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Cunliffe rules out challenge

Written By: - Date published: 9:42 am, January 25th, 2013 - 81 comments
Categories: david cunliffe, labour, leadership - Tags:

Tucked away on the One News site last night…

Labour leadership bid ruled out by Cunliffe

David Cunliffe has unequivocally ruled out standing for the Labour Party leadership again.

Cunliffe was demoted by Labour leader David Shearer in November for refusing to rule out a challenge for the leadership.

The MP for New Lynn told ONE News political reporter Michael Parkin he is not interested in standing again so he’ll be serving his time as a back bench MP. This was revealed at the annual Ratana celebrations near Wanganui this morning.

Cunliffe never had a chance in a February challenge, and has done the right thing to unequivocally put speculation to rest. I hope we’ll see him back on the front bench soon, and playing an important role in the next Labour-led government.

81 comments on “Cunliffe rules out challenge ”

  1. ianmac 1

    “… The MP for New Lynn told ONE News political reporter Michael Parkin he is not interested in standing again ….”
    What’s that? Again? Did he mean that his efforts like at the Labour Party Conference will not be repeated again?

    • Pete 1.1

      You’ll recall he stood when Helen Clark left. I believe it did gain some coverage.

      • Tom Gould 1.1.1

        A pragmatic move this time, as with only 8 firm votes in caucus, the result would just be further humiliation, really.

    • Olwyn 1.2

      ianmac; Cunliffe did stand in December 2011; hence the “again.” You know as well as I do that reports of “his efforts” at the conference are controversial. Many think that the claims of an imminent challenge were fabricated by certain Labour MPs in collusion with Patrick Gower. A few excited delegates expressing preferences does not amount to “doing the numbers” and refusal to answer a question on a secret ballot does not amount to a challenge.

    • Anne 1.3

      Come on ianmac. You’re better than that. You weren’t even there yet you claim to know what happened. Let me say it one more time:

      CUNLIFFE DID NOT TRY TO LAUNCH A CHALLENGE OR COUP AT THE CONFERENCE.

      You know only too well that the again was referring to the leadership contest late in 2011 following the election.

      The post-conference crisis was manufactured by a small bunch of paranoid caucus members with an irrational fear of a very talented colleague – plus concern they would lose their power in caucus should he ever become the leader. (I suspect the latter was the over-riding concern).

      edit: I see Olwyn has made the same points at 1.2.

    • Dr Terry 1.4

      Response to ianmac: You mean Shearer’s desperate antics I take it?

  2. Pete 2

    he is not interested in standing again

    For just the leadership, right? It would be a real shame if he has decided to exit politics altogether.

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      Yes for the Leadership, at least that’s what the first para suggests; I hope so anyway as LAB really needs Cunliffe in a senior post. I suppose this decision shows that Cunliffe is smart enough not to run over a cliff chasing after something which is not going to happen. But it frakin burns to think that TRP called this one correctly all along… Hi TRP 😉

      • karol 2.1.1

        You’ve got to wonder how that that was One news interpretation. Is there a direct, on-camera quote from Cunliffe? Kate Chapman on Stuff tells it differently:

        Clean shaven – unlike the bearded version following his failed leadership bid last year – and wearing a beige cap, Cunliffe told media he supported Shearer.

        “I’ve already stated a number of times he has my full support.

        “I am not challenging David Shearer.”

        And his support was not contingent on a decent spot in the party’s frontbench reshuffle due early next month.

        “It’s a matter for the leader,” Cunliffe said.

        He had not spoken to Shearer about it but was “telling the world now”….

      • Te Reo Putake 2.1.2

        Cheers, CV! If only I was that good at picking English footy results and greyhound quinellas. Bah!

      • Anne 2.1.3

        But it frakin burns to think that TRP called this one correctly all along…

        He wasn’t the only one CV. Quite a few of us called it correctly. He was just more noisy about it. 🙂

      • QoT 2.1.4

        Broken clocks, etc.

    • Dr Terry 2.2

      Cunliffe’s talents are wasted on politics. I hope they will be employed in some other form of high office.

