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A party finds its voice

Written By: - Date published: 7:01 am, November 23rd, 2012 - 76 comments
Categories: accountability, activism, labour - Tags: ,

I joined the Labour Party in 1999, when it became clear that Helen Clark meant to honour Labour’s election promises (a shocking new development in politics at the time). I went to my first Conference in 2000 and observed the policy making process. I vowed never to get involved. With all respect for those who put heaps of thought and energy into remits, the process looked to me like a shambles that the Parliamentary wing of the Party didn’t take seriously. Actual Labour policy seemed to come out of nowhere, and while most of it was good, there was often little or no connection to remits. Nothing since that time has changed my view, or made me want to get involved.

Until now.

After last weekend’s Conference a lot of media attention has focused on the constitutional changes relating to leadership (part of the shallow and lazy fascination with personalities and the political circus). But other constitutional changes were even more important. From now on Party members will have more say on policy, and that policy will be binding on MPs – it is the policy that will be taken to the electorate.

The central focus for this new system will be the “policy platform” – a definitive statement of Labour’s values and policies (in accessible language and format – not too long!). The process for developing the platform will be inclusive and evidence based. This will be a living, evolving document, but “policy proposals” (which replace remits) should be modifications of the existing platform rather than appearing out of nowhere. (There’s more too it than that, but the policy platform will be the main focus.) There’s a paragraph about it on Labour’s web site here:

Policy Platform (permanent statement of policy) to be established by the end of Conference 2013; policy and the Election Manifesto to be based on and consistent with that Platform. The Policy Platform is binding on all Labour Party members elected as such to public office, MPs, NZCouncil and Policy Council.

Annual conferences will focus on different parts of the platform in successive years, with a limited number of proposals considered, to allow time at Conference for proper debate and informed decisions. Once again – the platform so developed will be binding on the Parliamentary wing. The plan is to have policy finalised earlier in the electoral cycle, in an accessible format, to allow time to take the message to the electorate.

There it is folks – a chance for members to be involved in a meaningful policy development process. A Party finds its voice. Like the new rules for selecting the leader, it is both an opportunity and a risk. It will be up to us to make sure that it’s a success. Irish Bill’s post yesterday was dead right – there has never been a better time to join the Labour Party. You can sign up here

Thanks to Jordan Carter for an interesting talk in Dunedin last night, and to the Policy Council and others who worked so hard to get the internal review and constitutional changes done. Great work people.

76 comments on “A party finds its voice”

  1. Caleb 1

    Sounds good.  Maybe I’ll stay a member longer than February.  How will the policy platform be enforced, ie what ways will the membership have to make sure the caucus support that policy?

    • I imagine caucus would want to avoid the kind of media attention that would come with any policy the membership lodged a complaint against on the grounds of it being unconstitutional

    • mac1 1.2

      Caleb, I wonder whether you have thought through your statement (unless of course it is tongue in cheek, but it is not the first time I’ve seen it from commentators here on the Standard) that maybe you’ll stay a member longer than February?

      In other words, you want to change our leader and would fly in to do that and then exit, mission accomplished.

      I can now really understand the feelings of local peoples who have the US military come in to do the same thing- resentful, patronised, colonised, being treated as incapable of handling our own affairs.

      • crashcart 1.2.1

        Maybe he’s saying hes a long term member who was dissolusioned with what happened last weekend and unless he see’s change in FEB he was going to move on. This news may have given other hope to counter balance that.

        Every one seems to be real touchy at the moment and looking for the worst in each other. As much as DS supporters are saying he did the right thing to bring the party together by being firm and bring MP’s in line in real life it seems to have devided membership even more. Another example of the media and MP’s painting actions completely differently from reality. I’m not on either side as I am not leagally able to join a party so can’t fairly comment but from the outside looking in soe thing really needs to be done to bring cohesiveness and present a real party to the public. Is DS the man for that? Well it seems like we are going to find out in 2014 now.

        Bringing this as a mojor point of focus though may help that. If the party starts working together to present unified idea’s then perhaps the front man becomes less important?

