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The Standard

Shuffle the caucus deck

Written By: - Date published: 12:06 pm, November 12th, 2012 - 89 comments
Categories: accountability, activism, blogs, david shearer, dpf, election 2014, labour, leadership, Left, Politics, The Standard - Tags:

Since the leadership debacles of the late 80’s and early 90’s, I’ve always had a strong dislike of shifting leadership mid-term in coups. The sight of scavengers scrabbling over the corpse of their party is unedifying, distracts from real political work, and above all it is an absolute turn-off for voters. There is no point in volunteering for a parliamentary party that spends too much time focused on the social dominance games we inherited from our social band ancestry and not enough of doing what is needed to be done to gain the treasury benches to effect real change.

So my view (expressed here frequently) is that the only time in the electoral calendar that I see for leadership debates  is immediately after an lost election or those rare times when someone retires or dies in office. The corollary of that is that leaders should step down gracefully without having to be dragged kicking and screaming from office in National party style coups*.

After all if you’re a professional politician you should have given the election your best shot. You damn well know if you have a reasonable chance of winning the next election. If you can’t or can’t convince your colleagues and party activists, then the best thing that you can give a party is a chance to select someone who can. Since the loss of leadership by Mike Moore 19 years ago this has been the pattern followed inside the NZLP caucus.

However while I value the stability of this style of leadership change. I also strongly value political competence. So I’m having to rethink my opposition to mid-term leadership changes in the light of the strange decision of the caucus to promote into leadership someone who now has just over three years of parliamentary experience, no cabinet experience, and who hasn’t mastered the ability to deal with the media.

When David Shearer came up for the leadership my first thought was that this was a joke. It hasn’t changed since. And my reaction isn’t uncommon amongst Labour party activists.

Sure he had a lot of support from some of the media, the right wing blogs, and the like. He was a “nice bloke” with a good story. So what? None of those places are noted hotbeds of work for the cause of the left. Charm is an occupational requirement for a politician and anyone with experience in politics automatically discounts it. And back stories are a dime a dozen which seldom survive more than a few years in politics.

What he didn’t have was much enthusiastic support from the party activists. At best it was lukewarm. It was also more from the less active activists than the most active. Why?

Because we’re the cynical and usually very experienced buggers who give up our time to ensure that the Labour party gets elected. This goes far beyond simply delivering leaflets, door knocking, phone banking, and finding a bit of money to get local MP’s elected. We’re the ones who talk to people about why we support the Labour party and implicitly why they should vote for them. We do it when the caucus is in post-loss depression and they can’t get a press release written about by the media. We do it when the party is on the rise. And we do it when the party is in power.

But we have to have something to work with. Now the problem is that for whatever reasons the caucus has elected into the leadership a person who is so politically inexperienced that he can’t recognise some obvious potholes like his house painter anecdote or the GCSB tape screwup. And even after he blunders into them he still can’t see what the damn problem was. And when he talks to the media about his decisions, his ability to push his reasons for his actions are so frigging confused that even we can’t figure it out, and I have the strong suspicion that he doesn’t know either. All of this was obviously going to happen when he put his name up for leadership.

There was always the possibility that he would have had some good solid competent political backup while he worked himself into the role. But clearly that either hasn’t been provided or that he hasn’t availed himself of it. Even in something so basic as leading a coherent caucus displays this. The obvious sign of this has been the continuing disaster of Shane Jones acting on his own, outside his non-existant portfolios, and no-one apparently trying to put a muzzle on him.

The lack of discipline in the caucus where a rogue MP can obscure the political messages from caucus colleagues without even a hint of censure speaks volumes about how dysfunctional David Shearer’s caucus has become.

With all due respect to the views of my fellow authors Mike Smith and r0b who are inclined to give David Shearer more time to develop, I tend to agree with Eddie and IrishBill. I don’t think that there appears to be enough sign of any attempted improvement. And the time for activists to decide how much commitment they are prepared to push into a victory in 2014 or earlier (a one seat majority in the house isn’t exactly stable) is around about now. Many of the activists will be heading to the conference now with exactly that question on their mind. Which is why the question arises now*

I know that I am. I was somewhat limited in how much effort I could have done last year because of a heart attack earlier in the year so I did a lot less than I have in any election for the last 20 years. I wound up doing very little apart from voter targeting for a number of electorates. But I have plenty of time over what should be a healthy next few years. I’ve even got the bulk of my current projects for work shipping.

