War and peace

Written By: - Date published: 8:05 am, November 19th, 2012 - 93 comments
Categories: democratic participation, labour - Tags:

Talk of a Labour leadership vote to be held this Tuesday blossomed and then faded on Sunday as we went from escalating tension to peace suddenly breaking out. Here’s what went down.

The Mallard-led old guard – having already run a failed attempt at making the democratic model of leader election a charade by setting an impossibly high bar to spark a vote – thought they had found a procedural trick to embarrass Cunliffe. They could have an caucus-only vote under the old rules, which would require 60% opposition to Shearer to succeed. Shearer would win and Cunliffe would be fatally damaged before any full leadership vote involving the party, and they could use the vote as an excuse to demote Cunliffe. But then they realised that:

a) there’s no alternative to Shearer on the table, so there’s no call for a vote, and just because no-one chooses to stand up this time doesn’t mean that they can’t later. Cunliffe refused to come out to be beaten up by them in a rigged game.

b) principled MPs might stymie this blatant attempt to thwart the will of the members to have a say in the leadership and those MPs might vote to give the membership its say. It would only have taken a few MPs to turn in disgust from the old guard’s behaviour for Shearer’s leadership to collapse spectacularly in a crisis of their own making.

and c) such a move would rightly be seen as another kick in the face for Labour’s membership, which would have no legitimacy and just further entrench the memberships’ anger towards the old guard that backs Shearer… with bad consequences. Demoting the membership’s preferred leader would be a huge mistake given some of Shearer’s backers are already struggling to get support from their LECs for a 2014 candidacy.

If there is a leadership motion this week under the old rules, I expect that Cunliffe and his supporters will turn it into a nullity by voting for Shearer on the grounds that any leadership votes from now on should be under the new rules. [Update: as predicted, Cunliffe has said he will support Shearer if there is a vote this week or next]

It’s important to remember that Cunliffe hasn’t launched any coup and all this talk from Mallard and co of Cunliffe destabilising Shearer is rubbish. The membership voted itself a greater say, not Cunliffe. There has been nothing that Cunliffe has done that can be reasonably construed as an attack on the stability of the party. All he has done is left open the possibility of a challenge at the anointed time next year but that’s only fair given Shearer’s weak performance to date (one good turn in front of the autocue notwithstanding).

All this malice towards Cunliffe simply isn’t justified. He has done a bloody good job as Economic Development spokesperson (eg the manufacturing inquiry); he only did his duty as delegate, along with a majority of others, in supporting democracy in the Labour Party; and he has launched no coup or otherwise sought to undermine Shearer.

If anyone is trying to exploit the situation of the members voting for democracy, it’s the old guard trying to beat it up as a story of disloyalty to, in Mallard’s words, ‘head Cunliffe off at the pass’ rather than wait until the proper time and, if there is a challenge, let the members have their say. And the old guard are just a small minority in the party. The problem for them is, they know it.

Let’s hope that they now realise that their best interests, along with Labour’s and the Left’s lie in them turning their guns off Cunliffe and on to National for the next three months.

93 comments on “War and peace”

  1. Agreed entirely.

    Yesterday I thought that Shearer had done a really good job, given a good speech and I hoped that he would continue in his improved performance.  His leadership would then be assured and we could all work towards electing a progressive government.

    He has just blown all of my good will by suggesting on Radio New Zealand that Cunliffe will be disciplined.

    I mean what is he on?

    What has Cunliffe done?  Is reserving your right to engage in a constitutional process something to be disciplined for?

    Shearer should show real leadership by laughing it off, saying he is looking forward to the February confirmation and that he intends to seek the new process’s endorsement.  If he keeps performing he will have my support.  This macho crap is not helpful.

    BTW Shearer still needs to perform better in interviews.  This latest one was pretty messy.

    • Jim Nald - Once Was National 1.1

      The weekend demonstrated the progressive values and modernisation of the Labour Party, and Shearer should emphasise and leverage off that.

      Shearer delivered his speech well, Robertson damned the Natz cabinet with great humour, Cunliffe pledges support, and the membership is happy.

      Shearer and his deputy need to be careful they do not play into the hands of Natz and Natz-leaning media beat-up, and dig a hole for the whole of the Labour Party in the process.

    • geoff 1.2

      Yep agreed, good comment.

