web analytics

Labour’s Centenary History

Written By: - Date published: 4:29 pm, July 26th, 2016 - 12 comments
Categories: uncategorized - Tags:

Covering 100 years in 250 pages, Unity Books’ Tilly Lloyd’s review described Labour’s centenary history by Jim McAloon and Peter Franks as a ‘coherent skim.’ The book is overweight on earlier times and on caucus rather than party history in more recent times.  Prefaces and prehistory take 50 pages to  get to the starting line. The 23 years from Helen Clark’s accession to the leadership to the present is covered in as many pages. Of the 32 persons interviewed 28 were Members of Parliament. Surprisingly for a party history, Mike Williams, the second longest-serving President after Big Jim Roberts, was not included among them.

Much of the  early story is already well known, although the authors have unearthed some useful additional information from various university theses. The later controversies have not been put to bed as the authors editorialising is light-handed. What is absolutely certain is that this book is nowhere near the last word, particularly so in the case of the last thirty-five years. Further evidence for this is shown by the fact that the Labour History Project, chaired by Jim McAloon, one of the authors, has just advertised for an archivist to identify and collate Labour Party records.

The authors were at pains to state, rightly, that not everyone’s views could be included. but it is a pity for example that Graham Kelly’s caucus diary was not able to be set beside Michael Bassett’s published perception which colours a large part of the chapter dealing with the fourth Labour government.

Mike Williams’ omission is less understandable. He is pictured in the book as a staff member in 1981. By the 1984 election he was principal fundraiser and also ran the marginal seats operation. I regard him as one of the best political brains in Australasia, a view shared by the astute ALP Federal Secretary and later Minister Bob McMullan, who hired Mike out from under the New Zealand Labour Party in 1985. He was a consultant fundraiser and ran the direct mail campaign in the 1987 election. After selling his marketing business he was invited to be the campaign manager in 1998 and chaired the campaign committee. Elected President in 2000, as he relayed to the seminar associated with the book launch he had to personally guarantee a bank loan against his house in order to pay the party staff. He continued as a highly effective fundraiser throughout his term in office.

Mike’s dedication to the Labour party is visceral, and like Big Jim Roberts he had no aspirations for a parliamentary career. Helen Clark relied on his advice in her regular Sunday round of phone calls. Mike was also the brains behind the party organisation’s under-the-radar direct mail operation that made the crucial difference in the 2005 election, guaranteeing three more years of Labour policy achievement. Mike continues to offer astute political comment on Radio New Zealand’s popular Nine to Noon programme. Had the authors sought his input, I am sure that their assessment of the contribution made by the Party organisation over those years would have been much better informed.

12 comments on “Labour’s Centenary History ”

  1. rhinocrates 1

    Whatever he did in the past, based on his present performance, all Williams would have written is “Iagreewithmatthew Iagreewithmatthew I agreewithmatthew…” until someone tasered him.

  2. Anne 2

    I agree with you Mike Smith. I was introduced to one of the authors a few years back and he was very interested in my party background and took my contact details. I never heard from him again which didn’t surprise me. A comment I made subsequent to the show of interest was met with disapproval by his partner so I assumed that was probably the end of me. Perhaps something similar happened to Mike Williams. A bit of selective interviewing perhaps? Btw, I haven’t read the book as yet.

  3. Wainwright 3

    No surprises there. Everyone wants to go hooray hooray for Micky Savage and pretend the 80s didn’t occur and aren’t still a barrier to the entire socialist project.

  4. mickysavage 4

    I agree about Mike Williams. He was a very astute canny president and played a major role in the 5th Labour Government. Interesting the authors almost blame the Standard for Shearer’s demise …

    • Anne 4.1

      Interesting the authors almost blame the Standard for Shearer’s demise …

      That is indeed interesting mickysavage. I mentioned a bit of ‘selective interviewing’ in my comment above and it sounds like it’s true. The fact only 4 party or former party members (who often have the biggest trove of historical information) were interviewed, suggests part of the book at least has been somewhat skewed by the perception of the parliamentarians. 😈

      • Anne 4.1.1

        And the pertinent point to make about Shearer’s demise is that most party members who comment here were not anti Shearer- far from it. In my case I felt he was pushed into the role without sufficient parliamentary experience. And that proved to be the case as he, himself, probably now recognises.