Now I’m contemplating how much commitment I want to give to the party compared to the other things I do. The answer is coming up as being “not much”. In fact I’m finding that of all of the activities I might want to do in NZ politics, the most productive is probably spending more time working on this site. Which is why I’ll be attending the conference next week (if at all) as part of the media rather than my usual delegate role.

The reason is that I have lost confidence in the parliamentary caucus being capable of even trying to head towards a electoral victory. As a group they seem to spend more time posturing to each other and to the media in the beltway than doing the job they need to do across NZ.

Labour isn’t going to grow their actual vote without getting people to go to the polling booths – a lesson driven home over the last week with the techniques used in Obama victory. The ability of the party to do that is diminishing as activists across the country get frustrated with the obstruction of  the parliamentary caucus. The caucus appears to be the main impediment to building the type of party organisational activity that would be required to build that victory and sustain it over several elections.

Labour needs someone who can control the ill-disciplined and incoherent rabble in the parliamentary caucus or at the very least get them moving in the same direction. David Shearer and his support team don’t appear to me to be those people. If they are even trying then they are failing miserably.

Somehow I don’t think that a single speech is going to fix that. It is a structural problem with the caucus and the elevation of David Shearer to the leadership is more of a incidental symptom than being the problem.

Update: Brian Edwards has a post up that has a slightly different take on it. I suspect that he is being optimistic that a simple leadership change can fix the underlying problem.

Update: Dimpost also posted on this earlier in the day with a certain degree of scepticism on the single defining speech idea.

Update: I see that Scott at Imperator Fish shares my disquiet at the antics of Shane Jones and questions why nothing is being done about him.

 

* David Farrars “experience” with Labour seems to be on the same order as Andrea Vance’s understanding of Labour‘s leadership changes – complete bullshit. Vance appears to be living in Australia and observing the ALP. David Farrar was very selective in not linking to r0b’s and Mike’s posts in his post about this site this morning. And he also clearly didn’t read any of the posts to the point that he engaged some actual thought about why this is topical for NZLP activists prior to conference. Instead he seems to have invented yet another nutbar conspiracy theory. Oh well I guess he is just practicing for writing trash for the Truth. He probably hasn’t considered the simple fact that this will be the first large meeting of Labour activists to meet since the caucus decision. 

89 comments on “Shuffle the caucus deck”

  1. Craig Glen Eden 1

    Absolutely spot on LPRENT. Sadly I dont think the caucus will listen but everything you said was true.

  2. mike 2

    It has been a great source of frustration to me that our party has not this year front-footed the huge underlying problem i.e., monetarism, market driven madness, Reaganism, Rogernomics, call it what you like, it’s the elephant in the room. Now that Obama’s victory has so hammered the greedy right and their evangelical hangers on, the new world of more government action and regulation of our politics and economy will become a mantra that we may have been able to lead, and been confirmed in by the US election. Now, even if we do go down that road we are followers. What a waste of a great opportunity to look ahead of the game. Without revealing any policy secrets we could have taken the lead in identifying what the problem was that we needed to attend to. Oh well!

    • The Baron 2.1

      LOL you wanna take Obama as your inspiration? Do you know anything about how far right Obama is compared to your beloved Labour party?

      If you’re thinking that any change to the neo-lib orthodoxy has occurred thanks to his reelection then I’m afraid you’re strangely mistaken.

      • Colonial Viper 2.1.1

        Obama did very well in terms of electoral and campaign strategy. The fact that he is right wing and neoliberal is simply a reflection of the USA.

        • The Baron 2.1.1.1

          … neither of which was what mike was commenting on, was it CV?

