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The Standard

Supernumerary

Written By: - Date published: 3:50 pm, October 22nd, 2012 - 98 comments
Categories: david cunliffe, david parker, david shearer, Economy, election 2014, grant robertson, greens, labour, russel norman - Tags:

I’ve been thinking about what you might call a ‘good problem’ for the Left.. but it leads me to a ‘problem problem’. OK, so let’s say we win the next election – as the Left must do and should do given how unpopular the Nats’ policies are and, for the last year, how inept their political management has been. How do you share the economic portfolios out?

With neither Shearer or Robertson having any economic pedigree, getting the economic team right is vital. And it also means the places are limited – Finance and Economic Development (now really a prize worth having after the creation of the MoBIE super-ministry) are the two economic portfolios worth a damn. Finance has long been as powerful as the Prime Ministership in many respects, and Joyce has grown Economic Development into something approaching their equal.

Now, Labour’s never going to sign over Finance to the Greens in a coalition deal – not unless they’re something very close to equal in size. So, if Labour’s line-up stays as is, Parker would take Finance. That leaves either Cunliffe or Norman to take MoBIE, and you would have to think that goes to Norman along with the Deputy Prime Ministership.

Which, worryingly, leaves the Left’s strongest economic advocate out in the cold and only one of the Labour-Green Government’s top five (Shearer, Robertson, Parker, Turei, and Norman) with the ability to really communicate on economic issues.

Wouldn’t it be craziness to see Cunliffe left out of the picture entirely with some nothing portfolio. The guy most able to take the public with him on economics, left on the sidelines – it would be a terrible waste and a costly one. And wouldn’t it be asking for trouble (and unpalatable for Labour) if no-one but Norman in the senior team could effectively explain economic and fiscal issues to the public?

Like I say, that’s a ‘good problem’, when you’ve got power and you’ve got too many capable people for the positions available. It could be perhaps solved by giving Norman the Deputy Prime Ministership and a grab-bag of junior economic portfolios although I can’t see Robertson enjoying being sidelined.

Which brings me to the ‘problem problem’ for Labour. It is so important to get the economic portfolios right only because the leadership doesn’t bring economic credentials of its own.

No matter which way you arrange the economic portfolios, Labour has the problem, just as it had with Goff and King, that neither its leader nor its deputy have strength in the most important and hotly-contested area of modern politics. Key, English, and Joyce make National’s top three and they are all strong on the economy (no, not strong at running an economy, but perceived as knowledgeable on economic issues). Going against that team with leaders who couldn’t match them on economics cost Labour in 2011 – we all remember Key’s ‘show me the money’, it only worked because it played into pre-existing narratives.

Framing an economic alternative to National is going to be vital to winning in 2014. That work is already underway with the anti-asset sales petition/referendum and the manufacturing crisis inquiry but it will need to be led from the top. The leader of Labour, the next PM, needs to be able to articulate that alternative. I think that if Shearer were better able to handle economic issues then Labour present a single face as the Greens can, and we would be looking at Labour and National neck and neck in the polls by now.

The next election, like the last one and the one before, will be fought on the economy. Key has already shown he can make mincemeat of an opponent who doesn’t feel comfortable speaking the language of economics – so Labour’s leadership had best be ready by then (also, how would it look if the leaders’ debate is a three-way debate with Norman as well? Shearer could end up playing second fiddle).

So two problems. The first – that Cunliffe, the Left’s most able economic communicator, would be supernumerary post-election with the current line-ups, which would make governing a lot harder. And the second – how to have Labour’s leadership ready to foot it with Key, English, and Joyce on economics in 2014? The answer may be crucial for the Left’s election chances.

98 comments on “Supernumerary”

  1. gobsmacked 1

    I’m glad somebody’s thinking ahead.

    The answer is implied in JH’s questions. You just can’t have a double failure at the top.

    If Shearer stays (he won’t), he needs Cunliffe in Finance. When Shearer is replaced, leader Robertson should have Cunliffe, or leader Cunliffe can have Parker if he wants – it will matter less.

    The Right’s campaign lines are predictable — ‘Will scary Green bogeyman get Finance?”. The Labour leader could answer yes or no but he CANNOT say “Ooh … um … er … maybe …”.

    Anticipate the questions. Decide the answers. Communicate them clearly.

    Currently, Labour fail on all three.

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      You underestimate the power of media training. /sarc

      • Jim Nald 1.1.1

        Thanks, James Henderson, for a very good piece for some strategic long-term thinking (waiting for Dunnokeyo to fark up even more & lose it for Natz, and then for Labour to just waltz in and think Labour/Greens can easily bring about meaningful change is not a plan and would be bound to end in tears & major disappointments).

