Christchurch East maneuvering

Written By: - Date published: 12:50 pm, June 24th, 2013 - 33 comments
Categories: by-election 2013 - Tags: , ,

So it looks like Labour’s Christchurch East candidate when Lianne Dalziel steps down will be either Clayton Cosgrove or James Caygill. The first question you ask is ‘why wouldn’t Clayton just stand in Waimakiriri again?’. He’s won it four out of five attempts and Wilkinson only has a 600 majority. A slight swing will win it for him again, why give that up? The answer is troubling.

As with Ikaroa-Rawhiti, the leadership seems to be prepared to override the local membership and create collateral damage (the former, losing a credible Left journo, the latter, giving up on winning back Waimakariri), and run a campaign in which those things are factors for the sake of getting a pro-Shearer-Robertson candidate in (Ikaroa-Rawhiti, Shane Taurima, in Christchurch East, Kelvin Davis comes in if Cosgrove becomes an electorate MP).

Isn’t it a little bit odd that the leadership would be placing such high priority on replacing departed Cunliffe supporters with leadership loyalists? Isn’t the leadership question settled until the election, and beyond if Labour wins? Why not take the sensible, easy route of letting the locals have who they want (especially since they’re likely to get who they want anyway) and concentrate on winning hearts and minds – or, better yet, concentrate on winning the election?

The priority that the leadership is placing on internal numbers is a reminder of how close those numbers are – remember, it was only a last minute defection that saved Shearer at the start of this year (and the defector didn’t exactly get her full 30 pieces of silver, so can’t be counted on again). Nonetheless, there’s no leadership spill in the offing. Which suggests the leadership is being paranoid and/or that Robertson is already trying to get the numbers he needs post-election – which assumes an election defeat. This is a siege mentality and an inward focus that does the party no good, and sees National get an easy ride from a distracted Labour leadership.

The lesson that the Shearer-Robertson leadership should have drawn from Ikaroa-Rawhiti is that they don’t have the power to parachute in a candidate of their choosing against the locals’ will. Caygill v Cosgrove would be slightly more complicated because the unions don’t like Caygill because of his dad and don’t like Cosgrove because he’s from the Mike Moore school, which makes it hard to predict which way the union vote would go. But, still, given the popularity of the leadership, in a competition between a local candidate and a leadership-backed carpetbagger (even one from just up the road) the money will have to be on the local.

The irony is that the likely outcome is Clayton does put his hat in the ring is that he will lose the Christchurch East nomination and, by having shown himself to be a fairweather friend, damage his chances of winning back Waimakiriri. And that just leaves the leadership with a second embarrassing nomination loss this year, a more pissed off base, a new MP who knows the leadership is no friend of his, and another old tusker taking up a list place.

I would suggest a different strategy: drop the siege mentality. Let the locals have who they choose (as long as they aren’t mad). Show that you are with the membership, not apart from it. Go out there and win the by-election, then win the election.

33 comments on “Christchurch East maneuvering”

  1. mac1 1

    I suspect, unless people here are saying that they know through incontrovertible evidence, that what is a corollary (getting Davis in) is actually being stated as the primary motivation. This of course depends on whether Davis is a Shearer supporter actually, and also on whether that matters to him, Shearer or the caucus.

    How much of this post is conjecture, how much based on dislike of the present leadership, how much connecting up dots which ought not to be? Let’s all, if we can, step outside the leadership question and apply some solid logic or some solid well-based facts.

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      Well, if you want to step outside the leadership hypothetical, the answer is easy: let the electorate party members select whoever they think will best represent them.

      • Te Reo Putake 1.1.1

        “Which suggests the leadership is being paranoid and/or that Robertson is already trying to get the numbers he needs post-election – which assumes an election defeat.”

        Robertson already has the numbers to roll Shearer, if Camp DC voted with him. The problem is that he doesn’t have the numbers to replace him as leader. If he went for a spill, we could have the weird situation where Shearer gets dumped, then gets re-elected.

        And it doesn’t assume an election defeat at all. We’ve seen that in NZ (Bolger dumped post election for Shipley) and in Oz (Rudd for Gillard).

        Re: the unions, I think you are wrong on both counts, EDDIE. Caygill will not be damned for the sins of his father and Cosgrove remains friendly with the Canterbury unions, particularly the EPMU. So it may well be that the members vote is the decisive one in the process, if the others blank each other out.

        Edit: didn’t mean to put this as a reply to CV, but as it touches on points CV raised, I’ll leave it there.

        • Daveo

          Shearer would almost certainly resign if he lost a no confidence motion in caucus, and Robertson already has the numbers to force it.

          The issue is this – Robertson knows rolling Shearer would mean he’d face Cunliffe and possibly Little in a party-wide leadership run-off. Against one or both of those two he’d struggle to win the party and union support he needs to win the leadership. Therefore, it’s in Robertson’s interests to keep Shearer in power.