        • mac1 1.2.1.1

          I agree with your comment about people’s touchiness and the ascribing of the worst motives to another’s actions, This is certainly helping fuel this whole debate. I stayed out eventually of the discussion because people were saying far too much, repetitively and often without much engagement of reason and became tired of reading it. I also don’t have a passionate position on either Shearer or Cunliffe, being a provincial member and not in the main maelstrom of party politics. Though I’ve been a member for nearly forty years and seen similar struggles before, I’ve stayed in the party and worked for the change I had the energy and the passion for, which is why I challenged Caleb’s apparent thinking.

          I certainly am very happy at the changes made at Conference. The main focus as you say is the working together on the implementation of our Labour values and policies.

      • weka 1.2.2

        I take any political party membership seriously, so tend to agree mac. I think many people are reserving the right to terminate membership if in Feb process is bad and/or the ABCs carry on with their shit and are allowed to get away with it.

        I’m not sure what the point of joining, voting and terminating membership in Feb would be otherwise.

      • Caleb 1.2.3

        It’s partly tongue in cheek.  I’ve considered joining for a (possible) chance to help pick the (hopefully) next prime minister.  You make a good point about the US military, and it could make for an interesting analogy whereby the membership are the local people, the caucus/ABC group/old guard are the local corrupt/dictatorial regime and outsiders are outsiders considering humanitarian intervention or assistance (or ‘assistance’) to the locals, with all the moral ambiguity involved in that.  But where the analogy is limited is that the next prime minister doesn’t just affect the Labour party, it affects all NZers… ie the local dictators are a threat to the whole region not just the country, and getting rid of them and establishing (proper) democracy could benefit the whole region. I wouldn’t be doing it ‘for your own good’, but for the country’s own good as I see it.

        Anyway, I’m not sure if I’ll actually do it or not.

        I’ve never considered joining Labour before, but if the party really turns its back on neo-liberalism and becomes more democratic, I might consider being a member.  If it doesn’t, I can’t imagine I’d want to be one post-Feb.  

        • Caleb 1.2.3.1

          That’s the interesting thing about our parliamentary system actually – yeah it’s proportional representation, but there are still two “major parties”, so there are only two realistic contenders for prime minister in the forseeable future.  So, like it or not, everyone on “the left” is effectively part of the Labour party to some extent, as they’re still under a Labour prime minister or Labour leader of the opposition.  So I think non-Labour members have a right to care about the Labour leader.

          • weka 1.2.3.1.1

            True, which is why I express my opinion here. But I don’t think I should join the Labour party unless I support the Labour party and want to be a member.

        • rosy 1.2.3.2

          if the party really turns its back on neo-liberalism and becomes more democratic, I might consider being a member.

          That’s what is important about these reforms. As a member you have the chance of making that happen. This hasn’t been the case before. You’ve gotta be in to do it.

    • Tom Gould 1.3

      What has been outlined by Anthony is a recipe for perpetual instability, which might be the real agenda here. It allows for an individual person to pay their $16 and then publicly undermine the government with claims of policy infidelity based on their personal interpretation of policy implementation. Crazy stuff. A government has to govern in the best interests of the whole country in the current circumstances. Some ‘higher law’ policy platform will be irrelevant. Unless the government of the day has to negotiate with the Party to gain permission to govern? This simply has not been thought through.

      • geoff 1.3.1

        I’ve just worked it out….. Tom Gould IS Duncan Garner!
        The moronic statements with no justification. The constant needling of people in the hope for a sensationalist response. The beady eyes!

        Ah wait no, I’ve jumped the gun. He could also be Patrick Gower…

      • Draco T Bastard 1.3.2

        You’re one of the people terrified of democracy aren’t you? One of the people who think we need an authoritarian hierarchy to tell us what’s best for us.

  2. Indeed, many thanks to those responsible for making this happen.
    Its a vital change, one that will help invigorate the party by making conference relevant again, and one that will help guard against ideological hijacking.
    No doubt the current rulers hate it.

  3. Tracey 3

    A thousand years ago when I was in my mid teens an uncle decided to put himself forward as a National Party contender for Remuera (against Doug Graham I think, but no t sure). I heard the stories of that attempt. I also sat in a room with my mum and aunt as my aunt cried about the treatment she and my uncle were getting. The comments, the false rumors being started and so on. I am not saying this is only in the Nat party, I am saying it’s my only experience of it, and assumed it went on in all parties. Even then I had few right wing tendencies but watching my uncle and aunt age because of how adults were behaving and treating and back stabbing was an eye opener. He was later offered a “safe seat” in Albany ( I think) but after the electorate experience my aunt said she would not live in Wellington, she would not be a “MP’s wife” and have to smile amongst such wretched people.