    • The sprout 1.3

      Totally agree ms, Shearer looked for a moment like he might finally step up to the mark – only to fuck it up yet again with all this ABC bullshit and his little ‘i am the leader, i’ll make the decisions’ brain fart.

      If there is one defining characteristic of Shearer that emerges again and again, its the uncanny ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

  2. Fred 2

    Shearer’s been ill-advised throughout. Goff, Mallard, King – none of them seriously expect to be ministers after 2014, so they’ve got little riding on whether Labour can form a government. More important to them is their personal dislike for Cunliffe.

    Mallard is a millennialist, he loves the big confrontation – that’s what he tried to pull here and he has been deftly out-maneuvered.

    “Shearer still needs to perform better in interviews. This latest one was pretty messy” – yup. It look his leadership being in mortal danger and a week of practice to pull off well a pre-written speech. The problem remains that he is bad off the cuff, which means he’ll get slaughtered if he is allowed to debate Key before the election.

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    Man the personal insecurity and fear running around here is batshit crazy. There are no leadership challengers coming forwards – so we are going to make one up ourselves, out of the shadows!

    The February vote is constitutionally enshrined in the Labour rules, it is a regular scheduled vote, it happens in the mid term of every electoral cycle (although this one coming up will be the last one as the constitution has now been amended).

  4. ad 4

    So first off I just want to offer a humble apology to Lynn, after writing that this site has a hivemind. May the debate reign.

    Just a little surprised that Shearer is actually proposing to expel him from the caucus, on the media this morning.

    This is not like Jim Anderton actually walking from the Labour Party in the late 1980s to form the Alliance.

    It’s also not like the expulsion of John Tamihere.

    Unfortunately it’s at least as big as Anderton’s departure in scale and impact.

    This is the leader of the Labour Party taking the entire constutitional process Labour went through on the weekend and screwing it up like paper and throwing it in the bin. I just wonder how the membership on this site will react?

    Perhaps it’s going to take the wholesale removal of a core of the caucus to realise that the membership now have a constitutional right to have a say in most of the way they operate. Perhaps some really are just too set in their ways.

    When the Membership and affiliates and caucus meet and form policy, that policy is now binding.

    When the membership and affiliates and caucus meet and form rules about agreeing to a leader, that policy is now binding.

    So all the quoted MPs who have got themselves in a lather in the last 12 hours – Curran, Little, O’Connor, Goff, and Shearer – really need to grow used to sunlight shining through their caucus doors.

    Clearly this is a major emotional upheaval for them. It’s deeply ugly to watch.

    I hope Cunliffe is not an irredeemably terminal political victim of it. Looks like that’s what caucus leadership is aiming for.

    [lprent: A better grade of stirring post ban. But I suspect you are talking about Cunliffe rather than me. And the Labour caucus can’t expel anyone from the Labour party. Perhaps I should extend my offer to Cactus Kate to send a copy of the Labour party constitution to you. If might improve your spin. ]

    • ad 4.1

      Ah, yes forgot to name the actual person commenting on after apologising.

      Much appreciate the offer, but I think my head actually exploded like the martians on Mars Attacks as Slim Dusty played “I Remember Yo-uuuuuuuuuuu” on the weekend reading that stuff as the debates were going through. I’ll pop my copy on the shelf for another year.

  5. Tom Gould 5

    So, what you are saying is that Cunliffe cannot win under the current rules, but he can win under the electoral college system with 40% of the votes being cast by a handful of union officials casting aggregated votes? He only needs 10% of the Caucus plus the rotten borough votes, plus one, to win the leadership, even if he failed to get a single genuine party member vote. So his constituency is 4 Caucus members and a dozen or so union heavyweights, maybe 20 people? And this it touted as “democracy”?

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      Meh the Feb vote is just a trigger. If the trigger is pulled then it goes to ALL the party members.

      THAT is democracy 🙂

      • David H 5.1.1

        And thats a reason to become a member again. Finally we will not be ignored.

      • Tom Gould 5.1.2

        Are you saying that the actual leadership vote, once triggered, does not include the aggregated votes cast by union heavyweights? If not, then I am correct, right? The ordinary party members are in the minority, and even if they ALL vote for one candidate, they can be beaten?

        • alex 5.1.2.1

          Try to think of the internally democratic nature or otherwise of parties as a continuum, Labour has still not reached where the Greens are at, but they are a hell of a lot more internally democratic after these reforms than, say, National.

