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On the affiliate vote

Written By: - Date published: 12:12 pm, September 5th, 2013 - 53 comments
Categories: labour - Tags: ,

There’s been some recent speculation on the affiliate vote. Some of it’s trolling some of it’s just plain misinformed.

That said, it’s an interesting issue, and one that I’ve a few thoughts on myself.

As far as I can tell the EPMU is probably likely to be pretty balanced between Cunliffe and Robertson which is probably why they decided to offer no endorsement of a particular candidate. My gut instinct is that in the end it’s likely tip more Cunliffe’s way than Robertson’s. But only the voting delegates can know for sure.

In the SFWU it’s more complicated, it’ll be based on the turnout of regular members (who prefer Cunliffe) versus a push by Wellington officials (who prefer Robertson). As with any Servo vote, Auckland engagement will be the deciding factor as more than half of their members are in that region.

The other affiliates – MUNZ, RMTU, Dairy workers, Meat workers – remain an unknown, but those votes will depend very strongly on whether there’s an endorsement of a candidate by each union’s National Executive (and I understand there will be). An endorsement could swing the tide strongly in either direction and would probably also influence the votes of EPMU and SFWU voters too.

Just as an aside, the idea that Shane Jones will get any significant union vote is some shoddy analysis that I suspect is based on the elitist beltway belief that the working class are bigots. The truth is union members have sophisticated and progressive politics – they’re not going to vote for someone who doesn’t have their interests at heart.


53 comments on “On the affiliate vote”

  1. karol 1

    Claire Trevett is tipping that the dairy workers’ union is making a non-binding recommendation for Cunliffe – near the end of her article.

    I have no idea how good her source is.

    • IrishBill 1.1

      I understand they’ve made a recommendation but it’s not public. I assume they’ll make it public but will want to make sure their members hear it from them before the media report it.

    • Tracey 1.2

      Claire TRevitt and many of the folks commenting ont hat thread are bog on how Jones is an ordinary NZer, as opposed to an intellectual… it seems Jones’ crowd has done a great job of covering up his background…

      Truth is the first casualty and all that
      Univeristy til late 20’s (including Harvard) and government employee or MP since.

      • aspasia 1.2.1

        And the related piece of Jones-spin, promoted most assiduously by Jones himself, is how he can make the cut-through to all the nonvoters from 2011. Well…a lot of the nonvoters are in Auckland and a sizeable proportion are Maori. So why is it that Jones is not the MP for Tamaki Makaurau? Surely he could have been demonstrating these fabulous capabilities he claims to win his seat last time!

  2. Tracey 2

    Is it correct that some affiliates will have the delegates cast the vote, not the members individually per se? I think there was one exception to this?

  3. Hilary 3

    A question. Wasn’t Cunliffe Minister of Health when the MoH fought the SFWU sleepover case?

    • Malcolm 3.1


      IHC appealed it in 2011.

    • IrishBill 3.2

      Yes and I believe Trevor Mallard was the Minister of Labour – the legislation that was material to the case. However I’d guess that Michael Cullen would have had the final say on any government action in that case due to the cost involved. I agree with you though – it was a shoddy example of the kind of third way thinking the last Labour government engaged in. Let’s hope those days are over, eh?

    • Delia 3.3

      and do not forget Labour also fought to leave family carers who care for disabled relatives unpaid as well.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 3.3.1

        its was not policy at the time as far as Im aware.

        Remember, Cabinset ministers are legally prevented from ‘interferring’ in the normal operations of their departments. If the CEO appeals a court case, they they cant touch it. It would require a cabinet minute to say the government policy has changed for everyone. There would be financial reasons and broader implications before they would go down that step. Government intrusion has its downsides as well. Its not just a river of gold. Australias liberals have proposed a tax on ‘large ‘ businesses to fund their proposal

  4. Anne 4

    There is evidence to suggest the beltway pollies (don’t necessarily reside in the beltway) are getting cold feet and have been ringing up selected LEC’s – and affiliates too? – ostensibly to gather numbers and promote their candidate Grant Robertson. I don’t know whether it’s true, but I understand Grant has been ‘promising’ his supporters coveted positions.