    Can Nats join the labour party to get in on the feb vote?

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      +1

    • weka 3.2

      Anyone can join the Labour party as long as they don’t belong to another political party. However there will be rules around membership (hence the ability to deny Tamihere), so I doubt that anyone openly not Labour would be allowed to join.

      [lprent: Want to be part of PG’s rather amusing kremlinology exercises? Or whales version of “funny”? Quite why they obsess about this site is beyond me. I blame myself for being nasty to them by telling them what I think. Oh dear. So cruel. (yeah right)

      I added a crucial missing word. Tell me if it was wrong. ]

      • weka 3.2.1

        Ditto that for the Greens btw. And the Greens have long had the kinds of democratic, participatory processes that Labour are now adopting, in case anyone feeling inspired to join a political party doesn’t feel Labour is their thing. I’d guess Mana are similar.

      • weka 3.2.2

        Thanks Lynn. I think I meant to type National instead of Labour (It was a reply to Tracey’s question about Nats joining). Oops.

        [lprent: I rather thought it was a typo.

        And I see in comments that PG did link to it *sigh*. It’d be amusing if it wasn’t quite so obsessionally predictable. ]

  4. Viva La difference,now labour has one.
    More inclusive,more democratic.
    Media should be focusing on all the good work that was done at the conference instead
    of the cloak and dagger stuff aimed at Cunliffe.

  5. Colonial Viper 5

    The Policy Platform approach is still in its formative stages, but it is an excellent Labour initiative. For too long have member initiated policy remits, and even Policy Council policy stances simply ‘evaporated’ when the papers headed into caucus. The Policy Platform approach is key to delivering on the Party’s promises of more transparency in policy making.

    Very cool.

    • crashcart 5.1

      I think the best thing as well is any one will be able to look and see what Labour is about. The NAT’s have a well deserved rep of saying one thing then doing another once the vote is in. To often though they get to hammer on Labour for not being clear on what they would do or provide as an alternative. This counters that nicely. People will be able to decide based on what they can see. It may perhaps even start pulling back some of that left non vote which if any one is honest is where Labours real gains are. Not the small amount of swing voters every one seems to squable over.

  6. ad 6

    Do we seriously think the same people prepared to throw something as basic as a secret ballot out the window will really seriously allow plebs anywhere near anything improtant, let alone be held to it once in power?

    • weka 6.1

      Probably not, but if that’s the case then you have two options: Labour splits, or members stand and fight. Unless you are saying that constitutionally caucus has all the power in Labour and that can never change. That’s not the impression I’m getting.

      • ad 6.1.1

        I’m saying it’s yet to be proven particularly after the events of this week that the Labour caucus will do what the Constitution says it should on some pretty basic items, so jury’s out on anything else.

        • weka 6.1.1.1

          The changes will force then hand though won’t they? ANd then the members will know where they stand and will have to decide what to do about it.

  7. Tracey 7

    I wonder if some folks misunderstand what political parties are? They reflect the views of a section of a society, a view/s on how to progress aspects of society or all of it. People join that party to assist in supporting or progressing that view. If enough of the broader population like it they vote for them. If they become government they represent all NZers on the world stage etc BUT they are still that party with those views.

    People who say Labour has to move in this direction or that direction to capture more votes of middle ground or whatever, are they not slightly missing the point (or am I missing it?) of being a party? A party says

    “This is who we are, what we stand for, elect us and this is the direction the country goes”, not work out what the people want who can get us into power and become that and disregard what we stand for?

    I mean National did part of this. They said they were what most people wanted, campaigned on it, and once elected reverted to what they had always wanted to do. Its worked, for them but not for the progress of our nation.

    • crashcart 7.1

      Well said. That is probably the greatest achievement of the weekend. The fact that party members will have direct input into the platform means that Labour might actually move back to the left and become the true left major party option. Yes some votes will be lost from the middle ground but I can only imagine bigger gains will be made by giving those on the left who didn’t vote at all the option they were looking for. After all wasn’t it Key himself who said kiwi’s tend to have a socialist streak in them?

