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Candidate Conference

Written By: - Date published: 6:16 pm, April 18th, 2011 - 59 comments
Categories: election 2011, labour, political education - Tags:

This weekend just gone there was a conference in Wellington for Labour candidates to get us all up to speed with the campaign.  We’re ready to go.

As a first time candidate, it was extremely useful to learn from some of the more experienced campaigners; from those who knew about electoral law1; and from those with more specialist skills.  It was great to meet more of the very diverse array of candidates Labour has put forward, with a wide variety of experience and backgrounds.  And it was very encouraging to hear those running the campaign speak with passion about how we can win; and to hear Phil Goff speak strongly about those for whom we need to win the election.

We need to win for those on average wages, who are struggling to find a loan to pay private doctors, after the 8 hour wait to get their daughter’s broken arm to be fixed was too long; those whose fixed bills leave them far too short for food at the end of the week; and those who need a little extra help to stay in their homes, but it’s now being denied them.  We need to win to save the assets our ancestors built up from being sold off.  We need to win so we don’t have a lost generation of unemployed young people while we bring in foreigners to rebuild Christchurch because we’ve not up-skilled our own citizens.

So the message was heartily received: go out there and win it in the community.  The central campaign will try some different things to break the media narrative; but if we each do the work in our electorates, convincing ordinary New Zealanders on the ground of our merits and National’s dangers, we will have a Labour-led government in November.

It is ultimately up to all of us who want that Labour-led government to go out and make it happen.

1 Electoral law is complicated: a very sincere thank-you to John Key for making it much easier for us to do all our electoral finance sums etc by declaring the election date early.

59 comments on “Candidate Conference ”

  1. SHG 1

    if we each do the work in our electorates, convincing ordinary New Zealanders on the ground of our merits and National’s dangers, we will have a Labour-led government in November.
    Also, there are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never!


  2. logie97 2

    During the campaign I hope I hear words along the line of …
    “to all prospective purchasers of state owned assets, you need to understand that we will repossess those assets at cost, less all transaction expenses.”

  3. higherstandard 3

    “It is ultimately up to all of us who want that Labour-led government to go out and make it happen.”

    We must move forward… not backwards, not to the side, not upwards, but always whirling, whirling, whirling towards victory.

  4. lprent 4

    Sorry I wasn’t to able to make it. But I had my mother to see in Rotorua now she has recovered from heart surgery. And this was the weekend the new server was ready to install. (curse the banks for making me miss last weekend). Fitting Wellington in didn’t work.

  5. chris 5

    Everything you just wrote sounds empty.  I’m not voting for labour this time because I’m completely and utterly disgusted with the entire operation.  I’ve always voted for them and this time I’m voting for the greens.  

    You can’t just pretend that what you do in parliament goes away at election time because you put something in a campaign brochure.

    Shape up or ship out, labour.

  6. Armchair Critic 6

    We’re ready to go.
    So get going, fuck knows Labour have had long enough.
    I’m genuinely revolted by the latest sell-out on CERA – did any of the speakers have the courage to discuss that, or was it all rah rah rah and studious avoidance of the things that matter?
    Convince me I’m wrong in my intention to vote Green.

    • AC 

      I have talked to a couple of the Christchurch Labour MPs about the issue.  Their first reaction to the suggestion that CERA was wrong was a look of indifference.  I have also talked to a few Cantabrians and their response was the same.  

      It is not an issue in Christchurch.  They just want their power to go back on and to be able to use their toilets.

      They are dismayed at how long it has taken and if they have to trash planning restrictions to get their house rebuilt they are happy to do so.

      In terms of constitutional principles I agree that CERA sucks.  I also think that the Nats have handled the crisis appallingly.

      Options were:

      1.  Oppose it as a matter of principle.  The tories would beat this up as not supporting Christchurch.
      2.  Try and get changes, like a select committee process where some improvements could be made, and then indicate that your support was conditional.

      Option 1 appealed to me although at the end of the day all they would be doing is recording a vote against something that was going to happen anyway.  Option 2 meant some improvements and that the nats were not handled a club that they would beat Labour with.

      I agree it is not ideal.  When I think about it though I am not sure what else they could do.

      • rosy 6.1.1

        ” Oppose it as a matter of principle.  The tories would beat this up as not supporting Christchurch.”

        It says an awful lot that they don’t think they could have counter-acted this argument. At the very least by demonstrating the Brownlee has had these powers for months and done precisely nothing. Is it laziness or weariness. Either way, it’s simply not good enough to sellout democratic freedoms for administrative ease that goes well beyond the powers required. Not good enough at all.

        • mickysavage

          I hear you Rosy.  

