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A new leader, a new era in NZLP democracy

Written By: - Date published: 9:50 am, September 15th, 2013 - 105 comments
Categories: democratic participation - Tags:

The election of a new Leader today will be a historic moment in the history of the New Zealand Labour party.

Regardless of the result, or who you voted for, this is a day to celebrate the party’s new democracy.

Update: from an email from Moira Coatsworth:

Today is the end of this extraordinary leadership election, but – more importantly – it is the start of new leadership for our Parliamentary Party. We may have made history with this leadership election, but the real history is made when we win government next year.

With a highly winnable but tough general election only 14 months or less away, it is critical now that we are united going forward and have a relentless focus on the campaign to win a Labour victory for our country. As you reflect on the result this afternoon I ask you to follow our three candidates’ inspiring lead and focus on two imperatives – unity and a Labour victory next year.

Update: Voting has now closed.

105 comments on “A new leader, a new era in NZLP democracy ”

  1. tracey 1

    Agreed. Its time to learn that losing is part of life and how you lose is more important than how you win

  2. vto 2

    Today is a day when politicians learn to listen to the people they represent.

    This is a lesson politicians always have to learn over and over again and again and again. So, which politicians will not learn this? ? ? and thereby destroy electability in the process ? ? ?

  3. Varity 3

    We’ll see. If the membership votes David and caucus still manages to install Robertson – more than a few will see it as the flawed process it is. Seeing that doesn’t necessarily make us ungracious if we lose all faith in the NZLP. Of course I’m hoping this will be a moot point.

    • Bunji 3.1

      caucus cannot “install Robertson” – even if all of caucus including Shane Jones & David Cunliffe himself vote for Robertson he will not get in unless he has some support from the unions and members. As it is he will need significant support from members to get in.

      We’ve democratically set up a process and whomever wins under that process is the fair winner. If caucus votes are weighed to a different winner that’s as it should be. We gave them an increased vote because we thought their opinions should have more weight. If you disagree with that then you should have protested more when we changed the constitution. As it was there was very little complaint at the time.

      So protesting the process only once your choice doesn’t win… well that smacks of being a poor loser.

      I’m sure the media (& Nats) will portray it as a party divided from caucus even if the caucus votes 51%/49% for one candidate and the party votes 49%/51% for another, despite the numbers being similar – we don’t need members encouraging them.

      • weka 3.1.1

        Yes and no. What is going to happen to Labour if Robertson is leader and nothing really changes in terms of direction and policy? It makes sense to give whoever gets in time to demonstrate where they’re going (unless by some cruel twist it’s Jones), but perpetual obedience to unity is not healthy if there are problems.

        • Bunji

          I don’t think we can change leader again before the next election and be electable. We’d be a joke.

          And policy isn’t down to the leader. Much as they can push, and choose what to announce. But even if it were entirely down to the leader – from the hustings there is no difference policy-wise between Robertson & Cunliffe.

          Indeed if people actual look at policy – under Goff we were the furthest left since Rowling, and under Shearer with our proposed major interventions in the Housing & Electricity markets we’ve moved further left. People are all too ready to classify leaders as “right-wing” but usually it’s because they couch stuff in language that doesn’t scare an electorate that can be uncomfortable with the idea of radical change (even if they might actually like the changes).

          • weka

            “But even if it were entirely down to the leader – from the hustings there is no difference policy-wise between Robertson & Cunliffe.”

            Maybe, but I don’t know if I trust Roberston yet to follow through. And there is the issue of the ABCs/old guard, and where Robertson stands in relation to that. Wouldn’t alot be dependent on who Robertson positions where?

            “People are all too ready to classify leaders as “right-wing” but usually it’s because they couch stuff in language that doesn’t scare an electorate that can be uncomfortable with the idea of radical change (even if they might actually like the changes).”

            Sure, but it’s also possible that Labour’s housing policy is simply centrist. We can’t afford another 3 years of Labour being worried about scaring the horses, or being happy to be Natlite. If Robertson becomes leader, I’m happy enough to give him the benefit of the doubt. But if it turns out that Labour is not really moving from where it is now, then that affects all of us and I can’t see people shutting up about it.

