The Dim-Post

February 26, 2014

Wartime Consigliere

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 9:02 am

There are a couple of rumours running around about who Labour’s new CoS will be, and one of them – Matt McCarten! – is floated in the Dom-Post.

Labour doesn’t seem like a happy place right now. There’s staff turnover. The longest-standing MPs in the party hate the current leader. Every time Cunliffe takes a position on anything related to trade or foreign affairs Phil Goff instantly issues a press release contradicting him. The same faction is briefing people like Duncan Garner, Matthew Hooton and Cameron Slater to undermine Cunliffe.

Can Matt McCarten turn things around? If you’re seeking to unify the party then the answer there would be a massive ‘No.’ The last thing Labour leads is a Chief of Staff with a big personality, big profile, big ego, talent for skullduggery and a strong left-wing political agenda that’s totally at odds with those of his leader’s enemies within the party.

But if you’re Cunliffe and you’re looking at Goff, Mallard, Cosgrove, King et al and coming to the conclusion that unity with them is impossible, war is inevitable and the best thing to do is try and win it then McCarten would be a pretty great choice

30 Comments »

  1. How long exactly did it take Danyl to go from “Labour will be better off under Cunliffe” to “everyone hates Cunliffe”? Like four months? Is that a new record?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 26, 2014 @ 9:20 am

  2. “Labour will be better off under Cunliffe”
    “everyone hates Cunliffe”

    These are not inconsistent statements.

    Comment by Phil — February 26, 2014 @ 9:32 am

  3. I think we all know what this means.

    this is very bad for phil goff.

    Comment by WH — February 26, 2014 @ 9:56 am

  4. “everyone hates Cunliffe”

    That there is a significant faction within Labour’s parliamentary wing that doesn’t like Cunliffe isn’t something Danyl’s invented on the spur of the moment.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — February 26, 2014 @ 10:16 am

  5. If McCarten is the answer, Cunliffe is asking a very wrong question

    Comment by insider — February 26, 2014 @ 10:18 am

  6. Bloodletting might be the only way, but it would be extremely risky right now. It could pay off. The question of how it is perceived would come down to stage management. Opponents would spin it as “Labour at war with itself, not fit to rule”. The positive spin would be “Cunliffe finally stamps much needed authority in decisive move, demonstrating leadership”.

    If I were Cunliffe, and totally Machiavellian (and this is something I mostly expect from politicians), I’d do it. It could win the election as a big play. But if the election is lost, it also reduces the chances of the usual post-election overthrow, since the top team is purged of the ABCs. This sets Cunliffe up for a real play at 2017, a chance to finally actually get Labour in a new direction.

    But this is all predicated on Cunliffe actually having a new direction in mind (well it can actually be an old direction. So long as it’s a direction). I don’t know if this is true, yet. I’d really like to know.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 26, 2014 @ 10:23 am

  7. The question of how it is perceived would come down to stage management.

    Spot on, though I’m not sure there actually is a major downside for Cunliffe.

    He is already facing an unhill battle for this election and will have to land some hay-makers on Key regardless to have a shot at the big seat. Getting rid of the enemy within is an important part of asserting his authority anyway – he should have set this in motion months ago IMO. An opportunity wasted while grassroots support was directly behind him and also, offering up ammo re disunity a bit close to the general election as Ben notes, but it needs to happen now or never.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 26, 2014 @ 10:40 am

  8. @Pyscho: True, but this fact was suspiciously absent from the analyses deployed when the Blindingly Obvious Thing That Labour Must Do Right Now, Oh My God Why Are They Such Idiots As To Not Do This (TM) was to replace Shearer with Cunliffe.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 26, 2014 @ 10:57 am

  9. The right comprehensively lost the leadership election, despite the attempts of National Party flacks to foist Shane Jones onto the party.

    The best bet would be if Mallard & co would decide not to run at the next election.

    Comment by richdrich — February 26, 2014 @ 10:58 am

  10. Labour’s woes all go back to the failure to renew the party before the 2011 election. The result of that failure is they have party top heavy with politicians who are past their use-by dates. The ABC old guard are nothing if not shit-house cunning (they are all contemporaries of Richard Prebble, after all) and the little back room trick they pulled to ensure the 2011 party list was all about incumbent protection rather than renewal was typically brilliant in a self-serving, two fingered attitude kinda way.

    If I were Cunliffe, I would get into cahoots with my new chief of staff and Labour party president and get a rule change at the election year conference saying all members of the shadow front bench must be list candidates only. Then make sure a *ahem* clear signal is sent when the list rankings are published.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 26, 2014 @ 11:05 am

  11. I figure that since Cunliffe has never managed to shake off the whole “smarmy silent t” thing, it might behoove him to own it, by doing exactly what they all feared and put some stick about. Then “smarmy” moves to “vicious”, which is probably a better place to be as a leader. Let them hate him, so long as they fear him, and all that.