    • Ovid 4.2

      Interesting the authors almost blame the Standard for Shearer’s demise …

      I knew setting up Standardista’s Elocutionists and Fishmongers was a bad idea.

    • lprent 4.3

      Interesting the authors almost blame the Standard for Shearer’s demise…

      I thought that was just amusing and a classic skim observation from the outside.

      My observation was that the NZLP members writing on The Standard tend to reflect what is happening in the party rather than drive it.

      The two trustees of the site, myself and Mike were of opposite opinions. Of the authors writing around the time before David Shearer resigned, the split was about 50:50 on if he should go or not. The commenters were probably a bit over that against David Shearer.

      But this really isn’t hard to identify. You can go into the Archives for the right months and just read the posts.

      Sure The Standard is influential in that it disperses viewpoints amongst people of the left. But it doesn’t drive them because it doesn’t run more than the most sketchy editorial policy (mostly influenced by not wanting to waste time in courts).

      Personally I think that the speech made by David Shearer about a sickness beneficiary up fixing their roof was the most influential effect in his demise. The best post on it here was from author Bill, who wasn’t a NZLP member (more of a gentle anarchist politically) but who was a sickness beneficiary.. It crystallised a lot of irritation about the direction that David Shearer was trying to drag the party towards into outright anger – and set the course of the tragicomedy that became the 2012 conference.

      Now you have to remember that the NZLP is a big broad party membership wide. For instance I’ve been generally regarded as being on the right of the party. I’m a economic dry liberal who recognises that companies are good at short term, but can’t plan coherently for more than 3-4 years. I’m a progressive social liberal simply because I think that generally people should be able to do what they want, up to the point where they impact badly on others – and the state is the most effective body to deal with those interactions. I’m irreligious but I tend to respect the strong set of social religious influences inside the party (as anyone who observes members of the labour party is aware, the social conscience religious are quite persistent and influential). I’ve never been in a union, but I’ve come from a personal and family management background that has always worked with unions, so I’m not terrified of the idea of workers working cooperatively like some of our anti-socialist nutters are.

      What I am not is a mindless knee-jerk envy conservative like the Pagani political model pushed, and that is exactly what that sickness beneficiary bashing speech was meant to appealing to. It just pissed me off.

      The 2012 conference had many if not most members wanting to change the way that the NZLP was operating. Primarily because the parliamentary labour caucus were (in my opinion) starting to behave like self-entitled arseholes. Many had gotten to the point that where they no longer listened to members in anything but a condescending manner. David Shearer and his advisers appeared to be right in the front of that from everything from his own electorate LEC through to the way that stupid idiocies like that bloody bennie on the roof speech even came to be contemplated. And I don’t think that many members were that happy with the way that a novice first term MP got picked by the parliamentary caucus because it was the only way to resolve their damn faction in-fighting.

      So the rules were up to be changed at the conference after a pretty major consultation. And they were. The first day went pretty well. The process got followed. The vote was taken.. Looked good.

      On the second day, some political morons were busy briefing the media that David Cunliffe was trying to undermine David Shearer and was planning to roll him. Which in my view and from what I was observing was complete and utter crap. However it was a good story to feed to media and give them a nice feeding frenzy (Paddy Gower playing 50 questions with a bailed up Cunliffe on the stairs being the most extreme version of it).

      For me, that was when I pretty well decided that David Shear was a political nincompoop and had to go as leader, and that I’d be voting party voting Green in the following election because I was sick of the idiotic antics in the Labour caucus destroying the hard work of NZLP members.

      I expressed that view on The Standard along with other more ‘left’ authors and commenters and there was a lot of discussion and argument between various people on here about it. But those discussions were also going in the background here and inside the party as well. The Standard simply made them visible to wider audience and made it harder to conceal a active argument inside the NZLP about direction. It was bad enough that the neglect of the party organisation over the 1990s and 2000s has diminished the membership so badly. But when the parliamentarians started to try to just ignore the remaining party members, they received some sharp lessons about involvement. Our novice and inept leader at the time, David Shearer, was just collateral damage.

      • Anne 4.3.1

        Great summary. Thanks Iprent.

        That 2012 conference is worthy of a remake into a comedy/drama. How I wish I was a shutterbug because some if the things I witnessed were so surreal, they were almost straight out of Alice in Wonderland. The most outrageous was seeing a TV1 crew (5 or 6 of them) draped around the door to the Men’s loo in the lobby. A few minutes later Phil Goff tumbled through the door and found himself cornered. He couldn’t move forward and he couldn’t move sideways. He looked thoroughly embarrassed but held his temper. The TV media ambushes and behaviour generally was so tacky and disgraceful that, with the benefit of hindsight, the L.P. hierarchy should have laid formal complaints to the respective news media managements.

        As for the sickness beneficiary up fixing their roof … it should be noted his main adviser at the time was one, John Pagani. From memory, Mr Pagani departed the political scene very soon after that debacle.

        But the most important thing to come out of that conference is that David Cunliffe did nothing to suggest he was conducting a leadership coup. On the contrary he seemed to be trying very hard to lie low. So the whole episode was reminiscent of the Liu affair… lies, more lies and incredible stupidity.

  5. Chris 5

    “Mike was also the brains behind the party organisation’s under-the-radar direct mail operation that made the crucial difference in the 2005 election, guaranteeing three more years of Labour policy achievement.”

    Spot the oxymoron.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Equitable response to Omicron vital
    The Green Party supports the Government’s decision to move Aotearoa New Zealand to traffic light level Red at 11.59pm tonight, but says its success will depend on the support that is made available to the most vulnerable. ...
    3 days ago
  • How we’re preparing for Omicron
    As countries around the world experience Omicron outbreaks, we’re taking steps now to ensure we’re as prepared as possible and our communities are protected. ...
    6 days ago
  • What’s Labour achieved so far?
    Quite a bit! This Government was elected to take on the toughest issues facing Aotearoa – and that’s what we’re doing. Since the start of the pandemic, protecting lives and livelihoods has been a priority, but we’ve also made progress on long-term challenges, to deliver a future the next generation ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Tackling the big issues in 2022
    This year, keeping Kiwis safe from COVID will remain a key priority of the Government – but we’re also pushing ahead on some of New Zealand’s biggest long-term challenges. In 2022, we’re working to get more Kiwis into homes, reduce emissions, lift children out of poverty, and ensure people get ...
    2 weeks ago

