The Dim-Post

November 28, 2011

Process of elimination

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 12:08 pm

Labour are changing their leadership. I suggested yesterday on Twitter that this should be something different from the usual back-room wheeling and dealing: that they should hold primaries, with debates between the candidates. One of Goff’s big problems was that not even Labour supporters wanted him running their party – this would avoid that problem and generate publicity for the candidates. It’s an idea that’s anathema to the Philosopher-Kings running Labour though – the party is there to give them money and perform menial tasks like leafleting. Why should they care what the members ‘think’?

Anyway, my brief thoughts on the aspirants:

Andrew Little: If he’d won New Plymouth he’d have been the first Labour MP since the palaeolithic era to win back a provincial seat from the Nats, and would have been the only logical choice for the leadership. But he fought a feeble campaign and lost to a weak candidate by a large margin. Now he’s come in on a list that he helped draw up, and which elevated unionists over competent, popular MPs. If Little assumed the leadership now it would look like a union coup.

Shane Jones: As far as I can tell, the sentence ‘Shane Jones should lead the Labour Party because . . .’ has no credible ending to it.

David Shearer: Has an inspirational life-story to match against Key’s. But that’s less important now that Key’s star is already waning. Shearer might turn out to be an amazing leader, but he has yet to display any traditional leadership qualities.

Grant Robertson: Has not met expectations as an opposition MP in terms of holding Ryall to account in the health portfolio. And winning an election means winning Auckland, something a Labour Party MP from Wellington Central might struggle with.

David Parker: I don’t have a detailed critique. I just can’t see him as leader. He is, apparently, competent and intellectual, but Goff was also supposed to be competent and intellectual. And I’m trying to think of a way to say this and not sound shallow but can’t – he physically resembles Goff, and the party really wants to draw a strong distinction between the outgoing leadership and whoever takes over.

David Cunliffe: Is certainly arrogant, cunning and vicious enough to be leader. Is also very, very smart – Key is unlikely to ever leave Cunliffe fumbling about getting his numbers right in the midst of a live debate. And apparently his fellow party members despise him, which greatly endears him to me and suggests he may be popular with ‘real New Zealanders’. You never really know how someone will perform as leader until you put them in charge of the party, but Cunliffe has been publicly auditioning for the role for at least six months, so he’s less of an unknown than any of the others.

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59 Comments »

  1. He also seems to be rather nasty. A rinse and repeat of everything Labour did wrong in 2008 and 2011. That is why I just don’t see Cunliffe as credible. They need a positive message for 2014 and I don’t see that coming from him.

    Comment by gingercrush — November 28, 2011 @ 12:22 pm

  2. Looks like the contest will happen soon, making it a two-horse race. I’d love for Cunliffe and Parker to give public speeches outlining their respective visions for the party and the country. I’d also love a Ferrari.

    Comment by bradluen — November 28, 2011 @ 12:39 pm

  3. they should hold primaries, with debates between the candidates.

    What information content is there in a debate that goes like this?

    Candidate A “I think John Key is terrible”

    Candidate B: “No, I think John Key is more terrible than that”

    Candidate C: “No, I’m the person that can shout the loudest how terrible John Key really is!”

    Comment by Phil — November 28, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

  4. Re: Your “winning back a provincial seat” point. Does this mean Damien O’Connor’s name should be up there?

    Comment by James Stephenson — November 28, 2011 @ 12:41 pm

  5. Q: Who are the credible candidates for deputy besides Robertson? Scuttlebutt says Dalziel but come on now.

    Comment by bradluen — November 28, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

  6. That’s a bloody funny way for a star to wane.

    Comment by Adolf Fiinkensein — November 28, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

  7. Have you heard Parker’s voice? Not ready for prime time. Sounds like a timorous 6th former. Makes Phil Goff sounds like Barry White.

    Key’s star is on the wane? After increasing the National % of the vote? Sheesh, Danyl. It’s not surprising all NZ Universities are ranked in the top 20 in the world in every subject if your staff evaluations are this tough.

    Comment by Tinakori — November 28, 2011 @ 1:14 pm

  8. Q: Who are the credible candidates for deputy besides Robertson? Scuttlebutt says Dalziel but come on now.

    For the comedy value, please let it be Annette King.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 28, 2011 @ 1:16 pm

  9. He burned political capital during the election. And it’s going to take a hell of a charm offensive to rebuild relationships with the political media after sending the police in to search their offices in the midst of an election campaign. I’d say that many of those relationships are beyond repair.

    Comment by danylmc — November 28, 2011 @ 1:16 pm

  10. For the comedy value, please let it be Annette King.

    Should could address the problem of economic growth, and take three years to decide that the next labour goverment will feature an ‘economics’ minister.

