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Opinion pieces on Labour

Written By: - Date published: 12:29 pm, April 17th, 2016 - 51 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, journalism, labour, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags: , ,

Largely prompted by our ongoing need to construct narratives out of the margin of error, there have been two opinion pieces on Labour this weekend. Audrey Young:

Labour’s new focus is all about the leader

I’m not sure the headline is correct, but never mind.

Frustration at fall in polls will blow over and party’s best shot at recovery lies with Andrew Little.

I’m in agreement there.

In another era, Labour’s poll dive this week would have sent the party into a spin. A whispering frenzy would have ensued about Andrew Little, who is the fifth Labour leader to hold the office to National’s one.

He should be more aggressive, some would have said.
He should be less aggressive.
He should go for John Key’s jugular.
He should avoid personal attacks on Key.
He should get rid of that lefty schemer Matt McCarten.
He should bring back that Australian strategist Mike Richards to put a bomb under everyone.
We need to cover our left flank. We need to move to the centre.
What do we stand for? Where are we going?

All these conversations took place this week but among the media, tweeters and observers, not in the Labour caucus. The caucus was disappointed at the poll but it was not spooked.

Little is the best leader the party has had since Helen Clark because he has controlled the factions.

This I think is a good assessment of Little’s major contribution, and the platform for moving forward. Little was sold as a negotiator and a unifier, and he has delivered.

The quickest way to deal with Labour’s identity problems over policy is to forget the policy and make it about the leader.

But here I disagree. Labour needs to deliver an coherent and positive vision and set of policies for NZ (preferably in conjunction with The Greens as a government in waiting). Labour’s recent focus on The Future of Work (and the role of Grant Robertson) is an example of this.

Establishing a negative impression of Key is everything; nuance is non-existent and facts are a luxury in this new clobbering approach of Little’s.

Oh please. Up against Key’s full scale embrace of dirty politics, Little’s “clobbering approach” is small-scale push back, and it won’t win any elections. As above, Labour needs the vision and the policies.

Let’s leave Young there and cross live to Heather du Plessis-Allan:

Labour needs a hero and a cause

Trouble’s brewing in the Labour Party. They’re talking of cutting Grant Robertson. They’re talking of cutting the chief of staff. Watch this space. That was two weeks ago. That was before the party hit 28 per cent in the latest poll. You can only imagine the plots being hatched involving Little, the candlestick and the drawing room.

HdPA bases this on a couple of claimed conversations, but I think Young has a better informed take!

Your problem is, despite many changes at the top, many years in Opposition, you are still completely unsure of what you believe in.

Oh bollocks – see below.

Labour has it tough. Labour parties across the world have it tough. These were parties formed to save workers from unjust working conditions. The parties have mostly succeeded. Workplaces and employment legislation is a million times better now than in 1916. So what does a political party do when its mission is accomplished?

That’s about as daft a piece of political “analysis” as I have ever heard. The struggle to protect workers is ongoing (see Talley’s and Bunnings for two current examples). And the changing nature of work is going to create huge challenges for the future (hence Labour’s Future of Work focus). Labour’s original mission is as valid as it ever was.

Unfortunately it’s all down hill from there. After some nonsense on the flag fiasco:

Labour told us it stood for free tertiary education for all. But, that just sounded like a crappier version of Helen Clark’s interest-free student loans.

Labour told us it stood for keeping Indian restaurant chef jobs for Kiwis. We pondered why we had never seriously considered a career as a chef in an Indian restaurant.

Being authentic is a difficult and brave thing to do. If it was easy, Labour would have nailed it. And yet it’s as simple as this: at its heart, Labour in 1916 stood for making things fairer. Labour in 2016 should also stand for making things fairer.

Gee thanks for the advice! Perhaps you might like to have a look at Labour’s Policy patform, which begins: “Chapter 1: Labour’s values 1.1 Labour’s values are enduring values. Our Party was formed in 1916 by working New Zealanders determined that the contribution of all people to our nation should be respected and valued. They strove then, as we do now, for a fair share for all, support for the vulnerable, and hope for a better tomorrow”…

Free Tertiary education, supporting NZ workers for NZ jobs, both things that you just finished making fun of, are also aspects of working for fairness, if only you could see it.

