The Dim-Post

August 23, 2013

Very serious punditry

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 10:01 am

Via Guyon Espiner’s twitter feed:

espinerI love the mental picture. Murray McCully stroking his chin. ‘Shane Jones would make an amazing leader of the Labour Party. Jones is the leader we really fear.  The public would adore and worship Shane Jones. I hope no senior political journalists advise the Labour Party to pick SHANE JONES.’ While Espiner furrows his brow and nods. Yes. Jones. The guy who never won a seat, who stood down after charging pornographic movies to the taxpayer, introduced laws regulating shower pressure in the middle of the 2008 election campaign when Labour struggled with the ‘nanny state’ perception, who stood down again when he was investigated for immigration fraud and now only ever speaks out to attack Labour’s largest coalition partner. That’s who National really fears.

The actual leadership contenders are Robertson and Cunliffe. I think they’d both be pretty good. Neither of them are going to go on a bus tour of the heartland, or tell journalists they want to model themselves on Finnish neo-liberal politicians, or attack the welfare system, or hire the Paganis as political advisers, or hold up dead fish in Parliament, or forget about tens of thousands of dollars in a foreign bank account, or visit the Sky City box while the party is criticising Sky City any of the other awesomely terrible decisions Shearer made.

Neither are ideal. Robertson is a risk, partly because he’s gay and that’s an unknown commodity in New Zealand politics, partly because he’s the MP for Wellington Central, and that’ll be tricky to sell in Auckland and Christchurch. Cunliffe is a risk because, frankly, he’s very weird. We keep hearing that his caucus hate him, which seems like a ringing endorsement to me.

I don’t know which of them the party should choose.  I do know that they should listen to their god-dammed members this time around, and not just stitch something up in caucus or do a deal with the unions to block vote for a leadership team.

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88 Comments »

  1. Except Jones didn’t introduce laws regulating shower pressure. I know that’s what the media said and Nick Smith hyped it up (when has he ever been concerned with accuracy?) but it isn’t true.

    Of course, that this is the *perception* about what happened matters more than the reality about what happened.

    I’d say Robertson’s gayness is less a problem that his Wellington Central-professional politicianness. National will sell that as being out of touch with ordinary NZers.

    Comment by MeToo — August 23, 2013 @ 10:29 am

  2. *than his Wellington Central-professional politicianness

    Comment by MeToo — August 23, 2013 @ 10:30 am

  3. I’m not a Labor party member so I don’t suppose I have any right to comment, but can someone explain to me how Robertson can even be in the running? What has he ever said, done or achieved that could qualify him to be Labor party leader and future PM?

    Comment by Antoine — August 23, 2013 @ 10:30 am

  4. I read Vernon Small’s piece on Stuff this morning and decided that most of press gallery wouldn’t be able to find Auckland on a map, and the entire parliamentary establishment break out in hives at the idea of consulting the great unwashed masses.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 23, 2013 @ 10:45 am

  5. Brilliant, Danyl.

    Things move on fast and we don’t speak ill of the dead, so we’ll probably never know what Shearer was thinking when he went for the leader’s job, and all the time he was doing it. 20 months of “WTF?”, observing a sort of political Stockholm syndrome, where you believe you’re in the right place because … well, because you’ve been put there.

    Presumably he finally learned the captors weren’t his friends and he managed to crawl out the window, thank goodness.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — August 23, 2013 @ 10:48 am

  6. Labour didn’t need a new leader, they need a new caucus.

    Well a substantially new one at least.

    It’s still just what happened to be left over when Clark and Cullen called it a day.

    Comment by NeilM — August 23, 2013 @ 10:50 am

  7. To many grammatical errors in my post at 11.0am – can you delete please Danyl?

    “…I’d say Robertson’s gayness is less a problem that his Wellington Central-professional politicianness…”

    His gayness is another strike against him in that context. Gay AND a trougher professional politician AND from Wellington Central AND he has never had a “proper” job in his life. Reality has a habit of biting you on the arse in politics, and the reality is that Labour’s vote was 18% of the total adult population last election. Amongst men it is lower. Amongst provincial and/or blue collar male voters it is now miniscule. Robertson as leader will simply reinforce the perception that Labour is a party that is completely out of touch with “mainstream” New Zealand values. The problem is pointing out this piece of brutal political reality will get you accused of being a bigot by the same people who have delivered the party to it’s current sorry state, but who refuse to admit to the possibility that they could possibly be wrong about anything ever.

    Auckland now dominates the political landscape, and to win next year Labour needs a leader who is Auckland based and that can appeal to Labour’s diverse working class base in the South and west of Auckland. Cunliffe is the only possible candidate if you want to win back and mobilise that Labour Auckland vote in 2014. Also, Since the beginning of the modern era of NZ politics (circa 1975) only one non-Auckland party leader has won an election and no leader from outside Auckland has won an election since 1996. Key is Auckland based, and so must be his principal opponent.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 23, 2013 @ 11:02 am

  8. This is the second time I’ve seen claims that Labour’s not getting many male blue-collar votes. Where are you getting your data from?

    Comment by pete — August 23, 2013 @ 11:04 am

  9. Antoine – not sure about achievements, but I have heard Robertson speak and he seems to be clear and incisive. He manages to be very on-message without sounding like he’s had the life and soul media-trained out of him.

