The Dim-Post

September 3, 2016

The absence of gossip

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 8:40 am

I have no idea what’s happened in Andrew Little’s office, or why his Chief of Staff has stepped down. I haven’t even heard plausible rumours. But I keep reading these takes in which McCarten shifting back to Auckland is somehow ‘good news for Labour’ or ‘a smart strategic move’. It is neither of these things. Being without a Chief of Staff AND a Communications Director less than a year from the start of an election campaign is not smart, or strategic, it is a catastrophically bad position for a political party to be in: a harbinger of doom.

Those senior staffer positions are stressful. People burn out, or get fed up, or just want to do something else with their lives. But the Opposition Leader’s Chief of Staff is in line to become the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, who is one of the most powerful people in the country. It is a position a professional political operative willingly step downs from about as frequently as an Opposition Leader willingly steps down, ie pretty much never.

33 Comments »

  1. Not have a Comms director is criminal but also shows why Little is so invisible and lacking a marketable brand. Whether we like it or not this is the reality of the world we live in, Comms and marketing rule and they want power they have to realise this. It’s all rather depressing

    Comment by max — September 3, 2016 @ 9:01 am

  2. Two other press secretaries resigned this week, I’m told, and another one is expected to announce their resignation next week. That’s out of a media team of five. Clearly none of these people expect to spend 2018 travelling the world as press secretaries to the PM or finance, defence, foreign or trade ministers – or saving the schools, hospitals and social welfare safety net from the clutches of neoliberalism working for the ministers of education, health or social development.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — September 3, 2016 @ 9:49 am

  3. Did either indicate a reason for leaving?

    Comment by Antoine — September 3, 2016 @ 9:53 am

  4. Is there simply no money to pay them?

    Comment by Antoine — September 3, 2016 @ 9:54 am

  5. Nature abhors a vacuum, and so into the void a Hooton shall hoot.

    Comment by Flashing Light — September 3, 2016 @ 11:17 am

  6. McCarten is not your regular political operative. He is a campaigner, not a bureaucrat. These things would make sense if you’d ever worked alongside the man. He just wants to organise and win and knows Labour needs Auckland to do it.

    Comment by Jamesy — September 3, 2016 @ 2:05 pm

  7. “He just wants to organise and win and knows Labour needs Auckland to do it.”

    Ain’t that the truth. Hate saying it (as a parochial Wellingtonian) but for all the talk and strategic emphasis in recent years on Labour’s need to reconnect with Provincial NZ, the reality is that the good burghers of Auckland are crucial. One third of voters within a relatively small geographical area / huge Lab-to-Nat swings there in both 2005 and 2008 / it’s fair to say that where Auckland goes, NZ goes. These are the people to win back (probably followed by Christchurch voters (who’ve also, of course, swung heavily National in recent years) and the more Left-friendly / less hardened and alienated section of non-voters – especially those who have some history of voting in the past).

    Comment by swordfish — September 3, 2016 @ 2:45 pm

  8. Let Winnie clean up in the Provinces.

    Comment by swordfish — September 3, 2016 @ 2:47 pm

  9. Read Felix Marwick for a more insightful take than most political journalists.
    http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/opinion/felix-marwick-labours-staffing-change-crucial-for-partys-future/

    Comment by Karen — September 3, 2016 @ 2:57 pm

  10. Can anybody give evidence of McCarten so called ” political cunning and strategic skills”
    Dr Google only gave me using his members PAYE to pay for campaigning which strikes me as neither cunning or very smart.
    That apart from destroying various left wing parties he has supported suggesting he is a very cunning right wing plant!

    Comment by Ray — September 3, 2016 @ 6:27 pm

  11. “Can anybody give evidence of McCarten so called ” political cunning and strategic skills””

    His skills begin and end with being a union operative (hard man, etc). It’s all intensely inwardly focused.He’s too partisan to have wider sense of the country.

    Comment by Tinakori — September 3, 2016 @ 7:29 pm

  12. A reputation for being a competent campaigner need not imply competence as manager of staff or communications. Different skills. So maybe it was a case of the peter principle.

    Presumably it occurred to someone (perhaps even the leader) that not all Ak voters have become millionaires – so it could be worth competing for voters who prefer an equitable society (like the Aotearoa I grew up in). So, Danyl, there’s a basis for seeing the move as sensible.

    Comment by Dennis Frank — September 3, 2016 @ 7:34 pm

  13. An interesting take on the situation. But can Labour really be in that much of a pickle? This seems to suggest that things under Little are just as bad as they were under Goff, Shearer etc… I thought Labour were improving. Maybe not.

    Comment by artcroft — September 3, 2016 @ 10:07 pm

  14. Not have a Comms director is criminal…

    Sounds like grounds for a citizen’s arrest. According to the punditry the marketing value in posting videos of such things on Snapchat is “incalculably huge”. Surely a great opportunity for Max Key, James Shaw.or their enablers to seize the initiative.

    Comment by Joe W — September 3, 2016 @ 10:36 pm

  15. Had to check the date. No it isn’t April 1st. . .

    Look, I’m just spitballing here, but could it be, ( and yes, this is just an theory) that Little is so f**g lacking in charisma and ideas that even a political whore of McCarten’s evidently low threshold for ethical malpractice has realised that it would be better to take his chances in one of the few lifeboats still available?

    ‘Labour’s Chief of Staff’ Give me strength, what is this – FFS the Fuhrer’s last days in the bunker?…

    Oh, on second thoughts…

    Comment by Lee Clark — September 3, 2016 @ 11:00 pm

  16. I am not sure want the point of this column is. I am not that interested in focusing on speculation about what is happening which Labour’s Chief of Staff etc.
    By doing so Daryl you just give people like Matthew Hooten the chance to wade in and create a message that Labour is in trouble. Please focus on the real issues such as homelessness, people living in cars, young people being crippled with student debt, not about to afford decent accommodation.