  • Government’s Family Package continues to deliver for New Zealanders
    The Families Package helped around 330,000 families in its first year - more than half of all families with children in NZ These families received an estimated $55 per week more from Families Package payments in 2018/19 than in 2017/18, on average Families Package increases to the maximum possible Accommodation ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 hours ago
  • New Zealand retains top spot in global anti-corruption rankings
    Justice Minister Kris Faafoi has welcomed news of New Zealand’s ongoing position as top in the world anti-corruption rankings. The 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index released by global anti-corruption organisation, Transparency International, ranks New Zealand first equal with Denmark and Finland, with a score of 88 out of 100. “This is an ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    15 hours ago
  • Testing improvements see New Zealand well prepared for Omicron
    New Zealand’s PCR testing capacity can be increased by nearly 20,000 tests per day to deal with a surge in cases as part of our wider COVID-19 testing strategy, Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall said. “We have continued to adapt our public health response to safeguard the health ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    20 hours ago
  • 5,000 portable air cleaners for schools on their way
    As schools are preparing to return, Education Minister Chris Hipkins has announced 5,000 air cleaners have been ordered for New Zealand schools. “As we know, along with vaccination, testing, good hygiene and physical distancing, good ventilation is important in minimising the risk of airborne transmission of the virus that causes ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • New Zealand to move to Red from 11.59pm today
    All of New Zealand will move to the Red setting of the Covid Protection Framework (CPF) at 11:59pm today as Omicron is potentially now transmitting in the community, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says. “Nine COVID-19 cases reported yesterday in the Nelson/Marlborough region are now confirmed as Omicron, and a further ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Mandatory boosters for key workforces progressing well
    More than 5,785 (82%) border workers eligible for a booster vaccination at 6 months have received it so far, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says. “That’s a really strong uptake considering we announced the requirement the week before Christmas, but we need to continue this momentum,” Chris Hipkins said. “We ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • NZ to move to Red
    Nine COVID-19 cases reported yesterday in the Nelson/Marlborough region have now been confirmed as the Omicron variant, and a further case from the same household was confirmed late yesterday. These cases are in a single family that flew to Auckland on 13 January to attend a wedding and other events ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New Zealand to provide further help for Tonga
    Aotearoa New Zealand is giving an additional $2 million in humanitarian funding for Tonga as the country recovers from a volcanic eruption and tsunami last weekend, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Defence Minister Peeni Henare said today. This brings Aotearoa New Zealand’s contribution to $3 million. “This support will ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Quarterly benefit numbers show highest number of exits into work
    The Government’s strong focus on supporting more people into work is reflected in benefit figures released today which show a year-on-year fall of around 21,300 people receiving a main benefit in the December 2021 quarter, Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni said. “Our response to COVID has helped ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Northland to move to Orange, NZ prepared for Omicron 
    Northland to move to Orange Rest of New Zealand stays at Orange in preparedness for Omicron All of New Zealand to move into Red in the event of Omicron community outbreak – no use of lockdowns Govt planning well advanced – new case management, close contact definition and testing rules ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • RNZAF C-130 Hercules flight departs for Tonga as Navy vessels draw nearer to Tongatapu
    A Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules has departed Base Auckland Whenuapai for Tonga carrying aid supplies, as the New Zealand aid effort ramps up, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Defence Minister Peeni Henare said today. “The aircraft is carrying humanitarian aid and disaster relief supplies, including water ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New Zealand prepared to send support to Tonga
    New Zealand is ready to assist Tonga in its recovery from Saturday night’s undersea eruption and tsunami, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Defence Minister Peeni Henare said today. “Following the successful surveillance and reconnaissance flight of a New Zealand P-3K2 Orion on Monday, imagery and details have been sent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Aotearoa New Zealand stands ready to assist people of Tonga
    The thoughts of New Zealanders are with the people of Tonga following yesterday’s undersea volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami waves, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta says. “Damage assessments are under way and New Zealand has formally offered to provide assistance to Tonga,” said Nanaia Mahuta. New Zealand has made an ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Record high of new homes consented continues
    In the year ended November 2021, 48,522 new homes were consented, up 26 per cent from the November 2020 year. In November 2021, 4,688 new dwellings were consented. Auckland’s new homes consented numbers rose 25 per cent in the last year. Annual figures for the last nine months show more ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Report trumpets scope for ice cream exports
    Latest research into our premium ice cream industry suggests exporters could find new buyers in valuable overseas markets as consumers increasingly look for tip top quality in food. Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash has released a new report for the Food and Beverage Information Project. The project is run by ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Honouring the legacy of legendary kaumātua Muriwai Ihakara
    Associate Minister for Arts, Culture, and Heritage Kiri Allan expressed her great sadness and deepest condolences at the passing of esteemed kaumātua, Muriwai Ihakara. “Muriwai’s passing is not only a loss for the wider creative sector but for all of Aotearoa New Zealand. The country has lost a much beloved ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Have your say on proposed changes to make drinking water safer
    Associate Minister for the Environment Kiri Allan is urging all New Zealanders to give feedback on proposed changes aimed at making drinking water safer. “The current regulations are not fit for purpose and don’t offer enough protection, particularly for those whose water comes from smaller supplies,” Kiri Allan said. “This ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Planting the seeds for rewarding careers
    A boost in funding for a number of Jobs for Nature initiatives across Canterbury will provide sustainable employment opportunities for more than 70 people, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says. “The six projects are diverse, ranging from establishing coastline trapping in Kaikōura, to setting up a native plant nursery, restoration planting ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • New Zealand congratulates Tonga's new Prime Minister on appointment
    Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta today congratulated Hon Hu'akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni on being appointed Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Tonga. “Aotearoa New Zealand and Tonga have an enduring bond and the Kingdom is one of our closest neighbours in the Pacific. We look forward to working with Prime ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago