Why life in Labour is complicated

Written By: - Date published: 3:02 pm, August 3rd, 2010 - 72 comments
Categories: Politics, uncategorized - Tags:

From Gordon Campbell, who offers useful some thoughtful observations on the challenges ahead for Labour when figuring out what lies ahead with Chris Carter. Campbell says:

…much of the content of the notorious anonymous letter concerned itself with a specific statement by Goff on Radio Sport that he was relatively blasé about workers trading off their fourth week of annual leave, provided they did so freely. Labour Party president Andrew Little has now contradicted that statement, and said that the fourth week is not for sale, period…So, that’s an interesting twist to the story. Is Chris Carter is to be condemned for raising anonymously what his party president confirmed only days later…

To outsiders, the whole process may seem to be bogging down now in messy detail. Natural justice is often messy though because competing rights are involved. Decisive driving is always easy on a one way street. This one isn’t clear cut. …

For students of politics this is the stuff that makes great essays – but unfortunately it has some big real life realities. Gordon Campbell highlights just what a challenge this presents:

It is now up to Andrew Little to find a way through this morass in a way that will not do further damage to his party and his parliamentary leader. That path now looks a lot less clear that it seemed last Friday.

72 comments on “Why life in Labour is complicated”

  1. comedy 1

    Couldn’t he have just precis’d it as

    “Politics is chocka with fuckwits, and then there’s the fuckwits figuring out how to deal with the fuckwits.”

    And all on the back of the long suffering voter/taxpayer or are we fuckwits for continuing to tolerate these ijits.

  2. Brett 2

    Why life in Labour is complicated:

    Labour seems to be a group of parties within a party.
    You could almost say Labour is an “Alliance” of parties and we all know how successful that was.

    • lprent 2.1

      Yep. So is National, Act, Greens, NZ First, and even the Maori Party.

      They are all parties where the faction size ultimately drops to a single person as it is seldom that you ever get one person entirely agreeing with another across a range of issues.

      That is the nature of political parties…

      • Brett 2.1.1

        What I was getting at was that Labour to me now looks more like the Alliance than Labour.
        In my view, for the health of the Labour party these people who would be more at home within the Alliance should leave and reform their own party as they scare off middle New Zealanders.
        Labour needs to be positioned just to the left of centre.

        • felix 2.1.1.1

          Ok. In what way does Labour now look like the Alliance?

          If you mean there seem to be several factions or elements making up the whole then Lynn has answered you. It’s a party. That’s what parties are.

          If you mean something else, what? Be careful not to be circular.

        • Pascal's bookie 2.1.1.2

          Here’s what you said:

          Labour seems to be a group of parties within a party.
          You could almost say Labour is an “Alliance’ of parties and we all know how successful that was.

          That’s a pretyt weird way of saying you think they are too left wing, which is probably why people got confused.

          • Brett 2.1.1.2.1

            Yes Labour is too left wing.
            Labour doesn’t need to be or shouldn’t be, radical or ground breaking., leave that stuff up to the greens,Alliance etc.

            Mainstream New Zealanders are either going to vote Labour or National and if you look too freaky you will scare them off.

            • felix 2.1.1.2.1.1

              WTF does that have to do with “Labour seems to be a group of parties within a party.”?

            • Pascal's bookie 2.1.1.2.1.2

              That’s all fine, but unless you define things it’s just tautology.

              For starters, what is centrist, and what is radical? Is it that certain policies are in and of themselves radical, or is it that polices are radical only if few people support them?

              What is the centrist position on asset sales for example?

              Is it:

              No asset sales. Some asset sales. Sell the lot.

              the answer of course is, ‘whatever most people want to do’. Which is in NZ’s case, at this point in time, ‘No asset sales’.

              So what are these radical left wing positions that you think Labour is taking?

              FTR, I’m not Labour, they are too centrist for me, in areas I think are important.

              • loota

                I think a lot of the Right believe the Labour works on cook book ideology – because that is what the Right themselves do. (although there are clues that may in itself be changing).

                However in Labour there has always been a lot of room for intellectual/academic nuance and debate.

                The downside is that sometimes, it has meant that Labour has not been ideological Left enough and has even given way to crack pot right wing intellectualism and free marketeering e.g. Freidman et al.

