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Sunday afternoon poetry

Written By: - Date published: 3:36 pm, December 11th, 2011 - 90 comments
Categories: labour - Tags: ,

This is for anyone who’s struggled to keep up with the Labour leadership contest, whether currently at the Auckland meeting or not.

Too Many Daves
by Dr. Seuss

Did I ever tell you that Mrs. McCave
Had twenty-three sons and she named them all Dave?
Well, she did. And that wasn’t a smart thing to do.
You see, when she wants one and calls out, “Yoo-Hoo!
Come into the house, Dave!” she doesn’t get one.
All twenty-three Daves of hers come on the run!
This makes things quite difficult at the McCaves’
As you can imagine, with so many Daves…

90 comments on “Sunday afternoon poetry”

  1. dancerwaitakere 1

    David Cunliffe performed very well today at the Auckland meeting, he is certainly a Dave that we need to have at the forefront of a reform agenda.

    Once again with Shearer we see a politician who, really, you just want to hurry up and finish talking already.

    Caucus, it does NOT have to be that difficult for the next 3 years. We need Cunliffe/Mahuta leadership. We need it now, we cant afford to wait until after 2014 to have visionary leadership.

  2. Craig Glen Eden 2

    Just got back from Auckland Labour leadership meeting, Cunliffe and Mahuta absolutely superb clearly shaping up to be a very good political leadership team.

    Robinson out shone Shearer who constantly opened himself up to be attacked by making naive statements about woman and made judgement statements about who’s question was more important, oh dear! Both Shearer and Robinson where unable to answer questions on the economy as would be needed to take on Key or English.

    The vote now is in caucus hands should they not vote for Cunliffe and Mahuta I suspect Mps such as Jacinda will learn a harsh lesson in politics that is when it comes to Leadership you vote best persons for the job not what’s in it for you.
    To those who are in the ABC club in the caucus I would say this, it cant be anyone but Cunliffe who takes us forward because Shearer is just not up to the job and both him and I know it and I suspect so do you.

  3. Deadly_NZ 3

    It has to be Cunliffe, Shearer just does not gel with me at all. When I first saw him on TV, I was reminded of Ol’ W, and how glad everyone was, when they had a president that ‘made sense’.

    Nothing against him as a man or politician, however we are talking the next leader of the Labour party and we HAVE to get this right, even more so now that the Maori party have sold their souls for the baubles of office again. The odds are that John Key will be gone before the next election, and there will be chaos in the ranks, as the rest of the Nats front bench have about as much appeal as a Root Canal done with out anaesthetic.

    Logic says it and common sense agrees with it Cunliffe has to be the one to lead the party. Give Shearer time to get his public speaking training and polishing, as political and Parliamentary speaking are different to an interview in the back of beyond. And Key and co will be after him with a vengeance, from the word go. And one mistake, one stammer, and that’s it, they will eat him alive. The sharks are circling.

    • Carol 3.1

      The odds are that John Key will be gone before the next election, and there will be chaos in the ranks, as the rest of the Nats front bench have about as much appeal as a Root Canal done with out anaesthetic.

      Or Simon Power will return to politics to lead the Nats…? And then Shearer would look totally inadequate.

    • Hami Shearlie 3.2

      Just what I have been thinking since the leadership position became vacant. I just can’t see the quick mind, charisma and self-assurance in Shearer that will be necessary in Parliament and on tv!It has to be Cunliffe! Please Labour caucus, don’t let the Nats be there for another 6 years!!

  4. Another one for you 😉

    there is no fat left in the land
    we’ve sucked poor Gaia dry
    we’ve partied while we raped and burned
    what’s left? Who knows? Not i

    we’re predators who’ve preyed ‘til now
    on everything we saw
    but all that’s left to prey upon
    is us. So now it’s war.

    The strong will prey upon the weak
    the young upon the old
    to keep the middle class alive
    our children will be sold

    descent to bloody anarchy
    will shred our civil skin
    the truth of what we really are
    is just now sinking in

    we’re all so nice and proper
    when Gaia foots the bill
    but now the piper must be paid
    that means we have to kill

    “we have to kill the bankers
    the politicians too
    the CEOs and billionairs
    kill them and all their crew

    and all with aspirations
    to grow and grow and grow
    we’d better knock that on the head
    and put their heads on show”

    and when were scabbling in the dirt
    for anything to eat
    and almost everyone is dead
    “oh boy will that be sweet”

    we’ll be what we were in the days
    before our “reason” dawned
    before we dreamed that we were gods
    before our greed was spawned

    we’ll fade and die a species
    that might have had the stars
    but lacked some fundamental thing
    we used up in our cars

    first published: 06/26/2011 at http://energybulletin.net/

    • johnm 4.1

      Hi Robert Atack
      The basis of the above is Catton’s “Overshoot: the ecological basis of revolutionary change”

      Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change by william catton

      Overshoot was started during Catton’s three years in New Zealand, and completed after he returned to the US in 1973 to become Professor of Sociology at Washington State University. It took considerable time in the late 1970s for him to find a reputable publisher who did not assume that the market for books on ecology was saturated, so Overshoot was not published until 1980. During this period Catton, in collaboration with fellow scholar Riley Dunlap, produced a series of influential articles on ecological issues. Although Overshoot has never been a major seller, it has remained in print continuously since 1980, and it has recently been translated into Russian and Spanish.

      The core message in Overshoot is that, “… our lifestyles, mores, institutions, patterns of interaction, values, and expectations are shaped by a cultural heritage that was formed in a time when carrying capacity exceeded the human load. A cultural heritage can outlast the conditions that produced it. That carrying capacity surplus is gone now, eroded both by population increase and immense technological enlargement of per capita resource appetites and environmental impacts. Human life is now being lived in an era of deepening carrying capacity deficit. All of the familiar aspects of human societal life are under compelling pressure to change in this new era when the load increasingly exceeds the carrying capacities of many local regions—and of a finite planet. Social disorganization, friction, demoralization, and conflict will escalate.” Catton here also coined the term Cosmeticism for “faith that relatively superficial adjustments in our activities will keep the New World new and will perpetuate the Age of Exuberance.”