      • mac1 1.1.2

        So long as the membership is strong enough, and not so small that it acts as a local’s fiefdom, so be it. The party has rules for this.

      • Tom Gould 1.1.3

        Which suggests the local membership will be denied a say? The rules are clear, in fact democracy reigns in the Labour Party if all the post conference rhetoric is to be believed. Why the nasty personal attacks on Cosgrove in the media, in what is actually an internal party selection process?

  2. Leopold the Viper 2

    Let Occam’s razor apply and go to the simplest explanation: no matter how difficult it is to find a way to muck things up, Shearer and Co will find it

    • mac1 2.1

      Occam’s razor told me that no matter what the post is about, it would bring out the anti Shearer brigade. The post is full of conjecture. It’s full of questions and words like ‘looks like’, ‘seems’ and ‘should’ and ‘it suggests’.

      The post does say that the locals should and will have their way. Head Office has a say and so does the membership. What’s the strength of the local party membership? That determines the local input. Weak memberships should not by themselves determine a candidate, for it’s too easy to subvert that process. A strong local membership should prevail. So let that happen and the last paragraph concerning getting on with the by-election and then winning the general election which I do agree with, will come about. The rest is conjecture and as such not helpful.

      • just saying 2.1.1

        Weak memberships should not by themselves determine a candidate, for it’s too easy to subvert that process.

        From my own experience, weak local offices, in the sense of a chosen few locking the rest of the membership out of participation and decision-making, seems to be the (deliberate) order of the day, in the current Labour Party. Which kind of paves the way for a head office dictatorship.

        • mac1

          just saying, are you aware of the LP rules regarding candidate selection? Members have a vote- the floor vote. The local LEC carries votes according to the membership. I have been in a situation where the local membership was so strong, in a National seat, that the LEC carried four votes, the floor vote one and Head office three. Locals outnumbered HO 5 to 3. Guess who got the candidate of their choice, and rightly so, and all agreed? If the locals join the party in sufficient numbers, then they carry the day- no matter who HO might or might not prefer. It never seemed to be an issue. Never seen a Head Office dictatorship, sorry.

          I am buggered to know how a member can be locked out of participation or decision-making in candidate selection. A member is entitled to attend a selection meeting, and vote.

          Now if you have a LEC of a handful and a membership deliberately kept low because as I spoke of above a fiefdom approach to electorate affairs, which happens in all sorts of organisations, then be aware of that, and get the membership up. Don’t sit back and allow others to take over or dominate committees. Organise. Join. Participate. If you do all that, then you have a right to complain- but you won’t because you and like minded good folks predominate. Any party also has its fair share of whingers, too. MMP got rid of a few, as they sloughed off into the minor parties where the opportunities were greater for influence, malign or otherwise.

          I believe the bigger the membership, the better the democracy within the organisation. Apparatchiks love small numbers and apathetic members. Easy to control. Over to you!

          • just saying

            I formally requested that I be informed of the times and locations of our local electorate meetings because none had been provided to me. That was more than a month ago….
            Over the phone I had been given the ‘secret squirrel’ information of when in the month these meetings occurred, but I was required to await the details.

            I think it would be fairly easy to ‘accidentally’ fail to inform non-select members of the time and location of the candidate selection meeting. However, I have no evidence that this has or will occur.

            • Colonial Viper

              Pebble and Douglas used to pull this kind of shit routinely. Going so far as to ring head office up in Wellington saying, oh such and such has recently passed away, please take them off the voting members list.

              • mac1

                Couldn’t do that too often- when the recent dear departed sends in his/her sub for the next year?

                Which voting members list, CV? When I turn up for a Labour meeting where I am to be able to vote such as a candidate selection meeting, then the membership list is searched and/or I am asked for my membership card.

                Once again, it would not happen often that dear recently departed members turn up at meetings to vote and produce their membership card without further consequences.

                I actually wonder whether someone told you what is politely called an ‘urban myth’?

                • Colonial Viper

                  Couldn’t do that too often- when the recent dear departed sends in his/her sub for the next year?

                  mac1 – by the time the error is corrected with “next years subs” the floor vote is already over. But on the day which matters you cannot be issued with a voting card if your name is not on the list. You know that.

                  • mac1

                    And we both know the absolute furore if a member was turned down at the door for a chance to vote on the grounds that they were no longer on the list, having paid their sub, turning up with their up to date membership card or their life membership and then, if that were not enough, to be told that the reason was because HO had been informed they were dead. Especially if the deeds were sheeted home to the MPs of the time, as you aver.

                    Records are kept as to why deletions occur.

                    I’m interested in your reason/s as to why you bring into the debate hearsay or urban myth, (because you’ve not challenged my interpretation on that) matters that must be at least 17 years old with the actions of Prebble and Douglas because both Prebble and Douglas, of whom we both probably do not mourn the political demise, were standing as ACT members in 2006, the first MMP election.

