity”

  1. maffoo 1

    The way i see it, Cunliffe will only want to be leader if Shearer continues to be incompetent. If Shearer gets his s**t together, he is safe. All Cunliffe wants is a genuine shot at being Government in 2014.

    • Lanthanide 1.1

      Yes, I agree.

      Shearer so far hasn’t shown the media performance that would ensure he wins the election. I’m sure he’d be fine as PM, but there’s that inconvenient ‘contest’ phase that he has to go through first.

  2. Can you please explain how Cunliffe positioned himself to be leader, other than the general impression of being more competent than Shearer?

    Is there anything to this allegation other than his refusal to disclose his vote? Because that doesn’t really mean anything. If he was positioning himself to be leader he’d outright say he’s voting for himself.

    • Agreed Matthew.  R0b makes a number of good points but I also agree that Cunliffe did not position himself at all.  I agree there is a perception but this was one created by ABC.

      It is weird really.  They trash the benefits of the conference and Shearer’s speech and try and blame Cunliffe for it.

      Talk about disloyal.

      But yeah, lets give peace a chance. 

    • r0b 2.2

      Can you please explain how Cunliffe positioned himself to be leader

      Gower wasn’t interviewing Cunliffe on his leadership aspirations just at random, he was interviewing him on his leadership aspirations because everyone knows that he has them. In failing to confirm his support for Shearer as leader, Cunliffe was positioning himself for a leadership challenge. It’s a standard political script, to pretend otherwise is simply naive.

      Cunliffe is perfectly entitled to challenge for the leadership of course, and I think he’s an excellent politician and communicator. But the timing of this particular piece of escalation could not have been worse.

      I can’t stick around for comments in the thread this morning, I’ll have to let the post speak for itself. Peace!

      • Bill 2.2.1

        In failing to confirm his support for Shearer as leader…

        But that’s just the point, he did confirm his support. In response to Gower’s squawking about what he’d do in February, (which is, as Gower would be aware, a secret ballot) Cunliffe quite clearly and unequivocally stated his support for Shearer.

        • IrishBill 2.2.1.1

          Grant Robertson also has leadership aspirations. And yet he wasn’t chased around the conference.

          • Bill 2.2.1.1.1

            Yes. But Grant Robertson is going to have to some fairly fancy manouvering come February if he wants to stand in a leadership race.

            Cunliffe will (presumably) be making a bid from the position of ‘underdog’…the guy who was consigned to the wilderness – at least for the summer.

            Shearer would not at that point in time (after the caucus 60/40 vote) ‘lost’ his leadership per se, and would be quite entitled to stand against Cunliffe. In fact, he’d be almost obliged to.

            Now where does that leave Robertson? Supporting ‘his’ leader or exposing himself as a two faced bastard and making it a three way race?

            edit oops. Not the comment I thought I was responding to. Still. Makes enough sense in the context here to leave it.

        • Dr Terry 2.2.1.2

          Precisely, Bill! Thanks for making this essential point.

      • Pascal's bookie 2.2.2

        No r0b, they werent interviewing him on a whim.

        Robertson also has leadership ambitions, but they didn’t interview him about them on the weekend.

        They interviewed Cunliffe because someone told them this was all about an actual challenge happening now.

        The Shearer camped cut Cunliffe off at the knees once it was becoming obvious that the Feb vote would be more favourable to a challenger than it otherwsie might have been.

        fallout is that everything else that happened has been buried in the deluge.

        • Colonial Viper 2.2.2.1

          fallout is that everything else that happened has been buried in the deluge.

          Notice how almost no effort has been made by the ABC’s to focus the media discussion on the substantive aspects of Conference, instead at every turn the hypothetical ‘leadership challenge’ has been repeated over and over again.

      • I feel no need to trust Gower to have any reliable information. His source could be as unreliable as an anonymous National Party tipster.

        Refusing to disclose your secret ballot is not failing to support your leader, especially if you really do intend to vote for them. The whole point of a secret ballot is that nobody should be allowed to pressure you into disclosing your vote.

        I really don’t think you should be claiming Cunliffe is actively challenging for leadership with such circumstantial evidence. I was always under the impression he was simply waiting out Shearer’s term, however it ends, quite content to let that happen naturally and support him and his team in the meantime.

    • Uturn 2.3

      “Can you please explain how Cunliffe positioned himself to be leader…”

      Think of Cunliffe as a bottle of Coke. Now think of Shearer as a bottle of Pepsi. Do either of the bottles need to speak for people to know which they prefer?

      (Phil Goff is Royal Crown Cola. It once had the top spot, but they changed the recipe and it fell into bland obscurity.)

      Or think of Cunliffe as John Rambo in, Rambo: First Blood. The town burns and people die because all Rambo wanted was a snack as he passed through town. He said, “I didn’t do nothing!”

      In a ridiculous example of life imitating art, The Labour Party will burn and democractic principles will die because all Cunliffe wanted to do was take a pee at conference without being hounded by journalists. “He didn’t do nothing!”

      • maffoo 2.3.1

        Well im going to hold my vote for the amazing Dr Pepper, whoever he (or she) may be

      • You’re missing my point.

        Being better than Shearer at being an MP is not positioning yourself to be leader. There are publicity opportunities that one takes when one intends to challenge for leadership. We need the “Cunliffe is to blame for being so leadery!” people to meet their burden of proof by pointing out where he was doing that positioning and why some of us don’t see it, because it really just looks like they’re buying into a narrative that’s about selling David Shearer’s trainwreck of a defense of his leadership as some sort of secret coup.

        • Uturn 2.3.2.1

          Cunliffe is a good politican, no doubt about it. No one except Shearer can walk into a top job. To say that because Cunliffe hasn’t come out and admitted a secret coup means one hasn’t taken place, is forgetting the art of politics. Simple positioning, opportunism, works just as well and the proof is largely unproveable. But does it matter anymore? People know what their opinion is, nothing can change it now.