      Overshoot continues to be a source of conceptual insight and existential inspiration regarding the ecological basis of human societies, especially to those aware of the massive threat posed by peak oil, climate change and other ecological pressures Catton either identified or anticipated. Years ahead of its time because of the clarity of formulation of a fully ecological paradigm, the book supplies scientific analysis of what E.O. Wilson has called “The Bottleneck” of ecological pressures and threats resulting from human actions on the natural environment.

      Today mankind is locked into stealing ravenously from the future [by way of] diachronic competition, a relationship whereby contemporary well-being is achieved at the expense of our descendants. By our sheer numbers, by the state of our technological development, and by being oblivious to differences between a method that achieved lasting increments of human carrying capacity [agriculture] and one that achieves only temporary supplements [reliance on fossil fuels and other mined substances], we have made satisfaction of today’s human aspirations dependent upon massive deprivation for posterity.

      Catton pulls no punches. Because of humankind’s lack of understanding and wisdom, there is likely to be no happy near-future ending as the exuberant interlude comes to a close. It is finishing because we have shot way over the planet’s carrying capacity to sustain the desired living standard for most of the earth’s population. (There will be seven billion of us on April 2010,( a doubling from about 1965.) We have overshot and continue to overshoot via the troika of (1) habitat takeover, (2) habitat destruction, and (3) the drawing down of finite ancient geological resources, all the while believing that new technology, undiscovered resources, clean energy, interplanetary resettlement, or faith will save us. Yet analogous crashes of populations and civilizations have been recorded in history many times before; it is just that today the stage is global and the size of the susceptible population is larger by orders of magnitude. We may claim innocence by reason of ignorance, but nature, Catton reminds us, does not care about our ignorance.

      A following book has been published: Bottleneck: Humanity’s impending impasse
      I have read the first one and it’s very sobering frightening stuff: denial is more preferable for most of us!
      catton’s view of us implies that nuclear war is almost inevitable as the struggle for diminishing resources happens. That is why people like Helen Caldicott are adamant we must have 100% nuclear disarmament so as to avoid our greedy species from complete self-destruction!

      • johnm 4.1.1

        My poetic contribution is: I’m going for a loverly care free holiday down at the” De Nile” to get away from this:

        Humanity’s Impending Impasse?
        Book Review
        Bottleneck: Humanity’s Impending Impasse, by William R. Catton, Jr.
        Reviewed by George Mobus

        First I should confess to a strong bias toward the content of this book. As readers of my blog, Question Everything, will realize, I have been moving inexorably toward the same conclusion as the author, so you will perhaps forgive me if you think I may be suffering from a lack of sufficient critical thinking. Put bluntly, I think this is a book every thinking human being should read, and then consider for themselves.

        To a growing number of people it is looking more and more like mankind is about to undergo a most unpleasant transition. One might write such views off as being what kooks and apocalyptic religious fanatics hold to, and we know they are crazy. But over the last five years many deep thinking and well respected people have been sounding some alarms that are not as easily put aside. In 2004 Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal in Britain and clearly no intellectual harebrain, wrote Our Final Hour: A Scientist’s Warning, Basic Books. In it he gives humanity about a 50/50 chance of surviving through the century. Not really good chances when you think about it.

        Last year James Gustave Speth, dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University, wrote a sobering call for a massive revision of capitalism and an end to growth in The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability, Yale University Press. Like many authors have done, he painted a picture of what was wrong and why, but then pointed to remedies that might presumably fix the problems. That is, if only our leaders and our citizens would see the light and do what is necessary we might avoid total collapse. Most of these authors offer humanity an escape hatch, but point out that we have to be willing to sacrifice substantially, in terms of material wealth, for it to work.

        The realization that mankind is damaging its planet is certainly not new. Rachel Carson (The Silent Spring, 1962) may have started the trend in increasing awareness that we are doing things, in our zeal to control nature, that were starting to backfire, threatening to leave us worse off if we didn’t change our ways and attitudes. Environmentalism has largely operated on this theme for decades. We’ve been warned of environmental degradation, global warming, and peak oil, and how these are interlinked. We’ve been made immanently aware of the dangers we have ourselves created.

        Now William R. Catton, Jr., Emeritus Professor of Sociology at my state’s other PhD granting institution, Washington State University, brings on the sequel to his first book in this genre, Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change, University of Illinois Press, in which he sounded an alarm being heard more frequently. Like Speth, Catton, in that earlier book, pointed out the problems as he saw them, from the viewpoint of a sociologist, and then declared that if we heed these warnings we might yet escape the worst.

        In the sequel, Bottleneck: Humanity’s Impending Impasse, Xlibris Corporation, he drops the part about we can evade the worst. The subtitle says it all. Now he concludes that it is already too late to mend our ways and somehow avoid the collapse of civilization. Indeed the main title refers to an impending collapse of the human population. An ecological bottleneck (also called an population bottleneck) is where radical changes in the environment of a species causes a die-off of all but the most hardy of the population; hardy, that is, in terms of the selection pressures arising from the change. Of course there may be no sufficiently hardy individuals left or the ones that manage to survive cannot reproduce sufficiently to produce a new population. In that case the species goes extinct.

        Catton’s arguments for why this is the most likely outcome for humanity boil down to something I have written about in my blog for several years now. It is the rate of change that matters as much as the degree or magnitude of change when it comes to shocking a population. If we look at the rate of climate change due to anthropogenic forcing, or the rate at which our fossil fuel energy sources are depleting, or the rate of aquifer depletion, or the rate of population increase, or the rate of consumption increase per captia in the developed and developing worlds, or… You get the picture. We are changing the world in ways unfavorable to human survivability more rapidly than we can either adapt or mitigate. And we have already passed the point of no return.