  3. gobsmacked 3

    It isn’t that complicated.

    Look outwards, not inwards. Deal with all media questions on Carter by politely, firmly saying: “He’s not in the Labour caucus. Next question.” Don’t let mouth run away, speculating, huming and ha-ing (Mr Little, I’m talking to you.). Short, sharp. Finish.

    Look at Labour in the House this afternoon. Outstanding. Goff, King, Parker, Mallard, all brought their A game, and tore National’s bumbling fumbling Ministers apart. Key was hopeless.

    Issues. issues, issues. Focus, focus, focus.

    Look outwards, not inwards.

    John Key wants Labour to talk about Chris Carter, and Phil Goff.

    Labour wants to talk about wages, jobs, prices, education, workers’ rights, ACC … etc, etc.
    So that’s what they should do.

    Not complicated, really.

    • Anne 3.1

      Couldn’t agree more gobsmacked. And yes, Labour did a fabulous job today in the House. If this is what the Carter saga has done to them, then it’s been a blessing in disguise. If Labour can keep up these performances, the MSM are going to start revising their attitude towards them and that can only be good.

  4. Bill 4

    Walking in lock step to a Party Line awlays fall..s o….ver tislef.

    Given time. Every time. Guaranteed.

    Which leaves two options.

    1. Democratise and so dispense with Party Line nonsense.

    2. Allow the dictatorship, the natural default position of Party Line structures to emerge.

  5. joe bloggs 5

    It’s an interesting conundrum alright and it plays a little to the willingness to compromise.

    Does one compromise one’s principles by denying the workers their choice of how they spend their fourth week of annual leave, or does one compromise union-led ideology and give the workers the right of choice as long as it’s done under no duress.

    “Under duress” – there’s another conundrum. Did Phil flip flop under duress or did he have an epiphany about worker’s rights (an epiphany called ‘Andrew’ maybe?).

    But seriously for a moment, Andrew Little does indeed have a difficult row to hoe. One of the great strengths of a strong and successful leader is her ability to unite and draw along a following; and when the following would not voluntarily unite, it is made to unite.

    One of the great weaknesses of a strong leader is that survival instincts kick in and the strong leader is surrounded by weak followers – never truer than in politics, where every small indiscretion can be laid bare by the envious others, and naked ambition is ruthlessly crushed.

    But if there’s no strong leader then factionalism breaks out. And that’s what we’re seeing now – the gap between Goff and Little could never have been wider than it is now; maladroit Carter is vocalising what others are thinking; the Te Atatu cabal has a life of its own; Cunliffe’s denying any involvement …

    “Messy detail” is bang on. Messier still – speculation about who replaces Phil. Cunliffe? Street?? Dyson???

    Whoever it is will need to stamp their authority on Labour pretty damn quick and resonate with the electorate, or risk gillarding themselves.

    • gobsmacked 5.1

      Joe Bloggs provides a perfect illustration of my post above. The right wing trolls want to destabilise and mislead. Labour shouldn’t take the bait.

      The alleged discrepancy between Little and Goff is absolutely minuscule, compared with the numerous contradictions – on the record – between the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister.

      The right know this. Hence their love of the distraction.

      • sean14 5.1.1

        The right wing trolls want to destabilise and mislead.

        Labour are doing that themselves. One of your MPs has gone rogue and called for a new leader where none exists, and the President is openly contradicting the Leader on policy.

        The right wing has nothing to do with that, all it has to do is sit back and watch.

        Labour is going to have to sort its own shit out, and fast, if it wants to convince voters it can run a country.

        • The Voice of Reason 5.1.1.1

          “and the President is openly contradicting the Leader on policy.”

          Crikey, Sean, when did that happen? It hasn’t hit the media yet, so can you give us the details?

          • sean14 5.1.1.1.1

            Phil Goff on cashing up the fourth week of annual leave:

            Well, I don’t have huge objections to that, as long as the decision is freely arrived at by the worker, and the worker is not pressured to do it. If you’ve got that safeguard in, then if somebody chooses to do that, then I’m quite relaxed about it.

            Andrew Little on the same topic:

            When Labour is returned to Government next year the minimum annual leave entitlement will be four weeks. There will be no tradability of the fourth week of annual leave.

