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Grant Robertson

Written By: - Date published: 2:23 pm, December 8th, 2011 - 80 comments
Categories: labour - Tags:

We asked the candidates if they want to post here. So we have now received Grant Robertson’s post.

Thanks for the opportunity to post on The Standard. In this contest I am a candidate for the Deputy Leadership of the Labour Party. In 1997 after six years fighting for fair access to tertiary education through the student movement I joined the Labour Party. I didn’t join to become leader or deputy leader or even to become an MP. I joined because I believed then, and I believe now in the values of social justice, fairness and equality that are the foundation of our party.

There is no doubt a challenging time lies ahead for our proud party. We are only just over a week out from a heavy defeat in the election. We can not shy away from that defeat, and the importance of learning lessons from it. We do have to search within ourselves to find the reasons and to address those reasons. I am proud of the social progress and change that Labour has driven, from the Savage/Fraser governments to the Clark/Cullen governments. We have changed almost every aspect of New Zealand life for the better (and occasionally we got it wrong) but it is a proud record.

That record is not at issue. What is at issue is how we respond to, and shape the world around us as it is today, and will be in the future.

We face a government that believes it has a mandate to undertake policies that will be hugely damaging for our country, that will further divide New Zealand, and grow the gap between rich and poor. We must take the fight to them in every forum. Winning in Parliament is part of that- but it is only part it. We have to take our message to New Zealanders that we are on their side and that we understand their hopes and aspirations.

I believe that our approach needs to be equal parts organisation and inspiration.

The starting point in terms of organisation is a thorough review of our party, its processes, its constitution and its organisation. Moira Coatsworth, our President has already announced that this is underway. We need to open up our party to new people, new ideas and new ways of doing things. We need to listen. We must lift our organisational capacity in every electorate. We must focus on attracting and retaining talent in our party, especially women, so that they can take on leadership roles. I also believe we need to look again at the way we select our candidates and list.

The strength of our party is that we are a broad church, united by our core beliefs in equality and fairness. We must maintain our connection with those that have stuck by us. We also have to reach those we have lost over time. And those who feel we do not understand the challenges to the future of our planet, environmental and social. In this especially are younger people who don’t have an historical connection to our party and see fresher alternatives elsewhere. For each of these audiences we need a clear plan, and campaigns and messages to reach them, and show them that Labour is on their side.

Above all, what we must do is inspire New Zealanders. I think New Zealanders understand what we are against (asset sales, inequality etc) but where I think we did not do as well, is to inspire New Zealanders with hope for their future. Hope that we have the people and the plan that will support them in achieving their dreams, and look after them when they fail. Hope that we will make sure they get a fair go and that we will celebrate their success.

To me the heart of our challenge is how we re-engage with New Zealanders. The most disturbing trend I have felt in my time campaigning for Labour is that extent to which so many New Zealanders see politics as something that is done to them, rather than something they are part of. We need to be worried by the percentage of people who voted for us last Saturday, but we need to be equally worried by the number of people who did not vote at all. We must make a concerted effort to re-engage, and to engage differently with them.

We need every last ounce of political nous and strategy to get our message heard. Those are my strengths. As Deputy a vital role is uniting our team, and being a bridge between the Caucus and the Party. I have the background and political experience to do that. We need inspiration and passion in Parliament, and outside. I can be part of providing that.

Whatever happens in this leadership contest Labour will emerge renewed and ready to take our values forward, and I will be there playing my part to build the fairer, better New Zealand I joined this party for.

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

80 comments on “Grant Robertson”

  1. higherstandard 1

    Grant is a great asset for the Labour party and would make a fine deputy and one day leader of Labour.

  2. lprent 2

    I was a bit late putting this up (it was received just before midday) as I was on my way to the international airport to pick up Lyn. 

  3. King Kong 3

    I would be interested to know how much being gay affects Grants decision making.

    For example does he take every policy issue and think “how does this affect gays”.

    To explain my point a little better, there are women in parliament who strongly advocate womens rights and others who seem to identify themselves as just parliamentarians rather than female parliamentarians.

    • Carol 3.1

      I must have missed when you asked Cunliffe how being heterosexual affect his decision making, or how being male affects both Robertson and Cunliffe’s decision making.

      • King Kong 3.1.1

        I wondered if I would get the “how dare you ask”.

        [lprent: It is a valid question. I’d suggest that you answer it before I look at my ideas on pyromaniacs. ]

        • Tiger Mountain

          How does being a reeking try hard tory affect your decision making KK? Yours is an insulting question to ask of a professional politican, and member of a clearly broad church party.