          In the analogy I used, it is too simplistic to assume that a talented poltician did nothing at all to position himself for a top job because no one wanted to acknowledge the groundwork. Even if someone handed the leadership to him, he still had to be in position to recieve it. If you want to find proof, look to what Cunliffe was doing and saying in a series of small, private, incidental, off the record events circa 2009 forward, maybe even earlier. Who would have that kind of information? Not the media. You’ll read about it in twenty years in someone’s autobiography. The proof I see now is Cunliffe’s reply to Shearer asking for support – he said yes, but only till February. It’s simple, and now blatant, positioning.

          • RedLogix 2.3.2.1.1

            The proof I see now is Cunliffe’s reply to Shearer asking for support – he said yes, but only till February. It’s simple, and now blatant, positioning.

            What? Are you saying that the mandatory February vote has to be a sham? That Shearer is not ever allowed to be challenged and is going to be Leader for life? Of course not.

            The Labour constitution madates a confidence vote at specific times. The voting is secret.

            It is absolutely not acceptable to pervert those intentions by demanding loyalty ahead of the vote. Count the numbers who will give you an answer yes, but to then demand the voting goes to the leader ….wrong, wrong.

            • Colonial Viper 2.3.2.1.1.1

              +1

              Q: when should the February vote be merely a formality and a foregone conclusion?

              A: when you’re not that serious about democratic processes and your underlying attitude is essentially Born to Rule.

              AH FUCK. Just realised.

              The coup/imminent leadership challenge messaging from the weekend has got finger prints of Right Wing media advisors all over it.

              • Y’know there’s a whole bunch of “Old School” right wingers that joined the Labour party?

                Why? …. Because they thought it the easier mark M8!

                Prove them wrong people, ditch would ya’s.

          • Matthew Whitehead 2.3.2.1.2

            You don’t get to say that a secret coup is being planned and not have to provide evidence for it. I’m sure you’ll excuse me if I’m unwilling to take Shearer’s word for it that Cunliffe was actually planning to roll him, especially when Cunliffe did not spur calls for Shearer’s resignation, because it was pretty obvious that was a grass-roots movement.

  3. Well said rob.
    Your suggestion on how Shearer could show real strength in leadership is a good one, and precisely what a genuinely strong Labour leader should do.
    Instead I fear Shearer, and in particular his old guard cronies, will only be thinking about how Shearer will lose in feb, and so they will be desperate to nobble Cunliffe. Time will tell just how principled Shearer really is.

    • lprent 3.1

      One of the things I really admired about Helen was her way of getting her competent political competitors working with her without descending to the kind of empty and meaningless political gestures of the types I am expecting to see today.

      I’m going to watch it with considerable interest in between my coding sessions.

  4. Tom Gould 4

    Shearer tried “reconciliation” last time, kept him on the front bench, gave him a big job, and look what it got him, constant undermining and treachery from Cunliffe and his fellow conspirators, both inside and outside the Caucus. And still it goes on, even today. Ironic that they are using the same play book Roger Douglas used to see off David Lange.

    • maffoo 4.1

      Those that are conspiring is the Mallard camp, not the cunliffe camp. & he did not pick the timing of this, it was chosen for him for the shills in the MSM. Can you not see how those that are attacking Cunliffe & making these accusations are those with the most to lose? IE the right (they want Shearer to destroy his party as it is in their best interests) & the ABC (who know Cunliffe will sack their useless asses)
      IF anyone think Mallard, Goff, & Hipkins can lead Labour to an election victory, they are delusional ….

    • QoT 4.2

      constant undermining and treachery from Cunliffe and his fellow conspirators, both inside and outside the Caucus.

      [citation needed]

    • Dr Terry 4.3

      TG. “constant undermining and treachery from Cunliffe and his fellow conspirators . . . ”

      This is about the most spiteful and incorrect conclusion I have yet seen. It ought to be actionable.

    • pics or it didn’t happen?

  5. hush minx 5

    Just listening to Grant Robertson on rnz this morning it sounded like he was trying to de-escalate and put some distance between himself and shearer. I think he has realised that the party is watching closely-and he may want their support sometime soon!

    • rosy 5.1

      Grant Robertson was responsible for that piece of rubbish ‘Shonkey and the Nine Clowns of the Apocalypse’ wasn’t he? Absolutely stupid idea and there’s no way he’d get my vote – that’s a big misreading of the electorate, imo.

      • just saying 5.1.1

        In fairness to Robertson, his conference speech wasn’t directed at the wider electorate. He was playing to the audience at hand.

        • rosy 5.1.1.1

          Fair enough, but if the media didn’t have a manufactured leadership crisis to ramp up then I reckon it would have been the clowns that got the MSM time. They know how much the public says they hate this stuff.

          We’ve spent a whole lot of time going on about how Key uses derogatory terms for people, one of his favourites is ‘clown’. Robertson stooped to the same tactic.

      • Fortran 5.1.2

        Andrew Little will get te vote come February with David Parker in support – then we shall see some real Labour action, not the half hearted middle ground Labour as at present.

  6. maffoo 6

    As has been pointed out elsewhere this morning, there is a ridiculousness is making accusations against Cunliffe because he refused to say who he would vote for IN A SECRET BALLOT…. a secret ballot that is supoposed to be in a closed meeting …. & the media are pissed because he wont tell them who he will vote for in secret in a closed meeting? how very arrogant of them….

  7. just saying 7

    Rob I respect your position.

    But Shearer is going to be the butt of this christmas’s BBQ jokes and that’s not down to Cunliffe.

    It is ludicrous for a major party to have a leader who must be wrapped in cotton wool and kept away from the public eye to maintain any kind of credibility. The elephant in the room has long taken up residence and it is an insult to the the public’s intelligence.

