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The Labour Conference

Written By: - Date published: 8:04 am, November 6th, 2021 - 50 comments
Categories: Carmel Sepuloni, chris hipkins, jacinda ardern, labour, political parties, stuart nash, uncategorized - Tags:

The Labour Party conference is on this weekend.  It is a different event this year and is being held digitally.  Last night’s events included welcomes, Rino Tirikatene singing a wonderful waiata solo, and senior Ministers answering questions and describing the newsworthy event for them in the past 12 months.  The winner was a toss up betweeen Chris “spread your legs” Hipkins and Carmel Sepuloni’s son pointing out the phallic nature of a carrot during a Zoom meeting although questions are still being asked why Stuart Nash had to take his shirt off to be vaccinated.

Today there will be speeches from senior party figures and debate on proposed constitutional changes.  The most contentious is likely to be that giving a two third majority of Caucus the right to select a new leader and bypass the rights of members and affiliates to have a say in who the new leader should be.  The New Lynn LEC has proposed that this should be 75%.  It should only be in the clearest of cases that members’ and affiliates’ rights to have a say in who the new leader should be should be curtailed.

There is a media drum beat that this is evidence that Jacinda may stand down.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The constitutional changes are part of the usual review of the constitution and there are a few bugs that need to be ironed out.

I will put up a copy of the leader’s speech when I get my hands on one this afternoon.

50 comments on “The Labour Conference ”

  1. Ad 1

    I would rather they vote on something useful like the Green proposal for a 75% Parliamentary super-majority before any proposal to sell off the new water entities.

    It's a Green Party proposal worth supporting.

    • bwaghorn 1.1


      • theotherpat 1.1.1

        well it can be seen that way….i guess we will have to keep an eagle eye on it……that issue and then seeing this issue Mickey has raised makes me wonder.

      • Patricia Bremner 1.1.2

        No if you have been following Nania Mahuta. She is doing the reverse of Bradford with Electricity. Positioning so it can NOT be sold off. Making governance better and not so piecemeal. But the safeguard of 75% would be good to stymie any Nact moves.

        • Ad

          It's not Mahuta we need to worry about. It's all mung beans and dancing when the left tilts it their way.

          It's what National will do with the legislation when in power.

          Bolger was relatively mild with Auckland's assets, then Shipley came in and eviscerated them.

          Same with the Auckland reforms. Great when Labour got them going and agreed to implement the Royal Commission findings. Then National and Act came in and we got the corporatised model.

          Same with the 49% of the electricity generators under Key.

          • KJT

            Given New Zealands constitution "Tory proofing" from future "theft of the commons" is damn near impossible.

            And, anything that does, can be gamed the other way as well. Locking in power privatisation, for example. Noting that, so many of the Neo-liberal "reforms" were intentionally made too expensive to reverse.

            • Puckish Rogue

              Correct me if I'm wrong but weren't asset sales started under Labour and more assets sold off under Labour than were sold off by National?

              • KJT

                Not a Labour supporter, but the current Labour party is infinitly better than the current National party.

                Asset sales. Close. When Labour were the original ACT party. Didn't support them doing that at the time, either.

              • Michael

                That's why we voted for MMP: to stop the Right from gaining control again.

        • Gypsy

          Mahuta is creating huge monopolies delivering essential services at a price. Sounds ripe for privatisation to me.

          • KJT

            You mean, like Key, with ACC?

            • Gypsy

              ACC wasn't privatised; it remained in state ownership. Private providers were allowed to compete with ACC, but had to set up their own infrastructure, systems etc.

        • left for dead

          @ PB yes

  2. Tiger Mountain 2

    The NZ Labour Party Caucus and Parliamentary wing have long subjugated the ordinary members and LEC members. In the lead up to, and fall out from “Rogernomics” left wing elements were driven from Labour or put on the outer. Heard of the “Backbone” club anyone? I spent a few rainy Sundays supporting Labour members I knew protesting outside Richard Prebble’s Auckland Central electorate meetings.

    The Joint Council of Labour where top Labour MPs and officials met with Federation of Labour leaders on working class matters was promptly dispatched by Douglas and his henchmen. The people should be kept well away from meaningful power at all times is the monetarist mantra.

    Since the neo liberal based state was initiated by Roger Douglas and expanded by National with the Employment Contracts Act etc. Labour tops were trepidatious about left wingers ever getting near their party again.

    So in the brief period when the rules were changed it looked almost hopeful, the sour looks caught unawares by TV cameras of Jacinda and Grant said it all when Andrew Little became leader in 2014. Union affiliates, and NZ Dairy Workers Union Te Runanga Wai U in particular I believe tipped it in a very close result.