        Shearer cannot demonstrate the ability to debate the economic issues fluently (still a lot to do there … and there should be a lot of time to work on this for – say – rather than 2014, try 2024). Hearing Shearer speak about economics and finance turns a listener into a snorer, while letting Parker speak would be a tad bit more of an improvement, perhaps turning a listener into just a snoozer. Robertson is not really an economics, nor finance, guy. He still has time and a few more terms will add more strengths to build up his leadership bid. If he is putting his ears closer to the ground, rather than sipping flat whites within the Beltway, he would not choose to run his leadership campaign with Ardern.

        Collectively, the three of them (Shearer, Parker and Robertson) would operate ok as a team, when led by someone much more skilled, to support and operationalise what will need to be done by a successful progressive Government to improve the economy.

        CV: Noted the sarc. If the messages and the mind that forms them are clear, cogent and grounded, media training would provide useful finishing touches.

        • Ad 1.1.1.1

          Key, English, Joyce.

          Vs

          Robertson, Ardern, Parker.

          Takers anyone? Which of those political Rugby teams would you want to be chosen for on the playground?

          Because the question is: is that the optimum political combination in Labour to best National and achieve power?

          Oh, wait. We can’t ever think like that because …. of a very fine majority in caucus seeking to protect their jobs. Goff. Mallard. Ardern. Shearer, etc etc.

          • Jim Nald 1.1.1.1.1

            Ardern will have political capital to negotiate for the deputy Labour leadership if and when she wins Auckland Central from Nikki Kaye.

          • muzza 1.1.1.1.2

            Roberston, Adern, Paker

            Useless, Lightweight, Parliamentarian for global order – in that order

            If you think these three are contenters, or will be good for NZ, you are deluded!

            Of them the only one with potential could be Adern, but that is some period of time off, when she is experienced, confident, and proven not to be corrupted!

  2. Ad 2

    Cunliffe himself can read these scenarios himself, and I bet he has. He knows he’d be on the cutting-room floor in any Greens-Labour coalition.

    But it has been crystal clear even before his failed leadership attempt in November 2011 that the majority in the Labour caucus prefer to suppressive him hard. After all he only lost at leadership by 1 vote. If you were Robertson or Shearer, you would too.

    What you consider in you post is absent of the political machinery of Labour. Check for example in the recent manufacturing summit: did the leadership involve Cunliffe at all? Nope. Yet it was his portfolio front and centre. Whereas Parker steps into Cunliffe’s economic development portfolio any time he wants.

    I could see a Robertson-Ardern leadership boxing Cunliffe even harder than now. They would rather give Finance to Winston Peters that anything meaningful to Cunliffe.

    After the next leadership challenge in February, Cunliffe should walk out the door rather than face more humiliation like this.

    No politician is indispensable. Cunliffe would be a loss. But so is Anderton, and he invented the Ministry of Economic Development.

    The best example is Simon Power. He had all to play for in 2014. But I bet he has more actual political and economic power, more real agency, running investment portfolios for Westpac than in Cabinet.

    A lesser example is Maharey, now staking out a solid field in tertiary education.

    When Cunliffe walks as Power did, and a Labour-Green Government needs to make a call the size of breaking Telecom, ask this: will Parker really do it? Does Shearer hold cold steel? Care to put Robertson up to nationalise Fonterra, or Norman to break up the Fletcher monopoly? Lovely people I am sure, but only Cunliffe has done it, or could do it.

    By neutering Cunliffe, Labour have chosen to neuter thmselves both now and in a 2014-2016 government.

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      After all he only lost at leadership by 1 vote.

      Uh, 2 votes.

      • Ad 2.1.1

        A sufficiently tight margin, irrespective, to warrant giving Cunliffe a major portfolio in name only.

        • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1

          Soz, I was really only nit-picking detail.

          One very pertinent point you imply: a Robertson/Adern pairing changes nothing you raise, but is still being considered by Labour insiders as a valid and distinct possibility. It’s dumbass on a monumental scale.

          • Ad 2.1.1.1.1

            It would be particularly melancholy for commentators like yourself or CB or Trotter or Hickey or Oram who favour a strong state willing to make strong market interventions. Currently Shearer’s control of policy is evidenced by letting Shane Jones piss all over it. There would be none of the big shifts made that you seek.

            But if it’s bad now it gets worse under the next shift of leadership.

            Anyone see Jacinda Ardern successfully staring doen Shane Jones in cabinet? She would be a snack. Robertson taking on John Tamihere? Result would be but splitting and Tamihere climbing up the next bully pulpit with his other iwi castles to cannon every known prejudice against the King.

            We are in for an exceedingly mild Labour under Robertson and Ardern. Far less courageous than now, and with absolutely no back story to fill in the absence of communicative skill or policy coherence within Shear.

            Robertson and Ardern, with Shearer’s current supporters, are Labour’s Hollow Men. And women.

            • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Cheers mate.

            • Jim Nald 2.1.1.1.1.2

              Ad: a suggestion for re-phrasing that

              ….. with Ardern and Shearer’s current supporters, they are Labour’s Shallow Men and Women.