        As to why we are in this state of affairs, Catton calls on several sociological theories surrounding the evolution of culture and especially the development of over-specialization or ‘division of labor’. The latter was touted by Adam Smith as the reason we were so efficient in our manufactures. And Catton, like many authors who deplore modern capitalism and corporatism, recognizes that at a time this was indeed a beneficial capacity. Today, however, he says that we overdid it and that the tendency toward deep specialization has tended to dehumanize and isolate each of us from the benefit of interpersonal relations. He further argues that we have come to think of others as instruments, mere means to our own ends. This he says is the end result of taking the abstraction of money as representing wealth too far in our thinking.

        This idea that once things like money and capitalism, etc. fulfilled good purposes and were good for society as a whole, but have simply been overdone in our modern technologically-driven world, is actually one of the common themes sounded by many writers. It is certainly something I have subscribed to in my evaluation of human affairs. Early in mankind’s history, these inventions, these institutions, served a purpose to make man more fit as a species, to quell the negative selective forces of nature and allow humans to succeed evolutionarily. But somewhere along the line humans failed to recognize that too much of a good thing is actually bad.

        The failure to recognize this is the lack of wisdom, to which I will return in a bit. But to understand how humans got so carried away it is important to recognize, as Catton and others have done, that humans, like all animals, have a biological dictate to maximize their access to energy. For humans this took the shape of learning to control fire, making clothing, building shelters, and later finding additional external energy sources to supplement their bodily abilities. This included the invention of tools and agriculture. And it essentially culminated in the discovery of fossil fuels that allow modern humans incredible power over their environment. Catton renames a subset of Homo sapiens as a ‘quasi-species’, Homo colossus, those being the people in developed countries who consume massive amounts of fossil fuels to motivate and control machines that do orders of magnitude more work than a human can do with muscle power alone. To achieve this we are combusting carbon to produce CO2 and returning fossil carbon deposits to the atmosphere and oceans after sequestration for millions of years. And it is the rapidity with which this is happening which leads Catton, and others, to conclude that it is infeasible to put the brakes on for this train. That is, you can try to brake, but you won’t stop in time to avoid a crash.

        Unfortunately for mankind, there are now far too many of Homo colossus in the global population. And the damage is done. NASA climatologist James Hanson has claimed that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere should not be over 350 parts per million (ppm) in order to avoid calamitous climate shifts. But we are already at 385ppm and climbing, even though the global recession has slowed the burning of fossil fuels. It just isn’t enough to stop let alone reverse the growth in carbon in the air. But beyond the damage done already, and the potential damage to come due to climate changes and sea level rise, Catton sees an impending threat from the fact that we are going to run out of this magical fuel one day. Or at least we will hit a barrier where the cost of extraction exceeds the benefit of having the fuels. When that happens what becomes of Homo colossus? Indeed what happens to Homo sapiens in toto? Even though peoples in developing and underdeveloped nations don’t burn the fuels directly, they still rely on the developed world for aid produced by burning those fuels.

        Catton bases his analysis on the idea of carrying capacity. Fossil fuels have artificially boosted the carrying capacity of earth for human occupancy (if you ignore the damage we’ve done to other species). We are in overshoot, the theme of his previous book. We are like the cartoon character, Wile Coyote, who would race off a cliff in futile pursuit of the Roadrunner and would remain suspended in mid air until he realized his predicament; then it was too late and he would fall. When the fossil fuels are effectively used up, what will replace them? As things stand now, there simply is no realistic or viable alternative energy source that could scale up to the level needed by modern civilization in time to take over the job. Once again, it’s the rate of change that gets us. In spite of continued pie-in-the-sky thinking by even engineers and scientist who should know better, no one has shown how real time solar energy in all of its many forms (thermal, photovoltaic, wind, even hydroelectric) will ever match the power in fossil fuels. These came from ancient photosynthesis over millions of years compressed and cooked into a convenient package over more millions of years. The scope of concentration is literally unimaginable (apparently) yet very serious people dream of capturing current solar influx and replacing fossil fuels with it. They may be serious but they are also dreamers or delusional. While in theory, the total daily influx of solar energy to the earth would provide many times over what we need to sustain our current civilization and provide development for the lesser developed nations, our systems of capture would have to cover gigantic areas of the planet. Our energy storage and distribution systems would have to be radically redesigned and rebuilt. And all of this comes just as we recognize the impacts of declining net energy from fossil fuels; those fuels being needed to subsidize the building of all that energy infrastructure.

        The root cause of humanity’s impending impasse, however, is not his lack of will, or cleverness, or even sufficient energy resources. The root cause is his lack of wisdom. Catton points to this on page 190, speaking about his great-grandson:

        …by the time surviving members of his generation have emerged from the coming bottleneck, when he may himself have somewhere a great-grandson he will wish to visit, somehow his contemporaries will have attained the wisdom Linneus implied was characteristic of our species when he named us Homo sapiens.

        (Emphasis mine)

        For several years now I have been pursuing a quest to understand better why our species is not, on average, more wise. With all of the history we have experienced, with all of the science we have learned, with all the cleverness our kind has for solving local (in time and space) problems, you would think that we would have developed greater wisdom than we have in fact. What I came to realize was that the brain capacity for wisdom (which I have boiled down to: good judgment in complex social issues, strategic thinking, highly developed systems thinking, and strong moral sentiment) was a relatively new emergent capacity coupled with symbolic thinking and language and second order consciousness (conscious of being conscious) for early Homo sapiens. But it was evolved, as Catton notes, to meet the needs of the late Pleistocene existence of our species. It is not, on average, up to the task of modern complex society. One of my main conclusions is that our species is simply not sufficiently wise (or I prefer the term sapient to differentiate between a native capacity and an actualized capability) to deal with the world we have created. For a more in-depth treatment of this subject, readers are directed to my working papers at: http://faculty.washington.edu/gmobus/Background/seriesIndex.html.

        It is this lack of inherent wisdom that will keep us, has kept us, from doing the right things to prevent the impending impasse. Catton’s ‘Prognosis for Humanity’, page 206, is alarming.