In the past fortnight, we found out how unfair tax is. Rich people with links to the Panama Papers dodge tax, Facebook pays us less than $50,000 tax in a year. The Government shrugs and looks away. There you go, Labour. Try fixing the age-old inequalities in tax. There’s something you can stand for.

I guess that’s why Labour is calling for crackdowns on tax havens, capital gains tax and the like. Sigh.

In closing, I have some suggestions for the media (fair’s fair eh!). Stop covering politics as if it was a horse race, praising “winners” no matter what their tactics and what the cost. Look outside the game to the purpose of the game, to the state of the county and the world. Less clickbait, more analysis of evidence. We as a country would be better served by better journalism.

51 comments on “Opinion pieces on Labour ”

  1. amirite 1

    It must be that the Nats’ internal polling isn’t that flash and that’s why their lapdogs in the media are on a coordinated attack on Labour.

    • Heather Grimwood 1.1

      to amirite: I have thought he same, and also, especially in the last fortnight, in the House.

    • Hanswurst 1.2

      … or simply that they don’t regard around 50% of the vote a bit over a year out from the next election as a position of safety, and thus are keen to keep Labour on the back foot.

  2. The Outrider 2

    The laziness and blatant inaccuracy of the HdPA piece in particular are indicative of the rapidly sinking standard of journalism in this country. By labelling it as opinion she has given herself license to report rumours as if they were fact. Name the insider and the heavy hitter. Now that would be fun to see. Until then I won’t be swallowing any of your inanilism, HdPA and co.

    • Brendon Harre -Left wing Liberal 2.1


    • Saarbo 2.2


      I struggle to see how National will lose many of its 47% – 50% support as long as it has NZME (Herald and 1ZB) doing its PR for it. Impossible for Labour to combat this.

    • NZJester 2.3

      I bet the insider and heavy hitter she got all the info from is HdPA herself.
      By insider she means she once saw a Labor party pamphlet in her mailbox that she never read and just tossed out and considers herself a heavy hitter.

    • Rodel 2.4

      I read this. Would anyone, even right wingers, take her thoughts (sic) seriously?

  3. mickysavage 3

    Good post. My blood also boiled when I read this. Labour has never wanted for policy and HDPA’s comments seem to be completely bereft of any understanding of this.

    • Reddelusion 3.1

      Don’t blame the messenger. Like it or not HDA opinion is that which is held by many sensible kiwis, hence the poll results’ wether you like it or not or your blood boils is irrelevant.

      • RedLogix 3.1.1

        When ‘sensible kiwi’s’ form their opinions based on reading inane, lying shit like this … what does that really make them?

    • Keith 3.2

      HDPA seems embarrasingly light weight all of the time. Her analysis made me think she has no idea what is going on out there with Labour. But who can blame her for being so ill informed and ignorant, the very media she is part of have swooned around Key for years and when they could be bothered simply looked down their noses at the alternatives.

    • TC 3.3

      She works for murky marks mediawonks mickey as such a natural extension of the DP/CT spin factory.

      Her and hubby from red neck radio ZB baz probably get briefed as a couple to save tIme

  4. newsense 4

    Do you think HDPA writes that? Worse for me was Newshub, major policy announcement: tax, no opposition take at all. Little on Shewin. No opposition visuals, flick to Key, it’s all crap he says. 5 mins, 2-3 mins of Key optics. Bill English in parliament and we get an uncaptioned Labour MP in parliament, no interview. That’s a problem. Nats as normal dominant. No or little opposition

  5. Atiawa 5

    The greatest loss for the modern day Labour Party occurred in 1991 when the Employment Contracts Act was passed. That Act seriously wounded organised labour by abolishing compulsory unionism.
    I don’t blame the last Labour Government for not reintroducing compulsion as the idea of forcing people to belong to a movement regardless of it’s value to those it represented would not be appreciated or understood by a work force who are obsessed by the mantra of individual choice (see smacking your children, light bulbs & shower heads if you have doubts), which has become further ingrained into peoples thinking through new communications technology, modern day media and advertising.
    The labour movement was the Labour Party’s infantry prior to 1991. Sure, a few of the troops were missing in action or turned traitor and went to the other side, but if for example house prices went out of kilter with incomes, or wages weren’t keeping up with inflation and greater productivity, a well resourced and powerful union movement was there to present the facts and ensure a fair(er) distribution of the country’s wealth.

