In my opinion, Robert Winter at idle thoughts of an idle fellow has probably the most accurate assessment of the effect of the David Shearer speech at the Labour conference.
My own post was stalled whilst writing because my head keeps shifting from prose to code, my back hurts (damn those conference chairs), and I keep reading the reaction of others in the feed. When I found his post I dumped what I’d written and I’m going to quote in full without permission because Robert hasn’t left an email on his site. Hopefully he won’t mind and if he does then I’ll probably hear about it – but I’ll get his email as well (hint hint).
Just remember that r&f = rank and file.
It was a good speech, cleverly introduced by Anuschka Meyer – strong on values and traditions, hard on National’s failures, with a powerful overview of where Labour differs from National across many policy areas, and some concrete housing stuff. More on that later.
It was also notable for its opening plea for unity against the real target (National) – a clear reference to what is now a complex internal debate for Labour. The r&f have demanded and won a more democratic process. This is good. Caucus is smarting, and now knows, I hope that it is not a question of who is above and below the salt.
Was it the speech to keep him in his job? This is now an interesting question. Mr Shearer will feel a little constrained, having called for unity if he is considering, first, gaining an immediate endorsement and, second, moving against Mr Cunliffe. The r&f would not take kindly to that. Equally, however, the sense that a pro-Cunliffe clique overplayed its hand in the conference is growing. The r&f call for a more democratic party is not fungible with r&f support for Mr Cunliffe. He is in notice, I think, that the party is more interested in winning in 2014, and profoundly less interested in internecine strife in the caucus. That warning has gone out to others too, such as Mr Jones.
So, as I see it now, the onus has been thrown back by the r&f to caucus to behave reasonably and in the interests of the party. This will, I think, serve Mr Shearer’s purpose well, at least in the short term.
The other obvious backroom discourse is that the two Davids – Parker and Cunliffe – make an excellent team in the economic portfolio – potentially a winning one. Anything that weakens that team is seen by many to be very wrong. So, again, we have a pressure for accommodation.
Such pressure may not be able withstand other, more fragmenting pressures, but what is clear is that the layers of complexity in the party have not been reduced by the advent of a a more democratic process.
It was, all in all, a damned good conference.
I almost agree completely with Robert and his assessment of the r&f. They were happy with the speech and most were happy with the conference outcomes. While there were the few moments of procedural and equipment comedy on the remit floor, Robert Gallagher and Jordan Carter and their helpers did a efficient job of getting the remits dealt with in good humour. It was a damn good conference.
I’d make that 3 David’s – add David Clark with his revenue shadow on to that as well. I had a talk to him on Friday. He pointed me to another infrastructural issue at the IRD that needs looking at. After I do some reading on current big iron systems, catch up on my paid employment, and get my coding fix – I’ll write on them.
I have to thank the working press for their toleration of my presence during the weekend. I will probably see you in other party conferences if I am able to attend. Also the NZLP for allowing me to attend in a media observer role.
And finally a booby prize for Cameron Slater. There were a few photos taken of me during the conference that may eventually wind up on the net. A conference that you were probably unable to attend because they’d looked at your previous behaviour that got you banned at a National party conference. So we didn’t meet. But if you can find them you’ll have something to photoshop in your usual considered editorial fashion.