The Dim-Post

November 11, 2014

Labour, leadership and magical thinking

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 5:31 pm

There’s been a bit of talk on the blogosphere/twitter about this column by Stephen Mills from UMR (they do Labour’s polling) about the future of the Labour Party:

The deaths of major political parties in Western democracies are often predicted but very seldom occur.

There was some talk after National’s 2002 election disaster that New Zealand First could become the major party on the right. That now looks really stupid.

In the last few years tens of millions of words have been written about the inevitable demise of the Australian Labor Party (ALP).

While the ALP has some problems it has been in front in every major Australian poll since the first Coalition Budget in May.

Whether New Zealand Labour has a future has been questioned since its terrible party vote result in the September election.

Labour will be encouraged that most voters do see Labour as retaining major party status.

Given a choice, only 13 per cent think the party “has no place in modern New Zealand politics and is going to fade away”; 78 per cent think “its current problems are just the usual political cycle and it remains the alternative major party political party that people will turn to when they get tired of John Key and National”.

I don’t know if Labour is a dying party. Looks like it to me, but there’s still time to turn things around. I do think there’s an important difference between National in 2002 and the Labour Party in 2014. After their 2002 election loss National realised that it faced an existential crisis and took drastic action. They bought Steven Joyce in to review the party, underwent a huge reorganisation and then united behind their subsequent leaders, Brash and Key. The sense I get from Labour is that they don’t have anything to worry about because hey, National was in big trouble a few years ago and now look at them go! Sure, Labour aren’t doing great right now but it’s just history; it’s political cycles. You gotta ride it out and wait until the tide washes you back into government again. There was a nice example of this from former Labour President Mike Williams on the Nine to Noon political segment last week. Williams announced that the leader of the Labour leadership contest will probably be the Prime Minister in 2017 because four term governments are rare. Forget all that hard work of somehow beating John Key, which Labour has no idea how to do, or even reforming the party. Fate will just return them to power, somehow, because that’s what sometimes happened in the past.

I don’t think Key and National see themselves as being circumscribed by fate, and that they should just resign themselves to losing in 2017. I think they’ve built a fearsome political behemoth that dominates New Zealand’s political landscape and which they hope will endure for a long, long time, even after Key finally retires in his fifth term (or whenever).  Labour dying is not a worst-case scenario for the New Zealand left. Labour hanging around, slowly dwindling, occupying the political space of the center-left but not winning an election for another twenty years is the real and highly plausible doomsday scenario. I don’t know how much of National’s strength is an accident of Labour’s current weakness, but I do know that the new Labour leaders job will be reforming their party, and not beating Key. That’s not even an option for Labour until they somehow transform themselves into a modern professional political party, and figure out who they are and what they stand for.

What does that even mean? Let me make three points.

  • Values. I agree with people like Josie Pagani when she says Labour needs to be a ‘broad church’. If it’s going to be a major party then it needs candidates that speak to many different groups of New Zealanders; it can’t just be a bunch of educated urban liberals shouting at everyone about what they’re allowed to think and say. But a broad church is still a, y’know, church. You need to believe in God, so to speak. Pagani endorsed Shane Jones for leader, and it was really obvious for a long time that St Jonesy’s values were basically ACT Party values. He said it himself when he left, that he wanted Labour to be more like the Lange/Douglas government. It was completely ridiculous to have a guy that openly hated the party and everything it stood for sitting on the front bench, and of course it worked out terribly for Labour. That’s not something that happens to functional political parties. New Zealand First doesn’t have an MP that hates old people. National is a ‘broad church’ party, but they don’t have John Minto in there talking about abolishing private property, and a whole bunch of National activists cheering him on and endorsing him for leader. Labour needs to articulate a meaningful set of values that MPs and party members agree on.  How the hell are the public supposed to know what they’re voting for if the MPs can’t agree?
  • Performance: Having said all that about values, grasp what Key grasps: that the majority of those centrist voters Stephen Mills talks about in his column aren’t morons – as Chris Trotter alleges – but valence voters who look for qualities like competence rather than policy or ideology. Labour does not present itself as a competent, credible party. Take last election: all that phenomenal policy work in the lead-up to the 2014 election campaign was pointless: whenever the policies were launched all the MPs either went on holiday or started talking about anything other than, say, the education policy they’d invested months developing. That’s not down to factionalism, or media bias, or any of the other problems Labour contends with (or thinks it does). That’s just a badly run political party. Stop purging high-performing staff whenever there’s a leadership change. Don’t replace them with random unqualified people who can’t do those jobs.
  • Winning. In 2005 Labour won the party vote in Nelson with 43% of the vote. In 2008 high-ranking list MP Maryan Street became the Labour candidate, and by 2011 Labour’s party vote in Nelson was 27.3%. That’s a huge decline but not, weirdly, a reason for Labour not to run her again in that electorate in 2014 or give her a high position on the list (albeit not high enough to return her to Parliament). Why did the party select someone with no apparent connection to Nelson as the electorate candidate and then keep running them even through their result just kept getting worse and worse? That was a really dumb thing to do. The ability to run campaigns that win party votes is the key performance indicator for politicians in the MMP system. but half of Labour’s candidates repeatedly run electorate only campaigns and the rest keep getting re-selected and back in on the list irregardless of how they perform. (Nelson isn’t the worst decline, either. Mt Albert, Dunedin South and Auckland Central have seen even larger drops in party vote support). MPs and candidates need to understand that if they’re not winning party votes for Labour they need to go and do something else with their life.