    • Craig Glen Eden 5.2

      No ones saying what you are spinning Tom Gould except you and what your spinning is factually wrong.

    • Lanthanide 5.3

      Tom, it goes like this:
      In Feb, 13-14 people (some 40% of caucus) can vote against Shearer and ask for it to be put to a wider vote.

      At that point, an electoral college is formed where:
      40% of votes come from caucus
      40% of votes come from members
      20% of votes come from affiliates/unions

      I thought this was pretty straightforward, but obviously not.

  6. Craig Glen Eden 6

    The Nuclear Sky is falling all right and Shearer looks less and less the moderate Mr nice guy who has strongly held social justice blood running through his veins.Perhaps he is suffering a little post Traumatic stress syndrome from that UN work.

  7. Anne 7

    It was the most extraordinary beat-up over nothing that I have ever witnessed.

    Does Shearer not appreciate he is being treated with contempt by some of his own caucus supporters? Like mickysavage, I was delighted with his speech yesterday. He had an audience of some 700 members eating out of his hand. What we didn’t know about was… the shenanagens apparently going on behind the scenes.

    He must step back and look at exactly what happened before he takes any action. As was pointed out by several speakers on the conference floor:

    Since the 1980s members and affiliates have been largely left out of the decision making processes inside the Party. Time and again our concerns were ignored… and so the frustration slowly began to build. Finally it spilled over on Saturday and we voted – as one delegate put it – to reclaim our Party.

    This attempt to blame it on Cunliffe as if he was somehow responsible for what happened is the most appalling display of petulance and sour grapes I have ever witnessed.

    The traitor is not Cunliffe. It’s a small handful of Caucus members who can’t get over themselves, and the power they want to continue to wield over the rest of us.

    • Craig Glen Eden 7.1

      +1 Anne

    • Rhinocrates 7.4

      +3.14159265358979323846…

    • ianmac 7.5

      +3 (I have to check the blog name to make sure I am not on a National Party Blog.)

    • Colonial Viper 7.6

      +4 Anne…gawd Rhino, this is no time to bring up irrationalities 😉

      • Jilly Bee 7.6.1

        +5 Anne. I had almost started to feel proud about being a member after Saturday (I wasn’t able to attend, but kept regularly updated with Twitter and The Standard. I first joined in 1967 – I will certainly put my card through the shredder if this stupidity carries on – in fact I will drive over to Phil Twyford’s Henderson office and do it there. Apparently David Cunliffe is the Waitakere buddy MP and it would sort of defeat my purpose if I was to go to his New Lynn office.

        • Anne 7.6.1.1

          The crying shame Jilly Bee, Shearer gave such a good speech. Everyone left the conference feeling happy and uplifted. Then I turned on the TV news at 6pm and couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing. If this nonsense continues I will also be shredding my membership card.

          • seeker 7.6.1.1.1

            @Jilly Bee and Anne
            Was feeling the same until I heard rumblings today followed by ‘caucus leadership vote ‘while I was on the phone to NZPC about John Armstrong’s smear on David Cunliffe being highlit on the Herald on line today. Now I’m agreeing with DH below. I can’t believe David Shearer et al could behave like this. This is not the behaviour of a leader -to be run by the media and then go running to mummy caucus and hide behind her skirts while she tells him what to do as well. He should be standing up for Cunliffe, one of the best men on his frontbench (what will he, or us, do, without him?) and getting on with the job of leading Labour against this “National Scourge.”. Cunliffe has been nothing but loyal to Shearer and the party and the electorate. How disloyal is Shearer and some of the party by undermining and discrediting the best man they have?

            I now feel a rather low opinion coming on about the NZ Labour party. Not only has the caucus’ poor choice of leader led to this appalling mess- it is just what our people living in poverty and despair don’t need. Shame on you Shearer and co. John Armstong’s description of “naked ambition” today may well apply to you..

            • karol 7.6.1.1.1.1

              I love how the same language keeps getting circulated!

              “Naked ambition” was the term Gower used to describe Cunliffe last night. 

              • seeker

                Exactly Karol, and ghastly Garner and Chris Hipkins were using similar lines and sentiments as Member41 @ comment 19 below. I commented on this horror at 19.2.