  3. King Kong 3

    So if he can rule it out now why could he not do it in November?

    Unless of course he was staging a coup in November, but that is impossible as so many on the Standard have told me it was just ludicrous speculation.

  4. shorts 4

    was on TV3 news as well…. and what does a soundbite about political aspirations mean – nothing

    If memory serves he basically said pretty much what he was saying at the conference but slightly more directly (and slowly) so Gower could understand

  5. ad 5

    Politicians like David Cunliffe should learn to lie ie say they won’t challenge, get the numbers, and then do it.

    Learn to lie to camera abut “war is on” or “war is off” moments.

    Or lie still.

    Shearer’s actions in demoting him were in the Australian NSW school. There’s no rules. Only the rule of raw numbers. It’s up to Cunliffe or Shearer to get their numbers together.

    So far it looks like the great majority of caucus have chosen the “let’s just have more of the same thanks” political trajectory for Labour. So those at the tail end of the list get to lose their jobs in 2014. Once again New Zealand, and Labour, gets to lower its sights, without a shot fired.

  6. KhandallaViper 6

    If we are to win in 2014 the Party Leadership, the Caucus, the activists, the affiliates, the donors and the supporters need to be on the same page.

    We will be on the same page when the Leader of the Caucus gets an endorsement from the rest.

    At the moment that endorsement is not there.

    It seems that the Wellington “advisors” to the Leader are telling him to keep his head down, cover his ears, engage in prepared set pieces with the MSM and ignore the disgruntled ones.

    The real world is that the vast majority of the membership feel they are being duped.

    Until the party addresses that chasm between the Plebs and the Patricians we are going nowhere above 31%.

    • One of the plebs in New Lynn electorate. Not a member but give Labour money and time.

      The current Patricians seem more interested in legalising marijuana, lowering the voting age and gay rights. That’s ok but it ain’t jobs, housing, education, health and prison reform. Especially jobs.

      Cunliffe may benefit from his time in the wilderness. I hope so because he is one of the few, in my humble opinion, that can think creatively in the economics of exporting the expensive smart things and avoiding a political upheaval amongst the Polynesians.

      The Plebs want the traditional ‘Fair Go!” The current Patricians want the frills associated with privileged minorities. Cunliffe, Watakere Man, knows, understands and is aware of the differences. So do the Plebs.

  7. Enough is Enough 7

    Cunliffe had every chance in February if Shearer chose to do the only democratic thing and put the leadership to the wider Labour Party, as the party called for with the constituional changes.

    This is a disaster for those of us who want an end to 30 years of neo liberal policies. There will be no meaningful economic reforms under a Shearer led Labour Government. It will be more of the same rubbish we have seen since Rogernomics was introduced.

    We (being those who really want to rebalance society) must now deliver a strong Green Party to Parliament. One that will have enough power in that Cabinet room to drive Labour left. We need 6 to seven ministers in that Cabinet.

    • AmaKiwi 7.1

      Think bigger.

      We need the Greens to have MORE seats in Parliament than Labour.

      National must popping the champagne corks at the prospect of going up against Captain Mumblefucks and his party’s empty bank account.

  8. Matthew 8

    IMO his best bet would be to have another go next February. By then we will know if Shearer is up to it

    • MrSmith 8.1

      If not now then never, this is like watching a rerun of the last election except the Labour party leadership looks worse this time.

      If this is true though it’s great news for the Greens and National, but oh you poor old Labour supporters 4 years on and stuck with Mumble Fuck, bumbling and stumbling his way to the next election. At-least with a prick like Key we know what we are getting, with Shearer we will never know because he usually forgets half way through telling us.

    • Colonial Viper 8.2

      A leadership challenge in 2014? No, even if Mother Teresa got in, it would be gifting the election to National.

      • geoff 8.2.1

        Can anyone tell me, at this point, why anyone who considers themselves left-wing should consider voting Labour over the Greens?
        What’s the advantage?

