The Dim-Post

November 18, 2011

Fascinating

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 2:15 pm

Scott at Reading the Maps interviews Labour Party MP and Waitakere candidate Carmel Sepuloni:

SH: Are you worried about what might happen next year if Labour is elected, and faces a Greek-economic crisis, along with pressure from international and local business interests to implement neo-liberal austerity measures, of the kind Greece and Spain and Italy are implementing right now? Could we go back to 1984?

CS: I’m much more worried about what National will do if they get in.

SH: I’m not saying we shouldn’t be worried about National! But I notice that in Greece and also in Spain it is Labour-style social democratic parties which are doing the work of the International Monetary Fund and local capitalists, overseeing big cuts in government spending, laying off state workers, cutting pensions, cutting union rights –

CS: I don’t know about that. I’m focused on my community here in West Auckland, and on my party.

SH: But there’s a local precedent, isn’t there? In the 1980s it was the Lange-Douglas government that brought neo-liberalism to New Zealand. They did what National could never have done, because they had the support of the unions and the poor. National could never have gotten away with Rogernomics.

CS: Labour is a different party today. And I am focused on the here and now. We need to beat Paula Bennett. I haven’t got time to get into arguments about history.

SH: I don’t think it’s an antiquarian debate. I think it’s a real danger. From the statements I’ve seen you making I think you’re on the left of the Labour Party. I think you identify with the social democratic tradition, and want to defend the welfare state and union rights and to redistribute wealth downwards –

CS: Of course. And that’s why I am trying to get the vote out against Paula Bennett.

SH: Aren’t you worried, though, about some of the more right-wing people in your caucus, people who might be future leaders, people who don’t share your vision?

CS: I have no idea who you’re talking about.

SH: Shane Jones, David Cunliffe –

CS: Cunliffe? You think Cunliffe is right-wing? I wouldn’t say that at all. I’d put him on the left of the party. Shane Jones – I wouldn’t call him right-wing. I’d say Shane’s a centrist. Shane is in the middle of the party. Someone who is on the right, I’d say, is David Parker. Don’t quote me on this, please, or I’ll deny it. But David Parker is on the right of the party, very much so. But please don’t repeat that.

(The interview appears to be a Capote-esque recollection instead of a taped transcript.)

28 Comments »

  1. This is bad for Phil Goff

    Comment by philoff — November 18, 2011 @ 2:35 pm

  2. Isn’t Carmel seen as one of the rising stars of Labour?

    Comment by insider — November 18, 2011 @ 2:59 pm

  3. For someone who has a shot at being Labour leader in a few months, Parker remains mysterious to me. He’s one of the few MPs who evidently has brains, but I don’t really know what he stands for. Not sure if “is on the right of the party” is carny for “wants to balance the budget” or “actually understands monetary policy” or what.

    Comment by bradluen — November 18, 2011 @ 3:02 pm

  4. More terrifying than the thought of Cunliffe and Jones being the ‘left’ or ‘centre’ of Labour, is the fact Sepuloni says “I don’t know about that” when asked a simple question about the sell-out socialist parties of Europe and the prospect of Labour repreating their past sellouts here in NZ.

    As insider says – and this is a woman painted as a rising star of Labour? God help us all…

    Comment by bob — November 18, 2011 @ 3:05 pm

  5. Parker is typically seen as being on the left side of the Labour party; Shane Jones on the far right.

    Comment by danylmc — November 18, 2011 @ 3:05 pm

  6. @ bradluen – it means Parker is ‘mysterious’ because he can’t afford to let you (or his Labour mates) know what he stands for. That is, he is an unreconstructed RogerGnome willing to unleash the power of the free market on us all if he gets his mitts on the reins of power. But don’t mention it to Carmel, ‘cos that won’t play so well with the working class folks Labour want to vote for them.

    Labour’s problems seem to stem not so much from competing factions, but that the factions are led by the ghosts of Roger Douglas, Ruth Richardson and Don Brash’s evil clone. Which is good for Phil Goff, as he seems mild by comparison😉

    Comment by bob — November 18, 2011 @ 3:11 pm

  7. To be fair to Carmel, I’m not sure many beyond the deeply intense and concerned students of international econopolitics could name the left:right alliegence of most European govts. Merkel – right; Berlusconi – right?; Sarkozy – all French govts are left; Benelux and Scandanavia – do they count? Greece – their govts are just fronts for the army; Uk – not really Europe. Hmmm I think I’m under the influence of http://pc.blogspot.com/2011/11/europe-by-stereotype.html

    Comment by insider — November 18, 2011 @ 3:13 pm

  8. When Parker first got into Parliament the rumours were he was “more Progressive then Labour,” and he is reportedly the one pushing the economic policy changes, so CS’s insistence he is of the right is weird.