                TVNZ are just saying that all 33 Labour MPs are being summoned to Wellington tomorrow for a vote/show of confidence in Shearer and that this is because of the possible interperetation of some of David Cunliffes comments on the weekend-which doesn’t sound so cut and dried as Garner and Hipkins

                NB. Haven’t quoted TVNZ accurately- just it’s ’roundup of headlines’ sentiment.

                Can’t believe this idiocy is happening!!!

    • prism 7.7

      On Radionz this a.m.when questioned about the leadership issue Shearer came across as personally hurt and resentful, and authoritarian.

      Leaders have to have an ego for sure, but more than the burning desire to be The Leader, there must be a burning desire to carry forward Labour vision to successful outcomes, ie good for all people, enterprise and the country in every sector. Grizzling that discussion as to Shearer’s leadership is a sideshow doesn’t make the main show seem very dynamic and capable.

      It’s just as well that there are some strong-minded outsiders who can step out of the groupthink. They are needed to unemotionally evaluate the situation now and discuss the likely outcomes of various Labour directions so they can go beyond just following the status quo.

      One good policy that is needed in a blindingly obvious way doesn’t constitute enough substance behind the Labour cohort to raise confuidence that they will surge forward and win, and then be able to deliver good policies that raise our failing country. They need to be idealistic in policy aims tempered with innovative, pragmatic, practical action followed by thorough assessment of their outcomes.

      It was interesting to hear Damien O’Connor this morning who was questioned on the issue after a discussion on another issue he has done good work on. interest swaps for farmers. His approach was from the loyalty and hope side for Shearer. Great leader and going forward will lead Labour to victory sort of thing.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.9

      Time and again our concerns were ignored… and so the frustration slowly began to build. Finally it spilled over on Saturday and we voted – as one delegate put it – to reclaim our Party.

      I think that process is true of all societies that wind up with dictators at the top that just don’t listen/are disconnected from the reality of the majority.

    • Olwyn 7.10

      +100

  8. One speech,practiced over and over,behind curtains and in a darkend room,does not make the man.
    Those career politicians adding fuel to the fire should just get off the bus and stop stiring the pot.
    Shonkey will be quite happy because if Shearer stays then there is no effective opposition.
    Congratulations to all the members who were at the conference, you have done us proud.

    • just saying 8.1

      should just get off the bus and stop stiring the pot

      I love a well mixed metaphor.
      Nice picture of Mallard, Goff and King struggling down the steps of a number nine bus lugging a bubbling cauldron between them…

      • Tim G. 8.1.1

        no, JS, they left the bubbling cauldron on the bus for one of the underpaid/overworked drivers to clean up 😉

  9. tc 9

    Nice work undone by DS on RNZ this morning allowing all the NACT MSM lackeys to keep this alive while shonkey flogs off some more of our kids heritage.

    He’s still being led by the has beens not leading so I can’t see any significant change coming.

  10. Colonial Viper 11

    I like Patrick Gower for his optimism. LOL

    So there you have it. That’s how the numbers stack up as of now.

    (Labour) MPs who want to change camps on this list are welcome to contact the 3 News political office.

    http://www.3news.co.nz/Opinion-Shearer-vs-Cunliffe–how-the-numbers-stack-up/tabid/1382/articleID/277204/Default.aspx?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+co%2FEoAG+%283News+-+Political+News%29

  11. gobsmacked 12

    Hipkins on 3 News, and then One News, midday:

    Not anonymous. Speaking to camera. Clearly orchestrated. He’s the Whip.

    Says Cunliffe has worked to destabilise the leader, and the previous leader.

    Must support the leader or …

    “it’s time for him to find something else to do”. (direct quote)

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      😯

    • fatty 12.2

      Chris Hipkins needs to give an example of that occurring. I am surprised something so stupid would come out of his mouth…its actually comments against Cunliffe that are destabilising Labour at the moment.
      I thought Hipkins was better than that…maybe its time Hipkins found something better to do.

      • The sprout 12.2.1

        If Hipkins and his masters carry on this sort of bullshit they are going to buy a nuclear winter shit fight.
        You think the party’s unstable now Chris? You haven’t seen anything yet, but carry on like this and you’ll be looking for a new job sooner than you might have been led to believe.

    • weka 12.3

      What things did Cunlifffe do to destabilise the leader?