        • Roy

          Carol has asked you a legitimate and logical question. why don’t you answer it instead of sneering?

        • Carol

          It wasn’t so much “how dare you ask” as, why do the people who are in “othered” categories most often asked to explain some part of themselves that people in the dominant group/s are never asked. I’d be quite interested to hear candidates explain the impact of the heterosexuality, masculinity, whiteness, cis-gender etc on their politics.

          • grumpy

            Hi Carol,

            It was a bit of a reaction though…….I think both questions are legitimate.

            • felix

              What are you describing as “a bit of a reaction” and why?

              Has Carol said something a bit over-the-top that I’ve missed?

              • Tigger

                The questions might be legitimate but this gay would ask, why would it matter? You can assume being a gay Pakeha man gives Grant a certain perspective in life, just as being a heterosexual Maori woman does to Nanaia.

                And let’s face it, the only reason you asked is because he is gay. Just as you might have asked Grant if he was Maori or Middle Eastern or, indeed, a woman. You never would have asked the same question of a heterosexual male.

                As for ‘gay’ issues, Grant now has a three year track record in the House. I don’t see him pushing for a separate gay state, nor special rights for gays. Which is disappointing because we in the gay mafia placed Grant there solely to do our bidding. At the next meeting of the gays he will be reminded that we made him and we can unmake him. We also control the tides. And the stock market. Tomorrow I think we’ll make stocks go…up…

                • felix

                  Is Grant in danger of being kicked out of the gays?

                • lprent

                  Tomorrow I think we’ll make stocks go…up…

                  That is easy, even I can do that. A few hundred bucks on many stocks in iPredict can do that. I hate markets with low liquidity. 

        • Spratwax


          [lprent: There was a point in there but it was concealed by badly crafted abuse – see the policy. You need to work on that. Try looking at the works of the better ones around here, and find out satire, dark humor, and ‘innocent’ questions are usually the most effective tools. ]

      • Ari 3.1.2

        Or how being Pakeha effects their decision making. Or cis-gendered. Or whether they believe in a given religion or not. Or a huuuuuuuuuuuuuge number of other categories we put people into to “other” them.

        • grumpy

          Interesting topic though…………….just what does affect peoples looking at issues??? Are some “identities” more concerned with their “identity” view of things than others?

          What actually stops an neutrally objective assessment or is such a thing an impossibility?

          I think it’s fair enough to ask anyone – especially a politician about what influences let them to an assessment of an issue.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 3.2

      All my dogs are freaking out. Almost as though they can hear something I can’t.

      [lprent I suspect that you may be right. But it would have been asked somewhere along the line and he did do a credible job of framing it to get past me. I passed it because of the effort. ]

      • King Kong 3.2.1

        If they were a paid up member of the church of Satan I could make a good guess what kind of things might affect a politicians decision making.

        Just as all women arent hairy tub thumping feminists not all gays are leather hotpant wearing, rainbow flag waving gay rights activists.

        I guess my question was about how high up the list of Grants priorities is championing the gay agenda.

        p.s. The reason I didn’t ask David Cunliffe about the thought process of being a white christian male is because as one myself I know full well that our priorities are to continue our reign at the head of society by all measures whilst keeping women and minorities under heel. (for those of you without the ability to recognise it, this is humour)

        • Carol

          the gay agenda.

          Damn, someone has slipped up and failed to email me a copy of it, and the date of the meeting in which it will be discussed.

          Is it because I’m not gay enough?

          • King Kong

            Sorry if I used the wrong terminology Carol.

            In Crosby Textors weekly memo to all agents of the right this is what they said we should refer to it as.

            [lprent: I’m starting to get very tempted to just boot this side-discussion to OpenMike. Perhaps you can go and discuss it there and reduce my workload. ]

        • marty mars

          kk – you identify as a “white christian male” – just a couple of weeks ago you said,

          “Voting for Rahui Katene in my electorate of Te Tai Tonga. Switched to the Maori role this year as the fight to keep Labours Okeroa out of the seat is going to be tighter than the battle between Robertson and the chubster, Foster-Bell.Party vote National.”

          Who we’re voting for

          Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really care, just wondering what the story was.

          • King Kong

            Am quarter Maori so tend to wear what ever hat suits me best at the time.

            • mac1

              And still not answering the points I raised about this statement- ““Voting for Rahui Katene in my electorate of Te Tai Tonga. Switched to the Maori role this year as the fight to keep Labours Okeroa out of the seat is going to be tighter…..”

              Two facts-
              1. The time for changing from General to Maori rolls did not occur this year.
              2. Mahara Okeroa did not stand in the TTT seat- Reno Tirikatene did.