            Duh.

            I also note that Phil Goff is becoming relaxed about a lot of topics lately. They do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

  6. Another point. If he is stressed and needs to take leave, who is his employer and who is responsible for this workplace hazard??

    As many have said, this will have the exact opposite effect that Carter intended and likely the worst possible outcome for Labour.

    In many respects, it was easy to predict given the strength and heights reached by HC. Her popularity within her constituency rivals that of Key. I suppose the only positive for Labour is that National risks exactly the same problems at some stage in the future unless they suss out their succession plan.

    Kudos too for taking this head on Dancr – Labour has to at some stage if it is to rebuild itself and its credibility.

  7. vto 7

    This is a good look for Key and a terrible look for Carter (who people will think no longer cares), for Goff (eyes glaze over), and for the labour party (back to the days of old).

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/3984399/Key-questions-whether-Carter-unwell

    Key has smiled, nailed a big sign up for the public to see (Look, Labour MPs throw sickies when they’re not sick and this is exactly why employment law needs changing), and will come out soaring ahead.

    • gobsmacked 7.1

      Carter is not in the Labour caucus. So it has nothing to do with Labour.

      And if Key wants to go down this path, he’s asking for trouble. Bring on the next sick Minister … or next Richard Worth, who was told to stay away – remember?

      • vto 7.1.1

        You miss the point gobsmacker – all those things you point out mean absolutely diddly-squat to joe public. Key’s comments here will resonate, for better or worse.

  8. tc 8

    2 words for you assorted trolls/RWNJ’s etc……..Richard Worth.

    Cuts both ways but at least carters situation is open for folk to make their own judgement whereas Sideshow doesn’t have the guts to front up over why dodgy dickie was shafted.

  9. tsmithfield 9

    So if Labour seriously believes that Carter is (mentally) sick, then why have they expelled him from the caucus? Surely the appropriate course would be to send him for treatment, therapy, whatever, and then welcome him back with open arms when he has “recovered”.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 9.1

      I dont think they are saying hes mental, more than its ‘stress’ related.

    • felix 9.2

      They expelled him for stupidly writing a stupid letter.

      Why was Richard Worth sacked? Or did he resign? (Key says both)

      • comedy 9.2.1

        Serial rooting and not for truffles !

        • felix 9.2.1.1

          Cite please.

          AFAIK Key has never given a reason for Worth leaving the job.

          If you know otherwise please show.

          • comedy 9.2.1.1.1

            I think Key was advised to STFU lest it turned into a Carter… dunno why, he should have just told it like it was. The public tend to prefer it that way, unfortunately a politician’s first instinct is to obfuscate closely followed by the instinct to lie and the instinct to trough.

            • felix 9.2.1.1.1.1

              I assume by “turn into a Carter” you mean “sack him openly with a clearly explained reason”.

              God forbid.

              p.s. I’ll take that as a “no” to my question as to whether you know otherwise.

              • comedy

                No by ‘turn into a Carter’ I was referring to insinuating he was mad and then having him pull the get out of jail stress excuse and engage a lawyer and then proceed to hang around like a particularly odious flatus.

      • jbanks 9.2.2

        Who cares? It’s called taking care of business. You know, what a leader is supposed to be competant of doing.

        • felix 9.2.2.1

          You mean like Goff did with Carter? Sack him and tell us why? I agree, that’s how you do it.

          On the other hand Key showed no competence at all in dismissing (if that’s what happened) Worth.

          So apparently you’re happy that we have no right to know why Ministers are removed from their posts. There’s a word for that type of society banksie and it’s not a pretty one.

          p.s. I expect you will now be just as disinterested in commenting on Chris Carter’s situation.

          • jbanks 9.2.2.1.1

            So Cater has been expelled from the Labour party and the issues not being embarrassingly dragged on then? GG Goff!

            • felix 9.2.2.1.1.1

              No he’s been expelled from caucus, dummy. Took about a day.

              I guess the whole disgraceful Worth saga has gone down the memory hole for you. Ask your mate ts to remind you about it – he had very strong feelings about it at the time.

              • comedy

                Yes expelled from caucus and sitting on his bum at home all on his existing salary/perks, not that Goff can do a thing about that – t’is a hard existence being a politician.

