The Dim-Post

August 5, 2014

The real problem

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 8:53 am

The perennial blogosphere debate about ‘what’s wrong with Labour’ broke out again recently, with Chris Trotter advocating a purge of non-radicals in response to a former Labour strategist called Phil Quinn who thinks that Labour should try and win the election by getting loads more votes than they will on current polling, and should do so by ‘moving to the center’.

But I look at 3News last night and see Tova O’Brien’s story about Labour’s Te Tai Tokurau electorate campaign asking the General Secretary if they can set up a web site attacking Internet/Mana – who Labour desperately wants to form a coalition with – that uses the National Party slogan and hopes to solicit donations from National Party supporters. The General Secretary refused, writing:

This website and its messaging is problematic and presents a risk for the Party for the following
significant reasons:

 Its’ overall tone is negative and not consistent with our Vote Positive message
 The first sentence uses the National Party slogan “Working for New Zealand”
 The cartoon of Kim dot com is could be viewed as offensive and the website picks a fight with Internet Mana. I
know that is your local fight, but to present that nationally would not be helpful when both parties are presenting as
progressive
 The messaging about anonymous donations is inconsistent with Labour Party policy and practice, both at Head
Office and across electorate campaigns, and would be messaged by media as .
 The website has no Party Vote message and does not carry an authorisation statement

So someone leaked the email correspondence to 3News, which nicely damages Labour in multiple ways. It hurts Kelvin Davis’ chances in his electorate seat, and it also hurts the wider party because it looks like they’re holding back in Te Tai Tokerau and are doing a covert deal with Internet/Mana.

So: this was bad for the party and Kelvin Davis. It is good for Internet/Mana, who get to play the victim, and it increases Harawira’s chances of taking his seat, but the anti-Cunliffe faction within Labour is opposed to Internet/Mana.

So who leaked the email? And how, when this sort of nonsense is happening pretty much every week, can anyone look at Labour and say ‘Political positioning. There’s your big problem’?

Update: Independent non-partisan political commentator Matthew Hooton adds:

A series of emails, including this one, was leaked to me last week from within the Labour Party. I wrote about it on Friday in the NBR but I think Labour HQ then issued this one to the Herald, which had a story in Saturday’s paper. Others have HQ advocating fund-raising through third parties.

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43 Comments »

  1. A series of emails, including this one, was leaked to me last week from within the Labour Party. I wrote about it on Friday in the NBR but I think Labour HQ then issued this one to the Herald, which had a story in Saturday’s paper. Others have HQ advocating fund-raising through third parties.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — August 5, 2014 @ 9:06 am

  2. “… which nicely damages Labour in multiple ways…”

    First of all, much as you like to fan the flames on any issue like this Danyl, no it doesn’t. It is a collection of common sense observations around political management and commonly accepted Labour positions, which is why it isn’t all over the papers today.

    As for who leaked it, it is obvious that Kelvin Davis did out of a sense of entitled grievance. Insofar as this and Moas and all the other palaver are discordant and off message, the only people hurt are the people who want to go off-message in an election campaign, a mortal disciplinary sin that makes the perpetrator look like a loose cannon.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 5, 2014 @ 9:10 am

  3. So wait, Labour really wants to do a coalition deal with IMP now? Where does that come from?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 5, 2014 @ 9:16 am

  4. kalvarnsen, I don’t think it is the case that Labour wants to do a coalition deal with IMP. But it knows it can only form a government if IMP is in parliament, which is why Cunliffe’s team is trying to stop Davis from winning TTT.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — August 5, 2014 @ 9:23 am

  5. “…So wait, Labour really wants to do a coalition deal with IMP now? Where does that come from..?”

    presumably from Labour’s HQ being reluctant to associate itself with cartoons of Kim Dotcom that are probably tone deaf and in questionable taste and not wanting to launch all-out attacks on another progressive party.