    Comment by danylmc — November 28, 2011 @ 1:17 pm

  11. So the media actually run NZ?

    Comment by merv — November 28, 2011 @ 1:18 pm

  12. Clare Curran. Deputy. Leader of the Labour. Party?

    Comment by Gregor W — November 28, 2011 @ 1:26 pm

  13. Is that it
    I think 12 is onto a winner
    Vote Claire
    Though Jim Anderton is just telling me Goff is the man

    Comment by Raymond A Francis — November 28, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

  14. I agree that we need to hear more about the political philosophies of the candidates but I don’t think American style primary debates are the way to go. Remember when ACT did the same thing?

    Comment by Hugh — November 28, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

  15. In reference to Robertson, you’re not going to mention that he is gay and the NZ public might yet not be comfortable with a gay PM? Are you living in a bubble or just timid?

    Comment by Ben — November 28, 2011 @ 1:47 pm

  16. Cunliffe has the chutzpah to make Labour win 2014. Only he can do it for them.

    Comment by dannyboy — November 28, 2011 @ 1:56 pm

  17. Come to think of it, given that ‘process of elimination’ also encompasses discharge from the body of indigestible materials and/or waste products, Danyl’s list needs a little fleshing out.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 28, 2011 @ 2:03 pm

  18. “I’d say that many of those relationships are beyond repair.”

    Why do you think that?

    TV3 are – I imagine – delighted that Key reacted in the way he did and paid attention to them. HOS probably feel the same way. The whole point of journalism is to be noticed and reacted to. If the discussion gets a little heated the publicity is even better. All of the principals (aside from the rather dumb and ethics free cameraman) came out of it ahead. TV3 and HOS got publicity and could pose as disinterested seekers after truth while Key looked authoritative and Winston got some much needed publicity. Labour and the Greens lost out but not everyone can be a winner, eh? All the participants understand how this stuff works. It’s not personal.

    I also wouldn’t overrate journalistic solidarity. For every supporter of Bryce Johns’ dopey arguments there will be plenty who disagree. Supporters of the cameraman will also be, I bet, outnumbered by those who disagree.

    Comment by Tinakori — November 28, 2011 @ 2:07 pm

  19. Ben: Danyl on whether Robertson’s sexuality would be an issue here: http://dimpost.wordpress.com/2011/02/06/on-leadership-non-goff-related/

    Comment by bradluen — November 28, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

  20. arrogant, cunning and vicious enough to be leader

    that leadership niche is already occupied by Peters. It may be better to opt for differentiation. Have they heard of Obama?

    Cunliffe is also one of those responsible for where Labour is now – it’s the type of party he wanted.

    Comment by NeilM — November 28, 2011 @ 2:17 pm

  21. Cunliffe can also talk to the bros in their own language before hopping back to his east Auckland mansion http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvenqcfX1j8

    Comment by insider — November 28, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

  22. “In reference to Robertson, you’re not going to mention that he is gay and the NZ public might yet not be comfortable with a gay PM? Are you living in a bubble or just timid?”

    Vernon Small mentioned that Robertson was gay in today’s Dom Post. Small said it wasn’t an issue.

    Comment by Ross — November 28, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

  23. Being gay isn’t an issue. Not having proven himself enough is. And I doubt if he has the toughness to get the Labour caucus in order and behind him (without knives).

    Robertson also seems to be yet another from Labour in denial going by his comments yesterday on the Labour campaign:
    “The result didn’t go the way we wanted, but I think we ran a good campaign.”

    http://tvnz.co.nz/q-and-a-news/grant-robertson-interview-transcript-4574103

    Comment by Pete George — November 28, 2011 @ 2:34 pm

  24. TV3 are – I imagine – delighted that Key reacted in the way he did and paid attention to them.

    Of course, it made for news. Doesn’t necessarily mean they like him personally and don’t now view him as a free media fodder.

    Comment by Flynn the Cat — November 28, 2011 @ 2:38 pm

  25. I think that the Labour party should have all of its MPs/candidates select a children’s book, record them reading it, and then play the recordings to kindergarten focus groups. Anyone who sounds scary should be eliminated from the leadership challenge.

    It would probably eliminate everyone but Arden and Hipkins, but I can’t really see the problem in that :-)

    Comment by R Singers — November 28, 2011 @ 2:39 pm

  26. >Labour are changing their leadership

    Are they? When was this announced?

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 28, 2011 @ 2:40 pm

  27. if I had any say I’d opt for Shearer out of those listed above. I thought getting a safe seat on the basis of being friends with the leadership was symptomatic of all that’s wrong with Labour wrong but since he’s there they may as well take a punt.