              • Ad

                Well it was deliberate. Hagar could equally document the Left with plenty of lineage. Unfortunately that is left to Whaleoil and other sludge-dwellers.

                But Shallow is fine.

    • Olwyn 2.2

      I take it you are talking in terms of public profile, since I know that Cunliffe has played a large part in the EPMU/Manufacturers Assn efforts to get manufacturing back on track.

      • karol 2.2.1

        Good point.  I do think  Cunliffe is having some input.  And Cunliffe was at the EPMU job crisis summit – though so were a lot of other Labour MPs, and Colin Craig.
         
        I think Parker should go from the front bench, though – whatever way it’s looked at.  He’s a light-weight, and a neoliberal one at that.

      • Ad 2.2.2

        Indeed. Labour has been quite happy to use Cunliffe as a policy grunt, but oh no keep him well away from the actual media. Anyone need reminding of the only time Labour has allowed Shearer’s communication skills to be directly compared to Cunliffe’s?

        It was the November leadership contest. Every member could see what a compelling communicator might look like. One that could beat Key from right out the blocks.

        Instead caucus chose Shearer.

  3. fatty 3

    Shearer will not be next PM…if he is still around at the election he will get owned in the debates.
    Shearer’s performance over the last month has been good for a laugh, but that’s about it. NZ has no desire to listen to that muppet stumble over his words for 3 years. They’d rather watch Donkey smile and wave.
    I do feel sorry for the Greens…cause Labour are preventing them from making a real difference to NZ…all because of petty selfishness. Also feel sorry for Mana.
    But in the end we can only blame the public of NZ…Why are these morons so high in the polls? Nobody should even be considering Labour right now. We should all be voting Green or Mana until they give us the respect that we deserve.

    • Ad 3.1

      National has a leader far more popular than Helen Clark ever was. Yet even that is not saving them in consistent poll tracking. Labour continues to improve, and with Shearer as leader. Labour and Greens will most likely form the next government, even if Shearer is leader.

      Question then for you: if as is likely Shearer is dumped for Robertson and Ardern in February, would Labour fare even better, about the same, or worse than Shearer’ Labour is now against Key’s National?

      • karol 3.1.1

        If Labour went with Ardern/Robertson, wouldn’t it be better to have Turei/Norman as co-PMs?  Then the 2 parties could fight it out between them decide jointly as to who would be finance minister.

        • Ad 3.1.1.1

          Best of luck with that.

        • OneTrack 3.1.1.2

          It’s only natural that the Prime Minister-ship becomes a co-Prime Minister appointment with Grant Robertson (male/rainbow) and Metiria Turei (female/Maori). Anything else is sexist or homophobic, and not respecting our treaty partnership.

          • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.2.1

            Why is it sexist or homophobic?

            And what elements of the Treaty do you see at risk?

      • fatty 3.1.2

        True, Helen Clark was never that popular, but Labour’s policies were in the aftermath of the 1990s when NZ was sick of neoliberalism and Clark offered the third way alternative (apparently its an alternative)…its a very different environment now where both the blue and the red are third way (Nats are pushing back towards a more pure form of neoliberalism, but that is not registering with the average voter).
        In terms of pubic perception, there is little difference between Labour and National because Labour have been so inconsistent with their message. Therefore, the popularity of the leaders is now far more important than it was during the Clark era.

        If Robertson does replace Shearer then that could get them over the line. Because that would mitigate the effect of the pre-election debates where I see Labour losing around 10% due to Shearer’s inability to form a sentence. Although if it was Cunliffe instead, then Labour would probably win quite comfortably.
        With Cunliffe, Labour’s vision would be presented in a much more coherent fashion – perhaps Robertson could do the same.

        There is no way a change of leader could make things worse for Labour…National have handed Labour gift after gift, and it has been wasted.
        I also don’t see what Ardern has to offer Labour. After Shearer, Adern has been the biggest disappointment for me. She has been up against Paula Bennett and what has the result been? Paula Bennett has cruised through this year. That should be like shooting fish in a barrel.

        • Ad 3.1.2.1

          I am confident enough that Labour will form the next government.

          The question the original post leads to is whether it would be a transformational government, as it would be with Cunliffe. Or you get what you get now.

    • Pete 3.2

      Maybe he will be owned in the debates, if he reaches that point. But the political environment is such that silver and bronze can join forces and beat gold. I think we’d be fooling ourselves if we think National won’t be the largest party in parliament in 2014, even if it fails to hold the treasury benches.

      And don’t forget, Labour has been gaining in the polls. The fact 2014 is framed as a horse race rather than a foregone conclusion like last year may motivate a higher turnout.

    • David H 3.3

      Well this time I’ll vote Green. I will NOT vote for the fucking self serving shambles that Labour has become!