          Praise him for his campaigning, sure. But a shining inspirational beacon for the NZ Left? Again: LOL. Don’t delude yourselves with all the hope-y change-y posters, Mike. You ain’t gonna see anything different on monetary policy out of Obama – though he could be inspirational in showing you what happens when you spend far, FAR more than you earn in taxation.

          I guess that could be a handy lesson for the NZ Left after all.

  3. Tracey 3

    I still believe that the ball was dropped post election when Goff announced his retirement. He should have stayed on as leader for six months, while a measured selection process and post mortem (election) was undertaken.

    marry in haste repent at leisure

    • Populuxe1 3.1

      Absolutely Goff should have stayed. By the time of the last election he had accumulated enough mana to be taken seriously as leader material. Personally I think he would have come into is own if he had just hung on until 2013.

    • CentreOfLeft 3.3

      + 3. The media would have hammered him for leading such a big defeat but he’s a big boy, he can take it.
      Plus if he were leader now, I think he’d be a lot more effective in landing some hits against the government than the current leader
      And who doesn’t like a good old phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes story? (or is that only for people named Winston?)

    • Redbaron77 3.4

      Fully agree. The change of leadership was undertaken with unnecessary and indecent haste. The public did not really know Phil Goff as Labour leader until the four-five weeks of the 2011 campaign. and then he was gone. In hindsight I suspect PG would have gained more traction with the public than the current leadership but that is pure speculation now. However at the very least PG earned the right from his performance in the 2011 campaign to oversee the transition to a new leadership team.

  4. Peter 4

    I am close to just pushing the button on a system within the Labour Party that avoids caucus entirely, and gets the job of organising done. It requires resourcing, but that can be achieved in many ways. There are very few MPs in the current caucus with any experience or desire to work on building the party’s organising capacity – we lost most of it when Pete Hodgson retired.

    Lynn will appreciate the internet analogy – the internet determines a blockage and routes around it. We need to do the same with the NZLP. If caucus isn’t listening, just bypass them.

    • lprent 4.1

      I’ll help with resourcing.

      • jamie prentice 4.1.1

        Now you are talking take back what NZ needs, otherwise the arrogant A. will continue destroying our future and my children will have to continue living overseas cause NZ will be a place for a few and labour is supposed to be about the many.

        • lprent 4.1.1.1

          And I’d prefer to be able to see my neice and nephew again without having to get on a plane.

          I saw you’d discovered the site the other day. The kids adapted to China ok? I’ll fire up skype on the laptop tomorrow and catch up.

    • Colonial Viper 4.2

      Sounds good, count me in too.

    • Saarbo 4.3

      Count me in too, caucus are too worried about their jobs and egoes to make the best call for Labour’s future.

    • Shane Gallagher 4.4

      But the Green Party already has a website and membership forms online…. ;-)

      • Peter 4.4.1

        Well, if Labour still stands for anything, it stands for loyalty.

        • Jim Nald 4.4.1.1

          Even that is wearing thin.

        • Shane Gallagher 4.4.1.2

          Speaking with my trade union hat on when we were negotiating with Labour ministers for pay and changes to legislation it was very clear to me that that loyalty only went one way.

          Kind of like trickle down loyalty…

          • Peter 4.4.1.2.1

            Yes, it’s because the party has nothing to instil fear in caucus. No power, no shots to fire if certain things aren’t met. Unfortunately in these games, just being nice won’t cut it, nor will waiting to be rewarded for the good things that you did. They are forgotten.

  5. Michael 5

    I hope someone’s asked the old Silver Fox for tips on how to rebuild the Party. After all, he (together with Michael Cullen, Ruth Dyson and Steve Maharey) did it earlier, after Anderton (and the lefties) walked out. I reckon online communications are the way to go (Red Alert being an example of what not to do). It shouldn’t be that hard to set up electronic voting and polling systems for financial members. As for communications, what a great way to bypass the MSM.

    • Peter 5.1

      Well, maybe. I’m not keen on electronic parties, largely because activism comes from having people together in a room, rather than keyboard activists. Arguably, keyboard activists and clicktivism is one of the largest problems facing the NZLP today.

      If electronic communications can get people together, then yes. If it’s just more email, more texts, and more FB messages, then no.

