The Dim-Post

June 4, 2015

Thoughts on the leaked Labour Election Review

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:34 am

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.

Other thoughts:

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 General
Election and Labour’s Justice spokesperson should focus on why 1 million people didn’t
vote, 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.

68 Comments »

  1. I have been of the opinion for a while that a separate faction will emerge, form a political party perhaps like the Gang of Four in the UK did, in an attempt to shed the anachronistice and limiting inner organisation of the current party.

    Comment by Lee Clark — June 4, 2015 @ 8:37 am

  2. It seems like a very poor document after eight months of work from the party’s intellectual brain-trust.

    Some journalist made a comment last night that he could have written the review in about 40 minutes a few days after the election. Sure. So could a lot of people who follow politics in NZ. But that wouldn’t have had the buy-in and engagement from members. It would have been an externally imposed consultant’s report, rather than in internal assessment by the membership. Consulting with the whole party, from grass roots members through to branch and electorate committees, to sector groups and high level committees within the party, and taking the results of that consultation seriously, means that there is a much better basis for starting to make some changes which will be supported by the wider party.

    Comment by Deborah — June 4, 2015 @ 8:42 am

  3. Labour could also stress honesty and transparency as important planks in it’s operations. the Nats have been found wanting in both these Key areas! paleo martin

    Paleo Martin

    Comment by paleomartin — June 4, 2015 @ 8:48 am

  4. Wow, this is really misinformed. I don’t have time right now to go through it all but you should check your facts.

    For a start, MPs do tithe. No staffers ran as candidates. I can only think of one candidate who was a union official. Labour didn’t run a missing million strategy, they target swing voters and a smaller segment of non-voters who were reachable. Cunliffe’s policy platform was to the right of the one Goff ran on in 2011.

    Worst of all, you posit some far-fetched conspiracy theory about Andrew Little based on nothing but your apparent prejudice about how unions work.

    Maybe stick to writing about the Greens.

    Comment by James D — June 4, 2015 @ 9:04 am

  5. I haven’t read the review. And I won’t bother unless it has a section written by caucus, saying:

    “We’ve been shit for six years. We’ve been selfish and stupid. We’re really sorry. We’re going outside, and we may be some time … “

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — June 4, 2015 @ 9:04 am

  6. Yeah, that someone was Paddy Gower, who, when he was talking to Duncan Garner, was practically salivating at the thought of the report that said Labour was broke and useless, run by committee, and so useless at controlling its own people that they were leaking things to him, Patrick Gower. The love-in between Garner and Gower yesterday may as well have had “Mediaworks, sponsored by the New Zealand National Party” after it.

    I got the impression that the leak was more about Paddy Gower than it was about the report, as Gower enthusiastically encouraged anyone at the Labour Party to carry on leaking things to him. Because only Paddy Gower could be the one to save the Labour Party from itself, with his superior knowledge of the political machine and objective, unbiased viewpoint as a Proper Journalist. After all, what’s good for Paddy Gower is probably good for the people leaking things to him.

    It was a pretty shameful rant from a senior political correspondent. It’s just a great shame I’ve never heard Gower get as animated and angry about anything the actual government is doing, or holding the actual government to account, or publicly asking for whistleblowers in the actual government to leak things to him. I would half guess that anyone with a modicum of common sense would avoid leaking material to someone who crows about it like a rampant egotist with a special place in his heart for his own name. And while you can accuse people running things in government of a lot of things, you couldn’t accuse them of intentionally trying to damage their own party.

    Two things about Gower spring to mind. One, that he’s so angry because he really cares about the Labour party. Or two, that he’s so angry because he thinks that righteous indignation should be directed at the party in opposition who commissioned a report to try and inform themselves about their internal state, instead of the government currently taking steps toward radical change by privatising the social welfare sector.

    Social bonds for mental health care, pretty much buried by the media over the long weekend, and we’re only two steps away from doing what the Tories are doing in the UK and putting welfare recipients to work for multinationals for their benefits. Meanwhile, the chief political correspondent of a major news outlet is busy stroking his own ego over the opposition’s internal reforms.

    Comment by Chris (@slackjawdtownie) — June 4, 2015 @ 9:06 am

  7. “Labour needs to disassociate itself from the Unions” is a very common thread among right wing commentators.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — June 4, 2015 @ 9:07 am

  8. Turnout is declining the world over, and no one really has a solution. I don’t know why Labour (an organisation which admits it is already underfunded) thinks it can solve the problem.