            • Bunji

              If Labour don’t move from where they are now – that’s still a massive jump to the left from the neo-liberal consensus since the 1980s.

              We’ll be revolutionising monetary policy, employment relations, the housing & electricity sectors, how we look after our kids… there’s a lot more than 3 years’ work in there.

              We’re a long way from 2008 (and there were still good policies in that Labour manifesto I’d like to see implemented…)

            • Draco T Bastard

              Sure, but it’s also possible that Labour’s housing policy is simply centrist.

              Nope, It’s massively right-wing. Labour must know how money is created (borrowing via the private banks) and they must also know that to “grow” the economy requires ever more money in the system. Labour’s housing policy increases borrowing thus increasing the amount of money in the system and therefore bringing about an illusion of growth. All it really does, though, is to increase the earnings for the banks as they get to create more money and charge interest on it.

              • Saarbo

                Fair point DTB, but given that they will inherit $70b of govt debt when (if) they win next year, what is the alternative?

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Telling people the truth about how money is presently created and then changing it so that government creates the money and does so at 0% interest. That $70b of debt? The government creates $70b of money and pays it off. No more debt and no more and the billions in interest that it presently costs us. Do that and then the government can create money to build state houses which can then be rented out on an as need basis.

              • Macro

                Exactly – but you try to tell that to the media – politicians – populace – and they will NEVER believe you!
                The problem stems from the inability of the general population coming to grips with what an economy is, and what it is actually for. The conventional wisdom as represented by the formal economists of Samuelson and his ilk is almost exclusively built on theoretical foundations of shifting sand, and unfortunately it is what is consistently presented. Fortunately there are folk around who are beginning to question these principles and are starting to gain a voice.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Exactly – but you try to tell that to the media – politicians – populace – and they will NEVER believe you!

                  Oh, I think they will – eventually. Just need to keep telling them over and over again and with the proof to back it up.

                  The problem stems from the inability of the general population coming to grips with what an economy is, and what it is actually for.

                  Well, considering that the economists don’t either I suppose that we can’t really blame them.

                  Fortunately there are folk around who are beginning to question these principles and are starting to gain a voice.


          • Mary

            “I don’t think we can change leader again before the next election and be electable. We’d be a joke.”

            I’m pretty close to thinking it’s all going to be one big joke anyway. Robertson is still a child and as a result he will not get in behind Cunliffe. He will whinge and moan and sabotage in ways that will only deepen the current divisions. The current situation does highlight the lack of depth within Labour but having said that Cunliffe, with the support of the caucus, has got what it takes to roll Key. The only trouble is that the caucus and Robertson will not him do that. I’m sick to death of even thinking about all of this. We need to concentrate on growing the Mana/Green vote. Let Labour do what it has to even if that means complete implosion and starting again from bedrock. Things seem so toxic within Labour i think that’s probably what’s needed, but I just don’t care anymore. Labour needs someone like Steve Maharey to ride into town to save the day, but what are the chances of that? Who’d even want to try working with such a spoilt self-interested child as Robertson? Or such a misogynist such as Jones? Hopeless, just hopeless. Come on Mana and come on the Greens.

      • lurgee 3.1.2

        We’ll see. If the membership votes David and caucus still manages to install Robertson – more than a few will see it as the flawed process it is. Seeing that doesn’t necessarily make us ungracious if we lose all faith in the NZLP. Of course I’m hoping this will be a moot point.

        This really is hopeless. Cunliffe hasn’t even won / lost yet and his supporters are alternately calling for a purge of the ‘ABCers’ and threatening to throw their toys out of the plan if their man doesn’t win. It’s pathetic. Either way, they’ve managed to besmirch the result – either they’ll start hollering for vengeance as soon as he is elected, or snarling about Cunliffe being blocked. Sadly, regardless of who win, today might be the day National wins the 2014 election, because it looks like some people are just not ready for grown up politics.

        EDIT – Lord, reading over, that looks depressing and negative. I’ll leave it up, because I think the point is valid, but I don’t want people thinking I’m trying to piss all over the new leader’s Big Day. It’s jsut I think some people already have.

        • The Al1en

          “This really is hopeless. Cunliffe hasn’t even won / lost yet and his supporters are alternately calling for a purge of the ‘ABCers”

          That’s twice you’ve wrote that this morning.
          Are you trying hard to save Trevor’s job?

