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Democracy denied – Labour’s saddest failing

30 November 2018 2 comments

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Labour’s most tragic failing to date has largely flown under the media radar: to reinstate the right of prisoners to vote. Labour’s inaction is made worse in the knowledge that it would have taken little effort and very little cost to undertake.

In 2010, as part of it’s get-tough-on-crime rhetoric, National passed the Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Act. It’s intention was clear enough:

The bill proposes to remove the right of a person serving a term of imprisonment of less than three years to register as an elector.

Previously, the Electoral Act 1993 had disqualified prisoners from voting those “detained in a prison under a sentence of imprisonment for life, preventive detention or for a term of three years or more“.

The Act was first proposed by National MP, Paul Quinn. Mr Quinn was one of National’s few Maori MPs at the time, and was struggling to make a name for himself in Parliament. In both the 2008 and 2011 general elections he finished second in the Hutt Electorate to Labour’s Trevor Mallard. By 2011 he had dropped seven places on National’s Party List and did not make it back to Parliament as a List MP.

The irony of Mr Quinn’s sponsoring of the Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Bill should not be lost on anyone. As a Maori MP and Treaty negotiator for Ngati Awa, his Bill would target and disenfranchise a predominantly Maori prison population;

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Attorney General Chris Finlayson – one of National’s well-respected moderates and an uncommonly insightful member of Parliament – was scathing of Quinn’s Bill. In a report presented to the House, he attacked the Bill as “unjustifiably inconsistent”, “not rationally linked”, having “irrational inconsistencies”, “irrational and irregular”, and creating “irrational effects of the Bill … disproportionate to its objective”.

He pointed out several examples of irrational inconsistencies;

“The blanket ban on prisoner voting is both under and over inclusive. It is under inclusive because a prisoner convicted of a serious violent offence who serves a two and a half year sentence in prison between general elections will be able to vote. It is over inclusive because someone convicted and given a one-week sentence that coincided with a general election would be unable to vote. The provision does not impair the right to vote as minimally as reasonably possible as it disenfranchises in an irrational and irregular manner.”

Minister Finlayson concluded that “the blanket disenfranchisement of prisoners appears to be inconsistent with s 12 of the Bill of Rights Act and that it cannot be justified under s 5 of that Act“.

Writing in his regular on-line column, Gordon Campbell also pointed out bizarre contradictions inherent in Quinn’s Bill;

Hidden in the majority verdict though, is this gem of illogic : “The Electoral Enrolment Centre has proposed working with the Department of Corrections to develop a national procedure to encourage prisoners to re-enrol upon release from prison.” Got that? The centre-right faction on the select committee wants officialdom to devise a new bureaucratic programme to re-register prisoners all over again, once they’re out of jail. First, they want to treat prisoners as non-persons and deny them the vote – and then want to set up a nationwide programme to re-ignite the same motivation that they’ve just gratuitously chosen to dampen. If there was a prize for political stupidity and bureaucratic proliferation in the first term of the current government, this Bill would have to be a prime contender. Prime Minister John Key clearly needs to take heed of the verdict of his Attorney – General, and advise the National caucus to vote against this measure.

Quinn may have vanished from Parliament (and from most people’s memories), but the chilling legacy he left behind in that one piece of ill-considered legislation has caused on-going social harm.

Despite Minister Finlayson’s warning, National and ACT passed the legislation 63 votes to 58 against. The Maori Party and Peter Dunne – National’s coalition partners – voted with Labour, the Greens, and the Progressive Party (Jim Anderton).

Labour MPs were vociferous in their opposition to Quinn’s Bill.

Lianne Dalziel:

“We know why this bill is being introduced: it is called dog-whistle politics. There is nothing worse in this House than to see matters of substance raised in a debate such as this. I take the strongest possible exception to using an amendment to electoral law to argue this dog-whistle position to attack people who are in prison at a particular time.

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I say that getting marginalised people in our society on to the electoral roll is one of the hardest things that we have to confront when we try to sign up people during the election campaign. Every member of this House will know how much resource we put into the Electoral Commission to make sure that people are on the roll in the lead-up to both the local-body elections, which take place this year, and the general election, which takes place next year.”