          In Christchurch most of the citizens would have seen it as being unsupportive and “political”.  Politics really is the last thing they want to think about.  For evidence of this just see how Parker was re-elected.  He is a pillock.  Disasters cause strange political events.

          • Ed

            I agree. I was talking to a person in Christchurch today who said that they are just tired of waiting, tired of chemical toilets, tired of being told nothing, fed up with Brownlee and Parker and Key, tired of photo-ops and hollow words. He specifically mentioned the cartoon of Parker in his jacket. He says they are doing some work on the stadium which is upsetting people, and it has taken far too long (and inconsistent) over letting people get work materials out of buildings. Christchurch will not support National in November.

            • rosy

              I can just as valid say people are tired of over-reaching legislation that hasn’t helped one bit – My son lived in Christchurch until last week (house unliveable and now redundant) and he’s of the opinion that CERA is dictatorial. But I guess Labour must have done the numbers and selling out democracy won.

          • Benjamin B.

            Sometimes I think some people really don’t get it. What’s the issue with saying you don’t want a NACT dictatorship just because of an earthquake? Simple.
            Honestly, what’s bigger, portaloos and accomodation, or a slippery slope to a dictatorship?
            Get it?

        • dave brown

          I agree with Rosy, here is another instance of an opposition having to say that you will repeal CERA and replace it with a democratic council that represents all the people rather a NACT govt agency that represents banksters and gentry. Meanwhile you’ll criticise all its shortcomings and help build a ground up alternative now to get things done and to replace CERA come November. Otherwise, gutless, hopeless, witless.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.1.2

        It is not an issue in Christchurch.

        It’s an issue in the rest of the country.

      • Pascal's bookie 6.1.3

        Sorry to pile on mj,

        but it doesn’t take obama/jfk/rove/atwater levels of politcal management

        to say something along the lines of

        “You don’t need the powers of a king to pull the finger out of your arse.”

        • mickysavage

          No problems PB.

          You mean that instead of entering into a discourse whereby current conditions are described in such a way that the status of various important factors can be ascertained easily we should just say it the way it is?

      • Armchair Critic 6.1.4

        It’s a bloody big dead rat to swallow, MS.  I’ve taken the conversation off-line and found a similar response to what you have mentioned.
        Here’s how I see it:
        In terms of constitutional principles CERA sucks.
        National have handled the aftermath very badly – they have not done enough, and what they have done has been insufficient, misdirected or ineffective.
        And CERA also sucks in terms of how (whether?) it will work and what it will achieve.  vto asked some pertinent questions on the subject of what CERA will do and why CERA, as opposed to other organisations.  I’ve not seen them answered anywhere.  The search function isn’t going, otherwise I’d provide a link.
        As I see it, Labour have fallen into the trap of working within National’s framing, using their language etc. and as a result have been stuck in a rut of being able to counter National’s agenda.  Though it appears David Cunliffe had a go at breaking out this morning.  Labour have to confront National and disagree with National’s assertions to have a hope of winning in November, otherwise voters will believe there is no alternative to National, and you and I both know there is an alternative.  Even the more right-leaning commenters know there should be an alternative (again, I’d provide a link if the search function worked), I think they are quite happy that Labour can’t properly oppose National, for whatever the reason.

        • Armchair Critic

          Forgot to summarise.
          CERA is terrible, both constitutionally and in terms of how it will work to get Christchurch working.  IMO Labour should not have voted for a Bill that both subverts democracy and won’t achieve its purpose.

  7. Zaphod Beeblebrox 7

    Where are the ideas? Or are you doing to whip up a different version of Winston’s economic nationalism.

    • Zaphod the party is thinking about putting policy development papers out into the net for public comment.  For obvious reasons the advanced policy cannot be released until the right time but I think the party should show how its thinking is developing.  

      This could be very beneficial for the party and for the blogosphere.  Putting the acid on ideas  is always helpful and it will also get rid of the idea that Labour has no idea what to do.  I can assure you there is a huge amount of work on policy but for strategic reasons the release will be timed.

      • Deadly_NZ 7.1.1

        Policy???  you have to be joking they are too busy screwing around to worry about policy. (Gaggle of gays for christs sake, Goff should have slapped him down but no.)  I saw Goff on TV 3 tonight totally ineffectual, they even cut off what he was saying , which was the usual limp wristed panty waisted dross that has become the Norm for the Labour party of late.  And what a pity that is.  Count me for the Greens as well.

      • Peter 7.1.2

        What is the potential downside of putting the policy ideas on the net for evaluation?

        • mickysavage

          Only that the opposition then gets the chance to dissect it and start running their CT lines at it for a longer period.