          • lurgee

            I was referring deliberately referring to the previous post. Otherwise, my “Damned if Cunliffe wins, damned if he loses” comment wouldn’t make any sense. You kinda need two options in an either/or scenarion. If I’d not referred to the previous comment, I’d have had to post something like, “Cunliffe hasn’t even won / lost yet and his supporters are just saying, you know, stuff, and threatening to throw their toys out of the pram if their man doesn’t win.”

            Which would have have been a rather stupider post, I think you’ll agree.

            Not as stupid as typing ‘plan’ instead of ‘pram’ in the original post, of course. What sort of weird Freudian slip is that?

            • The Al1en

              So you’re not preaching unity just to save Trevor’s job?

              • lurgee

                No. No, heve you got something sensible to say other than petualnt distraction?

                • The Al1en

                  Nothing childishly sulky or bad-tempered about asking why you keep going on about lack of unity from DC supporters.
                  You being from Palmerston North and all, I was thinking what ulterior motive you could have and sought clarification.
                  If you say you’re not pro Mallard, then I believe you. 😉

        • Greywarbler

          Don’t know where you got your pseudonym, but one meaning is – Usage: I am ill with some sort of lurgee … Why don’t you take your own second thoughts to leave the vote outcome and considerations to those who really care about Labour and the labour movement, and make those your first thoughts. You are a person who needs a pill of horse tranquiliser size to cure you.

          • lurgee

            Radiohead song off Pablo Honey. I’ve been using it since the very late 90s on the internet. It was cool then, but less cool now I’m older.

            I’m responding here to the sickness of others. They are the ones needing pills and who need to put the interests of the party ahead of their wish to see their preferred candidate win. The two are not identical.

          • Chooky

            @ Greywarbler….lol

        • Tangee

          I think the Cunliffe supporters are optimistic because they have seen from polls and nearly most reports that Cunliffe being in the front and all. They will feel betrayed if he loses. I must say they really believe that Cunliffe is the only man that can win us the government which is a good thing for Cunliffe as there is already a base for him to start from. However we should also be prepared for Robertson to win.

      • Varity 3.1.3

        except he hasn’t won or lost yet so i’m not sure what your problem is with my protesting the process now. right? as far as i know “we” never got a say in how the votes would work and it’s not only my opinion that’s it’s a bit skewed.

        • lurgee

          You’re going to “lose all faith in the NZLP” because one good candidate loses to another good candidate? That doesn’t sound very big of you.

          (n.b. This assumes it is Cunliffe or Robertson. If Jones wins, I may join join you in the faith losing.)

          • weka

            Not everyone is convinced that Robertson is a good candidate (leader able to take the party left).

          • Varity

            lol @ yr nb … see!

            that said ‘if’ he loses i’ll try not to sulk too much and i definitely won’t be calling for a purge of the ABC’ers. ‘lost faith’ is just that. i’ll just walk away and try and find something in another party that inspires me.

        • Bunji

          Are you a Labour Party member? There was a massive democratic consultation process that went through several phases after the 2011 election, then through regional conferences until we had an eventual vote on the changes reached with a fair amount of consensus at the national Conference in November.

          Most of the changes (including this voting process) were approved unanimously / near unanimously. The only controversy was whether the caucus trigger in the mid-term compulsory confidence vote required 50%+1 or 60%+1 of MPs to trigger a vote. That was the “party-divided” and was Paddy Gower’s Cunliffe-coup. Everything else the major changes were agreed quite happily.

          If you’re unaware of / weren’t involved in the process and you are a member you’ve only got yourself to blame.

        • Stephen J

          ““we” never got a say in how the votes would work”

          They were discussed and debated for weeks and months before last year’s conference where the most contentious details were huge news (the threshold, remember) and the relevant constitutional changes were made. If you were a member, you had a say through the delegates your LEC or sector group or whatever sent, and through the submissions process that preceded the conference.

    • David H 3.2

      And if that happens the howls of derision from the Nat front bench will be deafening. They will ride Robertson, and snipe at Cunliffe, from behind huge guffaws at how there are a few in Caucus that are more interested in their own wallets, than the people that they purport to represent. You won’t need the Membership to go feral, the Nats will show you how feral they can be, if Robertson sneaks in.