    • Greg Doolan 7.1

      Agreed. Mumbles Shearer is an irrelevant joke to all New Zealanders , except the apologists who keep insisting that the emperor is really wearing clothes.

    • Colonial Viper 7.2

      Hi R0b. Thanks for offering everyone an alternative course of action to consider in these circumstances – a path of real leadership and principle.

  8. Craig Glen Eden 8

    I have never been a Shearer fan those who post on the standard and I told David Shearer to his face that I didnt think he had what it took to lead the party.

    I have always based that on can this guy win an election. Having worked on his Mt Albert selection I saw first hand how scared he was. As just saying has said, shearers lack of experience in politics and poor performance is the Elephant in the room. Sadly his ability to be manipulated is going to have a huge effect on the Party and its all negative.

    • Hami Shearlie 8.1

      We always seem to agree CGE! I feel exactly the same way! Shearer is boring, uninspiring, unbelievable, grey, very very bland, no vitality, doesn’t even act like he wants to be there!! Labour needs a great salesman to sell their policies – It ain’t Shearer and it ain’t Robertson either!! It’s a pity they keep forgetting about the 800,000 who didn’t vote and keep chasing a few swinging middle voters who are never loyal anyway!!! Mike Hosking said this morning that when he talked to him, Shearer showed his anger by using language full of expletives. To display that to a journalist shows another reason why Shearer shouldn’t be leader – no control of himself in public! Shearer’s obvious shortcomings are his own fault, not David Cunliffe’s!!

  9. jaymam 9

    If Cunliffe is demoted, I don’t think Labour will win the next election.
    I have not been impressed by Shearer’s TV interviews in recent weeks.

    • Dr Terry 9.1

      One would almost think that Labour, in point of fact, does not want to win the next election. Perhaps they are afraid that they might!

  10. PlanetOrphan 10

    Gotta agree Anthony, bout time Shearer and Cunliffe worked together , layed down the law and started leading M8!

  11. tracey 11

    I concur with anthony. Disagreement is healthy. It is not healthy when those who dissent and dont prevail get punished. Shearer can show the leadership he promised by giving culiffes strengths a chance to help nz. And perhaps he cld consider demoting those who dont understand how to play nicely together.

  12. BM 12

    The Public don’t like Cunliffe, but they do like Shearer.
    Unfortunately politics is about personality first, then policies.

    From what I’ve read on a few boards and talking to people, the majority view is that Cunliffe is a sneaky back stabbing weasel who needs to be dealt to by Shearer.
    That may not be true but it seems to be the public perception.

    Shearer has no choice now but to get rid of Cunliffe otherwise he’s had it as the leader.

    • Uturn 12.1

      Shearer’s had it anyway, because the way he’s protecting his position is contrary to the current public perception of how it should be done. He literally forgot what time it was. But nevermind, the collapse of the existing Labour Party is a good thing for NZ. It’ll force the heart and soul of Labour to reform around principles that match their efforts.

      • BM 12.1.1

        To be honest, I’m surprised it’s taken this long for the Labour party to splinter.
        Too many people with different visions on how the Labour party should operate, that’s the problem.
        No business or organization can operate effectively under those conditions, it’s just a recipe for failure, everyone needs to be on the same page.

        • Uturn 12.1.1.1

          This is one of the defining points of identity that differentiates Labour from National – it’s eagerness to attempt to hold many views in one place successfully. The Labour party have been operating under certain rules consistently for a long time, it’s just that those rules have trouble accomodating all the members without the whole thing flying apart. If reports from conference are true, this is changing, but the reluctance of the leadership to let go is getting in the way. Being on the same page is important, but it doesn’t naturally exclude diverse views. Though closely linked, the problem seems to be coming from a misunderstanding of how things can be done, not what should be promoted in policy.

          • BM 12.1.1.1.1

            Do you need that sort of set up in a MMP environment though?

            • Colonial Viper 12.1.1.1.1.1

              Course ya do because this is about the membership deciding the course of the Labour Party, not the frakking MSM.

              • BM

                Personally I think a better strategy for the left would be to have 4 left parties

                1. Mana – Maori vote
                2. Greens -liberals,hippies,gays
                3. Workers party – trade unions, communists,
                4. Labour -centre left, Catholics, islanders.

                Be near on impossible for National to win if the Left set themselves up under this sort of system.

            • Uturn 12.1.1.1.1.2

              Yes and no. In a transitional sense, which is my first point – whatever happens next, will be good for NZ.

              Fragmentation is good, within an MMP environment. If several smaller parties formed to represent the factions that once tried to stand together under the old Labour banner and they had to form a coalition government, they’d still all have to be familiar with accomodating alternate views to make it work. The difference being that instead of several views clashing, the smaller factions need only concern themselves with one or two where spheres of influence overlapped. So the job of accomodating diversity of opinion would be absorbed by the fluidity of the overall group, rather than the tensions caused by top down central leadership.

              Attempting to fix, even an attempt that fails to fix, Labour’s organisational problems can only put the people who make change happen, ahead in the necessary learning curve. MMP is an indication that generally the public are moving away from fixed positions and traditional top-down stuctures. Once parties know how to dissolve and reform as necessary, they won’t need to have damaging internal conflicts so often. They achieve stability by continually moving and eliminate the risk of stoppinig in an unstable position. The chances of one faction hi-jacking a nation’s politics reduces to almost nil and we move closer to a fuller expression of democracy. Obviously, that’s going to scare a number of powerful people.

    • Greg Doolan 12.2

      What facts do you have to back up the claim that the public likes Mumbles Shearer? The dismal polling numbers as preferred leader of the country that the adoring public give him?