      • Anne 12.3.1

        We don’t know weka. We just keep being told he has. Strange thing, nobody has actually seen it.

        There’s vindictive stuff about Cunliffe emanating from the Caucus ABC club, but I’ve heard nothing nasty about Shearer coming from the Caucus Cunliffe club. Strange indeed.

        • weka 12.3.1.1

          That’s what I thought. And no-one who has posted here that was at the conference has said they saw evidence of Cunliffe organising a coup.

          • Colonial Viper 12.3.1.1.1

            He was a good bastard and bought a few rounds of drinks for people. Maybe the types who missed out got jealous?

          • Member41 12.3.1.1.2

            Well I was at Conference and it was pretty bloody obvious to me.

            Everybody in Caucus understands the game Cunliffe is playing. They are not making it up. And they are tired of it. It’s about time they started showing a backbone in the face of such blatant disloyalty. Cunliffe is costing us too much. I would prefer he stayed but he can’t if he can’t be a part of a team.

            • Colonial Viper 12.3.1.1.2.1

              lol a political commissar

            • weka 12.3.1.1.2.2

              “Well I was at Conference and it was pretty bloody obvious to me.”
               
              Will you tell us? I wasn’t there and I’m not a Labour insider, so I am just going off what people who were there report and what’s in the media. I’ve yet to see a single example of behaviour that counts as Cunliffe organising a coup. Just give four examples so we know what you are talking about.

  12. Santi 13

    I’m delighted to know the dynamic, eloquent and articulate David Shearer is (and will be until the election) the leader of the Labour Party. Hail to the chief!

  13. bomber 14

    This is becoming crazy now

    BREAKING NEWS: Shearer to expel Cunliffe? UPDATE: – http://tumeke.blogspot.co.nz/2012/11/breaking-news-shearer-to-expel-cunliffe.html

    • toad 14.1

      The Green Party’s membership application form is linked here!

      • lprent 14.1.1

        Which reminds me. When do the Greens have their next conference? Who do I talk to about media access. My e-mail is lprent at primary.geek.nz

        • George D 14.1.1.1

          AGMs are mid-year, summer policy conferences are usually early Feb. Both are highly democratic (but not perfectly so, there’s always some loss). The AGM is your better bet, and I don’t think the province has been sorted for 2013 yet; then it’s a matter of contacting the provincial executive.

          • lprent 14.1.1.1.1

            Cool. I’ll organise that. National and NZ First will be interesting. Despite my time constraints I think I’ll go to Mana’s as well since we have have many enthusiasts fervent supporters here.

      • starlight 14.1.2

        Lol,got to get our own house in order before we join theirs,:)

        • David H 14.1.2.1

          Why bother Labour can fucking implode for all I care now.

          • seeker 14.1.2.1.1

            +1

          • Colonial Viper 14.1.2.1.2

            Nah mate, please you gotta stay with Labour, if you’re not signed up sign up now, sign everyone up you can. We finally have the tools in the constitution to take back the heart and soul of the party. Its gonna be frakin good.

    • Rhinocrates 14.2

      I can imagine tomorrow’s headline:

      Shearer to Expel Party From Party

      “A senior MP has informed this reporter that David Shearer intends to expel the Labour Party from itself for voting for greater democracy and refusing to respect his authoritah…”

      I used to think of him as the pointy-haired boss, now he’s turning into Eric Cartman.

    • starlight 14.3

      Hope this ain’t true Bomber,the grassroots,members,voted for democracy,Shearer’s
      actions will be in defiance of that,for god sake the man is a liability for the labour party,end of.

    • lprent 14.4

      I’ll have a look at the feed issue tonight. It is failing to display the RSS it has collected at the back end. Annoying. It performed well over the weekend.

  14. gobsmacked 15

    Cunliffe is, of course, an electorate MP. So he doesn’t have to go anywhere (list MPs don’t have to either, under the rules, but realistically they can’t win a seat so they usually go).

    As an independent MP he would win his electorate. As a backbench MP, ditto. Presumably the ABC crowd are relying on him quitting Parliament, for good.

  15. gobsmacked 16

    UPDATE:

    Shearer has called an urgent caucus meeting for tomorrow afternoon to call for endorsement of his leadership. (Sources: Radio Live, etc … will link shortly).

