The Dim-Post

August 8, 2012

The Long March

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 8:02 am

Apparently some of David Cunliffe’s colleagues in the Labour caucus feel that their fellow MP is too sneaky, so they’ve addressed this by anonymously complaining about him to TV3 political editor Duncan Garner while Cunliffe is overseas on holiday with his family:

Two very senior MPs have told me they would like an internal travel fund set up to keep Cunliffe out of the country for as long as possible. How nasty is this caucus? He is clearly not missed.

But Cunliffe is not only disliked by his caucus – he is not trusted.

Sources have told me Shearer was advised to demote him when he became Labour’s leader, but Shearer resisted and said he wanted to work with Cunliffe.

That hasn’t worked apparently – my sources tell me Shearer is deeply disappointed with Cunliffe and he feels let down. This relationship cannot last.

According to Shearer’s sources, the Labour leader no longer trusts Cunliffe. That view is shared by the majority of the caucus.

It’s not hard to believe that Cunliffe is an annoying jerk, but he’s also the only MP in the party who is setting out how a Labour government might be a clear and credible alternative to National. Some of Labour’s MPs are performing well, most are invisible. David Parker, who replaced Cunliffe as Finance spokesman appears to have won Fran O’Sullivan’s heart, which will no doubt be crucial in winning back the hundreds of thousands of low income Maori, Pacifica and young voters who abandoned Labour in the last two elections.

Those ex-voters still don’t seem to be a priority though. In today’s Herald:

Borrowing from Mao Zedong’s theory that if you win the countryside, the cities will follow, the envy politics strategy is Mr Shearer’s latest attempt to win back provincial New Zealand.


  1. Lucky Parker is winning back those Pasifika voters:

    Comment by MeToo — August 8, 2012 @ 8:14 am

  2. His speech is expected to be short on policy detail

    Short in coherence as well no doubt.

    Mr Shearer will speak in Nelson today where he is expected to accuse National of neglecting the well-being of provincial New Zealand and stripping regional road funding to pay for projects such as Auckland’s motorways, National’s “roads of significance”.

    I think it was Labour that built the motorway to Puhoi and signed off on the Waterview extension, the viaduct tunnel and various other such Auckland excesses. It’s hard to see how the extension from Puhoi to Wellsford can be called an “Auckland” highway as it’s outside Auckland and is meant to serve the province – prehaps one of those provinces Labour hopes to get votes in.

    Labour have been going on about how National is wasting all this money that could be spent on schools, publc ransport etc on motorwats but now Shearer says Labour will also spend that money on roads – just different roads, roads going through electorates they need to get votes in.

    Comment by NeilM — August 8, 2012 @ 8:36 am

  3. To work out what is wrong with the Labour caucus it is first important to understand that central fact that both major parties are now modeled as elite cadre organisations, with all the potential for bizarre and perverse outcomes that the internal logic of such organisations are prey to.

    I used to think the policy incoherence, characterised by short term opportunism and ideological confusion (beautifully symbolised just today, Len Brown and the left in general clearly supports the Auckland CRL but now Shearer completely pulls the carpet from under the pro-CRL narrative by the quote above – “…Mr Shearer will speak in Nelson today where he is expected to accuse National of neglecting the well-being of provincial New Zealand and stripping regional road funding to pay for projects such as Auckland’s motorways, National’s “roads of significance”..) was due to there being too many neo-liberal hangovers at the top of the Labour party.

    I now suspect it is much worse than that. Imbuing them with strong ideological viewpoints has been to flatter many of them because it looks to me like a lot of the Labour caucus only really believe in preserving their sinecures on the tax payer’s dime. The lack of belief in any form of socialist ideology, the back stabbing of change agents, the rewarding of mediocrity that was the 2011 Labour Party list, the tin ear to public opinion, the failure to develop bold and imaginative policy, the lack of interest in doing their job from the Labour front bench – all of it is much better explained by realising that a cabal of self-serving MPs have used the party machinery and the peculiarities of electoral system to very effectively hijack the parliamentary wing of the party. The Labour caucus is now operated as a sheltered workshop for the benefit of a clique of institutionalised career politicians. In other words, the parliamentary Labour party is run by and for the benefit of a bunch of self-entitled and lazy bastards who have worked out that as long they retain control of the list selection process by pandering to the correct factions and a minimum of effort is put into making the right noises they can rely on the Labour rump vote of around a quarter of voters to ensure they have a job for life under MMP. It actually doesn’t matter to the likes of Trevor Mallard if Labour isn’t in government. What matters to Trevor Mallard is he keeps a high place on the list to go BMX riding on taxpayer-funded time. Any anyone who threatens his entitlement to a soft job with a nice office and all the perks that allow him to pursue his hobby he will try with all his might to hobble.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 8, 2012 @ 9:48 am

  4. Cunliffe might be a toady jerk, but he is still too good for this current incarnation of the Labour Party.

    Comment by alex — August 8, 2012 @ 12:15 pm

  5. Is this not what your previous dream predicted?

    Comment by Richard — August 8, 2012 @ 12:23 pm

  6. both the herald and yourself confuse the issue of Rural Vote and Provincial vote. In rural areas (ie no towns) Labour gets only a handful of percent and this has long been the case. However in provincial areas like Feilding, Timaru, Balclutha, Tokoroa that the Labour once could win or be even with National they are now getting thrashed. And all these towns around the country add a up a fair bit, so a perfectly reasonable strategy to appeal to this area. In areas like Mangere and Porirua East Labour is doing better here than a decade ago, and main issue is turnout, and a close contest and better electoral organisation should help a lot here. Also people there less likely to see traditional media unlike more backward folk in provincial towns so media strategy works better in provincial areas.