    When National had its massive debacle in 2002, it had a similar review process. Its main conclusion was that it needed to secure as much funding as it could, and make best use of it. They didn’t try to fix all their problems, just figured out how they could win elections again. I don’t really see anything concrete in here that will do the same for Labour.

    Comment by Sam.C — June 4, 2015 @ 9:12 am

  9. The conventional wisdom on the left is that the missing million stopped voting because there was no alternative to ‘neoliberalism’.

    Perhaps people who don’t vote are contented neoliberals, they do exhibit a certain willingness for society to have less engagement in running things.

    Comment by unaha-closp — June 4, 2015 @ 9:16 am

  10. Joking aside, the unions are the key to the success of Labour. The union movement needs to grow.

    Comment by unaha-closp — June 4, 2015 @ 9:21 am

  11. candidate selection wont improve. candidates like Maryan Street tick all the identity criteria for the Labour Party so will continue to get prominent slots despite continuing to get hammered in their seats. Selecting candidates like Andrew Little who refuse to move into the electorates does nt help either

    Comment by rjs131 — June 4, 2015 @ 9:24 am

  12. Selecting candidates like Andrew Little who refuse to move into the electorates does nt help either

    John Key, Bill English …

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — June 4, 2015 @ 9:30 am

  13. Reblogged this on Talking Southern Auckland and commented:
    The reason for me reblogging this is because when you have a large chunk of your Opposition failing (and heck Labour is quite successful in doing that at the moment and pretty much nothing else) then our democracy is in trouble.

    Our democracy relies on both a “strong government,” a “strong opposition,” and “strong cross benches (where a Party acts in a more independent manner siding with both sides depending on the issue).”

    If we have a sick opposition at central level it does affect at Local Level such as Auckland Council as well. We have no leverage nor alternative to seek out on prickly issues such as the City Rail Link (which we should just do ourselves any way). This is because there is a lack of central opposition doing its job in both putting a torch under the Government’s backside AND (and this is where the USA has some advantage over us) force more bi-partisan agreements.

    But looking at the original blog post in which I am reblogging on it seems Labour the opposition continue to immolate itself and to borrow the dogged phrase from National; not focusing on things that really matter…..

    (Bread, butter, work, house, amenity are things that matter to most as absolute priority)

    Comment by Ben Ross - Talking Auckland — June 4, 2015 @ 9:32 am

  14. The unions appear to have an awful lot of influence in Labour which seems a negative for the general population and for all that the unions actually don’t give them much cash.

    Comment by David — June 4, 2015 @ 9:40 am

  15. Speaking for myself the review doesn’t get to why I don’t vote Labour anymore. That’s of no consequence really but I tend to suspect I’m not the only one thinking this way.

    There’s a general malaise within the centre left in a number of countries.

    I think it’s possibly related to having an intellectual framework that is stuck in the past.

    The world can no longer be broken down into simple categories such as private/public and sovereign/independent. They served a purpose in the past.

    But the centre left continues to use these in what now amounts to a sloganeering fashion all the while claiming the moral high ground with accusations of neoliberalism, corporatism etc.

    The pragmatism of the centre right on the other hand resonates with enough voters to keep them in govt.

    Just some thoughts.

    Comment by NeilM — June 4, 2015 @ 9:51 am

  16. 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.

    As I understand things it’s the other way around. The LECs have the effective power to choose and keep a candidate, and the rest of the party/country is stuck with their decisions.

    National could do a full clean-out this term with a lot of direction from the top. (Although some of the new MPs leave a lot to be desired – Wayne Walford, Parmeet Parmar, Todd Barclay, to name a few.)

    Comment by Fraud — June 4, 2015 @ 9:55 am

  17. If they wanted to show real discipline: the next person who leaks to Gower or O’Brien is expelled from the Labour Party. No warnings, no excuses. Leaking has done them absolutely no good over the last 7 years, and immense amounts of harm. Let the party control the message, not entitled rogues.

    Comment by Fraud — June 4, 2015 @ 10:01 am

  18. @ James D:

    For a start, MPs do tithe.

    Really? At what % level? Because it’s not showing up on the Party’s return of donations for 2014 – meaning it’s less than 10%.

    @Danyl Mc:

    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.

    Can you name six examples? Seriously … if the claim is that “too many” candidates are of this nature, surely you can just spin them off the top of your head.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — June 4, 2015 @ 10:13 am

  19. Really? At what % level? Because it’s not showing up on the Party’s return of donations for 2014 – meaning it’s less than 10%.