                    The NZLP changed with MMP as former members sloughed off to join parties ranging from the Alliance to ACT. I for one rejoiced to know that some very personally difficult and ‘one issue’ style members were gone to other parties.

            • mac1

              You’ve mentioned this before, just saying. I’d counsel you to assertively pursue this with the local LEC secretary or Chairperson, or with the NZ Council rep for your area, or an MP. Having had the first two jobs in my CV, I’d postulate first human error, forgetfulness and good old “‘not yet got around to it.”

              Get a constitution and rule book and know your rights as to what you can attend etc. Best of luck with all that. It should be happening for you.

  3. Cant remember my last username 3

    Not sure i read this right but isnt Gilmore implying he will run??

    “Many locals have asked what am I going to do as part of this. The answer to that is simple. The by election is not likely till after show week. So good things come to those who wait. After being hounded out of public office, after being called all sorts of things that are un true, other than being rude to a barman. After being ridiculed from initially trying to apologise for the behaviour of someone else’s wasted girlfriend, as well as my rudeness, (more on all that rubbish some other time), I have learnt to hold my cards very closely. Bottomline, I do not want to see Labour hold onto the seat, as I do not think that is the best thing for the people.”

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      After being ridiculed from initially trying to apologise for the behaviour of someone else’s wasted girlfriend

      Wow, a real charmer and gentleman, our Gilmore.

    • Chris 3.2

      blimey you could stick Rodney Hide as a candidate in ChCh East and Gilmore still wouldn’t have a chance. Talk about kidding himself.

  4. Socialist Paddy 4

    I don’t know why Cosgrove is held in such high regard. At the last election he did his best to persuade people that he was not a Labour Party candidate – (sorry for the use of a Kiwiblog article but what Labour candidate would not have the logo in an advertisement?)

    And sure he only just lost the seat but he got thumped in the party vote. As Danyl McLaughlan confirms he lost around 15% points of party vote last election –

    Honest Congrove would be just as comfortable if not more comfortable in a National Party caucus. Wasting a Labour electorate on him would be a travesty.

  5. Winston Smith 5

    My two cents:

    “Why not take the sensible, easy route of letting the locals have who they want”

    – Should be this for every party, sadly it isn’t

  6. mac1 6

    Socialist Paddy, Cosgrove does not put NZLP logos on his hoardings. As far as I know, he never has. Part of his appeal to a conservative electorate was to promote himself as a hard-working local man- which he is.

    Did he lose the NZLP party vote in Waimakariri or did the NZLP? Electoral wisdom had it (under FPP) that 500-1000 votes were influenced by the candidate and the rest were party votes. Under MMP, it’s difficult to say that 6000 extra votes went to Wilkinson because of Cosgrove the man, especially when his own personal vote held up much the same from 2008.

    I do like arguments to have a spice of logic. BTW, personally I do not favour Cosgrove as a man, but blaming him for losing NZLP party votes and yet keeping his own vote while still losing does not fit the facts.

    • Socialist Paddy 6.1


      Cosgrove should be putting labour logos on everything. He may want to appeal to the locals but the sight of a Labour MP not being proud of having the branding is frankly bizarre. If you are looking for an explanation for the major loss of party vote support the lack of branding could be it.

      Candidates going for the electorate vote actually makes things worse. Many New Zealanders split their vote. They want to share the love around I suppose. Grabbing their electorate vote means that there is less chance of the all important party vote going your party’s way.

      Give me a candidate who will work to maximise the party vote every time over someone who tries to maximise their personal support to the detriment of the party.

    • Colonial Viper 6.2

      Someone will already have done the analysis on all Labour held seats as to whether or not any given MP did better or worse than their peers in terms of electorate and party vote swing.

      Nice to see Phil Goff increased both his electorate and party vote in 2011, almost no other Labour MPs did.

      • Coronial Typer 6.2.1

        Faint praise given he led the party to its worst defeat in a generation. His weak leadership was a major factor in the poor results in so many other electorates. Clearly all he could lead was his own interests.

        On Robertson: why move officially this side of the election? Like Rudd, make them beg as they stand on the ashes of their cohort. Indeed since he operates most of the smaller levers in policy and offices, why move at all? Robertson permanently re-positioning internal control seems the optimum political risk/return dynamic.

        • Colonial Viper

          And here I thought Labour was here to give the nation leadership and guidance through tumultuous times of climate change, peak debt and resource depletion.

  7. Anne 7

    I would suggest a different strategy: drop the siege mentality.

    That is the best piece of advice in the post. Interestingly my experiences suggest the siege mentality is coming form the senior echelons of the parliamentary Labour Party not the membership. I note one of the major MSM outlets claimed it was the other way around.

    I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the rest of the post, but I have the impression that Lianne Dalziel played it very close to her chest and the Labour leadership were not privy to her decision much before the rest of us.

  8. Stephen 8

    This piece assumes that the leadership is the source of the rumours.

  9. vto 9

    sounds like typical politics expect typical results

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