      • Bunji 3.2.1

        The Nats will be nasty regardless of who wins. If Cunliffe wins without majority support of caucus they’ll be playing that up every bit as loudly until election. I think we can ignore their front bench, they’ll spin anything as negative.

  4. ianmac 4

    Watch the MSM today for a major announcement coming from National Studio of Distraction!

  5. Jane 5

    When and how is the announcement being made?

    • Te Reo Putake 5.1

      I believe it’s at 3 this arvo, Jane. Presumably there’ll be simultaneous releases on fb, twitter and, I guess, a press conference. I’d like it to be like the Oscars:

      “And NZ’s next Prime Minister is ….”

    • Bunji 5.2

      2pm. Media conference. But Members are to be emailed a few minutes prior with the result.

      • Te Reo Putake 5.2.1

        Cheers, Bunji, I would have been miffed if I’d missed it!

        • Bunji

          Oop, Moria’s email to members this morning says:

          You will get an e-mail the moment the results are announced at 2.45pm this afternoon. Both TV3 and TVNZ news will also provide a live stream on their websites.

          So evidently it’s been pushed back…

      • Vagabundo 5.2.2

        Cheers, came here to ask that very question.

  6. Nick 6

    *Popcorn ready*

  7. Blue 7

    The ABC club are already ‘celebrating’ democracy by smearing David Cunliffe on the morning of his probable appointment as leader:


    Classy right until the end.

    • lurgee 7.1

      Why assume it is ‘ABC’?

      The source of the ‘shot’ comment is identified as an ‘MP’. I think if it had been a Labour MP Watkins would have mentioned that. Probably just a National stirrer getting the first volley off.

      You’re doing National’s job for them.

      • David H 7.1.1

        Yep I have to agree. It’s more likely to be a ‘Mischievous Media’, rather than the specter of the Dead Ducks Club.

      • Bunji 7.1.2

        The source is later in the article identified as being from the “Robertson camp” – which ain’t going to be a Nat MP…

        • Draco T Bastard

          Are you sure about that? National were highly supportive of Shearer as well.

        • lurgee

          I must admit I didn’t read the e-version of the article all the way to the end. I did so later, while munching fries in Cafe Cuba.

          That quote from an anonymous someone on Robertson’s team, right at the end, is stinking.

          Doubt it is the same source as the ‘Shot in a week’ quote from the start – one is clearly identified as an MP and the other as a member of Robertson’s team. Whoever it is, they should join Curran on the scrapheap.

          Weirdly, the link above now leads to a story about Cunliffe’s victory. History being rewritten before our eyes?

    • Varity 7.2

      regardless of whether or not it’s suppose to be divisive … it’s actually quite heartening to see the caucus numbers tightening up. 3 hours to go. *deep breaths*

    • fender 7.3

      So don’t watch/ read it then. You’re an adult. Make adult choices. If others want to watch/ read it that is their choice.

    • Boadicea 7.4

      Ditto on TV3. Twit Hipkins backers insisting that it would be appalling to remove him from the Whip position.
      Moira’s call for unity does not mean give jobs to a nasty bunch of selfish bastards who hijacked this party for five years.
      Cunliffe should promote on Labour values and talent. The behaviour of a few like Hipkins, Curran, King is not an indicator of Labour values.

  8. neoleftie 8

    I was at the first roadshow with David David and grant on show. Vivid palpable and obvious rivalry from grant and co, this time the public perceptional face of the three candidates was three people with respect for each other, perhaps friends to some degree. Apart from a dog whistle of an too honest answer from Jenny by CC all was well. No inter factional fighting on display for the MSM to run with.
    So well done and please bring on a mature functional combined team approach to labour caucus where old and new, and some to come, talent all get on message and get labour and the left over the line next year.
    Oh time for the Next Way progressive system change to secure the people future in the face of uncertainty of climate change, energy issues, resource scarcity and unstable speculative growth factors.

  9. Sable 9

    I’ll cross my fingers on this one……

  10. Ad 10

    I was proud to be part of the great reunification.

    Hopefully 2014 is more All Blacks versus South Africa than Emitras Team New Zealand race 8!