  16. John Chapman 17

    Just received the following from Labour’s press office:

    19 November 2012 MEDIA STATEMENT

    Labour Leader calls caucus meeting

    Labour Leader David Shearer has called his caucus to a meeting in Wellington at 4pm tomorrow.

    “I will be seeking the endorsement of my colleagues for the Labour leadership.

    “The endorsement I’m seeking will be in line with the decision made by Labour Party members at this weekend’s conference that I must have at least 60% support of the caucus.

    “A formal endorsement vote will also still be held in February in accordance with the new rules approved by Party members.

    “I’m holding this vote tomorrow to demonstrate that I have the support of my caucus and to put recent speculation to bed.

    “It is important that these matters are resolved so that Labour can lift its sights to focus on the serious challenges facing the country, including jobs, education and housing affordability,” said David Shearer.

  17. David H 18

    But what are you going to do when you have the two resident clowns Garner and Gower the bad comedy act. They are the ones shit stirring and doing Mallards bidding. And Mallard needs to go as well!

  18. Member41 19

    You guys need to go away.

    After that Conference the membership are behind David Shearer. He led the democratisation and reform of the Party. They are great changes that the whole Conference endorsed. We have the basis of a strong progressive policy platform and Shearer will take it to NZ in 2014. He proved he could do that in his speech.

    Cunliffe has undermined the party long enough. He’s been doing it for ages, but we finally understood how toxic he is this weekend. He has been given plenty of chances and it’s time for him to realise that this is about teamwork and not about his individual ambition. He can’t lead us. He should get behind Shearer or leave.

    [lprent: Letting this one through under advisement. But I am deeply suspicious. It reads like an opportunistic astroturf. We will see if it can argue rather than just barf slogans.

    Update: Ok, it looks like Member41 is human enough. Warning rescinded. ]

    • OK Member41 stop using the royal We and speak for yourself, and let the others speak for themselves as well.

      If you are buying into the crap that the media are selling then you must be 1 of the ones that created it in the first place!.

      • Member41 19.1.1

        By “we” I mean the members of the Labour Party that have had enough of Cunliffe’s self-serving white anting. And our numbers just about doubled this Conference.

        I am a left-wing member of the LP who wants to get out and defend the progressive policies we endorsed at Conference and more.

        • PlanetOrphan 19.1.1.1

          Well in that case I think you are mis-reading Cunliffe today, I can’t speak for his past, but an ally in progressing civilised policies should be a bonus surely?

        • Jim Nald - Once Was National 19.1.1.2

          Hey Member41,

          Mmm … you don’t sound that authentic or sincere there … you are verging on overdoing and over-egging the false pudding you want to serve up.

          “He led the democratisation and reform of the Party”

          – Really? How? What did he do? Please elaborate some more. And btw did he vote, and if so, for what position? And if not, how robust was his excuse and can it stand up to strong scrutiny?

          “defend the progressive policies we endorsed at Conference and more”

          – more what?

          • Member41 19.1.1.2.1

            The Labour Party reform process was led by Shearer and Coatsworth. They both deserve enormous credit for getting it through successfully. Don’t think that is overstating it at all.

            “And more” wasn’t very eloquent. I meant that I want to go out and defend our progressive policy, including what we endorsed at Conference. And that we should do more of that at the next Conference.

    • seeker 19.2

      Seems to be the same lines Garner and Chris Hipkins were using on TV3 news a moment ago, with Garner adding that the caucus would be looking to see how to punish and demote Cunliffe as far as possible tomorrow (almost rubbing his hands in gleeful anticipation).TVNZ is reporting that David Cunliffe has said he has done nothing and has no idea why he is to be “punished”. I am so with Cunliffe.

      This is beginning to sound as unfair and “courtier” manipulative as a Tudor court in the days of HenryV111!

      • Member41 19.2.1

        Political parties require unity. Labour’s values include solidarity.

        Cunliffe undermined Goff for three years and he is at it again with Shearer. Patience eventually wears thin.

  19. Jane 20

    WTF? How is it that the day after the conference there is this disaster?? Have just seen the news, leadership vote tomorrow, Cunliffe being demoted?? Very disturb that the caucus couldn’t get together and decide to put everything aside and take the best free media plug they have had in ages. One ten second quote on some vague sounding housing thing, instead of pictures of builders and young families excited at the prospect of a house we get a rant from DC. Pathetic.

