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David Cunliffe

Written By: - Date published: 11:52 am, December 7th, 2011 - 193 comments
Categories: david cunliffe, labour - Tags:

We asked the candidates if they want to post here. So far we have received David Cunliffe’s post.  

Firstly, can I thank Lynn and the authors of the Standard for this opportunity to contribute to the dialogue concerning who should be Labour’s next leader. The Standard has become an essential part of political debate in New Zealand and the crowdsourcing of ideas and policies.

I am tribal labour. I am the son of an Anglican Minister known as the “Red Reverend” and a stalwart member of Timaru Labour. My political beliefs were instilled into me from birth. For me the foundation is that every human being is of equal moral worth and the structures of our society must give everyone a chance to be the best that they can be. That means leaning against the free market when it undermines human dignity and starves many of the opportunities they need to build a good life.

Thanks to previous Labour governments I had the benefit of a free and high quality education, attending University, had my course fees paid and even received a living allowance from the state. Holiday jobs in shearing gangs and farm labouring, and a late weekend shift pulling pints, saw me through university without massive debt. Times have changed for the worse for students since then.

By the time I finished my BA (Hons) in political studies at Otago I was already committed to public service. I turned down an offer to work in the Rogernomics-dominated Treasury (for philosophical reasons) instead joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I served in Canberra, ran a regional aid program in the South Pacific for two years, and led the Congressional team at our Embassy at Washington DC from 1990 to 1994.

I then obtained a Masters in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy and Business School with the help of a Fulbright Scholarship, and helped teach an International Trade course at Harvard.

I then worked as a business economist and strategy consultant with the Boston Consultancy Group based in Auckland, helping businesses to grow across a dozen industry sectors in Australasia.

I first ran for office in the 1999 election. I won the seat of Titirangi from a sitting National Minister. Since then I have, with a loyal and talented local organisation, been able to convert the seat from a marginally held National seat to a Labour stronghold. In the recent election we held against the tide. The Labour Party vote in my seat decreased slightly but went interestingly to the Green Party. I am pleased that the party vote for National also went down in the area.

The highlights of my contribution in Parliament have included the unbundling of the local loop that broke the Telecom monopoly and my time in Health in dealing with the complexities of handling greater and greater need with constrained resources. I was also heavily involved in work that resulted in rail electrification in Auckland and the construction of a transport hub in New Lynn. I was also pleased to help push through the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area Act 2008.

I am seeking the leadership of the Labour Party as a team with Nanaia Mahuta. I believe our blend of skills and experiences provide the best opportunity for Labour to address the very real issues this country will face over the next three years.

Nanaia Mahuta is a senior colleague who is known across the whole caucus for her integrity and good judgment. She offers deep insights into Maori society and has a strong network of contacts into Iwi and Iwi organisations as well as an intimate knowledge of post-settlement Maori renaissance. Together I believe that we would model a modern treaty relationship at the highest levels of the Labour Party.

Our team must be ready to lead in a world that will face further severe financial crises and increased environmental instability. With the US in a debt deadlock and the Eurozone on the brink of currency collapse, there has never been a more crucial time for Labour’s leadership to have deep economic expertise and credibility. The twin threats of resource depletion, particularly oil, and continued global warming require brave and informed leadership for New Zealand.

Nanaia and I have indicated that we would intend to run an inclusive caucus and that promotions will be based on ability. As an example I have indicated that if I succeed I will offer David Shearer a front bench seat and will seek to harness his abilities and experiences. In order to build a high performing caucus team we will need good support to enable all colleagues to shine.

Finally it is clear from the recent election result that Labour needs to have a deep look at itself and make changes so that it can form the core of a credible Government in waiting. This will require a new leadership direction and a refreshed Caucus line up. We need to work constructively across the progressive parties to demonstrate to New Zealanders a strong alternative Government in waiting. I believe I can, with Nanaia Mahuta’s help, provide that leadership.

lprent: As a word of warning – I will be moderating and all comments on this post will auto-moderate.

I’m also rather amused that Red Alert now has posts by all of the candidates. Good idea.

193 comments on “David Cunliffe ”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    Question for Mr. Cunliffe – you have responded to the governments intent to degrade NZ assets by promising to re-nationalise them if elected. Will you make a similar commitment to de-fund or close all charter schools?

  2. Sam 2

    Mr Cunliffe, will you sell your multimillon dollar apartment in St Mary’s Bay and move to suburban New Lynn? Or would that be below your status?

    • lprent 2.1

      Have you asked this question of John Key who is PM and MP of the Helensville electorate – but resides in Parnell. Or Phil Goff, current leader of the opposition who lives in the bush but is MP for Mt Roskill?

      You’re saying that becoming a leader of the opposition (ie for the whole country) should mean that you have to reside in a particular electorate? Don’t be such a silly wee troll. But please at least state a logic behind your ideas so we can laugh at it…

      • Sweetd 2.1.1

        While it is fine to speculate on what Key, Goff or anyone else may do, the question was what Cunliffe would do. Nice attempt at diversion.

        • lprent

          The idiot didn’t say why it was a question. I merely pointed out a minor examples of other relevant people that he should include in his logic. If he was stupid enough to not frame a reasonable question, then why should I leave him wondering why he doesn’t get a reply.

          Besides it was fun. And you know that if I have to tolerate reading idiotic comments then I can’t help but spread my joy. I am a grumpy old sysop.

    • The Voice of Reason 2.2

      Can anyone find Dipton on the map? Is it anywhere near where Bill English’s family calls home?

      • Peter 2.2.1

        Dipton West to be precise (over the Oreti from Dipton). Real Dipton residents (all 20 of them) would never call Bill English a local…

    • felix 2.3

      Why do you specify the “suburban” part of New Lynn, Sam? Why not the bush-clad hills or one of the remote beaches?

      Is it because you don’t know anything about the electorate at all?

      • lprent 2.3.1

        Does it have beaches? Ummm I suppose that it does probably on the Manakau. Down the hill on that Hillsborough road that I used to go to work at Ceramco in the early 80’s

        • The Voice of Reason

          Plenty of Manakau beaches (Green Bay right through to Cornwallis and Huia), but also Whatipu and 20kms along the Tasman coast towards Piha. Lovely part of the world.

    • Max 2.4

      There is a YouTube video of David Cunliffe participating in a Otago Uni Vote Chat discussion where he mentions that his wife, a lawyer, mostly paid for their house. He said couldn’t pay for it with his backbencher salary.

    • Vicks 2.5

      In my experiences of working for an MP who was leader they spend most of their time anyplace but home anyway.

      I guess in Mt Albert we were just lucky to have a local MP who made that commitment to his constituents before he had his eye on the leadership.

  3. Anthony 3

    If I could vote DC I would, but I can’t so the best I can say is good luck.

    “That means leaning against the free market when it undermines human dignity and starves many of the opportunities they need to build a good life.”

    Also like hearing the above.

  4. Nick C 4

    “I am tribal labour.”

    Yeah because thats totally been Labours problem for the last three years, not enough tribalism..

    • felix 4.1

      Says the commenter riding the GoP elephant.

    • joe90 4.2

      Well he’s in good company.

      GoP, the party of stupid with their heads in the sand.

      On November 8, William Reilly, who ran the Environmental Protection Agency under President George H.W. Bush, blasted his party’s stance on science in a widely reported speech. ‘For some of the most prominent leaders of the Republican Party, science has left the building,’ he said.


      In the long term, Reilly and other voices within the GOP fear that the party’s inevitable reckoning with science may come too late. ‘Somehow, we’re operating on two levels of reality,’ he said. ‘One is ideological reality, which seems to work for some ideologues. But there is also the scientific reality. It was Republicans who traditionally have pushed for more science to underpin regulations. Science has suffered most severely in the current Republican Party. The ideologues will deny it right up to a point where there’s … a crisis—and then they won’t anymore.’

      • Afewknowthetruth 4.2.1


        I don’t know a lot about the Republican Partty but I do know it got taken over decades ago by oilmen and women) who pushed their own agenda.

        Interestingly, there is one Republican who is really on to it: Rosco Bartlett (Maryland). Now getting on in years, he has repeatedly pointed out over a period of many years the need for proper scientific debate of the crucial issues of the times, especially peak oil.

        He spent an hour going over it all in May 2011 before a budgetary hearing.

        Needless to say, everything said was ignored by the ‘Orcs’.

      • joe90 4.2.2

        Another was Bob Inglis who refused to tow the party line and lost his 2010 primary.

    • insider 4.3

      I had the same thought that describing himself as “tribal” was a bit OTT. Conveys to me unthinking, inflexible, resistant to change, and the tribe can never do wrong. I don’t think Cunliffe is that and is probably the better candidate. Is this a common term in Labour and is it playing to the base?

      • Puddleglum 4.3.1

        I get your point – and it’s a fair one. But I’ve been interested how the term ‘tribal’ has been turned into a pejorative, recently.

        Judging by the sentences that follow that opening, I’d say it is being used as shorthand for being a person who has embodied, through their life experiences and social immersion, the historical values and commitments of New Zealand Labour.