      I am so tired of Mumbles Shearer apologists making these blatantly untrue statements that fly in the face of the facts. This is exactly why the Labour Party is in the wilderness. A group of people running around trying to convince everyone else that emperor is wearing a splendid robe of popularity and visionary leadership. Wake up!

      • BM 12.2.1

        What facts have you got that people want Cunliffe to replace Shearer as leader of the labour party.

        • One Tāne Huna 12.2.1.1

          lol can’t you even back your own words BM?

          No wonder your comments are so irrelevant, when you fill them with weasel words and fantasist drivel.

          Greg, BM is a Tory shill.

    • Dr Terry 12.3

      BM. You sure have some nerve, speaking on behalf of the entire NZ public! Then, following your absolute statement, you come up with “That MAY NOT BE TRUE but it SEEMS to be the public perception”. (Capitals mine) Do you base your life on fantasy and this kind of frightful guesswork?

  13. ak 13

    Spot on as usual r0b. Ae, naievity’s the word that’s been hovering in six-foot letters over this whole debacle ever since the first commenter here started gunning for Cunners over Shearer.

    On the one tiny positive hand it displays the increasing influence of the ‘Stan. On the other hulking mitt, anyone who ever thought the media wouldn’t savage the Left mercilessly at the most minute indication of infighting, has been in bed with Pollyanna since 2004. Fast asleep. The Helenhate cucifixion a tragic,wasted lesson.

    Crucially, that includes Cunners and the majority of caucus. Learn, you ignorant pikers, or continue to put the knife into tens of thousands of our most vulnerable. Every day.

    And listen to r0b. And the original founder of world Labour. Turn the other cheek or let Gower et al slowly carve it into chunks and chew it to the bone. Promote Cunners, weld those smiles and handshakes on with an industrial mig on full, and bite your tongues till they bleed.

  14. tracey 14

    It seems to me its the people behind the main two who need the demotion. Hipkins hasnt impressed me. He oozes game player. The focus is nz and nzers. Anyone who doesnt get it, act on it needs to be gone.

    • Hipkins is a Clark creation. Hatched in the wellington incubator. Less in common with the working man than John Banks.* Despite Cunliffe now being a Herne Bay residing squillionaire he has proper working class credentials and actually worked prior to getting on the taxpayer funded gravy train.
      Hipkins is the face of your Labour party. Student politicians living and working in a 5km radius of the beehive.
      The only way this will be fixed is a split in the party. Auckland v Wellington.
      *I really hate John Banks.

      • Greg Doolan 14.1.1

        Hipkins has revealed himself to be a nasty piece of work. He obviously want to be Mallard’s heir.

        • KJT 14.1.1.1

          Hipkins on the news last night was totally embarrassing.

          If Shearer wanted to really show some leadership he would haul up him, Shane Jones and those who are destroying the party by bad mouthing Cunliffe.

          All the Right wing joining in bad mouthing Cunliffe, proves my point. He should be the leader.

          You know a man by his enemies.

          I would not vote for anyone the RWNJ’s, who pretend to be reporters, are endorsing.

  15. Santi 15

    Reconciliation only after punishment. Demotion is the only way Shearer can assert his leadership and stay on top.

  16. Bill 16

    So, what’s the odds for Shearer striking a truly anti-democratic deal along the lines of “I’ll leave you where you are – or promote you – if you give an undertaking not to run in February”?

    Nah.

    Although I suppose he might try to strike such a deal.

  17. tracey 17

    Bm if the public like shearer as the people you talk to claim it doesnt even begin to reflect in polls. When right wing bloggers backed shearer in the leadership race it was a rather big clue

    • BM 17.2

      People don’t mind Shearer.
      People don’t like the Labour party, that’s the problem.
      If you vote Shearer you get the Labour party.

      • thatguynz 17.2.1

        Sorry mate but that’s not entirely correct.  You are right in suggesting that there is public antipathy toward the Labour Party but they also think Shearer is not leadership material.  They are two distinct issues as opposed to the LP dragging Shearer’s popularity down.
         
        All in all this is a clusterfuck of monumental proportions.  Shearer has been toothless during any of the multitude of Government balls-ups and now decides to bare his teeth within his own party.  Wrong message, wrong time and wrong approach.  To alienate Cunliffe supporters both within the party and outside is a grievous misstep which I believe Shearers handlers have completely underestimated.
         
        Although I have never been a Labour voter, I was starting to waiver after hearing some of the talk coming out of the conference.  ie. notwithstanding those that haven’t voted at all, I am just the kind of voter they should be appealing to.  Unfortunately however any goodwill that was built throughout the newly found democratic approach at conference has been completely undone and I can unequivocally state that Labour will not have my vote.  Not now, not 2014 and not while the inept old-school troughers within the party continue to run roughshod over what the party membership are trying to achieve.  Mallard, King, Street, Cosgrove, O’Connor etc all need to go.  The party seems to have moved on and they are hanging on by their fingernails and quite frankly – fucking up the party that a lot here seem to have some long held love for.

      • Dr Terry 17.2.2

        BM. Again you talk grandiosely on behalf of “the people”. Really, of course, you can speak only for yourself – that is all you are achieving.

        • DJ 17.2.2.1

          I’ll do it again for you.

          “You people” on here have fucked the labour party good and proper.

          Good on ya mate …………

  18. Shearer is is wielding his power behind the curtain of Mallard & co, it’s dictatory and
    self serving.
    Cunliffe is the only candidate that could take labour to victory in 2014, there is no one
    esle, in the ‘free’ world he has a right to take up the challenge of leadership.
    There are members in the caucas who seem fit to diss many internet users and that was
    a public flogging, saying those ‘hidden’ identities were ‘irrelevant’ ‘nonsense’
    ‘that they dont take any notice of’, here’s the rub you ignorant lot of trough feeders
    we do ‘take notice’ and if Cunliffe is relegated to the back bench, then any support you
    may have had from the ‘internet’ world will collapse overnight and in turn so will the
    support of labour.
    You have more riding on your ‘dictatory’ shoulders than your own ignorance.