        • Enough is Enough 8.2.1.1

          Great Question Geoff

          And one I have absolutley no answer for.

          r0b should be able to answer. He is in my view Labour’s strongest supporter out of the Standard authors…

          • r0b 8.2.1.1.1

            Will try and comment late tonight (flat out just now!)

          • r0b 8.2.1.1.2

            OK, so, why would a leftie vote Labour?

            Can I start by saying that I personally don’t care whether it is Labour or The Greens that gets a leftie’s vote. I’ve voted Green before, may do again, and I’ve donated to them, and I’ve worked with them locally at elections times. I’m not “tribal” about any party, it just so happens that I got involved with Labour because (back in 1999) they had a much stronger local organisation. I stick with them now for similar reasons – it is Labour that can get stuff done. But when it comes to vote, vote left, that’s what I care about.

            So (acknowledging that there are good reasons to vote Green) what are good reasons to vote Labour?

            – because the left will never win without them (sorry but politics is a pragmatic game, and pragmatically I think Labour will always represent a bigger chunk of the electorate)

            – because they are more realistic than The Greens (their policies are always tempered by the reality of check of being called upon to put them in to practice, the Greens, never in Government, can be more speculative and leftie-populist)(having said that – The Greens have usually been more realistic about the importance of environmental threats)

            – for some of the reasons outlined by IB – they have more experience and more depth

            – because of their roots in the union movement, and connections with Maori, both of which are very important

            – and because I know that Labour is full of wonderful people, who want all the right things, and that the constraints that often hold them back (NZ voters are centrist, the MSM right-wing) are the constraints that would apply to any lefite government.

        • Te Reo Putake 8.2.1.2

          The Greens can’t win electorate seats, so if you live in a seat that is winnable for Labour (and therefore helps the chances of a Lab/Green Govt getting up) then at least one vote should be for Labour, even if you have a pen in one hand and your nose in the other. But that’s probably not really answering your question, is it?

          The answer is policy. Your party vote, as a lefty voting in a MMP format western democracy, should go to the party that, in your opinion, offers the best policies.

          • geoff 8.2.1.2.1

            Yeah that still doesn’t answer my question. If you can answer why you personally are persuaded by Labour’s policy over Green’s then that would answer the question.
            Saying ‘the policy’ is too general. If you can be specific about particular policies then that would be helpful. I am not a Green party member and have party voted for both Labour and Green in previous elections (Labour in 2011).
            There may be good reasons why I shouldn’t discard Labour in 2014 even if the ABCers still hold the reins but I can’t think/ haven’t heard of any yet…

          • Colonial Viper 8.2.1.2.2

            The Greens can’t win electorate seats

            Patience, TRP. That is changing.

            NB Labour lost 35% of their electorate seats in the 2011 election. They managed to win just 13 out of 70 electorate seats (19% of them).

            • Te Reo Putake 8.2.1.2.2.1

              Nah, they can’t do it. There is no inner city electorate like Melbourne Central where the density of population allows for the possibility of a Green win. While its true that the Greens did win Coromandel once, that was with my help, and I ain’t doing it again.*

              Nah, voting Green in a winnable-for-Labour electorate is voting Tory by default.

              * Kidding, sorta. A boundary change put my part of Tauranga in the Coromandel electorate and after the LP gave a nod and a wink, a lot of Labour voters swung in behind Jeannette.

              • bad12

                Your thinking is a little ‘old’ best left at the cemetary alongside the headstone of FFP a long dead old timer,

                The Green Party has no need of electorates, it’s support is from New Zealand…

                • Colonial Viper

                  Indeed, I used my example to suggest that Labour is also losing grip of the electorate seats. 13 out of 70 seats. Just awful.

                  • Te Reo Putake

                    Er, shome mistake, shurely? Labour have 22 electorate seats, CV. Up 1 from 2008.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      LOL I’m a facepalm moron. Thanks for the correction TRP.

                      Labour is really good at holding electorate seats. Sorta.

                    • Te Reo Putake

                      You had me worried! The 2 Auckland and 1 Chch seat that were lost by a handful of votes will probably come back, but its the provincial ones that we need to be reconnecting with, I reckon. Win the heartland, win the election.