    I think Labour could do with someone who has that ability whether it’s Robertson or someone else.

    Comment by Thomas Beagle (@thomasbeagle) — August 23, 2013 @ 11:16 am

  10. “I’d say Robertson’s gayness is less a problem than his Wellington Central-professional politicianness.”

    Not to mention his career public-servantishness. He’ll constantly need a quick wit if he’s going to cope with all the obvious public attacks based on that. Sanctuary’s right, though. For anyone to win an election in New Zealand, it’s critical to convince voters in Auckland, and that’s probably where David Cunliffe would have a clear advantage.

    I appreciate Grant Robertson for many reasons, but watching from outside I sort-of hope he doesn’t end up leading the Labour Party.

    Comment by izogi — August 23, 2013 @ 11:47 am

  11. Personally, I’d be happy with either Robertson or Cunliffe. Robertson is affable, sharp, and has the die-hard political ambition that Shearer so obviously lacked. In a lot of ways he reminds me of Helen Clark. Cunliffe is smart and hard-working, and doesn’t care that everybody hates him. He may be the best foil for John Key on the Labour benches. But as long as it’s not (please God) David Parker, I really don’t care who wins.

    Comment by Higgs Boatswain — August 23, 2013 @ 12:12 pm

  12. I appreciate Grant Robertson for many reasons, but watching from outside I sort-of hope he doesn’t end up leading the Labour Party.

    Same. As others have noted, Robertson is both a product of the machine and too a lesser degree, tainted by the Clash of the Apparatchiks that installed Shearer. The party faithful made it pretty clear that they wanted things to change.

    Robertson could do worse than toning down the svengali and focusing more on role as Faithful Deputy, by quickly distancing himself from Mallard / Goff / King et. al.- they’ve had their day and can only be a liability going into the election cycle.

    I’m pretty sure that once resurrected, St. David of New Lynn will be magnanimous (to some at least).

    Comment by Gregor W — August 23, 2013 @ 12:28 pm

  13. “…Robertson could do worse than toning down the svengali and focusing more on role as Faithful Deputy, by quickly distancing himself from Mallard / Goff / King et. al.- they’ve had their day…”

    This is something that has been bothering me. Sure, Shearer was not hot. But his front bench and his most senior team members have been utterly useless, and he is taking all the heat for that lack of performance. Burned out, underperforming has-beens from another era springs to my mind when considering the likes of King and Mallard. They should have all buggered off and become the mayors of Wellington and Hutt Valley respectively three years ago. Cunliffe will owe not a lot to the old guard ABC faction. Hopefully that means he’ll clean them out next time they come to rank the party list.

    @Pete – I would love to have the stats at my fingertips, but I don’t – if i remember and have the time I’ll do my best to find them :)

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 23, 2013 @ 12:44 pm

  14. Oh, the dilemma of the Wikipedia editors. Whose photo to put next to the definition of ‘useful idiot’? Guyon, Duncan Garner, or Paddy Gower? It’s painful hearing Matthew Hooten & Farrar try to push their ‘oh no, don’t pick him’ options on the left(ish) parties.

    On choices, Parker has ruled himself out, Jones has all but ruled himself out (a clever ruse to try come back as a compromise candidate? But it won’t work, as he is so lazy he has no wider support base), and Little Andy has been spectacular … at doing nothing. When Little A gets outperformed by Darien Fenton on union issues, why the heck should unions support him? Oh, and Jones and Little are to the right of both Cunliffe & Robertson, and the bulk of members.

    Which leaves us with what Sanctuary said. Cunliffe would be better for Labour’s prospects, but the identity politics factions in caucus and party are so strong that Robertson may get it anyway, in which case, nose dive for Labour.

    Comment by bob — August 23, 2013 @ 1:00 pm

  15. Robertson is a risk, partly because he’s gay and that’s an unknown commodity in New Zealand politics

    His gayness is another strike against him

    Are you two kidding? Gayness hasn’t suddenly popped into politics a-la Vampires arriving in Bon Temps.

    We have a history of LGBT individuals being accepted into NZ politics. We’ve had homosexual sports stars & celebritys for a long time. Homosexual cabinet ministers, mayors, and (if the most distasteful of rumours are given creedence) a homosexual 3-term PM. All the pre-vote polling had the public in favour of marriage equality. If Robertson were to get the job, and fail to lead Labour to victory, it wouldn’t be because he prefers the company of other men.

    Or, to put it bluntly; If you “hatez teh fags” you were not voting Labour before and you still wont now.

    Comment by Phil — August 23, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

  16. “We keep hearing that his caucus hate him, which seems like a ringing endorsement to me.”

    i would support this being mandatory across all parties – then we might finally get some real biffo in the house – just like those scenes from the korean parliament from way back

    sometimes i wish they would drop the pretence and go straight to saying whats in their hearts and chucking a few microphones at each other.
    (i keep seeing winston standing unscathed and grinning at the kerfuffle hes initiated for some reason here)

    Comment by framu — August 23, 2013 @ 1:12 pm

  17. Or, to put it bluntly; If you “hatez teh fags” you were not voting Labour before and you still wont now.

    Agree that it mostly won’t matter to Labour supporters, or those who could be persuaded to be Labour supporters, but it might be something that others will vote against.