        …with great reluctance and regret, I am compelled to doubt that we can confidently hope to avoid a serious “crash” as the focal human experience of the 21st century—envisioned also as our species having to pass through an ecological “bottleneck”.

        This is by far the most explicit statement of what we would call doom of any author in the popular book trade. There have been many writers, especially in the blogosphere, who have expressed similar conclusions. But I have yet to see a writer of some eminence such as Catton go all out and claim that the end is near. Unfortunately, I happen to agree with him.

        The question for me is: Will humanity come through this bottleneck with a gene pool competent to meet the challenges of a changed world AND have a stronger native capacity for sapience, for wisdom? Assuming some remnant of humanity does survive, that is no guarantee that our descendants will go on to evolve a better ability to make good, long-term judgments in that future world. Nor are we guaranteed that they will be able to reconstruct anything like modern technology-based society in order to re-achieve a species fitness allowing them to survive and thrive in the very long run.

        My only complaint with Catton’s thesis is that he didn’t go far enough in suggesting what those of us who see this coming might do now to save our genus from extinction or, in the case of my concern, to increase the likelihood that our descendants will inherit genetic components leading to higher sapience. He assumes that some humans may survive and the future environment may select for greater wisdom. I’m not so sure that will be the case. His parting words simply express thankfulness that he lived during the epitome of human achievements in science and understanding as well as freedoms to travel the world. My question is: Now what do we do?

        I have to applaud Catton for writing so honestly about what he has concluded. I have contemplated writing a book on the evolution of what I call eusapience, true sapience, as the future of the genus Homo. Necessarily, the species sapiens must go extinct to allow the rise of a new, wiser, species of humans. And an evolutionary bottleneck would be the most likely mechanism for this to happen. But I have hesitated, realizing this is a message no one wants to hear! Every other author of books on end-of-the-world scenarios at least offers that if we would only come to our senses… the world won’t end. William Catton does not do this. Sorry for the spoiler but you should know in advance. Thus this probably isn’t a book easily digested by everyone, even though I think everyone who believes themselves to be a critical thinker should read it.

    • RedLogix 4.2

      Having zero poetic talent myself I’ve had to crib a response:

      when all of what we are today
      is dim dim distant past
      a racial memory mostly myth
      known to the shaman caste

      i wonder what they’ll think of us
      when sitting by the fire
      and hearing of the things we did
      like gods but so much higher

      “the great great gods of long ago
      they walked upon the moon
      they drank the very blood of earth
      from death they were immune”

      “they did not walk upon the ground
      but through the air they flew
      and everything there is to know
      the ancient gods they knew”

      i guess the stories that they tell
      the children will devour
      they’ll dream that they were just like us
      and had enormous power

      i doubt they could imagine though
      the real truth to tell
      of how we raped their planet
      and we made our lives a hell

      they’ll never know the polar bear
      the tiger or the crane
      and countless other creatures
      to which we were the bane

      they’ll also never know the stars
      because we stole their chance
      because we’d rather party on
      and live upon advance

      oh what a sad sad species
      we “gods” of planet earth
      we stupid kings of overshoot
      what really are we worth?

      just look around at what you see
      and ask yourself “where now?”
      and if you have an answer
      it better tell you how

      ’cause i can’t see a future
      that is anything but grim
      and even bare survival chances
      often seem so slim

      i hope that future stories
      are told around the fire
      that kids enjoy just living
      and old folk just retire

      i hope we’re not the last of us
      i really really do
      i hope that there’s a future
      for our sons and daughters too


      • Robert Atack 4.2.1

        Another one from the PO Poet

        Our hero sought to save us all
        but we refused to hear
        he worked and slaved to teach us
        with rising dread and fear

        “you must perceive” he cried and cried
        but all we did was jeer:
        “there’s plenty left” was our reply
        our leaders gave a sneer:

        “extremist people just like you
        don’t understand the game
        it’s market forces we obey
        and shifting votes and blame”

        “just understand the price will rise
        and magic will ensue
        the market it will save us
        not idiots like you”

        and so our hero hung his head
        and wrung his hands with pain
        his heart was torn with fear and dread
        at all our children’s pain

        for he looked ever onward
        towards the coming fall
        with grim anticipation
        with what could kill us all

        and though he thought to give it up
        his calling and his quest
        he summoned up his mighty will
        and dug deep for his best

        and so the years unfolded
        and soon the Peak had come
        but we all smiled and laughed aloud
        ’cause we knew what he’d done

        he’d saved us from our ignorance
        he’d fought our lazy ways
        he’d banged our heads with words of truth
        cause he’s the one who stays

        we thank you dearly Robert
        we understand it now
        we know that we are worthless yobs
        but you love us anyhow

        Sorry for beating my own drum

  5. Molly Polly 5

    The wider Party membership needs to have a say in appointing the leadership.

    I have at a guess that some of the old guard are not keen on this…just as they don’t appear to be keen on the current public meetings.

    I received an email from one of the old guard after writing to the person saying I believed the Cunliffe/Mahuta was the sensible choice, who replied by telling me that you can’t judge a person’s leadership qualities by a one-off speech and questions. The person added that he/she hoped that those who are expressing public opinions will get behind whoever the new leader and deputy is.

    Of course, my opinion was not based on one meeting, but the meeting did confirm to me that Cunliffe, indeed, inspires me the most and has the best credentials.

    It sounds like this is the opinion of the majority of the members who have attended the meetings…

    But going by the support Team Shearer has – and from the response from the MP above – it’s a done deal.

    • dancerwaitakere 5.1

      Cunliffe today pledged his support the the membership having the ability to vote in the next leadership election (as a part of the party review). It is a step that the party must take.

      “you can’t judge a person’s leadership qualities by a one-off speech and questions”

      …which is why we must take into account performance in the house, performance in front of the media and all of these other aspects.

      Across the board it is increasingly clear.

      Cunliffe > Shearer

      • Colonial Viper 5.1.1


        I personally feel that Shearer, as capable as he is in certain roles, is not what Labour needs now, internally or in the public arena. It’s got to be Cunliffe.