    I assumed James D was accusing the party of breaking the law by not declaring donations, but I guess your way is possible too.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — June 4, 2015 @ 10:30 am

  20. The people selected by Labour for list places 30-40 were on the whole pretty good (I don’t rate Coffey or WJP as highly as others). Beyond that was a selection of (mostly) unelectable placeholders, only one of whom was a union official and only several of which had ever worked in Parliament or for the party.

    They appear to be sorting this out, but it’s difficult. If you’re a high achieving person, why would you attach your name to the list of a party about to be trounced?

    Comment by Fraud — June 4, 2015 @ 10:33 am

  21. The Major problem with Labour is their MPs. Decimation isn’t enough, they should select half and boot them down, preferably the half that has been there the longest.
    Also their strategy seems to be non-existent, how did they expect to win without the Greens?

    Comment by Korakys — June 4, 2015 @ 10:40 am

  22. What was that about not writing press releases for the Greens? One could easily be forgiven if they thought this whole post is a nice bit of dishonest concerned trollery from an avowed member of the coterie around the new Green’s co-leader.

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 4, 2015 @ 10:59 am

  23. theres two big issues they refuse to face

    1) their hostile attitude to other parties that are natural allies
    2) their selfish airing of dirty laundry in public, instead of keeping a lid on things and sorting it internally

    on both of these issues they keep blaming others

    Comment by framu — June 4, 2015 @ 11:00 am

  24. James D
    I think you are being economical with the truth regarding staffers and Union officials not standing
    How many ex Union and ex staffers are presently MPs?
    Hint, it would be quicker to list those who don’t fit that description

    Comment by rayinnz — June 4, 2015 @ 11:00 am

  25. I wish the party was imposing unionists and staffers on electorates, that way we might get rid of some of the awful conspiracists/egomaniacs/ant-semites that rock up in provincial electorates.

    Most of the ideas in that document are ideas that were in the Organisational Review and ended up not making it all the way. A few of them (getting rid of Regional Councils!) are good ideas, but depressingly most of the good ideas that got killed in the organisational review aren’t here, and instead it’s all the bad one – a power grab by NZ Council over list selection, including creating an unelected unaccountable “list vetting committee”, what looks like a power grab by NZ Council over assets, the creation of a supposed executive which contains 9 people(!) most of whom are pointless party functionaries, not an actual executive, a bizarre non-evidence based attack on the existence of branches — it’s not a review, it’s “what my mates on NZC and at the pub said to me”.

    Comment by Keir — June 4, 2015 @ 11:09 am

  26. The best thing Labour could do to turn things around: have one message, and stick to it (which includes no vindictive leaking). Y’know, like National do. But the problem (and beauty) with the left is it’s home to many different voices, and they all get a say. While this is a better way of running the world, it’s not a better way to win elections.

    Comment by James — June 4, 2015 @ 11:34 am

  27. @framu: Let’s be frank, you don’t care about Labour’s hostility to NZF. You’re talking about the Greens. Some kind of modus vivendi with the Greens might make tactical sense but it is not going to unlock some kind of cornucopia of electoral popularity for Labour. The idea that the Greens can somehow bestow popularity on Labour is an idea that seems to exist only among Green supporters.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — June 4, 2015 @ 11:39 am

  28. Some kind of modus vivendi with the Greens might make tactical sense but it is not going to unlock some kind of cornucopia of electoral popularity for Labour.

    Very true. But not sending mixed signals might help enormously in clarifying Labours intent in governing.
    It might also pave the way for a joint strategy around tactical electorate voting.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 4, 2015 @ 11:51 am

  29. In terms of the Greens, it is pretty obvious that for Labour the best Green vote is 5.1% – enough to keep them around, but not enough to be the tail that wags the dog should Labour be the largest party.

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 4, 2015 @ 11:58 am

  30. but the problem (and beauty) with the left is it’s home to many different voices, and they all get a say.

    This is also true for National, and is true for pretty much every ‘broad church’ party in existence in a modern democracy.

    Comment by Phil — June 4, 2015 @ 12:18 pm

  31. “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.”

    This and the turf war stuff is an identity thing for the party, is it not? Is Labour out there to represent unions, where it’s original roots came from, or is it out there to incorporate and represent everyone who dislikes and wants to remove the current government, in a typically FPP way? In the 1980s people who hated Muldoon flocked to the Labour Party as the main realistic ticket into an alternative government, and so Labour attracted such reputable union stalwarts as Richard Prebble and Roger Douglas.