      • lprent 5.1.1

        Yep.

        But the problem there is that the current system inside Labour for getting people together in a room is hopelessly dated.

        Having someone standing in front of a room saying something that they could say to a camera or a post is a pointless waste of (my) time.

        Having meetings of more than about 8 people for a discussion is pointless for achieving anything much because you’ll always find a PG style person standing up and hogging the limited bandwidth.

        Do those on electronic with just enough public meetings to keep the illiterate generations up to date.

        You need to get people together in a room to achieve a task. Use the electronic to make that task clear at the outset so you don’t get the endless waffle that is as meaningless as email lists that never do anything or facebook.

        • Colonial Viper 5.1.1.1

          Exactly. Some corporate/professional discipline wouldn’t go amiss. We’re not here to make everyone feel warm and fuzzy about themselves, we’re here to get the best damn Labour Government in the world in power for a long time.

    • alwyn 5.2

      The only “Silver Fox” I’ve ever heard of is Richard Griffin.
      I can’t really believe you mean him so please satisfy my curiosity by telling me who you mean.

  6. Well unless Labour get’s its act together we are going to see another three years of National and a potential implosion of the NZ economy, starting with more welfare cuts, further attacks on workers rights, weakening business confidence (made no better by National’s refusal to adopt stimulus measures or intervene in the economy) and even higher unemployment rates.

  7. The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 7

    Fucking hell.

    Five of the last nine posts on the Standard are about dumping Shearer.

    One of the others is open mike.

    This is totes amazeballs.

    • Tracey 7.1

      I know what you mean, it’s awful watching people want to express an opinion about leadership. I don’t know why they dont just lead it to the leaders. They all know what’s best for us don’t they?

      • Colonial Viper 7.1.1

        Currently the NATs have banned their members taking public stances against Government policy or against John Key. If you do, your membership to the party will be immediately cancelled.

        That’s how nervous they are at the moment.

        • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 7.1.1.1

          They should be nervous. Luckily for them the opposition is so inept, nothing they fuck up has electoral consequences.

      • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 7.1.2

        Unelectable.

  8. Raymond A Francis 8

    I find it hard to believe that when the Country and the poor are, by anyone with the slightest left wing perception, being shafted, is a time for an activist to say their position for change is to do
    ““not much”.
    Fortunatly the comments above are a little more positive but no wonder the left/Labour are stuffed

    • lprent 8.1

      The problem is what would I be pushing for. At present it looks like a pack of incompetents who can’t work together implementing an incoherent set of objectives. Now I realize this also describes the National party as well. However….

      I also have a considerable range of choices in what I can expend my time on. My paid work is always a lot of fun to do and a damn sight more interesting than politics. There are other voluntary ‘political’ activities that I can expect more consistent results without relying on some gormless prima donnas who can’t work together for the eventual outcomes. For instance this political blog or just helping out people and groups closer to coalface. Or there are a few open source projects that I’d like to spend more time getting into.

      Each carries some weight. The problem is that the NZLP is diminishing as a worthwhile place for me to exert effort into. It is a structure that seems to just waste my effort and that of those of other activists. Until it changes that, there doesn’t seem like much “change” can be achieved with them as a vehicle.

      …is a time for an activist to say their position for change is to do “not much”

      Why? To change things doesn’t require a political party. It can be done far more directly if that is a more effective route to the desired results. If part of a political party has become an impediment to change as I have seen the NZLP’s parliamentary caucus become over the last 20 years, and it is reluctant to be changed, then the most effective way to get change is to do other tasks worth doing and let them carry on withering into irrelevance.

      • Raymond A Francis 8.1.1

        Fair enough, you only live once and how you spend your time doing that is your business, as you say propping up the Labour Party is not the only way to bring about change
        It just worries me that far to may left activists, while moaning about the present Government, can not be bothered actually doing anything about the present state of affairs, which to my mind makes them far worse class traitors than any right winger
        And if you really want to see what is wrong with Labour check out the picture doing the rounds of Labours Leader and Deputy Leader having a yarn in the Air New Zealand Koru lounge.
        Time they stopped taking the perks and got out and mixed with the rest of us

        • Fisiani 8.1.1.1

          Two senior Labour MP’s in the Koru lounge. tut Tut Robertson soon living it up at the Warner’s Hobbit premiere. They have forgotten who put them there. Labour needs representatives in Parliament who have actually worked for a living in a job that people can relate to.