Those problems are symptoms of institutional dysfunction. I don’t know what the core issues are, or how you fix them, but that’s what the next leaders main job is. ‘Beating Key’ is way down the list. The danger is that the next leader starts to reform the party which freaks out and fights back, white-anting and leaking against him (or her) and they get rolled because they’re down in the polls.

I don’t know which candidate for leadership is best suited to run the party. I thought Cunliffe would be a good leader! But here are my brief thoughts:

  • Gracinda. The urban liberal dream-team of Grant Robertson and Jacinda Ardern. Will be popular and effective in Auckland and Wellington. Will make Labour attractive to soft-Green voters. I find it hard to imagine them winning many National or New Zealand First voters, not just because Robertson is gay but because I can’t see two childless career politicians being wildly popular with ‘middle-New Zealand’. Clark was though so maybe I’m imposing my own subconscious bigotry onto the voters, or something. Also, as a Green voter I question the strategic value of trying to win votes off the Green Party, but there’s a strong consensus in Labour that the Greens need to be knocked back (Mike Williams talked about this on Monday as well), and a historic precedent for it – National consumed ACT before they moved to the center – and ‘Gracinda’ is the best leadership team to go about this.
  • Andrew Little. Hasn’t won an electorate. Neither did Brash though, and he came pretty close to winning in 05 (which goes to show that leadership isn’t everything, since Brash was pretty shocking at it). Little seems to be keen to ‘Clause IV’ Labour and provoke a fight with the party by rolling back various policies that are near and dear to the hearts of Labour’s activists. Apparently Little was a very formidable operator when he ran the EPMU, so maybe he has the organisational abilities to reform Labour?
  • Nanaia Mahuta. She did well in the Nation’s Labour leaders debate. I don’t think she’ll win, but I can’t help contrasting her treatment by mainstream media commentators, who seem to regard her as a bit of a joke with that of St Jonesy, who was hailed as a superstar and Labour’s last chance to reconnect with real voters, given that Mahuta managed to win and hold an electorate seat, and be a Cabinet Minister without constantly disgracing herself, feats Jones never quite pulled off. I wonder if Maori Labour MPs like Mahuta are told to focus on Maori media and winning Maori votes, and then when they stand up in a contest like this they’re greeted with bafflement by Pakeha pundits?
  • David Parker. I have no strong opinions about David Parker.

I have no idea which of the three blokes will win, or which of them should win. But if I was a Labour voter I’d worry less about ‘who I’d like to have a beer with’, or which faction they championed, or even whose policies and values I identified closely with, and more with which of them has the qualities to fix the deep, structural problems within Labour and turn it into a modern professional party.

46 Comments »

  1. A quite terrific post. I enjoyed reading this (probably because it is broadly what I think!). Just a couple of points. If Labour truly wants to reassess and reorganise then Gould et al are just not going to do this for them. My perspective is that Gould is quite old school and I don’t see him connecting with any broadly based grouping if his writings are a reasonable guide. Just my view of course.
    Totally agree with your point about values and the urban liberals. There is an arrogance, and myopia, to this group which is very unappealing. You can see this in the everyday writings at The standard. Your point about Key grasping the fact that voters look for competence is very well made. I have come to the view that the left/right dichotomy is outdated ( I am nearly 70!) and that voters are now looking more to the issues and how parties respond to them. I believe that younger generally better educated people today understand that all parties have positive things to offer and therefore they are not so easily categorised into left or right any more. They just want to know how any parties policy deals with the issue. Ideology isn’t so critical. The activists in Labour just can’t see this. Their response is to ‘nuke’ or character assassinate anyone who has the temerity to disagree.
    I think Labour are in for a long hard haul. The leadership offerings are very unappealing and the persons chosen for the review would have been a long way down my list of candidates.