    Not opening a second front against a co-belligerent is not the same as forming an alliance with them.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 5, 2014 @ 9:28 am

  6. My assumption is that the kind of person who thought this was a great idea is the kind of person who would leak the email. As such, it reflects badly on them. The emails themselves show HQ responding exactly as one would hope.

    Comment by Stephen J — August 5, 2014 @ 9:39 am

  7. Not opening a second front against a co-belligerent is not the same as forming an alliance with them.

    The war analogy is incorrect for election campaigns. It’s more like trying to win the hearts and minds of your children after a bitter divorce. The last thing you want is some asshole boyfriend trying to be the voting-public’s new dad (that’s Dotcom and Craig, in this case) and messing up the delicate relationship balance your’re trying to maintain.

    Comment by Phil — August 5, 2014 @ 10:04 am

  8. Labour giving up on a maori seat is politically reckless. That plus Georgina Beyer keeping memories of the FSA fresh and it’s an awkward position.

    But perhaps Labour have given up on the Maori seats and are just doing so on the QT. Given the historical importance of the alliance I can’t see that working out well.

    Comment by NeilM — August 5, 2014 @ 10:35 am

  9. Of course there’s nothing wrong with the General Secretary’s letter, but the fact that the correspondence is being leaked, by people who are obviously inside the party and obviously think leaking it is a good thing to do, does make Labour look bad.

    Comment by kahikatea — August 5, 2014 @ 11:16 am

  10. “8.Labour giving up on a maori seat is politically reckless.”

    From what I’ve seen said in various places, the trouble was when they decided to give Kelvin a pretty shitty list spot. The message sent was effectively that if TTT wanted Kelvin in they had to decide between him and Hone. Why is Hone in? Coz the LP took TTT for granted.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — August 5, 2014 @ 12:32 pm

  11. “when they decided to give Kelvin a pretty shitty list spot”

    I originally thought this was an idiotic move. Instead of clearly signalling to TTT voters that a vote for Hone was fine, just PV Labour and you’ll get them both, they signalled “sorry TTT, one or the other – your call”. i.e. “We don’t have much confidence in Davis”

    How many folk would have had access to those emails?

    Comment by lefty — August 5, 2014 @ 1:48 pm

  12. You could be right, lefty@1.48. The emails go back to early April.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — August 5, 2014 @ 1:52 pm

  13. Then, Davis posts the same thing on Facebook that headquarters told him not to, to predictable applause from his peanut gallery of white National supporters. (Whose views on Maori issues are almost certainly pretty similar to the regrettable Jamie Whyte-Pratt).

    And then, David Cunliffe says he won’t have Internet Mana in his government. So if we get Labour 30%, Greens 15%, Internet Mana 5%, he’ll be happy with another term of National?

    Comment by richdrich — August 5, 2014 @ 2:14 pm

  14. “So if we get Labour 30%, Greens 15%, Internet Mana 5%,”

    Wouldnt worry about it. It might never happen.

    Comment by Simon — August 5, 2014 @ 2:34 pm

  15. Just read his facebook page. Jeez what a tosser.

    Comment by MeToo — August 5, 2014 @ 2:45 pm

  16. I think he’s counting on the idea that Internet-Mana can’t be bought by National. Hone and Laila have a philospohical aversion to doing anything that would allow National to govern, and Kim Dotcom is equally sick of National (if for more personal reasons than philosophical ones), so they’d probably vote confidence in a Labour-Green government that didn’t include them, if the alternative was letting National back in.

    Comment by kahikatea — August 5, 2014 @ 2:46 pm

  17. Does Labour really need another hothead who thinks with his dick? Wasn’t Tamihere enough?

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 5, 2014 @ 4:23 pm

  18. Jeez what a tosser.

    Welcome to Jonestown – where left is right and a guy is owed a living.