              You are badly informed in so many ways, KK- to the point that I think you just make it up.

        • felix

          “…not all gays are leather hotpant wearing, rainbow flag waving gay rights activists.”

          Ah, so you just want to know if Grant is the wrong kind of gayer. Well perhaps I can help.

          I’ve seen seeing Grant debating in the house and seen him interviewed on the telly quite a bit, and he doesn’t seem to have a big thing for leather hotpants. You never know though, they often don’t ask the right questions and if he’s sitting behind a desk you just can’t tell what’s going on down there.

          My friends in Wellington see him out and about quite a bit and they tell me he usually wears trousers. But then most politicians do tend to favour long pants in public.

          Don’t know for sure about the rainbow flags. Russel Norman had a colourful flag and he got quite emotional when someone took it from him. That’s kind of a gay thing, isn’t it, getting emotional like that?

          I know that some gayers have colourful flags at home but they’re a bit cumbersome to carry around, especially the big ones, so instead they just put a little sticker on their car. I don’t know if Grant has a sticker on his car though.

          I’m not really sure where you draw the line anyway KK. Perhaps it would be okay with you if he had a rainbow sticker on the car as long as he promised to never carry a flag? (Except in parades of course. Gayers love parades!)

          All in all it’s hard to say. Some of them definitely take the whole gay thing way too far, but all in all Grant doesn’t seem too gay. He does sort of seem like one of the good ones, don’t you think?

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          What are you dribbling, Kong?

          “…not all gays are…” “the gay agenda…”

          Contradiction in terms much, much?

        • mik e

          KK Bigoted Anally retentive misogynistic Neanderthal.

          • King Kong

            Thank you for your post mik e, you have opened my eyes to the error of my ways.

            From now on I will take a page of tolerance from your book.

  4. daveo 4

    Chris Trotter has described your running mate as just the man to get the unions out of Labour. I know Chris knows David Shearer, is he basing this on fact?

    Also, do you see the unions as too powerful a force in the Labour party and, if so, would you take steps to curtail this power if you were made deputy?

  5. Anthony 5

    I think as far as these posts have gone, so far I have found David Cunliffe’s more appealing, as it seemed to present a more focused vision of what Labour can do for New Zealand, while addressing specific problems that we will all face (in the amount of words a short post can offer).

    This one seems a bit more internally focused in nature – what Labour has to do for Labour – although this may reflect the differing nature of the roles that they are hoping to fill.

    Anyway, Grant has such a surplus of skills and natural talent that he will be at the top end no matter what happens (unless Labour goes completely mad). Good luck Grant.

  6. Hi Grant

    You will be aware that like elsewhere Labour needs revitalising in Dunedin. How will you extend party rebuilding to inclusive (wider than single party) rejuvenation of regions like Dunedin and Otago?

    • r0b 6.1

      You will be aware that like elsewhere Labour needs revitalising in Dunedin.

      Is this the Labour Party in Dunedin that took the two Dunedin seats (one with a brand new young MP), won a Party majority in Dunedin North, has a large and active membership, turned out hundreds of volunteers on election day, and has active University branches?  That Labour in Dunedin?

      Speak for yourself and United Future thanks Peter – you don’t speak for us! 

  7. Ari 7

    I’d really like to hear some of the Labour (deputy) leader candidates come out in support of members voting for their party list. For too long Labour has picked their list in a back room, and that’s not right.

  8. Afewknowthetruth 8

    ‘I am proud of the social progress and change that Labour has driven, from the Savage/Fraser governments to the Clark/Cullen governments. We have changed almost every aspect of New Zealand life for the better (and occasionally we got it wrong) but it is a proud record.’

    Oh dear! The delusions continue.

    And the delusions certainly are a total mis-macth with the previous statements:

    ‘We can not shy away from that defeat, and the importance of learning lessons from it. We do have to search within ourselves to find the reasons and to address those reasons.’

    Just for the record Grant (because it is obvious you don’t ‘get it’ ) everything that actually matters got substantially worse under Helen Clark. And the Clark government (nine years of it! ) set up all the preconditions for the collapse we will witness over the next three years.

    No wonder a large number of potential supporters didn’t vote for Labour.

    This bit is correct, though:

    ‘We need to listen.’

    The question is, will you?

    • Jeremy 8.1

      Huh? From what I heard Labour reduced net debt to zero and reduced unemployment by 100,000. Check out the debt levels now dude and compare it to where it was, talk about having your head in the sand. I didn’t vote Labour or National this election or the last but will get behind Labour if Shearer is Leader.

      • Afewknowthetruth 8.1.1


        You failed to notice the key words (or chose to ignore them).

        ‘everything that actually matters got substantially worse under Helen Clark’

        That’s urban sprawl, dependence on imported oil, pollution levels, contol of society by corporations etc. The list of failures of the Clark government is far too long to detail here.

      • Colonial Viper 8.1.2

        Sadly, in my reading around I have now determined that “net debt” is a dangerous and complacency inducing orthodox economics measure.

        The primary ratio of importance is the ratio of total debt/government revenue as well as interest servicing costs/government revenue. Hardly anyone looks at these.

    • Brooklyn 8.2

      the Clark government (nine years of it! ) set up all the preconditions for the collapse we will witness over the next three years

      like those disastrous surpluses. Fortunately the fiscally prudent Nats have have remedied that problem

  9. One Anonymous Bloke 9

    “…the Clark government set up all the preconditions for the collapse we will witness…”

    Shit and there was me thinking it was Goldman Sachs and the Illuminati.

    • Afewknowthetruth 9.1


      We should not fear the army that is outside the walls half as much as the traitor who is within the walls.

  10. Carol 10

    I think Grant Robertson is a very able politician, and an asset to his party. He clearly is committed to the core Labour values, and should have a very bright political future.

    I have reservations about a couple of points he makes. Robertson said above

    Above all, what we must do is inspire New Zealanders. I think New Zealanders understand what we are against (asset sales, inequality etc) but where I think we did not do as well, is to inspire New Zealanders with hope for their future. Hope that we have the people and the plan that will support them in achieving their dreams, and look after them when they fail. Hope that we will make sure they get a fair go and that we will celebrate their success.

    Given that he is supporting Shearer, and that apparently Lange is the politician that most inspires him, I suspect he is looking for an inspirational leader.

    But inspirational leaders can inspire people to follow, in spite of bad policies (Key… not that I think he’s inspirational), or when the cabinet is doing some ill-advised things (the Lange government). Furthermore, is Shearer the leader to inspire? He doesn’t inspire me so far, even though he has many good points. And would Shearer be the person to inspire the disaffected young and other non-voters? Is he more likely to inspire than Cunliffe… or even more than Robertson?

    And Robertson makes this very good point:

    We must focus on attracting and retaining talent in our party, especially women, so that they can take on leadership roles.

    But I thought there already are some very good women in the Labour caucus. Is Mahuta the only one capable of taking a leader or deputy leader role at the moment?

  11. Anne 11

    No, Ari Labour consults the membership widely over their party list. About six week-end regional conferences are held over a six week period where candidates get to make a short speech and are then ranked by the delegates. Then the ranked lists go to Wellington and that’s where the back room bit comes into it. A committee consisting of some 35 to 40 individuals – which is a ludicrously high number at that point of the process and a major part of the problem – draws up the final list.

  12. AnnaLiviaPlurabella 12

    Hi Grant, it is nice to see your statement at last. I saw you in Hamilton for the first time and found you to be a good speaker and funny.

    You have identified yourself as part of Team Shearer: I like that clarity. Should David Shearer win the leadership, which frontbench role will be offered to David Cunliffe?

    David Cunliffe has made it clear that he will select Shearer and you for front bench positions.

    Kia Kaha

  13. Monty 13

    It is interesting and yet so typical that you talk about “re-connecting and reaching out” – also something which you said word for word after defeat in 2008, yet in the last para Lyn says he will be moderating all comments.

    After the Labour loss in 2008 Labour never did their penance for what was done to the country. The arrogance with which Labour ruled. For the past three years, Labour have been negative and arrogant. This was of course best summed up by the now famous words of Damian O’Connor.

    Grant – I have long thought that you have potential to be a leader. But some of those (especially the protected “ones” have longer served past their best by date. Protected by the union faction.

    What I want to know is why or what will you bring to the table that is different from the “anti-national” of the past three years. Labour’s policies in 2011 have been well and truely rejected by the electorate.

    GST off fruit and veg was a stupid policy. You lkabour relations policy was worse, and your welfare policy defied belief. You might like to carry on fighting the hard and extremem left for votes, but in doing so, Labour left the centre wide open for the Nats to control. And control it they have – nearly getting enough votes to be a majority government in their own right.