  4. Ad 4

    If one were Winston Peters within a Labour-Greens coalition, what position would one ask for?

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Lots of prestige, not much work.

      • Ad 4.1.1

        Minister of Hot Girls, Drinking, And Cigars. Crikey I think I’ll go for that one myself. :-)

        • Jim Nald 4.1.1.1

          A Minister of Points of Order?
          He would be good at that.
          [Sorry, Winston – couldn’t resist that, just one for ole time’s sake.]

    • Fortran 4.2

      Winston = Foreign Affairs – it previously kept him out of the country – best place for him in any government.

      • alwyn 4.2.1

        If, after the election, we have Labour 39, Greens 13, NZ First 9, Mana 1 and National 57, Maori 2, all of which would be in line with current polls, all the debate about who of Cunliffe, Parker or Norman will be Minister of Finance will become totally irrelevant.
        Winston will demand Finance, Deputy PM and a Knighthood. He will then support EITHER major party that will give him these baubles.
        He might even go as far as to insist there be no Greens in Cabinet. What, after all, can the Greens do about it? They have already cut themselves off from National and their supporters won’t let them do anything else but back Labour.

    • Fisiani 4.3

      Winston will never be in coalition with the Greens

  5. AmaKiwi 5

    Political parties go through cycles of idealism versus pragmatism (wanting to win).

    If Labour doesn’t make Cunliffe leader in Jan./Feb. 2013, they still have the death wish the Labour caucus had when they wouldn’t remove Goff and eventually pushed in Shearer.

    The Greens, on the other hand, have eased back from ideological purity in favour of a PR strategy to attract votes.

    If Labour doesn’t want to win, I’ll go with a party that does.

    Winning in electoral politics is the art of compromise, not flights of fancy by overblown egos trumpeting their personal ideologies. And winning is EVERYTHING because in opposition you are powerless.

    • Ad 5.1

      So just to argue against myself for a moment, Labour don’t need an ideological spine in the form of Cunliffe if they have the Greens.

      It would turn out like the Conservatives and the Liberals in coalition. Make the smaller coalition partner front the hard stuff, and watch them slowly get roasted by the public. Keeps your Labour brand safe for a term. Live to fight another day, using the Greens as cannon fodder.

      If I were Robertson, that’s how I would roll.

      • Colonial Viper 5.1.1

        But if the Greens pulled it off with aplomb, there is every chance that over the medium to long term they would supplant Labour in the minds of the public over the long term. Ending up level pegging with Labour, 20%-25% each in the polls.

        • Ad 5.1.1.1

          Been waiting for the last few elections for Greens to top even 15%, but appear to struggle even to that. Possibly a bit early, but I can see Labour squeaking to the late 30s, Greens 10-12%, NZ First 5%. No?

        • McFlock 5.1.1.2

          at which point the Greens would go all vanilla, maybe even with a hint of blue. Definitely less red.
               
          There is a reason that the Greens are a minor party: they have firm principles in an small area that other NZers disagree with, or that overshadows their ideas in other areas. This alienates some, and the fact is that no matter how they package their policies some miners, farm workers or other industries will view firm environmental policies as a threat to their jobs. I think we need a significant environmental advocacy party, just as we need advocates in parliament for workers/poor/Maori. But trying to make oneself look attractive to many involves de-emphasising those things that a few might really like.
               
          A populist sell out by any other name still has the same smell.  

          • Ad 5.1.1.2.1

            I hope you are not always right. New Labour did OK, Alliance even better, for a while. Better than bring a mere ideological wedge.

            Norman is holding a fine balance at the moment, keeping the rope-haired base and the haute-bourgeois food-shopping purists, sustaining over 10%.

            I think the Greens have a little more political elasticity than 10%, a little.

          • fatty 5.1.1.2.2

            “But trying to make oneself look attractive to many involves de-emphasising those things that a few might really like.”

            True…I’m a former Green voter that moved onto Mana. Not sure how many have ditched Greens. The post-Bradford/Nandor Greens is quite different now.

        • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1.3

          But if the Greens pulled it off with aplomb, there is every chance that over the medium to long term they would supplant Labour in the minds of the public over the long term.

          I’m thinking that’s going to happen anyway as, IMO, the young are looking for something different that neither of the two main parties are giving.

    • It is weird though Ama.  Shearer is the candidate of compromise.  Cunliffe is the candidate of principle.  Yet I have this disturbing feeling that compromising may be less successful than standing on principle …

      • Olwyn 5.2.1

        By my reading, choosing an inexperienced candidate of compromise at the time when many New Zealanders are effectively under siege was a dereliction of duty. As Ad suggested in his/her first comment, who among them is going to make the hard call, and actually implement it should it prove necessary? And by hard call, I mean real hard call of the kind Ad listed – not a PR construct, not a kick at those who can’t fight back, designed to be hailed as tough by the right wing media, and to draw hallelujahs from the middle class.