    I think that the population actually wants to see this. I’m damned sure that the “old guard” is something they feel they voted out, and will continue voting out until it’s actually gone.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 26, 2014 @ 11:10 am

  12. @kalvarnsen – you must have ben reading a different blog I think, because the point was made here numerous times IIRC.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 26, 2014 @ 11:12 am

  13. I am stunned – we appear to have a consensus!😉😀

    Comment by David in Christchurch — February 26, 2014 @ 11:24 am


  14. True, but this fact was suspiciously absent from the analyses deployed when the Blindingly Obvious Thing That Labour Must Do Right Now, Oh My God Why Are They Such Idiots As To Not Do This (TM) was to replace Shearer with Cunliffe

    .

    Was it? Or did you just not notice it?

    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.

    https://dimpost.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/very-serious-punditry/

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 26, 2014 @ 11:33 am

  15. “If I were Cunliffe, I would get into cahoots with my new chief of staff and Labour party president and get a rule change at the election year conference saying all members of the shadow front bench must be list candidates only. Then make sure a *ahem* clear signal is sent when the list rankings are published.”

    I assume your civilian gig is in team building, Sanctuary. If he followed your advice Cunliffe would be the only member of the parliamentary team left standing on election day.

    By the way, wasn’t it just a couple of weeks ago that the election was a done deal for the Left? Has our water supply been contaminated with a political hallucinogen?

    Comment by Tinakori — February 26, 2014 @ 11:52 am

  16. >Has our water supply been contaminated with a political hallucinogen?

    It’s the hypnotic effects of technical analysis. You watch a random walk on a graph and see cycles and trends.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 26, 2014 @ 12:04 pm

  17. “It’s the hypnotic effects of technical analysis. You watch a random walk on a graph and see cycles and trends.”
    Stop bringing global warming up, it only winds me up.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 26, 2014 @ 12:32 pm

  18. get a rule change at the election year conference saying all members of the shadow front bench must be list candidates only. Then make sure a *ahem* clear signal is sent when the list rankings are published.

    That is a really good idea, seriously.

    Comment by richdrich — February 26, 2014 @ 1:35 pm

  19. I very much doubt he is the chief of staff. His attention to detail missed a few hundred thousand in PAYE.
    Call it like it is. A short term gig to run the election campaign. Calling him CoS allows labour to have him funded by the last remaining handful of taxpayers.

    Comment by Russell Beaumont — February 26, 2014 @ 1:51 pm

  20. Failing to pay deductions to Inland Revenue is a serious offence and can result in prosecution. An employer who is convicted may be:

    fined up to $50,000 and/or
    sent to prison for up to five years.

    http://www.ird.govt.nz/payroll-employers/employer-obligations/fail-to-deduct/

    I can’t stop laughing. 5 yrs prison. Lol. Its that fucking serious apparently.

    Comment by Simon — February 26, 2014 @ 3:13 pm

  21. Matt says fuck you to the State. Something to admire. A roll model even.

    Comment by Simon — February 26, 2014 @ 3:18 pm

  22. When he was Alliance President a number of out of town MPs were instructed to live in a house in MacFarlane st owned by an entity associated with the party

    Comment by Tinakori — February 26, 2014 @ 3:42 pm

  23. I think refraining from dubious practices is a pretty high bar to set for political operators.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 26, 2014 @ 3:55 pm

  24. I suppose his brief will be to mobilise low income non-voters which is probably Labour’s only hope.

    Comment by NeilM — February 26, 2014 @ 5:59 pm

  25. McCarten has been involved with three other political parties*, two of whom are currently in Parliament and one of whom is currently in government. It’s hard to believe he would credibly display the sort of loyalty that Labour usually requires of its high ranking staff. I know you can argue that the rift that split New Labour off from Labour has essentially healed, but still…

    There’s also the cancer thing, which means that Labour might, at short notice, be looking for a new CoS.

    Having said all that, I don’t think anybody, not even his worst enemies, could deny that he knows what he is doing organisation-wise.

    *four if you count New Labour and the Alliance as separate.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 26, 2014 @ 7:31 pm

  26. I suppose his brief will be to mobilise low income non-voters which is probably Labour’s only hope.

    Why wouldn’t low income voters vote National now that the minimum wage has sky rocketed?

    Comment by Ross — February 26, 2014 @ 7:48 pm

  27. Perhaps his first act would be to explain why Jaimie Whyte and his zero percenters talking about incest is top of the Herald site and Matt doesn’t feature anywhere on the front page? Including even hidden away in the politics section.

    Comment by sheesh — February 26, 2014 @ 8:56 pm

  28. why Jaimie Whyte and his zero percenters talking about incest is top of the Herald site

    I think there is only a very small chance that a party leader saying they think incest should be legal wouldn’t be given prime ‘click to see more’ spot, and when that party’s sole MP happens to be John Banks, well, rude not to really.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — February 26, 2014 @ 9:43 pm

  29. “I assume your civilian gig is in team building, Sanctuary.”

    herding cats…

    Comment by Sacha — February 26, 2014 @ 11:01 pm

  30. Hahaha a “skyrocketing” minimum wage, I guess that’s to go with our “rockstar” economy eh?

    Comment by Rob — February 27, 2014 @ 8:33 am


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