          For me I think we should trust the New Zealand public especially those on the net and have a mature discussion with them about what they want for their country. And the language has to be real, not the PR/Wellington dialect that is so prominent.

    • Ben Clark 7.2

      Hi Zaphod,

      Plenty of ideas here!  Labour have really taken the “opportunity” of opposition to do some serious policy development work, with good consultation of members and experts in their fields to come up with some innovative plans.

      And despite the “no policy” meme, Labour have actually come out with quite a lot.  Not full detail on most things, but how about:
      – No GST on fresh fruit & veges
      – First $5000 tax-free, with new higher rate on people earning noticeably above $100,000, and clampdown on tax-bludgers that Phil Goff announced at the start of the year
      – ECE cuts reversed
      – No Asset Sales
      – Stopping all our farms ending up in foreign hands (stronger Overseas ownership rules, particularly on land) 
      – No mining in the conservation estate
      – A more balanced monetary policy (with similar goals to the Australian policy), and efforts to stabilise our currency
      – The “Children First” policy Annette King announced at last year’s conference

      There will be more, but there’s some pretty huge differences with National there, a clear divide from their neo-liberalism, and a view to what will help New Zealand in the long term.

      • Colonial Viper 7.2.1

        Pretty sure that Labour is backing mining on the conservation estate except for Schedule 4 land. Also it is backing deep water oil exploration AFAIK. Please correct me if I am wrong.
        What I want to see is a gutsy move to a fully socially democratic model of NZ society. One where the planks of the social security system i.e. health, education, social welfare, personally fulfilling 100% employment, extensive family/personal life support, productive high value private sector entrepreneurship, resilient infrastructure investment, are backed with huge Government effort, smarts and money.

      • outofbed 7.2.2

        “Plenty of ideas here”
        Hm lets take “No mining in the conservation estate”
        The Greens led Labour followed
        Asset Sales?  Again the Greens were in front
        Please just get rid of Goff so we have a chance of ousting National. Pretty please

      • nadis 7.2.3

        Not bagging the ideas, but with no costing they are not policies, they are wishes.

      • Shane Gallagher 7.2.4

        @ Ben,

        Now which ones were ORIGINAL labour party ideas and which ones were “borrowed” from the Greens? Seriously. 

        Captcha: “thinking” – Labour needs to do some of this! 

        • mcflock

          Heh – if you want to play that game, how many of the Greens’ non-environmental policies were “borrowed” from Alliance/NLP policies?

          • Shane Gallagher

            A good few I expect – a bit before my arrival in NZ though – but I understand that both Alliance and the Greens emerged out of the Values party and NLP were not exactly politically distant from Values or Alliance? They all come from a common desire for economic and social justice so it is no wonder that they are similar.
            The point I was making was that Labour are not exactly wowing anyone with their policies and bold statements on anything at the moment. I would like to be because I am terrified of what a second term National government will do to this country. Look at what the Tories are doing in the UK at the moment – they are having a neo-liberal cultural revolution over there. The only light at the end of the tunnel is that they are so incompetent that the whole project will collapse.

        • Ben Clark

          Shane/outofbed, it shouldn’t be a competition, and any party should be pleased to see its ideas taken up by others as it will increase the likelihood of their implementation.  That said…
          Labour have had no asset sales as a plank since Helen Clark became leader – 1993.  And Labour have never agreed with mining on Schedule 4 land since it was created as a concept by National in the 1990s.
          So neither of them are “new” ideas, for either party.
          New ideas for Labour would be the development of the “Children First” policy, based on Dunedin longitudinal study research and others.  There’s some pretty impressive social policy development in there.
          And the development of a more comprehensive monetary policy that should make life easier for our productive exporters, and help with unemployment.
          Yes, the Greens have been banging on about a tax-free start to your income for a while (as many other countries like Australia/UK have) – and good on them.  Having such policy overlaps should make coalition government easier…

      • Zaphod Beeblebrox 7.2.5

        I don’t neccessary oppose the direction of your thinking but isn’t it about time that Labour started setting the policy debate agenda?

        Given we have a housing affordabiity crisis, a fuel crisis, a climate crisis, virtually no GDP growth, our teachers and doctors are leaving and an impending skills shortage, I would have expected some more big picture thinking.

        The minutiae of GST or a few dollars here for certain income groups may be interesting, but they hardly hold the public’s imagination. Only by doing that will you expose the total lack of understanding of the world that this government has.

  8. Labour need a green jobs and clean energy plan. A plan to build rail jobs, build clean energy, build stronger communities, affordable living and a strong low carbon economy.
    We need change, we need vision, we need leadership and passion. The days of Aotearoa being a leader need to return. We need to invest in an economy and society that provides for the next generation. Labour needs to step up, or a lot of soft supporters will go to the greens and elsewhere. Now is the time to be bold, and to provide a plan, a vision.

    • rosy 8.1

      “or a lot of soft supporters will go to the greens and elsewhere”

      Not just soft supporters. I’ve always voted Labour, but not this time. CERA was the end of a long line of expedient options taken while in opposition. They’re betraying the very principles and people they’re meant to serve. Empowering the already powerful, sidelining disempowered and using the negative outcomes of the socio-economic distress of the poor to pander to the socially conservative. That’s not my party anymore

  9. PeteG 9

    Labour is labouring in the shadow of a past century and a past decade. There is little to differentiate it apart from being minus the strong leadership (head and deputy) and they rely more on recycled slogans.
    Getting some policy stuff out will help for those with an interest in politics. The majority just want to see a leader and a party capable of running the country. At the moment there are just too many negatives. Even the Ra-Ra message Ben describes is heavy on negatives.
    It’s sad to see that at this stage of election year the voters want something less mediocre than National. With ambition like that no wonder the country is struggling.

    • lprent 9.1

      Leadership compared to what?

      Key is completely lost when it comes to keeping control of his cabinet. English appears to be running his own agenda. People like Brownlee and Joyce appear to be setting up their own personal fiefdoms.

      Quite simply they are the most useless leaders that I have seen in operation since Shipley.

      • PeteG 9.1.1

        Labour’s leadership is widely perceived to be worse. It’s hard to escape from that fact. Depressing, isn’t it.

        • lprent

          The difference between perception and actual incompetence is that the latter cannot be fixed easily as it appears to be from an innate lack of talent, whilst the former as a perception can be

  10. Ben while you are in pre-election truth mode, could you please explain how Kiwi Saver is going to survive the next 40 + years.
    You and your labour friends have convinced the young working public that this scheme will produce a pension out at least 50 years.
    Yet Parliamentary Services wrote a report in October 2010 quoting the US military and many others that globally oil production is going to plummet as early as 2012
    How will any growth based culture survive the fast depleting life blood that is the oil it survives on?
    If you need to get up to speed on what peak oil means especially with regards to future savings scams, could you please read this essay
    I will also pop some DVDs in the mail for you c/o Parliament Buildings
    I will send you this lot http://oilcrash.com/articles/you_tube.htm
    I would like to send you the same info pack I gave John Key and Al Gore back in November 2006, but I may have misplaced my masters, will try and hunt them out for you.

    Sorry Mod just in case the above links don’t work, I’m pasting them again here …… hope that is ok
    Oct 10 report – http://oilcrash.com/articles/wake_up2.htm .
    Growth – http://oilcrash.com/articles/wilson08.htm . (Ben the author is posting you all a copy of this, so you will have the drop on everyone else)
    Al Gore – http://oilcrash.com/articles/algore01.htm

  11. Carol 11

    I agree with the criticisms above that ask for more focus on protection of democratic rights & processes, and all CV’s stuff on social democracy.
    Plus, in your opening post, Ben, I was struck by this:

    We need to win for those on average wages, who are struggling to find a loan to pay private doctors, after the 8 hour wait to get their daughter’s broken arm to be fixed was too long; those whose fixed bills leave them far too short for food at the end of the week; and those who need a little extra help to stay in their homes, but it’s now being denied them.

    This looks to me like a dominant focus on middle income kiwis. Where is the support for the real Kiwi battlers: those who could never afford private doctors or buy their own homes.  There’s a kind of weak hat tip to them in the middle of the quote, about those who can’t afford food, but I think they should be front and centre of Labour’s assertive agenda.

    • Bill 11.1

      I read that same para last night. I read the first sentence many times over. It sounds like a fair representation of what Goofy Boy would say. At least it’s muddy enough. And it just kept on filling me with confusion and disquiet.
      And then the penny dropped.
      I don’t give a fuck for somebody who can’t get a loan to pay a private doctor. But I do give a fuck about the state of the public health system and I do give a fuck about a child in distress with a broken arm.
      Seems Goofy is still hung up on that neo-liberal b/s that bangs on about the ‘right to choose’, even while the building’s burning.
      My concerns are of no concern to Goofy Boy though.

      • Ben Clark 11.1.1

        When I heard Goff’s speech – and when I wrote the paragraph – it was more an indictment on the state of the public health system under National that you have to go to a private doctor because a child with a broken arm can’t be seen promptly.  And an indictment of the economy and wages under National that even those on “average” wages can’t put enough away for the rainy day when your child breaks their arm.

        I don’t begrudge any parent doing what it takes to help their child who’s in great medical distress.  I’d do what was necessary to help my daughters – if that involved having to ring around for whoever could give me that cash to get it fixed, that’s what I’d do; not worry about whether I was “supporting the capitalist neo-liberal system” by paying for a doctor.

        I deliberately included an example from the average wage, a low wage and a pensioner to show how National’s governance is hurting everyone.  Let’s not argue “oh I’m getting a worse deal than you” – let’s just get on and get the Nats out of power!

        • Bill

          I didn’t hear Goff’s speech Ben. You did. And if the paragraph you wrote is a fair summation of the speech, then there is no indictment of the health service etc.
          And for the record, I don’t see being forced to seek private medical help as a person “supporting the capitalist neo-liberal system”. I see it as an indictment of a public health service that neither Labour nor National have given enough nurturing or support to.
          And Ben. It’s okay to call poor people, poor people and pensioners, pensioners. You won’t catch anything nasty and contagious, y’know?
          This oblique, ‘Those with fixed bills’ and ‘those who need a little extra help’ is just ….it’s fucking useless language that conveys very little if anything at all. Something, it must be said, that Labour are exceedingly good at these days.

  12. PeteG 12

    It’s important to develop and publicise policy, but electorally it’s only a side issue, especially in Labour’s current situation where their best long shot is a multi party coalition where policies would need to be negotiated after the election anyway.
    Leadership. Management.
    Labour’s leadership and management of it’s own party has been under severe scrutiny. Somehow they have to convince voters they are capable of leading and managing a much more diverse coalition.
    Labour need to convince voters they are somehow now capable of and willing to join in coalition with both the Greens and the Maori Party, something historically they have avoided.
    Where are the slogans for that?

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      Labour’s leadership and management of it’s own party has been under severe scrutiny. Somehow they have to convince voters they are capable of leading and managing a much more diverse coalition.

      Taking the higher moral ground, from a supporter of a party who’s Cabinet Ministers have been dropping like flies, where Pansy Wong and Jenny Shipley look like they have been making money where none should have been made, what a joke.

      join in coalition with both the Greens and the Maori Party

      Oh frak off, the Maori Party is National’s liability. A vote for the Maori Party is two votes in one – it’s a vote for a bunch of Right Wing sell outs AND a vote for National at the same time.

      By the way as a Labour Party member I am working hard to see Rahui Katene and the rest of the Mp MP’s ditched in November. And good riddance.

  13. fabregas4 13

    And according to Ben, National Standards stays on the table – 20,000 teachers move their vote to greens!

    • Ben Clark 13.1

      Hi fabregas4,
      I failed to mention National Standards, it’s true.  But while I don’t have our full education policy to hand yet, I’d be very surprised if keeping National Standards is in there.  It’s been vehemently opposed by Labour since its inception.
      I’d prefer it if you didn’t attribute things to me that I distinctly didn’t say.

      • Afewknowthetruth 13.1.1

        Ben. I see you bare firmly locked into denial of reality and flogging plenty of dead horses, just like the clowns in all the other parties. Telling people what you think they want to hear in order to get elected, instead of telling them the truth and having policies based on reality.

        Peak Oil is now: there will never be an economic recovery back to the ‘good old days’.  The ‘good old days’ were a product of cheap and readily available energy and resources. They no longer exist. We are now in the period described as the long descent, for want of a bettter term.

        Fiat monetary systems are on their last legs. Creating money out of thin air gave the pretence of wealth as long as the respources were there to provide for interest payments. That game is nearly over.

        Environmental collapse is accelerating. The policies you and the rest of the ‘idiots’ in Labour advocate are predicated on destroying your own and your children’s futures via CO2 emissions and acidification of the oceans etc.    

        I do not expect any sensible response to what I have written because I know you don’t have one. Ignorance and denial are powerful forces that lock up people’s minds. I’m sure you will just keep ignoring reality till reality it hits you hard in the face  -probably some time between 2012 and 2013 the way things are panning out internationally.  

        • clandestino

          “Ignorance and denial are powerful forces that lock up people’s minds”

          So is apocalypse anxiety. The reality will be somewhere in the middle.

  14. Labour needs a strong environment policy or we might as well make the greens the main opposition party and aim for a green government (an ecosocialist republic).

  15. arants 15

    You can drag a dead horse to water, but you can’t teach it new tricks…

    • Bill 15.1

      I think in Labour’s case, arants, it would be more a case of taking the horse to the crystal clear spring and watch as it turns around and shits in it.

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