    Of course the rules okaying a sans membership vote for leader close to a general election ultimately came in very handy for Jacinda’s installation into what she possibly felt was Granty’s rightful spot. Anyone with half a brain and a heart loves and respects the PM’s crisis management, but she is a neo liberal in essential respects–how can anyone of her rank and age in Labour not be?

    Labour’s move will be counterproductive in the long run, people have seen them squander a once in a generation majority MMP position of unprecedented power to act. I even know a few tories that were quietly egging them on too to make some radical moves.

    People need to be directly involved in political struggle and organisation again in Aotearoa NZ or those state houses are never going to built, and the bottom 50% of NZers that own just 2% of the wealth is likely to become 60% and 70% owning zilch, renting and battling in a land of plenty.

    • roy cartland 2.1

      Totally agree with that last bit. The ONLY way democracy can work is if the demos actually does some of the crac. In fact all of the crac.

      The "people" have to take part, otherwise it will be done on our behalf, and likely not in our interest.

    • Anne 2.2

      You and I TM have interesting stories to tell about the Labour Party in the1970s and 80s. We were both there among the Auckland melee at the same time. Our paths must have crossed at some point.

      I walked from Labour around 1983, but it wasn't so much because of the rise of the Right. To be honest I didn't know it was happening at the time. My problem lay with a group of belligerent Auckland members (largely women) who I found overbearing and quite bullying in their attitude. It did not include Helen Clark who I knew and admired.

      You were either 100% for them or 100% 'agin' them. There was nothing in between. I suspect they were just as damaging to the Party as the Rogernomes, not so much for their views but the way they went about trying to enforce them. Indeed, I think they ended up being grist to the meal for Douglas and Co.

      I noted not many of them survived for very long and those that did were far less aggressive.

      Looking back the Party was being torn to shreds by elements within the party and it is a miracle it even survived.

      • Tiger Mountain 2.2.1

        Not too many Anne, emerge from Parliamentary and Party politics unscathed. Though it draws the curious of us back for much of our lives, and the internet enables anyone to be a pundit of sorts…

        I add the occasional period detail to jog memories, and show my bona fides for taking certain positions.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 2.3

      …and the bottom 50% of NZers that own just 2% of the wealth is likely to become 60% and 70% owning zilch, renting and battling in a land of plenty.

      yes Not the 'future for all' that one might have hoped for, but probably the best neoliberal Labour can do.

      'Explosion of wealth inequality' as housing boom leaves many behind – economist

      Inland Revenue tells wealthiest NZers questions are coming

      First 'questions', then soft cushions. And, if all else fails, there's always the comfy chair.

    • " Labour’s move will be counterproductive in the long run, people have seen them squander a once in a generation majority MMP position of unprecedented power to act. I even know a few tories that were quietly egging them on too to make some radical moves "

      " People need to be directly involved in political struggle and organisation again in Aotearoa NZ or those state houses are never going to built, and the bottom 50% of NZers that own just 2% of the wealth is likely to become 60% and 70% owning zilch, renting and battling in a land of plenty "

      I don't believe that the Social Democrats will ever be purged from the current LINO party as like everything else in this country they have sold out to free market forces and behave as a corporate entity is expected to behave.

      Corbyn tried in the U.K and look what happened there. That was a perfect example of the left trying to take back their house while the squatters stayed firmly put.

      With MMP and a well organised , funded , principled approach with a non negotiable list of policy positions would form the basis of a new party of the left.

      Sooner or later LINO will need the numbers to form a governing arrangement and the best possible outcome would be to let the Green party wither and die and adopt the majority of their current policies of which there are many sensible ones into a new movement that is also puts the environment along with poverty as its main focus.

      • Tiger Mountain 2.4.1

        Agree. The Parliamentary neo liberal consensus across all main parties sees the neo liberal state and way of operating locked in. There is no anti capitalist party in the NZ Parliament, they are all class peace, or employer orientated.

        What makes quick change more possible in the next two elections is instability from Climate Disaster, capitalist wars and pandemics. The down side is that change could be to authoritarianism.

  3. Nigel Haworth 3

    I strongly support:

    1) the proposal to return the choice of parliamentary leader to the Caucus. I would have returned to the pre-2012 arrangement happily. The 2012 changes may have given party members a vote on the leadership but they simultaneously destroyed the balance of power between Caucus and Party. The price was far too high;

    2) the unsaid corollary, consequent sustained action to rebuild the Party structure – financially, organisationally and politically – so it exerts appropriate oversight over Caucus and holds it to the Platform snd Manifesto. That’s where democracy’s impact is felt most strongly.