    Comment by Pete — November 11, 2014 @ 6:28 pm

  2. “irregardless”, really Danyl, stop baiting us!

    Comment by jmarshall — November 11, 2014 @ 6:44 pm

  3. I know I’ve banged this drum before, but I’m going to repeat myself – I do not think that the quality of the electorate MP standing has a significant effect on the party vote in the electorate. Voters do not usually take a good hard look at the electorate MP and then assign their party vote with that in mind, they party vote is mostly based on how the national campaign is going – the policy debates, the informal and formal debates between leaders, and the other stuff you’ve talked about (competence, factionalism etc etc). The Nelson example is illustrative – yes, the party vote in Nelson fell precipitously between 2005 and 2014, but the national vote fell steeply as well. It seems unfair to blame the various electorate MPs who ran for not being able to reverse the tide – obviously it’d be great if they did, but the fact that they didn’t doesn’t represent some kind of individual failure on their part. Selecting a bunch of top quality electoral candidates is not something Labour needs to prioritise in order to win national elections.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — November 11, 2014 @ 6:45 pm

  4. You think a National-led govt for the next 20 years is highly plausible? That seems way too strong.

    I’m with you on values and competence, but not on the electorate campaigns and party vote. How do you know who has run a good party vote campaign or not? The quality of a candidate’s party vote campaign affects but doesn’t dictate how many votes their party wins in their electorate.

    Grant Robertson’s partner has children – and grandchildren – I believe, so Grant can’t really be classed as childless.

    Great points on Nanaia Mahuta.

    Based on what you talk about here, if you were a Labour member I reckon you’d be voting for Robertson or Little.

    Comment by Toby — November 11, 2014 @ 7:08 pm

  5. Hello Danyl

    If “the ability to run campaigns that win party votes is the KPI for politicians in the MMP system”, then what shall we say about
    – Catherine Delahunty
    – Steffan Browning
    – Eugenie Sage
    – Kevin Hague?

    If I read the stats correctly, then the Greens lost at least one percentage point of party vote in each of their electorates (Coromandel, Kaikoura, Northland and Port Hills respectively).

    In contrast, Greens made good party vote gains in Helensville (Kennedy Graham) and Rongotai (Russel Norman).

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — November 11, 2014 @ 10:01 pm

  6. Further to this,

    How have Delahunty, Browning, Sage and Hague been contributing to the Green Party’s “main focus for the past five years” – which, as you set out in your previous post, has been “to counter the perception [that the party is a bunch of nutters] and to convince voters that they are a sober and credible political alternative”?

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — November 11, 2014 @ 10:10 pm

  7. Dear Kalvarnsen,

    The voters in Invercargill disagree with you. The quality of the electorate MP can magnifying/minimise voters views on a party. Magnify the positives of a party and their policies, or minimise the negatives, for example party L has had member C announce a brain fart but that will be discounted because we now our electorate MP will look after us and tell member C to pull their head out of their arse.

    Comment by WH — November 11, 2014 @ 10:45 pm

  8. In the words of the Dear Leader (peace be upon him) when he was discussing his approach to executive hires at Apple and Pixar:

    “A players pick A players. B players pick C players.”

    No-one involved in the Labour leadership contest or the post-election review is an A player. You think Gould has the foggiest idea how to win an election? What on earth makes him qualified to comment on what Labour needs to do differently?

    Comment by SHG — November 12, 2014 @ 5:34 am

  9. I agree with people like Josie Pagani when she says Labour needs to be a ‘broad church’.
    From James Callaghan through John Howard, ‘broad church’ has been a favourite weaselism when attempting to issue enough rope to people in your own party that you don’t like.

    it was really obvious for a long time that St Jonesy’s values were basically ACT Party values
    The sainted one was very much Clark’s protege. No doubt there are still those with influence in the party who haven’t moved beyond the ‘haters and wreckers’ mindset.