    And if Labour’s out there to represent unions then it shouldn’t necessarily follow that unions need to provide the bulk of the money, any more than a party out there to represent impoverished children should be expecting those children to donate whatever coins they scrounged for the tooth fairy, if they were so lucky.

    I hope the party figures out who it is fairly soon, but it no longer seems certain that it will. A few years ago I didn’t see a realistic scenario of any alternative main opposition party, but with the way the Green Party’s been going in the last few years, and depending highly on where it goes in future, it doesn’t seem completely outlandish to me that it might some day replace Labour, except coming form its base environmental and social ideals than union/worker ideals. Plenty of people see the GP as totally kooky and incompetent, but I’m sure plenty of people also thought the same of Labour in the 1930s.

    Comment by izogi — June 4, 2015 @ 12:41 pm

  32. Roger Douglas came from an old union family.

    Comment by Keir — June 4, 2015 @ 1:08 pm

  33. Comment by kalvarnsen — June 4, 2015 @ 11:39 am –

    Wow! – what a way to ram words in my mouth. Your whole comment runs off the back of a very false assumption.

    i was actually talking about their hatchet job on hone .

    But who gives a shit – it doesnt change the fact that labour were and are still hostile to other parties on the left and everyone could see it.

    I actually do care about labours hostility towards ALL of its allies. Why? – for the simple fact that picking fights doesnt win shit with the public – especially when you do it during an election

    Comment by framu — June 4, 2015 @ 1:08 pm

  34. @izogi: That’s why the Nats are so ‘successful’ – they don’t bother with “ideals”.

    Comment by peterc — June 4, 2015 @ 1:28 pm

  35. Labour encouraged it’s voters to support Peters so they’re not antagonistic to all other parties.

    I scratched my head at the time thinking it wasn’t really such a brilliant strategic move,

    Comment by NeilM — June 4, 2015 @ 1:38 pm

  36. Once upon a time, “mass unionised labour” and the “labour force” were virtually indistinguishable, and therefore the Labour party as the representative of mass unionised Labour was the party of all workers. Nowadays, our economy relies on retail servants to keep everyone employed and significant union penetration is rare enough to be noteworthy, and mass unionised labour is functionally extinct. The Labour party can therefore now be presented as only representing a small segment of the Labour force. Labour’s problem is it has yet to address what it might do about that. It could, for example, campaign for the return of compulsory unionism, or perhaps (more likely) seek to introduce German style “workers councils” to all medium sized and above workplaces, and then seek to be the party that is the political voice of those councils.

    Of course, creating greater worker participation and organisation in workplace governance through new and novel methods (and thus diluting the power of traditional unions within Labour by creating an alternative outlet for workers voices) is not what right wing concerned trolls have in mind when they say Labour needs to get rid of the influence of Unions.

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 4, 2015 @ 2:04 pm

  37. Labour’s problem is it has yet to address what it might do about that. It could, for example, campaign for the return of compulsory unionism, or perhaps (more likely) seek to introduce German style “workers councils” to all medium sized and above workplaces, and then seek to be the party that is the political voice of those councils.

    Of course, creating greater worker participation and organisation in workplace governance through new and novel methods (and thus diluting the power of traditional unions within Labour by creating an alternative outlet for workers voices) is not what right wing concerned trolls have in mind when they say Labour needs to get rid of the influence of Unions.

    Which is what Labour’s ‘Future of Work’ initiative is doing. It’s looking at our changing workplaces and the people who occupy them (ie, most New Zealanders of voting age), and working out how to ensure that we have a society in which they get the value they create and the lives they deserve. It’s an intelligent exercise, and if it produces the outcomes they expect it will be very useful.

    Comment by Fraud — June 4, 2015 @ 3:38 pm

  38. Lee Clark: “I have been of the opinion for a while that a separate faction will emerge, form a political party perhaps like the Gang of Four in the UK did, in an attempt to shed the anachronistice and limiting inner organisation of the current party.”

    Which itself split and either joined with the Libs to form the LibDems (who’ve just been punished by British voters for getting in bed with David Cameron), or continued on as the new SDP which is now a shadow of its former self.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — June 4, 2015 @ 4:20 pm

  39. If Paddy Gower really does care about the Labour Party, maybe he prefers a Shane Jones/John Tamihere/Stuart Nash in charge.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — June 4, 2015 @ 4:58 pm

  40. Because it’s not showing up on the Party’s return of donations for 2014 – meaning it’s less than 10%.

    In 2010 it was reported that Labour MPs donated to the party but only Phil Goff donated enough for declaration.

    Comment by Ross — June 4, 2015 @ 5:45 pm

  41. @framu: Apologies – the idea that the secret to electoral victory for Labour lies in increased adoption of Green party policy is quite often heard around here, but I shouldn’t have assumed that was what you were advocating. Having said that I’m not sure that Hone, with his less than 2% support, really represented a major lost opportunity for Labour.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — June 4, 2015 @ 9:44 pm

  42. The ‘missing million’ is a tough call. I’ve long thought that Labour lost votes not so much to the Nats, but to the common nouns of cynicism and disillusionment. And I read once that common nouns are a much harder enemy to fight than proper nouns. Especially if these infographs are anything to go by:

    https://fbcdn-sphotos-e-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xta1/v/t1.0-9/11401056_1628019494150991_5560587443220164747_n.jpg?oh=496aef8d0292f48234a624c168b48d72&oe=55E6F533&__gda__=1441522894_a79f073fba2cbfa3e5b44cbd0ff6b392

    http://www.thepoliticalscientist.org/the-real-story-in-the-fairfax-polls/

    Comment by Kumara Republic — June 4, 2015 @ 10:47 pm

  43. That piece of click bait over on PAS about Shaw was remarkable.

    Comment by NeilMT — June 5, 2015 @ 12:13 am

  44. Was that hatchet job on Shaw over at PAS some kind of Labour Party payback.

    Comment by NeilM — June 5, 2015 @ 12:14 am

  45. NeilM: More likely the author of that piece is a concerned Green member/supporter who might be afraid that a Shaw co-led Greens might sell out. Personally I have no such reservations.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — June 5, 2015 @ 12:48 am

  46. @Kumara: Labour doesn’t need to overcome cynicism and disillusionment, it just needs to ensure that its effect is evenly weighted between the two big parties.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — June 5, 2015 @ 12:56 am

  47. The Luftwaffe had long been bombing Yugoslavia at the insistence of the Greens.

    I doubt any Green Party supporter would come up with such deranged nonsense about their own party.

    Comment by NeilM — June 5, 2015 @ 1:04 am

  48. @ kumara; My point was that the current state of NZLP appears to be locked down by a narrow base of opinion which is ideologically opposed – actually openly aggressive towards – the ‘old school’ grassroots types that used to form a large part of its support as a movement. The self-employed manual labourer or who engages in trades for a living, the female teacher are rebranded and disowned as ‘Waitakere Man’ or ‘Green-Voter’. The union movement has become a sort of finishing school for the likes of McCarten, Little or Ardern to progress to the upper echelons of our political machine, but not really because they are particularly good at connecting with people or especially gifted orators.

    The NZLP appears to be dominated by by an intellectual elite which gets openly insulting about contradictory views the drop of a hat. You can bet the house on this: if I posted this on The Standard, a number of people will come out and engage in ad hominem attacks as a response, or even censor such opinions. (But not here of course).

    That merely suggests to me that some are so invested in their own power within the movement, that counter-views gets derided as ‘Neo-Liberal’ “concern-trolling’ ‘Right-wing’ or ‘National Party Activist’. Ironically, these ‘staunch’ types are one of the major reason that NZLP has lost grass-roots canvassers and donations and loss of membership. They have tin ears. I recall reading that under Helen Clark, at local levels the NZLP was stocked with people who followed her social agenda, and shut out ‘ordinary’ folk. If this is true, The contemporary NZLP is a bit like when Russia found herself vulnerable to Hitler’s invasion because Stalin had previously purged his best strategists.

    Where do people who are left-wing in their mentality, but not allowed to join the big-boys at the NZLP (because it’s mostly ‘the boys’ remember) – go? The find an alternative political party that will accept them, or they vote for another political organisation/party. Are there people who want a ‘Labour Party’, but who are unable to operate within the present one? If there are, II think, that if things go on as they are, there will be a split’ within the NZLP. Perhaps NZLP is waiting for its own James Shaw. Perhaps he or she is there already….

    – I can’t second-guess how things will then go, but perhaps the voting public can.

    It’s just an idea, Start the car….