    You don’t hear much about him other than “brains” and “policy wonk”, though.

    Comment by philoff — November 18, 2011 @ 3:15 pm

  9. “You don’t hear much about him other than “brains” and “policy wonk”, though.”

    An ex-Parker employee sounds like a clone – David Clark, who’s expected to be the new Dunedin North MP.

    Comment by Pete George — November 18, 2011 @ 3:39 pm

  10. Parker is typically seen as being on the left side of the Labour party

    I very much doubt that.

    Comment by ScottY — November 18, 2011 @ 3:42 pm

  11. C’mon, “I don’t know about that” just means “you are a voter, so I have to humour you, but please go away”.

    Candidates give the same response when the foam-flecked ones ask if you know who really brought down the Twin Towers, or whether you’ve been “Saved”.

    The whole blog post reads less like an interview, more like my 19 year old self hitting on a girl in the student bar, and never getting the hint.

    Comment by sammy — November 18, 2011 @ 3:45 pm

  12. The whole blog post reads less like an interview, more like my 19 year old self hitting on a girl in the student bar, and never getting the hint.

    I think so too, which is why it’s so great – and weird – when she suddenly turns on David Parker.

    Comment by danylmc — November 18, 2011 @ 3:46 pm

  13. I’m with bob. Sepeloni being apparently unaware of the broader political context she is existing in is a bit of a worry. That sounds like someone will later say: “I was only following orders”.

    Comment by Steve (@nza1) — November 18, 2011 @ 3:53 pm

  14. @ScottY – I guess the way I’d phrase it is: ‘Parker was in charge of Labour’s policy development when their policy development moved sharply to the left’. I guess there are pointless factional divisions within the party that have nothing to do with actual ideology.

    Comment by danylmc — November 18, 2011 @ 4:02 pm

  15. “I think so too, which is why it’s so great – and weird – when she suddenly turns on David Parker.”

    Well, it’s the interviewer’s recollection…and recollections can be a little wrong.

    Comment by Ross — November 18, 2011 @ 4:06 pm

  16. I certainly did feel like a foam-flecked weirdo after a few minutes in Carmel’s company, but I thought I had some right to chat with her – after all, she’d parked herself at my table!

    I’m sure the phrasing in my post differs occasionally from the exact phrasing of the actual discussion, but there’s no doubt at all about what Carmel said about comrades Parker, Jones, and Cunliffe. My wife, who is the co-President of a major union branch up here in Auckland, and who doesn’t agree with me about Labour, nor indeed about most things (see the archives of my blog!) was also at the table, and heard the stuff about Parker and co.

    I thought I might simply be out of touch with Labour faction politics, but I see that folks here can reach no definite conclusions about where the likes of Parker stand on the political spectrum. And that’s a worry – the lack of open ideological debate within Labour and the failure of leading MPs to talk in depth about their political philosophies reminds me of Bruce Jesson’s account of an impoverished intellectual climate and shaowy intrigue within the party in the early ’80s in his book Fragments of Labour.

    Comment by Scott — November 18, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

  17. CS: Cunliffe? You think Cunliffe is right-wing? … I’d say Shane’s a centrist. Shane is in the middle of the party.

    Apparently the friendliness of first-name-basis-relationships doesn’t extend all the way through the Labour Party caucus.

    Comment by Phil — November 18, 2011 @ 4:28 pm

  18. Phil: Or referring to Cunliffe as David in the sentence and then immediately talking about another David could get a little confusing, to say the least.

    Comment by wtl — November 18, 2011 @ 4:36 pm

  19. TBH if someone presented a unlikely hypothetical scenario to me and expected a serious answer they’d probably leave disappointed too.

    Should have asked if she would choose a shotgun or crossbow if and when a zombie apocalypse occurs.

    Comment by Anthony — November 18, 2011 @ 4:56 pm

  20. Well, which is it then… gun or bow?

    Comment by Sam — November 18, 2011 @ 5:05 pm

  21. I think she’d definitely go shotgun, but I suspect a Green candidate would choose crossbow because of the recycling and sustainability angle.