    Comment by Joe W — November 12, 2014 @ 7:15 am

  10. They bought Steven Joyce…

    Have you got any evidence of this? I would not put it past those evil Tories, but maybe you meant they “brought”…?

    Comment by Ross — November 12, 2014 @ 8:02 am

  11. Little is the only candidate with experience of running a large and successful voluntary organisation, the EPMU. It’s a no-brainer to ask him to transform a small and unsuccessful voluntary organisation.

    Comment by Tinakori — November 12, 2014 @ 8:16 am

  12. “…I do not think that the quality of the electorate MP standing has a significant effect on the party vote…”

    But it does have a significant effect on winnowing out the opinionated technocrats and the wannabes from the real politicans and the can-doers. Doing creditably well in an unwinnable seat means might have what it takes to win a marginal. Win a marginal and turn it into a fortress and you’ve got cabinet minister written on your forhead. The problem with list MPs is to many of them are unseasoned apparatchiks, technocrats and special interest sops. Personally, I’ve always believed the most important qualification to serve as a politician is being a politician.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 12, 2014 @ 9:14 am

  13. “That’s not even an option for Labour until they somehow transform themselves into a modern professional political party, and figure out who they are and what they stand for.”

    That’s always a lot harder for a left wing party than a right wing one, which has a “natural” position, and a long established corpus of information to inform their “professionalism” about the best ways to achieve what they want. If you’re a party that wants to actually change anything, then you do actually have to do things that are quite different.

    But I’m not sure if Labour is that party. The relentless drive to turn them into the National of the Left seems to be working. Practically every analysis is about how they can be more like National. What I don’t understand is why to even support the Labour Party at all if that’s actually what you want. Just support National and have done with it.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 12, 2014 @ 9:50 am

  14. ” After their 2002 election loss National realised that it faced an existential crisis and took drastic action. They bought Steven Joyce in to review the party, underwent a huge reorganisation and then united behind their subsequent leaders, Brash and Key. ”

    A lot of wishful hindsight here. English had to be moved out his job as leader by a bulldozer some time after the election. And it wasnt an a sweep as it was only one vote ( John Keys?) between them. And what huge reorg are you talking about?. There was the rebel Rakiaia MP who was causing trouble for Brash, so much for united?
    It worked out well, so confirmation bias will tend to say it was the grand plan all along. Having Key, who wasnt an obvious political talent up till then, has been the only thing that has kept them going so long. Im sure a few in National saw him as a temporary leader at first, as English ran again after Brash decided to chuck it in.

    Comment by ghostwhowalksnz — November 12, 2014 @ 10:36 am

  15. I really enjoy how the fear of being labelled a racist misogynist, all lefties are obliged to say how well Mahuta has done. She was awful on the Nation debate. Her default answers are made up entirely of meaningless technocratic babble.

    Comment by King Kong — November 12, 2014 @ 11:01 am

  16. She was awful on the Nation debate.

    Also awful on Radio Hauraki breakfast show last week. Yes, it’s a joke radio station hosted by Newsboy and Martin Guptill’s missus, but Mahuta showed absolutely no situational awareness. She didn’t seem to grasp the concept that breakfast radio could be something other than Sean Plunkett asking the serious questions of the day.

    There was no evidence of ability to tailor her message or style to a different audience. Compared to Parker and Robertson, who quickly understood what they were getting themselves into responded accordingly, Mahuta sounded hopelessly out of her depth and unable or unwilling to change.

    Comment by Phil — November 12, 2014 @ 11:23 am

  17. You need to believe in God, so to speak. Pagani endorsed Shane Jones for leader, and it was really obvious for a long time that St Jonesy’s values were basically ACT Party values. He said it himself when he left, that he wanted Labour to be more like the Lange/Douglas government.

    ACT party values do not match the values of the Lange/Douglas government, the Douglas/Prebble ACT party was formed when they decided they could no longer be part of Labour because their values clashed with the Labour Party. Or put simply the sole reason for the ACT Party’s existence is that massive difference in values.

    It might suit the far-Left to paint the values as the same, because it scares Left into believing tales of neo-liberal conspiracies behind every shadow. It is the BS that shores up their power base within the Labour Party.

    It was completely ridiculous to have a guy that openly hated the party and everything it stood for sitting on the front bench, and of course it worked out terribly for Labour.

    When Jones was on the front bench Labour was polling in the low to mid 30s, by today’s standard that is unbelievably good.