        • karol 8.1.1.2

          2 MPs chatting in an airport lounge.  Nothing to see here just a W/O beat up.  Nothing to show they don’t go amongst ordinary people.

        • lprent 8.1.1.3

          It just worries me that far to may left activists, while moaning about the present Government, can not be bothered actually doing anything about the present state of affairs…

          I think that if you looked you’d find that they are doing a lot already. There are very few left activists who aren’t involved in at least one other avenue of change outside of political parties. In fact I’d be hard pushed to think of one who exerts all of their efforts through a political party.

          …having a yarn in the Air New Zealand Koru lounge.

          What exactly is so special about the Koro? Everyone who does a lot of travel gets access to it if they want it from airpoints alone.

          Personally I don’t travel these days unless I can’t avoid it so I don’t use it. However I’m pretty sure that my partner uses it because she seems to spend an inordinate amount of her time in planes. I know most of the travellers in every organisation I’ve worked in for years use it or something like it, etc etc.

          It is a convenience because once you’ve seen your nth airport it is no longer of any interest while you’re hanging around after the early checkin to sit around the airport doing sweet FA.It is convenient and worth the minimal fees just to get adequate access to the net

        • fatty 8.1.1.4

          “It just worries me that far to may left activists, while moaning about the present Government, can not be bothered actually doing anything about the present state of affairs, which to my mind makes them far worse class traitors than any right winger”

          Shit Raymond…that’s a moronic and arrogant statement. Most left leaning activists I know do a lot in their communities. Maybe you just know self-obsessed and selfish people

        • Descendant Of Smith 8.1.1.5

          “far worse class traitors than any right winger”

          Labour abandoned it’s principles in the 80’s and you have the cheek to call me a traitor for wanting left wing principles back.

          Something I’ve espoused to local Labour MP’s and their local ilk for years and on this site for the last few. I see little sign of being listened to and little sign of a fundamental shift back to the left.

          I’m a voter and at the end of the day it’s my vote that puts or doesn’t put Labour in power.

          Voting is more powerful than you give it credit.

          If Labour wants to win it has to win my vote back – not get my time and effort which may or may not change things within the party.

  9. higherstandard 9

    Helen should send H2 back to NZ to sort the fuckers out.

  10. Pete 10

    ‘What I was going to say,’ said the Dodo in an offended tone, ‘was, that the best thing to get us dry would be a Caucus-race.’

    ‘What IS a Caucus-race?’ said Alice; not that she wanted much to know, but the Dodo had paused as if it thought that SOMEBODY ought to speak, and no one else seemed inclined to say anything.

    ‘Why,’ said the Dodo, ‘the best way to explain it is to do it.’ (And, as you might like to try the thing yourself, some winter day, I will tell you how the Dodo managed it.)

    First it marked out a race-course, in a sort of circle, (‘the exact shape doesn’t matter,’ it said,) and then all the party were placed along the course, here and there. There was no ‘One, two, three, and away,’ but they began running when they liked, and left off when they liked, so that it was not easy to know when the race was over. However, when they had been running half an hour or so, and were quite dry again, the Dodo suddenly called out ‘The race is over!’ and they all crowded round it, panting, and asking, ‘But who has won?’

    This question the Dodo could not answer without a great deal of thought, and it sat for a long time with one finger pressed upon its forehead (the position in which you usually see Shakespeare, in the pictures of him), while the rest waited in silence. At last the Dodo said, ‘EVERYBODY has won, and all must have prizes.’

  11. pete 11

    Changing the lipstick won’t change the fact the organisation is rotten to the core. You’re asking the wrong question if you think a leader is the answer.

    • Jim Nald 11.1

      That is a very apt description of the National Party troughers, and while John Key is on his way out (signs are that he has already mentally vacated) the Natz have unpalatable options with any answer provided in the form of Joyce, Collins, Parata bla bla bla.