Charles Chauvel:

“The Electoral (Disqualification of Convicted Prisoners) Amendment Bill is nothing more than the latest in a long line of dog-whistle attempts to make the Government, the National Party, and its ACT Party fellow traveller over there seem tough on crime. This House should be gravely concerned that some of its members can come in here and propose legislation for those reasons, without any regard for its practical implications. Those members would place political image above fairness, above the value our society places on the civic duty of voting, above the effectiveness of our electoral roll, and above prisoners’ reintegration into society upon release…

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This bill has no intention other than to make the Government look tough on crime.”

Chris Hipkins:

“This bill will disenfranchise them from society even further.

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We spend so much time getting people on to the electoral roll in the first place, and some of the people who are the most difficult to get on to the roll in the first place are the people who are disenfranchised from our community. We struggle to get the people who are more likely to go to prison on to the electoral roll in the first place, yet this bill removes them from the electoral roll. It is not justified. It will further marginalise them from our community.

Tough on crime rhetoric is the easy part. Dealing with the underlying social causes of criminal offending, the disenfranchisement from society, and the total feeling of anger that exists within many of the people in our prisons is something we have to think long and hard about. We do not do a good job of this, because the political rhetoric is too hard on any side of this political debate. It is very difficult to deal with this issue in a way that will look good on the news and will make people likely to vote for us. Yes, there are votes in being seen to be hard on criminals. There are very few votes, unfortunately, in dealing with the root causes of crime and criminal offending, because they are not easy and they do not fit on a bumper sticker.”

Clayton Cosgrove:

“… The truth about this bill, which every person who came before the select committee—including David Farrar, although he supported it—agreed on, is that it will do nothing to help victims. This bill will do nothing to stop recidivism. It will do nothing to stop reoffending, and there is no evidence that it will. This bill will do nothing to change prisoner behaviour. Every submitter bar the member Paul Quinn admitted that this bill was simply a political pamphlet.”

Grant Robertson:

“This kind of legislation is the simple stuff, the meaningless stuff. The hard work of the criminal justice area in trying to make sure that we rehabilitate people and reintegrate them into society is not what we hear from National. 

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The true test of being committed to democracy is to say that even if people have committed some of these crimes, we still fundamentally believe that they have a human right to vote. If we want people to rehabilitate and reintegrate into society, we need to give them a chance to be involved in society. Virtually every person who is covered by the extension of this law, the 2,000 or 3,000 people who are sentenced each year to less than 3 years in prison, will end up back in society. We are not talking here—though with the mistake that National has made, it almost is—about people sentenced to life imprisonment. That is already in the law. Every single one of the people to whom this extension applies will be back in society. What we should be doing is working out how we reintegrate those people into society and how we contribute to rehabilitation. Instead, we have petty, spiteful legislation that does nothing to make our communities safer.”

Carmel Sepuloni:

“I look at the Electoral (Disqualification of Convicted Prisoners) Amendment Bill and think that it is so incredibly trivial and insignificant. The bill will bring about no change, and no positive repercussions, for New Zealand society.

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The one question that I have to ask when I look at this bill, given that it is a law and order bill, which has gone through the Law and Order Committee, is whether this bill will act as a deterrent to crime. I think the answer is actually no. I cannot envisage any person who is incarcerated, or any person who is on the verge of committing a crime, thinking: “Oh, I had better not commit this burglary; otherwise I will go to prison and lose my right to vote!”. The reality is that for all of us in this House to vote is a right, and for many other people around the world it is an absolute privilege to have the right to vote. But I assume that many of the people who are incarcerated may not actually see voting as being one of the priorities in their lives. In fact, I wonder how many of those people who are incarcerated who actually exercise the right to vote have actually felt a sense of loss when they have been incarcerated and lost that right to vote. This bill seems rather insignificant and almost a complete waste of time in regard to what that member, Paul Quinn, was attempting to do.

When we look at whether it could act as a deterrent to crime, we see that obvious common-sense dictates that actually, no, it probably will not.”

Then-Maori Party MP,  Hone Harawira, was no less scathing of the Bill;

“Tēnā koe, Mr Assistant Speaker. Huri rauna kia ora tātou katoa e te Whare. This bill, the Electoral (Disqualification of Convicted Prisoners) Amendment Bill, to remove the right of anyone in jail to vote is a direct attack on the democratic freedoms of people we should be trying to help. It is an assault on the intelligence of ordinary New Zealanders. It is another in a raft of misbegotten, panicked pieces of legislation that are driving this country over the precipice into the mindless depths of right-wing insanity.”

