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Reaction on the end of conference

Written By: - Date published: 11:52 pm, November 18th, 2012 - 40 comments
Categories: david cunliffe, david parker, david shearer, labour - Tags:

In my opinion, Robert Winter at idle thoughts of an idle fellow has probably the most accurate assessment of the effect of the David Shearer speech at the Labour conference.

My own post was stalled whilst writing because my head keeps shifting from prose to code, my back hurts (damn those conference chairs), and I keep reading the reaction of others in the feed. When I found his post I dumped what I’d written and I’m going to quote in full without permission because Robert hasn’t left an email on his site. Hopefully he won’t mind and if he does then I’ll probably hear about it – but I’ll get his email as well (hint hint).

Just remember that r&f = rank and file.

That speech

It was a good speech, cleverly introduced by Anuschka Meyer – strong on values and traditions, hard on National’s failures, with a powerful overview of where Labour differs from National across many policy areas, and some concrete housing stuff. More on that later.

It was also notable for its opening plea for unity against the real target (National) – a clear reference to what is now a complex internal debate for Labour. The r&f have demanded and won a more democratic process. This is good. Caucus is smarting, and now knows, I hope that it is not a question of who is above and below the salt.

Was it the speech to keep him in his job? This is now an interesting question. Mr Shearer will feel a little constrained, having called for unity if he is considering, first, gaining an immediate endorsement and, second, moving against Mr Cunliffe. The r&f would not take kindly to that. Equally, however, the sense that a pro-Cunliffe clique overplayed its hand in the conference is growing. The r&f call for a more democratic party is not fungible with r&f support for Mr Cunliffe. He is in notice, I think, that the party is more interested in winning in 2014, and profoundly less interested in internecine strife in the caucus. That warning has gone out to others too, such as Mr Jones.

So, as I see it now, the onus has been thrown back by the r&f to caucus to behave reasonably and in the interests of the party. This will, I think, serve Mr Shearer’s purpose well, at least in the short term.

The other obvious backroom discourse is that the two Davids – Parker and Cunliffe – make an excellent team in the economic portfolio – potentially a winning one. Anything that weakens that team is seen by many to be very wrong. So, again, we have a pressure for accommodation.

Such pressure may not be able withstand other, more fragmenting pressures, but what is clear is that the layers of complexity in the party have not been reduced by the advent of a a more democratic process.

It was, all in all, a damned good conference.

I almost agree completely with Robert and his assessment of the r&f. They were happy with the speech and most were happy with the conference outcomes. While there were the few moments of procedural and equipment comedy on the remit floor, Robert Gallagher and Jordan Carter and their helpers did a efficient job of getting the remits dealt with in good humour. It was a damn good conference.

I’d make that 3 David’s – add David Clark with his revenue shadow on to that as well. I had a talk to him on Friday. He pointed me to another infrastructural issue at the IRD that needs looking at. After I do some reading on current big iron systems, catch up on my paid employment, and get my coding fix – I’ll write on them.

I have to thank the working press for their toleration of my presence during the weekend. I will probably see you in other party conferences if I am able to attend. Also the NZLP for allowing me to attend in a media observer role.

And finally a booby prize for Cameron Slater. There were a few photos taken of me during the conference that may eventually wind up on the net. A conference that you were probably unable to attend because they’d looked at your previous behaviour that got you banned at a National party conference. So we didn’t meet. But if you can find them you’ll have something to photoshop in your usual considered editorial fashion. 😈

40 comments on “Reaction on the end of conference”

  1. xtasy 1

    Maybe bring into the picture “Anushka Meyer” now, since we had Key present his dear wife on occasions. So goes the US style Hollywood circus polly game. I hate it by the way, but it seems they are all getting into this now.

    It was a mixed bag to me this “conference”. Shearer sort of tried hard, did score a few points, but I am a critical person, looking at the real game changing aspects, which I missed.

    Also the housing plan sounds good on the surface, but it needs refining.

    The leadership is still in question, as Shearer on video is lacking, not the same as words read out of the speech text.

    Labour will continue to “struggle”, I am afraid, I wish it more gusto and power and success, but I am left wondering. So if that is going to carry into 2013, do we have to wait another 2 years for “salvation”??? NO I cannot bear anymore, I am close to EXPLODING already.