                • Te Reo Putake

                  Your comment makes no sense, Bad. The first sentence derides my thinking, the second agrees with my proposition. Happy hour?

            • George D 8.2.1.2.2.2

              The Greens can’t win electorate seats, because they (we, I’m a member) don’t want to. There are good reasons not to, and in previous elections these have prevailed. The memory of Coromandel 1999-2002 is imprinted on the party. The cost of having incumbents, either safe and thus unremovable, or unsafe and requiring significant investment to protect, is high. Your party gets Jim Anderton. You also give up the chance to represent national constituencies and choose your voters by offering correct but unpopular policy, and have to court the plurality of any given electorate – people who often want things that your party would rather not agree to. The upside is the incredible legitimacy and bolstering of the party vote that successful candidates bring. I don’t believe the compromises are so great as to make it a negative sum game, and I think that as the vote edges towards or about 20%, you come closer to a plurality in a lot of locations, making the job a feasible one.

              Those against electorate seats will likely prevail again this time around too – the party (both membership and leadership) still thinks of itself as a minor party that gets elected through list seats, and is unlikely put in the considerable money, time, and effort required to do an electorate seat properly. Our electorate-level organisation and voter efforts have improved but still need consolidation. All these things will change, but it will be a gradual transition. Which is unfortunate, as now represents a great time to gain experience and take a shot at a floundering National and weakened Labour.

          • Enough is Enough 8.2.1.2.3

            It has to be blind loyalty doesn’t it, because they aren’t exactly promisiing to reverse the changes of the past 30 years.

            Rogernomics and Ruthanasia are the foundation rocks of Labours economic policies.

            When will Labour reverse Ruth Richardson’s benefot cuts?

            • hush minx 8.2.1.2.3.1

              I have to say at the moment I will be giving my electorate vote to the greens even though it’s unlikely they will win. I will not give my vote to the Labour candidate who I am sure it’s part of the problem we have been discussing at length.

              • Te Reo Putake

                Your local Tory candidate thanks you for your support and wants you to know that when they’re the MP, their door will always be open to the Chamber of Commerce, Federated Farmers and, of course, our friends at the Institute for Cetacean Research.

                But closed to the likes of you, obviously.

  9. just saying 9

    Given what I saw on the tele last night, I think Cunliffe would be unwise to stand in February, should there be an opportunity. Those with any interest in the matter, and who rely on the mainstream media for their information probably have little reason to disbelieve the media and various senior Labour sources who have been reported effectively saying that Cunliffe is a slimy, deceitful, arsehole.

    Cunliffe clearly communicated that he would not stand. And it’s the end of January.

    • Bill 9.1

      Any move by anyone for leadership who doesn’t embrace the neo-liberal orthodoxy is going to be crucified in the media. Thing is, in the right hands, that in itself can be turned into an unstoppable momentum.

    • Anne 9.2

      … senior Labour sources who have been reported effectively saying that Cunliffe is a slimy, deceitful, arsehole.

      Attributing to another… what the person might be him/herself is one of the oldest tricks in the book.

      Actually, John Key is a frequent user of that little trick.

  10. Glen Forrester 10

    I’m a little sad about this.

    David Cunliffe did some excellent work with Telecom and the network. He has always impressed me with his speeches in the Parliament.

    I’m confused too. Is The Standard a Labour blog? I don’t read many positive comments about the current leader!

    What is all the fuss about changes to rules for leadership elections if no election is going to be had? Is it just that there is going to be an election but David Cunliffe will not be a candidate? It makes the election seem like a bit of a waste if you ask me.

    Please pardon my ignorance. I am learning but I don’t think I am knowledgeable like many of you.

    • Bunji 10.1

      Hi Glen, as you’re new…

      The Standard is a blog by a collective who support the left / labour movement – labour with a small l, rather than the Labour Party specifically. A few authors, like myself, are Labour members / supporters, others are Green supporters, or possibly even Mana. But the point is that it is independent (despite what various media say…).