    Comment by Lee Clark — June 5, 2015 @ 7:20 am

  49. Comment by kalvarnsen — June 4, 2015 @ 9:44 pm – no troubles🙂

    im not talking electoral results re: %s here – im talking about labour proclaiming to be this great inclusive force on the left – then publicly shafting their natural allies. Sure hones vote share was low – but the message from that was “labour will stab you in the back”

    which brings me back to the point i was making – labour are STILL blaming someone, anyone, except the people they should be blaming – the whole damn caucus

    and untill they pull their finger out of their collective arses and say “yes – we all fucked it up because we refused to play for the team” they wont get anywhere

    Comment by framu — June 5, 2015 @ 8:17 am

  50. It could, for example, campaign for the return of compulsory unionism, …

    Yes! This needs to be embedded into the deepest heart of the Labour Party and a maximum effort made to promote it through the candidates to every voter.

    or perhaps (more likely) seek to introduce German style “workers councils” to all medium sized and above workplaces, and then seek to be the party that is the political voice of those councils.

    Slightly more likely if NZ’s industrial makeup can be changed to look like that of Germany. Sounds like a candidate for 2×5 year plans.

    Here’s fun: does supporting or opposing these ideas make one a right-wing concern troll? I’d argue for the former.

    Of course I’d also argue for Sanctuary to be promoted as far and as fast as possible within Labour to try and implement these ideas, with as prominent a media placing as possible.

    Comment by Tom Hunter — June 5, 2015 @ 9:12 am

  51. Hey Danyl, a couple of points for you to consider. Do unions that support blue collar workers and white collar workers have enough of a common ground that can be serviced by one political party? What does left wing mean in the New Zealand context?

    My thoughts on the matter is that it is Labour’s “broad church” policy that is killing it. The last election left them looking like disorganised policy shills. And apart from a few individuals “the left” are actually secular Christians, which is why it is so easy for National to gazump “the left” and occupy the centre.

    Comment by rsmsingers — June 5, 2015 @ 9:40 am

  52. Well, I’m sorry if Labour MPs do, in fact, pay a tithe. I might be wrong there. I only thought they didn’t because they’ve never ever declared it. I guess they could pay a percentage that’s less than the declaration limit. Although the opposition leader is on about $280,000, so that would be a pretty small tithe.

    Comment by danylmc — June 5, 2015 @ 9:42 am

  53. @Lee: Ah, the “Labour needs to reconnect with ordinary working class men” narrative rears its head again. Of course the big missed opportunity to go down that path in the last three years was to pick Shane Jones as leader. Do you think that would have rewarded Labour with a better election result?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — June 5, 2015 @ 10:04 am

  54. Do you think that would have rewarded Labour with a better election result?

    The sad thing is, it probably would have.
    But then we’d also have a bunch of braying, interchangeable centre-right oiks stacking both the govt AND opposition front benches, which would be even more tedious.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 5, 2015 @ 10:22 am

  55. @ kalvarnsen. In short. Yes. I think Jones would have yielded better results at the election. I don’t think Jones was a better ‘operator’ than either Cunliffe of Little, but I think those two represent the hermetic nature of the NZLP organisation: They are superb within their own organisations, but too rarified and specialised in outlook to ‘represent’ the general population. They lack the ‘common touch’. I think Annette King would have made a good stab at it though.

    However, ‘better’ is a relative term. I recall when Blair won in the UK for the first time with ‘New Labour’ – it took him to connect, but the voting patterns in favour of Labour had been improving over the previous two elections. Following the same increase, it was almost a ‘slam-dunk’ that they would win. But this meant a party dedicated to rebuilding long-term and also that history favoured them. And Blair was probably to the right of John Key, so you get what you pays for I guess..

    The bottom line – it was people who elected them,.As for “ordinary working class men” – I wouldn’t use that phrase , because this isn’t 1915. Nor would I suggest that improving the result lays solely in the hands of men – (rather that certain ‘men’ are part of Labour’s problem) However that I know what the phrase means suggests I am a relic of a bygone era.

    Comment by Lee Clark — June 5, 2015 @ 11:21 am

  56. … a bunch of braying, interchangeable centre-right oiks …

    Oiks!

    The point of this entire debate summed up in one word. Perhaps a word picture should go with it. Arise Saul Steinburg, reborn under a long, white shroud.