    Comment by Gregor W — August 5, 2014 @ 4:39 pm

  19. Also, where does Davis get off on that “Ordinary Maori bloke” thing? He’s been a school principal, various MoE jobs culminating in senior advisor and then an MP. I doubt he’s earned under six figures in the last 20 years.

    Comment by richdrich — August 5, 2014 @ 5:04 pm

  20. I think the term of art for this sort of antic is “ratfucking” http://t.co/35bsuijNUh

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — August 5, 2014 @ 5:08 pm

  21. You’ll find a hell of a lot of ‘ordinary Maori blokes’ earning $100k plus in NZ and Australia today. It;s the useless lazy bastard Maori who seem to be your ‘ordinary’ blokes, richdrich.

    Comment by Adolf Fiinkensein — August 5, 2014 @ 6:17 pm

  22. Yeah that’s right rich, you’re not a real Maori unless you’re poor. Lucky those northern ones have that low paid underfunded Hone bloke representing them.

    Comment by insider — August 5, 2014 @ 6:28 pm

  23. “Does Labour really need another hothead who thinks with his dick? Wasn’t Tamihere enough?”
    “Welcome to Jonestown – where left is right and a guy is owed a living.”

    No surprise to see Stuart Nash all over this, supporting his mate Kel.

    Comment by MeToo — August 5, 2014 @ 9:05 pm

  24. “So if we get Labour 30%, Greens 15%, Internet Mana 5%,”
    Then Cunliffe will use the possibility of a leftist coalition as a negotiating chip for his preferred governing arrangement, a Labour/Green minority government with confidence and supply from NZ First (in exchange for senior ministerial position outside of cabinet for Winston and some policy wins). Cunliffe will govern from the centre and Mana will be left in the cold like the Greens were, remember this is Helen Clark’s protoge…

    Comment by richardg — August 5, 2014 @ 11:45 pm

  25. I’m of the view that Labour regards InterMana as a necessary evil at best.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — August 6, 2014 @ 2:34 am

  26. And so we come full circle, when theparty of the working classes can start to consider a millionaire buying himself into power as ‘a necessary evil’.

    “But they had not gone twenty yards when they stopped short. An uproar of voices was coming from the farmhouse. They rushed back and looked through the window again. Yes, a violent quarrel was in progress. There were shoutings, bangings on the table, sharp suspicious glances, furious denials. The source of the trouble appeared to be that Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington had each played an ace of spades simultaneously.

    Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” (Orwell, Animal Farm)

    Comment by LeeC — August 6, 2014 @ 3:02 pm

  27. Haha. You know where Orwell went to school, right? He wasn’t exactly a pauper, either.

    I don’t have a problem with Davis being relatively wealthy, or anyone else. I think it’s good when those who are well off recognise the need to contribute to a fairer society. Davis seems to think that only those in a self-perpetuating magic circle are legitimately allowed political involvement, however.

    Comment by richdrich — August 6, 2014 @ 6:18 pm

  28. Very fair point about Orwell, but I wasn’t so much suggesting a ‘four legs good’ approach. Even Margaret Thatcher made the remark that the ‘Good Samiritan’ was in part, good because he had cash to spare. My view is about KDC and how easy it is has been for him to buy his way into the hearts and minds of people because their in their arrogance they wilfully ignore the stench of pig in the room because said pig might do their dirty work for them.
    Ask yourself how many have denigrated ‘Rich Prick’ (thanks, Doctor Cullen) Key as a money-trader, but now rush to follow in the wake of one who probably got rich by ripping others’ intellectual property, possibly streaming adult entertainment but because he sets himself up as some latter day Robin Hood, out to bring truth and justice to poor, naive, NZ, we’re cool with that.
    Suddenly Hone loves beads and blankets from white motherf××ers.
    Suddenly Laila can stomach money from intellectual property theft and ‘sexist’ entertainment.
    Suddenly KDC who, if anyone ever looked like the swaggering ‘Mr Moneybags” is off-limits from as a ‘necessary evil’ from the workers party.
    All KDC needs to do is a cute n cuddly Sunday supplement about his struggle about Global Warming and the Greens will be lining up to be his bitches, too.
    I don’t mind telling you it’s disappointing. One may not always agree with others, but at least I used to think they believed in their views, so i could respect that but apparently that is no longer a criteria. That’s why I quoted Orwell and apologise for my naivety.