    • Member41 20.1

      Jane I can see how it might appear that way.

      The reality is that the leadership have been very patient with Cunliffe. They have wanted him to be a key part of the economic team. He’s got talent and he could have been great. But he spent three years undermining Goff and now he is at it again. Basically people have realised that it can’t go on any longer if we are going to be able to put up a unified platform to the electorate.

      If they don’t punish this brazen disloyalty – Labour is doomed.

      • Mike 20.1.1

        Can you please explain to me and others how Cunliffe is being so disloyal and how he is undermining the labour party? I only ask because I haven’t heard him say anything that would support this, but I’m not a Labour insider as you appear to be so there is obviously some info on Cunliffe that is not widely available?

  20. Prickly Jill 21

    I was at the Conference and at the affiliates meeting before. The affiliates leadership was supporting the Council position on a 50%+1 threshold to send the vote on the leadership to the wider membership.
    Then one after another, rank and file union members stood up and argued that the members should have a say in who is to be their leader, not just now, but always. It was about Constitutional change to fully participate in their Party — not just to deliver leaflets and knock on doors, but to have a genuine say. There was no mention of a leadership struggle, there were no ulterior motives, there was no manipulation.
    Each union delegation caucused and the members decided that if a leader could command 60% or more support from his/her Caucus, then that’s great. If not, the Labour Party members and affiliate members would get to vote.
    On the Conference floor, speakers to the 60% spoke about grassroots democracy. It was principled, exhilerating, empowering.
    Those on the other side, MPs and (disappointingly) a roll call of young people, accused the other side of sinister intentions. It was they who turned it into a leadership question; not the media. It was they who were being manipulative and manipulated.
    Our rank and file union members cheered and clapped during David Shearer’s speech. They left the Conference buoyed up. Luckily they won’t have heard David Shearer on Radio NZ the next morning.
    Come 2014, whoever the Leader is, he (unlikely to be a woman at this stage) will have to inspire our people to get out the vote in their Labour heartland communities, like Obama did. I’ll leave any MPs who read this post to think on this and put aside their own personal ambitions!

    • Member41 21.1

      I think this is a thoroughly honest take on what happened but I have a different perspective.

      The motion was opposed for principled and practical reasons. The idea that a vote with a 40% trigger should happen after every election was not really the problem (although some people spoke against this on democratic grounds – that 50% is the appropriate number).

      The main problem was that the motion allowed for a vote to take place in February – in the middle of an election cycle – which means 4 months or more of our campaign being undermined by this damaging speculation. It will be very hard for us and Shearer to gain traction whilst that speculation is ongoing. We can’t show unity and solidarity until it is over, and the Conference (albeit mostly for good reasons as you say) prevented us from ending it.

      So the people who spoke against it didn’t do it because they oppose democracy – there will be an election for the leader next time that everyone supported – but because they want to go into next year attacking the Government, not focused internally. We didn’t think that it was in Labour’s best interest to have the ongoing bitter struggle. We certainly didn’t think the public wanted more of it. It’s tiring and demoralising.

      The 40% trigger is unfortunately very low when you have a small caucus. You can basically offer all your voters a front bench position and you’ve got it. That is unfortunate.

      Also – if you and others didn’t realise that vote would become about the leadership then you need to think harder next time. More party democracy is good but it comes with responsibilities. And one of those responsibilities is to think about how your vote might be perceived.

  21. Prickly Jill 22

    The vote next February was already scheduled. And all this talk about just 14 MPs choosing the leader is nonsense (especially when you realise that in December it only took 18 MPs to make that decision). The point about a trigger is that it gives the members the opportunity to vote. And then it is not 14 MPs, but thousands of Party members who decide. That gives the successful Leader a mighty mandate with which to go to the voters at the next Election.

    • Member41 22.1

      Not really Jill – it’s just another half year of navel-gazing for Labour when we should be fighting the Government. I am all for an open democratic leadership process – but not in the middle of the election cycle. So not what we need right now – 4 months of being undermined by speculation + a difficult, bound to be nasty and public leadership battle. And what – then we have a year to reorganise and fight? Nah.

      The vote in February was going to happen. But on a 50% threshold Cunliffe would have had to do more than offer up some front bench seats to unseat Shearer. That’s why some of us opposed the motion. I understand your reasons for supporting it, but I have a different view.

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