    • Ad 3.1

      What are the mechanisms for your "unsaid corollary" that enable appropriate oversight over Caucus?

      It looks more like the Members are needed less and less every year.

      • Dennis Frank 3.1.1

        Puzzles me that they keep failing to follow Bunnings' model and designate them Team Members. The whole point of being neoliberal is to corporatise everything and the corporate team-building ethos has been essential since the '80s when my old mate Bill Watson, a psychologist, was a consultant/leader teaching Ak corporates how to do it.

        I presume Labour are just waiting for AI to become sufficiently robust that they can enroll androids as Team Members and then eliminate the pesky humans.

      • alwyn 3.1.2

        It isn't needed less and less but wanted that is the correct interpretation, at least as I see it from the point of view of someone who isn't a party member. This seems to have me to have been the aim of the politicians in the party since Helen Clark came to power.

        The only real need of the members in the modern parties is to raise money for the campaigns. If, heaven forbid, we get to the stage of taxpayers being compulsorily levied for party campaign funds the need for members will vanish and the Parliamentarians will rejoice. Be careful what you wish for.

        I did like the way that the author of the post said, so delicately, "there are a few bugs that need to be ironed out". Weren't the election of both Cunliffe and Little the two outcomes of the current election method? A few bugs? They seemed to be rather better described in the title of the Coney/Bunkle article. "the Unfortunate Experiment … ". Those elections weren't just a few bugs. They were total disasters.

        • Patricia Bremner

          Really? Andrew Little drew the members together for a common purpose. I feel realy proud I voted for him in the Leadership rounds.He has a gritty realism and honesty. Which is why he 100% supported Jacinda Ardern when he saw her ability and connection with the public. As a person on the right Alwyn, tell me what power do you have in electing a Leader?

          • alwyn

            Why should I have any power at all in electing a political party leader? I am not a member of any political party. I never have been and never will be. Why would they let me vote for their leader?

    • KJT 3.2

      "Democracy is a bitch", eh?

    • mickysavage 3.3

      Hi Nigel. Good to see you here. What about the requirement that MPs at least have to consult with their MPs before voting on the new leader?

      I would respectfully disagree with you. I thought the contests were good for the party in allowing a debate about the future and that if leaders could not negotiate the politics within the party they could not negotiate the politics in the country.

      • Nigel Haworth 3.3.1

        Happily here because this is an issue of fundamental importance for the future of the Party.

        I can’t do the historical argument justice here, but the LP Constitution emerged as a clever way to balance the interests of the Party – long-term, through the electoral cycle, socialist, member-driven – and the Caucus – a separate body of generally good people often with strong roots in Labour, driven in part by its own dynamics, supported by generous funds, and technical support often not linked to the Party, subject to advice and pressure from many directions, the site of some careerism, nominally governed by the manifesto etc but under pressure to shift in different directions.

        A strong, well-resourced, democratic party is needed to manage that relationship on a broadly equal footing. The 2012 changes gave members a voice in an important area, but also reduced the capacity of the Party to maintain its long-term status as different from, and overseeing of, Caucus.

        This is also why I argue for other changes to safeguard the independence of the Party – for example, no-one on Council should be able to stand for Parliament for, say, three years after leaving Council (to reduce the incidence of patronage and its consequences).

        I understand that these views will not find favour in some quarters, but this is a debate to be had, if only to focus on the our gradual slippage from a party committed to socialist transition to an alliance of sectional interests jockeying for precedence.

        • mickysavage

          I understand that these views will not find favour in some quarters, but this is a debate to be had, if only to focus on the our gradual slippage from a party committed to socialist transition to an alliance of sectional interests jockeying for precedence.

          Agree with you about this but isn't giving members a say in who the leader is one way to prevent the slide of the party into an alliance of sectional interests?

          • Nigel Haworth

            I’ve tried the “Render unto Caesar” shorthand explanation but it confused Mr Trotter. I see voting on The Leader as a limited exercise of power which brings with it a much greater threat – the loss of presidential and council authority to a unitary leadership lodged in Caucus and speaking over and round the Party’s democratic structures. It downgrades the authority of members and Party between occasional leadership elections.

            • mickysavage

              Good point although it is arguable that leadership contests are the only occasions where members have significant control over caucus.

              • Nigel Haworth

                It’s a debate, but the important question is whether the simple change today is allowed to lead to that debate. If we don’t get this right now, we face very difficult times in the future as the electoral cycle plays out.