      As has been said this is a great time to join and I wish the best to all those who become involved in and try to promote real domocracy rather than the current choice between Vanila and French Vanila (I’m a french man myself)

      • Fortran 7.1.1

        crashcart

        Yes – you are right but the Greens have taken the left wing positions, whilst we “Roman’s burned” so we have to overcome them to get to our position clearly out there.

      • Slartibartfast 7.1.2

        the current choice between Vanilla and French Vanilla

        I’ve always thought of them as the Vegemite and Marmite parties; some people actually dislike both.

    • Hi Tracey,

      Yes, I’ve always thought of it in terms of the ‘artist’ versus the ‘marketer’ approach to life.

      An artist expresses who they are and what they feel and understand about the world and then takes the consequences, which is why many ‘starve in a garret’.

      A marketer has nothing in particular to express so their intent is to find out what others want and do their best to give the appearance of providing it. That way – they presumably calculate – they will never ‘starve in a garret’. 

      Political strategists (and politicians) have veered increasingly towards the ‘marketer’ approach to life, especially as new research tools come ‘on line’ which make them think they can have more control over electoral success. (The last episode of the BBC series ‘Century of the Self’ shows how this led to the Clinton and Blair approach to getting elected.)

      Meanwhile, ordinary people – including many party members of all parties – are ‘true believers’ (i.e., artists) who take the view (that you do) that a political party is a way of advancing the values, understandings of the world and commitments that they hold dear. Membership is an (artistic/moral) expression of what they value.

      The above is also sometimes called a conflict between means and ends.

      It’s a recipe for conflict. 

      • Caleb 7.2.1

        Puddleglum and Tracey, you make interesting points and quite challenging to my somewhat flippant considerations of strategically joining the party.

        I’m not sure if I fully agree with your description of what you call the ‘marketer’ approach to life… I don’t know if it’s quite fair to more strategic or pragmatic people … I don’t think all such people have “nothing in particular to express”.  I think caring about the cause, or as you put it “tak[ing] the view …. that a political party is a way of advancing the values, understandings of the world and commitments that they hold dear” can perhaps be consistent with strategic courses of action which may sacrifice some values (ie loyalty to a particular party, playing by the normal rules instead of looking for loopholes, approaching party membership in the traditional way), in the interests of a higher value (ie hopefully a better leader of the opposition and future PM).

        Still, I don’t really think that ends can justify means, so thanks for your points.  You’ve got me thinking about whether this is a means I want to use. It seems that a lot of people are using it however.

  8. IrishBill 8

    As I understand it there’s been a big wave of people joining in the last few days. So please be patient with the party workers – there’s not many of them and they’re not that well resourced.

    • just saying 8.1

      Two things,

      Firstly, if a notable number of people have joined since the conference, I sincerely hope that any reportage of the fact, either in the media or in the party, is not presented as representative of personality politics. I’m not in team Cunliffe. I prefer him to Shearer, but the bar has been set so low with Shearer and his clique at the helm, that’s not really saying much. I think the numbers of people for whom this issue had been primarily about Cunliffe are small, especially so amongst those who weren’t previously members of any party. Cunliffe gave some expression to a pre-existing vein of dissatisfaction and excalating anxiety as Shearer was giving voice to the concerns of National’s natural constituency. It isn’t easy to explain how offensive and frightening Shearer, Mallard, the Pagani’s et al have been to those of us in the large tribe that has been unofficially deemed surplus and expendable, especially with the promise of worse to come.

      Secondly, I’m not helicoptering in to vote and take off again. Far from it. I’ve been stuck for a long time about what to do, what action to take. I’m in to participate. The democratisation of the party has happened at a critical time, and I’m trying to learn the most effective ways to respond to the crises. I can’t sit back and watch the canaries die. If Labour continues to be the the party of the comfortably middle-class, by the comforatbly middle class, for the comforatbly middle class it, will meet opposition from within.

      • Colonial Viper 8.1.1

        Good on ya mate. Strident, organised opposition mate.

      • seeker 8.1.2

        Just saying with you all the way just saying, particularly

        “It isn’t easy to explain how offensive and frightening Shearer, Mallard, the Pagani’s et al have been to those of us in the large tribe that has been unofficially deemed surplus and expendable, especially with the promise of worse to come.”