    Comment by Lee Clark — August 7, 2014 @ 6:14 am

  29. Andrea Vance blew Hooton out of the water and exposed this as a right wing mini-conspiracy. Really, you have to ask why RNZ keeps him on as a political commentator when he uses publically funded radio as a theatre to advance his black propaganda.

    In any event, this all played out more than fine for Labour – as the crackpot scheming combinations of Slater/Farrar/Hooton often do. David Cunliffe got to distance himself from IMP, appeasing (if we believe the right wing corporate media) “middle New Zealand” voters. Kelvin Davis got to look simultaneously a staunch conservative Maori bro and an ill-disciplined hothead, so the right wing media talking heads now adore him and the people of Te Tai Tokurau now know to vote for Hone.

    The wash up is Labour is now innoculated from the accusation it is in bed with Kim Dotcom, Hone can win Te Tai Tokurau without people accusing Labour of not trying, and David Cunliffe can rely on the support of the 3-5 or so IMP MPs for supply and confidence without breaking his word that he won’t have them in his government.

    BTW – did anyone else see Mr. Farrar getting all sour puss on that video of the crowd at the IMP party party in Christchurch? Bless me, it is an extraordinarily amusing exercise in sour grapes.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 7, 2014 @ 7:50 am

  30. @Lee Clark — August 7, 2014 @ 6:14 am

    Your post does nothing more effectively than demonstrate the extraordinary bitterness and thinly disguised authoritarian shrillness of the right’s response to KDC political radicalisation. It also demonstrates the – rightful – instinctive fear the establishment has of a newly radicalised businessman with bags of cash. Someone as rich as KDC is always safely co-opted into the establishment. And so he was, an apparently happy billionaire libertarian right winger living his dream, until we decided to be Uncle Sam’s eager little bungling bum-boy and he was turned into an anti-establishment rallying point with oodles of cash. Unlike the usual enemies, KDC has got the money and he has got the smarts and he is out to take some people down who deserve to be taken down. So really, Key and co have created this Frankenstein, and like Shelley’s eponymous creature their beast is of a disposition to wreak vengeance on his creators which they richly deserve.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 7, 2014 @ 8:09 am

  31. Sanctuary I give your posts four Trotters out of five.

    Comment by Trouble Man — August 7, 2014 @ 9:07 am

  32. I am really, really looking forward to seeing what Sanctuary has to say when KDC turns out not to be Che Guevara with a big bag of money. I expect some truly epic arse-covering.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 7, 2014 @ 9:12 am

  33. I was impressed by Tim Barnett’s response. If the email had not been leaked, this would have simply been a case of competent management.

    At this stage, expelling the person (we all know who they are) would cause Labour more damage. I believe that it will happen after the election.

    Comment by George — August 7, 2014 @ 10:03 am

  34. The wash up is Labour is now innoculated from the accusation it is in bed with Kim Dotcom, Hone can win Te Tai Tokurau without people accusing Labour of not trying, and David Cunliffe can rely on the support of the 3-5 or so IMP MPs for supply and confidence without breaking his word that he won’t have them in his government.

    If this is the upshot, then it’s positive.

    Comment by George — August 7, 2014 @ 10:04 am

  35. “…when KDC turns out not to be Che Guevara with a big bag of money….”

    Look, I’ve said this before but it looks like I have to say it again. I have no illusions about Kim Dotcom, but it doesn’t matter how you get the money, it still all smells the same to your bank manager.