  19. tracey 19

    Bm, just tell tge truth. You have no idea whether people like shearer or not.

    • BM 19.1

      The people I talk to don’t mind Shearer, definitely prefer him over Cunliffe.

      One of the criticisms I hear of Shearer is that he’s too nice for politics,bit dickless, so dealing to Cunliffe in a violent and brutal way should do wonders for his popularity.

      • One Tāne Huna 19.1.1

        Let’s all bend an ear to BM and her imaginary friends. On second thoughts…

        • BM 19.1.1.1

          What makes you think l’m a she?

          • One Tāne Huna 19.1.1.1.1

            Affirmative action. I think of you as tall, with large hands and feet, a horsey girl who rode under the low branches once or twice too often.

            [lprent: Flame igniting is a very very dangerous sport. Do you really want a holiday now? ]

          • King Kong 19.1.1.1.2

            He is trying to insult you because women aren’t as clever as men.

            [lprent: Flame igniting is a very very dangerous sport. Do you really want a holiday now? ]

            • One Tāne Huna 19.1.1.1.2.1

              Equal opportunity insults. Monkey see monkey do.

              • Santi

                What are you trying to say One Tane? Are you a Cunliffe supporter?

                • One Tāne Huna

                  I’m trying to say that BM is unreliable as a political weathervane of either gender, and that King Kong is a monkey.

                  As for Cunliffe, I was warming to Shearer, especially after hearing how well Parker and Cunliffe work together (good team implies good leader) and the speech, although I remained concerned about his apparent lack of conviction. I am very encouraged by the policies unveiled so far.

                  All that changed in the last forty eight hours. Today’s little charade isn’t leadership, it’s weakness.

                  • lprent

                    My feelings exactly. I just can’t shake this impression of some crap advice in there somewhere and people trying to work around it.

                    But I am rather fond of BM in all of his incarnations and KK. They show a tenacity in sticking in here despite the obvious hostility of other commentators (and yes – including me) that tends to make them worth knowing.

      • Dr Terry 19.1.2

        I think it not too hard to guess what kind of people you talk to (probably only one or two anyway!)

  20. Peter 20

    R0b, your analysis is normally better than this…

    I mean, seriously, “Cunliffe positioned himself for a leadership challenge at conference (those who protest his innocence are naive in the extreme”.

    You know the party’s rules as well as I do – you can’t challenge for the leadership at a conference. Cunliffe’s plan has always been clear – sort it in February, maybe. From what I can see, and I didn’t attend conference, nothing has changed, and it won’t change, even after today’s so called vote.

    What I’m finding very distasteful currently is how some party activists, nominally of the “left”, have suddenly found themselves so afraid of Shearer’s faction and their supposed wrath that they are voting against their best interests. Young Labour is a classic – all of Labour’s next generation dutifully trotting to conference to vote according to Grant Robertson’s orders…

    What are we afraid of by standing up to some in caucus? Honestly, the worst that they can do is deny you a Parliamentary Services position, and most party members wouldn’t have a bar of it.

    I think in reality that Labour is still so used to maintaining order at the cost of democracy (Clark’s legacy) that for some older members, this is the default setting. It’s certainly reflective in your post. But we all should be better than that.

    If there’s a fight on for the heart and soul of the New Zealand Labour Party – the driving force behind much of New Zealand history – I sure as hell know which side I want to be on

    • dancerwaitakere 20.2

      Just to make it clear, there are SOME members of Young Labour that are capable of acting as more than a Robertson/Ardern fan club.  :P 

      It’s just a pity that at Conference most of YL lived up the expectations set by other former student politicians. 

       

  21. ianmac 21

    ROb says it all: Cunliffe is too good a politician to waste, and his supporters are too big a constituency to discard. Shearer should leave Cunliffe in his current role, reach out to him and the people that he represents.
    My view as well and all the weird stuff being said in comments on the Standard read like a bunch of fanatic supporters of one rugby team trying to shout down those of another team. Democracy. Fine but end result will be counterproductive.

    • kiwicommie 21.1

      Well to an outside observer it does look a bit that way, hopefully they mend each others wounds before the February vote or they will just be giving what the MSM want i.e. a divided Labour party they can attack so that their neo-liberal idol has a greater chance to stay in power.

  22. Fisiani 22

    So no matter what Shearer does today with Cunliffe , there will still be a leadership contest in February. Cunliffe still wants the job and will work tirelessly to achieve it either on the front or back bench. All the media focus will be on this throughout the summer and no Labour policy will make headway.

    [lprent: Typo e-mail? Should I fix it? ]

    • One Tāne Huna 22.1

      Like the media needs a way to keep Labour policy out of the headlines? On Planet Fisiani, is it?

  23. KhandallaMan 23

    R0b
    I agree with your analysis with one reservation.

    It is the membership that has been pushing for a Leader to fill the vacuum created placing below par performance of Shearer in his current position.  Cunliffe does not have to (and did not) make a bid for leadership at the weekend. The membership is willing him on. 

     

  24. Dr Terry 24

    All things being said (and so many things!) reconciliation always has to be a desirable thing.

    • Crimson Nile 24.1

      I agree here. Capable, mature adults need to take a professional approach and need to be seen to be taking a professional approach.

      “Going nuclear” is simply unnecessary, as is having MPs commenting against each other in public, leaking unhelpful hurtful comments about colleagues. It’s time for the Labour caucus to get it together and to cease being unreasonable and reactive.

    • seeker 24.2

      Agreed Dr T. -if the media and the likes of Chris Hipkins will allow it. Which is where a strong, wise leader who is his own man would come in handy. This could be Shearer’s real chance.

  25. pete 25

    The problem isn’t Shearer/Cunliffe.