                • jbanks

                  “No he’s been expelled from caucus,”

                  That’s my point you idiot. He’s still part of the Labour party, and Labour’s national council won’t get a chance to start the process to expel him for months.

                  Bunch of amateurs.

                  • lprent

                    You’re exaggerating again.. Do you ever tell anything approximating the truth or is that simply beyond you? I’m starting to view you as being a simple minded troll who adds little or nothing to our site. In which case you might be gone sooner than Chris is.

                    August 7th is the date of the next NZ Council meeting, which is when something will be decided.

                    • jbanks

                      What am I exaggerating? The council want to go through a process where Carter can put forward his side of things before they decide whether to expel him. Am I wrong in thinking that Carter is on taxpayer-funded sick leave for two months so they won’t be able to hear from him until then? What am I exaggerating?

                      Or is it you just don’t like facts being brought to your site?

                    • lprent []

                      The choice Chris has is if he wants to make a statement to the NZC in person, in writing, or not to be present. What (apart from listening to other idiots) makes you think that this is an employment situation or that sick leave has any relevance. The issue is if He stays in the party.

                      His direct “employer” is parliament – not the NZLP. He is an electorate MP which means even the waka jumping laws don’t apply Anyone with even a basic level of understanding of NZ politics knows this.

                      Now do you understand why I think that you’re bit of an idiot for trolling this line all over this site? For that matter why no one apart from me bothers to engage with you. They’re just waiting for a moderator to decide to drop toleration. At least I’m relatively nice. I attempt to warn idiots (so they have a chance to learn) before I ban them.

                    • vto

                      Tell me, oh wise labourites … who else in the world has TWO MONTHS SICK LEAVE ?

                  • loota

                    Well vto lets ask the question then: who knows how many days of sick leave Chris Carter has accrued. We’ll start the conversation from there, or even from a reasonable guess of that statistic.

                    captcha: GRANTS

                    • vto

                      why should sick leave accrue? what sense does that make?

                    • jbanks

                      “The choice Chris has is if he wants to make a statement to the NZC in person, in writing, or not to be present. What (apart from listening to other idiots) makes you think that this is an employment situation or that sick leave has any relevance.”

                      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10663227

                      The leave means any decisions about Mr Carter’s future in the party may have to wait for weeks as Labour Party rules mean Mr Carter needs an opportunity to put his case before action is taken against him.
                      While suspended from caucus Mr Carter is still a Labour MP.
                      Mr Little said Mr Carter had “sought some medical assistance, he has been diagnosed as suffering severe consequences of stress and that necessitates some time off”.
                      Any decision, such as stripping him of party membership, could not now be quickly made.
                      “Our rules state that Chris Carter needs the opportunity to be heard before any disciplinary action is taken,” Mr Little said yesterday.
                      “He will not be able to do that on Saturday because he is unwell.”

                      who’s the idiot now?

                    • Armchair Critic

                      I’ve never had sick leave not accrue. But then, I’m not an MP. And I can’t find any reference to sick leave for MPs in legislation – is it in some kind of manual? There is an interesting bit of legislation about mental illness and MPs, though. Why wouldn’t sick leave accrue for MPs?

                    • felix

                      banksie: “who’s the idiot now?”

                      Um, you if you think anything in that article relates to an employment situation or sick leave.

                      Lynn really has the patience of a saint sometimes.

                      vto, I’ve always had sick leave accrue too. Don’t know if that’s the usual way though.

                    • loota

                      why should sick leave accrue? what sense does that make?

                      seems like vto has never worked in the real world before. What are you a Young NAT uni student paid by your mum’s electorate office to make illogical statements online?

                    • vto

                      jbanks, what idiot are you talking about? (leave out the obvious reply)

                      why should sick leave accrue? that makes no sense no matter nonsensical legislatability..

                    • vto

                      ha ha silly loota toota

                    • Armchair Critic

                      why should sick leave accrue?
                      Because s66 of the Holidays Act says is should. But that is for employees. Whether Chris Carter’s membership of the Labour party should be terminated is an entirely separate question.

  10. toad 10

    Meanwhile, National appears to have its own self-inflicted trouble brewing re political relationships:

    Prime Minister John Key today hinted it might be easier for the National Party to work with New Zealand First if Michael Laws was its leader.