    Thus it could galvanise the support of (say) National. It is similar to the “Nanny State” idea. It is subtly sexist, and worked on that level because Helen Clark was a woman. It wouldn’t have worked if she was a man, and it was a great rallying cry for National.

    So “gayness” is a risk, but it need not be a bad risk. After all, if National did try to rally around an anti-gay vote, it could back-fire tremendously on them.

    Comment by RJL — August 23, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

  18. I do not think I can trust Robertson. He did not support his leader ever. Where was he when Shearer fronted up to media. A good deal of the rumor about Shearer’s position the party appears to have emanated from the Robertson camp.
    Cunliffe still has a problem with TV in that his appearance comes across oddly. Does he have a left eye problem or something similar?. If he wants to run I think I would go with Edwards comment that Cunliffe looks better with a beard. When he had the beard over the Christmas holidays 18 months back it suited him and suited the camera.
    A minor point but the perception of the public can play a big part in warming to a politician
    I agree that it will be good to be rid of the Paganis’ but even more than that a new leader needs a vigorous capable team and a solid plan how to get the fuddy duddies out of the parliamentary party and new blood into the part at 2014 election or before. Said it before we need the equivalent of Michelle Boag to go in and move MP’s on and get that blasted party list ready for 2014 so that what ever happens the list has a good range of solid names that we can rely on and not be embarrassed when a list seat becomes vacant and we suddenly realise how awful the next name on list is.

    Comment by Ron — August 23, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

  19. Great first para, Danyl

    Comment by Tinakori — August 23, 2013 @ 1:31 pm

  20. @Sanctuary: thanks for that. I was mostly curious to know if it came from some sort of quantitative research or if it was just some sort of beltway hocus-pocus.

    Comment by pete — August 23, 2013 @ 1:45 pm

  21. Neither of them are going to go on a bus tour of the heartland

    I agree that such tours were/are cringe-worthy and seldom useful, but is there a better way to get rid of the ‘dirty Wellington Centralness’ of Robertson?

    Comment by Auto_Immune — August 23, 2013 @ 1:51 pm

  22. There seems to be an irony that Marayan Street led the charge to remove Shearer for non performing, she is largely seen as a non perfomer (anyone refer to anything she has done) and she refuses to win an electorate seat. Maybe it was karma for her being demoted as a non performer. Little is unelectable, unless there is something I dont know about Jonathan Young on the campaign field. The same with Ardern and Jones, you can hardly argue that you are going to lead Labour to victory when you fail to win a seat yourself.

    Comment by rjs131 — August 23, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

  23. If he wants to run I think I would go with Edwards comment that Cunliffe looks better with a beard.

    The last thing Cunliffe should do is listen to Brian Edwards.

    FWIW, there are very few successful (western world) political leaders with beards – I suspect because (a) historically they’ve been used to cover weak chins (b) beardies in suits come across as wonks on camera and (c) women don’t like them.

    Cunliffe’s quasi-stubble isn’t going to cut it. Unless you have a beard like Christopher Lee, you’re losing

    Comment by Gregor W — August 23, 2013 @ 2:06 pm

  24. women don’t like them.

    They don’t?

    Comment by danylmc — August 23, 2013 @ 2:13 pm

  25. A new study from The Evolution of Human Behavior says that men are their most attractive with a ten-day stubble rather than being clean-shaven or fully bearded http://www.refinery29.com/2013/04/46218/facial-hair-male-attractiveness-study-beards

    Comment by Ron — August 23, 2013 @ 2:20 pm

  26. There is no union block vote. Never was, never will be. It’s a secret postal ballot of elected workplace delegates, or in the SFWU’s case a direct one-member-one-vote system.

    Comment by Unionist — August 23, 2013 @ 2:23 pm

  27. Tom Semmens continues to peddle the same bigoted crap. Tom, get this: it’s 2013. The Labour Party membership’s not going to discriminate against a candidate because they’re gay. That’s that.

    Comment by Keir — August 23, 2013 @ 2:26 pm

  28. They don’t?

    Ask 10 women and report back.
    You’re wife does not count – she will lie to you because she loves you and doesn’t want to hurt your feelings.

    Comment by Gregor W — August 23, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

  29. The Labour Party membership’s not going to discriminate against a candidate because they’re gay.

    Some people in the wider electorate will though. I mean, they just will. I have elderly relatives who have voted Labour all their lives who simply will not vote for a party led by a gay man. Ever. So the questions are (1) how many voters will discriminate on that basis and (2) does Grant Robertson bring enough to the role to compensate for that?

    Comment by danylmc — August 23, 2013 @ 2:34 pm

  30. He’s weeeeird!!!

    Comment by Meep Meep — August 23, 2013 @ 2:45 pm

  31. 29 — yeah, but I also have mates who’ll vote for a party lead by a gay man but probably wouldn’t vote for a party lead by a straight. Like, I don’t think that being gay is a massive disadvantage: when we’ve tested New Zealanders’ degree of bigotry they’ve mostly pleasantly surprised us.

    Comment by Keir — August 23, 2013 @ 2:57 pm

  32. I know people who would only vote for a party led by a vegetarian. But I don’t think they’re representative of very many New Zealanders, while I suspect my elderly, low income, socially conservative relatives are representative of hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders.