    The Labour Party needs to be eviscerated and rebuilt. That should have happened four years ago.
    Leaders of the nation? Laughable when a group can’t even organise themselves, no?

    That will be the public perception in the coming months.

    The Greens will be happy….

    • George D 25.1

      The Greens will be happy….

      This Green is getting pretty upset at it all. Labour’s incompetence and inability to deliver a prospective government is screwing our ability to make the kind of change we’ve always wanted to see. Yes, another 5-10% support would be nice, but not at the expense of government.

      Oh, and no-one who mumbles and is unable answer questions with adequate conviction and clarity should be in public office. Goff had his problems, despite being a competent minister and excellent communicator in front of a crowd. Shearer is just an embarrassment.

      • weka 25.1.1

        As a Green I’m not happy either. I want co-operation politics and a good solid coaltion left wing govt after the next election. If Labour MPs think behaving like a pack of bitchy little kids is ok then we’re all in serious trouble.
         
        On the other hand, I’m feeling inspired by what’s happening with the membership.

    • Anne 25.2

      The Labour Party needs to be eviscerated and rebuilt. That should have happened four years ago.

      That is precisely what has been happening pete but it takes time. It started about 3 years ago with a lengthy round of regional meetings where the rank and file (for the first time in an eon) were allowed to have a proper say in what kind of Labour Party they wanted. The info. was collated and prioritised and sent back to the electorate organisations for comment. The practical aspects of the rebuild began about two years ago and the final building blocks were set in place last weekend. I refer to the constitutional and organisational remits.

      That was the point when the power clique inside Caucus lost the plot and decided to have their tantrum. It took everyone by surprise and it’s fair to say most of us are still reeling. In retrospect, I think it was always on the agenda because they knew there was a good chance the members and affiliates
      would succeed in reclaiming some of their former power. The problem is, they didn’t want people to know the real reason for their angst and anger, so they looked to the obvious scapegoat. Enter David Cunliffe from left stage.

      • pete 25.2.1

        I don’t think rebuilding it to come under control of the Unions is what is required. Nor is going even further left. It will be a disaster.

        The GFC changed the game. Tax, borrow and spend does not work under these conditions. The only thing that can possibly work is a sustainable economy built on earning more than we spend. Why can’t Labour and the Greens grasp this fact?

        • Anne 25.2.1.1

          You are reading something in my comments that isn’t there pete. It has nothing to do with the Unions gaining control… We’re talking about fundamental practical steps to ensure the Party operates at a more democratic level where everyone can fully participate. Union affiliates represent only a small part of that equation. Nevertheless its an important part. They represent thousands upon thousands of ordinary workers who are being drummed into the ground by this Nat. led government.

        • One Tāne Huna 25.2.1.2

          Pete, why are you talking about “tax borrow and spend” as though it represents the party that ran surpluses all the way from 1999 to 2008 and paid off debt incurred by Bill English?

          Are you one of those who thinks he’s entitled to his own facts? Grow up – you aren’t. You aren’t even expressing your own opinion – merely parroting lies you’ve heard.

          • pete 25.2.1.2.1

            Those “surpluses” were from over taxation. Obviously. We were also in a global boom (a fake one, as it turned out) – which is why we dived into recession when it came to an end. We’re a boat bobbing on a tide we can’t control (world markets). When they fall, so do we.

            There is only one sustainable economic position and that is to earn more than we spend. To grow the *size* of the pie. We can’t redistribute our way to prosperity, as many on the left seem to think. We can’t print fake money. It hasn’t worked anywhere.

            “You are reading something in my comments that isn’t there pete.”

            Well, I know it’s not being said. I *suspect* the Unions are gunning for control.

  26. Tangik 26

    When you have a weak leader you will find there will always be room for a challenge. To me Shearer has not performed and to close our eyes to this leaves the way clear for the National party.

    • Murray Machiavully 26.1

      Agreed, and yet it would seem whenever you have Cunliffe in the room there will be a challenge. “Naked ambition” has been the standard descriptive term used for him ever since he got into parliament. Closely followed by “arrogant” and “naked self-interest”. He is extremely competent in many ways but has managed to get every second person offside with him – not a great recipe for party politics, elections or PM under MMP. People can smell his demagogical insincerity a mile off.

      If he could only see past himself, he would do what Michael Cullen did, step aside for the muddling but affable and improving Shearer and pledge his unconditional support in exchange for being no.2. And then becoming the Opposition attack dog that highlights the government’s failings in no uncertain terms, and takes the resulting popularity hit in his leaders stead (NZers hate whingers, even when it’s totally justified). And help to set the policy agenda for Labour.

      The problem now is that all his shenanigans are coming home to roost and he is losing the trust of the party. If his own ambitions mean more to him than his party’s (or his country’s) then maybe he should be set loose. It’s all very well having a strong left wing policy agenda, but if you aren’t prepared to compromise on your own ambitions in order to further those policies…

      • Anne 26.1.1

        MM:
        I’ve had some personal experience of what can happen when some of your colleagues feel threatened by you. In my case, it was the management of a small Public Service agency in the late 1980s and early 1990s who were conducting at that time… what could best be described as a rort against another Public Service agency. I had previously been closely associated with some powerful politicians and – despite my persistent denials to the contrary – they were convinced that association still existed.

        They used every trick in the book to try and get rid of me, including spreading false stories and other tactics which, in my case, bordered on unlawful activity. They found nothing because there was nothing to find. As a result of that experience, I can smell a smear campaign a mile off and this one against Cunliffe is positively stinking!