        I also feel betrayed by the unfairness of a party I once thought stood for fairness.All my voting life I have only ever voted Labour as it seemed the only party that considered social justice and fairness. By it’s actions over the last week the majority of the NZ Labour Party caucus has dropped so far in my estimation that it appears to be no more principled than National. It is no wonder many right wingers are liking Shearer, with his moral back story and his weak principles he is probably looking like just the right person to change to when tired of Key. He will make them lokk ‘moral’ and upright for once, rather than selfish and greedy. He also mumbles and tells porkies like Key ( he said Cunliffe refused to endorse him so he demoted him!)
        Amazing the Kiwi mindsets that want to look up to and be led by this type of person.

        It is a hard road back from being betrayed by someone. It is worse than the death of someone, especially when they died loving you. Betrayal is a whole worse ball game. Don’t know if I can do what Anthony or Irish Bill asks. And to those who say Key, whose mindset I loath,will get away with things, I am to numb to care. Even Key didn’t turn on and lie about his colleagues to their discredit.

        Almost feel at peace now I don’t have to justify Shearer as a credible leader anymore and I like Meteria Turei’s metal for fighting against poverty and for standing up for our children and youth.

        And yes, the calibre of a leader is still important to some human beings.

        • Anne 8.1.2.1

          seeker, I know how you feel because I’ve been through the betrayal thing (political and personal) and you’re right… in many ways it’s worse than the death of a loved one.

          But I am coming round to the view that David Shearer has been manipulated. He spent many years out of NZ, and he has scant personal experience of much of the historical background to our current political scene. He has to rely on others to properly counsel him on how he should respond to political developments as they occur. I believe some of that counsel – and I won’t ponder who may be responsible or the reasons why – is inappropriate and plain wrong.

          My sincere hope is that this latest debacle has been a steep learning curve for him. Time will tell.

          • seeker 8.1.2.1.1

            Cheers Anne. I too think Shearer was probably manipulated. In this link you can see he looked surprised when Patrick Gower towered over him and said that Cunliffe was ‘bringing it to him’.(towards the end)

            http://www.3news.co.nz/Shearer-denies-Labour-leadership-shakeup/tabid/370/articleID/277072/Default.aspx

            And later I too looked very surprised and shocked when Chris Hipkins appeared on screen spewing all sorts of accusations against David Cunliffe. He gave no evidence, just wild assertions. He gave a good minute of these on Te Karere on Monday and they were awful to hear. He was introduced as a senior labour MP and then I remembered that it was earlier this year when the rumours first started and the slow smearing of Cunliffe began by good ol’ Duncan. It was said tha Garner had had a drink with two senior labour mps…………

            This seems like a game plan. I think possibly Shearer was as surprised as Cunliffe, judging by his reaction to Gower on this link. However, he had to go along with the play they had set up, probably because they told him what Hipkins told us, he believed it and, not reasoning for himself, acted upon it. I suppose if poison is dripped in your ear enough, you succumb

            However I am still very cross that Shearer appears to have listened to hearsay and not looked for evidence or reasoned wisely for himself. He just seemed to copy the words and phrases of Hipkins and some journalists in his ‘read out’ indictment of guilt on David C.as he publically condemned Cunliffe and ‘executed’ him. Not a good leader- even if he is learning.

            I also want to thank you for the link to Bryan Gould below. Always a favourite MP of mine in Britain. He had an very high profile there, which is quite something in such a large country. MP for Southampton, I remember him well. Always saying or doing something worthwhile.

            This reminds me that the Labour Party is more, and should be more than some self gratifying, senior MPs who appear to have hijacked the party for their own egos, using distasteful means. Therefore if there is a way to get the party back to what it should/could be, I will try to have another go at thinking about what IrishBill, Anthony and Ama Kiwi (who has worked so hard, thanks AK) have said.

            As Anthony says it is a risk and I’m not sure I am in a strong enough headspace to be let down or betrayed again. I had invested my trust and belief in Labour for many, many years to do good as far as possible for people – not manipulate and oppress people, so I might have to have a lot of support to fight. I’ll see. But thanks Anne, for your really helpful comment. I will watch Shearer’s learning curve too- but from a great distance.