Green MP, David Clendon, seemingly had to remind our elected representatives – especially those in government – that voting was core and fundamental to democracy;

“The right to vote, the commission said, is considered fundamental to representative democracies… It [the Electoral (Disqualification of Convicted Prisoners) Amendment Bill] is at odds with the concept of democracy.”

In 2014, “jailhouse lawyer”, Arthur Taylor, challenged the National government’s law in a Court of Law.

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In July 2015, the High Court found in Taylor’s favour. Justice Heath reasserted Attorney General Finlayson’s determination that banning prisoners from voting was  inconsistent with the Bill of Rights and unjustified;

“The purpose of a formal declaration is to draw to the attention of the New Zealand public that Parliament has enacted legislation inconsistent with a fundamental right.”

In 2017, the Court of Appeal also determined that the law was unfair, unjustified, and inconsistent with the Bill of Rights.

National refused point blank to repeal the law. Said Bill English;

“If they raise significant policy issues we’d look at them, but up until now we haven’t seen a reason to change the law.”

Then came the election last year and the National government was swept away. A Labour-led Coalition could finally undo a bad law.

Or so you would think.

On 9 November, after another victory by Arthur Taylor in the Supreme Court, Coalition Justice Minister, Andrew Little issued a response;

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Minister Little said;

“It’s not that much of a priority.”

It’s. Not. That. Much. Of. A. Priority.

Think about that for a moment: “It’s not that much of a priority.”

According to Minister Little, the very foundation of democracy – voting – is “not that much of a priority.”

Attempting to re-engage a marginalised sector of our society by encouraging civic responsibility is “not that much of a priority.”

In the year that is the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand –

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– voting by a disenfranchised, disengaged section of our society is “not that much of a priority.”

Overturning a bad law “not that much of a priority.”

I sincerely hope that Minister Little did not understand the full implications and that he mis-spoke. Because when an elected representative declares that righting a wrong – such as citizens stripped of their vote – is “not that much of a priority”, they are demonstrating a callous disregard for our democratic traditions that defies understanding.

Clendon, Harawira, and others were correct to describe Quinn’s Bill as a direct attack on the democratic freedoms of people. The right to vote is the most basic cornerstone of a true, participatory democracy. Nothing else comes close to the critical importance of the universal franchise.

Only in countries where a notional facade of democracy exists in name only, is the right to vote regarded with similar cavalier disregard. In both Russia and the United States, vested interests have actively undermined participatory democracy. In China, voting is limited to one party. Britain is still locked in a feudal-era First Past the Post system.

When the National government’s own Attorney General – Chris Finlayson – described the removal of the right for prisoners to vote as “unjustifiably inconsistent with the electoral rights affirmed by s12 of the Bill of Rights Act“, then we are left with only one conclusion: it was bad law from the start.

Minister Little was completely and utterly wrong when he said it was “not that much of a priority.”

It should be the highest priority for any nation professing to be a participatory democracy.

If the former National government could abrogate workers rights by changing their status from employees to “contractors”, with an odious piece of legislation passed in just 48 hour from First Reading to Royal Assent – then it should not be an insurmountable task to abolish the Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Act before the house rises this year.

In fact, by next Friday would be good.

Minister Little, tear down this bad law.

Minister Little, do it now.

Make it a priority.

 

 

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References

Legislation: Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Act 2010

Ministry of Justice: Report of the Attorney-General under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 on the Electoral (Disqualification of Convicted Prisoners) Amendment Bill

Parliament: Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Bill

Wikipedia: Paul Quinn

NZ Herald: Cross-claim endangers settlement

Department of Corrections: Prison facts and statistics – September 2011

Parliament: Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Bill — Third Reading

Parliament: Electoral (Disqualification of Convicted Prisoners) Amendment Bill — First Reading

Parliament: Parliament: Electoral (Disqualification of Convicted Prisoners) Amendment Bill — Second Reading

TVNZ: Jailed bush lawyer asks High Court for right to vote

Radio NZ: Prison vote law breaches human rights – judge

Mediaworks/Newshub:  No voting in prison ‘unfair’ – Court of Appeal

Radio NZ: Prisoners’ right to vote currently not a priority for Parliament – Little