        • Murray Machiavully 26.1.1.1

          Trevor Mallard and his disciple Chipkins are doing what they have always done, in fact, performing much the same role as i do in the National party ;-) [In Trev's case, well that's him to a T but could Someone please get rid of Chipkins] It seems like a smear but they are providing more smoke where there is already a fire so to speak. Jane Clifton’s column in the Listener is to the point.

          http://www.listener.co.nz/commentary/the-internaut/david-cunliffe-shearer-coup-history/

          Of course Cunliffe could long ago have avoided the ire of his caucus, including the smear department, if he’d been better at playing or at least pretending to play the team game. But he can’t – as Clifton points out he lacks the EQ – and that is his tragic flaw.

          I love his speeches on paper as much as the next lefty, but when you can see the video, the impression of a smarmy career politician saying what will please his audience is hard to swallow. The electorate went for a slightly smarmy Key but i doubt they will go for the Uber-smarmy Cunliffe. Any more than they would for Chipkins come to think of it. These guys raise all your average kiwis collective heckles when it comes to “damned politicians”.

  27. lprent 27

    I wasn’t paying much attention to politics back in the 80′s, so the current leadership stoush within Labour is quite an eye-opener for me.

    This is nothing. I didn’t get particularly active until the 90′s and those party conferences were pretty damn tense. This one was actually fun to watch.

    I do remember going to see a public meeting in 89? in Freemans Bay when Richard Prebble was still the Labour MP for Auckland Central. Now that was tense. That’s when I decided I’d rejoin up in Mt Albert

    • prism 27.1

      Did you hear little Richard this morning on Radionz. Cunning little weasel at working out tactics. He has no shame that guy. And when you’re a neo lib in some popular quote ‘You never have to say you’re sorry’. FYI he thinks there will be a challenge in Feb and someone else will win it but not Cunliffe.

  28. Hami Shearlie 28

    The way I see it is this -politically, Cunliffe is HOT HOT HOT, Shearer is NOT NOT NOT!! Cunliffe would attract the female vote for a start! Shearer is like a many times reheated sausage roll – the taste doesn’t get better with time! A leader who can’t speak eloquently in public is a total embarrassment!!

    • Santi 28.1

      True, Shearer should improve his communication skills, but the assertion Cunliffe is “HOT”, as you put it, is totally baseless. What female would could he attract? Are you blind?

      Shearer for his centrist positions is the best to take on Key.

      • felix 28.1.1

        Centrist smentrist. The people Labour need to attract are the people who currently don’t vote, and they aren’t ever going to vote for a right-wing party like National or a right-wing dickhead like Key.

        The handful of hypothetical dickhead voters in the imaginary middle can get fucked. (Or vote National, same thing.)

        • One Tāne Huna 28.1.1.1

          “get fucked”. (Or vote National, same thing.)

          +1

        • pete 28.1.1.2

          There’s nothing right-wing about Key.

          So you’re gunning for the vote that is so left they even see Mana as being too neo-lib, so they currently don’t vote?

          • felix 28.1.1.2.1

            “There’s nothing right-wing about Key. “

            Yeah sure, plenty of non right-wing people think Fox News is a good source of learning.

            “So you’re gunning for the vote that is so left they even see Mana as being too neo-lib, so they currently don’t vote?”

            No. I’m talking about the voters that see Mana as too radical, the Greens as too liberal, National as a bunch of cunts and Labour as a big boring irrelevant waste of time.

            If you need it spelled out any simpler for you, they used to be known as “Labour voters” and now they’re known as “non-voters”.

  29. As an outsider, it seems to me that the best solution for the Labour Party in the current situation is for Shearer to go directly to the party for his mandate (under the 40-40-20 split, I suppose) – perhaps in February, but announced now.

    Labour needs to be united behind a leader the entire party can accept has been elected appropriately, rather than just by the caucus. ‘Appropriate’ now means by the new rules, which all sides appear to see as progress (Shearer’s supporters here note that he ‘championed’ the review leading to this system of choosing leaders so presumably they’d be on-side with this.). Rather than just demanding all members be ‘loyal’ it would actually legitimise the leadership beyond any question.

    This is Shearer’s current problem – his lack of broad legitimacy in the party. Doing as I suggest would show real leadership by him – even if, ironically, it led to him losing. That is the kind of ‘leader’ Labour needs – someone willing to sacrifice their ambitions for the basic cause. As reward, I imagine even if he lost he would be given a senior position on the front bench. If he won, then, ‘yes’, time to unite, shake hands, etc., etc..

    As Gordon Campbell pointed out in his piece on this, the real division is within the party more broadly over what part of the political spectrum it should occupy.

    Anything else will be a band-aid that simply delays the process of repositioning the party along the lines desired by most of its members.

    Basically, I’m just advocating use of the new, more democratic process. That shouldn’t be controversial.

    I think it would also look quite principled to the public – if not, it could certainly be defended in that way (rather than simply looking ‘tough’). 

    • Lanthanide 29.1

      Yeah, I agree.

      Announce now that the vote in February in caucus will be pro-forma with *all* MPs voting for the leadership challenge. Shearer says he will put in his bid for leadership, all other MPs are requested and required to not declare their candidacy more than 2 weeks out from the caucus vote and media inquiries will not be entertained until then.

      Let the wider party decide. That way if Shearer wins, it looks genuine, as does any other winner.

      • George D 29.1.1

        He and his need to regain legitimacy, desperately. Doing so, and then reshuffling immediately afterwards to include the losers and the talent that supported them, is entirely necessary.

  30. There isn’t a contradiction between unity in the battle against the Nats and open debate inside the left. Labour’s opposition needs to get factional:
    http://www.readingthemaps.blogspot.co.nz/2012/11/labour-and-f-word.html

  31. Fisiani 31

    Will Shearer act decisively and cut all the cancer from his caucus? He will not be allowed to do so. Imagine the fratricide that would take place if 11 MP’s were expelled from caucus.
    Plan B is now in play. Rig the list and selection process with Cunliffe loyalists over the next two years, win power in 2014 and then overthrow Shearer the day after the election. The Plan B Coup. A PM appointed by the unions for the unions without the consent of New Zealand.