    Afterall this is not a game of rugby where its all about the coach, the physios etc.

    NEW ZEALAND HAS DEADLY SERIOUS PROBLEMS, LARGELY DUE TO THE CURRENT GOVT. Please focus on shinning the torch on that rather speculating about Labour’s staffing issues. I suspect the likes of Norm Kirk never had a Chief of Staff or a Comms person.

    Comment by anker — September 4, 2016 @ 10:06 am

  17. ps “In the absence of gossip”………………….Don’t gossip Daryl.

    Comment by anker — September 4, 2016 @ 10:07 am

  18. Please focus on the real issues such as homelessness, people living in cars, young people being crippled with student debt, not about to afford decent accommodation.

    I’d hazard a guess and say that those struggling to find a decent job or decent accommodation are probably not too concerned about who Andrew Little’s Chief of Staff is.

    Comment by Ross — September 4, 2016 @ 11:53 am

  19. [i]you just give people like Matthew Hooten the chance to wade in and create a message that Labour is in trouble[/i]

    Yes the perception Labour are in trouble is a total fabrication by right wing talking heads, and the last eight years of polling have all been a lie.

    Comment by miss_chaos — September 4, 2016 @ 1:32 pm

  20. And yet if JK kept losing staff, especially senior staff it’d be an issue of great concern to left and right. Little losing senior staff is a big problem as Danyl has pointed out. Trying to Shut down the thread shows its panic stations at Fraser House

    Comment by artcroft — September 4, 2016 @ 2:40 pm

  21. Half the country is hoping for a change of govt next year. Despite several decades of performance to the contrary, many of them still believe a Labour-led govt will provide us with a positive alternative. Danyl was merely reflecting on the merit of a strategic move of a key deck-chair on the Labour Titanic. Seems unreasonable to ask him to provide solutions to “real issues” when neither the left nor right are doing so, huh?

    But I do hope the change occurs, so we can all get to travel back to the 1930s together in the Labour/Green time machine & watch spellbound as the new govt builds state houses in all directions, prudently funded by dollars that taxpayers are suddenly delighted to fork out. It’ll be great to have full-employment again, and reduce the dole to single figures, just like when the Minister of Labour knew all their names. Not just for nostalgia freaks – youngsters will see society operating like a well-oiled machine and that will inspire them the rest of their lives…

    Comment by Dennis Frank — September 4, 2016 @ 2:57 pm

  22. But I do hope the change occurs, so we can all get to travel back to the 1930s together in the Labour/Green time machine …
    Another false dilemma seen in real 3D by Wunderkid c1970. Time to retire those retro specs and improve your eyesight, if not your vision

    Comment by paritutu — September 4, 2016 @ 3:36 pm

  23. I suspect the likes of Norm Kirk never had a Chief of Staff or a Comms person.

    No. Big Norm merely caused unemployment to lower and the fields to bloom with a few shakes of his unearthly dick.

    Comment by danylmc — September 4, 2016 @ 5:49 pm

  24. There used to be an awful lot of advertising copywriters around who claimed to have been employed as speechwriters for Kirk.

    Comment by Joe W — September 4, 2016 @ 6:01 pm

  25. His name is Bob Harvey and he was the spin/coms/PR guru behind Kirk.

    Comment by RHT — September 4, 2016 @ 7:27 pm

  26. His name is Bob Harvey,,,

    There were also a number of lesser lights.

    Comment by Joe W — September 4, 2016 @ 7:33 pm

  27. “I’d hazard a guess and say that those struggling to find a decent job or decent accommodation are probably not too concerned about who Andrew Little’s Chief of Staff is.”

    If a Labour government is your only hope of getting a decent job or decent accommodation, shouldn’t you be extremely concerned with who Andrew Little’s Chief of Staff is?

    Comment by Gareth Wilson — September 4, 2016 @ 8:30 pm

  28. “No. Big Norm merely caused unemployment to lower and the fields to bloom with a few shakes of his unearthly dick.”

    Ouch , like JFK and Savage having the good fortune to die in office means a decent amount of people deify you even if you achieved next to nothing in office like JFK or your successor like Savages is probably our greatest pm .

    But yeah we have DEADLY SERIOUS PROBLEMS and the only way we can solve them is by voting in a pm who wasn’t chosen by his mps and is widely considers can to be a miserable bugger with little or no life outside politics.

    Comment by Cliff Clavin — September 4, 2016 @ 8:58 pm

  29. @anker: Have you ever met Margaret Hayward? She was Kirk’s principal private secretary. Lovely woman.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — September 4, 2016 @ 11:40 pm

  30. @Ortvin I’m led to believe that the Kirk family do not share that view.

    Comment by RHT — September 5, 2016 @ 9:02 am

  31. @RHT: Well I can only speak for my personal impressions. But the point is that she existed and that Big Norm in fact had an administrative support staff, just like every political leader since Hugues I.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — September 5, 2016 @ 10:33 am

  32. I don’t see what the problem is, Labour has a PR and communications expert onboard in the person of Clare Curran. I know she’s a PR and communications expert because Labour keeps referring to her as such. Just like Matt McCarten is a “cunning political operative”.

    Comment by SHG — September 5, 2016 @ 12:17 pm

  33. ‘Tender no thoughts
    Stick to the facts that invent us
    This is the court
    And it’s called common consensus….’

    Paul Kelly, ‘Gossip’ https://youtu.be/CLCp0SWJtFs

    Comment by Rob Hosking — September 6, 2016 @ 7:28 am


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