        Last I heard (i.e. yesterday afternoon), team Cunliffe was definitely still in the hunt and gaining momentum, even if the advantage still remains with Shearer.

    • Ed 5.2

      All four of those on the road show were supportive of the organisational review giving greater weight to party views – both formally and informally. They also made it clear that no matter who is elected to various positions, they will be fully supportive of the new team (of which all four will be in important positions).

      The together everyone achieves more is awful management training -speak, but it is clear that Labour truly wishes to visibly move to a position where it is clear that the major opposition party for the next three years, and the government from 2014, will be a team, rather than the figurehead puppet or sole decision maker that the media, in their one-dimensional view of the world, find easier to fit into sound-bite news.

      I don’t think anything is a done deal – and the road shows have been a huge boost to the party, and clearly a worry to National.

  6. Molly Polly 6


  7. AnnaLiviaPlurabella 7

    Nanaia Mahuta was excellent today: she warmed to the whole auditorium, but also seemed to connect with many different groups; Maori, Pacifica, Provincial, Rural and Women. The “double bill” of Cunliffe-Mahuta came to life. Cunliffe was as sharp, charming and engaging as ever. Shearer has improved a bit in his preparation and presentation: a red and white tie this time!

  8. Anne 8

    There is no contest. It’s Cunliffe and (hopefully) Mahuta. Anything less will be eventual political suicide.

    What worries me… too many personal agendas amongst a number of Labour MPs who will vote both of them out of the game. If that happens, I will have to review my membership.

    • agree.

      btw, where is Shearer’s post for the Standard? he has been invited hasn’t he?

    • dancerwaitakere 8.2


    • seeker 8.3

      Likewise Anne.

    • Hami Shearlie 8.4

      Yes, Anne, that is what I fear as well, personal agendas are alive and well, and future ministerial prospects, as well as the big ministerial salaries – well, if they vote Shearer, they won’t be ministers for many many years!

    • deuto 8.5

      I also agree with your comment, Anne. I have refrained from commenting much on the contest as I am not a Labour Party member as yet although I have voted Labour every election for many years. I am considering formally joining but am going to hold off until I know the results of the leadership election.

      I have always been very impressed with Cunliffe and believe that he is the only one capable of bettering Key and English at this time. And I believe that Mahuta would be a top notch deputy, making a strong capable leadership team.

      I am also impressed with Shearer’s background but, as a frequent viewer/listener of Parliament especially Q time, have not seen him perform in a way that made him noticeable in his 2-3 years in the House. Until he has been tested in a Ministerial role ( I would like to see him given the opportunity), I believe it would be too risky to spring him into a leadership role at this time.

  9. Molly Polly 9

    Me too Anne.

  10. Kel 10

    So at this afternoon’s selection meeting Robertson was asked point blank if he would challenge Shearer for the leadership within 3 years.
    The question was ruled out of order but Robertson decided to answer anyway. He angrily recounted his wonderful Labour credentials and history of working for the party.
    He never gave anything even approaching an assurance that he would not challenge for the leadership. The silence was deafening.

    • Bunji 10.1

      He said he’d be loyal to whomever was elected as he always put the best interests of the party first, so I would have thought that was something approaching an assurance that he would not challenge for the leadership.

      He also said he’d managed a band in his student days called Too Many Daves, but that was a bit of his past that he had now recanted on… 🙂

      • Kel 10.1.1

        And Robertson specifically avoided saying he would not challenge for the leadership before 2014. Ive heard more convincing commitments from John Key on not raising GST.

      • geo 10.1.2

        The dilemma is he was for Parker and bailed.
        Will he bail on Shearer?
        Is it bad to want to be the leader of Labour?
        No ,to attain the office you need to put yourself out there.
        If Robertson needed to replace anyone in the near future Shearer would be the easier option.
        I rank Robertson and think he will one day be a prime minister.
        Just not yet.
        He was articulate today but being the “support at home” does not work.
        Shearer needs to be the front man as well as the leader.
        He is not!
        Cunliffe and Mahuta will make a great team.
        I can only hope our MP’s will think of Labour not just themselves.

  11. Fieldwest 11

    Have being back from this afternoon’s meeting and tried to figure out why it seems harder for David Cunliffe to get his caucus colleagues support whereas easier for him to be loved by the ground memberships. His a bit over-top American style? I have to admit that David Shear has impressed me with his low-key relax approach,  but he made such comments as Tisard’s ‘bruising experience’ of being as a female MP and so on were too out-of-date, too white-middle-class-male, and silly. 

    Style can be polished or re-shape, and yet to change/update one’s mindset is much harder. So I’ll go for David Cunliffe.  

    • Craig Glen Eden 11.1

      Lets be honest the whole DC is not liked is straight out jealousy. Lets face it Helen C trusted Cunliffe and while I didnt always agree with what she did or how she did it, but she was no mug when it came to establishing who has talent and who has shall we say less.

      • Anne 11.1.1

        Lets be honest the whole DC is not liked is straight out jealousy

        Yep. I put up a comment on Red Alert earlier today making exactly the same point then decided to pull it. Wish I hadn’t now because it’s the truth. Tall poppy syndrome is alive and well inside the Labour Caucus.

  12. Redbaron77 12

    I arrived at this afternoon’s Auckland road-show a defnite Camp Cunliffe supporter this afternoon but came away from the meeting looking more towards Camp Shearer. Whilst David Cunliffe was the clear favourite with the hall he did not take the opportunity to fully engage with the warmth extended towards him with his speech lacking fluidity, energy and passion; something which both surprised and disappointed me. Shearer in contrast connected better with me and comments regarding a sustainable, green-based economic growth and having local buddy MP representation in provincial seats appealed. However the real swing factor for me was Grant Robertson who was by the far the most impressive of all the candidates. If there is an obvious PM in waiting then it’s Grant Robertson. If only he had come in during the 2005 in-take….