    Comment by NeilM — November 28, 2011 @ 2:41 pm

  28. Hire Peters to be interim leader of the opposition until Nov 2014?

    Comment by Leopold — November 28, 2011 @ 2:42 pm

  29. Some people think New Zealand isn’t ready for a gay prime minister. By and large, these are the same people who thought Carterton wasn’t ready for a transsexual mayor.

    Comment by Kahikatea — November 28, 2011 @ 2:55 pm

  30. @danyl: And it’s going to take a hell of a charm offensive to rebuild relationships with the political media after sending the police in to search their offices in the midst of an election campaign.

    Are you using hyperbole to make a point, or do you genuinely believe the Prime Minister is directing police actions on a complaint he laid?

    A senior police member might be giving priority to Key’s complaint because he’s the PM, but I doubt that Key phoned someone and said, “I want those media offices searched and I want it done before election day.”

    Comment by Ataahua — November 28, 2011 @ 3:09 pm

  31. @Kahikatea I think you’ll find that most of the those same people assume that we have already had a gay PM.

    Comment by R Singers — November 28, 2011 @ 3:16 pm

  32. I think although they would never admit it, a sizable proportion of New Zealanders would not vote for a gay PM no matter how qualified, they’d just find convenient excuses to justify the decision instead of facing the fact that it was because of bigotry.

    I’d be happy to eat my words, but I simply think as a country we haven’t come that far yet.

    Comment by Anthony — November 28, 2011 @ 3:41 pm

  33. @ R Singers

    Jim Bolger was gay!?

    Comment by Gregor W — November 28, 2011 @ 3:47 pm

  34. “It’s an idea that’s anathema to the Philosopher-Kings running Labour though – the party is there to give them money and perform menial tasks like leafleting. Why should they care what the members ‘think’?”

    Wow, this is such an accurate and not at all hyperbolic or, um, made-up assessment of Labour party leadership. *eyeroll*

    Comment by Tui — November 28, 2011 @ 3:49 pm

  35. He also seems to be rather nasty. A rinse and repeat of everything Labour did wrong in 2008 and 2011. That is why I just don’t see Cunliffe as credible. They need a positive message for 2014 and I don’t see that coming from him.

    I think Cunliffe does have a public image problem — my proof being that my Mum thinks he’s smug.

    But he has a much stronger case in terms of what is actually done in government — as opposed to the doubtless entertaining blame-laying and damning-to-hell that tend to occupy political blogs (e.g.: “arrogant, cunning and vicious” yadda-yadda). There are very few MPs who would have been intellectually capable of seeing through telecommunications reform the way he did. And I honestly think telecommunications reform is the unheralded achievement of the Clark years.

    I’m not certain he’d be my pick, but perhaps he could learn likability. You can’t learn intellect.

    Comment by Russell Brown — November 28, 2011 @ 3:50 pm

  36. A senior police member might be giving priority to Key’s complaint because he’s the PM, but I doubt that Key phoned someone and said, “I want those media offices searched and I want it done before election day.”

    They sought to solve an embarrassing political problem by getting the police involved in an an election campaign. The police have been sufficiently desperate for evidence to support the complaint that they have had to go on fishing expeditions at four major media organisations. During an election campaign. That’ll do me.

    And I know that senior APN people were genuinely shocked by National’s vicious response, both in public and — it’s safe to assume — in private. National has stored up some future trouble with the news media.

    Comment by Russell Brown — November 28, 2011 @ 3:56 pm

  37. I am in broad agreement with Russell Brown. The telco reforms were a huge achievement by Cunliffe, and incredibly complex. Few Ministers could have achieved them, and Cunliffe was all over the details. I understand he almost wrote the departmental paper himself.

    Comment by dpf — November 28, 2011 @ 4:01 pm

  38. you’re not saying that the media have personal agendas that they pursue, are you Russell? And here was I thinking they were noble paragons of impartiality.

    Comment by insider — November 28, 2011 @ 4:02 pm

  39. @ dpf

    I’m sure Cunliffe thinks that too.

    Comment by insider — November 28, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

  40. >>Labour are changing their leadership

    >Are they? When was this announced?

    Is there not a Graeme Henry argument for keeping on Goff?

    Comment by mcreid — November 28, 2011 @ 4:12 pm

  41. I am in broad agreement with Russell Brown.

    In other signs that the election campaign is over … ;-)

    Comment by Russell Brown — November 28, 2011 @ 4:14 pm

  42. Few Ministers could have achieved them, and Cunliffe was all over the details. I understand he almost wrote the departmental paper himself.

    Sorry DPF – until I have confirmation from Russell that his Mum approved that paper, I can’t take your claim seriously.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 28, 2011 @ 4:15 pm

  43. @Russell: National has stored up some future trouble with the news media.

    Of that I have no doubt.