    Comment by Luke C — August 8, 2012 @ 12:37 pm

  7. Also people there less likely to see traditional media unlike more backward folk in provincial towns so media strategy works better in provincial areas.

    Reading Shearer’s speech the strategy is to repeat “heartland” as many times as possible in the hope those backward folk will go all warm and gooey and not notice the lack of policy detail.

    Over the next ten years it’s [National] planning to spend over $12 billion on building new motorways.

    The money for those new motorways comes from the same budget as all other new roads and upgrades are paid for. There isn’t some magical new pot of gold at the bottom of the garden that pays for motorways.

    Almost no regional roads will be built or upgraded in the next ten years because the money is going into new motorways like the one from Puhoi to Wellsford.

    It’s a nice to have, but when you spend on new regional roads, you get back more economic benefit than the cost of building them.

    I’m sure the people in provincial north Aukland will be impressed with Labour’s belief that the highway from Puhoi to Wellsford is just a “nice to have”. I don’t think Labour mean “nice to have” as in nice to have improved road safety and nice to have improved transport of exports to ports and goods to market.

    But maybe the speech would be different if it was given in Rodney not Nelson.

    Is Labour saying that all the money they will not spend on motorways will go into rural roading? That might have a better pay-off in terms of our economy but there’s no commitment to anything and all it looks like is when in the countryside Labour’s message is “roads roads roads” and when in the city its “trains trains trains”.

    Comment by NeilM — August 8, 2012 @ 2:20 pm

  8. David Parker has won Fran O’Sullivan’s heart! Well I guess that’s because David Parker is the true that I love its you that I love and its not given lightly kind of guy.
    From that last link I see he was also promoted by Chris Trotter. A shadow Minister of Finance who is supported by Fran O’Sullivan and Chris Trotter. Need I say more?

    Comment by Mr February — August 8, 2012 @ 2:29 pm

  9. NeilM, did you really read his speech? Your poor brain.

    Is Shearer giving that speech in Rodney? I doubt it. Anyway, no one in Rodney who votes National would ever switch to vote Labour – they would rather die. Maybe this is a strategy to win votes off the Greens, you know, cannibalise the left. That would be consistent with the rest of their strategising.
    Attacking Auckland is a dumb strategy for Labour, but the extract you reproduce above is sound logic. The Puhoi-Wellsford motorway extension makes no economic sense at all and road safety can be improved at far less cost by upgrading the existing road. (Another Green suggestion.)

    Signed, the gal from provincial north Auckland.

    Comment by MeToo — August 8, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

  10. “David Parker, who replaced Cunliffe as Finance spokesman appears to have won Fran O’Sullivan’s heart, which will no doubt be crucial in winning back the hundreds of thousands of low income Maori, Pacifica and young voters who abandoned Labour in the last two elections.”

    Does Cunliffe have a lot of cachet among young, Maori and Pacifica voters? Or is it just the grass looking greener on the other side

    Comment by Hugh — August 8, 2012 @ 5:17 pm

  11. @MeToo

    The Puhoi-Wellsford motorway extension makes no economic sense at all…

    It makes some sense at least in that it would benefit the regional economy to some extent, whether or not it’s enough to justify the expense is another matter. That would depend on a comparison of what the money could otherwise be spent on. Labour is saying it would go towards different rural roading priorities but don’t say what exactly.

    There are two topics that Shearer broaches that could come close to being policy detail but I find them both a liitle problematic.

    Firstly, the exchange rate. Shearer says Labour can actively bring it down without inflation blowing out. They need to have something other than a magic wand to convince me.

    Secondly, a CGT. Would this really result in a such huge shift in capital from residential housing to the productive sector to make the sort of dramatic difference to our economy Labour is relying on? Housing speculation is already taxed but that has not stopped property price increases and people buying property. Most residential property investment is by people owning their own homes. I take it Labour would not want to discourage that. If they make housing more afordable to get more people into their own homes then that borrowing will be money not going elsewhere.

    The whole reaching out to rural NZ sounds like a speech writer’s contrivance. Shearer found it difficult to speak with his brain on the lobbying issue and with the heartland he’s having difficulty speaking with his heart.

    Comment by NeilM — August 8, 2012 @ 7:47 pm

  12. The Labour Party caucus is very adept at blood letting, this time it is destroying its own party.

    The current Labour Party stands for ,and represents absolutely nothing.

    Possibly why Cunliffe is disliked, he will take a stand on what he thinks matters.