    • Craig Glen Eden 12.1

      Yeah yeah and you voted National last saturday but will vote Labour if Shearer gets in? LOL
      You were obviously at a different meeting from the rest of us.

      • Redbaron77 12.1.1

        Please retract. I am a card carrying member of the Labour party and serve on my local LEC. Until this meeting I was plugging for David Cunliffe. Labour is a democratic Socialist party. I am quite entitled to express doubts; please remember that.

        • seeker


          No true left Labour member would comment and phrase as you have. You sound like a stuffed shirt right wing troll. Back to Labour Party school you go and hope it hasn’t been chartered out yet.

          • Colonial Viper

            It gets better if you search on Redbaron’s name and check out his previous posts.

          • Redbaron77

            Calling me a tory will not change my opinion about the leadership race which is in flux may I add. Labour is a broad church and as a result people will see things a little differently and yet still remain Socialist/Social Democrat in outlook (You are not seriously threatened by another perspective?). The party has had its ass kicked and many more peole will end up getting hurt by this government. Some geniune honesty is required and I won’t resile from expressing what I think. Have a good night.

        • hush minx

          I agree with you Redbaron that you’ve a right to express doubts – that’s the whole point of the exercise of course, and a forum like this. But just to check your thinking from tonight – when you were watching the 2 tickets did you think they were equally able to tackle a bullish Key @ co next week? and face down Winston and the Greens, both who have the moral high ground over Labour (in terms of vote)? I confess I am a Nanaia fan – do you think Shearer and Robertson can bring back the women’s vote based their performance last night? And if, as it appears from here, many members are supporting Cunliffe, what’s the danger to the Labour machine and wider credibility if their local MP ignores their view?

        • neoleftie

          well hello redbaron – i wish to comment and say thank for all the hard work both as LEC member etc and for your comments whilst moderate are certainly vaid as they are your own reasoned ones.
          Labour needs activie peoples as members with opinions and this is a forum of free speech a cross section of society.
          Shame on those people who diss a valid member for their differing opinions – we need openess and inclusion

    • dancerwaitakere 12.2

      Well we were quite clearly at different meetings.

    • pani 12.3

      LOL are you sure you had the right lecture theatre Redbarron? Robertson looked uncomfortable throughout the whole session and pretty much relied on lame jokes to try and distract from the weaknesses of his arguments. He performed poorly but did his job by making Shearer look not quite so weak.

      • Redbaron77 12.3.1

        I spoke to another attendee afterwards and they likewise felt the same way as I did. David Cunliffe performs superbly on television and I was expecting fireworks from him this afternoon; It simply did not materialise although he had the meeting on his side (including myself). It was not as if I came in biased towards Camp Shearer. In fact I saw someone reading one of their leaflets prior to start of the meeting and shuddered. Perhaps my expectations of David Cunliffe have been set too high and conversely David Shearer too low especially after his poor performances on television last week. I remained skeptical towards David Shearer for sometime during the meeting but gradually warmed up to him. However I was very impressed by Grant Robertson whom I think definitely has the “X” factor.

        • Colonial Viper

          Why are you basing your choices on showmanship and ‘fireworks’?

          I thought we were looking for more than just a friendly and warm smile and wave?

          • Redbaron77

            I agree we do not need another John Key as he is the master of his own game. May be David Cunliffe was off key this afternoon but it shook me. The party needs leadership that resonates with the voting public and also communicates to them in quite a distinct way from John Key/Bill English. David Cunliffe has buckets of talent but some fire this afternoon would have sealed it for me. But I my doubts about David Shearer however it seems a number of caucus members don’t…

            • Colonial Viper

              Your non-analysis of this afternoon is worse than facile, why aren’t you telling us that you felt a disturbance in the Force and that’s why you’re picking???

              IrishBill: I’ve seen nothing to suggest RB is anything other than RB claims. The Standard is a forum for debate. Comments such as this are designed to stifle debate. Desist or you’ll be moderated.

            • seeker

              Redbaron you sound like Lord Haw Haw from WW2, a right smoothy, forktongued, propagandist. How how do you do it?

              IrishBill: I’ve seen nothing to suggest RB is anything other than RB claims. The Standard is a forum for debate. Comments such as this are designed to stifle debate. Desist or you’ll be moderated.

  13. ianmac 13

    It could be a cunning plan. What interest would there be in a one-horse race? Get two or more going and the resultant interest and publicity must help the long game. A cunning plan Baldrick.

  14. neoleftie 14

    well i have studied this at great length and some length from the party, even thougth a member for some years now. i hail from the extreme left of labour so a deep red- green with a dash of light blue for good measure.
    The party is in deep trouble – old, morbid and inward facing – sure they have great social democratic ideals on social inclusion and justive – fairness equality etc etc but the party is run for and by the party elite with a small cadre of loyalist members who do the grunt work at election time. We face The tories by their very nature are well organised and connected across a wide section of society, they have the wide wide ( high ) middle ground and have consolidated by changing society i.e chartered schools next plank in the tory ideological driven path.

    Now Our beloved labour party is at a cross roads, face the challenge and accept change or slowly but surely become outdated, outthought and face irrevalance as a party. We are the nice odd guy at the post modernist post captalist tea party – noone want to talk to you ( well 63% anyway and another 30% who didnt even come )

    Take dunedin south electroral year on years 2005 to 2011 – 9500 swing vote that voted labour in 2005 but disappeared in 2011, in 2011 there were 3000 odd stategic split voter who didnt vote for the party…this is seriously concerning.

    Now the only MP to face up and state change is needed and will be acted upon is Cunliffe.
    The only person to stand up and state MP’s must serve the people is cunliffe.

    I have changed my mind after seeing and hearing cunliffe. I saw the ABC grouping revealed and was dismayed. i saw ego and power politic not in the long term interests of the party and in new zealand future.
    If we have seen the true cunliffe in action bring on our new leader, bring unity to the party, bring change, modernity, focus, reflection, reoragnisation and reenergise the local LEC and members.
    Bring on the party review, bring on a more organised, professional, cross-connected electroral system and reestablish from the cell, roots and branches up a new focus on connecting to the electorate.