      As to a leadership election – the disappointment of many of the commenters here is that there doesn’t appear that there will be a Labour leadership election. Caucus has to give a vote of approval for the Parliamentary Leader (Shearer) in February by constitutional rules, and if Shearer doesn’t get the support of 60%+1 of them then it goes to a wider electoral college of 40% MPs, 40% members, 20% unions. And without a challenger it’s hard to see Shearer failing to get that support.

      Last November the Labour Party put in the new Leadership selection rules (previously it was a pure Caucus vote), and some now want the chance to use them. Others of us would prefer we got on with holding the government to account and presenting a vision for an alternate government, rather than concentrating on internal battles. That’s what most of the argument is about…

      • One Tāne Huna 10.1.1

        Bunji, I think the problem is more that the current configuration does not offer the best chance we have of winning the election. Far from it.

        Specifically, I think this results in concern that Winston First will hold the balance of power, and that rather than a genuine left (Labour/Green/Mana) government with a mandate to effect change, and the will to drive the nails into the coffin of Rogernomics, we will be afflicted with National-lite.

      • mikesh 10.1.2

        If 40% (in a secret ballot) express dissatisfaction the wider membership gets to vote even in the absence of visible challenger. There is no actual need, as far as I can see, for a potential challenger to show his hand until after the caucus vote.

        • AmaKiwi 10.1.2.1

          Technically correct. But not true if your caucus is controlled by a bunch of ruthless bullies who need someone, anyone, to demonize. If they decide you are the demon they could decide to destroy your political career, no matter how dedicated and talented you are.

  11. Draco T Bastard 11

    And that should be the end of Labour as a major left party.

  12. vto 12

    Cunliffe has ruled out a tilt at the Labour party leadership because he is about to announce his candidacy for the Vote Them Out party and vote himself out of existence. Aintcha David ..

  13. One Tāne Huna 13

    It’s a bit sad that there are so many people who are still prepared to let Patrick “I am the story” Gower dictate the terms and conditions of internal Labour Party affairs.

  14. Jenny 14

    Before these events David Cunliffe was far away the leading parliamentarian speaking out against climate change, leaving the Greens in his wake as they modify their opposition to climate change in exchange for electoral advantage and cabinet positions.

    Because of the “strategic” and “pragmatic” back down by the Greens, the role of climate change advocate in our parliament is crying out to be filled.

    My hope is that with all this behind us, David Cunliffe can now return to informing and warning the public and the electorate of the reality and the magnitude of the approaching danger and of the real need to take measurable meaningful actions against it.

  15. RedLogix 15

    For the record; my Green Party membership is getting renewed. I’ve just plain lost interest in Captain Mumbles and his crew of miserable has-beens.

    Quite possibly similar thoughts are going through Cunliffe’s mind.

    • Jenny 15.1

      Why would Cunliffe jump from one climate change ignoring party to another?

    • Anne 15.2

      Interesting to hear that RedLogix. I may yet feel compelled to change my membership allegiance to the Greens, but it would be an upsetting day for me if it happens because I admit to being tribal Labour.

      I will give Shearer and co. one more chance to right the wrong they have committed. If it doesn’t happen, it will be “hello Greens, may I join you?”

      Quite possibly similar thoughts are going through Cunliffe’s mind.

      You could be right.

      • QoT 15.2.1

        *crosses fingers* It could be equally catastrophic or AMAZEBALLS.

        • Jenny 15.2.1.1

          I think the thoughts that are going through Cunliffe’s head are that he would be just as unwelcome in the Green Party caucus as he is in the Labour Party caucus and for the same reasons.

          H would also be thinking that such a move would be letting down his own electorate committee and electorate supporters.

          Of course the ABC’s would be overjoyed if Cunliffe left the Labour Party for the Greens. That is just what they would want.

          David Cunliffe is far better off staying right where he is and fighting the good fight. Let the ABC’s try and force him out if they dare.