        • fatty 5.2.1.1

          “By my reading, choosing an inexperienced candidate of compromise at the time when many New Zealanders are effectively under siege was a dereliction of duty.”

          That’s a good point Olwyn…just last week a poll came out about Key being too relaxed. It is John Key’s relaxed, and non-ideological position that is his current vulnerability.
          Its a shame that Labour tried to promote Shearer as a guitar strumming good guy for so long…that is the opposite of what the voters were/are looking for.
          Strategic fail for Labour, again.

          • Colonial Viper 5.2.1.1.1

            Yep. Once the public got tired of John Key’s smile and wave easy as she goes superficiality they weren’t going to trade up for even more of the same.

            Incredible eh.

  6. captain hook 6

    I am sure that David Shearer and the caucus will allot the portfolios wisely and in the best interests of the country as a whole.
    sometimes the choice can be made against the grain and then the minister will have to work harder to master the intricacies.
    whoever gets what there can only be a 100% improvement over the National party botchup of giving Welfare to an out and out misanthrope like bennet or education to someone like Heka Paratai who cant even reed or rite.

    • Ad 6.1

      I would be confident of that I knew Labour’s Education spokesperson was better than theirs, or Social Welfare, or Health, or Police. Just as examples.

      But I haven’t seen Mahuta, Ardern, or Faafoi beat Parata, Ryall, or Collins at anything.

      Sure Labour has some good and competent ones. But thy can’t yet beat them in the ring, pound for pound.

      Nor can we be sure Labour policy would be better, because in too many cases Labour doesn’t know what it is. And when it does, has insufficient discipline to communicate it.

      It’s just not cut and dried yet.

    • handle 6.2

      “I am sure that David Shearer and the caucus will allot the portfolios wisely and in the best interests of the country as a whole.”

      MMP coalitions involve more than one caucus. There’s the first challenge.

  7. Anne 7

    I am sure that David Shearer and the caucus will allot the portfolios wisely and in the best interests of the country as a whole.

    I’m not so sure captain. Deals were done during the leadership battle last year and they have to be honoured…

    There is no question who should have the powerful Finance portfolio, and that is David Cunliffe. No disrespect to David Parker (or Russel Norman) but Cunliffe’s brilliance simply can’t be ignored. My biggest concern is that the tall poppy syndrome is still alive and well inside the Labour Caucus and when you add to that a few prematurely inflated egos and a peppering of political naivety, then there is no guarantee portfolios will be allotted in the best interests of the country as a whole.

    I passionately hope I’m wrong!

    • RedLogix 7.1

      Thanks for this Anne. I think we all hope you are wrong.

      I’m still of the opinion that Goff should have stayed on. In the weeks before the last election he fired and got on top of his game. It’s just bizarre to me that he had to ritually fall on his sword only to be replaced by someone who took the Labour leadership more or less back to ground zero again.

      Given time Shearer might fire as well. I really don’t want to be white-anting the guy; even though there are plenty here who’ve already made up their minds against him.

      Yet undeniably Cunliffe is the right man for the job, ready and able. This is very much a pivotal issue for the Labour caucas … because while us political junkies are happy to say what we think, there are plenty of voters out there who probably sense at some level that there is a faction within Labour who are putting their own personal interests and ambitions ahead of anything else.

      And they’ll vote on that intuition accordingly.

    • Chris 7.2

      If Cunliffe was to roll Shearer, who would he take with him? He is a bit of a one band man and will probably be every bit as polarising as key is turning out to be. I felt he was a lot of the reason that Goff was beaten as I did not see Cunliffe at any time support Goff in his bid. In fact his tepid responses in interviews regarding his support of Goff told a very damning story. He has a huge ego and while he is definitely brilliant at what he does he could also be a liabilitybecause of his ego. Nothing wrong with a little bit of humility!

      • Anne 7.2.1

        Cunliffe is the first to admit he rubbed some of his colleagues up the wrong way in the past and he talked of… needing to mend a few fences after the leadership race. That’s the words of a man who can do humility when it is required.

        I suspect fence mending is exactly what he has been trying to do, and I just hope his former adversaries have graciously accepted his contrition. :)

        It seems to have been forgotten that the reason Cunliffe’s support in the lead-up to the election was conspicuously absent, was because he spent the last week/ten days languishing in bed with a nasty bout of influenza – the same one no doubt which laid me up for two weeks a few months later.

        • Colonial Viper 7.2.1.1

          Now, there was once a Labour leader who went out election campaigning even when he knew his life was under threat from cancer…

          • Anne 7.2.1.1.1

            C’mon CV.

            Wildly fluctuating temperature? Can hardly walk to the bathroom and back? Congestion and headaches? No strength in your limbs. You’re saying… he should have been out on the hustings in that condition and risked ending up in hospital with serious complications? Add to that the number of people he would have infected and you have an exercise in stupidity.