        For me, it also came across as an attempt to signal that the commitments he would make are reliably based on the person he is, rather than on some fleeting intellectual fashion or other.

        I know that, today, often what is most valued is the kind of disembodied, disconnected, cerebral hyper-rationality that is characteristic of the overly individualistic perspectives that have been encouraged over the last few decades. (It is also, interestingly, a feature of bureaucratic and legalistic processes.) But I think that view has got quite out of balance with a more embodied, connected, emotional and value driven motivation and set of commitments.

        I am all for being ‘rational’, but I’m opposed to any understanding of rationality that takes it to be independent of its incarnation in real lives and real, breathing human beings. To me, that’s just incoherent. (Recent literature on the nature of reasoning supports this evolved, very embodied and very situated understanding of cognition.).

        To be ‘tribal’, for me, is not so much to be susceptible to the so-called irrationality of the ‘crowd mind’ (a la Gustav Le Bon) but, rather, to be clear about what has given rise to you and to feel a connection and commitment to that particular sub-set of the social, human world.

        Think about this: Is patriotism and ‘tribal’ commitment to New Zealand a bad thing? Would we want someone as leader who did not have an embodied, deep commitment to New Zealand and its interests that went beyond what he or she happened to be thinking today? Would we prefer someone as leader whose individual rationality led them, primarily, to pursue their own interests rather than the interests of the New Zealand ‘tribe’?

        This kind of ‘tribalism’ isn’t about being blind to other views, but about being clear about where your own views emanate from. None of us can (or should) pretend to be able to transcend our own lives and experiences just by being ‘rational’.

        In fact, I’m very suspicious of people who claim to be free of any particular perspective or set of interests – largely because I don’t believe in magic, but also because it means they are unlikely to be able to see where others are ‘coming from’ if they don’t understand that they, themselves, are ‘coming from’ somewhere.

        • insider

          Good response and I agree that he is saying he is immersed in Labour culture and core beliefs.

          The worst side of tribal is the kind that lose all sense of right and wrong and where the indefensible is defended because of loyalty to the close tribe and no respect for obligations to the wider tribe of neighbours and society. In politics we’ve seen it over Taito PF and Winston, you see it glorified on things like Outrageous Fortune, and you see it in society with the staunchness of gangs, families protecting child killers in their midst and on occassions the police with their culture.

          • Puddleglum

            I agree that unthinking commitment to a group is not a good thing in some (most) circumstances (if the group was a group of soldiers in a battle in war time there may be an exception).

            I also agree about the moral ‘nesting’ of our commitments to wider groupings (and narrower groupings – e.g., our families).

            There’s no easy answer to how to balance the forces that lead us to have stronger commitments to one ‘level’ of that nesting than another – it’s a bit of a predicament for all of us from time to time.

            But that’s why I’m wary of any simple idea about being able to be ‘non-Tribal’ (e.g., being ‘rational’, ‘common sensical’, etc.).

            The best guess I have as to how the balancing act of moral obligation is optimised is to have our commitments plain to see to those who are likely to be affected by those commitments. Once they’re out in the open, then we can debate and see what we think.

            I guess that’s one advantage, for the rest of us, about having what is primarily a Labour Party issue being discussed and debated in public arenas.

            I start to get a more rounded insight into the prospective leaders that, without such discussion and debate, only party insiders would have. (No doubt still partial but, like I said, there’s no easy answer …)

          • mik e

            Insider trader Its surprising you haven’t mentioned pansey wong and all the other dalliances of present and former National party personnel to many to put on one post

    • newsense 4.4

      Piss off.

      Take your unnecessary contrarianism somewhere else.

      If the man knows where he stood in 1981, yes that does qualify him to be a Labour Prime Minister.

      Tribal Labour is to claim heritage to the nation builders of this country and many of the innovators in our history.

  5. chris73 5

    A similar question to the above in that you’ve suggested re-nationalising assets sold under National, would you consider doing the same for assets sold under previous Labour governments and if not why not.

    Also do you mean 100% ownership or a majority shareholding?

    • I am sure the first thing that will happen is that the budget will be looked at and any spare cash will no doubt be earmarked for this purpose.

      But Chris you seem to presume that there is no difference if the shareholding is 51% or 90%.  There is a huge difference.  Unless the state is the sole shareholder it has to be operated on corporate terms.  This means it has to maximize returns and go for the cheapest power production options rather than the most sustainable.  If burning coal for power is cheaper then the accountants in control will demand that this happens.

      If the state owns the whole shareholding it can make those long term strategic decisions that the free market is completely unable to. 

      • chris73 5.1.1

        Wow mickeysavage is David Cunliffe in disguise so thanks for answering but a simple yes or no would have been suffice

        • mickysavage

          Nope he is not.  He is much smarter than I am …

          • In Vino Veritas

            Don’t undersell yourself micky, whilst Cunliffe’s academic achievements are admirable, being academic makes you smart academically, thats all. Having done some work with Boston Consulting, the people I dealt with were OK, but never brilliant. It would be a stretch to say that a Masters in Public Administration gives the ability to strategise for growth in a business.

            • Colonial Viper

              Having done some work with Boston Consulting, the people I dealt with were OK, but never brilliant.

              LOL mate you have no idea of the reputation that BCG has, it is outstanding and clients ignore many other firms to go back time and time to them again.

              BCG gets tens of thousands of CVs every year and hires around 1% of them.

              It would be a stretch to say that a Masters in Public Administration gives the ability to strategise for growth in a business.

              By the way Labour is looking for the next PM of a sovereign nation, not the CEO of an SOE.

            • lprent

              Let’s take a contrary example shall we…

              I have a MBA from Otago from the mid-80’s. All that ever taught me was why I had gotten bored with managing a business. And that is why I mostly work as a programmer – much more fun because I cannot stop and relax once I had everything organized with the design in place. You have to keep learning and reapplying. And I am a extremely good programmer without ever having finished a degree in it.

              Businesses basically require people who can for one reason or another persistently push through a design. The skills are quite easy. Essentially I mostly use my business skills these days to run this blog because it also mostly requires strategy and persistence. Fortunately for my sanity it is not something I have to do full time.

              I think that there is something wrong with your ‘logic’. Because it isn’t really an argument – more of a simple soundbite.

              Having been around the both businesses and politics. The actual degree makes bugger all difference, it is more how you apply whatever you have to the task you choose to do.

            • David

              The Boston thing is interesting. I happened to run across a former CEO of major NZ listed company who had dealt with David in that life. He had mixed views about the value of consultants, the tasks they are called in to try to do, and the overall efficacy of the process. But he went put of his way to stress that David was one of the very best (I think he may have said the best) people he had ever come across in the business consulting line of work. The quality of his advice, the cut through, he remarked as compelling, and exceptional. In many ways this is David’s scariest strength: in my experience in any number of contexts he can very quickly put a whole lot of issues on the table, and start stacking up very plausible and structured alternative options for dealing with them quicker than most folk can keep up with.

              I also convened some events in a university context earlier last decade, around the theme of ownership in the NZ economy. At the second and larger of these events, where John Key, Mark Weldon, Rod Oram and David Skilling also spoke (and Mark Weldon proposed floating a share of electricity utilities to prop up the NZ stock market), we had something like 150 senior business and finance folk: a good smattering CEOs, board members of all the large public entities, and more. I have to say that David was simply stunning in that context: at ease, in top gear, fluent and compelling. I would say, then, there is no doubt the Nats know how good this guy can be in speaking into their and middle NZ constituency.

              Finally, I also saw him regularly in New Lynn LEC contexts, where the great mixed bag of New Lynn people (Titirangi to Kelston) simply loved the guy. There were moments you wanted to stop him jumping on roundabout intersections with his loudhailer and yelling at cars, but in terms of how he dealt with the root and branch of the party and public, there was attentiveness, real care, and endless inclusion of all stripes of people in all kinds of discussion. People saw the spark and magic in the guy, and after that they were oh so ready to forgive little smatterings of vicarspeak and Bill Clinton street corner arm waving.

      • Herodotus 5.1.2

        “…budget will be looked at and any spare cash ” What part of Disney land have you moved to Mickey?
        There will be no substainable surpluses that I can see in my life time. We will have to learn to live with less. Look at the issue sthat are unaddressed that we will have huge financial implications. Retirement, Health (aging and consequences of life style choices), the poverty issue, leaky homes, student loans, DEBT, carbon- And the free trade agreements that Lab and Nat have signed away our sovernity. Soon coys will have more rights that soverign citizens !!!!
        DC nice idea will not be tested as we will be wishing we were as financial as Greece !!!

        • Colonial Viper

          Umm, if we use a monetary system which is based on Government credit, a lot of our financial constraints will disappear and our real world resource constraints i.e. the only real constraints, will become far more apparent.

          • Herodotus

            CV bit late for us to revert to underwritting debt or issuing debt on the back of the govt. Not sure of your age or any version of NZ history. Yet in the Muldoon period we had a strict dollar flows. You could not buy overseas goods unless you had an import licence (AKA printing press for money) of were able to earn foregin currency e.g. farmers.
            But agree non financial constraints would become more evident. Though IMO many here are already somewhat aware of them. More so as Nat is in power, as many were eyes shut under Lab to the same issues.

  6. Grassroots 6

    Hi David, I had a great pleasure working with you in the recent decade. You are a great communicator and inspirational leader in all counts, go David! you are the future of LP!

  7. tc 7

    All the best DC, farrar and other so called ‘pundits’ are sugesting Shearer so that’s as good an endorsement of you being the biggest threat so best of luck.

    Would you review this shoddy UFB deal and in particular get a level playing field to rural NZ in the use of 4G technologies and removal of Telecom as the single wholesaler to the mast/towers.

  8. Immisc 8

    If you had to choose your top 5 policies that you believe will improve the life of New Zealanders, what would they be? and why?

  9. Afewknowthetruth 9

    ‘The twin threats of resource depletion, particularly oil, and continued global warming require brave and informed leadership for New Zealand.’

    That is very true.

    To date we have seen nothing to indicate anyone in Labour has the knowledge or leadership necessary to deal those ‘twin threats’ (though Andrew Little does have a book which highlights the predicament we are in and what needs to be done).

    Indeed, everything we have witnessed over the past three years, and especially during the election campaign indicates that Labour does not have the expertise to deal with ‘the twin threats’. In fact practically everything that Labour campaigned on was predicated on not dealing with those ‘twin threats’ , i.e. Labour has been, and still appeares to be, committed to economic growth, so-called ‘development’, rising CO2 emissions and the money-lender system of debt slavery etc.

    David, are you aware that we are on the cusp of the biggest discontinuity in all of human history and that it is too late to do anything about preventing collapse (partly because the last Labout government was so complacent/incompetent), but we could organise things so that we have a hard landing instead of a super-hard landing?

    Or are you in denial of that?

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      I can say with certainty that Cunliffe is more than aware of all these issues. How he currently formulates them in terms of various strategies and priorities, I don’t know however.

    • exitlane 9.2

      Agreed AFKNT.  Its at least a start to be “aware” of these issues of oil depletion and climate change , but quite another to have coherent policies you are willing to go to the public with  that actually make a difference.  Time to walk the talk

    • weka 9.3

      If he’s not in denial of the reality, do you really expect him to say so and still have people vote for him? Maybe in 3 years time NZ voters might be more aware, but I can’t seen the Labour Party going hard out on collapse at the moment and being very popular.

  10. Lyall 10

    With respect lprent, not sure why you are “amused that Red Alert now has posts from all the candidates” Their posts were there before this one. Sorry if I have misread your point.

    [lprent: side-issue related to a prediction I made during the weekend. ]

  11. Spratwax 11

    Key would never admit it (nor would all the other greedy Nats) but he too can thank the Labour Party for much of where he is now- free education, Housing, DPB etc. I actually can’t think of anything a National government has done for NZ which has improved the lot of ALL NZ’ers EVER!!

    Some radical redistribution of wealth is required and those million non-voters desperately need to be interested in their future. This won’t happen via our woeful corporate media, but may require a return to traditional methods of politiking- speeches in halls, RSA’s etc.

    I believe Labour will be back in 2014, and I hope it is with David Cunliffe as leader. This is not the time for David Shearer.

    • In Vino Veritas 11.1

      “I actually can’t think of anything a National government has done for NZ which has improved the lot of ALL NZ’ers EVER!!”

      Sprat, that must be because you don’t read much. Try the old age pension (1898) the 1911 Widows pension and subsequent Family Allowance in 1926, and the Unemployment Act 1930, a precursor to Labour’s Social Security Act of 1938.

      • The Voice of Reason 11.1.1

        Some terrific examples there, IVV. All magically enacted by National in the three decades before they existed as a party. How frightfully clever of them!

        • Colonial Viper


          [lprent: You can’t assume that IVV didn’t think them up himself. Not unless you can google the phrases that he cribbed them from. That drops it from abuse into the pointless abuse. ]

      • Draco T Bastard 11.1.2

        National didn’t exist until 1936 after the merger of the Liberal and Reform parties.

      • insider 11.1.3

        Rugby world cup? 😉

        • lprent

          Umm please don’t remind me of that sleep destroying event.

          But no, National weren’t responsible for getting that either. The best that can be claimed is that they didn’t screw it up. Well apart from the first day because they killed the fuel tax and put the entire event in the hands of an unaccountable CCO that doesn’t sound like they talked about contingency plans..

          But yes it is a good stir 😈

      • mik e 11.1.4

        Ivvyleaguer drunk and obnoxious again you obviously didn’t do 5th form history .
        Or economics to busy inbibing

  12. Peter 12

    Go for it David. You have my full support.

  13. LynW 13

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this profile. Certainly now leaning strongly towards David C! Will attend Sunday’s meeting for final verdict (for what it’s worth.) I certainly hope it is not a foregone conclusion and that those in power are keeping open minds!

  14. Treetop 14

    Mr Cunliffe I read a comment on the Standard that said you would not retain your portfolio as finance minister were you the leader of the Labour party.

    Why not?

    Housing is in crisis for low income groups.

    Would you make increasing the accommodation supplement a priority and double the Housing New Zealand stock?

    • Puddleglum 14.1

      I think Muldoon was one of the few (the only one??) PMs to also be Finance Minister.

      I think the general judgment is that Finance is such a significant portfolio, as is being PM, that you can’t do both at once – at least not very well.

      That’s just what I’ve always assumed the argument was, but I could be wrong.

      • lprent 14.1.1

        Most organizations seperate the finance role from the strategy role for simple sake of prudence. Strategies always carry a significiant degree of risk. Organizations need to have their finances to be operated in a risk adverse manner (and are required to legally anyway in most cases). The two roles are pretty incompatible.

        There are many examples in business and politics where mixing the roles causes really big holes in budgets. Muldoon being a good example in politics. You only have to look to the courts with CFO’s to find problems with businesses – try finance companies

        • Vicks

          True and Cunliffes financial prowess should not be distracted by leadership issues.

        • Treetop

          I agree if you are the PM about the the roles being incompatible but not when in opposition.

        • Treetop

          I agree with you about the roles being incompatible when the PM but not when in opposition.

  15. Hi David

    How would provincial New Zealand benefit from Cunliffe/Mahuta leadership, in particular the South Island?

    • mik e 15.1

      Simply by ditching UF and reinstating regional development ditched by National Supported by UF.

    • ropata 15.2

      the south island would benefit from a government that that responds to community needs rather than attempting to impose mini dictatorships all over canterbury

  16. Olwyn 16

    David: I thank you for being forthright about where you stand, & hope you are able to get the support you need from your colleagues to lead Labour.

  17. Craig Glen Eden 17

    The reports from Labour rank and file who have attended the meetings so far is that Shearer is bumbling and ether unwilling or unable to answer members questions and quite simply he is not ready not even ready to be a minister. I personally look forward to the Auckland meetings to see for my self .
    The same people report that Cunliffe (clearly capable and savy ) and Mahuta (honest and passionate) are the obvious choice. Grant Robinson is also getting a good rapt with members saying he is smart and communicates well ( uses humour and is articulate) and clearly needs to be on the front bench in a major portfolio.

    My only plea is to the Labour MPs who at the end of the day will have the say rightly or wrongly about who will lead the Party in 2012-2014. My advice is that you seek your mandate from the members and your LECs. Think very hard MPs because one thing is foreshore the membership and LEC’s will be holding you responsible. Should you take your own council you can be sure you will putting up your own signs and funding your own campaigns come 2014.

    Bring on Sunday cant wait.

    • Grassroots 17.1

      @ Craig Glen Eden -how would the LEC members know whether their MPs are honest? voting on next Tuesday is ballot.

      • Craig Glen Eden 17.1.1

        Its not going to be hard to tell who has voted for who trust me and if you are not sure state your opinion and watch for the squirm.

    • the sprout 17.2

      reports from Labour rank and file who have attended the meetings so far is that Shearer is bumbling and ether unwilling or unable to answer members questions and quite simply he is not ready not even ready to be a minister

      no surprises there.
      so let’s see if caucus respects the opinions of the members of the NZLP, or if they’ll vote for personal gain over the greater interests of the party and country.

  18. Jackal 18

    LOL “For philosophical reasons.” Excellent… in my opinion a leader must be able to make the right decisions irrespective of past allegiances.

    • Colonial Viper 18.1

      Principle and philosophy – the very guts for the existance of politics.

      A huge contrast to the smile and wave ‘pragmatism’ where the corporate controlled markets rule and the only principle is the rich getting richer.

  19. belladonna 19

    You have my support also David, best of luck.

  20. djg 20

    IF Shearer was to be selected would you commit to working constructively with him ?

    If it was offered would you be prepared to shelve your leadership ambition, accept deputy, and keep the Finance role under Shearers leadership, this I believe could be the best team for Labour.


    [lprent: Deleted section was a presumption of guilt question. Let me ask one of you in the same style. Do you want to be banned or will you avoid that type of stupidity in the future? ]

    • the sprout 20.1

      Shearer has not indicated he will have Cunliffe on the front bench.
      Cunliffe however has offered a place for Shearer

      • newsense 20.1.1

        No shit.


        I could not vote for a Labour party that took Cunliffe off the front bench. And I’ve voted for them 2002, 2005, 2008 and 2011. For shame.

      • Colonial Viper 20.1.2


        If this is true, it’s tremendously self destructive.

        • Olwyn

          I was so shocked by Sprout’s claim that I ran (figuratively) to Red Alert to see if Shearer himself had anything to say on this. In answer to a question he said, “I have been very clear with all MPs that I am not offering deals on positions. I’m want to make use of all the talent in our caucus.”
          So, Sprout, do you have the inside goss, or is that just a rumour? Given that we know little about David Shearer politically, I would rather that he did give some indication of the sort of line-up he has in mind, though I think I can understand his wanting to avoid public deal-making.

      • Hami Shearlie 20.1.3

        I agree Sprouty! That really makes me doubt Shearer’s political ability. Not to offer a front bench position to David Cunliffe in the event of Shearer becoming leader – well, it just tells me that petty jealousies and gripes will abound if Shearer becomes leader – he isn’t leader material, at least, not yet. David Cunliffe can take it to Key and the Nats in Parliament, and on the news, current affairs, in short he looks and sounds like a leader. Shearer’s backstory is amazing, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that he’ll be an astute politician. David Cunliffe’s backstory is not exactly shabby either. Cunliffe would have my vote if I were in the caucus. The only question that labour mps should be asking themselves is – who can steer us to electoral victory? Two words for the people who want Shearer because he’s nice and could out-nice Key, are …….Bill Rowling! A brilliant man, but bad on tv – Muldoon destroyed him. We watch parliament every day and Shearer has not been impressive there! Just my opinion anyway!

      • Vicks 20.1.4

        To my knowledge he has not indicated who will or wont be in the lineup. Stop spreading your whispering campaign of malicious gossip Sprout.

        • Pete George

          As far as I have seen Shearer has consistently refused to openly offer or rule out any positions to anyone else.

          Absent anything to back up his claim it gives the impression that Sprout is either unaware of the facts or deliberately lying.

      • Vicks 20.1.5

        Sprout you need to stop spreading your whispering campaign of malicious gossip. Shearer has not indicated who will or wont be in the lineup.

        • Colonial Viper

          There is nothing more political than the classic “refuse to rule in or rule out” and “refuse to confirm or deny” gambit.

          My question is simple: why make this ploy, why not extend an olive leaf to the otherside of the caucus like Cunliffe has? Cunliffe has said that the front bench under him will be a meritocracy and Shearer certainly has a place on it.

  21. King Kong 21

    Why does David always leave out his time working for Dr Bunsen Honeydew when he runs through his CV?

    On a serious note I must admit that the more I see and hear from Cunliffe the more my hatred subsides.

    He is completely wrong on most things but is probably not the total tosser I thought he was.

    [lprent: 😈 I added the link because I didn’t know what you were waffling about. Not all of us grew up with TV and the muppets came along when I wasn’t into kids programs. You have wikipedia. Please link to it for the benefit of people not immersed in dinky culture… ]

  22. Tenfoot Bella 22

    Lots of support for David C in the part of West Aucland I come from. Essential MP’s consult their members and LEC’s before voting.
    Good Luck David .

  23. Draco T Bastard 23

    Our team must be ready to lead in a world that will face further severe financial crises and increased environmental instability.

    Does this mean that you’re looking at casting the present failed system that has led to the transfer of wealth and power to the few and the GFC? Are you looking to get rid of capitalism?

    The twin threats of resource depletion, particularly oil, and continued global warming require brave and informed leadership for New Zealand.

    Well, I suppose that it’s nice to know that at least some MPs have finally got around to admitting that the world is limited. Does this mean that you’re finally going to denounce growth and look to a sustainable stable state economy?

  24. daveo 24

    I think the fact DC is the only candidate to do a post for the Standard is telling. Good on you David, it’s good to see you here.

    • lprent 24.1

      Not quite. The others have had less time to think about it or do anything about it.

      It was an approach from a David Cunliffe supporter on friday? to do such a post that prompted me to ring around a authors/editors to find out if anyone would object to a limited policy change (we ordinarily do not allow MP’s to write here – they have Red Alert and party sites). That wasn’t complete until after the weekend although I left a message on David Shearer’s cell during the weekend when I was reasonably sure that there was unlikely to be an issue with the others as a heads up.

      I e-mailed David Shearer’s electorate office Monday?

      It wasn’t until yesterday that I e-mailed the candidates for the deputy position after it was pointed out that people might want to know them as well.

      The time question marks are because I’m coding and my sense of time, which is limited at best, goes non-existent when I have a head full of objects, events, locks, threads and other such structures

  25. mike 25

    David and Nanaia – the best Labour leadership team imaginable – for our current situation and the future. Christchurch Labourites eagerly awaiting our meeting tomorrow night.

  26. AnnaLiviaPlurabella 26

    BRIAN EDWARDS Switches to Cunliffe:

    I like David Shearer. He’s nice. On the one or two occasions that I’ve met him, he’s struck me as unpretentious, warm, natural, sincere. These are the qualities that make him attractive as a future leader of the Labour Party. And, in the now popular terminology, borrowed from the world of soap operas, his ‘back-story’ suggests both organisational competence and idealism.

    …But I’ve changed my mind.

    Shearer has had nearly three years to demonstrate his skill as a debater and My problem is that I just can’t imagine him on his feet in the House footing it with the Prime Minister or any of his hugely experienced lieutenants.

    Cut and paste from http://brianedwardsmedia.co.nz/2011/12/shearer-or-cunliffe-why-ive-changed-my-mind/#more-6403

    [lprent: Quote just what you need to to encourage people to click on the link (where they can see the whole thing anyway). I just expended some of my time to delete almost all of the comment you put here to demonstrate how you can cut to get the same effect. And you should say why you think this is important. I won’t do this too often before I start just tossing the whole comment or just leaving the link. ]

    • Vicks 26.1

      Oh please Brian Edwards was always backing Cunliffe and anyone else up against Shearer. Edwards was the media trainer to one of the candidates who failed in their bid to secure the candidacy in Mt Albert.

      Edwards protege didn’t get the candidacy and for good reason – despite the very real potential, there was a better candidate there on the day plain and simple. Remember you can judge one’s character by the way they accept defeat.

      • lprent 26.1.1

        Bullshit. He and Judy were tentative about all of them. I have a bit to do with them because of their site.

        They helped Meg because she asked. Put up an opinion because she looked pretty good. Much of this was before David was even fully in the race – he arrived quite a way into it.

        • Vicks

          I will raise your bullshit and throw in a flying pig shit that they weren’t in Shearers camp – EVER!!

          • Meg

            Seriously Vicks… Edwards and Callingham helped me because I taught Judy in the Politics Department at the University of Auckland and we got on well. When I put my name forward for selection I told Judy and she generously offered to help me because she liked me. I was very grateful and lucky. No money changed hands and there was no big conspiracy against Shearer. As Lyn said, Shearer came along a bit later in the scheme of things.

            Edwards has years of experience in politics and is unlikely to be clouded in recognising the benefits of Shearer just because he offered me some help three years ago. 

            I am kind of over my name being dragged through the mud by various pro-shearer campaigners on this site. This is the third time the selection has been trotted out and various accusations made. It shows an incredibly unpleasant streak in some of the lobbying going on. 

  27. Pete 27

    It is my impression from the past three years that Labour has in part suffered from a lack of media exposure. The television news in particular would report on what the government says but would rarely get Labour’s take on an issue. How does DC intend to engage with the media to get Labour’s message out to the public at large?

  28. Jenny Michie 28

    Despite working for the Labour Party for eight years I admit I wasn’t aware of just how impressive DC’s CV was and how his economic background is a good foil to John Key’s money creditentials.

    To hark back to ‘tribal Labour’, I understand completely what David is talking about. I’m tribal Labour myself, although I tend to describe it as being a ‘true believer’. That doesn’t make me an unthinking cheer-leader for every policy or MP (ask Mike Smith) but it does give me a political compass point to lead me in the right direction and from which to view to world.

    • lprent 28.1

      …ask Mike Smith..

      (I cannot resist the straight line)

      Ask anyone. The few times I’ve met you, it has always been hard to get word in edgewise. And we usually have a divergent view. Actually text makes for a welcome equalization of the playing field. 😈

      I’m “tribal” as well. You look at things to decide how they work early on and keep looking at them to refine what you think. It provides a base of thought based on experience that you use as a guide. But I always keep looking to find out what works and what doesn’t.

      For instance I just finished explaining to one of the few people that has complained about the site theme with suggestions about what should be done about it – that I agreed with them and that I’d raised exactly the same criticisms when we put it in. And that we were completely wrong based on the site growth in the nearly two years since we put it in. We keep growing and not all of it is due to content. Tribal as I am about how I think a user interface should be designed, you learn from experience.

      Tribal is just a general agreement about presumptions. It doesn’t mean you don’t change.

      And if anyone tries to tell me how to think, then I’ll usually hand them their detached appendages back after I explain why they’re wrong.

      • Jenny Michie 28.1.1

        Honestly Lyn, the cheek of you! next time I see you I will have to hit you over the head with a cabbage.

        • RedLogix

          We met once at a Drinking Liberally ages ago Jenny. I have this abiding memory of someone who really, really knew what she was doing and went about it with passion.

          Lyn… Given the size to which cabbages have grown this season I would be very respectful from here on in…:-)

        • lprent

          My first draft of that comment had “*duck and cover*” in it…

          But of course you must be talking of my absent partner in Shanghai. The one who is short of an ‘n’. I am not sure what I think of you assaulting her with a cabbage. I would suggest adding some Japanese mayonnaise as she does beforehand..

  29. bob 29

    Darien ‘deadwood’ Fenton supports Shearer

    I’m supporting Cunliffe!

  30. Peter 30

    Thanks for the post. This man is impressive!. I don’t care where he lives.

  31. RedLogix 31

    In the last 18 months or so I’ve commented a dozen or so times on Cunliffe, almost always favourably. While nothing on Shearer who until just weeks ago seemed pretty invisible. He may well be a very decent and capable guy, but it’s too soon to throw him into the lion’s den.

    By contrast Cunliffe has done the work and I like his thinking. Here’s a comment I made about him back in June last year:

    Apart from Cunliffe, it’s almost as if the rest of Labour’s front benches are a little embarrassed by socialism these days.

    And his choice of Nanaia Mahuta as deputy is remarkable. Bold and inspired at the same time.

    Compare and contrast with National. Labour is very fortunate indeed to have two such good candidates … my fervid wish is that once the decision has been made that everyone shakes hands afterwards and gets back to work in unity.

    • Anne 31.1

      .… my fervid wish is that once the decision has been made that everyone shakes hands afterwards and gets back to work in unity.

      Not a show if Shearer wins and doesn’t give Cunliffe the top financial position. Instead he will cause the Party to split asunder and I, for one, would give serious consideration to resigning.

      Is that why the NActs and their media acolytes are pushing for Shearer?

  32. queenstfarmer 32

    I may have missed it, but can someone please explain this: if Shearer is not such a good choice and Cunliffe is the better (or even obvious) candidate, then why do senior figures such as Goff and King apparently back Shearer?

    I don’t know enough to have a view either way (though I agree Shearer’s TV interviews were a bit awkward) but I am curious about this point.

    • Colonial Viper 32.1

      Shearer/Robertson: Old guard
      Cunliffe/Mahuta: New guard.

      • Pete George 32.1.1

        Shearer/Robertson: 3+ 2.5 = 5.5 years in parliament
        Cunliffe/Mahuta: 12+12 = 24 years in parliament

        • Zorr

          I fail to see how that is an argument… to me it just seems as if the Cunliffe/Mahuta combination has much more experience in parliament and would therefore be more appropriate leadership material in 2014. Or am I missing something here?

        • mickysavage

          Pete you know nothing …

      • Vicks 32.1.2

        How can you on one hand criticise Shearer for being old guard and on the other hand for being too new. You can’t have it both ways. Yes some of the old guard support Shearer but some of the new guard do as well. The same could be said for Cunliffe so your point is irrelevant.

        After reading the speculation in Granny Herald about who is supporting each of these contenders it is clear that they’ve got it wrong (surprise, suprise). I am pretty sure that at least two of the people mentioned have been put in the wrong camp.

        The skills required for leadership are about building teams, getting people talking and in this case getting people outside the core group interested in what is going on in the party.

        Cunliffe is a highly talented politician and despite actually being the old guard as I have said before I hope he still has a long and fruitful career in politics. His skills in Finance are second to none and he was chosen by the master Cullen to fill this role.

        There are three things that concern me about Cunliffe as leader.

        1 He is finance and that doesn’t work with being leader
        2 As great as he is he was not able to get enough of his old colleagues to back him. Why?
        3 At the risk of repeating myself – he polarises people.

        With regards to my third point, I know he has a hugely loyal following in his electorate. He is an incredibly hard working MP and he commands great loyalty from his own. Trouble is his appeal is to this core and not beyond.

        As an avid Shearer supporter I will say that I would be disappointed if Cunliffe was not on the front bench. Unless I have missed the announcement I don’t believe Shearer has discounted Cunliffe being in lineup.

        • Colonial Viper

          I don’t think that Labour needs an “Everyman” as it’s next leader. NZ is already falling out of love with that style of politician and John Key’s star is inevitably waning.

          What we do need is someone who can take on Key in the House and in the media and take them on with policy and substance, and when Key leaves, Joyce/Collins/Bennett.

        • Puddleglum

          I like it when points are clearly stated and numbered; it makes for easier responding.

          “1 He is finance and that doesn’t work with being leader
          2 As great as he is he was not able to get enough of his old colleagues to back him. Why?
          3 At the risk of repeating myself – he polarises people.” 

          In answer:

          1. Apparently true. Which is why it would be unwise for Cunliffe to keep Finance if he were to be leader. It appears that is what he’s thinking too.

          I don’t think the fact that Cunliffe has many strengths should count against his leadership run.

          2. Why? Good question. If they couldn’t back him because he had some obvious skill deficiency (including, e.g., rubbing people up the wrong way) then, yes, that would count against him.

          If, however, they couldn’t/wouldn’t back him because they thought what he would do would jeopardise their personal career interests then, frankly, that may well count for him (clearing out ‘deadwood’, regenerating the caucus, etc.).

          There’s also the possibility – though I have no insight into this – that a number of his supporters ended up losing their seats because the ‘old guard’ ensured they had relatively lower list rankings than did the supporters of the ‘old guard’.

          3. The opposite of polarising is uniting. But, it’s not always clear whether either is a property of a ‘leader’ or of the ‘followers’. For example, if Shearer could not bring the ‘Cunliffe camp’ onside if he were to become leader, would you then blame Shearer for being ‘polarising’? 

        • Lisa

          I think it is quite reasonable to criticise Shearer as representing the “old guard” and personally being “too new” or too inexperienced for the role – it is worth keeping in mind we are talking about the leadership role, not something to grow into, you’re either ready or you’re not. The only way we should make do with someone growing into the role is if we have no other choice. I’ll say it again, in case anyone missed it – the leadership role. The voice of Labour, our advocate.

          In fact thinking about it, one of the things that does concern me about Shearer is the combination of his representing the “old guard” and personally being too inexperienced. This sort of combination risks a puppet leadership or perception of it at the very least. I know other parties have puppet leaders but is that really what Labour wants? Is that who we are? Puppet leaderships offend the intelligence of voters and there is such a dishonesty about them. As a Labour voter I’ve always appreciated what I refer to as Labour-integrity. I don’t think we will win the next election by selling our soul.

          I personally prefer someone in the leadership role who has earnt it, having deeply immersed themselves in the business and life of Labour in NZ, to the point where they speak with the voice of the party loud, clear and strong. I was immersed in democratic education for years and when considering issues or answering questions I spoke from the heart – it was loud, clear and strong. I knew where I stood, often without thinking about it, because I had developed (earnt) a fully integrated perspective. When considering novel issues or reflecting on problems, it was this deep experience and fundmental value system that informed my solutions. More recently I worked in a Maori tertiary education environment – I am Maori by descent but sadly for me, not culturally – people assumed in my position I was “of that world” but it was never more clear to me that I really wasn’t “of that world” than when I was put on the spot and had to answer questions, often my answers were hesitant, the world was unfamiliar, the best I could do was feel around for the right answers. Contrary to popular opinion I don’t think Shearer needs more media training – we don’t need glib lines. Shearer’s stumbling/incoherent responses reflect his unfamiliarity and uncertainty – he is still formulating thoughts. He requires immersion in this world – he hasn’t lived and breathed it for long enough to be able to speak from the heart for Labour (to speak for me, which is what our collective votes give him – our voice). I think Shearer is a great addition to Labour – with a valuable perspective drawing on his experiences, skills and talent. However he is definitely not the best person for the leadership role – and I want, indeed we need, the best…don’t we?

          I signed up to the Labour party tonight in Christchurch for the first time, just to hear Cunliffe speak in person. Cunliffe didn’t disappoint, he is exceptional. We cannot waste this talent.

          If we want the best – I have no doubt at all, Cunliffe is it. Listening to him speak tonight at times I felt that inspiration I’ve felt listening to other exceptional orators – exceptional thinkers. I was also struck by his energy, inclusiveness, passion and vision – listening to him I felt proud to be NZ Labour.

          • lprent

            I signed up to the Labour party tonight in Christchurch for the first time, just to hear Cunliffe speak in person.

            Congratulations.. Ummm I hadn’t thought of that aspect of this campaign. But I will be doing the same thing. I discovered that I hadn’t gotten around to actually paying the party their sub this year, mostly because I was distracted by being in hospital. So the other day I set up direct debit again (don’t ask) on the next pay day and repeating. I was intending to hand over some cash when I went to meeting because it is unlikely I’d get a new card before the weekend.

    • Craig Glen Eden 32.2

      Two broad divisions in Labour some view it at as left and right although this is speaking in general terms. Goff King are viewed as more right wing they are known to be backing Shearer therefore Shearer is being viewed as to be more right than left. The likes of Cunliffe would say he is more left wing, some would care to dispute this but having got to know the man and the direction he wants to take the Party I would have to agree that he is more left wing. So camps do tend to form.

      I think most Labour members think Shearer is a good guy its just he is not what we need to take us forward at this time. Cunliffe is experienced and will well and truly will have the mettle to take on Key starting day one getting the Labour message across which Goff sadly didnt do ( as hard as he tried) and I think he did try.

      • Macro 32.2.1

        Agree your comment here Craig entirely.

      • queenstfarmer 32.2.2

        Ok, thanks. But assuming that to be the case, and assuming that Shearer is indeed not ready/able to do the job, I do find it rather odd that senior figures would back such a candidate. I guess there are a number of factors in play.

        • Jasper

          Ive come to the conclusion that the old guard seem to think that they can persuade people to go for an empty vassal who can’t remember more than 1 question at a time, can’t talk about anything more than the UN and how bureaucratic it is.
          The man is affable enough, but the party doesn’t have the time to polish him up. Key won’t be around in 2014 and Joyce or similar will tear Shearer to shreds.

          Personally, I can’t see why any MP would back the same people that have lead the party to electoral defeat twice now. One has to start wondering whether their political acuity has slid into senility.

          Shearer would make a good welfare minister >:)

          Cunliffe is onto it. He was my pick three years ago.

        • Vicks

          My point completely.

      • pollywog 32.2.3

        I’ve always thought Cunliffe leans right more than he lets on. Which is why the swinging nutjob may well be attracted to him when they tire of Key’s obvious shortcomings.

        Should Shearer get the nod, i would expect Cunliffe to leave Labour and quietly form his own slightly right of centre party…

        the Silent Tea Party.

        • lprent

          It would be a party that tiptoes to nothing much – which I think that he’d realize. Everyone who doesn’t realize that hanging together is less likely than hanging seperately already left – in the early 90’s. And that wasn’t just the MP’s – that was the activists as well.

          What you have to remember is that I lean to the right by heredity. But I am left by intellect. Consequently my entire family has dragged left. But that isn’t just me. We have become more ‘native’ over the generations. Seems to take about 4-5 generations here. We kind of have the interaction between immigrant generations…..

          • pollywog

            It would be a party that tiptoes to nothing much – which I think that he’d realize.

            Don’t quite know what you mean ? Another Winston First or United Dunne type of party ?

            I reckon with Labour and Greens on the left, National and its muppet party Act on the right, theres room in the middle for a new party aimed squarely at marginal right wing swinging voters and youth.

            That Colin Craig picked up almost 3% shows that, but imagine if he had the persona to attract youth and could win an electorate seat ?

          • Vicks

            Pollywog you are a trouble maker. In reference to the early 90’s – now that was a meltdown and nothing like the process taking place now. Remember that situation caused the formation of two parties. New Labour which became Alliance under Anderton and Act under those who shall not be named here. Lets not speak of United under Dunne. Unless you are saying Cunliffe could compete with Act?

            There is no such division here and I am pretty confident that both Cunliffe and Shearer are big enough to cope with the decision of caucus on Tuesday. There is much work to do before 2014. MP’s and supporters need to stay on task and remember who the real enemy is here.

      • Grassroots 32.2.4

        To add on what Craig said – Shearer was called back by Goff from Middle East and straightly landed in NZ as candidate for the Mt Albert by-election, this has caused a huge division within the Mt Albert LEC.  

        • Vicks

          Having been on the Mt Albert LEC for more than 20 years I ask you on what planet are “huge divisions” in the LEC. This sounds like it comes from one of Helens out of electorate groupies who preened and slagged themselves basking in HC’s glory only to ditch the LEC when Helen left – kind of like a modern rewrite of (Wo)man for all seasons…

          • lprent

            Dig at me? I have only tended to run up at LEC’s occasionally – they are pretty boring, I usually go for regular attendance in election year along with the rest of the various members of the election crew. This year I had a wee heart attack which has been somewhat constraining and Lyn has been a bit adamant about not over extending.

            But there aren’t divisions. Just varying levels of concern. Mine are less for Mt Albert and more for 2014.

            • Vicks

              Not a dig at you lprent. Your contributions have always been appreciated and we are very grateful to Lyn for the part she played in your ‘retention’ here on earth! My reference to you was about your earlier more forthright posts that at the time seemed a little disloyal.

              The majority of the LEC who remained active once Shearer became MP support him. I say majority because I haven’t spoken to all of them so I wont pretend to speak for them all.

              The dissention spoken of I believe comes from the glory seeking hangers on that finally let go once HC departed and as mentioned earlier they appear to be quite vocal on this forum being stuck in some kind of bitter time warp vortex and unable to free their tiny little selves from it.

              • lprent

                [update: I completely retract this speculation. Vicks is who she says she is. ]


                • lprent

                  Occasionally I make a bad call. This was one of them. My apologies to Vicks.

                  Just to clarify a point that she raised in the e-mail, the privacy policy for the site is about us disclosing to third parties and the purposes that we would use various types of information for – for instance.

                  E-mail addresses are only used by the sysop or moderators if they need to contact you. This will usually be because of your behavior or other peoples behavior to you on the blog. Sometimes it will be used if we’re really interested in something you wrote.

                  Typically I don’t use the e-mail addresses to write to possible trolls and turfers because the e-mail address is usually invalid, but it is also seldom that I get rapid bounces and it isn’t worth the time talking to a smtp server to find it out. I just reverse the process to compensate. ie Contact me within a timeframe or an action will be taken.

    • AnnaLiviaPlurabella 32.3

      Hi QueenstFarmer,
      Goff, King, Mallard, Robertson et al have positions, status and certain further comfortable sinecures that they do not want threatened. Shearer’s “high maintenance” requirements give them a sense of a future roll. They have become confused. As Brian Edwards put it (too) kindly:

      “My instinct is that the Labour Party is about to make a huge mistake. Their logic, I suspect, is that they must replace an unpopular leader with a popular leader. But it is shallow thinking. What the next Leader of the Opposition must be able to do is best and bring down John Key. That really isn’t a job for ‘a nice guy’.”

      Shearer’s performances on TV has been seen by many. Few comment positively about his performance in Parliament. Now many Labour members have seen him on the flesh in Hamilton, Palmerston North and Wellington. They will see for themselves what Brian Edwards has observed:

      “Shearer has had nearly three years to demonstrate his skill as a debater and about a fortnight to provide some evidence of competence in handling the media. He has done neither. His television appearances have bordered on the embarrassing. He lacks fluency and fails to project confidence or authority. Watching him makes you feel nervous and uncomfortable – a fatal flaw.”

      David Shearer put up his hand to get attention as a senior player: then Parker got cold feet; Fraser House, Wainoumata and Hataitai panicked; and voila David Shearer is bidding to be PM after two years on the backbenches! His Mt Albert LEC was gob-smacked. And now we are in this mess. Half our MPs, who were used to obeying Goff, King and Mallard are “conflicted”. When their electorate members see Shearer at the 5 gigs then there will be some “come to Jesus” moments!

      • Colonial Viper 32.3.1


        That better not be the actual story of how this has gone down to date. 😯

      • lprent 32.3.2

        His Mt Albert LEC was gob-smacked.

        No. We (or at many of us) on the LEC then and now have been through all of this type of shit before in 93 and afterwards. We are somewhat experienced at the tasks. FFS: I was standing right next to Helen when she was looking at my loaned TV as she decided watching Mike Moore not concede in 93, that the leadership needed to be taken. For me most of this has little to do with potential (he has it) and much more to do with effective caucus backing over the next few years.

        It was a hell of a effort getting Helen to simply deal with makeup – does the beltway have that long a memory? Do they have an idea of the personal costs? What is the cost for the party and the caucus dealing with that type of dumbarse learning curve issue between now and 2014? Having flappers around might be good for the candidate but it may not be good for the party.

        Ancient activists like myself take very very little for granted – especially in Auckland. QuIte simply it is difficult to spin us. The relevant parties will have to explain and do so with relevance. The way that it was set it up with the signature propaganda from the leaders office tonight in Wellington is not likely to impress us – in fact I will ensure that it does not.

        Look to the one chance – when the cynical party members and activists met in Auckland. The way it feels to me is that rather than having leadership issues I think that there are beltway issues that have bugger all relevance here to ALP or anyone else useful. Those are not Auckland issues – explain them to us in terms that we can see as useful for all of NZ – including us.

        I really cannot give a rats arse for the cliques, factions or ideologies. I’m interested in how effective you and your candidates are at being competent at the tasks I really don’t have time to do myself.

        Somehow reading across the blogs it does not feel like I am entirely alone in these opinions.

        Explain yourselves.

        • AnnaLiviaPlurabella

          Hi LPrent, my remark, “His Mt Albert LEC was gob-smacked” is based on a number of comments from reliable Mt Albert members that he had not raised his impending leadership bid with the LEC and that most of them were surprised.

          • lprent

            We were all surprised this time. Apparently, he made the decision late at night in wellington and put his name in the ring in caucus the following day.

            But we didn’t get told in 93 either. It was pretty obvious if you looked at her at the right moments.

        • hush minx

          Does your comment regarding ‘signature propaganda’ refer to the colour flyer that was circulating at Wellington’s meeting? I must admit I was pretty surprised to see it looking so glossy (well matt finish, but you know what I mean). I thought it was that superficial ‘sell’ that really got Labour into trouble during the election. I for one want a sense of values that come from the heart – and the plan to make stuff happen!

      • Vicks 32.3.3

        I am on the Mt Albert LEC so don’t presume to speak on behalf of us. You may be or you may have spoken to an LEC member who was “gobsmacked” (lprent I presume) but the vast majority back Shearer all the way because we can see the leadership skills of this man.

        • lprent

          Not me.

          And I think he has leadership potential and skills. However they are not the skills that I am concerned about, they are a side issue. Basically the timing is crap for DS, and I am tending to incline to thinking that the risks of a stumble to the party and country are too high. That question was in my first post on the subject. I still haven’t seen a good reason to change it.

          I see a different set of flaws with DC, but they seem to be a lot less likely to waste our efforts.

          In either case I will be pushing Labour forward into the electorate, just as I have done for decades. I will also be pushing Laou and it’s politicians also as I have been doing for decades. As far as I am concerned, I am just grateful that there are fools good people willing to take on the thankless task.

          I am finding this whole psuedo primary thing interesting though.

        • Colonial Viper

          So you weren’t at all surprised that Shearer launched his leadership bid? Had he talked to you about a leadership bid previously?

          • Vicks

            I wasn’t surprised. Look him up on wikipedia he is a leader. It has been evident from the beginning.

  33. hush minx 33

    I think it’s ironic that we may think of Shearer and Robertson as being ‘new’ but the MPs backing them sound to be a mix of the ‘old’, indeed the very old, for whom the prospect of doing things differently is probably uncomfortable and eroding to their power base and the ‘ambitious’ new versus the new guard new thinking (which does include some who’ve been around for awhile but want things to change). My other observation is that while Cunliffe has been criticised for being unpopular (although as others have noted being liked isn’t always necessary in a leader) he has sounded much more inclusive and team orientated than the alternatives. I don’t think Labour can afford to waste its talent, regardless of the outcome. Actually that’s quite a good definition of leadership!

    • Carol 33.1

      It seems to me that the Shearer team were probably the comfortable “in” crowd in the caucus during the last 3 years. They may need to accept that times are changing.

      I have said before I’m more in Team Cunliffe. Have voted for him for the last couple of elections for my electorate. I liked that he added government support to that of Waitakere CIty for the development of the New Lynn rail trench (which National seem to now be taking credit for).

      Cunliffe seems to me to be the best Labour has on offer for a leader right now. He still has room for improvement, and only time will tell how good a leader he could be, and whether he can unite the Labour caucus well enough to lead Labour to win the next election. But he has the motivation, work ethic and intelligence, so I reckon most likely can.

      The first step to showing he has what it takes will be Cunliffe succeding in getting enough caucus votes to become leader. So, I’m waiting to see.

  34. Lidea 34

    I initially supported David Shearer for the Labour leadership and emailed my electorate office (Mt Albert) to let them know. Since watching Close Up, Q + A, and The Nation, I’ve changed my mind. David Cunliffe is more capable. Also, I’m not left wondering exactly where he stands.

  35. Blue 35

    I’ve been leaning towards Cunliffe for a while now, but I did have some second thoughts I’ll admit.

    I’m going to declare for Camp Cunliffe now.

    Shearer’s backstory has worked its magic. It’s showed up John Key for how shallow he really is, and drawn the public’s attention to the other set of values that don’t revolve around money. Job done.

    The ‘new face’ thing is a novelty that will wear off quickly.

    What we need is a leader who can do the job, day in and day out. That means someone who is confident, capable, a good speaker, is quick on their feet and has a lot of energy.

    DC is the man, and any Labour MP who is backing Shearer needs to take a hard look at themselves. I will be noting the names of anyone who might be part of the ‘ABC’ nonsense, as these people are clearly the sort that need to be cleaned out of the party.

  36. Lew 36

    This is an exceptional pitch from David Cunliffe, and very similar to the one he gave on Radio Waatea this morning. Looking strong.


  37. vto 37

    Well David if it doesn’t work out you are welcome to join us and stand for the VTO Party.

    • lprent 37.1

      Tempting as it may seem – read the comments from before the 2008 election by vto. 😈 it is an example of why you do not drop democracy from local government

      It is the net – it never really goes away……

      And I kind of like this approve and reply functionality. But maybe it is TOO much power..

      • vto 37.1.1

        Sheesh mr prent, I thought this was at least one place in the world free from dobbing in. Nobody read it, it’s not true.

        David, you are still welcome to join and you will find that the party has never wavered from its unwavering singular point.

  38. coolas 38

    His inclusion of Shearer on the front bench speaks volumes. And I like how he expresses ideas clearly. No waffle. And the soapbox campaign speech was tribal labour, was it not? Go Cunliffe

  39. Adrian 39

    Our LEC is in your corner David. It’s a hard cold hillside down here in provincial South Island but I think I can speak for all of us in that we think that of all the candidates you are the best choice and the most likely to be able to make some connection in the rural towns. Besides I warned them that they could face the wrath of Lusi if they didn’t back you. Say gidday to her from me. Go well.

  40. Ari 40

    I’d be interested in hearing how David Cunliffe would work with the Greens, Mana, The Maori Party, (provided they’re still around next term) and even New Zealand First and United Future if he were Prime Minister, but otherwise this answered most of my questions and I’d be pretty happy with him as Leader of the Opposition.

  41. Damos 41

    I went to the meeting in Wellington tonight and I had to join to get in! Oh well. Anyway, it’s pretty clear to me, Cunliffe and Mahuta are a good selection as a leadership team if Labour want actual change. 

    I heard on the way out, a few people said of Shearer that he seems good, affable, didn’t answer the questions though, seemed shaken and tried to laugh it off. I had not heard the UN stories before, fascinating, seemed a lot had heard it and were asking about more than just a cool stroy.  Robertson in home territory was pretty good too. Something about Mahuta though, I’d watch her because she’s more impressive than I thought.

    Your MPs, those of you in Labour… oh, I guess I am too, ha! Ok, so, our MPs (lols) have a clear choice – they will either vote for their party or they will vote for themselves. As someone said above, the comfort of the old cool crowd has to be challenged.  A pity you can’t do a co-deputy leader thing because if you had Cunliffe as leader and two deputy leaders in Mahuta and Robertson and if I were National, I’d be concerned.  

    I would like to add, I appreciated Cunliffe acknowledging the Greens as a real presence now unlike Shearer who thought we took too much of the vote. Accept how people voted Mr Shearer, we are actually in agreement on quite a lot with you and I think the Greens are a bit tired of that attitude.  

    And a final thought before I start a late shift, when you campaign for three years that Key is vacuous, don’t make the assumption you need to do the same as that which you’ve just spent three years telling half the country they were stupid for accepting. Key is actually more than just a front, he is a marketing machine and much better at that than you guys. You have to win on substance. Like the Greens 🙂 

    Good luck Mr Cunliffe, I hope your colleagues were watching and are honest.  

  42. swordfish 42

    Good luck, David Cunliffe – you deserve the leadership.

    I see the Shearer camp are currently claiming about 15 votes to Cunliffe’s 10 – with 9 or so undecided (and 18 needed for victory). Let’s hope the current count is a little closer than that. Shearer would be a massive mistake.

  43. Carol 43

    I learnt one or 2 things doing stuff’s Labour leadership quiz this morning (assuming Stuff quiz master is correct).


    So, out of Robertson, Mahuta, Shearer and Cunliffe, Shearer was the only one not to have increased their electorate majority in the November 2011 election.

    Robertson’s hero is Lange. Hmmm… inspirational, but too naive/remiss to understand the implications of what some of his cabinet were promoting?

    Cunliffe has written poetry (not a necessary pre-requisite for a Labour leader, but does it make him a bit of a Renaissance man?)

  44. Bob Dobelina 44

    You buried your lead in the ninth paragraph!

  45. gingercrush 45

    I fail to see how anyonecan celebrate on one-hand increasing their electorate vote and still failing to win over the party vote. As in David Cunliffe and the electorate of New Lynn. It is also rather meaningless to compare what happened in a by-election and what happens at a General Election. If anything its fundamentally unfair.

    • lprent 45.1

      I think that the party vote in terms of votes was down everywhere due to turnout and vote splitting on the left. But we really don’t know until the specials are in on dec 10. Many electorates this time had better Labour electorate votes and a split party vote. The party ran a crap party vote campaign.

      • gingercrush 45.1.1

        Of course. I predicted the electorate vote for Labour would hold well compared to their party vote. Imagine how much better National would have been in 2002 had their electorate vote equalled their party vote. The other thing I would say is Shearer has a larger majority than Cunliffe and Robertson as well (also higher than Mahuta but the Maori electorates also have way lower votes so not comparable). So those who make an argument against Shearer for not increasing their majority really don’t have much to stand on.