          • AmaKiwi 15.2.1.1.1

            Although philosophically Cunliffe might be more at home with the Greens than with the people who now rule the Labour caucus, I doubt people who have worked for years building the Green Party are going to step aside and give him a high ranking on the party list. I can’t blame them.

            • Jenny 15.2.1.1.1.1

              Philosophically the Greens are quite at home with a Shearer led Labour Party, committed to expanding new coal mining, (not to mention oil drilling and fracking). Cunliffe would be seen as the personification of the elephant in the front room. Or like Marley’s ghost, reminding them of Green Christmas’s past. Cunliffe would be very unwelcome in their midst, risking their cosy little sell out arrangement to not raise the issue of climate change, in the hope of cabinet positions.

          • QoT 15.2.1.1.2

            Yes, but you quite clearly have bizarro-conspiracy views about the Green caucus which you’ve consistently failed to substantiate, so why anyone would be swayed by your comment is beyond me, Jenny.

      • RedLogix 15.2.2

        Well I said my piece on this topic ages ago, well before the Conference. If the Labour caucus really prefers Shearer over Cunliffe then nothing much is going to change that … and I’m not that interested in holding my breath waiting for them to change their minds.

        I’ve said before that Labour has a proud heritage and I’m not going to disrespect that; but the Greens are ultimately the future of the left. Shearer seems to have unwittingly hurried that process along for me….

        • Jenny 15.2.2.1

          The Greens will not have a future if they keep down playing climate change.

          • Colonial Viper 15.2.2.1.1

            Be consistent with the indignant moralising, it should persuade the Greens around to your point of view sooner or later.

            • Jenny 15.2.2.1.1.1

              You are probably right. It has the sad air of inevitability about it.

              But at least no one should be surprised when it happens.

              • Colonial Viper

                We’re all in a tough spot Jenny. Next 20 years are going to be rough.

                Although I may be tactically critical, I always appreciate the good will and compassion you hold towards humanity, and I do respect your strident approach (heh reminds me of me haha).

                In this situation I feel that it’s difficult to do more than vigorously shake ones fist at the iceberg from the deck of the Titanic, realising how ineffective that sounds, and is. But sadly, politicians of today have been trained to follow the polls not lead them. None others are allowed to survive for long.

                We have to work with people in our personal circles, our nearby communities, help them figure out how to make a real practical difference day to day for the future, without a Hari Seldon anywhere on the horizon. Maybe he – or she – is yet to come.

                • Jenny

                  I had never heard of “a Hari Sheldon” I had to refer to google to find out.

                  A fictional character who can see the future?

                  Hardly.

                  You only have to look at the history of third parties here and overseas that sold out their principles to accomodate themselves to the bigger party. It never ends well. They inevitably wind up imploding.

                  In my opinion, this will be the Green Party future as well, if they continue to refuse to make climate change an election issue.

                  The reason: If you don’t campaign on it, you can claim no mandate to act on it once in government. ergo you will end up supporting government policies that will dismay your core supporters. Hence an implosion.

                  • RedLogix

                    How did John Key get into power Jenny? By pretending to be Labour without the Section 59 ‘anti-smacking’ baggage.

                    If you want to argue that the future will any fashion be better if the Greens remain in eternal Opposition …. knock yourself out telling us how.

  16. AmaKiwi 16

    CV, I have a different perspective.

    At present most people in NZ are still hoping the old systems can still work, even as evidence mounts they cannot. People are “sliding down the slope of hope.”

    In some places citizens have lost hope. They overthrow their governments.

    My concern is how this will unfold in NZ and what follows. Is the overthrow by ballots or bullets? Do we build a social and political democracy or embrace a “strong leader,” a.k.a. a dictator?

    The NZ adoration of “strong leaders” disgusts me. Because our parliament has absolute power, we are vulnerable to a home grown version of Hitler, Stalin, Mao. This is why I want binding referendums rather than shaking our fists at the icebergs. Power to the people now, before it is too late.

    It’s not just the economic system that is f*cked up. The political decision making system is, too.

  17. pollywog 17

    Cunliffe should quit Labour and join Mana.

    imagine that 🙂

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