    Some points, then:

    1/ I don’t like anymore than anyone else that an individual with bags of money can create/keep alive vanity political projects. I would be more than happy to see sweeping reform of campaign financing to stop it. But I didn’t hear anyone on the right whining about Alan Gibbs keeping the ACT corpse alive. The primary problem the right seems to have with KDC’s money is it is funding the wrong the sort of people so they can stick that particular whinge where the sun don’t shine. The left has got some cash for a change. Boo hoo for the right.

    2/ If you ask me the ability to use money to buy your residency into NZ is disgraceful. But that is the rules and KDC applied in good faith and was legally allowed in. As such, he was and is entitled to all the protections, privileges and rights anyone else who is a resident of this fair and free land is.

    3/ If the state authorities had shown proper consideration to the law of the land before dispatching two policemen to knock on his door and quietly take him to custody, he would be in the USA right now and we would not be having this conversation. At the moment, KDC is the creation our establishment richly deserves.

    4/ It is at least a possibility that KDC is not the same shady libertarian internet cowboy who came here, but rather a shady radicalised businessman with a score to settle and the means to get even. Anyway, to paraphrase Churchill, If the Devil himself were to offer up his tireless minions to door knock in the effort to get rid of John Key I would at least refrain from criticising him until after the election.

    5/ Whatever you think of the guy, he has been treated with outrageously bad faith by the establishment and subject to the most disgraceful breaches of the law, and has had narry an apology or a mea culpa from the perpetrators who instead have spent their time changing the law to justify their excesses, obfuscating, and lying through their teeth to us all. His case has exposed a culture of public disingenuousness, self-serving mendacity, casual illegality and craven grovelling to the USA in our political leadership class and in that at least he has done us all an (involuntary) favour.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 7, 2014 @ 10:25 am

  36. Well summarised by Sanctuary. In particular the last sentence.

    Comment by aj — August 7, 2014 @ 10:36 am

  37. expelling the person (we all know who they are) would cause Labour more damage. I believe that it will happen after the election

    Depends if we win or not.

    If Labour in opposition, then expelling one or members who might cross the floor to NZF or National (unlikely to be the Maori party, I think those bridges have been truly burnt) wouldn’t really matter.

    It’s more if they’re Labour’s one seat majority and they go feral. Ditch him now, and it won’t affect the party votes.

    Comment by richdrich — August 7, 2014 @ 11:18 am

  38. Sanctuary at #36: that covers it off nicely. Point 5 alone is enough to explain why Farrar et al are maintaining a propaganda barrage against him.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — August 7, 2014 @ 12:23 pm

  39. @Sanc: My point is that you keep referring to KDC as “radicalised”. I’ve seen no sign of that.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 7, 2014 @ 6:59 pm

  40. Well said, Tom.

    Comment by Sacha — August 7, 2014 @ 7:14 pm

  41. I think it was George Bernard Shaw who asked a woman if she’d sleep with him for a large sum of moy and she said she’d consider it. He then asked if she’d sleep with him for much smaller amount, and she said”
    “What do you think I am?” He replied “We’ve already established what you are -I’m just trying to work out the price.”
    Interesting in week when we’ve had thinly veiled sinophobia from a party that has suddenly found it acceptable to introduce immigrant-baiting and faux outrage about ACT’s using the race card, we are invited to justify KDC’s attempts to buy his way into our democratic systems not because he’s seeking to pervert the justice system you appear to value, but because Key has been too nice to American. Who was it who suggested patriotism as the last resort of the scoundrel. Yeah, great move, wait till after the election.
    New Zealand’s not for sale’ Oh wait, we can strike off concerns about KDC as ‘right wing conspiracy’ and then still occupy the moral high ground so that’s ok then.

    Comment by Lee Clark — August 7, 2014 @ 7:17 pm

  42. Labour is dying but then so is National and the Greens and Mana and, well… all the politicial parties are dying, just not as fast as Labour.

    Comment by trev — August 8, 2014 @ 12:40 pm


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