  46. js 46

    I would like to hear from people in David C’s electorate or who have worked with him how he is as an electorate MP and whether he inspires people to work with and for him and really engages with them. I’ve had a couple of official dealings with him over the years (select committees etc) and he has that ability, that some really smart confident people do, to make you feel a little stupid or irrelevant. My impression is that he is not very inclusive and would be a naturally more autocratic leader. I could be quite wrong. Is that how he is with his LEC? In contrast I find Shearer’s storytelling style more personally engaging.

    I guess the question is, what is a leader for – engaging the public or fighting a battle?

    • I have known him from the time he was an unknown candidate and have been part of his local team ever since.
      David is an unusual combination.  He is genuinely funny and has a prodigious intellect.  Discussions with him are like fast games of ping pong with ideas zooming around as opposed to converstaions with others which can be like lawn bowls.
      He has a supreme intellect.  He will listen and draw in an argument and then precisely and succinctly cut through and come up with a solution.  His ability to simply describe complex issues while on his feat is breath taking.
      The nearest person I can compare him to is another politician I spent a great deal of time with, David Lange.  David C is not quite as good an orator, no one is, but is harder working and would never be sucked into supporting Roger Douglas type policies.

      • js 46.1.1

        David Lange (why are they all called David?) was very clever, articulate, and compassionate, but seems to have been a bit of a loner, which left him a bit exposed to the machinations of others at vital times.

        Does David C listen to and engage with the so called ‘ordinary’ people, or does he outsmart and score points off them? Does he have a circle of trusted friends who can tell him to shut up and stop being so arrogant or whatever? Otherwise he will not be able to be a cohesive party and team leader, and could be vulnerable in the same way as Lange was.

        Whatever we think about it there is something to be said for ‘personability’. It is the reason why people appear to like Key, even while his policies are bad for them.

        • Colonial Viper

          Cunliffe has no issues relating to and taking onboard what people are trying to communicate to him. Whether they are beneficiaries, council workers, shift supervisors or directors from credit ratings agencies.

  47. Craig Glen Eden 47

    “I fail to see how any one can celebrate on one-hand increasing their electorate vote and still failing to win over the party vote”

    Cunliffe can celebrate because he increased his personal majority the Party vote reflects on the Party.

  48. Dear Mr Cunliffe
    I would like to draw your attention to this parliamentary report from 2010 http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/ParlSupport/ResearchPapers/4/6/a/00PLEco10041-The-next-oil-shock.htm
    And this 49 minute lecture http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOq2A_SGTYA&feature=channel_video_title
    I hope you can find the time to read and watch this information.
    Do you think that, in light of the above facts it is a good thing to make Kiwi Saver compulsory?
    Regards Robert

  49. JoanC 49

    As a Life Member of the Labour Party and a founding member of the Mt Albert Women’s Branch, I find the dialogue on these pages over the past few days disturbing. Both sides needs to back off. Debate is healthy, but some of what has been written is just plain nasty and most of it under pseudonyms.

    I have found it particularly sickening that someone writing under the pseudonym “Vicks” who says they have been involved on the Mt Albert LEC for 20 years, attacked Meg (her real name) a candidate in the Mt Albert by-election. Meg Bates does not deserve this vitriol, just because Brian Edwards wrote his column about the leadership in favour of Cunliffe. Brian is also entitled to his opinion, whether one agrees or not.

    Vicks comments about HC groupies is disrespectful to those who worked in Mt Albert for many years, not only for Helen Clark but for the Labour Party. After all HC was MP for 32 years and it would be expected that many people would move on after she resigned. Part of a new MPs work is to rejuvinate the local organisation by bringing in new members and working with past members to create a fresh organisation. This is also what we will expect of a new Leader.

    A new leader will be elected next Tuesday not by anyone of us but by a small group of just over 30 MPs. Hopefully we will change this method of selection in the future to bring us into line with similar parties in UK, Canada and Europe. Whoever the new Leader is, I will still be committed to the ideals and values of the LP.

    • lprent 49.2

      It probably looks worse than it seems. This is a site that encourages robust debate as our policy which does have a tendency to fall over the edge on occasion – especially when new commentators are learning bounds. The site also tends to have some quite robust moderation and responses as well to assist with the learning curve. Which you would have seen as well.

      As far as I am concerned pseudonyms are critical to having a robust debate, it allows people to express opinions more freely in a way that they are far less likely to do under their own name. It sometimes spills into stuff that is distasteful, irritating or defamatory that they would be less likely to express under their own name. In this case it wasn’t the latter in a legal sense in my opinion. But I did find it distasteful, and like you I expressed that.

      Vicks has convinced me that they know both me and the LEC well via e-mail. As usual in the few cases we get from people that make claims under a pseudonym that require credibility, I asked.

      I didn’t try to find out who Vicks actually was in real life. We protect the details of our commentators except for the purposes of the site – see the privacy policy for details. This is the trust side about why a blog site has to protect people who write there. It is why for instance that very few people trust Cameron Slater enough to write comments on his site.

      However, I suspect that Vicks is going to find out why you do not reveal specific facts or authority that could allow you to be identified to a small group while writing under a pseudonym. There will probably be a bit of a speculative hunt going on in that group now about who Vicks is. It is a newbie trap that carries its own educational whip.

      • JoanC 49.2.1

        I agree, robust debate is healthy.  But when people attack the person and not the idea, it becomes destructive.  By the way, my piece was not a criticism of the moderator, who obviously does an excellent job.

        [lprent: I didn’t think you had. I tend to write comments clarifying how we operate whenever it seems appropriate. There are always new people reading and it helps people to understand how things operate – which makes all of the moderators jobs easier (there are quite a few of us) ]

        • Vicks

          Before signing off for the last time – I will apologise for any offence I may have unintentionally caused but stand by my opinion on the leadership. I would also reiterate that on the occasions that I was strong in my responses I merely mirrored the vitriole coming from the other direction. Most of my comments offered another perspective. This has been a very ugly process.

          • Meg

            Hi Vicks

            I know who you are and find it very surprising you would claim you’re ‘mirroring vitriole’ [sic].  I have not commented on this forum on my views on the leadership contest and yet you saw fit to attack me personally. It seems very surprising that you would find your behavior acceptable and I’m sure David would be concerned that a member of his LEC was behaving like this while publicly identifying as a long serving LEC member. 

            Please desist from the defamatory accusations you are making about me to other people unless you would like me to take this further. 


          • JoanC

            That is why I suggested that both sides back off.  

  50. David Cunliffe 50

    Hi folks

    First a big apology – it was always my intention to comment broadly on these posts and I actually started a long comment last night – then hit the wrong button and deleted it! That was close to 1am and then I went to sleep instead…

    Problem is, this is just me and not a team of press secretaries and with days full of conversatios and media and evenings full of candidates meetings there just arn’t enough hours in the day.. kind of like being a working parent…

    So, where to start after 170+ comments?

    Huge appreciation for the debate and the thought that has gone into the question of how to take Labour and NZ progressive politics forward. No-one is perfect; not me, not anyone. But we have to make choices, based on what is the best offerring to take us into 2014.

    The wisdom, as they say, is in the collective and this race is extremely close. This decision is extremely important. So every contribution to the collective wisdom is appreciated.

    With best wishes

    David (C)

    • lprent 50.1

      I think that everyone is probably aware of the time pressures on candidates at present. Certainly I haven’t seen any particular complaints about that. About everything else, but that is the nature of blogging.

      I think that everyone seems to have enjoyed the discussion under different rules except me. Releasing those 180 odd comments from moderation was a bit more work than I had anticipated.

      I’ll have to have a think about how we enhance this transparency style with a little less work.

      But I will close off comments in this post at mid-morning tomorrow.

  51. David Cunliffe 51

    Quick comments:
    @Damos; @Blue; @Lidea – thanks for your reaction to the meetings.

    @Hush minx: “hmmm”

    @Swordfish: votes are basically tied or very close to – so every last vote is crucial. What I hope is that MPs will listen to the views of their members present at the candidates’ meetings.



    • r0b 51.1

      Thanks for stopping by. All the best to you both – I think it’s fantastic for Labour that there are two very different, but in their different ways very strong, contenders for leadership. I think either of you would make a great leader, and my only request is that the one who misses out (this time) gives whole hearted support to the one who gets the job.

    • felix 51.2

      Hi David,

      If you are going to respond to many more comments (and it’s entirely understandable if you’re not), could you use the “reply” buttons please? With so many comments in the thread it’s almost impossible to figure out what you’re responding to otherwise.

      Also, what r0b said.

      And best of luck 😉

      [lprent: It is probable that he is doing it on a mobile device – many of the MP’s do. Unless they have a tablet, small screens are a pain at showing the threading. Just one of life’s wee trials for those unfortunate enough to spend too much time travelling ]

  52. Vicks 52

    AM on reflection you are absolutely correct. I have at times been pretty strong in my comments. If you go through my contributions you will see they are in response to some pretty strong language coming from the other direction. I have certainly stated on many occasions my respect for the ability of other candidate – just not as leader.

    As for your comments on Mt Albert wanting another leader – that comment says more about you than me.

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  • New efforts to counter illegal timber trade
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