    More is expected, but I fear, other opposition offers the medicine I see more fitting.

    Good bye Labour, it was nice flirting, I cannot see us getting back together.

    • mike 1.1

      Good bye xstay. I have a feeling that your ‘flirting’ with ‘other opposition’ will end in the same disappointing way. You obviously carry the heavy burden of being smarter than the collective which, i understand, can be crippling.

      • xtasy 1.1.1

        mike: No, yesterday has proved to me and many others: Labour is DEAD, lost and offers no plan for the future of this society. It is led by a weak leader, who freaks out when another competent competitor just starts mentioning a few things. He is weak as, Mr Shearer, he is not leadership material, he has to go and start a witch hunt to get rid of a critic, to protect his turf.

        That to me is the END of LABOUR NZ.

        This party is NO option anymore, for anyone seriously thinking and wanting of left and progressive policies. He comes with his “sickness benefit roof painter story”, a bit a a dressed up, vague housing scheme, which will only support the middle class, but give crap to the real poor, so that is just more divisiveness and a scramble for the bizarre “centre” that is also falling apart anyway.

        Good Bye Shearer and Labour, you had your days and times!

  2. Jenny 2

    Another CCI event.

    • Jenny 2.1

      My reaction on the end of conference is that it was a conference of a party that has apparently deliberately decided to ignore Climate Change.

      I gently tried to point this out by showing that even in the US Climate Change gets a bigger mention.

      And further that this policy of ignoring climate change is not a vote winner even in the American coal belt.

      (A fact some may be uncomfortable with.)

      Imagine if you will, a Labour Party conference in 1938 that deliberately decided that rather than headline the threat of facism, went even further, decided to ignore completely all mention of the building global Nazi menace. If you can possibly imagine this, then you might realise how ridiculously forced the modern Labour Party’s decision to ignore Climate Change looks.

      From the absence of any released policy on this topic coming from conference and going on the last Labour government’s record on supporting coal mining and mineral exploration in the Seabed and Foreshore, the Labour Party under the current leadership is dead set on continuing to support deep sea drilling, and fracking, and a massive expansion of coal exporting as sick tactic for making money by subverting our Kyoto commitments by exporting our CO2 pollution.

      • lprent 2.1.1

        You should read the policy book of remits, then have a look at my post about the remits that were actually voted on. Out of the enormous piles of remits that went to regional conferences. I think that there were about a hundred remits that went to the workshops. There were maybe 8 ones that managed to make it to the remit floor and get voted on.

        The ones on climate change didn’t get enough support from groups of delegates. While there are quite a few greenies amongst Labour members, they aren’t particularly well organised compared to even a chaotic young labour group..

        If you want something to get through in Labour as policy, you have to organise cooperatively, own it, and push hard. Ummm looking at the gentle and benign history of the union movement I wonder where that came from?

        • karol 2.1.1.1

          Was the gender/women’s remit as on here, passed? p24, I think.

        • Jenny 2.1.1.2

          This shows the importance leadership, any leader worth their salt and reasonably well informed should be able to form their own opinions and express them. They wouldn’t have to be dragged to it.

          This is why we call them leaders.

      • McFlock 2.1.2

        How did remit 26 go?

  3. Jenny 3

    President Obama on climate change:

    “We want our children to live in an America that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.”

    Barack Obama November 7, 2012

    David Shearer on climate change:

    “,

    * November 18, 2012

  4. Hilary 4

    Radio NZ news leading with headlines about an ‘acrimonious conference’. Not what I gathered from following twitter, Facebook and the Standard. No reporting in any media of the most significant policy from my perspective – to lower the voting age to 16.

    • Jim Nald - Once Was National 4.1

      The conference was open to media on Planet Earth.
      Media folks were seen physically present and so the question is which planet were they inhabiting mentally?

  5. karol 5

    As a non-Labour person (who sometimes votes Labour and would like a strongly left Labour-led government):  the weekend started out very hopeful on Saturday, and with the Sunday morning remits….. then somehow for me it turned less hopeful.  And it’s confusing and part of my hopeless feeling, that the Labour membership generally seems pretty happy with the conference.