    Comment by danylmc — August 23, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

  33. when we’ve tested New Zealanders’ degree of bigotry they’ve mostly pleasantly surprised us.

    Maybe. But it’s been tested in an abstract sense. Voting for the PM – given that is what a lot of people effectively do – is a bit differnt from worrying about whether those nice men from two doors down are allowed to get married.

    Comment by Gregor W — August 23, 2013 @ 3:02 pm

  34. Well yeah, but it is worth explicitly mentioning there’s a countervailing bloc. I also don’t think that there are that many people who’ll refuse to vote for Labour if there’s a gay in charge, especially given the people running that line are the same people who told us marriage equality was going to be a terrible strategic disaster etc.

    In almost every case, social liberalism has been preceded by dire warnings of electoral doom, and then it hasn’t happened.

    Comment by Keir — August 23, 2013 @ 3:05 pm

  35. I know that I personally have no issue with a gay PM. As far as I know, nor does anyone I usually socialise with.

    On the other hand, considering that as recently as 5 years ago there seemed to be quite a lot of people in the sewers who were justifying their dislike of the PM on the grounds that she was reportedly an ugly, lesbian bitch, I’m not convinced that it’s neutral territory as far as campaigning for votes goes, disappointing as that is. Don’t worry about any reasoned policy arguments, as this is the type of justification people resort to when yakking with their mates and they don’t really know why they don’t like a candidate. (It was very effective marketing by the opposition at that time, imho.)

    Strongly religious communities which are also traditionally Labour (eg. maybe some groups of people around South Auckland?) might also still be influenced away from Labour.

    This doesn’t mean that Grant Robertson shouldn’t necessarily be the next Labour leader because of it, but as Danyl pointed out, I think he should expect to have to compensate for this when it comes to some of the flip-flop voters. It’s still a really unfair world.

    Comment by izogi — August 23, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

  36. All this talk of Robertson’s sexuality reminds me of a former university lecturer, who loved arts/kulcha, and was a woman to boot.

    No common touch, not a beauty, too many books, and loves opera. That should go down well in the provinces.

    Yet Helen Clark became Labour’s most successful leader in 50 years.

    People don’t necessarily want to vote for someone like them.

    Comment by nfpsheppard — August 23, 2013 @ 3:41 pm

  37. Strongly religious communities which are also traditionally Labour (eg. maybe some groups of people around South Auckland?) might also still be influenced away from Labour.

    It turns out South Auckland has a really high profile gay Labour MP and it doesn’t seem to have been a problem.

    I definitely agree Robertson’s going to face discrimination for being gay. But there’s two parts: one, I don’t think the Party should replicate that discrimination internally (and for reasons based in cynical electoral calculation), and two, I don’t think it will be as big deal as Sanctuary (for instance) makes it out to be.

    Comment by Keir — August 23, 2013 @ 3:53 pm

  38. How would Cunliffe and Ardern go?

    Comment by Northshoreguynz — August 23, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

  39. >then we might finally get some real biffo in the house – just like those scenes from the korean parliament from way back

    Last biffo in da house was Mallard vs Henare, IIRC.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — August 23, 2013 @ 4:54 pm

  40. Quite recently the NATIONAL dominated government passed into law the right of gay people to get married. Things really have changed in this country. I very much doubt that Robertson’s sexual orientation will turn away people who really had much chance of voting for Labour. That crowd has cleared out over the last 30 years, and votes for NZ First. They might like to tickle balls with the idea that somehow they’d magically start flirtations with a Labour party if they blocked the gay guy, but it’s bullshit and everyone knows it. National would most certainly NOT make any kind of public issue of it, that would backfire on them real hard, especially since they have their own share of the gay vote itself at stake, which is most likely bigger than the entire NZ First vote. I expect it would be quite the opposite, that they’d sing his praises and even pat themselves on the back for their own actual contribution to gay rights over the last few years.

    The biggest danger of a gay leader is that it might make it impossible to be in coalition with NZ First. This would be incredibly inexpedient under MMP. It might be worth doing nonetheless, but it means that Labour and the Greens have to pick up at around a 10% poll rise to get the government.

    I’m not sure about the Wellington beltway angle. Yes, there’s more people in Auckland, but there’s not more people in New Lynn, and voters in Otara most likely don’t expect any more help from the Westie MP than they would get from Paula Bennett.

    All that said, I personally prefer Cunliffe. I would probably actually party vote Labour this time if it’s him, switching back from the Greens. Under another leader, well, we’ll see. Not that my swing would help them, since they will need the Greens anyway (whom I voted for last time). It’s the un-voters, not the conservative voters, that they need to court. I think Labour have the policy to win them now, they just need the spokesperson.

    It’s going to be an interesting few weeks, and I really hope Labour use it like a primary, putting their hopefuls out in the public eye to see how they fly. That’s better than any focus group shite could ever be.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — August 23, 2013 @ 5:13 pm

  41. “…Tom Semmens continues to peddle the same bigoted crap. Tom, get this: it’s 2013. The Labour Party membership’s not going to discriminate against a candidate because they’re gay. That’s that….”

    The Labour Party is a bizarre place – it is full of people obsessed with gender and identity, but a place where are not allowed to discuss those obsessions except in terms of being suitably sympathetic to an outraged victim.

