The Dim-Post

November 18, 2014

Credit for prescience where credit for prescience is due

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 3:34 pm

This was John Armstrong writing back in August of 2013 about Labour’s leadership primary model:

On the face of it, Labour would seem deserving of much applause for rule changes which now make the election of the party’s leader a far better exercise in democracy.

Changes to the constitution which give every party member a say on whether David Cunliffe, Shane Jones or Grant Robertson should be handed the difficult task of returning Labour to the Promised Land have surely got to be a good thing, haven’t they?

Or are they? There is a long-forgotten but still very solid reason why election of the leader was the preserve of Labour’s MPs for so long.

MPs are hostage to the fortunes (good and bad) of their leader more than anyone else in the party. It can be argued that deciding who gets the job should remain the prerogative of MPs – and theirs alone.

The recent rule changes may instead result in the election of someone – Cunliffe to be precise – who caucus members may regard as being inflicted upon them as leader by misguided outsiders. The caucus – or at least the majority of its members – may thus not feel obliged to take “ownership” of the new leader.


  1. I would now like to officially lay claim on the invention of the term ABL (‘Anybody But Little’)


    Comment by Antoine — November 18, 2014 @ 4:22 pm

  2. Round 1 – Robertson 14, Parker 7, Mahuta 6, Little 5
    Round 2 – Robertson 14, Parker 7, Little 11
    Round 3 – Robertson 18, Little 14

    You could also interpret these results as ABR – there appears to be a significant “anyone but robertson” faction. I believe Sanctuary used this acronym on The Standard earlier today.

    Comment by Phil — November 18, 2014 @ 4:47 pm

  3. You could also interpret these results as ABR – there appears to be a significant “anyone but robertson” faction.

    Yes – a smaller

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 18, 2014 @ 5:05 pm

  4. Gah!

    18 more than 14 is all. No-one ever said unanimilty was a necessary precondition for rule.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 18, 2014 @ 5:06 pm

  5. I guess Robertson has paid the price of being to closely identified with one faction, and has lost to Little – the unions choice and probably someone both sides can live with. It is worth noting that Maori also supported Little – in other words the two groups who represent constituencies that massively still vote Labour went for Little. It is probably the end of the line for Robertson, and represents a stinging blow to the “new” left of liberal progressives and their identity politics, many of whom I predict will now quit the party.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 18, 2014 @ 5:10 pm

  6. The Greens have a similar system of being elected by the wider party.
    The President of the US is of course elected by the public ( indirectly) not by those of his party in Congress.

    In the UK, the first labour PM was elected by his MPs, which at the time was seen as unusual as previously the Tories sort of gave the King a choice.

    Comment by ghostwhowalksnz — November 18, 2014 @ 5:51 pm

  7. Let’s just make it clear that the Caucus and Party votes were relatively close (56/44, 55/45). In other words, Little has significant support among members and MPs.

    Comment by swordfish — November 19, 2014 @ 12:54 am

  8. I genuinely think, of the four candidates, Little, was by far, the best choice to lead the Labour party on the course it is going, especially as it will ensure that Cunliffe’s vision can be brought to fruition. Little is the perfect person to be here, right now. A perfect choice, given the options available.

    Comment by lee clark — November 19, 2014 @ 6:29 am

  9. “misguided outsiders.” – rather a sad way to view your membership (if thats true)

    This whole caucus has to like the leader thing is still odd to me.
    If ‘ordinary’ people can work with and/or for people they dont always like, for vastly less money than MPS – then why is it too much to ask of the labour caucus to do the same?

    Comment by framu — November 19, 2014 @ 8:38 am

  10. “MPs are hostage to the fortunes (good and bad) of their leader..”

    This is the problem with politics and Labour in particular – they are looking out for themselves as special interest groupies rather than the citizens.

    Comment by Brown — November 19, 2014 @ 9:07 am

  11. Consider this , that both Goff and Shearer became leader under the previous ‘Byzantium system’ .
    Lets not dignify it as some sort chosen by their peers in a true democracy nonsense.
    It was all about horse trading, career advancement, with back stabbing and palace coups thrown in for good measure

    Comment by ghostwhowalksnz — November 19, 2014 @ 11:10 am

  12. The selection process is odd but I think Little might do well.

    Well enough to win in 2017 hard to tell.

    The CGT is a 70s solution to a problem of the internet economy and makes no sense. Maybe Little will look at a broader tax revue and ignore the middle class and their faux concerns about property prices.

    Comment by NeilM — November 19, 2014 @ 8:52 pm

  13. I’ve long thought that a negative income tax was a good idea so UBI could get my support.

    But it needs to done within a framework of matching tax and benefits with the economy as it is now.

    The financial sector and many other business sectors have become quite different beasts as a result of the internet.

    There’s possibly a lot more that could be achieved in terms of taxation fairness and efficiency by not getting stuck on a CGT.

    Comment by NeilM — November 19, 2014 @ 9:27 pm

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