  12. the sprout 12

    A well written piece Lynn – rings very true.

  13. Wow I bet you are off Shearer’s chrismas card list now lprent.  I agree with you entirely about activist levels of commitment.

     

    • lprent 13.1

      I just find the saga irritating.

      David Shearer has the makings of being a damn fine MP, good cabinet minister, and maybe with a few terms under his belt a possible PM. But throwing him in after less than two years into the leadership role was just stupid.There is no way that he can deal with the sharks of the media, idiot MP’s trying to prove how silly they can be, parliamentary procedures, or the party organisational work because he has effectively no experience in any of these or the many other facets of the role.

      It is not that I have any particular favouritism towards David Cunliffe either. It is simply that he has the basic skills to make a reasonable pass at doing the role competently (and like QoT, I can’t see any good alternatives).

      But what I’m primarily pissed off about is that the dumbarse caucus with their heads stuck so far into their own pathetic games that they aren’t getting the tools together to actually win an election despite the vagaries of their opponents and simple mistakes. Right now they’re wide open to losing it by accident with the consequences largely being borne by the people they usually represent.

      • mickysavage 13.1.1

        It has been that way for a while.  I cam remember working hard on campaigns in the 12 months up to the last election and watching support gradually rise but then see the gains evaporate because of the actions of an idiot MP.  The Helen Clark mode of discipline needs to be restored, fast.

      • Tom Gould 13.1.2

        But you simply cannot ignore the fact that Shearer has been in the job for 11 months and has failed to flip the polling of the most consistently popular Prime Minister since Savage, maybe Seddon. He just has to go. It’s the Labour way.

        • Magnus McManus 13.1.2.1

          You’re missing the point.
          It’s not that he’s only been in the job for 11 months, it’s that he’s got the job at all. He’s even more out of his depth than the PM. Which is a fact that any opposition leader worthy of the title (Shearer is not) should be making abundently obvious. It’s not as if he’s mkaing it difficult or anything.

  14. Stephen Doyle 14

    So who should be on the front bench with what portfolio?

  15. Tiresias 15

    Politics is too important to be left to politicians.

    This post spends its words complaining that Shearer is not a politician, i.e. a small-brained, self-serving, egotistical jerk with charisma and a gift of the gab who probably wouldn’t succeed as a used-car salesman because he’s better at working a crowd.

    That Shearer isn’t a ‘natural’ politician in the modern mould is his best feature, in my opinion.

    What he needs, and won’t succeed without, is the unfailing support of those behind him. That he clearly doesn’t have because too many like Iprent want someone photogenic and quick with the smart-arse one-liner above someone thoughtful, honest, sincere and genuine.

    Fortunately I abandoned Labour for the Greens many election ago so the internicene warfare socialists love above all else means little to me now.

    • lprent 15.1

      I couldn’t give a shit if he was photogenic. Read the damn post and use that thing you like to call a brain rather than making up a story about what you thought I said.

      What I care about is having the basics like for instance – being able to deal with his caucus, knowing the parliamentary rules, knowing the party rules, how to run a political campaign, and how to answer questions when the media tries to trip him up. These are some of the basics required for a political leader to run their MP’s, party, and an election campaign without falling over their damn inexperience.

      These are all things that a political leader in NZ needs to know. David Shearer is a neophyte at all of them and it shows. The further into the campaign it gets the more it will hurt the party’s chances at getting a decent shot at the treasury benches.

      Because he not only doesn’t have them, nor appears to understand how much he lacks them. It makes it bloody hard to traipse loyally after a caucus that elected such a liability to the leadership position.

      I’d also point out that if Labour doesn’t make a good showing then the Greens have bugger all chance at achieving much either. The reason Labour will fail will be the usual one. People who would vote for Labour won’t turn out because they either can’t see a reason to do so and/or the Labour efforts to increase turnout by reminding people that there is an election on don’t happen or happen poorly.

      The Greens haven’t been noticeable at increasing turnout in the past and I don’t really expect them to get too much better any time soon.