            • Anne 8.1.2.1.1.1

              Just seen your reply seeker. Thanks. Agree with everything you have said.

              I have blogged here but, as yet, I haven’t communicated with anyone in the Labour Caucus or the Council. It’s better to wait until one is reasonably calm and composed before leaping into the fray. Had I sent any emails last week, I suspect the police would have been knocking on my door pronto. 🙂

              I think the time has come for members and supporters – who haven’t been taken in by the gaggle of grumps in the caucus and their MSM shills – to start demanding the evidence that Cunliffe has been undermining Shearer all year. I find it amazing that all us dedicated students of politics (and some of us have had many years to build up the knowledge and experience) never picked up on a thing. Remarkable.

              • seeker

                Too true Anne – me too regarding police visits and emails!
                Definitely with you on “demanding” (love this word as opposed to “asking”) to see the evidence that David C.has been undermining Shearer all year.
                Might wipe the silly grin off ‘”Stephen Joyce” wannabe Grant ‘gets on with the media, yeah right, look how he uses it’ Robinson, as he stands, just behind Shearer while he ‘indicts’. Sorry must not be sarky, but it seems to help..

                Anyway Imperator Fish does it better than me. Have just posted this on the Unsworth thread, but in case you haven’t seen it:

                http://www.imperatorfish.com/2012/11/transcript-of-labour-party-caucus.html

                Thanks for replying and positing a REALLY good idea. How do think we could we set about “demanding” effectively?

  9. Adrian 9

    I should know this, but how do the American primaries work? I take it that only registered Democrats can vote for the Democrat nominees and vice-versa but how is it policed and why is there not the same level of angst about legalities that happens when the President is elected? Do the parties run their own counting or is it done by the same organisation that runs the presidential and senate elections?

    • Lanthanide 9.1

      Primaries are run by the different parties and each is run on a state-by-state basis by the party organisation in that state. Different states have different rules as to who may vote: whether they have to be registered, or if it’s an open primary that anyone can vote in. Some of them have caucuses while others just have straight up votes.

      “why is there not the same level of angst about legalities that happens when the President is elected?”
      Not sure what you mean by this question.

      “Do the parties run their own counting or is it done by the same organisation that runs the presidential and senate elections?”
      It’s entirely run by the parties themselves, just as the Green’s manage their own leadership voting system.

      • Adrian 9.1.1

        Thanks Lan. I meant the ” hanging chad” debacle and the type of interference that they got in Florida this year with the Gov changing voting hours etc. But if the parties do it themselves I can see that opportunities for that sort of very public gerrymandering is limited.

        • Colonial Viper 9.1.1.1

          The examples you mentioned there eg hanging chads were related to Presidential Elections, not party state primaries.

        • McFlock 9.1.1.2

          well, they do get just as messy (or worse if you hear half the stories from through the years – Tammany Hall, for example), but normally there’s enough of a clearway that going to the nth appeal is more cost than likely gain.
               
          The voter ID / access to polling booths and similar issues are a longer term strategy to pervert the vote. But the only reason we know the term “hanging chad” is because the presidency was being literally determined by ~30k votes out of millions that would determine 17 electoral college votes out of almost 600. Pretty rare occurrence. Then of course the Supreme Court just decided to abandon the concept of a democratic (lol) decision and declare a victor.
              

          • Colonial Viper 9.1.1.2.1

            Pretty rare occurrence.

            yes, but its not the rarity which counts, its how massively even one occurrence changes the world forever 😉

            • McFlock 9.1.1.2.1.1

              ain’t that the truth.
              Although I did hear that some media did the pubic information thing for the ballots after the Supreme Court weighted in, but didn’t release their results because by that time the towers had fallen and they didn’t want to create disunity in a time of war…

  10. Enough is Enough 10

    Good work Anthony

    Your glass half full attitude is what this party needs at the moment. Your positive outlook on the future of the party is very refreshing.

    Most of us (including myeslf) have in recent weeks been focussing on the negative and the things which are currently wrong with the labour movement. But you have away of ignoring that and accentuating the positive.

    Cheers.