    This is the fight of Labour and common new zealander for what new zealand stand for – betterment of the many and not just the few.
    cunliffe and Mahuta is just the leadership team to bring the good fight.

  15. Robert M 15

    I’m a bit of a romantic. I like a bit of excitement and rhetoric in politics. Cunliffe is a powerful and brilliant speaker. I’m bored stiff with NZ and our politics at the moment. Real talent should be given a chance. Matthew Hooton said Culiffe was too arrogant to nurture talent. I think Matthew and Sue Wood were burned by Muldoon and fear real intelletual power. Many of the greatest Tory politicians like Iain MacLeod and Thatcher took a lot of recounting in even the richest London seats to get selected even as a beginner MP.
    Look select Cunliffe and Mahuta with Jones in Finance. Otherwise as Dylan Thomas said.
    Rage, rage against the dying light. So vote Cunliffe if Labour still means anything.

  16. Lazy Susan 16

    Came away from todays meeting with the clear impression It’s got to be Cunliffe. He’s got the smarts and the vision

    Key will chew Shearer up and spit him out – he simply has not got the bulldog in him to counter Key’s “smile and wave” nonsense.

    • Hami Shearlie 16.1

      I agree Lazy S! Imagine Shearer in Parliament – he’d be eaten alive by Key and Joyce! And imagine Shearer trying to be the Leader of the Opposition with Winston, at his heels. He’d be doomed!

  17. Sunny 17

    Make sure you contact your MPs and tell them what you think and why. Looks close. We must win the next election. There are people now in the water struggling to survive, with many more to follow. If Shearer wins this selection those lifeboats won’t be arriving. Ever.

    And can’t you just see all those endless tedious headlines based on David Shearer getting shorn of support, poll rankings, options,seats….it will go forever.

    • Colonial Viper 17.1

      Wed Dom Post front page:

      “Desperate Labour Caucus Chances Inexperienced Leader

      There’s just no coming back from this shit.

  18. AnnaLiviaPlurabella 18

    The Sprout asks: Why isn’t Shearer on The Standard???

    We have a problem in the Party. A younger progressive half pushing for fundamental change under Cunliffe and Mahuta. A more conservative half under Shearer and Robertson. The Cunliffe path will leadcll the party to a new expanded space that will accommodate all. I feel the Shearer/Mallard path will lead to a shrinking and unhappiness.

    • Peter 18.1

      I think what is also more worrying is that several of our “young” MPs, as well as some in the new intake this year are instinctively backing the old guard that is assembled behind Shearer. That to me reflects the lack of imagination present in the party at present.

      I so seriously hope that they can change their mind by Tuesday.

      • dancerwaitakere 18.1.1

        The Auckland Central LEC was overheard at the meeting telling Jacinda Ardern she should be supporting Cunliffe, yet she is defying her members. You can’t do that in the Labour Party, MPs should listen to the people who do the work, deliver the pamphlets, make the calls… they may find themselves without many supporters if they don’t reconsider their vote and respond to the demand from the Party for Cunliffe and Mahuta.

    • neoleftie 18.2

      as i see it we need to move from a party elite based on old factional support limited bases and more to a more ‘catch all’ party that supports and recognises a wider cross section of society.
      cunliffe and mahuta for leadership duo. then ‘one member one vote’ party structure to reignite the membership and bring modernity and relavance to the base party structure.
      Next Local elctrorate MP must reconnect to the electrorate – we need numbers, connections and power within the community to stop the tory machine.

      • Colonial Viper 18.2.1

        And we have to stop being afraid of engaging with small and medium enterprises, workers and contractors of all types.

        • Peter

          The real question is why we’ve got afraid and whether the party culture is sufficient to reestablish that contact, and support those who try. I’m sorry, but spouting recursions like “Vote for me so I can represent the Labour values that I believe in” are heard far too often in the party. How on earth a small contractor or tradie is supposed to understand that is beyond me.

          I’d just recite a damned good policy – like we’ll get the kids off the dole and doing something useful by paying you their dole money to employ them…

          We need much more like it

  19. Craig Glen Eden 19

    +1 ALP

  20. Craig Glen Eden 20

    Lets be honest Jacinda Ardern is clearly not as smart as many (well I) thought, why would you come out in the Herald like she has done, surely you would wait until after the Auckland meeting and then having listened gone back to her LEC for their views. If I was in her LEC I would be telling her to put up her own signs in the next election and go and work in another electorate who valued members views.

    • Cactus Kate 20.1

      Because she’s a career MP which means to survive backing the winner. She’s made the call that Shearer is in front and she’s jumped on board.

      • Craig Glen Eden 20.1.1

        Career politicians dont survive without the support of your LEC CK. First rule always look after home base, big mistake to piss off your LEC, terminal mistake to take their views and support for granted.

  21. mik e 21

    Cunliffe is the man with the plan we don’t need a smile and wave national has got one he has just scraped in if the world cup hadn’t gone good for NZ and the CHCH quake hadn’t happened and if all the hidden reports that have come out since the election national would have been history.
    Cunliffe has the Knowledge and Knows the policy and figures thats what Kiwis respond to.
    Cunliffe is sharp measured and cool under pressure thats the sort of person we need to lead the labour party Thats why the right don’t want him to win.

    • Colonial Viper 21.1

      Cunliffe has the Knowledge and Knows the policy and figures thats what Kiwis respond to.

      They haven’t lately you have to admit but Cunliffe can do amusing, warm, light hearted as well as landing the heavy policy punches when it counts. And he’s shown this ability at every single candidates meeting as far as I can tell.

  22. Hami Shearlie 22

    It’s as simple as this – do the Labour caucus want to be back in Government in 2014? If so, they must hold their silly noses and vote for Cunliffe and stop their petty personal gripes and jealousies. Cunliffe shines, and they have a problem with that, but what happened to it being a party for the many? Surely they don’t consider that it’s going to be their own little cosy cabal, where their future job prospects and salaries come before the people of NZ? That sounds more like National, doesn’t it?

