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Labour’s review – a good job well done

Written By: - Date published: 2:20 pm, July 17th, 2012 - 42 comments
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I’ve just got my summary report on Labour’s organisational review, emailed to me as a member from President Moira Coatsworth, with a link to the website – things have certainly got better since my day!

On a quick first look, it seems to be a very good job. It is interesting to contrast with National’s review after their 2002 defeat. Labour has gone for more openness, diversity and participation, where National went for corporatisation and centralisation. Labour’s review also comes out in the week before National’s annual conference, described thus by Colin James in today’s ODT (not online):

The country’s leading fearful party meets in conference this weekend. Delegates will be cajoled, cosseted and secreted from controversy. It seems that the more taxpayer money the bigger parties get the less they feel accountable. Their excuse: the media these days will overplay any tiny disturbance and voter perception of disunity is a killer. John Key used this rationale two years ago to put firmly in place a delegate who objected (in a secret session) to hermetic seclusion.

Labour’s review has addressed a number of critical issues. Values are central; they will be brought up to date and incorporated in a policy platform, which moves past the prescriptive process introduced as a reaction to Rogernomics and which will allow for much more open debate at conferences. Member recruitment will be encouraged with a koha facility for young joiners, and increased opportunity for  affiliations from Maori organisations and community groups. Local structures will be freed up from procedural restraints to focus on engagement, debate and campaigning. Training will support a strategic focus for candidates and the 38-member Moderating committee will be replaced by the New Zealand Council plus 3 MPs for list selection.  A Management Committee of the Council including the Caucus leadership will ensure a strong relationship between Party and Caucus, essential for strategic campaigning.

That’s just a taste; there’s lots more, and it’s all on the website. A third feedback round is now under way, with comments invited. Go for it.

42 comments on “Labour’s review – a good job well done”

  1. Carol 1

    Well this looks like progress::

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/7293348/Unions-gain-Labour-leader-vote

    Labour has settled on a new way to select its leader, which gives members and affiliates, including unions, a say and puts sitting MPs in a minority.

    Under the current rules, only MPs vote on the leader, but under the proposed rules – due to be signed off at the party’s annual conference in November – MPs will hold 40 per cent of the vote, members 40 per cent and affliates 20 per cent.

    But this is not so great:

    Under the draft rules a leadership selection would be triggered when the position of leader became vacant or when two thirds of the caucus petitioned the party president for one.

    But this seems a little better:

    Otherwise, as a matter of course, a caucus vote on the leader would be taken no later than three months after a general election.

    If a majority at that vote did not endorse the leader, that would trigger the party-wide process to pick a leader.

    Voting will be preferential and concurrent in all cases.

    In the current term the endorsement vote by the caucus would take place in 2013.

    So is there an endorsement vote at the beginning of each year?

    • Pete 1.1

      It means that we as members – I assume you are a member – have our imput into the selection of a leader, but we can’t roll one. And I suppose that makes sense, otherwise you could well have a bunch of cuckoo-like members joing Labour’s ranks in order to sow division and discord. Imagine if a bunch of National surrogates joined Labour 6 months out from the election to shaft whatever leader the party has.

      I’m quite pleased with the outcome of the review.

      • Carol 1.1.1

        No I’m not a member, but I want to see a strong and democratic Labour Party. I’m still mulling over the ramifications of the endorsement votes by caucus. However, your point about imposters skewing the system is a good one.

      • Te Reo Putake 1.1.2

        ” And I suppose that makes sense, otherwise you could well have a bunch of cuckoo-like members joing Labour’s ranks in order to sow division and discord.”
         
        I’m pretty sure we saw that in the eighties, Pete! Prebble bussed in dozens of token members to rort branch and regional meetings so as to allow the Douglas faction their idealogical coup. The irony of it was that most of the phantom members were working class people who suffered the most from the ACT economic program as it was rolled out.

    • Te Reo Putake 1.2

      “So is there an endorsement vote at the beginning of each year?”
       
      That’s not how I read it, Carol. It would potentially be destabilising to have a yearly vote (think about those bogus ‘Goff to be rolled’ stories we had to put up with for the last 3 years). But an endorsement post-election makes sense, as does giving the caucus the ability to trigger a vote. If any leader lost the trust of two thirds of the caucus, you’d have to think they needed to go.
       
      But the best bit, really, is widening the vote out to party members and unions. What a fantastic opportunity to build party membership that is!

      • Pete 1.2.1

        Don’t forget Labour’s just asking for a koha for new and young members, not a set amount. Which reduces the barrier to membership quite significantly.

      • Carol 1.2.2

        Thanks, TRP. I was puzzled by the mention of an endorsement vote in 2013. But this Herald article clarifies that;

        http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10820222

        The Council has also recommended that current leader David Shearer face his first confidence vote in February next year, the timing which was required under the current rules.

        The changes to the party’s Constitution will be made at the annual conference in November, although they are still subject to possible change.

    • Bunji 1.3

      Not each year, just each term. It used to be standard to do it midway through, now it’ll be at the start.

      Membership causing a contest would have to involve getting the signatures of a lot of members, and how destabilising would it be to have a campaign trying to get all those..? So i think it has to be MPs as the trigger (unless someone has some particularly bright idea as to how members can do it).

    • And lets give Moira Coatsworth a big thank you for the work she has done on the review and leadership selection. A president to be proud of its a pleasure to work with you Moira .

  2. captain hook 2

    now some good policies and Labour will roll this government of carpetbagging non-entities.

    • Populuxe1 2.1

      It should probably also roll a few carpetbagging non-entities of its own.
      I note after David Parker revealed that Labour had no problem with selling telecommunications and electricity generation
      http://www.labour.org.nz/news/robert-walters-finance-breakfast-speech
      he also admits that selling assets drives up power costs.
      http://business.scoop.co.nz/2012/07/17/asset-sales-push-up-energy-costs/
      WTF is going on with Labour?
       

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1

        WTF is going on with Labour?

        Fucked if I know. They seem to be as completely clueless and disconnected from reality as National these days.

        • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1

          Its actually very easy to understand what is going on with Labour.

          1) The right wing of caucus is the constituency in charge currently.

          2) This consituency believes that ‘actively engaging’ with corporate interests, the professional class and the soft-voting comfortable middle classes is how to win 2014. Policy platforms likely to energise the base and the 1/2 million Labour supporters who didn’t bother to vote in 2011 to turn out is not priority.

          3) Day to day responses to issues are highly driven by regular internal polling. The Greens and NZ1 can repond to issues far more quickly and authentically because they are not waiting for polling results to tell them which way the wind is blowing.

          4) Labour strategy is to not rock the boat with defining policy leadership positions and to manage trends in polling numbers in such a way that victory will occur in 2014.

          5) The support and viewpoints of the membership are both taken too much for granted.

          6) Innate assumptions that a highly free market globalised BAU can continue over the next 10, 20 years with lip service paid to the contrary, but an unwillingness to advocate for serious strategies (beyond say setting aside $50M here and there for this green growth fund or that R&D tax credit etc).

          7) Labour has become very focussed and occupied with the complexity of its internal bureacracy, internal politics and overhead administrative burdens. In other words, much time and energy has to be spent on simply running Rome.

      • Bunji 2.1.2

        Populuxe1 that’s not what David Parker’s speech says, Chris Trotter’s rant aside.

        It’s setting out which sectors are completely stopped from foreign sale. So whether Contact Energy shares owned by foreigners can be sold to foreigners. Whether Vodafone could buy Telstra.

        The whole last election Labour fought on not selling assets. A huge amount of effort from the party and caucus is going into the Citizens Initiated Referundum and other campaigns to stop National’s stupid sales.

        Labour most definitely does have a problem with selling nz-owned telecoms and electricity generation, but it won’t stop foreign investment in those areas.

        • Colonial Viper 2.1.2.1

          Labour most definitely does have a problem with selling nz-owned telecoms and electricity generation, but it won’t stop foreign investment in those areas.

          Seriously, read this sentence and tells me what it even means? Its a statement that only a policy wonk could reconcile.

          So Labour has a problem with selling nz owned power generation, but foreign buyers into that same generation is OK??? With all due respect, wtf? For there to be an investor who buys in, doesn’t there need to be us on the other side selling them the shares?

          It’s setting out which sectors are completely stopped from foreign sale. So whether Contact Energy shares owned by foreigners can be sold to foreigners.

          If this is true its actually a huge step to the left for Labour.

          Stopping foreign investors who already own an asset from seeking any other foreign buyer for their shares. They would have to sell to NZers or to the NZ government only.

          It is the first step on the path to nationalising some of these assets.

          Is this what Labour intends.

  3. Olwyn 3

    I take it that with the endorsement vote, a simple majority either confirms the leader or triggers a leadership vote, whereas a two thirds majority from the caucus would be needed to trigger a vote outside of the formal occasions for doing so. Is that right? One would assume that over time, the new rules will bring about more continuity between members and caucus, so that if the majority of members were unhappy with the direction caucus was taking, the latter would be pressed to take note.

    I am not knowledgeable enough, however, to grasp what the shift from prescription to values will mean on a practical level. It sounds like something that will demand good faith on all sides.

  4. Dr Terry 4

    For rather large generalisations this all sounds fine and promising. What will truly count, however, is when they are boiled down to specifics (eg whose values and what values?) It is still a waiting game. Hope for anything other than Utopia!

  5. BillODrees 5

    1. Shearer won the Leadership vote last November on a simple majority vote. The count was very close.

    2. Shearer said the selection process was inadequate and needed to be changed. What a courageous decent strong guy, we all said.

    3. Shearer changes the rule to a 2/3rds majority vote to remove him. What type of guy does that, we all say. 

     

    • Te Reo Putake 5.1

      ‘cept this isn’t Shearer’s review. If you’d stopped at two, you’d have been mint, Bill.

      • BillODrees 5.1.1

        @TRP
        David Shearer has missed the one opportunity he had to legitimize his leadership by getting unequivocal broad based membership and party support.
        David Shearer did not have the support oF the membership after the Leadership Roadshow but narrowly won the Caucus vote. He himself and then Moira acknowledged that the process needed to have more legitimacy. That was an explicit and inherent acknowledgement that he needed to get clear and explicit membership endorsement.
        He has chosen not to give the membership an opportunity to endorse him.

        A sign of weakness.  Not the behaviour of a courageous leader. 

        • Te Reo Putake 5.1.1.1

          This far from a sign of weakness, and again, you miss the point. This is not Shearer’s review; it’s ours. I am totally in favour of the leader having a set term to do his stuff. It works in sport, it works in business, it works in unions, too. Sackings should only occur for genuine failure, not because the msm slavishly follows Crosby/Textor’s lines and works to undermine Labour’s leaders. The higher bar for caucus to initiate a spill is excellent and will stop dreamers, dimwits and wannabees from stirring the pot.
           
          In Goff’s case, he’d be Prime Minister today if it wasn’t for a 3 year campaign suggesting he was going to be rolled any minute, combined with the last month of the election’s line that the outcome ws a done deal, so if you don’t like National, don’t bother voting.
           
          I wanted Cunliffe as leader.We got Shearer, who turns out to be pretty good anyway and Cunliffe continues to do great work as part of the caucus team. Now we have a serious response to the call from the membership for organisational renewal and Moira and her team have delivered. I was at a branch meeting last night and the response was overwhelmingly positive. The conference later this year is going to be a terrific occasion and for the first time in yonks, I’m actually keen to go!

          • Olwyn 5.1.1.1.1

            This is the bit I don’t understand: will the endorsement vote in February require 67% to bring about a leadership vote, or will a simple majority do it? I do understand that you cannot roll a leader without the 67% support, and think that is a good thing. But I am not sure whether an endorsement vote counts as that, or even whether the new rules will apply to it in this instance.

            One further thing: I think that the leadership review after a lost election should be within six months, not three. The lay of the land is not apparent immediately after an election, and good policy direction depends on having a reasonably clear idea of what you are up against.

            • Bunji 5.1.1.1.1.1

              Endorsement votes are on a simple majority.

              • Olwyn

                Thanks Bunji

                • Colonial Viper

                  This February’s vote remains a simple majority. But it is the last one at that level and it changes after that to 67%. Held within 3 months of each election AFAIK.

                  • Te Reo Putake

                    Not so, CV. The February vote will be the last under the current rules. Future 3 months post election endorsements will still have the 50% plus 1 formula, as I read it. The 67% mark only applies to caucus sponsored spills, not the post election endorsement. I expect this aspect will probably get a lot of discussion at conference, because it’s important to get it right.
                     
                    Regarding a caucus revolt, if I was an unpopular leader, I would take the hint if more than half my colleagues wanted me gone, so it wouldn’t need 67% to end my inglorious reign!

                    Edit, from the mail out: “As a matter of course, no later than three months after the date of a General Election there will be a Parliamentary Caucus vote to endorse the Party Leader or initiate a leadership election process, with endorsement of the Party Leader requiring support of 50% plus 1.”

          • the pink postman 5.1.1.1.2

            Well said Te Reo .The Cambridge Branch put in a membership election remit in the 1980s and every year since .It now looks as this is now under Moira Coatsworth going to happen, This will make the Labour Party the most democratic party in Aotearoa Im proud of that fact. So now perhaps all the Tory critics who regulary soil our left wing Standard will now piss off and go and annoy their own useless lot . I subscibe to the Standard because I enjoy sensible debate from genuine people of the Left not to hear the continuous harping of Right Wing groaners ,

            • Te Reo Putake 5.1.1.1.2.1

              Cheers, Postie, you’re an inspiration to us all. You may not be delivering the mail anymore, but you’re still delivering the truth!

    • Pascal's bookie 5.2

      Not my party, so I haven’t been following the nitty gritty, but what the hey right…

      I assume that 2/3 majority vote Bill’o is talking about is something along the lines of; ‘It would take a 2/3 vote of the parliamentary caucus to remove a leader’ ?

      If that’s not what he’s talking about then I obviously withdraw the following, but if it is, then…

      What in the name of all living crawly things and them what eat them would it take to please the self sanctified bloody party membership of the Labour Party??

      There is no bloody use whatsoever, none at all, in having a parliamentary leader that doesn’t have the support of her/his caucus. Recipe for fucking fail.

      If the membership is that far out of kilter with the caucus that they can’t stand the leader the caucus wants, then it’s candidate selction that’s the problem, not the leaders ballot. seriously.

      And that rule? A rule that says it takes 2/3 of caucus to remove a leader? Who benefits from that? Not the fucking caucus that’s for sure.

      What that rule does is prevents, for an example plucked out of the air, an Anyone But Cunliffe faction removing Cunliffe should he get elected by the broader party over the heads of a simple caucus majority. And people are bitching about this?

      Isn’t that what y’all have been crying about for lo these many months?

      You don’t know when you’ve bloody won.

  6. AmaKiwi 6

    The caucus still dictates to the members.  We all knew for 2 years beforehand that Phil Goff could not win but the caucus did not replace him. I worked hard and gave generously to the party.  Never again.  These new rules still leave the members powerless to remove a failing leader.  Either the members can initiate removal of the leader or I walk.

  7. QoT 7

    One simply hates to be picky, but you’ve got to be worried about any organisation which has to spell out “our actions will be in line with our values”. What else are they going to be in line with? And if you have to have a review to realise this, what were they in line with before? And what exactly are they?

    (Sorry, sorry, it’s just like so many bland organisational Mission Statements: “We will provide good customer service.” Unlike all those companies who want to provide bad customer service.)

  8. hush minx 8

    So some members this on the whole things look good with the review – others are deeply suspicous. Mmmm this sounds like a time for some clear communication from the party leadership over what exactly this means. It feels as if there’s some facets of how it’s all to work missing from the explanations to date – for example, if a leadership vote due to happen in 2013 which was a straight numbers game. but now takes 2/3 of caucus to trigger hasn’t the whole thing gone backwards in terms of accountability and process?

    • Carol 8.1

      Not entirely. I just read Claire Trevett’s piece in today’s Herald, headlining that the proposed new Labour system will make it harder to remove (or “dump” as stated in the headline) a leader.

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10820356

      Changes to the way the Labour Party elects its leader will make it much harder to mount a coup and effectively guarantees a leader’s job is safe in between elections barring a major caucus revolt.