    Comment by Tom Hunter — June 5, 2015 @ 11:56 am

  57. You’re right, Tom. Oik carries class connotations.
    “Arseholes” is a better fit.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 5, 2015 @ 11:58 am

  58. Well, it’s a step up from ‘Neoliberal’ I suppose.

    Comment by Lee Clark — June 5, 2015 @ 12:11 pm

  59. You’re right, Tom. Oik carries class connotations.
    “Arseholes” is a better fit.

    Jones could definitely pull off both at once.

    Comment by Joe W — June 5, 2015 @ 1:24 pm

  60. An ordinary members base salary is just over 150k. Donations over $15k have to be declared. Green Mp’s donate a true tithe of 10% to the Party. Do Green MP’s tithe on their salary before tax or after tax? Do Labour Mp’s make a true tithe to their Party?

    Comment by Grant — June 5, 2015 @ 3:46 pm

  61. I always am amused by reviews of this nature. I tend to look at them through the lens of leadership. You get disunity, problems with messaging, problems with staffing, and problems with your electorate MPs going off reservation when you have a weak leader that is clearly heading towards defeat. The reason that National don’t have these problems isn’t because they’re united, it’s because they have a (quite rarely) talented leader at their helm, and people follow a talented leader. Everyone likes success.

    The overriding question for Labour is where they’ll find a genuinely talented political leader. Someone who connects well with people, someone who people will follow, and someone that has reasonable political instincts. It’s not that John Key has those attributes because he is an evil baby eating capitalist. It’s that he has those attributes as well as being an evil baby eating capitalist. Bill Clinton had those attributes in spades, so the left can have those people too. The question is where they are, why they’re not in the party, and why they’re not standing for parliament. Because, quite frankly, looking for that person amongst the current caucus is probably not going to be a satisfying experience.

    Comment by PaulL — June 5, 2015 @ 5:00 pm

  62. @grant: if you use a traditional definition of tithe as being a 10th part, then I doubt Labour are tithing their MPs. If you use it more colloquially to mean you ask them to make a donation to the party of a part of their salary (but potentially less than 10%) then they may be.

    Comment by PaulL — June 5, 2015 @ 5:01 pm

  63. “Bill Clinton had those attributes in spades, so the left can have those people too.”

    I think that Bill Clinton and John Key are pretty much in the same bit of the political spectrum. Left and right in the US don’t translate into left and right in NZ

    Comment by Tinakori — June 5, 2015 @ 6:55 pm

  64. @paul: Ahh! The Claytons tithe.. “The tithe you have when you don’t have a tithe”

    Comment by Grant — June 6, 2015 @ 2:00 am

  65. “@ kalvarnsen. In short. Yes. I think Jones would have yielded better results at the election.”

    Well there we have it. I doubt Danyl would agree, though.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — June 6, 2015 @ 2:22 am

  66. I can’t help but feel you think you’ve trapped me into admitting to some shameful vice.

    Comment by Lee Clark — June 6, 2015 @ 7:36 am

  67. If you honestly believe that Shane Jones was the way to go, more power to you.

    My comments are really aimed at Danyl, not at you. Danyl has been very strident in claiming that Jones didn’t even belong in Labour, and that his “working class hetero male” identity politics were toxic to the Labour brand. But now Danyl is claiming that Labour’s problem is excessive catering to people outside the ‘working class hetero male’ demographic.

    It’s hard to avoid the impression that Danyl’s view is simply that, whatever Labour does, they should be doing the opposite. It’s difficult to imagine a course of action for Labour that Danyl would endorse – other than dissolving themselves and joining the Greens, of course.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — June 6, 2015 @ 10:59 am

  68. However, if the recurring memes about NZLP’s internal organization being morbidly dysfunctional are true, it is probably immaterial what Danyl claims or contradicts. Each of his claims can be equally valid.
    Idealogues, IMO want a bob each way. They want to be purists, then deride others for having entrenched views of their own. It does not follow that certain people with certain ideological views can only be successful iby seeing that their every condition is unquestionably satisfied. Those people can choose to engage, listen and respond, then perhaps even persuade. But to get into such a position where one’s views are widely received, requires compromises and dialogue with people which they deem unpalatable and underqualified. The Greens realised this recently,. As long as the NZLP continues to define success by seeking to apply certain un-negotiable criteria, but not actually have consensus about what they are, they remain open to every criticism. And each criticism, no matter how apparently contradictory, is, by that criteria, equally valid.

    Comment by Lee Clark — June 6, 2015 @ 4:26 pm


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