      • Blue 15.1.1

        “What I care about is having the basics like for instance – being able to deal with his caucus, knowing the parliamentary rules, knowing the party rules, how to run a political campaign, and how to answer questions when the media tries to trip him up. These are some of the basics required for a political leader to run their MP’s, party, and an election campaign without falling over their damn inexperience.”

        Absolutely. I’ve been thinking it might even be necessary to institute a formal rule about the experience a candidate requires before they can put their name forward for the leadership.

        You would think it would be obvious, but apparently not, and I don’t want to risk getting another Shearer sometime down the track.

        Something along the lines of them having to have held a very senior position in the party for a minimum of two terms, for example.

        Some morons seem to think that outside experience compensates for political experience – it doesn’t. Our Parliamentary system is very complex and to think you can just parachute in and you’ll be right is staggeringly arrogant. It takes years to learn this stuff.

        • Colonial Viper 15.1.1.1

          You would think it would be obvious, but apparently not, and I don’t want to risk getting another Shearer sometime down the track.

          This speaks to the (ill) judgement of a large number of people in caucus. And even if you try and regulate this away, there’s the inconvenient fact that some of these will be the same people who are going to end up with Ministerial responsibilities. It’s all very crap.

    • weka 15.2

      “Fortunately I abandoned Labour for the Greens many election ago so the internicene warfare socialists love above all else means little to me now.”
       
      You are a fool if you think this will never happen to the Greens.

  16. KhandallaMan 16

    It makes it bloody hard to traipse loyally after a caucus that elected such a liability to the leadership position.” 
     
    That is the essence of the issue:  it is not primarily about Shearer. It is about why and how Shearer & Robertson were put in the roles, how Cunliffe has been bad-mouthed and censored, how the NZ Council has proposed rules that entrenches the clique and dis-enfranchises the membership.  

    Thanks for your good work LPrent.  

    • Pete Fraser 16.1

      o for fuck’s sake. The biggest opening up of the Party ever, and it’s entrenching the clique and dis-enfranchising the membership? Are you actually incompetent at reading and thinking?

      • KhandallaMan 16.1.1

        Peter Fraser, you rude potty mouth. 
        The NZ Council originally proposed the establishment of a Management Committee made up of the President, the two Senior Vice-Presidents, the General Secretary and three members of the Council elected by and from the Council. Also proposed was the reduction of Council meeting frequency to five meetings annually.  That group of Wellington based Caucus and Council members was originally proposed to have full executive power, without ratification by the Council or Caucus. It could have decided on the make up of the List for MMP. 
        That proposal would have concentrated massive power in six people.  That is my definition of a “clique”.  
        CLIQUE: a small, exclusive group of friends or associates, from French, perhaps from Old French; latch, from cliquer to click; suggestive of the necessity to exclude nonmembers.
         

        • Colonial Viper 16.1.1.1

          That Management Committee aka Politburo structure would have guaranteed the crash and burn of the Labour Party sooner rather than later.

          Amazing it was even considered.

    • Saarbo 16.2

      Spot on KhandallaMan, that is the essence of the issue! 

    • aspasia 16.3

      +1+1+1+1 KhandallaMan. Excellent post Lynn. It was totally unbelievable at the time that Shearer could be made leader but it is human to want to hope for the best. Shearer is not only a neophyte but he gives no hint of having any consistent principles that I can recognise as being those of a democratic socialist leader. This is neither panic nor disloyalty. Those of us who were loyal and silent through the neoliberal disaster of the eighties are not likely to be deterred. Our people are suffering and deserve better. Give us a leader who can articulate what Labour stands for and inspire the basic organisational hard work that wins elections.

  17. peterlepaysan 17

    the LP needs voters to turn up at election times to vote for them.

    voters have not been doing this

    caucus has the power

    caucus is frightened of giving power to the people.

    caucus is rapidly becoming redundant.

    • Colonial Viper 17.1

      caucus is rapidly becoming redundant.

      Metaphorically, and if they are not careful, literally.