    If it is true then shades of Nov/Dec 2011 all over again.

    • weka 4.1

      “and have been ringing up selected(?) LEC’s ostensibly to gather numbers perhaps, but more likely promoting their candidate Grant Robertson.”

      What difference would that make? Are the LECs going to tell their local members who to vote for? How does this affect positions within caucus?

      And if that is really going on and it means Robertson ends up winning, it just shows that Labour’s problems are much deeper than the leadership issue.

      • Anne 4.1.1

        No, they can’t tell members which way to vote but they can ‘encourage’ some to vote a certain way which is going to be personally advantageous to them. I hope it isn’t widespread this time around and won’t make any difference to the outcome.

        • weka

          So how would they encourage? I assume the voting papers are sent out from national office. Would the LECs be holding meetings for members? Sending out newsletters/emails? I can see how lobbying caucus and the affilates that use delegates could influence things, but not how lobbying the LECs would. Or do you mean the LEC has influence on the MP’s vote?

          • irascible

            LECs are the coordinating committee for the branches in the electorate. Unless all the members in an electorate are in constant communication with the LEC it would be very difficult for the LEC to make any real call on how their individual members will vote especiallly as voting papers have been sent out by HO directly to the individual members. It would appear that, like the arguments about how Affiliate Union individual or delegate votes will go is pure conjecture based on a belief that the Executive has total dictatorial control of all indivdual votes at bothe Union & Individual level.

    • Hilary 4.2

      Evidence – or mere anecdote from those with an anti-GR agenda?

      • hush minx 4.2.1

        actually I wish he’d just come on here and then we can ask him! If he wins and it’s his supporters who get those coveted positions then it will be clear his talk of unity was not what the rest of us took it to mean. But if he assures us here then I for one will feel much more comfortable.
        Anyone know if he’s going to send in a guestpost?

        • IrishBill

          It would be greatly appreciated if he did. We’ll run up a moderated thread just as we did with David Cunliffe.

      • Anne 4.2.2

        @ weka
        All those ways you mentioned but mostly ringing around members I should think. There were emails involved last time but I doubt that is happening this time. There’s nothing illicit about it just underhand in my view. It certainly created bad feeling amongst some of us last time.

        No Hilary. There is evidence. Like I said, I’m inclined to believe its only small scale stuff. Here’s hoping.

        Btw, there’s no evidence that I know of which would suggest Grant Robertson is personally involved.

    • Stephen 4.3

      I am a LEC chair (Ilam). No candidate has been in touch one way or another.

      On the other hand, what’s bad about soliciting member votes exactly? It’s a campaign. I would expect candidates to do what they can to ask for the vote. That’s politics 101. If anything, it’s a bit disappointing that none of these three supposed seasoned campaigners has reached out at that level.

      Maybe I’m just miffed at not being important enough.

      I mean crikey, if it was bad form to approach organisations to seek members’ votes, that would rule out an awful lot of MP’s campaigning strategy… think about it.

      I honestly can’t get the point of your comment Anne. On the one hand you hear things. (“There is evidence”? Really? What evidence?) On the other hand, what you have heard is exactly what I would expect successful politicians to be doing. No surprise, either way.

      • Colonial Viper 4.3.1

        I am a LEC chair (Ilam). No candidate has been in touch one way or another.

        On the other hand, what’s bad about soliciting member votes exactly? It’s a campaign.

        I think Anne was talking about Labour MPs calling up individual members and branch officers applying pressure, which should not be allowed. Both the MPs being involved part (the ones who are not candidates), and the applying pressure part (as opposed to “soliciting” for votes).

        I do not think she is referring to ordinary party members from the campaigns ringing up branches and LECs.

        • Stephen

          Applying pressure? That sounds nuts, frankly. First, it’s a secret ballot. Second, even if they could tell how a member voted, there aren’t any consequences an MP can inflict. Third, each member, LEC officer or not, only has one vote, so anything but minimal effort is terrific waste of time, even if you could successfully coerce someone. I call bullshit.