    I think there is no one so narrowed minded as someone who think they are not; and to often those who espose the liberal politics of identity are just as narrow minded in the range of opinions they will consider as any Rush Limbaugh, only with the added unpleasantness of a certain self-righteous smugness such as you consistantly display.

    The trouble I have with people like you Keir is the issues which really, really matter to you – isssues like feminism and racism and identity and gender politics and all those other beloved liberal topics dejour are only really central issues to people who have the time and/or the education to worry about them. People with university educations and/or jobs that mean they can afford the luxury of the time to think about them. Most Kiwis don’t have the time for that bullshit. They are to busy working, worrying about the bills and who will pick the kids up. So when they look at what political parties have to offer, and they see Labour people like you who make whether or not a person is a bigot the most important takeaway thing in the whole fucking discussion they roll their eyes and say “ah yeah, no thanks.”

    Your obsession with painting anyone who wants to discuss the sexuality of Grant Robertson (as part of the over-all message Labour needs to send to the electorate) as a bigot is a graphic example as to why Labours phone is off the hook with so many New Zealanders. It is insulting, because by shrieking that anyone who talks about Robertson’s sexuality is a bigot you are explicitly accusing everyone who has talked about it using anything less than your hysterical framing of being bigots.

    The centrality of me – LOOK AT ME – implicit in the self-absorded navel gazing of identity politics is to my mind ultimately just another strain of neo-liberal hyper-individulism, a middle class narcissism of small differences that has reduced Labour to an identity politics riddled shambles, routed from the provinces and exiled to urban centres where it desperately trys to paper over the cracks in its relationship with whatever is left of its core vote. The wreckage of the left in general and the Labour party in particular I see all around me is evidence your vision of what you think the Labour party should be concerned about has utterly failed. Your Labour party has utterly failed to discuss let alone come up with a plan to defeat the economic vandalism of neo-liberalism. You are to busy talking about who is and isn’t a bigot to talk about the economy. Your vision of the Labour party has led to utter electoral failure, except when the party meekly promises to do not actually do anything structural. And now utter organisational failure. If politcal decadence is a state of self-indulgent ideological decline then the party has become decadent under your identity politics watch.

    The jury is in on your vision of Labour party, my friend. You’ve failed.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 23, 2013 @ 5:17 pm

  42. yeah man you’re right burn all the homos guaranteed route to the beehive

    Comment by Trouble Man — August 23, 2013 @ 5:27 pm

  43. My money would be on no-one giving a shit about who gets intimately acquainted with Robertson’s private parts, and National being unwilling to make something of it because it would make them look cunts. That combined with his history as a party apparatchik though, and you’ve got a living embodiment of every Whaleoil/Kiwiblog pisstake of Labour. When it comes to making propaganda hay while the sun shines, that would be a glorious summer for National.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — August 23, 2013 @ 7:13 pm

  44. Hey guy, this stuff about Robertson having a ‘beltway’ problem is such rubbish, and really is just code for the gay ‘problem’ everyone wants to so breathlessly discuss. Here are some facts about Robertson:
    – his father was a criminal who went to prison
    – he watches rugby like a bloke watches rugby
    – his partner is a bus driver

    He’s the least beltway, most Waitakere Man candidate in contention. So come down off of bullshit mountain.

    Comment by GOB — August 23, 2013 @ 7:27 pm

  45. Or … Robertson being gay will provide Colin Craig with enough material for him to scare just under 5% of the party vote from National to the Conservative Party …

    Comment by Naturesong — August 23, 2013 @ 7:34 pm

  46. When it comes to making propaganda hay while the sun shines, that would be a glorious summer for National.

    But possibly one that could back-fire terribly; even if the propaganda was distributed via various sock puppets like DPF.

    On balance, Labour should just pick whomever they think will best lead their party and New Zealand, and fuck trying to second guess scum like DPF/Whaleoil.

    Comment by RJL — August 23, 2013 @ 7:38 pm

  47. I expect a fair chunk of the media will treat the leadership contest as a chance to field test the theory that its better to be talked about negatively than not at all.

    Comment by Alex Braae — August 23, 2013 @ 7:59 pm

  48. He’s the least beltway, most Waitakere Man candidate in contention. So come down off of bullshit mountain.

    And his top ten achievements are? I can’t name any. Waitakere man is not worried about who Robertson is fucking in private, its who he is willing to let get fucked in public. Waitakere man is getting fucked in public by GST increases and lack of wage growth or just boring old solid employment, where was any of Labour on these issues?

    Labour used too much political capital fighting for things that did not resonate with everyday people, gay marriage=meh! It was a fucking private members bill, FFS they are usually the realm of crack pots and idiots and people instinctively know this (cf. Jamie Lee Ross no tea break law from a guy that has never had a real job), Cheaper power bills now I am listening!

    I don’t like ANY of the candidates. Thats a huge problem, Cunliffe scares my wife, and me a bit, can’t nail it down but there is something. Robertson is a political operative (how the fuck he “watches rugby like a bloke watches rugby” or whatever the fuck that means) through and through.

    What I struggle wit his the white hot intensity of media coverage of the opposition as opposed to the actual people running the legislature at present, is it due to the Labour old guard still there and all the latest political Journo’s coming of age under them and not seeing a clean out of the dead wood. Is the dead wood still acting like a its a third term government after 1.7 terms in opposition. Yes and Yes.

    Comment by andy (the other one) — August 23, 2013 @ 8:41 pm

  49. I take 2 things out of these comments: 1)Cunliffe for Leader and 2) Im not shaving for 10 days.

    Comment by Saarbo — August 23, 2013 @ 9:22 pm

  50. Who would Chelsea Manning choose to be the next Labour Leader? Her views must be given due consideration.

    Comment by OECD rank 22 kiwi — August 23, 2013 @ 9:31 pm

  51. Waitakere man, last time I looked, is typically a property rich semi-rural lifestyler, whose reasons for voting National are mostly about being part of the upper classes themselves. But having been salt of the earth once, usually quite some time ago, they like to claim an affinity with the blue collar workers who still infest the lowlands of the West, but they won’t live there any more themselves on account of the how brown/yellow the neighborhood has become. If they are social liberals at all, it’s because they believe that they should be allowed to grow weed.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — August 23, 2013 @ 9:33 pm

  52. He’s the least beltway, most Waitakere Man candidate in contention. So come down off of bullshit mountain.

    His “bloke” credentials certainly far exceed mine. However, I was thinking more of his career as a public servant, ministerial adviser and MP – if he’d done a stint as teacher, academic or union organiser he’d be straight from Whale/DPF propaganda central casting.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — August 23, 2013 @ 10:31 pm

  53. Paying attention to party membership views as well as “focus groups” might be a good place to start.

    Self serving caucus cabals are not a good choice of leadership selectors in any democratic political movement.

    Authoritarian regimes tend to favour that approach. Those at the top look after those at the top while paying lip service to their loyal adherents. What the hell would the membership know what was good for them?

    Parasitic media pundits are grandstand experts.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — August 23, 2013 @ 11:08 pm

  54. “We keep hearing that his caucus hate him, which seems like a ringing endorsement to me.”

    The blogging equivalent of a hole in one.

    Comment by billbennettnz — August 24, 2013 @ 11:06 am

  55. Labour, take your time , get it right. No deals, no factions but find the best person to expose the Key just-another-bloke myth. Just get these people out of power.

    Comment by Hamish Mack — August 24, 2013 @ 11:27 am

  56. They fear Mr.Jones because a]his ideas are nearly always conjectural and 2]his efforts in the Debating chamber are sparing and oafish.In short he plays the political game just like a National M.P. does.

    Comment by Simon Rolleston — August 24, 2013 @ 1:06 pm

  57. Um, regarding beards: I’m a woman and I love beards. Sure, 10-day stubble is the MOST attractive, but beards are awesome too (as long as they don’t reach, I don’t know, Moses proportions or anything). Tidy beard = substantially hotter than clean shaven.

    Just putting that out there.

    Comment by Milla — August 24, 2013 @ 6:28 pm

  58. .. and, Cunliffe needs a fuller beard (not just stubble), in order to disguise the slight jowls he has acquired. The stubble is not quite working for him. I await the full beard. Still won’t make me vote for him though.

    Comment by Milla — August 24, 2013 @ 6:37 pm

  59. Um, regarding beards: I’m a woman and I love beards.
    Um, Here you go. Not Moses proportions or anything.

    Comment by Joe W — August 24, 2013 @ 7:06 pm

  60. Um, regarding beards: I’m a woman and I love beards.
    Um, Here you go. Not Moses proportions or anything.

    Ohhhh. I call foul.

    Comment by Milla — August 24, 2013 @ 7:53 pm

  61. “Neither of them are going to go on a bus tour of the heartland, or tell journalists they want to model themselves on Finnish neo-liberal politicians, or attack the welfare system, or hire the Paganis as political advisers, or hold up dead fish in Parliament, or forget about tens of thousands of dollars in a foreign bank account, or visit the Sky City box while the party is criticising Sky City any of the other awesomely terrible decisions Shearer made.”

    Could Danyl forsee that Shearer was going to do all this back in 2011? Because I think I can remember who got the coveted Dim Post endorsement back then, and it wasn’t Cunliffe.

    Basically, if you believe that Shearer truly was useless, you also have to believe that that level of uselessness is impossible to foresee.

    Comment by Hugh — August 24, 2013 @ 10:20 pm

  62. >Basically, if you believe that Shearer truly was useless, you also have to believe that that level of uselessness is impossible to foresee.

    Unless, of course, you always believed it, and foresaw it. Pretty much most of the Labour Party, not including the caucus, saw this, which is why they’ve been so angry ever since.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — August 25, 2013 @ 1:18 am

  63. @Ben: Well, AFAIK the criticism of Shearer during the contest was more along the lines of him being too centrist, not with a lack of media savvy.

    Comment by Hugh — August 25, 2013 @ 2:32 am

  64. Friends, Morons and countrymen, – lend me your ears!

    I know people are excited – you know ‘new leader’ ‘take it to National’ ya de ya de yah… but really to be that excited that they think that their messiah is coming in the shape of David Cunliffe – isn’t it time to seriously ask if perhaps the gene-pool in the Labour’s primordial slime has been so seriously depleted post Helen that even the emergence a lung-fish is starting to look like the dawn of man?