    • r0b 10.1

      Thanks Enough is Enough. Dunedin isn’t exactly the political center of NZ, and personalities and the internal politics of events like this can seem pretty far away to tell the truth. So I try to muddle along on the issues instead.

      • weka 10.1.1

        r0b, even though I disagree with you about Shearer, Cunliffe and whatever happened on the weekend, I think your posts on ts in the past week or two have been very valuable. The place would be intolerable if at a time of intensity like this everyone had the same view. You probably don’t want to hear this, but your evenhandedness about Shearer makes dissent a much easier and more constructive process.

  11. The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 11

    I don’t think this will work well.

    If this site is any evidence, the grassroots will try to move the party even lefter, making it even more unelectable than it presently is. MP’s will be left to advocate for policies that they know will have no electoral appeal. I predict they will find this discouraging.

    But maybe I am wrong.

    • crashcart 11.1

      Your working under the false assumption that Labour has lost the last 2 elections because it didn’t appeal enough to the middle ground swing voter. As was shown in a post last week they have actually lost more to Left voters not bothering to vote. A shift to the left is exactly what the party needs as shown by the Greens very high polling. At the moment we have a right and middle party fighting over the same votes. What a democracy and left leaning voters need is a left leaning major party and this may provide that.

  12. BlueSilver 12

    Duncan Garner’s piece on the new Labour rules makes an interesting read.

    http://www.3news.co.nz/Opinion-Labour-be-careful-what-you-wish-for/tabid/1135/articleID/277732/Default.aspx

    • gobsmacked 12.1

      It doesn’t make an interesting read, it makes an infantile, ignorant read, and it’s been thoroughly demolished elsewehere.

      Shorter Garner: “I don’t know what happens in other parties, in other countries, and I don’t want to know, because that would show I’m talking out of my arse.”

      It’s actually quite depressing that he should have the title “Political Editor”, when he apparently has no knowledge of politics – or even the ability to Google.

    • weka 12.2

      Have to agree with gobsmacked, it’s a crap, vacuous, article and it’s hard to tell if he is ignorant or pushing an agenda.

    • David H 12.3

      More Garner Crap. I thought he had left TV3. Pity he didn’t take that snotty schoolboy Gower with him. Where’s he going again ? Nowhere with any serious journalism involved I take it.

  13. gobsmacked 13

    Thanks for this post, Anthony. I expect many of us missed all this (not surprisingly!). Sounds good.

    • r0b 13.1

      This is not your Dad’s Labour Party any more – the reforms have been substantial. All overshadowed by the circus of course, but hopefully the word will slowly get out.

  14. Anne 14

    Bryan Gould: A win for Labour and democracy.

    An excellent article with some pertinent advice for both caucus and members.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10849287

  15. BlueSilver 15

    You cannot have an effective Parliamentary leader who is disliked by the majority of his party and who has been forced on them by the wider party, and worse yet, the unions. Garner is right. I am neither Team Cunliffe nor Team Shearer (Team Key is of course only rational team to support) and am only reading this blog in an attempt to figure out why on earth these rules got passed. I have only found some wishful thinking. So I’ll sign off with thanks and bring on 2014.

    • gobsmacked 15.1

      Simply saying “Garner is right” is not making it so.

      As I said (and you completely ignored) there is plenty of information about leadership election systems in democracies around the world.

      If you really want to read and learn (as you claim), please do …

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservative_Party_%28UK%29_leadership_election,_2005

      According to you and Duncan G, Mr David Davis should have become Tory leader. They got Cameron instead. I hold no brief for a Tory leader, of course, but just repeating “can’t work … can’t work …” is contradicted by the fact that it does.

      Again – try Google. Or just be honest and say that you don’t want to know.

  16. It was reported that Shearer wanted a ‘cast iron guarantee’ from the ministers that they
    would vote for him the day of the confidence vote,but also wanted the same guarantee
    for the feb vote, when it is a ‘secret’ vote, so here’s hoping that those same ministers
    can recognise what is so wrong with the pressure Shearer is putting on them and the
    fact that it goes against the conference’s rules.
    Members will find their voices, but not under Shearer he is authoritarian,obviously has
    no mangagerial experiance, or there would have been a totally different outcome from
    that quick-fire meeting,it would have been concilitory,engaging,pulling together different
    factions,instead it blew the lid off and caused a huge explosion, which will continue until Feb.
    The members have been quiet for long enough,this is the heart of the labour party, the reason
    it was formed was for the people,it’s just not good enough for the caucus to thumb their
    noses at the fact that the members have won that right.
    I suggest, those ministers who cannot live with the ‘new’ labour rules, jump ship and let
    Labour rebuild,reform, those who are unhappy in caucus need to consider their futures
    within labour,because the members have chosen a new path and they are determined.

