This was given to Labour’s caucus yesterday and leaked to Paddy Gower today:
- Who leaked it and why? It’s a ‘bad look’ for the party, which has been plagued by leaks and the perception of disunity. It could have been pretty much anyone, but I have a theory . . .
- The review seems to be a draft. There are review comments in the margins.
- The draft states – in a diplomatic way – that the affiliates, ie the unions, have an awful lot of power within Labour, but that they don’t do much during elections or give the party much money.
- Which I find interesting. Ever since the UK election I’ve been wondering about the role that unions play in left-wing politics there, in Australia, and here. Having these powerful external organisations running around stacking selections, picking MPs and playing kingmaker within the party, which then gets slaughtered when the public don’t like the candidates they picked doesn’t seem to be working out that well for anyone.
- But I doubt former EMPU boss Andrew Little would agree with that, or the implied criticism of the unions in the review. So my theory is that Little demanded that point be removed from the final draft and someone who felt strongly about the point – and, perhaps, the role the unions played putting Little into power – leaked the draft.
The late start under a changed leadership team left too little time to allow Labour to prepare and implement an effective campaign. In general, Labour’s campaign preparation was inadequate.
What’s not said: a symptom of the disunity within the caucus is that senior staff are routinely purged whenever there’s a leadership change. It’s made it hard for Labour to recruit high calibre staff – what if you leave your job, and then there’s a coup a month later and your events-based contract is terminated? Cunliffe sacked Shearer’s popular, very effective press secretary and then took four months to hire his own cousin, who doesn’t seem to have been regarded well. They were still placing senior staffers into the leader’s office a couple of months before the campaign started.
The campaign was undoubtedly hindered by a shortage of financial resources. The finance available was less than in earlier campaigns, though only a little less bycomparison with 2011. Labour must do better in this respect in 2017.Labour must build greater confidence in its ability to win and to form a successful government, and – in addition to building its database of online donors – it must use high-level business and other contacts, supported by a strengthened group of professional fundraisers on the staff team, in approaching the corporate sector and other potential sources of funding for donations
What’s not said: Many people have pointed out that the Greens raised more money than Labour during the last election. What they don’t say is that a huge component of the Greens’ fundraising is that they tithe their MPs. Why don’t Labour do the same? It would solve all of their fundraising problems overnight. It’s far less problematic than a party that represents ‘the workers’ being dependent on the corporate sector. And it would be a great symbol – the caucus could show that they’re MPs because they care about the party, not because its a higher salary than most of them could dream of outside of Parliament, and that they’re committed to its survival, and not just building up their own property portfolios.
Action should arise from a review of the voter targeting and other work undertaken during the election to engage the “missing million”. Integrated with this, high quality research must be undertaken on patterns of non-voting and the best way to target those people. Labour’s input to the Parliamentary select committee review of the GeneralElection and Labour’s Justice spokesperson should focus on why 1 million people didn’tvote, and what could be done to address that
What’s not said: A lot of people spent an awful lot of time and money trying to get ‘the missing million’ to vote in 2014. The conventional wisdom on the left is that the missing million stopped voting because there was no alternative to ‘neoliberalism’. Well, the Cunliffe-led Labour Party was very left-wing. The Greens were even more left-wing. Mana/Internet were very left-wing. The missing million didn’t vote for any of them. I’m all for research into this group of voters, but the lesson of 2014 is that targeting people who don’t vote instead of people who do is political suicide.
Labour must emphasise its values (fairness, social cohesion, freedom of choice and action) as it differentiates its values from those of its opponents, as values earn trust from voters
What’s not said: How do those values differentiate Labour from any other party in Parliament?
There is an urgent need to clarify the Party’s legal status, required not only for ethical reasons of increasing transparency, but also to enable the Party to more effectively use resources available to it, in particular funding. It could also clarifythe responsibilities and accountabilities of entities and individuals within the organisation. Labour needs to be proactive and agree a legal model that is realistic about the competitive nature of politics but also increases the effectiveness of the Party organisation.
What’s not said: What does this actually mean? I’m not sure. It sounds like a turf war. Do the regional Labour organisations own property that the central party would like to get its hands on?
The Party’s organisational structure should reflect the dual role of the Party – the maintenance of a viable disciplined political organisation and the need to develop a sustainable effective campaigning capacity to win elections. It requires clarity as to where the authority lies for what function.
What’s not said: This section is too long to fully quote, but reveals that Labour does not have an executive committee or a campaign committee, both fairly staggering organisational gaps in a modern political party. It also questions the role of the sector groups -Maori, Rainbow, Pacifica – which sounds like another brewing turf war.
The real question appears to be how the Party identifies candidates and then prepares and supports its candidates before, during and after the election. There needs to be greater central coordination of candidates . They are the advocates and the public face of the Party so much of the success of the election campaign depends on them. One of the tasks of the Executive should be to address this issue.
What’s not said: Labour had some embarrassingly terrible candidates in the last election. But one of their biggest problems is that too many of their candidates are unionists or staffers imposed by the party on electorates that they have no connection to, and who keep running in that same electorate even as the electorate and party votes sink lower and lower. Building up the local branches and letting them identify high quality candidates seems like the obvious solution there, not further centralisation. That would be lots of hard work through, instead of a simple organisational change.
That’s probably the reviews biggest failing. It looks for quick fixes – mostly organisational – rather than systemic sustainable change to what is clearly a troubled party with a toxic culture in its caucus. There’s plenty of other points, but most of them are either obvious or meaningless twaddle. It seems like a very poor document after eight months of work from the party’s intellectual brain-trust.