            • Lanthanide 7.2.1.1.1.1

              Yip, cancer is generally not as debilitating as the ‘flu for the majority of it’s run. That’s why people end up dying from it – because when they find out anything is wrong it’s too late.

              • Colonial Viper

                Oh I was just sayin’. Didn’t mean nothin’ from it. Labour in 2011 had far bigger issues than Cunliffe’s sick days.

    • David H 7.3

      Thats the problem They are NOT interested in the whole country. Just in their own self serving interests.

  8. Rich 8

    Be more effective if they implemented a system with a lead minister and seniors and juniors (a bit like in the UK).

    Then they would need to take a wrecking ball to Treasury. Strip it back to the technical financial management side, and make all the economist positions redundant. Set up a separate advisory committee with non-neoliberal economists (mostly from overseas or outside government, I suspect, given our neo-lib monoculture).

    • Colonial Viper 8.1

      Interestingly, Steve Keen remarked that he got a better reception from our Treasury and Reserve Bank than he did from any other comparable central banking institutions around the world.

  9. Chris 9

    The last time I saw Parata wriggling on the end of a hook at Chris Hipkin’s questioning Lockwood handed her her APPARENT answer which she AND HE accepted. So this makes you wonder how anyone in Opposition can make any headway at all. A lot of the time Lockwood is the problem for Opposition and the answer to national’s so called winning a debate (so called)

    • David H 9.1

      And when Winston calls him on it he gets slapped down, But I think Winston has made a formal complaint about Lockwoods continual interfering and answering of questions.

  10. Chris 10

    I would also love to Sue Moroney on the front bench! She would be a match for anybody.

    • karol 10.1

      +1 Chris.
       
      Also, on the question of  National’s surfeit of economists/finance/business people in Key roles – well that’s the neoliberal way.  I think it’s time to rewrite the narrative, and put the genie back in the bottle.  A Labour-Green government should have the best finance minister available.  I see Cunliffe as that person.
       
      But the PM and Deputy don’t need to be as great on economics, in my view.   They need to show very good leadership, be excellent communicators to the general public, and good managers – and have clearly articulated policies that will take the country back in a genuine left wing direction.
       
      I just watched bomber’s Union Report on Triangle, with Sue Bradford and Chris Trotter.  I got a couple of important points from it.
       
      The Labour Party won’t change unless the grassroots join together and push them in a better direction.  For Trotter this means the unions need to reassert their influence over the Labour Party.  He reckoned it’s very important that unions do this over the next few weeks. 
       
      They talked about how neoliberalism had shifted public attitudes so people have an individualist outlook, and we need to spread the word and get back to the concept of action through solidarity. It was good to hear Bradford say that we need to understand that “workers” includes the unemployed, and it includes beneficiaries.  So she wasn’t just talking about people joining unions, but for beneficiaries in Auckland to join the Auckland Anti-poverty group.
       
       

      • Colonial Viper 10.1.1

        The unions can’t do it. The biggest unions left in NZ won’t get involved. Not quite solidarity, eh.

      • Anne 10.1.2

        The Labour Party won’t change unless the grassroots join together and push them in a better direction. For Trotter this means the unions need to reassert their influence over the Labour Party. He reckoned it’s very important that unions do this over the next few weeks.

        It’ll take a bit longer than a few weeks but couldn’t agree more…

  11. geoff 11

    So, hypothetically speaking, would Shearer have to step down or could he be shoved?

    • McFlock 11.1

      Could be shoved. But the harder the shove, the messier it gets and the more questions/innuendo can be raised about infighting, loyalty to new leadership, and numbers counting. And the bigger the hit in the polls at transition time as it all goes on – it might be 2 steps forward, three back.

  12. AmaKiwi 12

    Are you watching the greatest farce on earth? I mean the US election. If you can’t recognize it in your own country, see it in theirs.

    1. Successful politicians NEVER tell you what they really think because it costs too many votes. Example: Romney’s behind closed doors blunder about 47% of people don’t pay taxes.

    2. Successful politicians don’t discuss the paramount issues. Example: The US is in the economic crisis of its life but they talk about gay marriage, abortion, Afghanistan, gun control, etc.

    3. Wining is about image. The tv ads are negative because the game is to destroy your opponent’s image.

    I don’t know or particularly care what Cunliffe or Shearer will do as PM. I know whatever they do will be more to my liking than what the Tories will do.

    Conclusion: Get someone with an image who can beat the Tories. Right now that’s Cunliffe. He’s damn good at it.

    End of story.