    Since when did being Walter Mitty equate to having the political smarts to lead the people out of Egypt?

    I liked Shearer, and feel he was very badly advised and set up to fail by his ‘mates’. Their one regret will be that he resigned before he could take the collective shame for the venial incompetence his ‘colleagues’ displayed by ‘losing’ the next election.

    I think he was subjected to the longest and most protracted back-stabbing imaginable. If Shakespeare had had Shearer instead of Julius Ceaser as inspiration,
    :”Et tu, David?” would have been the opening line, and the stabbing would have been the next three scenes, the finale and the encore. Boring theatre and boring politics, but about as much imagination as this lot have shown themsevles capable of. (remember formulating policy, exciting public imagination and inspiring a will for change as politics? what ever happened to that, I wonder?).

    Sorry, but there it is. But anyway, I came to bury Shearer, I guess, not to praise him.

    Comment by Lee C — August 25, 2013 @ 7:20 am

  65. Grant Robertson as leader with Annette King as the deputy. That would be absolutely hilarious as they would both take so much piss out of National when they are sitting together in the House of Representatives. People may favour David Cunliffe as leader with Jacinda Ardern as the deputy but that would be far too serious and a bit cold. You’ve got to be able to poke fun at the government as well as attack them and you have to engage really well with voters.

    Comment by Daniel Lang — August 25, 2013 @ 1:15 pm

  66. Daniel Lang – you should have stopped after “hilarious”.

    Comment by Gregor W — August 25, 2013 @ 1:30 pm

  67. >Well, AFAIK the criticism of Shearer during the contest was more along the lines of him being too centrist, not with a lack of media savvy.

    Wasn’t how I saw it. He was poor on camera right from the start. So poor, in fact, that it was hard to tell what his positioning was. I still don’t know, 20 months later.

    >I think he was subjected to the longest and most protracted back-stabbing imaginable.

    A few examples would be good. When was he backstabbed, and by whom?

    His problem was that he wasn’t gaining support, Labour’s popularity steadily sank under his tenure. It may be from forces outside of his control, but then again, it may not. We’ll see soon enough. Coming across poorly in televized interviews was something he never overcame. That’s just not good enough, really.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — August 25, 2013 @ 1:51 pm

  68. “the longest and most protracted back-stabbing imaginable”

    The scary, pointy thing that did for Shearer wasn’t a knife. It was a microphone.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — August 25, 2013 @ 2:24 pm

  69. The best thing about this is the emergence of Corin Dann as a journalist. Doesn’t seem to be prone to chasing people with micorphones, trying to beat up a story or so far making himself the story. Very much enjoying his work so far.

    Comment by sheesh — August 25, 2013 @ 5:05 pm

  70. isssues like feminism and racism and identity and gender politics and all those other beloved liberal topics dejour are only really central issues to people who have the time and/or the education to worry about them.

    Um, I’m pretty sure that the people actually affected by those issues (ie women, non-white people, queers, who collectively make up well over half the population) care pretty strongly about that kind of stuff, even when they don’t have the education levels to express it in SOC101 terms. I think what you actually mean is ‘working class white men don’t care about this stuff’. Labour could do more to appeal to them, but if Labour has to choose between pandering to the prejudices of a not-so-big group and sticking up for the rights of more than half the population, I really hope they don’t have to think about what to do.

    Comment by helenalex — August 26, 2013 @ 9:06 am

  71. @Helenalex: While I generally agree with your point, working class white men are actually a fairly big group – given that working class people and white people are both very big groups, and men are only a slight minority. For example, there are probably more working class white men than there are non-white people of all genders and classes (depending how you define working class, admittedly).

    Comment by Hugh — August 26, 2013 @ 10:00 am

  72. I don’t think it was backstabbing that was difficult for Shearer. Obviously he retained support from the Robertson faction right up to the day he decided to step down. The problem was that he’s never had his own faction. The Robertson supporters thought they could bring Shearer in as a compromise and all would be well, but they were sorely mistaken because the compromise was verbally retarded (as in not saying things when he should have and not knowing what to say and stuttering out of fear all the time). The ironic fact is that it’s not Shearer that is being backstabbed, as most people are saying that he was a good guy and is courageous for stepping down when he did, but Robertson is being backstabbed because all of a sudden his Wellington supporters have dried up. Talk about an ephemeral power base!

    Comment by Daniel Lang — August 26, 2013 @ 10:01 am

  73. “A new study from The Evolution of Human Behavior says that men are their most attractive with a ten-day stubble rather than being clean-shaven or fully bearded”

    So, New Zealand’s next Prime Minister could be decided by which one loses their razor?

    Comment by Ross — August 26, 2013 @ 12:17 pm

  74. @Hugh: They’re a bigger group than non-white men, and maybe all non white people, and also bigger than queer people of all ethncities, but they’re a much smaller group than non-white men + all women + queer white men + university educated left wing white men*, all of whom are likely to support ‘identity politics’ issues of one sort or another (even if they don’t express it in those terms).

    * obviously queer non-whites, university educated women, etc have a particular interest, but I’m trying to avoid counting anyone twice by including them in multiple groups.