    Labour, like the Nats only craves power, they will say and do and do anything to get it.

    The Labour Party caucus have become Gollum clones of the National Party, the neo con ring binds them all.

    No wonder the hobbits and humans have deserted the elections.

    Roll on the revolution and the “South Pacific Spring”!

    Those of us who actually occupy this country are becoming increasingly frustrated by an Hawaiian Wall Street cowboy and an ex Treasury egghead leading this country. These two do not understand or care about the local denizens. They only care about a business elite.

    Apparently the Labour Party Caucus agrees with them. Much to Garner’s glee.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — August 8, 2012 @ 8:35 pm

  13. David Cunliffe is very intelligent – but perhaps not very smart. He is an exceedingly unconvincing working class hero. Everything about his recent stance seems inauthentic. His recent speeches would seem more convincing presented by Hone Harawira and the quality of the writing suggests the budget could accommodate nothing better than the Popata Brothers scriptwriter.

    Comment by Roger — August 8, 2012 @ 9:24 pm

  14. shouldn’t all this be under general idiocy?

    Comment by Sheesh — August 8, 2012 @ 9:30 pm

  15. The last nail on Labour is gone deep now with the gay marriage bill, following the Prostitution Legalisation bill. In the next election the family/Christian group of this country will totally tell-off Labour party and they will go down to 8 MPs. None of these gay/lesbian will vote in any election. Labour party is controlled by the union leaders who are employees of the union themselves, keep their jobs and money. They are a bunch of people with no people skill or connection with people and they deter ordinary no-political 90% away from the Party. As long as all these Gay/lesbian Labour MPs sit in parliament, the party is not going to win another election and come in power. Loosers……. This is a time labour should stand up and fight for good policies and it is the best time, as most people are against John Key’s regime, selling assets and doing all nasty things. BUT NO GOOD OPPOSITION. They are worried about the gay/lesbian sex, not anything good for the ordinary people of NZ. Neither Shearer or Cunliffe is good enough to be a Prime Minister. both are useless. Labour should find some good/efficient/acceptable people from outside. Who wants all these gay/lesbian in that house of representatives…???

    Comment by Monique — August 8, 2012 @ 10:02 pm

  16. I foolishly supported Shearer over Cunliffe because I thought that Shearer was the nicer person.

    But watching Shearer let the mutts out to attack Cunliffe reminds me that it’s because of the mutts I dislike Labour.

    Comment by NeilM — August 8, 2012 @ 10:15 pm

  17. If Shearer et al are attempting to court Johnny Sixpack and his ute, then it’s likely a waste of time. It’s a no-brainer to give the non-voters a reason to vote again, maybe “welfare reform” and “tough on crime” have given Shearer et al cold feet?

    I feel Third Wayism has done its dash – it was meant to be the mixed economy model in theory, but in practice it was more about stealing the Tories’ clothes, to the point where the US Democrats and British Labour are now perceived as not much different from their Tory counterparts. Once again, I’m reminded of

    ” For Democrats, it’s the cities, stupid–not the rural areas, not the prickly, hateful “heartland,” but the sane, sensible cities–including the cities trapped in the heartland. Pandering to rural voters is a waste of time. Again, look at the second map. Look at the urban blue spots in red states like Iowa, Colorado, and New Mexico–there’s almost as much blue in those states as there is in Washington, Oregon, and California. And the challenge for the Democrats is not just to organize in the blue areas but to grow them. And to do that, Democrats need to pursue policies that encourage urban growth (mass transit, affordable housing, city services), and Democrats need to openly and aggressively champion urban values. By focusing on the cities the Dems can create a tribal identity to combat the white, Christian, rural, and suburban identity that the Republicans have cornered. And it’s sitting right there, on every electoral map, staring them in the face: The cities.

    The urbanites. Howard Dean had it wrong when he tried to woo the “Pickup Truck with Confederate Flag” vote. In fact, while Kerry won urban areas by a whopping 60 percent–that actually represents a 15 percent drop in urban support from 2000 when Gore won the election. The lesson? Democrats have got to tend to their urban base and grow it. “

    Comment by deepred — August 8, 2012 @ 10:52 pm

  18. People I know who know Cunliffe say he can be arrogant, but at the same time he is very effective. I’m aware the “arrogant” may be a word used by stupid people to describe someone frustrated by their stupidity. I’ve always been impressed by Cunliffe. Shearer? I’d barely heard of him. That hasn’t really changed much. When i do see him talking, he is most frequently stumbling over what he’s trying to say and when he finally does get out whatever it is, there will be some word out of order or a malapropism…..or some other indication he isn’t a clear thinker on the hoof…..or maybe at all. I can’t tell.

    Comment by Steve (@nza1) — August 9, 2012 @ 11:00 am

  19. I feel that this has proved David Shearer’s integrity and dignity – to want to work with someone, to see the positive in a colleague and to put aside the feelings of the other backbiters in the party. Cunliffe can be trusted, he just needs to be reined in a bit and not allow his ego to get the better of him.

    Comment by Dan — August 9, 2012 @ 3:31 pm

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