  18. RedBaron 18

    Shearer or no Shearer as leader, the Labour caucus needs to have every MP out looking for votes and using people for what they do best. If Shearer is lousy on TV then send along someone who is better. Why not use every resource they have? Voters tend to hear the people they like so give them a choice of “brands”.

    For WIW I think some of the criticism has been heard. I’ve popped over to Red Alert a couple of times recently and it has cleaned up a lot from what I can see. Lots from Parker and Cunliffe, Raymond Huo on buildings, and others targeting issues around their portfolio’s.

    I also get the vague impression, can anyone confirm, that there is a lot of out and about at smaller meetings. Wondered if they are trying to do a Winston, actually going out to meet people.

    But still, I have seen them voting for some of P Dunne’s legislation which is utter rubbish, so they are going to have to work a bit harder to convince me next election.

  19. deemac 19

    it is absolutely typical of the left (pretty much worldwide) that instead of getting involved in the Labour Party and fighting to make it more effective, it wastes its time kibbitzing from the outside. This may make you feel better but it has nil effectiveness and is therefore pointless.
    As a comrade in the UK LP once said, if you can’t fight the right wing in the labour movement, how on earth do you think you’re going to fight the class enemy?

    • lprent 19.1

      I have spent from 1990-2011 through bad and good being heavily involved with volunteer work for Labour (and some turn up on the day work from 1983-1989)

      Variations in policy I can handle. Reducing competencies in actually winning elections and reducing the opportunity of a political party to effect change is something that I cannot. Competency is something that Labour seems to be actively diminishing at present.

      At present there is no clear direction, no apparent plan, and no obvious strategy to increase competencies – at a caucus level. There is also no way to affect change from the party level except where the caucus allows it through. For instance the way that the remit for membership interaction with leadership decisions is designed to ensure it never happens. Basically the caucus is a roadblock to actually acheiving much inside for Labour.

      When the structural roadblock is removed then I will get interested again. But as it stands at present it seems rather pointless working for the benefit of people who have removed their ears.

      Besides which, I like building systems and code that gets used. Having any sophistication in that area seems to be somewhat lost on people who seem to have locking into electronic ways of replicating the red-dot system pioneered in the 1970’s as their ultimate goal. They seem to have an aversion to using actual computing power for targeting and analysis of the electorate. Rather they seem to be fixated on acting as if they are still the mass party of the Anderton era.

      In the meantime, someone told me about a Green’s open source project to integrate the electoral roll with civicrm. Anyone got a link? I have some ideas to contribute for electoral analysis and targeting systems. But only if it is an actual opensource project.

  20. xtasy 20

    Well, well, Parliament and Question Time will be on again later today. So we can wait for the usual tit for tat game across the trenches in the House, and we can witness 121 well-nourished, safely housed, comfortable and in some ways overpaid political “careerists” or part-time “hobby debaters” sit there, laugh their head off about the dumb NZ voter, who put them there.

    What a great place NZ has become. Just look at Trade Me and see the rental costs for flats, houses and apartments in Auckland, having shot sky high, so people are starving to pay the rent, to fill the pockets of at least in many cases “greedy” property owners, who drive around all these flash big SUVs I see on the streets and roads everyday, while they are in the country and not on an overseas trip, to take advantage of the cheap hospitality workers in place they visit.

    Reshuffle? Reshuffle what, I ask? It would in some ways just be musical chairs, as I expect NOTHING from the Labour caucus, as they have nothing to worry about, because Kiwis put up with sooo much, they would not bother or dare protest in large numbers. And if some dare to occupy the streets, well we have a well paid and keen police force, ready to arrest, photograph, finger-print and charge you. A nice and hefty fine will put most into place.

    By the way, I wonder how Hone will get on, with his charge?

    That is something worth watching. Where were the Labourites from the House, when people were getting evicted and houses stolen off the land in Glen Innes? Hear, hear, hear anything and anyone? NOPE!

    If this was Greece or Spain, people would explode already, but not in Niu Zeeland!

  21. George D 21

    As a Green Party activist, I want a Labour Party leader that can lead us into a strong and worthwhile government. I also want a strong and viable party that we can work with. The discussion here is extremely heartening, and I hope something good comes of it.

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