          [edited afterthought]: also, what’s wrong with MPs who aren’t candidates lobbying on behalf of the one they prefer? Don’t you lobby for votes for the candidate you prefer? If not, you’re a mug.

          • Colonial Viper

            Do you believe in the separation between caucus and party activities?

            Second, even if they could tell how a member voted, there aren’t any consequences an MP can inflict.

            Oh I know this and you know this, but some MPs are foolish enough to try anyway.

            • Stephen

              They have to remember that they’re representatives and there to implement the party’s policy, which is why I fully support the changes that were made at our last conference. Other than that, what do you mean? MPs are also members.

        • Anne

          Correct CV. Thanks.

          Read my comment at 4 before you start flying off the handle Stephen. Always a good idea to read comments properly.

          And if you are not aware of… or concerned about the shenanagens in Dec. 2011 after the last election – and indeed after last year’s conference – then I’m not sure you should be a chair of anything in Labour.

  5. Comrade Coba 5

    As one of the affiliates to Labour there are a couple of thoughts I’ll share with you all. We ‘our voting/politically informed members attended one of the hustling meetings & report back to the members that we represent within our region. Critiqued each contender on how best they will serve our collective & a general agreement was reached. We voted for a ‘leader’ & his nearest opposition was ranked third. 

    The other point is as unionists some of us felt we should have voted as a block 20% so each candidate comes up with what is the best deal for our movement. Such an opportunity was wasted, however I think the Labour Party gets the message loud & clear i.e. Left is best if you want to win in 2014.   

    • The Fan Club 5.1

      You ranked the nearest opposition third? Why? Shouldn’t you have ranked the worst candidate for your union third? Anything else is contributing to the possible election of the wort candidate, after all.

      (Also you do get that if the unions voted en bloc you’d just get the union vote taken off you at the next conference, right? Just to be realistic…)

  6. hush minx 6

    Irish – as I was reading this I thought you often add a unqiue insight into the poltical world – and I did a quick search on your past posts. Two stood out to me of relevance today:

    August last year “It looks like someone from within Labour’s top team* has decided to have a real nasty go at David Cunliffe via Duncan Garner. Regardless of what you think of Cunliffe, this kind of pointless and destructive politicing is exactly why people have no faith in Labour as a government in waiting.” http://thestandard.org.nz/too-far-3/.

    I’d actually forgotten about this. To the best of my knowledge there was never any consquence (?)

    And then earlier in April last year “It’s been no secret around the beltway that Robertson is preparing to make a play for the leadership of the Labour party and, despite my best hopes, it appears the punt taken on David Shearer has failed…However it’s starting to feel like a leadership challenge is inevitable. If it is I can only hope that the floor’s opened to all contenders and it’s done openly and with the inclusion of the broader party.”

    So you actually called it before anyone else I think. And to see that we do indeed have a strong democratic process underway. Well done Irish.

    • IrishBill 6.1

      Yeah, well I was a year out on that second prediction. But thanks anyway.

      • Anne 6.1.1

        From hush minx’s second link:

        My suspicion is that within the very near future, maybe after another flat poll, someone close to Shearer, perhaps Trevor, will have a hard conversation with him that goes something like “you’ve done your best mate but it’s just not worked” and I think that Shearer will step down because he’s the kind of guy that would step down if he believed it was the best thing to do.

        Perhaps you were so ‘on the money’ IB, you forced Trevor to wait another year. 🙂

    • Uuuurgh re-reading the ‘too far’ thread reminded me how badly Trougher Mallard needs to go.

  7. Anne 7

    Yes. It’s at the core of my concern. Is Mallard up to his old tricks again? Remember he has spent the past 20 odd years cultivating journos and commentators for his own purpose and leopards never change their spots.

    • David H 7.1

      maybe someone Needs to take Trougher aside, and tell him that the only way he can run for Parliament is to do so as an Independent!