      Now it struck me that, whatever the downsides to this for members, this is really bad news for the NAct and right wing MSM PR & black ops machine. During the last term, I wasn’t that keen on Goff as leader. however, once he was chosen I felt probably it was best to let him show what he could do.

      But NAct was onto his a*se from the get-go, calling him “Phil-in” etc. If it’s harder to remove the leader, that makes it harder for the right wing black ops brigade to keep calling for his/her removal. Although, I guess if the leader is performing poorly the black ops folk will just keep bleating on about Labour’s system that makes it hard to dump the leader mid-term.

      Better to get a high quality leader in the first place. The current problem with Labour seems to be that the right wing is calling the shots. So, the leadership issue is the tip of the ice-berg, and the problems very deep-seated.

      • Blue 8.1.1

        After reading Claire’s article I can’t help but think it’s a mistake to let the media’s piss poor behaviour dictate Labour’s organisational review.

        I can see why Labour wants to make it harder to dump the leader in light of the stupid reporting around Phil Goff last term. But that won’t fix the problem. There was never a realistic prospect of Phil being rolled and yet the media kept at it like a dog with a bone anyway.

        They’ll still run the toxic ‘leadership in trouble’ stories – it will only add more spice to add that even though the party is supposedly unhappy they can’t get rid of the leader because of the draconian rules around dumping one.

        Labour are only playing right into their hands.

  9. AnnaLiviaPlurabella 9

    Hi Hush Mink. Hopefully this is a short lived dinconnection from reality. There is the Conference in three months to fix these drafting glitches. If you are a member you have the same voting power as Mike Smith and Putake. Discuss and work with your branch and LEC. Enroll new party members. Get in the ear of your area rep, MP or list person . This problem us fixable. Keep the faith.

    • AmaKiwi 9.1

      Democracy:  A system of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people.
      Today’s Herald: The people of South Auckland can’t stop street prostitution.  Only Parliament can.  NZ is a parliamentary dictatorship.  I can’t think of any other country where local government is so powerless they cannot act on such a basic local issue as street prostitution.
      Bowalley Road highlights how dictatorial Labour Party decision making is.  With the overwhelming majority of Labour party members opposed to asset sales, Shearer, Parker, and the caucus have a retreat and decide the party’s new policy is, “It’s OK to sell power generation plants.”
      It’s time to bring democracy to the party and then the country.

      • Colonial Viper 9.1.1

        Today’s Herald: The people of South Auckland can’t stop street prostitution.

        So street prostitutes aren’t some times people of South Auckland as well?

        Do you think that people are serious about stopping street prostitution or are they simply interested in moving the street prostitution away from their own backyard?

        • QoT 9.1.1.1

          Read my mind, CV. (Danger: self-promoting link ahead) Apparently the problem is an evil cabal of Hamilton transvestites. Seriously.

          AmaKiwi: it might just be that the reason Parliament left local government “powerless” to “act” on street sex work is precisely because they knew every local authority would immediately do their best to re-criminalise it again.

          • AmaKiwi 9.1.1.1.1

            Reply to QoT from AmaKiwi:  It is irrelevant whether or not local bodies would have re-criminalized prostitution in their own communities.  Democracy means the PEOPLE decide.  In a democracy if you want to change a law you convince the majority of the voters to agree with you and decide by referendum.  In our elected dictatorship corporations make big donations to get MP’s to approve projects so the corporations can get rich on our tax dollars.
             

            • QoT 9.1.1.1.1.1

              WTF do corporate political donations have to do with decriminalised sex work? You also haven’t answered CV’s question, by the way.

              And frankly, on the issue of sex work “the people” tend to be massive fucking hypocrites. Clue: there wouldn’t be so many Scary Sex Workers in South Auckland if “the people” of South Auckland chose to stop paying for sex. They just want to have their cake and pretend it’s not there, and screw whoever gets endangered in the process.

        • millsy 9.1.1.2

          They are just a bunch of filthy god botherers who want to stick their noses into the sex lives of consenting adults.

          As for Labour, when they start working on presenting a genuine alternative to the bi-partisan neo-liberal consensus, then I might think about becoming a member or registered supporter.

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