  13. Chris 13

    End of story, not so sure. Am only speaking for myself but I am heartily sick and tired of the so called debating(histrionics) that now seems to be the most acceptable to the NZ populace. key and his ilk have taken away the gravitas of Parliament and turned it into a Punch and Judy show,never answering questions but diverting with stupid, irrational and a lot of times absolute lying answers and getting away with it, mostly with what I have seen the able assistance of the speaker. john key has been an abberation and hopefully soon we will see an end of him and a beginning of a resurgense of a Party that truly wants to see our country grow and prosper.If that is an amagamation of parties then so be it, but we cannot be any worse off than under this present (cannot think of a word).

  14. AmaKiwi 14

    @ Chris

    I agree with you. Key’s image in unraveling. Mr. Nice Guy is morphing into a shifty liar with convenient lapses of memory.

    I never hear Parliament discussing what MP’s on both sides know: we are falling into a financial black hole. Say that and the voters would shoot the messenger.

    Thanks for agreeing with me. It’s all about image.

  15. AmaKiwi 15

    Here’s my proposed “new image” Labour line-up.

    Sam Neill for PM. He’s handsome, modest, easy to trust.

    Russel “Gladiator” Crowe to dismember Crusher Collins in Papakura.

    Kim Dotcom to be Attorney General.

    Rachael Hunter takes on Maggie Barry and will become Minister for the Arts and Special Emissary to Hollywood.

    Could they manage the country? Probably not. But they’ll win in a landslide.

    • Jim Nald 15.1

      Not quite sure whether to laff or to nod approvingly because Rachel Hunter and Kim Dotcom may well carry out the Arts & AG responsibilities better than Chris Finlayson.

  16. central scutinizer 16

    All this is quite interesting. Only one problem. Before labour can win an election. They need voters. Example: All the brain dead couch potatoes who sit on their fat asses on polling day reciting the same inbred cliche ” Aw fuck! I’m not voting. They’re are all the same anyway”. Until those people vote. Labour has three shows of winning an election. A dog show, a shit show and no show.

    • fatty 16.1

      They don’t have to vote Labour…they could vote the Greens or Mana. But the real problem is that for many people there is little difference between National and Labour.
      What about a 50 year old beneficiary who has been under/unemployed for a number of years. Does it really make much of a difference? Maybe under National there will be a little less stigma, but in reality they will still be unemployed under either party. Still living on the edge, still excluded from society.

      I agree with you in that Labour need these people to vote, but its up to Labour to give them someone to vote for. That’s the problem with flirting with the centre, the marginalised continue to be marginalised and they don’t bother participating. Its a bit unfair to label it an ‘inbred cliche’…I’d say its a decision that they have come to – because of the inbred strategy from Labour.

  17. handle 17

    “and only one of the Labour-Green Government’s top five (Shearer, Robertson, Parker, Turei, and Norman) with the ability to really communicate on economic issues.”

    You’re under-rating Norman’s performance over the last couple of years.

    • karol 17.1

      huh?  Handle, I think the implication from the quote is that Norman is the best able to communicate economic issues – note, at the moment, Cunliffe is not in that top five at the moment.

  18. AmaKiwi 18

    My personal opinion: Norman is intelligent, thoughtful, considerate, but not a rousing speaker.

    That’s not good enough to win a general election.

    Just before the last election I saw Cunliffe at a multi-party candidate’s night in a National stronghold. This was NOT a Labour meeting. 2 Greens candidates spoke, 1 Conservative candidate spoke, as did speakers from several minor parties. No National candidate showed.

    Cunliffe ripped into National. He tore them to shreds. The audience stood up and cheered!

    That’s what wins elections.

    • David H 18.1

      And thats what the Stalwarts in Labour don’t want. They don’t want anyone to stand up and show them up for what they are. A bunch of lying, cheating, soulless fools, who only have one, and only one vested interest. And until you get rid of that, with some decent caring politicians. Then people will just stay at home on polling day.

      And yes I could list them but you know them, as well as I do.

  19. RedBaron 19

    Well if labour provide the PM then why not have co-deputy PM’s Russell & Meretai (with a large welfare portfolio) and even Winston could be at that level, as well as being Foreign Minister. He’s good at that- anybody would be better than Murray- and he doesn’t want to sell NZ. If legally they need only one deputy PM then that could be rotated around the three of them.

    Cunliffe needs to be Finance – someone has to get in there and sort out Treasury’s attitudes and he’s the dude. Parker IMHO and Russell are are more on the longer term strategic policy side and they could share out MObie functions between them. Mobie probably needs to be broken up anyway.

    Robertson under 1 PM 3 deputy PM’sstructure does miss out unless it is a group of 4 but in tandem with Meretai could be over looking the big welfare health education spending side of the equation.

    Most women vote on the left and they have taken a pounding under Nact so it makes sense to have a women high in the order and to have emphasis at the top on welfare needs. It won’t mean more money just reassurance of a better attitude.

    Actually I think we would be very well served as a nation by the top group of the two greens leaders, Winston, Cunliffe and Parker with Shearer keeping the peace. Nor would it be a mistake to have a significant female presence in the next row down .