    Lhaws, FFS!!! What a stupid thing to hint. Having anything to do with that malevolent little fascist is surely the kiss of death for any political party. But Key seems to be encouraging him. This will not go down well with the social liberal faction in the National Party (with which Key is normally associated).

    • Pat 10.1

      Well Goff reckons he can work with NZF and the Greens. Has he asked the Greens about that, Toad? Do Norman and Turei want to sit around a cabinet table with Peters and Laws?

      • toad 10.1.1

        Lhaws is a vile bigot – anathema to everything the Greens support. I can’t imagine the Green MPs ever sitting around the Cabinet table with Lhaws.

        If that were to ever be proposed, the Green Party membership would be in revolt. Unlike other political parties, the Greens require their membership to support through a Special General Meeting any confidence and supply arrangement. I suspect that if one were ever proposed involving Lhaws having a cabinet post, it would not only be rejected but the Green leadership would be challenged as well.

        So it won’t happen. As for Peters, I think there would likely be serious issues there too – the Green leadership all but ruled that out before the last election.

        • Lanthanide 10.1.1.1

          Yes, but it is possible there would be a parliament make-up such that without the Greens, NZF and Labour agreeing, National and/or ACT/MP could end up governing as a minority. I think that is more repulsive to the general green member on the street than doing a deal. Then again maybe the Greens would try and deal with National in that case, but given their public “picking and choosing” they did before the last election clearly siding with Labour, I find that unlikely.

          • Pascal's bookie 10.1.1.1.1

            Can anyone honestly see Lhaws sitting around the table with Labour? Or the maori Party? It’d be the death of any and all of them.

          • Policy Parrot 10.1.1.1.2

            While the idea of an anti-coalition has been bandied about before, prior to the last election, with respect to National/ACT, such a grouping would have at best significant difficulties agreeing to be nice to each other for three years, let alone any comprehensive policy direction.
            It would be in effect, a castrated Labour-led administration stuck in a status quo holding pattern. It’s not that I don’t see Lab-Greens-NZFirst as an option, as that was essentially the 2005-08 grouping that backed Clark’s final term, but the Maori Party as well?!

            Either NZFirst or the Maori Party would have more to gain by propping up a National-led administration than working with each other on the same side. There would either have to be a more significant public distaste for National than there currently is, and in such circumstances their polling would likely fall, thus rendering the point moot; or our political landscape would need to more heavily polarised (quashing any ability to go both ways).

            In addition, if National+ACT does not achieve a majority on their own, their ability to impose their most favoured political policies becomes nought (bar selling out), and the NACT would then become neutered in the same way.

        • vto 10.1.1.2

          “the Greens require their membership to support through a Special General Meeting any confidence and supply arrangement. ”

          You see, now that sort of thing is they way tings should be. It has always been said – follow the hippies ……… true

          • felix 10.1.1.2.1

            It is also said “never go with a hippie to a second location”.

            Toad, National is by and large “anathema to everything the Greens support” too. Didn’t seem to matter when it came to signing the MoU though did it?

            • vto 10.1.1.2.1.1

              not quite felixes, the nats and greens agree that the only people that can own land in nz are the people that live in nz.

              that maketh moi happy

  11. Tanz 11

    Such awful behaviour. No wonder the public can’t behave, given the example set by our rogue poliitcians. It’s a privilege to be an MP, with many benefits attached, not enjoyed by the rest of the workforce. Kids in a daycare centre are better behaved than this, I think the lot of them are shameful, and NZ society reflects this. Has any MP actually had a real job, or had to scrabble for money, ever?

    • The Voice of Reason 11.1

      That’s a good question, Tanz. I suspect the answer is most of them, at least in the sense of a few years at uni in a damp flat eating noodles, then the years of struggle; marriage, mortgage, moving up the ladder etc. I suppose Goff might win the ‘prolier than thou’ award; state house to lifestyle block trumps state house to Hawaii if you’re looking for street cred.

      But every year at an MP’s salary (and benefits) has the risk of creating a disassociation from the voters. Add in ego, public approval and public rejection in equal measure and there’s a real possibility that any empathy quietly dies. At it’s extreme, we end up with pollies who despise the voters. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Michael Laws.