                • Tiger Mountain

                  Opaque comment. An NZ Labour insider supports centralised control…no surprises there bro’.

                  The leadership method of election is important because of basic democracy, and the fact the leader helms the whole party, not just the Parliamentary wing, and potentially the country. So genuine leaders are required rather than obsequious Keir Starmer types.

        • Craig H

          I joined Labour the day after the 2014 election, and have certainly been happy with the election results, but have noticed the lack of accountability of Caucus, especially Cabinet, to the party manifesto and policy once elected. Very interested to hear your experience and thoughts in this area as to me it feels like the party membership puts a lot of time and effort into both fundraising and policy for quite limited actual results.

          • Tiger Mountain

            Go to the top of the class Craig H. NZ Labour is essentially an electoral machine that runs on a cycle, not a consistent force for social change that benefits working class people.

            My partner was involved in New Lynn LEC during the “FJK” election, and detected some electorates were starved of resources while effort was expended on keeping Internet Mana out at all costs in Te Tai Tokerau electorate.

            New gen voters will have to learn quickly if the NZ neo liberal state is ever to be rolled back.

          • Anker


    • DS 3.4

      The 1980s destroyed the balance between Party and Caucus. If the dirty peasants are protective of their recent (and hard-won) right to determine the leader of their party, the Caucus has only itself to blame.

    • Michael 3.5

      Precisely as I'd expect from you. Labour is no longer a mass-based political party that can claim legitimacy from broad popular support. Instead it is a vehicle for narrow elite agendas that have nothing to do with the Party's founding principles. Your time as President only reinforced that position.

      • Nigel Haworth 3.5.1

        To be clear, my desire is precisely to rebuild a strong party base that is committed to socialist principles. That project is made easer by the recent rule change, but requires party members to decide if they see the party's future as a class based party or as an alliance of sectional interests.

  4. Visubversa 4

    The Labour Party in Government seems to be determined to remove the hard won principle of separation of Church and State, and to allow the levers of the State to be used to promote an ideology. There is no more evidence for the possession of a separate and immutable "gender identity" that transcends biological reality than there is for the possession of an "immortal soul". The promotion of gender ideology is seen in Health and in Education as well as in at least 3 of the pieces of proposed legislation currently before the House. The lack of proper consultation – and the ignoring of the majority of submitters, as well as the appalling behaviour of some of the Labour Members on the Committees demonstrates the promotion of this ideology.

  5. UncookedSelachimorpha 5

    Ardern announces an extra $20/week for 350k families in her keynote speech.

    A very, very, very small move. Certainly will transform nothing – most will disappear instantly into increased fuel and accommodation costs. I'm not sure of the detail, but looks like a tax credit, so beneficiaries miss out.

    Must be seen in the context of Labour's powerful decision to avoid taxing wealth. NZ's richest man, Graeme Hart, had his wealth increase by $3.4 billion during the first year of the covid pandemic. This increase alone – by one person – would pay for the entire announced spending increase for over 9 years! But Labour wants to leave thousands in poverty rather than risk inconveniencing a single rich person.

    When Ardern says "Ending child poverty is a priority for this government" I just can't believe her.

    • Nordy 5.1

      I suggest you look at the detail before making assertions that should be an embarrassment. The detail is not hard to find.

      This set of changes come on top of a large set of changes since this govt took office in 2017. They need to be see in there entirety, not as a piecemeal exercise.

      Transformation does not occur as a result of a single decision. It is about the sum of all the things both said and done, and things that are planned to be done. That is how the real world works.

      • UncookedSelachimorpha 5.1.1

        Of course transformation typically does not result from a single decision (although single decisions can have huge effects – for example The Mother of All Budgets). Unfortunately in the real world, appalling levels of poverty and homelessness persist and grow in New Zealand, despite the entirety of the changes Labour has made and not made since coming to power in 2017.

        I have no doubt things would be worse under National, but that is a very low bar. Labour could and should do much better. For any kid with bronchitis and scabies living in poverty in New Zealand today – and there are plenty – what Labour has said, done and planned doesn't count for much.

        • Barfly

          Well as a beneficiary – I am looking forward the second part of the increases due on 1 April 2022. Whilst there is no shortage of naysayers bagging the governments efforts my situation has certainly improved because of a large number of small increases.

          • Patricia Bremner

            I am pleased for you Barfly. smiley

            • Michael

              So am I. I only hope your landlord didn't capture all your increased benefit by hiking your rent. Any Labour Party worth the name would have made sure they could not.

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