  17. michael 17

    I hope you’re right, Anthony. My experience with NZLP policy-making started a few years before yours but overlapped it. While Labour was in opposition, it made all the right noises about giving its membership a say in policy making (not a veto) but, as soon as it took office, it treated that membership with disdain and either ignored, or repudiated, previous policy positions (excuse the alliteration). As a result, most activists promptly left the Party or became inactive members (as I did). The current state of affairs brings on deja vu to one went through it all before. If Labour wants to reconnect with its base, including the huge numbers of people who do not vote at all, I think it needs to start with some basic honesty and decency towards its membership. Sadly, this week’s caucus meeting, after the conference agreed to provide the membership with greater influence on leadership selection, did not inspire confidence that the parliamentary wing of the party fully absorbs those values.

    • r0b 17.1

      Hi michael. I think there is a real difference between promises and constitutional changes. The later, which we have now, can be enforced. Hope you find your way back some time…

  18. MQ 18

    What voice?
    Look at the message sent to the people that should elect us.
    Internal squabble, power struggles, egos at full play.

    It doesn’t matter how good our ideas ever are when this shit goes on in full view of the cameras and journos. until we clean up our act and start acting like a party with a goal, ie winning elections, we can reform, democratize, delegate and do anything we still wont get a single message across to the wider audience.
    Sad to see the state and the egos at play. 3 more years of National because we cant rally behind our leader and push our vote-winning messages.

    • gobsmacked 18.1

      MQ

      Presumably you’re talking about the past week. But how about the past year?

      You want Labour to “get a message across”. Who is responsible for that? What has been the message?

      I’m sure you don’t think Labour’s problems began a week ago. What has there been to “rally behind”?

  19. michael 19

    The weirdest thing of all, to me, is that Labour has principles, traditions, and achievements of which it can be truly proud but it seems ashamed of them these days. Maybe voters are motivated solely by fear and greed, which may explain National’s success over the years, but I have seen people motivated by positive thoughts and emotions, too. I am quite sure the Right doesn’t have much purchase over these factors, while Labour seems to have employed them successfully in the past. Even if voters are deaf to positive messages these days, and I think many of them probably are, surely there’s enough evidence out there to persuade them that they have more to fear from Right-wing governments than left-wing ones, even vanilla-left like the NZLP?

    • Colonial Viper 19.1

      Labour is run by Beltway Bubble types who don’t know how to apply socialist traditions, principles and philosophy in the modern age.

      In fact, under the guise of being “progressive” most of these have been got rid of and been replaced by a kind of softer kinder socially liberal economic neoliberalism.

      • Adele 19.1.1

        Kiaora Viper

        Are Beltway Bubble types analogous to Middle Class and Cocooned?

        I suppose both avatars describe the same beast. A surface dweller unable to articulate a vision for the poor, marginalised, disaffected, and beat-up – simply because they have no lived insight into such things.

        Hardship is vicariously experienced through the hardship of others. They may have an interesting back-story – helping the real needy and poor. But they only get to share in the story – the lived experience ends at the first meal.

  20. AmaKiwi 20

    I expect the next lame excuse we will have from Camp Shearer about why we should not have an open leader selection in Feb. 2013 is because “it will divide the party.”

    A reminder. The 2008 primary fight between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was one of the closest contests in recent memory. But only 4 months later the winner of the primaries tossed the Tories out of the White House in a landslide victory.

    Also remember that a year before those primaries Barack Obama was a political unknown.

    An open selection process can bring forth a truly brilliant campaigner. Labour needs a brilliant campaigner.

    We could be surprised. The winner of a Feb 2013 contest might be neither Shearer not Cunliffe. A year before those primaries Barack Obama was hardly mentioned as a contender. Ideologically, there was virtually no difference between Obama and Clinton. We need a winner!

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