    But the irony is you are right:

    “It [is] completely ridiculous to have a [group] that openly hates the party and everything it stood for sitting on the front bench, and of course it worked out terribly for Labour.”

    The Labour Party has been captured by a group that hates the Labour Party of the 1980s and despises the Labour Party of the 90s/00s. How can anybody be expected to vote for a party that likes itself so little?

    Comment by unaha-closp — November 12, 2014 @ 11:24 am

  18. Labour have performed very poorly in opposition. The job of the opposition is to oppose, yes; but when opposing one should try to gently and rationally expose the shortcomings of the government and demonstrate to the country that you are better qualified to run things. Labour have opposed like a pit bull. They bark and howl all the time about how whatever latest minor thing national is doing is going to be a complete disaster and will wreck the country. It is overblown and the fear card has been overplayed. Actually National have been fairly mild in terms of what they have done so far. Opposing irrationally makes Labour seem irrational.

    Also there have been far too many personal attacks on John Key. The main theme of Labour’s attack (if there is one) seems to be that Key is the devil incarnate out to sell the country down the river for his rich mates. Voters are just not buying it. So why then do Labour keep on doing it! When National were in opposition they didn’t constantly try to portray Helen Clark as an evil witch out to destroy the country for her lesbian friends. OK – this may have been implied once or twice, but it was a tactic used very sparingly indeed, and certainly not as a weapon of first resort.

    Labour’s over the top opposition tactics smack of desperation and reveal a lack of confidence, almost as if Labour don’t believe their own message.

    Comment by Ian H — November 12, 2014 @ 11:32 am

  19. Also there have been far too many personal attacks on John Key.

    Dirty Politics focused on personal attacks, specifically by the Right against the Left. Let that sink in a little….

    Comment by Ross — November 12, 2014 @ 11:51 am

  20. Wow, this thread comments section has turned into a chance for all the usual concerned trolls from the right to have a good whinge about Labour.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 12, 2014 @ 1:12 pm

  21. LoL

    Comment by Lee Clark — November 12, 2014 @ 1:52 pm

  22. Yeah, Ian H, the same thing happened in Australia. The opposition spent two terms on hard-core unrelenting negativity and personal attacks with no credible policy (and denial of what policy leaks there were). The only switched away from personally attaching the leader for being a little grey man when the leader changed and suddenly it was all “ditch the witch”.

    You know where that left them? In government.

    Comment by Moz in Oz — November 12, 2014 @ 2:18 pm

  23. > How can anybody be expected to vote for a party that likes itself so little?

    LOL. Must remember, of course, that 604,535 people did actually vote for them, whereas the party that most likes itself, UF, got 5,286*. This despite sitting in that holy grail position directly between Labour and National, that rich untapped territory so prized to all those wanting Labour to be just like National, only a little more moderate. So self-loving centrism isn’t *necessarily* a winner.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 12, 2014 @ 2:38 pm

  24. Labour MPs and party members should all read Chris Mullin’s diaries. That is all.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — November 12, 2014 @ 3:09 pm

  25. Danyl, too often the lint you pick over includes misrepresentation of other commentators’ comments or positions.

    For example,your ‘moron’ link to Trotter provided the following gem: ‘John key and Steven Joyce worked out long, long ago, this crucial fifth of the electorate contains neither the best nor the brightest of the New Zealand population. They are, for the most part, extremely lazy thinkers who draw practically all of their notions about domestic politics from the general tone of the news media’s coverage’

    Given the fleeting acquaintanceship many average householders I door-stepped during the election had with Dirty Politics, that is, they’d passed by it in the headline news, hadn’t read the book, but ‘knew’ Labour was all about dirty politics because the emails were stolen, doncha know, I’d say Trotter’s comment is quite defendable, expressing a view which seemed to be reflected by the presidential policy-free approach style of the National party’s campaign itself. Trotter didn’t call middle voters ‘moronic’ however.

    It’s a sarcastic leap to extrapolate from William’s remark that he excludes the tasks of winning trust and achieving coherency and has become a devotee of some latter-day political cargo-cult.

    As for the thrust of your post:”….institutional dysfunction. I don’t know what the core issues are, or how you fix them, but that’s what the next leaders main job is…” I quite agree with you. You don’t.