    • Reddelusion 5.1

      Spare me please with such BS

      [RL: I’m very close to sparing the rest of us by banning you permanently. You contribute little beyond sour, sneering and demeaning drivel. This is the only warning you’re getting.]

      • DoublePlusGood 5.1.1

        Atiawa’s comment is thoughtful and reasonable. If you disagree, say why you diasgree, rather than just denouncing it as BS. Try harder.

      • reason 5.1.2

        Reddelusion should tell us more about the Deranged Key Syndrome that he knows about.

        A disease named after and displaying the symptoms of our prime minister.

        HDPA is a bit of lightweight like Soper and they do exist in the Thorndon bubble … She has to write something or she wont get paid.

    • Mosa 5.2

      The hard right revolution would not have succeeded without the 1991 anti union bill which has done untold damage to workers and those in salaried jobs half way up the ladder.
      2016 marks 100 years scince Labours creation to fight against the same scheisters we have today with a modern face and strangle and steal from kiwis with a smile and reasuring voice and promise a brighter future for those with wealth.
      Now with modern methods they are killing all the opposition in NZ that’s a fact.
      In the past this would have precipitated a revolution but the will to stand up has been taken away and our Lord’s and masters wave money instead of guns.

      • Atiawa 5.2.1

        Yes you are correct. Sword or pen stuff.
        Labour has a great policy to promote post secondary education.

  6. Mosa 6

    What helps keep the status quo is creating the perception that due to negative polling Labour is divided and the leader who ever it is is under threat.
    Its worked a treat,convincing the public that hate disunity that the present govt is safe and stable,yet these polls are suspect in the first place on how they are conducted to skew the figures.
    Labour and the left are trapped.
    When Winston goes up the talk is how National will have to deal with him at the next election which spooks right wing voters to come back and support Key and allow National to govern alone.
    Its manipulation at its best and another reason why you can’t trust the MSM in NZ.

    • ropata 6.1

      Yes, it’s called “class war” and the Nats will continue their dream run until the middle class has been hollowed out. One day Kiwis will finally wake up and realise that “our” country has been colonised by wealthy transnational elites, and all formerly public assets are now for profit enterprises owned by soulless corporations. We still have a mass exodus of young people because there’s no future in NZ for most of them. The govt is replacing them with millionaire migrants and their extended families.

  7. International Rescue 7

    McCarten is a liability. His plan that put together Dotcom’s moment of truth with Labours last election slogan was a miserable failure, and Labour’s rantings about tax dodging look hypocritical while it continues to employ McCarten.

    But Little is an even bigger liability. His political judgement is non-existence, his likability ratings sub-zero, and he the personality to match.

    Beyond that, the problems Labour have a irreparable. They no longer possess a viable message, even more so now that Little is chasing the hard left vote, which is in decline the world over.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      Oh, look at that, another RWNJ giving advise to the Left.

      • Scythe 7.1.1

        The irony of you calling anyone else a nutjob is hilarious.

        TBH the problem is that this site’s brand of 1930s leftism is dead, it lost, those who cling to it are the definition of losers.

        If Labour wants to win another election some time in the next 20 years it needs to strip out anyone who’s been in the party prior to the year 2000, guillotine all the union hacks, the retarded school teachers and the career politicians, and throw up a Kelvin Davis/Jacinda Arden ticket.

        Anything short of that means electoral obscurity for eternity.

        • BM

          Stuart Nash is about the only one out of the Labour ranks who’s got a chance of winning 2017 or probably 2020

          Little’s got about as much likability as weeping butt sores.

          • Scythe

            He’s not brown or female. Gotta tick those diversity boxes for whatever reasons.

            • joe90

              Yeah, man’s work.

            • BM

              All that internal back office shit has crippled Labour.

              Until they remove all the one issue wankers from all the layers of the labour party it’s going nowhere.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Did you notice the GFC?

          It was caused by the same policies as the Great Depression.

          What this means is that capitalism fails every time. It’s been failing for 5000 years. Hopefully we can learn that lesson this time and finally get rid of it.

    • Mosa 7.2

      Go back to sleep !

    • John Shears 7.3


    • ropata 7.4

      Ever thought of turning your penetrating insights on to the current pack of wankers in govt? 200+ documented lies, huge property portfolios, scandal after scandal, and yet somehow beyond criticism in the MSM… ever wondered why?