    I am now feeling quite despondent about NZ left wing politics.  This is even though there were some very good remits, and a welcome shift to a more democratic membership participation at the conference.

    The MSM were dreadful – stirring up conflict and avoiding the substantial issues, except for the housing policy – at the latter was a a very big disappointment to me. I’m not sure how much Team Shearer fed that MSM obsession with drama and conflict & anti-Cunliffe stirring?

    I see that Shearer/Labour is touting the conference as a “new direction” for Labour – this is particularly upsetting as that is exactly the words I used in a couple of posts.  But this is not the “new direction” I was thinking of.

    The Labour Party’s “new direction” is kind of partly what I am looking for:

    a shift towards a more interventionist government; some good policies on asset sales, local government etc;
    and a bit of a shift away from neoliberalism. 

    But it is still pretty centrist (the housing policy is too focused on building houses for the private, home-buying market). And all the policies are focused on the middle-classes:  albeit the socially responsible, community minded (to a limit) middle-classes.  It is largely a view from a middle-class lifestyle, targetting the comfortable, but slightly insecure middle-classes.

    Yes, Shearer has stopped talking about the deserving and underserving poor/beneficiaries – now he’s just not talking about the poor or beneficiaries at all.  They seem to have totally disappeared from the Labour landscape.   

    And Shearer is now sounding so macho – I couldn’t even consider voting for a party he leads, with the kind of political values he represents. I can’t see how this leadership stoush can have a good outcome.

    I felt so despondent last night and this morning, that I was fantasing about giving up writing blog posts and moving to the country – a less expensive life-style. 

    But thank goodness we still have the Greens and Mana – the Labour conference has, ultimately confirmed for me that the choice is now between Mana and the Greens. 

    • felix 5.1

      I’m glad you articulated that karol, so I don’t need to. 😉 I tried, but all I came up with was “Meh”.

      ps you can move to the country and keep blogging…

      • karol 5.1.1

        Well, it’s reassuring my response is not totally unique.

        Actually, you’re right.  if I gave up working and retired to the country, I’d probably have more time for blogging – but then I couldn’t join the Green, Mana and anti-poverty demos. 

        • Macro 5.1.1.1

          Oh yes you can!! The Greens have a very strong presence here in Thames. And there is still need to preserve the Coromandel from ever more mining.
          You sentiments expressed above are mine as well. 🙂
          And we need more of you blogging Karol

    • just saying 5.2

      ditto what Felix said.

      What makes me saddest is that it seems Shearer is now out hunting with his pack of dogs to prove his Macho capacities. But the head of the slain beast he plans to hold aloft isn’t Cunliffe’s actually. It’s ours.

      • Greg Doolan 5.2.1

        Agreed. A pack of losers that will do anything to retain power. What Labour needs now, what the country needs now is transparent democracy. National are doing dodgy deals with Sky City and who knows who else behind the public’s back. But what alternative does Labour in its present form offer? We do not need a self interested, vision less cartel to be running Labour into the ground or to be running New Zealand. Shearer and his allies behave like members of the Chinese Communist Party, spreading disinformation, performing hatchet jobs on any perceived threat and conniving in the back room to retain central control of everything. Labour with its present leadership is unvotable, even for someone like myself who has NEVER voted for anyone else. If David Cunliffe does manage to wrestle control away from this bunch it will not be a moment too soon for both the party and New Zealand.

    • lprent 5.3

      Labour isn’t a particularly radical party because of the range of people it represents. It is also 96 years old as a organisation which often makes change seem glacial. But these changes made over the weekend and the ones still in the pipeline as part of the review are going to help a lot at breaking the internal stasis that the party has had since the 80’s.

      You can blog from the country. Just keep adding your voice to the discourse, it is worth having. I kept getting people pointing out over the weekend how useful TS was for reading mind-widening debate, and part of that was that we were providing a place for the whole of the labour and frequently the green movement to talk.

      If you move, just do what I did when I brought my apartment – first exclusion criteria was what the local exchange was equipped with (ie when was it upgraded) and how far away was I from it. I can work with just a good link and did so for many years. The only things that keep me pinned in the city are the engineers with their delightful toys and Lyn who has her own support ecosystem that she works in.