    • Santi 31.1

      Will Shearer act decisively and cut all the cancer from his caucus?
      He has to. He must purge disloyal elements and get on with life.

      • One Tāne Huna 31.1.1

        “Disloyal”?

        Citation needed. The more you make this bold statement without a shred of backup the more I question your sincerity.

        • r0b 31.1.1.1

          OTH – I may be able to save you a little time here.

          It was a while ago, perhaps folk have forgotten, but Santi is a full fledged right wing troll. S/he seems to have come out of retirement just to enjoy the current mess, and is only here to wind people up.

          Sorry to spoil your fun Santi.

          • One Tāne Huna 31.1.1.1.1

            Thanks R0b – I hadn’t seen the handle before but the conclusion was becoming inescapable.

            Another Tory backing Shearer. Can’t imagine why.

            • lprent 31.1.1.1.1.1

              In the search box try typing this
              @author Santi
              In the advanced – set to comments

              Easy way to find commentators and what they have said before.

  32. Michael 32

    While Shearer will probably hang on to the caucus leadership today, I expect he will be rolled early next year, after the rest of the caucus eventually conclude they have no chance of forming a government with him at its head. The interesting question today is who benefits from defenestrating Cunliffe? While it may gain Shearer a bit of breathing space, and perhaps the chance to cut a decent exit deal, I just don’t see him staying at Labour’s apex for long.

  33. Fisiani 33

    Even better scenario. Assume Shearer improves and wins. Then the day after election get a new leader. Shearer loyalists and Cunliffe loyalists will thus fight list placement and candidate selection tooth and nail. This could end in mutual destruction and a flood of votes to the Greens.

    • mike e 33.1

      Fishy anal Democracy a little hard to handle!
      That won’t happen as the whole party will be behind the winning leader you sound like you have been to the Matthew Hooten school of skull skulduggery!

  34. Treetop 34

    I thought that an opposition leader needs to attack the opposition and not his oponent. In other words Shearer expects loyality from Cunliffe and he appears to not give loyality as the leader.

    Waiting for the result from caucus to then see the level of Shearer’s disloyaly toward Cunliffe. If Cunliffe is demoted BIG MISTAKE.

  35. Santi 35

    Shearer should run a mile from him: http://newstalkzb.co.nz/wellington/news/nbpol/1405737597-goff-urging-labour-to-endorse-shearer

    Labour’s former leader is urging his colleagues to endorse the incumbent. Phil Goff says an endorsement for Mr Shearer today will be a useful exposure of the leader’s support.

    I think it’s important the caucus makes absolutely clear our overwhelming support for David Shearer as our leader taking us through to the next election.

    Mr Goff says he’ll be voting for Mr Shearer today and in February.

    • felix 35.1

      Readers should run a mile from Santi. He hates Labour and wants the party to fail.

      Best ignored.

      • Santi 35.1.1

        No, felix. I call it as I see it.

        Shearer is trying to modernise Labour (along the Tony Blair lines) to be credible enough in the eyes of middle NZ to steal enough of the centre off National, whereas his party wants to out flank the Greens on the left.

        • felix 35.1.1.1

          Correct, you call it as you see it.

          And as you see it, Labour is the enemy.

          As above, best ignored.

        • mike e 35.1.1.2

          Trying to be a grinch santi .All your Xmas’s have come at once . Yeah out flank like don brash did for National aye at Orewa!

    • QoT 35.2

      Right, so Goff doesn’t understand how the new constitutional rules work … and we’re meant to listen to a damn thing he says?

  36. AmaKiwi 36

    Shearer has demoted Cunliffe.

  37. SPC 37

    As a total outsider my guess based on human nature – protecting ones privileges – is this.

    The Labour caucus is known to be one dominated by factions. One gets a share of the spoils by being in one. So when caucus primacy is threatened by greater party determination of leadership, the entrenched established power base in caucus has its self interest to protect. And the faction in power in caucus most of all. So all those who have status in caucus now, through seniority or patronage, are going to react.

    The attack on Cunliffe was an attack on party members challenging the status quo. He is a personification of the fear the old guard feels about a new order in the party caucus ranking and loss of control over policy development.

    It’s also a declaration of war over candidate selection in 2014, so the party cannot storm their centre of power in caucus (by determining leadership or new intake) – Kiwiblog is personifying party aspiration for democracy as a Cunliffe device – in this Farrar is serving the interests of the Labour caucus elite. Why?

    It would seem Shearer is not seen as his own man – not by his own caucus supporters who use him as their front or by political opponents. The right don’t fear him as an opponent in a campaign or even as a PM (thinking they can break him to the centre 2000 media style if in government).

    Shearer was the candidate for a new beginning for Labour, one not part of the past. This allowed fresh policy thinking – it worked well with party rejuvenation. He had a good resume but was inexperienced. He seemed someone the old guard could safely use to retain influence while the party itself went through renewal and rebuilding. It could have worked, if those in caucus embraced change and democratisation without fear for loss of their control (their privilege).

    But they were not big enough people to do the right thing. So they now have to live this down and make better choices in future.

    National will hope they can encourage more self-destructive protection of their own nest by the Labour caucus, so that they do not face an opposition united with any conviction that they are in this for their party and the country, rather than developing their own career within a caucus faction.

  38. michael 38

    I think it’s long past time for Labour to move back to where it came from and where its base remains – left (in the NZ context, meaning it’s nothing like North Korea, Cuba, or even Chile under Allende (and we know what happened there – Rogernomics with guns). Over one third of the electorate no longer votes. If Labour can get one-third of the don’t votes into the booths, it will become government again (with help from the Greens and ?). To do that, Labour must offer the people something better than New Right economics – even the Pepsi version it currently peddles. Comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable.

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