  8. binders full of women 8

    Jones ain’t shoddy. I would think that his emphasis on jobs, jobs, jobs would! be in the unions’ best interest. In fact better than the other two. All the other two seem intent on is spend, spend, spend (till her daddy takes the t-bird away)— admittedly GR more so the DC. How many union members are on $13.75 an hour? Also Jones’s narrative about ‘why did only 18% of NZ eligible voters get on the red waka?’ is worth a thought. Or do we just believe that the voters don’t get it. I don’t get a vote- so my views are irrelevant … but this Waitakere man is happy with either DC or SJ. (with greens at 6%).

    • JK 8.1

      To Binders – Jones IS shoddy. And he’s lazy. He might sound good to you, but when has he ever done anything specific about building up actual employment opportunities for jobs. And why do the iwi-owned fishing companies which he helped set up employ slave labour from Asian countries ?

    • Saarbo 8.2

      Jones is an interesting candidate, he has some appeal, and listening to him at Hamilton, I got the feeling that he will win some people over. Prior to listening to him I wouldn’t have given him any chance whats so ever. The one union rep I spoke to said he would vote for him. Like Cunliffe, Jones comes out with fresh thinking rather than continuously quoting Norman Kirk as Robertson does.

      I think Jones appeal is his brutal honesty at times, this doesnt always serve him well in politics. Obviously Jones doesn’t appeal to women but he seems very contrite around the “filly’ comments. He is sexist in a way that all of those private boys schools (St Steven’s in his case) produce. Over the years I have met many people who have attended private boys schools (St Pauls College in Hamilton, Te Aute, St Stevens), and they all have incredibly backward views when it comes to women. The result is that these people all seem to struggle in holding down stable relationships…(they get there eventually though). Personally I wouldn’t send my son to one of these schools if they were the last schools standing, its beyond me why people would actually pay money to send their kids to these institutions…weird (Private Boys Schools, not just the 3 schools Iv listed).

      He will get my number 2 vote because of his honesty and his experience outside of parliament, he seems contrite regarding his blatant sexism. Robertson played a part in the Shearer experiment, and I suspect a bigger part than is been let on, he will get my No 3 vote.

      • lprent 8.2.1

        Obviously Jones doesn’t appeal to women but he seems very contrite around the “filly’ comments.

        He is always somewhat contrite in the “I wasn’t aware that it would cause offense (and aren’t people so senssssittttivvvveee)” kind of way. After the 5th or 6th time you hear him go through the identical charade, you realise he is simply a complete dickhead who has no idea how to change himself.

        I just rate him as politically incontinent. He’d probably do well on talkback radio..

        • Saarbo

          Yes, he has an involuntary nature to the shit that comes out of his mouth, I’ve come across plenty of people like him before but few with his intellectual horse power (or position). Im not a fan of Jones as my past comments will clearly have shown, but he gets my number 2 ahead of Robertson because Jones weaknesses are known versus Robertson who like Shearer we have never seen in power. My intuition suggests that Robertson is into that machiavellian crap, he has taken advantage of the intentions of the ABC’ers and run with it. This realpolitik stuff will only get him so far, I want to see how he goes after a few years in power, then we can assess his weaknesses because one thing is for sure, he will have weaknesses that we are not aware of. As for Jones, its fair to say that you scare me when you suggest he would be good on Talkback, because thinking about it, he does have a lot in common with John Tamahere. I guess if I could just pick one name on my vote form I would. The upshot of all of this is that David Cunliffe should be further ahead than he currently is being polled, he is in quite a different league to the other two.

  9. the sprout 9

    Given Robertson’s association with Shearer and the neoliberal Mallard old boys club, I cant imagine why any informed union vote would go to Grant.
    And then there is the way Brown treated MUNZ, presumably on the advice of his advisors – the very same that were advising Shearer.
    Grant’s recent past as Shearer’s deputy should give unions pause for thought.

    • Comrade Coba 9.1

      There will be very few Union votes going to Grant for the very reasons you point out. Brown can be given the benefit of the doubt, as he didn’t have the left numbers to openly come out strongly. That should change with the LBE’s, Matty M has been doing stirling work to promote left candidates voted in. Handy test run for the general election in 2014, he is a waste dicking around with the one trick pony. Dotblob would be a better option for him and other lefties. Atleast they wouldn’t have the funds to worry about?

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