      • Bill 11.1.1

        “…state house to lifestyle block trumps state house to Hawaii if you’re looking for street cred. ”

        Nope.

        Just one greasy pole climber got further than the other.

  12. The Voice of Reason 12

    jbanks at 9:15 pm wants to know who the idiot is. Happily, it’s still him.

    Lprent is right. The process of deciding whether he stays a member of the Labour Party is is not an employment issue. They are not in an employment relationship. Delaying the decision about his membership of the voluntary organisation he was, until recently, representing in Parliament has nothing to do with whether he has sick leave available to him. It’s a completely separate matter.

    • jbanks 12.1

      His mental heath leave is relevant because it has meant that he can’t be expelled from the party anytime soon. It will not be happening this weekend.

      So lprents claim that “August 7th is the date of the next NZ Council meeting, which is when something will be decided. is idiotic.

      He is still a member of the Labour party and it’s messy & not a good look.

      • The Voice of Reason 12.1.1

        Nope. Stop dissembling. What you were challenging was this line from Lprent:

        “What (apart from listening to other idiots) makes you think that this is an employment situation or that sick leave has any relevance.”

        The illness is preventing his attendance at the meeting, not the leave. Lprent remains right. You remain an idiot.

        • jbanks 12.1.1.1

          “The illness is preventing his attendance at the meeting, not the leave.”

          So the “sick leave” isn’t preventing his attendance?

          Step away from the wacky backy.

          He’s has leave because of his illness. They’re kinda related. Nothing can be done on the 7th.

          • The Voice of Reason 12.1.1.1.1

            You’re starting to get it, jb. The sick leave isn’t preventing his attendance at the Labour party meeting, the illness is. The sick leave is preventing his attendance at Parliament and that is an employment matter, unrelated to his membership of the Labour party.

            Whew! That was hard, eh? Trying to recognise, reconcile and understand two separate but similar processes is so confusing, it’s no wonder they only let the adults do it.

        • lprent 12.1.1.2

          And he can do a written submission on his behalf, remote in on a phone or Skype, send a representative, or not defend his pretty indefensible actions. He doesn’t have to attend in person.

          • jbanks 12.1.1.2.1

            Lprent that’s my whole point, he can’t do any of those things if he is not in the right mental state to do so. Little has said that Carter needs the opportunity to be heard before any disciplinary action is taken. How can Carter’s defence (written submission, representative etc.) be considered when the other party (NZ Council) knows about his impaired state?

            I could be wrong, but I don’t think that the council will be able to do anything until Carter is back from his leave.

            And IMO Goff stuffed up here by publicly attacking Carter about his mental health which just invited Carter to drag on this embarrassing debacle as long as he can. Which brings me back to my original point that Goff handled this poorly and he could learn a thing or to from Key who handled things in such a way that there was no mess.

  13. Santi 13

    I confess to liking the decisiveness and courage shown by Goff in the handling of the Carter affair. He has been tough and demanding. I support his very strong leadership.

    With Goff at the helm Labour could win in 2017, I mean 2011.

  14. Awww does bubba need a holiday in NY with aunty Helen ? Here’s what her advice should be.

    Chris you panty waisted blouse, grow a pair and stop being such a lil bitch or i will pimp slap you. i suggest you pull your head outta your arse and get back in the trenches quick smart.

    Act like nothings changed and if you truly believe in Labour, then front up and get back to the job of holding the gov’t accountable for their dodgy dealings.

    Jeez Chris, i thought i housetrained you better than that. Guess not huh ?

    And what’s with this stress related illness bullshit ???…muthafucka please !!! you’re seriously taking the piss now in trying mine and the public’s patience and it’s not going to wash with anyone.

    For fucks sake man up, don’t embarass me again with your rookie antics or there’ll be more than time out on the naughty step waiting for you when i come home….kapish ??? I mean it, don’t make me come back there to sort your shit out or there’ll be tears and it won’t be pretty.

    now run along, aunty’s got some real problems to deal with, like sorting the worlds shit out…there’s a good lad

  15. Doug 15

    Why life in Labour is complicated.
    It is more complicated with the release of the new TV3 Poll.

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