    So tell us Grant and be honest. Are you going to cut the deadwood from the party (start by admitting there is deadwood.) Reject the policies left over from the years of Clark and Cullen. Reject tax increases, and even CGT as failures. Tell us how you are going to inspire the nation like John Key has done. Move the policy platform to the middle ground, and start to admit that National has it correct is some policy areas and that Labour will no longer be beholden to the unions, the Greenies, and the beneficary classes. Then you might start to claw back some levels of support

    [lprent: Two different things Monty. I set the rules here and I don’t set them in the Labour party. There I’m just a member, here I am the sysop.

    As a sysop in our private property (you do know what that is don’t you?) I’m uninterested in having squads of Whale’s nutters or libertainz or whatever coming in to disrupt the comments in these types of posts. That is what OpenMike is for. So I ensure that people are aware that I’m going to be monitoring closely.

    But that is because this is our site and Grant was talking about the Labour Party. Trying to say this site is not independent is something I got over being amused by years ago and I’m quite willing to ban for – as you know well.

    I am happy to say that in the David Cunliffe post, I wound up moving one comment to OpenMike because it was a top level comment and completely off topic. I deleted material from a couple of comments – one was my own. Added a couple of notes. ]

    • cherryjeary 13.1

      CGT is part of the savings policy and if you read treasury papers they all reccommend it. As with old Labour policy I havn’t seen National getting rid of any of them, the only significant change National introduced was increase GST. I do agree Labour may have to revisit their Welfare policy and GST off fruit and veges or explain it better. I agree with you though Monty Labour didn’t lose 2008 because of policy because having read a bit of the 2008 budget I knew Key was just spouting stuff from it.

    • It is fascinating to see right wingers like Monty, higherstandard, King Kong and Petey taking such an interest in the internal workings of the Labour Party and its leadership contest and wanting to ask questions.  I suspect that if Labour had a John Key type character they would be begging for him to be selected.
      If my cynicism is misplaced and they actually have seen the light and want to join up with the Labour Party they should visit http://www.ownourfuture.org.nz and join up.

      • higherstandard 13.2.1

        Has it been a bad day Greg ?

        Just commenting that I’d always thought Grant was a good parliamentarian – sorry that I’m interested in a strong opposition bench to keep the government honest.

        On the bright side, having spent the last wee while in Australia I can confirm that their parliamentarians appear to be an even lower form of life then ours.

      • Tiger Mountain 13.2.2

        Who knows, perhaps Montykins and some of the others may come here because there is genuine debate and engagement, an anaerobic environment (certain sites need not speak their names) can get to people after a while.

  14. Grant Robertson 14

    Hi, to respond to the comments

    King Kong. Best I can do for you is give it straight from my maiden speech- :” My political view is defined by my sexuality only in as much as it has given me an insight into how people can be marginalised or discriminated against, and how much I abhor that. I am lucky that I have largely grown up in a generation that is not fixated on issues such as sexual orientation. I am not- and neither should others be.”

    @Daveo. I am proud of the role of the Labour movement generally, particularly unions. They have, and in my view should, continue to play an important role in our party as the organisations made up of working people that are the core of our existence. The membership of the party is diverse, and we need to continue to grow that in total numbers and in diversity.

    @PeteGeorge. We need to up our organisational capability everywhere, and to be active participants in community issues. That applies right across NZ.

    @Ari. As noted, members are at the core of the list process. I do believe that the issue of how we put the list together, and how we do constituency selections should be on the table in the review.

    @AnnaLP. Thanks, glad you enjoyed Hamilton. As you know, since you were there, David S has said clearly that he is not discussing portfolios before the leadership vote. At the same meeting I believe I heard David S say that David C would be an important part of his team if he were elected leader.

  15. Pundit X 15

    Hi Grant,
    What is your view on party democracy. At the moment the membership are little more than a parliamentary Labour Party fan club. Would you involve the membership in the list placement process as the Greens do. The formation of policy and the democratic election by the whole party of the Leader and Deputy?

    • lprent 15.1

      Hey we do a wee bit more than than being a fan club. I’m a complete cynic about all politicians – I’m just glad that there are enough suckers still willing to do the job that I would never be interested in.

      But I’d agree that as a member it feels more and more pointless being involved in the tedious constitutional machinery that was designed for a mass party in the days before mass media channels and the net. You know – the good ol’ days when going to meetings was a social occasion. When it wasn’t the waste of time way of gaining and disseminating ideas and information. My late grandfather remembered those days. They haven’t existed while I have been an adult, and I’m over 50.

  16. dancerwaitakere 16

    I have REALLY enjoyed hearing what David Cunliffe has said about sustainability and effectively making this a bottom line issue for the Labour Party.

    How do you think labour should be moving in terms of their policies on green issues and a sustainable economy? Would you support a total ret-think on how labour approaches these issues, so that we have a greater appeal to the next generation who will bear the burden of decisions made now?