  23. lprent 23

    My earlier questions about Nanaia Mahuta are over. I have seen the others at one point or another but never Mahuta. My first impressions….

    A woman in the style as those that my family produces; she calls a spade and shovel a damn shovel, is direct as hell, and I suspect scares the crap out of the inadequate. Is quite prepared to look at her current responsibilities over her possible ones (eg why she didn’t go to Dunedin the other day).

    Apart from that small dickhead called JT and other assorted people of similar thoughtlessness, I can see why few diss her, and then mostly like Cactus implicitly over her life choices (not everyone is as displays as much frivolousness on family issues as Katie). 

    • Cactus Kate 23.1

      What are you gabbing about now Lyn? Family issues? I can’t recall being anything other than sympathetic to her regarding her decision to take time out for her sadness then happiness in having kiddies. I stand by the fact she’s been in Parliament since 1996 and resembled a church mouse in quietness not fitting of the reputation she was elected on. If she has suddenly discovered the limelight and wishes to speak in public then lets see what she’s got. It’s been 15 years of waiting.

      • Craig Glen Eden 23.1.1

        Given half a chance I think she is about to show you CK.

      • lprent 23.1.2

        There are several breeds of politicians, specialisations if you like. Clearly you don’t recognize at least one of them. Being in the news is what is required by people seeking public leadership roles. It is not a requirement of all roles.

        And as you say, she has been in parliament since 1996 – including having opposed the F&S. But stayed in Labour rather than being politically neutered as a National appendage. She has managed to withstand the challenges of Maori party within her electorate when they still had a powerful message to throw at her. Clearly you don’t know how difficult that would have been.

        The family thing was a remark to needle you, and to remind you of the other choices that she made during the post F&S years. The trade offs between having a family and work are probably never harder than in parliament. It isn’t exactly a profession that rewards having breaks.

        So the interesting question is why she has decided to move at this time, and why she has made it clear that she only wants to be deputy in one political configuration. But she is still quite young, and she is poliially experienced with a good style. I was impressed at her ability at the podium to talk directly to the audience with a clarity of what she thinks and without retorical flourishes. It is now pretty clear what what role she is wanting to follow.

        Regardless of the outcome of Tuesday, I will be keeping an eye on her from here on out.

  24. Jill 24

    I too was at the meeting this afternoon. As I had already heard from reports round the country at other meetings, David Cunliffe and Nanaia Mahuta were the clear choice to lead our Party. Honestly I felt sorry for David Shearer. He simply doesn’t have it. Call it the “X” factor. I want to be excited by my leader. I want someone with fire in the belly. I want to know that it is worthwhile going out and talking to people about why they should vote Labour, worthwhile pounding the streets delivering leaflets or standing on street corners waving signs. It’s not just a technical exercise of having the right policies as we saw in the Election. We need to give people a reason to want to go to the polls to vote for Labour because it’s going to make a real difference in their lives and in the lives of their whanau and their community. Does anyone seriously think David Shearer can inspire our people in this way?

  25. Kairos 25

    On Tuesday, thirty four caucus members must act in the interests of the party and the mass of the people who are relying on them to make the right decision. Self-interest, petty jealousies and personal feelings must give way to this higher duty. The party membership and our voters (actual and potential) will not forgive the huge mistake that the choice of the clearly unsuitable David (S) would be.
    Shearer is not up to the task of leading the Labour Party to victory in 2014. We may even have an early election, so thin is the National-coalition majority. We need the experience and inspitration of David (C) to pull off the win.

  26. hush minx 26

    a query for those supporting the Shearer way (not that there seem many here!): Why is being likable seen as the magic bullet? To my mind that personalities that NZers respond to is not constant, but reactive. Helen wasn’t necessarily liked, but she was well respected, and was also enormously popular. After Key they will be ready for someone who has the intellectual grunt to get NZ to where we need to be.

  27. Spratwax 27

    Its pretty clear from all the talk that some MP’s are backing Shearer because they want to save

    their plum jobs and rank within the party. Cunliffe wants a clean out of the old guard, resting on

    their laurels and preferring to come up with piddly policies like no GST on fruit rather than

    doing the electorate hard yards (profile, educating constituents) and being an effective opposition.

    Shearer has clearly been hastily put forward as candidate by Mallard et al because of

    his ‘backstory’ ( I am getting sick of the right-wing media influence and their discourse). If

    Ardern is backing Shearer then (I know, I know its blasphemy!) I have to agree with CK and

    certainly CGE. Cunliffe stands for party refreshment and a direction which clearly distinguishes

    Labour from National. I think Shearer will stand for much of the same of what we had in last 3

    years with others pulling the strings. Labour needs Cunliffe more than ever.

  28. Pundit X 28

    Meanwhile back in the ‘real’ world Labour’s caucus will tell the party speak to the hand and elect Shearer. The first time he gets up in the house to debate with Key he will almost certainly have his clock cleaned with ill concealed glee by John Key . It will be seen by the MSN as his defining moment. The humanitarian hero will be forgotten and in his place will be Forest Gump. It will be a right wing favourite on you tube replayed thousands of times whenever someone talks about Labour as a serious alternative government. Labour’s judgement will be questioned in the MSM for the duration of the parliament and the rest as they say will be history. FFS caucus get real the party isn’t a fan base for MP’s.. listen to your membership.. Shearer is an indulgence you may never recover from.

  29. newsense 29

    So how is everyone going to react when the inevitable happens and it’s Shearer? That’s a question. And who will he have with him? If as has been suggested Cunliffe isn’t going to be on Shearer’s front bench who is? And what sort of direction are we really looking at?

    I guess at least we will have a chance to see if Grant Robertson’s claim he can tackle the Nat front bench will hold up.

    I guess also we will get to see who Shearer is and what he is about. The concern for me is who will be behind him and for what reasons.

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