    Comment by helenalex — August 26, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

  75. >depending how you define working class, admittedly

    Yup. I think your numbers are way off, that the actual working class is not a very large class in this country. The middle class is the big group.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — August 26, 2013 @ 4:30 pm

  76. @Ben: I think that’s mostly something we tell ourselves and are told by politicians because it’s comforting, and because people want to regard themselves as middle class for aspirational reasons. Although the definition isn’t set in stone, ‘working class’ did not originally exclude white collar workers, and I think the concept loses a lot of its explanatory power if it’s limited to those who perform physical labour. I’m aware that I’m using an essentially Marxist definition here, but not only is class originally a Marxist concept, it’s in the Marxist (if not necessarily the original, Communist Manifesto derived expression) concept of the term that it has the most use as a term of sociological analysis, as opposed to an electoral buzzword.

    TL:DR version – if the working class is defined as those who don’t own significant independent means of income generation and are dependent on wages, then yea, it’s a big group, and growing.

    Comment by Hugh — August 26, 2013 @ 4:41 pm

  77. if the working class is defined as those who don’t own significant independent means of income generation and are dependent on wages, then yea, it’s a big group, and growing.

    Actually, that definition of ‘working class’ will be shrinking in number. The fastest growing population group in New Zealand is retired people with (either, or both) significant assets at their disposal and/or access to superannuation.

    Comment by Phil — August 26, 2013 @ 5:33 pm

  78. But if you mean working class in that sense, then that’s not the group that Trotter etc are referring to. The “white working class” is a mythic beast of the left, forever justifying unsavoury policy choices in the name of expediency.

    Comment by Keir — August 26, 2013 @ 5:46 pm

  79. Phil, firstly, access to superannuation isn’t the kind of independent means of income generation I’m talking about. I mean some kind of income generating asset. In NZ, the most common form of asset is property, and the number of property owners is shrinking. I seriously doubt that any other kind of asset ownership is growing, in total numbers, sufficiently fast to compensate for that.

    Comment by Hugh — August 26, 2013 @ 9:42 pm

  80. Look, even if every single straight white male in the country is working class (which clearly isn’t the case, and anyway they’re not a remotely politically homogenous group) THEY ARE STILL A MINORITY. Therefore it makes no sense to appeal to them in a way which pisses everyone else off.

    I know that straight white men exercise a disproportionate amount of power, but they still only get one vote each and still only count as one person each.

    Comment by helenalex — August 27, 2013 @ 8:37 am

  81. @Helenalex: Well, they’re not 100% homogenous, but neither are LGBT people or Maori, and that doesn’t mean policies that appeal to them are wrong.

    And while you’re right that they’re a minority, so is every single other identity group, except Pakeha and Women.

    Comment by Hugh — August 27, 2013 @ 8:46 am

  82. Oh and straight people, I guess.

    Comment by Hugh — August 27, 2013 @ 8:48 am

  83. > Therefore it makes no sense to appeal to them in a way which pisses everyone else off.

    Who is pissing everyone else off…and why can’t you appeal to more than one group at the same time?

    Comment by Ross — August 27, 2013 @ 11:53 am

  84. > I know that straight white men exercise a disproportionate amount of power,

    The vast majority of straight white men, for what it’s worth, have no power at all.

    Comment by Ross — August 27, 2013 @ 11:54 am

  85. > I’m aware that I’m using an essentially Marxist definition here, but not only is class originally a Marxist concept, it’s in the Marxist (if not necessarily the original, Communist Manifesto derived expression) concept of the term that it has the most use as a term of sociological analysis, as opposed to an electoral buzzword.

    I’m not sure that you’re using the term as Marx meant it at all. Perhaps you should actually say what your definition is.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — August 27, 2013 @ 8:01 pm

  86. @Hugh and Ross: Of course policies that appeal to straight white men aren’t automatically (or even usually) wrong. But there’s been a meme going around for the last decade or so that in order to win back white working class male voters, the Labour Party has to stop doing things which benefit queer people, Maori, and women. My point is that not only would this be morally wrong, but it doesn’t even make sense in terms of vote-gathering.

    Personally I think working class people have been getting screwed over since 1984, but it would be nice if more people talking about getting working class people to vote Labour again meant ‘let’s do stuff which objectively improves their lives’ rather than ‘let’s appeal to the bigotry of some of them by screwing over other minority groups’.

    Ross: I could get into an argument over ‘most straight white men have no power’ but it’s 8.30 in the morning and I haven’t had any coffee, so I’m going to respectfully disagree but let it slide.

    Comment by helenalex — August 28, 2013 @ 8:30 am

  87. “there’s been a meme going around for the last decade or so that in order to win back white working class male voters, the Labour Party has to stop doing things which benefit queer people, Maori, and women.”

    I think the feeling has been that Labour has bent over backwards to support these groups, or is being controlled somehow by these groups. Whether that is true or not is another matter.

    Comment by Ross — August 28, 2013 @ 10:02 am

  88. David Cunliffe keeps an edge over Grant Robertson at the present time. Shane Jones, the outsider, has failed to gain any momentum in the public arena as of yet. If this was the nineties, when people were more stupid than they are now, Shane Jones would have still started out as the outsider but would be the favourite by now. But people are jaded these days and know that he’s had too many blunders in his career already and people certainly don’t want to see him make a serious of blunder as the PM, like the current PM has done.

    Comment by Daniel Lang — August 31, 2013 @ 10:16 am


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