  17. AnnaLiviaPlurabella 17

    If David Shearer was offered the deputy role by David Cunliffe, what role would you most like?
    If David Cumliffe was offered the Deputy and Finance role by David Shearer, what role would you most like?

    [lprent: The second sentence didn’t make sense. Added the word in italics. ]

  18. AnnaLiviaPlurabella 19

    Cunliffe Envy: A Bad Case of the Kiwi Tall Poppy Syndrome:
    Cunliffe has proven himself as a Scholar (Fulbright) in Harvard, a Diplomat, a “Boston” business consultant, a winner of National Seat in Titirangi which morphed into New Lynn where he has extended his margin three times, a Transformational Minister in Telecommunications and Immigration and a stabilising Minister in Health. Then he developed a most bold and visionary economics strategy for the Labour Party in opposition. And is now only 48! He is on top of detail, can communicate at every level in every media. He is deservedly admired by many and understandably envied by a few. Not bad from a boy brought up in a various church house in provincial New Zealand.
    On the other hand we have Shearer, who was handed the safest seat in the country two years ago. He was very successful in an infamously poorly run organisation, the UN. I do not doubt the veracity of his colourful “back-story”. He has been undistinguished in Parliament and in Committee. He had been a poor speaker on TV debates and the Leader debates. He is 54.
    The Job? To be a strong leader of the Opposition fighting National’s damaging policies. To make Labour the Party of Opposition, rather than the Greens/Norman or NZ First/Winston. And then to win the 2014 election to implement policies that bring prosperity to all of NZ rather than the select few.
    Why is Shearer even a consideration?

    • Craig Glen Eden 19.1

      Exact ALP, why is Shearer even in the race, I like Grant like and agree he is very capable and given his obvious talent would make a great number 3. Grant if want to achieve good things for NZ and Labour you should join with David and Nania as their number three I think the three of you would be a formidable team and I look forward to hearing you on Sunday.

    • Colonial Viper 19.2

      The case for Shearer seems to boil down to a very few points.

      1) Publicity and media. Shearer is not well known so has few ingrained negative preconceptions to overcome. He has for the moment captured the imagination of the MSM re: his dramatic and crisis driven back story and also owns an Everyman style reminiscent of John Key, which is seen as positive.

      2) Politically, Shearer is seen as having more sway with centrists and swing voters, perhaps carrying less ideological ‘baggage’ from the ‘hard left’ and thus being freer in the ways he can appeal to the wider electorate.

      3) Shearer is reportedly more liked (and less disliked) than Cunliffe in caucus, so may have a better chance of building a stronger more cohesive team of Labour MPs going forwards to 2014.

      4) What rough edges Shearer does have can (hopefully) be quickly and easily smoothed out via media training and appropriate support.

      I personally don’t see that any combination of the above makes Shearer the must-have choice as Labor leader for 2014.

      Now I’m going to do my subtraction trick. In your mind, take the above talking points AWAY from Shearer and consider what is left of Shearer’s case to be Labour leader next week. What does he bring to the table in terms of policy knowledge and innovation, and visionary commitment to remake Labour in the way that it needs to be once more.

      Yep, my pick is still with Cunliffe.

  19. hush minx 20

    Hi Grant – nice to see you post here. Is there a reason that David Shearer has not done so, given this site is quite a hub of discussion amongst the left? I think a number of us would like to get to see what he’s thinking behind the high level lines. It seems to be that the ability to hit the ground running has been identified on the leader wish list. So what would be the first three things you’d be looking to do get runs on the board that the wider public will notice? And I was interested that you said “being a bridge between the Caucus and the Party”. Surely that is the role of all MPs not specifically the Deputy? Looking from the outside it certainly didn’t seen that way when Michael Cullen was Deputy (or Caygill before him). Or are you operating more in the Annette model? One final question – you were campaign spokesperson where Labour suffered, and so have been associated with that result. If you could have done something differently ahead of the campaign (timeframe optional) what would it have been? I must also admit that I support Nanaia in this contest. While I admire your skills I think if Labour is serious about wanting to reach out to women then gender counts (and I know that’s unfair, but this is politics after all!).

    • lprent 20.1

      Is there a reason that David Shearer has not done so, given this site is quite a hub of discussion amongst the left?

      It took me a while to figure out how I should do it. Email to their parliamentary address was the obvious way – but the one I tried last, mentioning readership figures. It is pretty hard to get the candidates attention. They’re kind of busy.

      We publish them pretty much as we receive them. Cunliffe’s post got held overnight because it was pretty late in the day, and it was late morning before I ironed out the problems with having moderation on a single post (which was a pity because we lost the opportunity for him to respond due to his tight schedules). This one went up a few hours after I received it because it arrived at about the same time I went to Auckland airport to pick up Lyn and I’m off the net whilst driving..

      I have heard a whisper that David Shearer will be sending one. But that is all that it is. Nothing about Nanaia Mahuta. But the invitation has been extended and I will have them up as soon as possible after I get them.

    • Spratwax 20.2

      I am wary of the Shearer camp agenda. We have not yet seen a personal endorsement from him on this website- is it because he does not wish to appeal to the obvious left wing element within the party as he might alienate ‘corporate nz’…odd.

      The overwhelming support for Shearer from right wing bloggers and media even before he threw his hat in the ring (watch Q&A TV1, Sunday after the election) is cause for concern- wolf in sheeps clothing? I know he has a good backstory, blah blah, and the nonsense about similarities to Key while painting Cunliffe as being smug and arrogant but unfortunately I don’t buy the pro-Shearer propaganda.

      I know Cunliffes stands for the traditional principles of the Labour Party, he certainly has the backstory on this score. Shearer as leader invokes the fear of the possibility of another Lange-style Labour government of the 80’s, probably more tempered, but possibly continuing along similar lines to the Key government. Shearer needs to make clear on where he stands on this forum to allay these fears.

      • Carol 20.2.1

        I agree on being wary of what would be involved in Shearer’s leadership.

        However, I think Shearer might respond with a post on this blog. But Shearer always seems to be a bit slower off the mark than Cunliffe… or than Robertson. eg Cunliffe was very quick to reply to comments about his speech summary on Red Alert, while it took Shearer 24-48 hours longer to respond to comments about his speech.

        This is a big limitation on Shearer as leader of the party. He just does not seem up to speed.

  20. dancerwaitakere 21

    You didn’t mention Shearer at all, and how you would fit in with his vision? And his, with yours.

    • Colonial Viper 21.1

      hey yeah…Grant didn’t say a single thing about Shearer, just that he is going for the deputy position 😯

  21. Outofbed 22

    So why the leadership contest now?
    Why not a year ago?
    If Cunliff. Shearer or Robertson are so wonderful and able to take the fight to Key
    Why did they not roll the unpopular Goff back then?
    Why are they more able to beat Key now then a year ago?
    It turns out a couple of % difference and we would not have a National GOV ( rolling Goff with one of these wonderful inspirational contenders would have done the trick wouldn’t it?
    I can only conclude that the contenders were more worried about there own personal ambitions then the good of NZ and Labour
    I will vote Green or Mana next time

    • Colonial Viper 22.1

      Why did they not roll the unpopular Goff back then?

      You may have a point. However, the Labour caucus is a democracy when it comes to choosing leaders, and there is acknowledgement that Goff did damn well in the last month or two of the campaign.

      If Goff and King had a strong minority of MPs behind them, and the remaining MPs (even if a majority in total) were split in support between Cunliffe, Parker and Robertson, no leadership change would have been possible.

      Remember, hindsight is always 20/20, and the media would have made mincemeat of Labour for changing horses during an election year.

      Look at what Gillard has done (been unable to do) for the ALP.

    • dancerwaitakere 22.2

      … the people running have no choice whether there is a leadership contest. Phil Goff stood down.

      What a stupid comment. This argument could be applied to ANYTHING. It is the same as when the tories say “Well why didn’t you do a capital gains tax last time”. Stupid arguments founded on stupid logic.

  22. Blue 23

    Grant Robertson is still on my shit-list for the decision to try to downplay Phil Goff during this year’s election campaign.

    For someone who claims strategy is his strength, that was a very poor showing.

    Backing Shearer is also not the wisest idea Grant’s ever had. I don’t have much confidence at all that these two could lead the party in the right direction.

    • Bunji 23.1

      I don’t know that that was Grant’s decision to make Blue.

      He was campaign spokesperson, Trevor was Campaign strategist. But the decision to lessen the emphasis on Phil was made with full buy-in from caucus (which does incl Grant…) and indeed Phil himself. I don’t think it was necessarily the wrong decision – John Key, no matter how we might feel about him, is an incredibly popular politician. National’s policies however aren’t popular, so Labour chose to fight on the more friendly (and important!) ground of policy.

      Of course Rovian theory says you should attack your opposition’s strengths, not weaknesses (because then they’ve got nothing left), but every time Labour attack John Key they go down in the polls…

      • Blue 23.1.1

        Fair enough, Trevor probably had a strong hand in the decision too.

        It was the wrong decision because it made it seem that Labour’s own caucus had no faith in Phil, and with a leader who’s been dogged with leadership rumours for months beforehand that was not the image Labour needed to be projecting.

        Their lack of faith and lack of loyalty was appalling. Phil held his own, and he didn’t need to be hidden away.

  23. red blooded 24

    While it’s good to see you reaching out and making the effort to get in touch with Labour supporters, Grant, it seems to me that most of what you say in this post could/would be said by any Labour MP at this point in time, and that unless one is close in enough to the contest to know the contestants well, this basically comes down to 2 questions:
    1) Who has the vision and personal skills to unite and energise the LP?
    2) Who has the persona, debating and media skills to tackle John Key?

    Whether we like it or not, the question of deputies seems to be almost a side issue, simply because other camps have now put up ‘teams’. The real decision is Shearer or Cunliffe, with the knowledge that Robertson and Mahuta are part of the mix.

    To be honest, I’m not sure about the answer to q1. It seems to me that the clear answer to q2 is Cunliffe. Having said that, the limited public comment (as opposed to media “commentators”) I’ve seen has favoured Shearer. If I had to say why, I think I’d say people like his backstory and maybe see him more as an ‘everyman’ figure; more approachable. I don’t think these are the most important qualities in a PM, though, and Cunliffe is certainly more incisive and knowledgeable.

    • lprent 24.1

      Just to clarify. The vote for deputy is actually a separate vote in caucus. It is more a preference rather than a ticket being expressed.

  24. We can not shy away from that defeat, and the importance of learning lessons from it. We do have to search within ourselves to find the reasons and to address those reasons.

    We need to open up our party to new people, new ideas and new ways of doing things. We need to listen.

    Hows the soul searching going ?

    What lessons have you guys learnt so far ?

    What reasons have you come up with and how do you plan to address them ?

    Shame the list got fucked up and 3 of the most inspiring fresh talent you had got turfed…Sepuloni, Davis and Nash eh ?

    Rather than trying to find a new way to ease the old guard aside the Goffs, Kings, Mallards Cosgroves and Dysons et al… just do it the old fashioned way.

    New ideas come from new ways of thinking and the desire to listen, even to lone voices in the wilderness and to not be scared to just put shit out there and see what bounces back.

    Doesnt seem to be much listening going on or new thinking.

    But whatever…

    Good luck with your campaign and know this, whoever gets selected is gonna get 8 months grace from me. If they haven’t sorted Labours shit out by then i’m gonna join the party and do it for ya’s 🙂

  25. venezia 26

    I heard all four contenders speak last night. I am not an expert in anything. I renewed my Labour membership (after being lapsed since 1985) in the weeks prior to the election afterhearing Goff against Key in the debates. All four candidates impressed me. I like what I heard from both Davids. Both would be competent leaders I would feel happy with. I am glad I do not have to choose between them. I came away from the meeting feeling quite inspired, that if we have that calibre of Labour MPs going into the future, we have a chance of leaving a decent country for our grandkids. I will be actively behind preparations for the next election; maybe this will be the greatest benefit of the travelling road shows. They should do it more often.

  26. Fisiani 27


    I would not trust him.

    [lprent: If you want to frame something as fact then you have to explain the sources (ideally by linking). If you want to express opinion that embeds fact the you need to show the speculative links, ie support why. Otherwise it is simply defamatory.

    I removed everything from your comment that didn’t pass. That was most of it. There was one sentence left which was pure personal opinion.

    It is a hardly surprising opinion from a such a strong right supporter isn’t it? I really don’t know why you bothered. ]

    • Fisiani 27.1

      Which part of secret do not understand?

      [lprent: The one that says that it is our arse on the line, not yours. I’d suggest putting that particular unsubstantiated and rather badly thought through ‘secret’ up at Whaleoil. More of his style and he has had more experience with the courts. ]

  27. Pete 28

    I had a look at the Google Insight data for Grant, Nanaia, D.C. and D.S. and it’s quite interesting. There’s a sizeable peak for Shearer on 1 December, but it has leveled off with as of today, slightly more searches done on Cunliffe, but it’s neck-and-neck.

    You can check the data at http://www.dft.ba/-1bR7

  28. SHG 29

    Labour needs front-benchers who can hold their own in the House. Grant Robertson does not strike me as able to do that.

    E.g 3 months ago he fumbled his way through a piece of routine Parliamentary business apologising as he went for his lack of understanding and for the fact that he is “a relatively new Member”. Not exactly inspiring stuff.

    House footage:

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