    Comment by Ataahua — November 28, 2011 @ 4:19 pm

  44. “You can’t learn intellect.”

    No, but you can delegate it to trusted lieutenants. If you have them.

    Comment by Stephen Judd — November 28, 2011 @ 5:25 pm

  45. David Shearer lacks presence. He comes across as a nice enough guy but he would needs heaps of media coaching to cope with leadership. And he is relatively inexperienced in Parliament. Roberston is knowledgeable on policy and competent but also doesn’t have a lot of presence. I don’t care if he is gay, and it shouldn’t matter, but it would give the opposition some dog whistles about “not being in touch with ordinary NZ families” kind of rhetoric. Like they did with Clark because she didn’t have children. He also represents Wellington Central, home of the famously bloated wasteful public service, which he would no doubt stick up for. Can’t see that going down well in Auckland.

    I can’t see a leader there at all; may as well stick with Goff for a while and do some succession planning. Oh, that’s right. The list.

    Comment by Me Too — November 28, 2011 @ 5:29 pm

  46. And apparently his fellow party members despise him, which greatly endears him to me

    I love this line most of all. As a former West Aucklander I quite like Cunliffe, so I’m biased, but I don’t know that any of the others would be better (and I have never comprehended the assumption that Shane Jones has a whelk’s chance in a supernova of leading Labour).

    Comment by QoT — November 28, 2011 @ 6:41 pm

  47. How can you overlook Kris Faafoi ?

    …and wherz all da wimmin @ ?

    but seriously, offset cunners with Helloooooooooo Jacinda and it’s FTW !!!

    Comment by pollywog — November 28, 2011 @ 6:44 pm

  48. As a Nat voter already worried about 2014 under MMP, Cunliffe is the one I fear the most. He is the best equipped to take on Key – in the house, in the media, and in leaders debates.

    Comment by Pat — November 28, 2011 @ 8:08 pm

  49. Also Danyl, I still think you massively overestimate the importance of an electorate seat. As has been pointed out, O’Connor did what Little didn’t, and he is no contender.

    Comment by Hugh — November 28, 2011 @ 8:16 pm

  50. To win 2014 Labour need to pull voters back from national. Who will appeal to that sort of swing voter? Someone strong and solid. If John ‘cold eyes’ Key is hasn’t retired by the next election Labour need a leader who will hold his/her own against a formidable presence.
    The closest to that is Cunners.

    Comment by Myles Thomas — November 28, 2011 @ 8:26 pm

  51. “Like they did with Clark because she didn’t have children”

    For nine years that didn’t matter. Every leader has potential attack lines in their personality and history. Politicians who are already successful have had a lot of practice compensating.

    Comment by Stephen Judd — November 28, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

  52. Whats wrong with Jones? He seems like a pretty smart guy. He seems quite liberal, and comes across as a leader. He sounds like he has some common sense.

    Comment by swan — November 28, 2011 @ 9:46 pm

  53. @Pat I saw both Cunliffe and Key speak a few years ago at Tech Ed. Key was funny and connected with the audience. Cunliffe came across as awkward. Unless he has got a hell of a lot better I don’t see how he’d do a better job than Goff.

    Comment by R Singers — November 28, 2011 @ 10:40 pm

  54. Jeez the Labour Party are so spoiled for choice for Goff’s successor….NOT.

    He shouldnt resign as Labour leader because quite frankly, he’s the best theyve got. It was the caucus that let him down. He was just started to find his feet as leader IMO, with his Preferred PM rating starting to pick up. Walter Nash lost elections in 51 and 54 before winning in 57 (and then losing in 60 and 63). Norman Kirk lost in 66 and 69 before winning in 1972. Imagine if they resigned after losing first time.

    Goff should go before his caucus and let them know in uncertain terms that he will be staying, and if anyone has to go, others should be going before he does.

    Comment by millsy — November 28, 2011 @ 10:43 pm

  55. “…with his Preferred PM rating starting to pick up….”

    If you tried to graph it, you’d realise that by the time Goff’s rating caught up to Key, both of them would be dead.

    Comment by Pat — November 28, 2011 @ 11:17 pm

  56. Probably not Robertson’s time yet (including for deputy) but if it comes he could be “the gay we can vote for”: a bloke who likes a beer and loves his rugby.

    Comment by Brooklyn — November 29, 2011 @ 9:18 am

  57. How can anyone ignore the amazing contribution Rajen Prasad has made? Obviously the leader in waiting.

    Comment by Michael Stevens — November 29, 2011 @ 9:53 am

  58. @Brooklyn, he’s the gay man you can take to a bbq to meet your dad

    Comment by NN — November 29, 2011 @ 2:24 pm

  59. And so it begins…

    Comment by Sam F — November 29, 2011 @ 4:59 pm


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