    Comment by paritutu — November 12, 2014 @ 4:40 pm

  26. Labour used to be a party that pursued an equitable society through any means. That included some right wing actions – asset sales, union reform, tariff removal, free trade agreements, sending troops into war zones, slashing subsidies. And it included some left wing actions of course.

    National were a growth driven party, willing to pursue any means to achieve this. The Nats have adopted left wing policies where it suits their values – they subsidise and protect and treat preferentially players who exhibit traditionally strong growth. And they undertook some right wing actions of course.

    Nowadays National is still a growth driven party.

    Unfortunately Labour is fast becoming a left wing party.

    Comment by unaha-closp — November 12, 2014 @ 5:28 pm

  27. Personally I lean towards Gracinda. Interestingly, Robertson has the endorsement of the Back of the Y crew.

    As for the others, it’s a given that Parker would be in Finance. Little would be ideal for Labour & Industrial Relations and other major stuff, as well as some kind of foil to Prostetnic Vogon Joyce. Mahuta definitely fits Maori Affairs and some other social portfolio.

    There’s still the wildcard of Dirty Politics slow-burning fuse to come yet, especially if any of the guilty parties end up in the slammer. And the housing bubble might become too big to ignore, regardless of whether it bursts or not.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — November 12, 2014 @ 5:33 pm

  28. “When National were in opposition they didn’t constantly try to portray Helen Clark as an evil witch out to destroy the country for her lesbian friends.”

    They put up posters comparing Helen Clark to Mugave and Kim Il Jong.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — November 12, 2014 @ 6:24 pm

  29. “When National were in opposition they didn’t constantly try to portray Helen Clark as an evil witch out to destroy the country for her lesbian friends.”

    Except, of course, when they did.

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Dg3aJC6mpnoJ:blog.greens.org.nz/2005/09/04/the-taunts-of-homophobes/+&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=nz&client=safari

    Comment by Flashing Light — November 13, 2014 @ 9:38 am

  30. 20.Wow, this thread comments section has turned into a chance for all the usual concerned trolls from the right to have a good whinge about Labour.

    Was the greatest day in the Labour Party’s history when the Progressive/Alliance/Greens were shown the door or when ACT were jettisoned? It is hard to say.

    At least the ACToids have had the decency to stay away.

    Unfortunately the Progressives, after finding a level of core support akin to the Peter Dunne on a good day, have oozed back into the board church of the Labour Party. These traitors to the Labour party are still traitor to the Labour party. They say things like – they didn’t leave the Labour Party, the Party left them – which is BS. They spend 25 years hating on a Labour, then come back and say they were the true believers all along – more BS.

    The Labour party is the party of Lange/Douglas. The Labour is the party of Mike Moore. Labour is the party of Clark/Cullen.

    Comment by unaha-closp — November 13, 2014 @ 10:59 am

  31. The Labour party is the party of Lange/Douglas. The Labour is the party of Mike Moore. Labour is the party of Clark/Cullen.

    What does this even mean?

    Comment by Gregor W — November 13, 2014 @ 11:41 am

  32. “Danyl, too often the lint you pick over includes misrepresentation of other commentators’ comments or positions.” (paritutu)

    “All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.” (George Orwell)

    Comment by Lee Clark — November 13, 2014 @ 3:16 pm

  33. “What does this even mean?”

    I dunno, but it’s only marginally less coherent than the idea that progressives left Labour and returned, or that they get less votes than Dunne. So why you picking on that line huh? Huh!!?

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — November 14, 2014 @ 8:12 am

  34. I just assumed Unaha-Closp’s software had been scrambled by a gravitational anomaly. Maybe he can power the entire blog for a year with his fuel cells.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 14, 2014 @ 10:54 am

  35. It means that Labour has been a centrist party, Labour was not a left wing political party. Unfortunately in the last 5 years, Labour has taken a lurch to the left. Labour now appears to be under the influence of a bunch of twits determined to reimagine Labour as a left wing party. It is a badge of honour amongst this type to hate the Labour government of 1984 – 1990. And as our host so rightly points out – “It was completely ridiculous to have a guy that openly hated the party and everything it stood for sitting on the front bench…”.

    A bit of history. Labour was from 1983 till 2010 a centrist party and in government 15 of those years. Prior to that in the post war years through 1981 Labour was a largely left wing political party, it spent only 6 of those 40 years in office and even the Kirk victory was won on the back of privatised pension funds (a right-wing for the time policy). If Labour wants to be an exclusively left wing political party it can look forward to spending a very long time in opposition again.