      • karol 5.3.1

        Thanks for your response, Lynn, and for providing a space for the expression of a wide variety of left wing views and discussions.  

        I guess the slow change in Labour is the reason why I’ll continue to vote for the more radical, smaller and newer parties.  Long live MMP!

        My early retirement fantasy this morning has passed.  I won’t be moving to the country just yet – it’s really my long term retirement plan, to live more cheaply.  But I am an Aucklander born and bred and will find it difficult to leave it for many reasons. 

    • Jenny 5.4

      Not all is lost karol. Phil Twyford gives us all a shining example of political behaviour that is completely non-sectarian, or self interested, handing over a space on Red Alert to Hone Harawira, as in celebration of Ngati Whatua’s recent settlement, Harawira recounts his time spent during the Bastion Point occupation.

      http://blog.labour.org.nz/2012/11/15/remember-bastion-point/

      All power to you Phil.

    • xtasy 5.5

      Shearer and his camp have “panicked” – frightened to death. They now want to demote Cunliffe, put him on the back bench and disencourage an admittedly not “easy” member, to play any sensible role in Labour in future.

      This is like a stab in the back to a third to half of Labour supporters.

      It is indeed such a short-sighted, panicy, dumb and ignorant move by Shearer, he will lose all credibility in the next months.

      Cunliffe will likely leave politics and Labour, and I would not blame him. We will end up with less than mediocre hangers on, idiots, wannabes and mainstream adherents, making NO difference at all on the political field in NZ.

      Key and his gang are laughing, highly up-spirited. The LEFT are disposed off by Labour, forced to seek an alternative.

      THIS is the time to start a new left of centre, major, appealing party right now, the time could never be better to unite the left and bring them under one umbrella, that is Greens, left Labour (disillusioned), Mana and who else may come on board.

      Wake up and get this started, someone. It is OVERDUE!

  6. Gawd it is now being reported that Shearer is considering disciplinary action against Cunliffe.

    WTF?  What has he done?  Supported a more democratic selection process for the party’s leader?  Suggested that he may or may not be involved in a process that is perfectly within Caucus’s rules?

    If Shearer wanted to discipline anyone there is a serial leaker that needs stern action and Shane Jones is busily trying to undermine relationships with the party’s most important coalition partner? 

    • Jim Nald - Once Was National 6.1

      Shearer and Robertson need to take a deep breath and pause to think more deeply.

      • mickysavage 6.1.1

        After Sunday’s speech Shearer should have sat down and tried to unite the Parliamentary party.  This macho swaggering stuff is not helpful.

        • Pissed-off Member 6.1.1.1

          Oh fuck off, Cunliffe fucked up the one showcase we get every year for his own petty political interests. (And you helped.)

          He should retire to the backbenches, for the sake of the party.

          • lprent 6.1.1.1.1

            Ah no. The remits and amendments were all on the agenda. That was what was dealt with. It was also the distinct focus of the conference and they voted to make the caucus more responsible to the members.

            The current leadership wasn’t an issue, although it could be in the mandatory February leadership vote that got deferred from last year. Basically you’re so wrong that it was clear that you weren’t there.

    • karol 6.2

      Actually, for me, that might be a better outcome – especially if Cunliffe joined or lead another party.  Although, I do think Cunliffe is still pretty much centre-left.

      • lprent 6.2.1

        Yes he is. You’ll find that anyone who has been put in charge of finance and given full exposure to the trade offs on policies vs revenues always are regardless of their other political beliefs. Micheal Cullen being a good example.

        If they aren’t then make contingency plans to leave the country before they get real power.

    • Colonial Viper 6.3

      MS – lots of double standards are being applied here. Can’t Shearer lead his own caucus to achieve a 60% confidence vote by February any other way? Here’s a brilliant management idea – how about trying to work with ALL the people you lead, not just a favoured portion?

      • Raymond A Francis 6.3.1

        Yes, this was Miss Clark’s way, what did she do when asked to stand down, boot the enemy out, no she chose to hold them close and work with them to gain the Government benches

        • Jim Nald - Once Was National 6.3.1.1

          Quite.

          If Shearer demonstrate that he has broad shoulders and can work with all in caucus and the wider membership, then he shows that he can work with other parties under an MMP Government. Then he gains the wider support from general voters.

  7. Thank you for your comment. I concur with you about David Clark (though I always want to add “five” to his name – the generation to which I belong remembers the thumping “Bits and Pieces”). Another point that I should have made more clearly is that the successful demand for constitutional change – inevitable after the irritation in the r&f caused by last year’s election process – was the driver of the conference. The politicking by some – and the strange shifts in the affiliates – should not be allowed to marginalise the desire for a more open party structure that drives many delegates. And, to be fair to Mr Shearer, who co-sponsored the constitutional process, he’s done nothing but praise and support it. The decisions made are, of course, also a signal to the r&f that they too must now step up, Opening the party to more democratic processes also places greater responsibility on the r&f to create a party that can win elections and implement a social democratic programme. This must be positive.

  8. Rhinocrates 8

    Chris Trotter’s commentary on Morning Report today was good, pointing out first that the speech was a classic Labour speech, full of genuine Labour values… and then Shearer, the fool, starts muttering darkly about revenge and “me me me me me me.”

    [audio src="http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/mnr/mnr-20121119-0816-labour_needs_to_heal_personality_clashes-048.mp3" /]

    Claire Robinson was her usual ghastly, shallow self.

    • xtasy 8.1

      Rhino: That exposes exactly his WEAKNESS as a supposed “leader”!

      He cannot handle criticism and competition, so he is slowly becoming a little dictator within the ranks, and sadly the little underlings from front and half back row jump up and largely support him. They are mostly cowards and useless idiots. Labour is HISTORY! GONE, GONE, this party has NO FUTURE anymore. It is DEAD!

      Bring in a NEW force, a new, truly left party, with real plans and ideas, as Shearer and consorts are just a pale shade of what we have now, they are the funeral coffin carriers of left and progressive policies.

      It is ALL over with Shearer and Labour, gone, gone and surely gone for ever!

  9. Well everyone to their own bubble. Social Democracy just ties workers to the sinking capitalist ship.
    How fast you go down is outside your control. What you wear or what speeches you listen to are mild distractions. Capitalism is sinking and in other places in this world workers are refusing to go down without a fight. Marikana? What a lesson. The most advanced Social Democracy in the world is so crony capitalist that workers are now rebelling and getting shot by ‘socialists’. The Arab Spring is a big lesson that Israel is now learning. You cannot demand the freedom to oppress without stirring up revolution. When generations xyz finally realise they havnt anything to lose but their fear then you will get a real party of labour – one that rejects capitalist barbarism for rational collective ownership and control of the earth’s wealth.

  10. tracey 10

    How is it cunliffes fault that the media shadowed him and reported and reported and reported him. if he had said nothing how different the outcome??

  11. deemac 11

    the amendment that caused all the ructions was put on the agenda the day before conference, leaving no time for delegates to consult the people who’d sent them.
    It was NOT about making the leadership selection more democratic – that was already agreed by a huge majority – but about giving a MINORITY of the caucus a veto.
    And it was clear from some of the speeches in support of the amendment that many people had no idea of the hidden agenda behind it, ie to give Cunliffe a chance to roll Shearer.
    What should have been a great showcase for Labour’s plans was hijacked by Cunliffe.
    You may think Shearer should keep him on but I can’t think of any political party in the world that would tolerate disloyalty like this.

    • karol 11.1

      the amendment that caused all the ructions was put on the agenda the day before conference, leaving no time for delegates to consult the people who’d sent them.

      Eh?  I’m not in the Labour Party, but I’m pretty sure I’ve known about his amendment for months.  it’s been in the public arena for a long time. 

    • lprent 11.2

      Many amendments are only put in the final booklet. It is the nature of having meetings done on a periodic basis by branches and LEC’s considering amendments by others.

      That is why delegates trusted by their branches and LECs are sent to conference – to exercise judgement.

      It was pretty clear that judgement tended towards making caucus more accountable to members and affiliates. That in itself was probably in response to a caucus that is increasingly seen as being made up by ex-staffers building a comfortable cocoon.

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