One from each side of the politician-journalist relationship, both from one article…
Firstly Tracy Watkins on a Grant Robertson win:
That could see more ill-feeling spill over in public at the November conference, and reopen the wounds from last year when rank-and-file members revolted against the caucus over their appointment of David Shearer as leader against the wishes of party members. That resulted in the wider party effectively stripping MPs of the power to control the appointment process.
No, that’s plain wrong. The membership did not “revolt” over Shearer’s appointment* and strip MPs of the power to control leadership appointment. The 40:40:20 rule came from a constitutional review set-up in the wake of the 2011 loss, a review that was co-sponsored by Moria Coatsworth and … David Shearer.
Journos like everything to be about the latest Beltway manoeuvrings, but sometimes things are part of something bigger. I was very frustrated at last November’s conference when journos were focussing on whether Cunliffe was plotting or not and missed the bigger picture of a major party in New Zealand instituting a much greater level of democracy. Something that was going to change the game of politics for the next decades, not next days.
We are now seeing the first results of those changes (along with a member-driven policy platform with which manifestos must be consistent) and still the journos can’t see the big picture.
The other mistake is the main source of the article. A bitching MP.
One can guess that it must be one of a couple of members of the Old Guard likely to be relegated as caucus re-calibrates to bring all its groupings together. But seriously: briefing that there is going to be a front-bench bloodbath if Cunliffe wins (denied by Cunliffe & his team) is going to massively play into National’s hands.
National are desperate to portray this as a divisive not unifying process, and the media would love that story too.
Don’t hand it to them on a plate with comments on a Cunliffe win like:
“I reckon we will know in the first week or so how it’s going to go. If he can’t bring the group together then he’s shot.”
“He has spent the last five years either undermining or pissing off his colleagues . . . he may surprise us, he may come out of this knowing he doesn’t have the confidence of caucus and say ‘OK, what do I do to get their confidence’. There might be some personalities on his side of the fence who say there’s going to be some utu here.”
I’m looking forward to the result at 2pm (leaks no doubt starting soon after voting closes at 12….), and all MPs showing unity and discipline and not briefing against the new leader…
* Actually I think many members of the media (as well as Standardistas) would be surprised how many members supported Shearer’s appointment even if most activists wouldn’t have chosen him, if informal polling of members of my Auckland electorate at the time is anything to go by. We had a small majority of those who replied amongst the wider group of members supporting Shearer, however most of the core group who actually do the work would have voted for Cunliffe if the current rules had been in place. Results may well have varied in other electorates of course.