    Comment by unaha-closp — November 14, 2014 @ 11:00 am

  36. Unfortunately in the last 5 years, Labour has taken a lurch to the left

    Sort of, but only inasmuch as it’s a notional marketing rather than ideological response to National easily holding the centre-left by not rocking the boat (i.e. sustaining WFF and pensions, spending up large on health and education) while using ACT as a stalking horse/ electoral bell-weather for more radical treatments.

    If Labour wants to be an exclusively left wing political party it can look forward to spending a very long time in opposition again.

    Who exactly is arguing this? Certainly not the NZLP executive leadership. Otherwise they’d have kicked most of their caucus to the kerb by now surely?

    Comment by Gregor W — November 14, 2014 @ 11:16 am

  37. One thing that is perhaps overlooked – when Clark was leader, she had a deputy in Cullen who was unquestionably loyal to her, meaning she didn’t have to worry about him undermining her in any way. Contrast that to the “support” leaders have had since then from caucus.

    Comment by B Russ — November 14, 2014 @ 12:30 pm

  38. “I just assumed Unaha-Closp’s software had been scrambled by a gravitational anomaly.”
    Only bounced off the comet briefly.

    Comment by Sacha — November 14, 2014 @ 4:18 pm

  39. Sort of, but only inasmuch as it’s a notional marketing rather than ideological response to National easily holding the centre-left by not rocking the boat…

    David Cunliffe was calling for barriers to Chinese investment. This same Chinese investment was won for NZ by the previous Labour government under the much more reasonable leadership of Helen Clark.

    Who exactly is arguing this? Certainly not the NZLP executive leadership. Otherwise they’d have kicked most of their caucus to the kerb by now surely?

    The party has marginalised the caucus. They’ve split, disunified and weakened the caucus by making leadership dependent on the Left wing factions – the membership and the unions. The caucus should have much more power within the party, because the caucus are representatives of the voters. The voters dwarf the membership, yet they are of same voting weight. It is a ludicrous system designed and implemented to favour the Left.

    Comment by unaha-closp — November 14, 2014 @ 4:55 pm

  40. “It is a ludicrous system designed and implemented to favour the Left.”

    Blimey, these Fox News rants are getting ever more unhinged. Reality redefined, a world where Michael Bassett is “centrist” and nearly every democratic party in the world is wrong, and only the NZ Nats are right. I mean, do you know how these funny foreigners pick leaders? As in, very un-Left conservative parties, across the globe? They seem to cope OK.

    I’d suggest doing some homework on planet Earth but sadly your comments suggest an iron determination not to let reality intrude.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — November 16, 2014 @ 10:36 am

  41. Somehow I doubt that Unaha-closp warmly endorses Helen Clark as a pragmatic centrist when she was actually in office.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — November 17, 2014 @ 9:39 am

  42. *endorsed

    Comment by kalvarnsen — November 17, 2014 @ 9:40 am

  43. sammy 3.0: Some people live on a planet that was colonised by Ayn Rand. And Unaha-closp overlooks the dead wood in the caucus who don’t know when to quit.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — November 17, 2014 @ 10:38 am

  44. I’ve noticed that political parties in the USA which have primaries and partisan political leaders tend to get 20 – 25% of the vote, which if only 40 – 50% of the electorate vote is enough. But if 75% votes, like we do here that is not going to win.

    I used to vote Labour, but I despise Winston Peters so I stopped when they began cuddling up to him. Which means I liked Helen Clark for two terms then thought she was a bit shit. And since Labour still needs Winston, with his mixed batch of racists and the incredibly old, as their preferred centrist partner I am staying away.

    I am a centrist, I think a social safety net is essential and I abhor regressive taxation, but also think that spending on middle class (and above) support is wastefully stupid. This makes me the functional equivalent of a Randian nut job to majority of the Labour party members and a moonbat commie to the majority of the National party members.

    Deadwood is a big problem in parties with a decreasing share of the vote

    Comment by unaha-closp — November 18, 2014 @ 3:10 pm

  45. unaha: as in the Josie Pagani or Peter Dunne kind of centrist?

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — November 18, 2014 @ 3:22 pm

  46. KR: probably Pagani of the two. Dunne is too wishy-washy.

    What do you think of Little? Of the four he was my pragmatic choice.

    Comment by unaha-closp — November 18, 2014 @ 5:07 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: