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Carter faces the music

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 pm, October 11th, 2010 - 20 comments
Categories: labour - Tags:

Chris Carter faces a disciplinary hearing at labour HQ this evening. Already evicted from caucus, this meeting could result in sanctions from the Party including revoking his membership. But I don’t think it will come to that, and I don’t think it should for both principled and political reasons.

Without a doubt, Carter’s handling of his disagreement with Phil Goff’s leadership has been mishandled on both sides. Carter has failed to be constructive and has given fodder to the Party’s opponents. The Goffice, it seems, didn’t get on the blower to Carter or sit him down for a talk when they should have, so that the disagreement could have been handled without causing wider damage.

Following Carter’s bizarre letter, the caucus was right to evict him. The caucus is a team and Carter had failed to play as a team member. his actions were stupid and grossly disloyal, not to Goff but to the caucus.

That said, I think Carter should be allowed to stay in the party.

Only one Labour MP has been evicted from the Party to date, John A Lee. A working-class hero he felt the First Labour Government was too moderate and slow-moving. he became an increasingly strong critic of the leadership and the organisation of the Party. The final straw, as with Carter, was a misjudgement that did not typify the man: he wrote an article atacking the mental capability of Michael Joseph Savage to lead as the PM lay in his deathbed. In the end, John A was kicked out of the Labour Party two days before Savage died.

Then as now, there’s a real question over whether someone should be kicked out of the Party for disagreeing with the leadership. John A was never disloyal to the principles that Labour stood for and Carter, too, clearly believes in Labour’s values, even though his abuse of taxpayer money made a mockery of them. If Carter is kicked out essentially just for not getting on with the current leadership, that’s a real problem because Labour is, and should continue to be, far more than just the leadership.

So, there’s the principled reason: following the leader, whether you think they are doing right or wrong, should not be a condition of party membership.

The political reason is that Carter seems quite happy to carry on as a self-branded ‘Independent Labour MP’ and vote the Labour line. That’s perfectly acceptable, the people of Te Atuatu voted for him to be their Labour MP and so he would essentially remain. Kicking him out of the party, though, might change that. Carter might decide to quit, which could force a by-election. i reckon Labour would win it but it doesn’t need the extra strain on human and financial resources right now.

20 comments on “Carter faces the music”

  1. Pascal's bookie 1

    I’ll start out by saying that I don’t really care what they do, it’s an entirely LP affair and that’s not me.

    I’ll disagree though on the nature of Carter’s offence. He wouldn’t be being kicked out for disagreeing with the leadership, or at least I agree he shouldn’t be.

    He could well get kicked out for the way he went about it though. If you disagree with the leadership, then that is an internal party matter. It’s a matter for caucus. If you think you’ve got the numbers, challenge. If you think someone else could do the job better, see if that person wants to challenge. If you think it best for the party that Cunliffe, for example, be the leader, then ask Cunliffe what he wants to do about it. If he doesn’t want to do what you think is best, then it’s not going to happen. It’s not up to you to run along to the media and second guess both the leadership and Cunliffe’s decision.

    If the caucus is happy with the leadership, or doesn’t want to change it, then that’s the decision of the caucus. Mouthing off to the media about something caucus doesn’t want to do is an attack on the party whether it’s about a policy decision or a leadership one. It’s worse than that. It’s stupid. What he wants to happen, cannot happen because of what he did. If he didn’t realise that, then he’s a dangerous idiot. If he does, then his motivations come into question.

    Being critical of the leadership is fine. That’s a hugely important part of what caucus and the larger party is for. But if you don’t do it via the democratic mechanisms of the party, then in what sense are you still of the party?

    • Lanthanide 1.1

      The latest little jibe about a ‘tell-all’ book only adds insult to injury for how poorly he’s handled the whole matter, as well.

  2. IrishBill 2

    PB’s right, you’ve got to respect the processes of the collective. If you want to be in a collective you don’t act like a lone gunman and shit all over the processes that everyone else has agreed to abide by.

    Jim Anderton understood that and when he realised he couldn’t change the party he left it (and subsequently dragged it left(ish) after him).

    Carter wants to have his cake and eat it. If he had any substance he’d run his numbers and take over or run his numbers and split with them. Instead he’s run to the media.

    Whether he stays or goes isn’t going to be about his loyalty to Goff but his respect for every other member of the party.

  3. Jum 3

    Absolutely, Carter had to be disciplined.
    Absolutely, he needs to retain his Labour Party membership.

    Goff is tough enough to do that. Goff needs to ignore the foreign-owned/advised/controlled media who hate Labour and anything that stands in the way of the powerful getting more money and more power, anyway.

    Goff needs to do what’s right over the next year and ignore the wowsers. Labour is People. National is money.

    Media are scum. They’ve done nothing since 1999 to prove different.

  4. gobsmacked 4

    Can’t he get a suspended sentence?

    Problem is, Labour can expel Carter, but they can’t get rid of Carter. I don’t think dropping him off the Harbour Bridge with concrete boots is an option.

    So he would still be there, in Labour or out, a media magnet, delighting the Right. I suppose the media would get bored eventually (everyone else got bored long ago).

    But if it’s in the rules, how about saying “If you’re good for 6 months, you keep your membership”? Best way to keep him quiet. (Apart from the Harbour Bridge option … )

  5. Anne 5

    IrishBill is right. He showed no respect for other members of the Labour Party. He also showed – and has continued to show – an appalling lack of judgement. His membership needs to be suspended preferably until after the next election. If he chooses in the meantime to continue to undermine the leadership and/or the Labour Party then he should be expelled.

  6. He has been a very effective electorate MP and some of the stuff that he did as a Minister, especially in Conservation, was superb.

    The Labour Party should be compassionate. Mind you Chris as a Catholic ought to know about seeking redemption.

    I hope he stays and continues to be a very effective activist.

    • Herodotus 6.1

      ms he also had a number of opportunities to purchase for the country Wainuiototo (New Chums) that now Phil wishes for the country to buy, great place, manificient walk and was a magnet over the holidays for many tourists, a great gem that we have missed many times the opportunity. A belated action is better than no action I suppose, even if it would cost us a small fortune compared to a stressed sale opportunity in 04 when we HAD money available in the bank.

  7. Anne 7

    Yes mickeysavage you are right and that is what makes it all so sad. The problem is, he has angered and hurt not only Labour colleagues, but a lot of ordinary members too. He needs time-out to think about that. A period of suspension will give him that time and hopefully he will return in a much better frame of mind.

  8. Sylvia 8

    I very much hope he is not expelled from the party. His party membership does not require collective responsibility in the same way that his parliamentary role required and it seems to me that he has already been punished by the appropriate body ( caucus) for his breach towards his parliamentary colleagues. Given that he was treated pretty shabbily by Phil Goff, (publicly humiliated and forced to apologise retrospectively for spending which had been approved) any further punishment would be unjust and excessive.

  9. Colonial Viper 9

    NZ Herald online banner says that Carter is GONE. No details yet.

  10. hateatea 10

    Just read on stuff that he has been expelled

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/4220338/Chris-Carter-expelled-from-Labour

    I am unsure whether or not Labour Party central has achieved anything with this decision but I expect that Carter is unlikely to achieve the folk hero status of John A Lee

  11. BLiP 11

    Suprisingly, The Fox News Herald has a relatively informed piece on the matter up quite quickly.

    The Labour Party constitution has three grounds for disciplinary
    action such as censure, suspension or expulsion.

    They are:

    * Contravention of the principles, rules and policies of the party as contained in the constitution and policy documents of the party

    * And/or for bringing the party into disrepute

    * And/or for standing as a candidate in opposition to, or publicly campaigning against, an official Labour candidate

    Labour would have looked daft if Carter wasn’t slung out. Then again, this matter should never have come to this so Labour still looks daft.

    • Colonial Viper 11.1

      Yes it is a huge failure spanning many months to let things reach the stage where a formerly loyal and senior officer ends up as a disgraced turncoat.

  12. Pascal's bookie 12

    For goodness sake. The spending was approved. Whoop de whoop. When Carter gave his anonymous note to the media in the most clumsy move anyone has ever seen he defended himself by saying ‘that’s politics’.
    What’s also politics is fronting up and facing the music when you’ve done something that the public thinks sux. Complaining that the spending was approved and that your feefees have been hurt because your leader made you apologise so therefore it’s toys overboard and damn the consequences for the party is kids stuff.

  13. Anne 13

    Given Chris Carter’s utterances over the past week, I’m not surprised at the out-come. If he had returned from his leave and stayed quiet (refused interviews etc.) then I contend he would still be a member of the Labour Party. It’s to the Labour Council’s credit that they bent over backwards to be fair to him and to give him every chance to redeem himself.

    I have seen no evidence of shabby treatment by Phil Goff. Indeed initially he wasn’t treated any differently to Shane Jones. In some respects Shane had it worse than Chris. He was demoted further down the caucus chain and had to contend with being the butt of jokes and innuendo. The media beat-up on him was equally as bad as it was on Carter, yet he took it on the chin and showed real remorse for his actions. I imagine his rehabilitation is almost complete.

  14. Ben 14

    My gut reaction is that expulsion is a step too extreme, a severe reprimand yes as Carter has been incredibly stupid. What does expulsion achieve? Carter’s political career was already over.
    …I see the latest poll has Goff on a mere 8% and National still over 20 points ahead

    • comedy 14.1

      Bye bye homo troughicus one of the genus down 119 to go.

      Just heard his hissy fit on the idiot box FFS what a git.

    • Colonial Viper 14.2

      119 to go? At that stage what will we do, perhaps empower local mayors to rule their territories by decree and require them to send tributes to Caesar residing in Wellington? Life would be interesting indeed.

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