  11. Francis 11

    Regardless of who wins this election, the real winners will be the Labour Party, the left, and democracy.

    The only looser is the Mainstream Media, who’s obvious bias and horrible tactics have most likely turned many left-wing people off them (certainly I myself will take anything I hear from them with a grain of salt even more so, from now on). Oh, and John Key, of course. You can expect any of the three new leaders to be hitting him hard, especially if they do it together (as they have proven they can do).

  12. Rogue Trooper 12

    from TeNation:
    SP-significant issue/s?
    GR- unity
    DC-renewal, unity
    SJ-conduct and behaviour 😉

    on CC and Jenny Michie-
    DC-“asked her to stand aside (for the benefit of the party)”
    GR-“CC entitled to her views, not how he would have put them”
    SJ-“would address CC’s disunity”.
    DC-“CC stepped outside conduct expected of a caucus member”

    SJ-“moving beyond the ‘fable’ of identity politics”:
    DC-“endorses this movement”

    GR-“i can leave the baggage of the past behind”! Really?!

    As this campaign has led to 1500 new members, or renewals, internal party democracy can only be a good thing!

  13. tricledrown 13

    1500 new members that has to have Nactional worried!

  14. newsense 14

    Enjoyed that Nation- felt really positive about these 3 taking the yoke for Labour for the next government.

    Cunliffe seemed the most angry at the corrosion of equality and the most vehement in stating Labour principles. Two things he’s said have impressed- today his statement about equality of opportunity irrespective of who you are and as he said at his launch ” We don’t pull the ladder up after us!”

    These seem to be things that matter to him, that get him worked up and good to see that it is a moral choice, within the economic one, a moral decision, a word that has been missing from the discussion.

    Cunliffe needs to learn to relax his body language a little- I saw him on Bomber’s show with Wallace Chapman ages ago and he was very relaxed. Just because he’s wearing a suit doesn’t mean he has to try to look CEO/stuffed shirtish- he should retain the relaxed outlook if he can…

    Jones looked very relaxed- concerned about his crusade against identity politics- equality is a popular value whether it be between sexes, of opportunity, races, or sexual orientation. Focusing people’s attention on Labour’s economic credentials won’t hurt though.

    Grant, as he looked when I watched him on backbenchers sums things up well, and yes a little like Big Norm.

    Lets not cry unity like Bush did after the stolen elections, lets cry unity of purpose a need to remind New Zealand about its Labour heritage and make some signficant changes of purpose in the future of the country…

    It would be good for the next leader not to be the president, but the captain of a team where he doesn’t need to do all the heavy lifting or always be the focus, but leads the ethic of the team and the spirit.

  15. Saarbo 15

    My 10 cent worth. If David wins he will sort things out, he is a clever bugger. One area where he is weaker than Robertson is his relationship with the media, in my humble experience this can be a function of what you LEAK to the media. So he needs to use Robertson’s strength here.

    I have no idea exactly what he needs to do to bring harmony into the Labour caucus but I am sure that if he wins he will have some pretty well thought out ideas on how to sort it out.

    Good luck David Cunliffe…if you win I’ll celebrate with a couple of Lion Reds (If I had an AK47 I would shoot it into the air to celebrate but I haven’t got one, always looks like a great way to celebrate to me!)

  16. Treetop 16

    I have to give a thought to Shearer today. When he resigned this would have been a hard knock to have taken in many ways. He took one for ALL the TEAM.

    The Labour caucus will need to follow his unselfish example and anyone who does not should not be there.


    Everyone in the Labour caucus had the oppertunity to stand as leader so no complaining about the new leader if your candidate does not win and put your energy into winning the next election.

  17. Varity 17

    cut the bullshit … it’s 3 minutes past two. who won?

  18. Chooky 18

    @ Varity …you have to wait till 3pm….agree “cut the bullshit”!….Shearer should never have become leader in the first place ….he was incompetent and inexperienced ( Key and National would have slaughtered him and the Labour Party at the next election)

    …..Cunliffe was the choice of the people….”Power to the People!”

    • Treetop 18.1

      I also agree that Shearer was out of his depth as leader. Credit where credit is due for the way Shearer exited (and you do not have to agree with me).

      I am a Cunliffe fan and I will back who ever gets the leadership due to the democratic process.

  19. Varity 19

    i’m waiting. another hour? 🙁 ok …

  20. Varity 20

    2.23 … just saying …

    • QoT 20.1

      Bunji already explained this for you two hours ago. The announcement’s scheduled for 2.45. Scroll up the thread and use your reading brain.

  21. xtasy 22

    All is generally and in principle good with that message from Moira. I have my own preference for who will be the new leader of Labour, but not being a member, and only a “former” reliable supporter, I will still need to look at what policies the party and leadership will hammer out in coming months and next year, and make my final decisions based on that.

    Of particular concern to me are social policy (especially fairer, respectful, fact based and inclusive welfare policies), environmental reform and new directions towards a truly more sustainable energy use system with better public transport solutions, and naturally also of course economic re-direction and better employment laws recognising the deserved rights of workers.

    So it will be up to Labour and the new leader to deliver. Personality is just one aspect to consider, same as importantly leadership, team building and speaking skills of the new leader. Policies are what really matter above all, and a new direction and convincing program with vision, passion and also rationale is the only thing that can send the fear into a rotten government, that deserves to be chased off the treasury benches now!

  22. Neoleftie 23

    I should think the usually horse trading went on at caucus.
    I also expect the leader to appoint the chief whip and also have a large say in deputy as well.
    For the unity expect bye bye time to one errant mp, a few retirees a few abc crowd to the backbenchers or demoted a bit but no wholesale slaughter.
    King goff way to experienced to lose.
    Look for David Clark as econ dev.
    Cosgrove might not get on the list or a seat come election and go quietly.
    Mallard will slip off to speaker next year.

    But there will be unity same as under Helen or this time the party itself will become the whip and keep everyone in line, members and caucus alike.
    Well my opinion I guess.

  23. Te Reo Putake 25


  24. geoff 26

    +50% CUNLIFFE!
    you beauty!

  25. fender 27

    Well done Labour.

    Well done David.

    Thank you all who voted for this result.

  26. One Anonymous Knucklehead 29

    Great news 🙂

  27. Tangee 30


  28. gobsmacked 31

    Cunliffe on first preferences. As predicted by me – 🙂

    Massive win, thanks to the others for making it a contest, but the choice is clear for ABC MPs now … support and shut up, or leave.

    Labour WILL win in 2014. Hopefully with the Greens.

  29. Jono 33

    Thank God, now for some strength through unity while the vulture and the hyena start circling the political corpse of John Key.

  30. Neoleftie 34

    Not who I voted for but the best person won.
    Now anyone heard regarding whip and deputy?

  31. Hami Shearlie 35

    One word – BRILL!!

  32. xtasy 36

    How things can change in the space of a few weeks. I thank David Shearer to finally have come to the inevitable, logical conclusion to step down months before a major conference, and well in time before the next election.

    Now it is David Cunliffe, he has no easy task, but he has just been given an overwhelming vote of support from the member base and from the affiliates, and caucus is now having to get in behind him, while he has about half of them back him after the 3rd runner would be counted out.

    Next step is to bring in new ideas and new policy proposals, to have them hammered out and voted on at the coming Labour conference, and to prepare for the great election next year (unless it may be an early one if Banks or Dunne may be thrown off course for whatever reason).

    This is the chance for Labour to renew itself from within, to get rid of some old dead wood, to work and get something put together, that will convince most New Zealanders, that the future will only be worth aspiring for, if all benefit from policies and plans being implemented.

    The clock is ticking for Key and NatACT now, tick, tick, tick, and we are waiting to see Key being sent off for early retirement in Hawaii, or for his “consultancy” job in Wall Street. One day Wall Street may also be closed down, to make room for economic and financial policies being made more by the representatives of the people, rather than the 1 per cent who manipulate the rest for their own benefits.

  33. Rhinocrates 37

    A great day for democracy in the Labour Party, as opposed to the corrupt travesty of last year’s conference.

  34. chris 38

    This has been a long time coming. The Labour party needs to continue gathering the momentum gained in the last few weeks.

    The election was the boot up the bum the party needed to get it motivated to win in 2014

    Congratulations David and team 🙂

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