      • International Rescue 7.4.1

        The ‘lies’ are not lies at all. And you think Labour MP’s have no property? Remember Sue Moroney?

  8. reason 8

    International Rescue likes to have a good rant ….

    reminds me of a wordy Fizziass

    I bet hes a Neville no friends who smells bad

  9. Brendon Harre -Left wing Liberal 9

    I made the below comment on The DailyBlog -but it is worthwhile to consider the environment in which HdPA TV3 NewHub is working in. To consider that the entire Campbell Live team of journalists were replaced. That this sort of retrenchment is endemic in the industry so the control and pressures on the likes of HdPA are extremely high.

    This doesn’t make it acceptable but in some ways knowing the nature of the crisis helps.

    MSM is collapsing in NZ. The media industry is like the UK heavy industry (coal mines, steel, shipbuilding….) in the 70/80s. It is imploding. Readership and viewership numbers who pay for media services have fallen off a cliff. The result is journalists are under constant retrenchment of drop losses, higher workload, more superficial research and analysis, less support in editing and layout, whilst working in smaller teams.

    This stress means traditional media is no longer providing a forum for national conversations -in particular moral conversations -such as Panama Papers/tax haven issue and affordable housing boil down to.

    Moral questions like;

    -do we want to be a tax haven?
    -do we want to everyone to contribute their fair share towards the funding of public services?
    -do we want to continue with being an egalitarian, fair-go, jack is as good as his master sort of country? Or do we want to entrench a system that gives legislative advantage and a sense of entitlement to some groups of kiwis and foreign elites?

    The evidence for my explanation is the difference in coverage MSM has done on the Panama papers. Such as RadioLive’s Political Panel with Chris Trotter and Rodney Hide.
    http://www.radiolive.co.nz/Political-Panel-with-Chris-Trotter-and-Rodney-Hide/tabid/506/articleID/118429/Default.aspx#.Vw-z7C86mB0.twitter (first half)

    And alternative media -Waatea 5th Estate
    http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2016/04/15/waatea-5th-estate-the-ongoing-housing-affordability-crisis/ (the end)
    http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2016/04/16/waatea-5th-estate-friday-political-wrap-up/ (the beggining)

    MSM completely missed the moral conversation whilst alternative media gave a forum for many from the Left

    David Parker, Phil Twyford, Rachel Stewart, Tim Selwyn, Efeso Collins, Ricky Houghton, Dr Wayne Hope and other voices/conversation would have been completely missed if not for alternative media.

    The Left need to support/promote alternative media to get more of NZ to engage in this conversation. Luckily now, unlike a few years ago -kiwis can hear directly the voices of those who most effectively communicate this conversation. This is the great hope.

    – See more at: http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2016/04/16/the-new-black-is-blue-nationals-grip-on-the-electorate-remains-a-strong-as-ever/#sthash.7PDL1eF0.dpuf

    Maybe TheStandard could up its game too? Perhaps it could start a not for profit/voluntary internet radio talkback show? Or talk to some PR people on strategies of how best to engage with the FaceBook generation -to include them in the ‘conversation’.

    • Robertina 9.1

      ”Readership and viewership numbers who pay for media services have fallen off a cliff. ”
      The operative word is ‘pay’ as readership and viewership per se haven’t fallen off a cliff but subscriptions and advertising have.
      You don’t need to look to the 70s and 80s for comparisons – technology is disrupting multiple industries now.
      I think in the next few years NZ’s media as a whole will further resemble the parlous state of radio in which taxpayer funded content is a small dot in a sea of low quality dross.
      NZ On Air looks set to start funding projects/stories in what used to call itself the print media.

      • Brendon Harre -Left wing Liberal 9.1.1

        Agreed Robertina -for us on the Left the only option is to constructively engage with the process and find new ways to communicate with kiwis and on the wider issue -of finding new ways to provide security of employment/income.

        I don’t like what is happening to MSM. I think this is a widely held dislike, but we can’t stop it -certainly not from the opposition benches. Doing nothing is just a recipe for anger, frustration and dissent.

        I believe the only hopefully approach is to constructively engage in finding new communication strategies -new forums to have ‘conversations’ with our fellow kiwis.

        • Robertina

          I think there will be journos and mainstream news outlets well into the future; what’s happening is that reporting is becoming in large part a job that’s only viable for 2-4 years before burnout occurs.
          You might be interested in this piece from the Guardian about the current state of play: http://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/apr/17/can-internet-save-printed-press-blendle-lumi

          I think the aged care Kristine Bartlett case was a good and underrated example of how a modern union campaign can operate (effecting the goal of communication that you state). It made use of social media and wide sharing of media coverage of the case (and the previous Caring Counts report) and reached a group that’s often not part of political and economic discussion.
          The whole aged care sector (business, NGOs, residents, carers, unions) has been highly aware of the case.
          A couple of stories I heard was rest-home residents bailing up a visiting politician about caregivers’ pay, and of a union organiser offering members the chance to chat to Labour politicians about the case, only to be looked at blankly as they didn’t know who the MPs were.
          Unfortunately discussion of the caregiver pay issue on the Standard has traditionally been dominated by male commenters running the ‘why’d she choose that job then’ line, so it hasn’t been a particularly fruitful discussion here.

  10. maui 10

    At least it’s clear now that if du Plessis Allan wants to moonlight as a troll on the Standard she would fit in seamlessly. It’s also no wonder that the public opinion of journalists is plummeting when some represent bias, junk reporting and are effectively working as PR people for certain powerful interests.

    • Kat 10.1

      Agree maui, du Plessis Allan played the cunning smoke and mirrors game of establishing a good rep with the public through that TV3 firearms illegally buying on-line beat up, similar to Rodney Hides smoke screen perk buster, get tough on crims image.

      Then sniping from a perceived high moral ground they attack with their corrosive opinion pieces.

  11. Barry Crosbie 11

    I feel the problem for Labour is easy to identify but hard to change. In general people have been lead to believe National is better at handling the economy than Labour is and facts to the contrary take time to explain and process and most people aren’t willing to take the time. We are still getting reports of the precarious nature of the world recovery, higher levels of unemployment internationally, Europe seems to be constantly at the edge of tipping over and in the mean time we are told we are doing ok. If you don’t look deeply it is easy to assume this is because of how National is running the books.
    The fact that they inherited a healthy economy with minimal public debt because of Labour’s cautious monetary policy isn’t mentioned. That National were calling for tax cuts in Labour’s second term, which would have put us in dire straights when the GFC hit, isn’t mentioned. National over tripling public debt at a time they are selling assets isn’t mentioned. Even the current surplus seems largely because of the $500 million the reserve bank made through hedging rather than any policy National has put forward.
    But your everyday citizen, head down, working hard and getting by in a world that seems to be precarious to say the least, thinks well things look much worse somewhere else, National must be doing an ok job. I don’t think we will win the next election (the left that is), because there isn’t enough comparative pain for people to want change.

  12. Wainwright 12

    Who cares he’s ‘controling the factions’ – if that’s even true – when the party keeps making no progress. The policy is still too detailed. The strategy is nonexistent. How many international examples do we need of the power of visionary powerful unafraid leftwing leadership before Labour takes notice?

    The usual do-nothing crowd will say Sanders and Corben haven’t won any elections yet. But they haven’t lost them, and Labour have over and over again following boring middle of the road orthodoxy.

    • Atiawa 12.1

      This Government won’t improve peoples lives. Play the long game. Little will be a great Leader for NZ in 2020. Any earlier will be a bonus. We have become slow learners, but ……..

  13. NZJester 13

    National’s MSM stooges are doing the death by a thousand cuts trick they have been doing in the past as part of their dirty politics. Trying to build up little made up stories as facts to slowly build upon with more lies to make out that Labour and it’s leader have no real policy or direction when they do. Meanwhile the real party with with no real policy or direction is getting this country into a deeper debt hole and poor Christchurch is still paying for their major incompetence and tinkering with the rebuilt.

  14. Peter 14

    I don’t think Labour will do any good the way they are going, they seem not to be out there fighting to be the next government just coasting along. But if I was getting 150 grand a year and in a safe seat would I want to be in government.

    • peterlepaysan 14.1

      Your aspirational better future vision is SO inspiring. I am certain that government safe seat holders would happily trade positions with their counterparts.

      No difference?

    • Whateva next? 14.2

      Are you a paid troll? Try getting a worthwhile job mate, something to be proud of when you look back on your life, selling your soul pays back double dividends

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