    Comment by Anthony — November 18, 2011 @ 5:11 pm

  22. “I thought I might simply be out of touch with Labour faction politics, but I see that folks here can reach no definite conclusions about where the likes of Parker stand on the political spectrum. And that’s a worry – the lack of open ideological debate within Labour and the failure of leading MPs to talk in depth about their political philosophies reminds me of Bruce Jesson’s account of an impoverished intellectual climate and shaowy intrigue within the party in the early ’80s in his book Fragments of Labour.”

    +1.

    Frankly it’s this whole climate of ‘Let’s not talk about any of that airy-fairy stuff, let’s just support our communities and work for fair play and a bunch of other vague bollocks’ that allowed Douglas, Prebble, Caygill et al to sneak into Labour in the first place.

    Comment by Hugh — November 18, 2011 @ 5:16 pm


  23. That’s the one. He wanted Laila Harre to win. He said we should have helped the Alliance. There is this real problem on the left of people attacking other people on the same side. It’s a shame you don’t want to help me beat Paula Bennett.

    Labour is still a weird beast. Fiercely partisan, its members strongly identified with ideology and wearing that mantle, yet largely devoid of it. To ask those questions, to beg for a straight answer, is seen as an attack on the left.

    Labour could manage and sustain those contradictions/accommodations to pragmatism for a long time, with a very accomplished leadership. However, they did wear thin over time, as they alienated parts of the base with various actions that stood in opposition to their rhetorical policies, and cooled the support of the rest by failing to sustain them with sufficient material gains. When people talk about arrogance or being out of touch, this is what they mean. It is interesting to note that Sepuloni mentions the cultural issues. These are live; the support for conservative politics among Pacific people in Mangere is stronger than most assume, but this does not address the class and material interest questions that Labour did not sufficiently address. On the other side however the Labour Party have deepened and sustained their engagement with the Greens, from the membership up to the leadership. This is quite deliberate.

    (At least Labour aren’t the ALP, who practice this art quite violently, accommodating basic union demands but throwing everything to the winds of a narrowly defined public opinion)

    Comment by George D — November 18, 2011 @ 7:26 pm

  24. LBJ was a rightwing shit – who introduced the most comprehensive anti-poverty and anti-racist measures in the history of the US. But lets concentrate on personalities eh?

    Comment by deemac — November 18, 2011 @ 8:15 pm

  25. ‘Apparently the friendliness of first-name-basis-relationships doesn’t extend all the way through the Labour Party caucus.’

    I was quite struck by the reference to ‘Cunliffe’, too. And I know it might have seemed petty for me to reproduce Carmel’s stumble when she was trying to recall Matt McCarten’s surname, but I thought that small lapse perhaps revealed something about the distance which even left-leaning Labour MPs have these days from the union movement. A few years ago I was talking with Nanaia Mahuta on a marae in Tuakau along with some friends from the union movement, and we mentioned something we were planning for May Day. Nanaia responded, in complete seriousness, “What’s May Day again?” And to think that this woman is related to Princess Te Puea, who used to be a star speaker at May Day rallies!

    In fairness, Sepuloni might know very well who McCarten is and what he does, and might just have been having a momentary lapse of memory. Politicians’ brains must be fearfully full of information during an election cycle…

    Comment by Scott — November 18, 2011 @ 9:09 pm

  26. “Labour is still a weird beast. Fiercely partisan, its members strongly identified with ideology and wearing that mantle, yet largely devoid of it.”

    It is. For a lot of Labour party members the left and the Labour Party are identical – you can’t be a true Leftist without being part of, or at least heavily oriented towards, the Labour Party, and organisational membership in Labour offers rock-solid left credentials regardless of policy preferences.

    On the other hand, the Greens will often say that they’re not Left at all!

    Comment by Hugh — November 19, 2011 @ 12:56 am

  27. Parker used to work as legal counsel to the Tartan mafia (the late Howard Paterson incl) and numerous property developers. I would consider him to the right of the Party.

    Comment by Cactus Kate — November 19, 2011 @ 1:39 am

  28. insider at 7: how Tories see the world:

    http://basilexposition.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/this-week-ive-mostly-been-reading-13/

    Comment by Clunking Fist — November 21, 2011 @ 12:56 pm


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