The Dim-Post

September 5, 2013

Labour leadership

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 9:12 am

I haven’t been following it that closely. I thought the contest would be ‘bad for Labour’ – seems I was totally wrong (so far). The party now has three MPs who are better known than Shearer ever was.

The Herald lists the caucus vote:

Grant Robertson
Jacinda Ardern, Maryan Street, Phil Twyford, Trevor Mallard, Megan Woods, Kris Faafoi, Darien Fenton, Clare Curran, Chris Hipkins, Annette King, Phil Goff. Likely: Ruth Dyson, Clayton Cosgrove, David Clark, Raymond Huo, David Parker

David Cunliffe
Moana Mackey, Lianne Dalziel, Nanaia Mahuta, Louisa Wall, Iain Lees-Galloway, Sue Moroney, Carol Beaumont, Su’a William Sio, Likely: Rajen Prasad.

Shane Jones
Rino Tirikatene. Likely: Damien O’Connor, Ross Robertson, David Shearer.

Unknown/undecided
Andrew Little, Meka Whaitiri.

I think Cunliffe will probably win this. Not because I want him to, particularly, but I think the polls will favor him over Robertson and that will be persuadable to some members of caucus and other influential voices within the party.  So lets say he does win and rewards his supporters with front bench roles. That is not a very formidable line-up to take the party into election year.  I’m pretty sure the only one with Ministerial experience is Dalziel, who is leaving.

As usual the Calvinball rules of New Zealand political journalism are in effect: Labour candidates need to provide precise costs for all their proposed policies. The actual government never needs to explain how much anything they do will cost. How much have Paula Bennett’s totally ineffectual benefit reforms cost the taxpayer? She announced the other day that it wasn’t worth adding it up.

Oddest thing about this leadership contest: TV3’s endorsement of one of the candidates. In some ways it makes sense: Jones is friends with the journalists who are promoting him and running negative campaigns against his opponents (it would all be an outrageous breach of ethics if their mate had any chance of winning). But portraying Jones as a street-fighting man of the common people when he’s a Harvard educated former corporate chairman who talks like he’s swallowed a thesaurus and ends every sentence with ‘etcetera’ elevates it all into absurdity, and its hard to get wound up about it.

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21 Comments »

  1. That TV3 ad by Guyon Espiner was just … weird.

    – A puff-piece for the “next PM”, but without anybody else puffing for him, only Jones and his missus. And they didn’t seem too excited at the prospect.
    – No politics at all. (“I want to be PM because …” – nope, we’re none the wiser).
    – A phone call with Cunliffe that somehow made the other candidate look better.
    – plus people in cars. Lots of shots of people in cars.

    A waste of petrol.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — September 5, 2013 @ 10:06 am

  2. I missed this ad yesterday with Guyon and am really disappointed because it seemed to cause a spat on Twitter. I enjoy that part. Does anyone have a link?

    Comment by The Ruminator — September 5, 2013 @ 10:13 am

  3. Jones, like Hone and Winston, makes good copy. Examiming candidates’ policies and records is boring. God forbid we actually look at the issues! Personally I find Cunliffe’s reinvention of himself as a leftie fascinating – you’d ever guess he’d held ministerial posts…

    Comment by Dorothy — September 5, 2013 @ 10:43 am

  4. The broadcast/mainstream media are certainly pushing for Jones hard. Stripping out the bloggers, here are the headlines from Bryce Edward’s roundup for the 4th September:

    Labour leadership
    John Armstrong (Herald): Reality check in Labour top job roadshow
    Claire Trevett (Herald): Leadership contenders promise a lot but caucus yet to sign off
    Tracy Watkins (Stuff): Cracks appear over Labour policy
    Marty Sharpe (Stuff): Jones gets laughs from Napier hustings
    Matthew Hooton (NBR): The case for Shane Jones
    Willie Jackson (RadioLive): Maori, gay or workers’ rights alright by me
    TVNZ: Labour MP responds to Shane Jones’ feminist comments
    Duncan Garner (RadioLIVE): Should Labour members vote Shane Jones?
    Carla Penman (Newstalk ZB): Shane Jones makes most of Northland stopover
    Sam Thompson (Newstalk ZB): It’s all uphill for Shane Jones
    Matt Chatterton (Newstalk ZB): Labour candidates stop off in Napier

    Eleven stories, only one candidate mentioned by name – Shane Jones, six times out of eleven stories – plus you just know who Willie Jackson will be talking about. We also got on the same day a TV3 hagiography of Jones.

    I am not sure why the MSM are so keen on Jones. If you were a conspiracy theorist you would suspect they pushing Jones to undermine Cunliffe, because they are see teir job as buttressing the nweo-liberal establishment and they are petrified of a populist, Auckland based transformational candidate actually getting the nod.

    Comment by Sanctuary — September 5, 2013 @ 10:55 am

  5. Particular fan of Espiner’s assertion on Twitter last night that your Very Serious Punditry post was actually a very serious “black ops” theory of McCully stroking his chin. These folks are amazing…

    Comment by garethw — September 5, 2013 @ 11:05 am

  6. Ha, and have just now seen PA did a post on exactly that…

    Comment by garethw — September 5, 2013 @ 11:36 am

  7. I suspect Shearer will abstain.

    Comment by MeToo — September 5, 2013 @ 11:38 am

  8. So being a former beauty queen is his partner’s most important attribute? Jeez TV3, join the 21st Century.

    Maybe TV3 “endorsed” him because the other candidates refused to play ball and let the cameras into their home lives? What weasels.

    Comment by MeToo — September 5, 2013 @ 11:42 am

  9. What these media clowns don’t seem to have grasped is this whole leadership process has only come about because the Labour party R&F were sick to the back teeth of the business as usual, underperforming neo-liberal museum pieces like Mallard, King, Goff and Robertson that they forced through a rule change.

    Let’s be honest – there can only be one winner from this process, no matter what Espiner or Garner or Hooton think. And that winner has to be Cunliffe. At least in Auckland (which is the only place it counts) the party R&F want their man, and they seem in no mood to brook any substitutes. I would suggest that is something caucus and the unions ought to bear in mind when considering their votes, and something the media should reflect on when they try and work out how to push the cosy agenda of the ABCs.

    Comment by Sanctuary — September 5, 2013 @ 11:58 am

  10. I am not sure why the MSM are so keen on Jones. If you were a conspiracy theorist you would suspect they pushing Jones to undermine Cunliffe

    If you watch Espiner’s piece its pretty clear that he very much likes and respects Jones. I think there’s also some liberal idealism in there. The first Maori Prime Minister would be a really huge deal. Ego is also a factor – Gower, Espiner and Garner probably like the idea that they can swing the mood of the country behind their favored candidate. Jones would also be an incredibly interesting leader/Prime Minister from a journalistic point of view.

    Comment by danylmc — September 5, 2013 @ 12:15 pm

  11. And as soon as Jones became Labour leader whaleoil et al would call him “Shane Bill Liu Jones” or something similar.

    Comment by MeToo — September 5, 2013 @ 12:31 pm

  12. @Danyl
    >So lets say he does win and rewards his supporters with front bench roles. That is not a very formidable line-up to take the party into election year.

    Let’s say he doesn’t, then things are very different. Which could be why he wouldn’t.

    @Sanctuary
    >At least in Auckland (which is the only place it counts) the party R&F want their man, and they seem in no mood to brook any substitutes.

    Sure, but they don’t get the final say, so it’s not a done deal yet. I wouldn’t put it past Labour to fuck this up one more time.

    @MeToo
    >And as soon as Jones became Labour leader whaleoil et al would call him “Shane Bill Liu Jones” or something similar.

    He’ll mock whoever it is. It doesn’t really make a lick of difference what he does, certainly not someone to be feared.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — September 5, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

  13. Just an aside, but:
    “The first Maori Prime Minister would be a really huge deal.” Lordy, I really hope not. Haven’t we learnt anything from President ‘Nobel Peace Prize, African-American’ Obama? The man is a neo-liberal warmonger who has done nothing for poor African Americans, but hey, he fits the identity politics meme, huh? Transformational, inspirational, aspirational, …. (sing it to the Muppets theme).

    Besides, no-one remember Sandra Lee (Alliance leader, and Deputy PM?, when Anderton stepped aside for a bit). And I have far more respect for Tariana Turia, who quit Labour on principle, formed a party and fought her way back to being a Minister than I would for Jones winning an internal party selection (not that he will).

    Frankly, the whole Maui St/Willie Jackson ‘vote for Jones cos he’s Maori’ message is unsultingly racist. Labour members should pick the best candidate, not the one with the right skin colour or whakapapa. That is how Louisa Wall, Mahuta, et al got in in the first place, leaving Labour’s front ranks so woefully talentless…

    Comment by bob — September 5, 2013 @ 1:58 pm

  14. Phil Twyford has said he won’t say who he is backing and, from what I know about him I’d expect he’d back Cunliffe rather than Robertson. I think the list of backers in the Herald owes more to Mallard’s wish list than anything else.

    Comment by Karen — September 5, 2013 @ 2:31 pm

  15. Transformational, inspirational, aspirational, …. (sing it to the Muppets theme).

    Goddammit, Bob.

    *hums white noise*

    Comment by Ataahua — September 5, 2013 @ 2:53 pm

  16. @Sanctuary
    I think the media pushing Jones is self interested but not necessarily about neo-liberalism. The media don’t really care about the individual candidates, the economic philosophies, what is best for Labour or protecting John Key. They care about it being a close horse race because that is what sells. If they all backed Cunliffe the outcome would be a foregone conclusion, if everybody rallied behind Robertson he might actually win which would not make for a close race next year (as Cunliffe is more likely to put up good media and debate performances against Key). There is absolutely no drawback in backing Jones, he makes for some great headlines and it keeps the race interesting because if he comes a strong third then the race gets decided on his second preferences…

    @ Bob
    Maui Street may be focussing on Jones a lot because he is a Maori candidate an its a blog which focuses on Maori issues, but Morgan is on record as endorsing Cunliffe and I’m not sure who Jack McDonald and Marama Davidson are backing but given that they are both Greens I’m pretty damn sure that it is not Jones either…

    Comment by Richard29 — September 5, 2013 @ 2:55 pm

  17. “They care about it being a close horse race because that is what sells.”

    Do the Labour Party members, who do the voting, actually care in the slightest about what’s coming through the media? Or do those people have their own channels of information through the Labour Party itself?

    I mean, it’s not as if the MSM’s biased promotion of one candidate or another in the face of 3.5 million people who cant vote will really make much of a difference, unless 3.5 million people decide to go and join the Labour Party just so they can vote.

    Comment by izogi — September 5, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

  18. @Dorothy: You’re absolutely right. Nobody seems to be asking ‘what did these guys do when they were Ministers’? I don’t even mean scandal-y stuff like Bill Liu, I just mean what kind of policies and legislation did they promote. Cunliffe was definitely not a voice from the left during his time in Cabinet, which makes me quite sceptical that his current class warrior status will prove ephemeral when he’s no longer backed into that political corner.

    @Danyl: “So lets say he does win and rewards his supporters with front bench roles. That is not a very formidable line-up to take the party into election year.” While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the people who supported Cunliffe shouldn’t expect some kind of kick up, I think it’s naive to believe that he will only allow those who supported him to hold senior roles. People like Phil Twyford, David Parker etc etc can probably expect to get a fairly juicy portfolio no matter who wins, at least in the short term.

    Comment by Hugh — September 5, 2013 @ 4:17 pm

  19. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the people who supported Cunliffe shouldn’t expect some kind of kick up, I think it’s naive to believe that he will only allow those who supported him to hold senior roles.

    Personally, I’m excited about the prospect of either Raymond Huo or Rajen Prasad being elevated to Minister of Something Terribly Important.

    Comment by Gregor W — September 5, 2013 @ 5:11 pm

  20. I agree with you. I think Cunliffe will win even though I don’t particularly want him to. The polls have shown more support for him than for Robertson. But Robertson could win and surprise all of us and then we will have a more balanced leader than Cunliffe. Glad that we agree, Danyl, because I liked Shearer and you didn’t seem to. Did you sense his weaknesses right from the start? The good thing is that it’s always third leader lucky, the others are just placeholders, so the fact that whoever wins this will be the third leader means an increased chance of winning in 2014.

    Comment by Daniel Lang — September 6, 2013 @ 10:48 am

  21. @MeToo
    >And as soon as Jones became Labour leader whaleoil et al would call him “Shane Bill Liu Jones” or something similar.

    He’d be late to the party if he did – Martyn Bradbury is already doing that.

    Comment by Exclamation Mark — September 6, 2013 @ 9:14 pm


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