    • Lanthanide 19.1

      Deputy PM in NZ is more of an honorific than anything. We don’t have succession like in the US where the deputy would become PM automatically if the PM should leave office. Deputy PM in NZ probably mostly boils down to “who gets to take the big chair when the PM is out of the country”, as well as being a nod to long-serving politicians.

      Having 3 co-deputy PM’s wouldn’t be accepted by the public (especially with one of them being Winston). Even having 2 would be difficult.

    • karol 19.2

      Most women vote on the left and they have taken a pounding under Nact so it makes sense to have a women high in the order and to have emphasis at the top on welfare needs. It won’t mean more money just reassurance of a better attitude.
       
      I tend to be one of those women.  And in the above quote you are, for me, pointing in the right direction.  However, there is a touch of tokenism there.  I think it’s not that women, and social policies should get a nod, they should be given much more importance.  Too much emphasis on money-stuff first, and the kind of society we want second.  It should be the other way around. 
       
      Following that, I agree we need to best person possible in Finance, to provide the best means of making the social policies work – and Cunliffe is that person, IMO.

      • RedBaron 19.2.1

        Oops quite right Karol and unintended. Too much post and run.

        Just for the record the more diversity at the top the better IMHO. I do not see Meretai as a token and there are a number of the other extremely competent women. I also find it interesting that Norman gets more “mentions” than Meretai despite their equal status. Having diversity does I think reassure various sectors that their interests are likely to be considered.

        WRT to the money I did not intend to infer that a token woman should be placed at the top as a distraction while social assistance and social policy spending was run into the ground or not reconsidered.

        The cupboard is going to be pretty bare I fear after the next election. I can also see the Nact’s signing up huge contracts for their RONS at the last minute to appease their mates and make sure the incoming government has to find the funds. I would love to see Labour & the Greens fire a few shots at this now by saying they will past legislation to void certain contracts unless they have been prefunded out of existing votes.

    • David H 19.3

      Well for starters there’s Julie Anne Genter for transport, she has ripped Brownlee a new one more than once this year

  20. Sue 20

    Two talented singers, singing an identical song, both technically correct, both polished and performance ready. – Yet, one will always stand out. – One has the x factor, the other doesn’t. I have seen this time after time sitting on audition panels.

    You can supply as much media/performace training as you like, it will not ultimately make a difference…………..between the two singers, or in this context the two David’s (or three)

    Cunliffe is the clear standout, he is the natural performer.

  21. Fortran 21

    But Wiston has not been included in the Power Game.
    It remains a possibility that he could hold the balance of power.

    As for suggesting Norman has economic credibility is ridiculous.
    He is pretty words, but no experience whatsoever in this area, but Greenpeace can advise him !

    • Colonial Viper 21.1

      As for suggesting Norman has economic credibility is ridiculous.
      He is pretty words, but no experience whatsoever in this area, but Greenpeace can advise him !

      wtf?

      Better than having a self-interested bankster in charge of the country.

  22. RJL 22

    Would MoBIE remain intact under a successor govt.?

    I doubt it, as the conglomeration only really seems to make sense if its point is to accumulate power and influence with Steven Joyce.

    A divided MoBIE would give a larger number of “important” seats to distribute amongst coalition members.

    • ad 22.1

      MED as an agglomeration of functions was helpful because it could at least start to challenge the pre-eminence of Treasury in budget prioritisaiton. While it had a functioning and Cabinet-backed Growth and Innovation Framework, that worked.

      These days however, Treasury’s Cabinet recommendations to the budget (ie raising new taxes and making everyone with a proposal jump through those Better Business Case hoops) remain primary.

      The new MoBIE has a better chance of challenging Treasury, without that overarching framework.

      With a new agglomerated MoBIE, Primary Industries, Minsitry of Social Development, and more to come in Justice and Corrections, among others, what amalgamation gives a Minister is of course more concentrated power. No Minister will unwind their own power, and delegate it out to some less-deserving political serf.

      Now, if there were a fund that could challenge the primacy of Treasury in funding allcoation and enable Cabinet to have an alternative policy lever, that would be worth a scrap over. For example, amalgamating the funds of EQC, ACC, and NZSuper into a sovereign fund that supports local exporters and enables them to grow …

      Labour-Greens have to think beyond the existing policy levers and start generating new ones as soon as they get in, or they will see quickly that the state’s instruments are now far weaker than even under the Clark administration.

    • OneTrack 22.2

      And that is the important thing. Plus we get to employ some more publc servants.

      • Colonial Viper 22.2.1

        Fire the private sector consultants, hire people to recharge our public services!

        • GregJ 22.2.1.1

          I’d agree – although in fairness quite a lot of them are former public servants made redundant and now getting their pound of flesh back from a system that threw them out in the first place. (grrr – can’t get angry face icon to work!)

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