Ministry for Culture & Heritage: Suffrage 125

Legislation: Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Act 2010 (aka “Hobbit Law”)

Acknowledgement

Scoop media: Martin Doyle Cartoon – Voting sucks

Additional

Radio NZ: Protest over prison voting ban

Other Blogs

The Daily Blog: Prisoner Rights Blogger wins for Human Rights

Green:  Prisoner voting ban needs to be repealed

The Green Blog: Prisoner voting disqualification and the Bill of Rights Act

Public Address: Fact-checking Parliament – more prisoners can vote than they think

Werewolf: Robbing the Vote

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It’s a measure of the times we live in that neither the media nor New Zealanders in general seem worried that parliament can ‘remove’ rights supposedly guaranteed under our Bill of Rights. Prisoners are themselves victims of a serious constitutional crime. Given our noble history of women’s suffrage, it’s amazing no women have spoken up on behalf of women prisoners.” – Martin Doyle, cartoonist, 29 January 2015

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 25 November 2018.

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Kelvin Davis – an unforeseen disaster on 23 September?

9 August 2017 2 comments

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August 1 began a new chapter in Labour’s 101 year history: the sudden – though not wholly unexpected – appointment of Jacinda Ardern and Kelvin Davis as Leader and Deputy Leader, respectively, of the NZ Labour Party;

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Jacinda Ardern and Kelvin Davis

(acknowledgement: Fairfax media)

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It marks an end to Andrew Little’s brief reign as Leader. Little’s decision to step down –  the mark of an honourable man who put Party before personal ambition.

The recent TV1, TV3, and Labour’s own internal polling sealed Little’s political doom.

Labour’s new Deputy Leader, Kelvin Davis,  is an Electorate MP for Te Tai Tokerau. The vast Maori electorate stretches from Auckland to Cape Reinga;

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Davis won the seat from Mana Movement leader, Hone Harawira in 2014, after a ‘stitch-updeal between National, Labour, and NZ First;

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The deal was organised to rid Parliament of the one true far-left political party, and it was executed with callous efficiency. Davis won the seat with 743 votes.

But that’s history.

What is pertinent is a point that few people have realised – Kelvin Davis’ precarious position as Labour’s Deputy Leader.

At Number Two on the Labour Party list, Ms Ardern’s chances of returning to Parliament is  all but guaranteed.

The new Deputy Leader – Kelvin Davis – has no such guarantee. His “life boat” – a high placing on the Party List – does not exist.

On 21 March this year, Labour announced that’s its candidates for the seven Maori seats would not have a place on Labour’s Party List;

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The decision to stand candidates in electorates-only was a strategic move by Labour. Labour wanted Maori voters to give their Electorate Vote to Labour candidates and not split their votes between Labour and the Maori Party. (At only 1.3% in the last election, the Maori Party was way below the  5% MMP threshold and the Party Vote was of secondary use to them. They needed to win an Electorate seat to gain representation in Parliament.)

This was a calculated plan to oust the Maori Party from Parliament using Labour’s Maori candidates in an “all-or-nothing” gambit. Interestingly, to this blogger’s knowledge, none of Labour’s pakeha candidates were asked to make a similar decision to stand in an Electorate only.

This “cunning plan” may have backfired if the recent accord between the Mana Movement and the Maori Party  allows Hone Harawira to regain Te Tai Tokerau;

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In 2014, had Maori Party supporters given their electorate vote to Hone Harawira, Davis would have lost by a decisive 1,836 votes;

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Labour could yet end up with another (deputy) leadership vacancy. Embarrassing.

On the positive side, if Andrew Little’s sacrifice for the greater good pays dividends on 23 September, it will signal the end of National’s current reign – and begin the slow unpicking of neo-liberalism. The times, they are a-changin’ and the winds against globalisation/neo-liberalism are gaining strength.

Labour’s up-coming announcement on tertiary education may put the ‘frighteners’ into the neo-libs if it is as bold as I hope it is.

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References

Wikipedia: NZ Labour Party

Radio NZ:  As it happened – Jacinda Ardern takes charge as Labour leader

Wikipedia: Te Tai Tokerau

Maori TV: Key wants Harawira to lose Tai Tokerau seat

NZ Herald: Hone’s call to arms after Winston backs Kelvin

Wikipedia: Te Tai Tokerau – 2014 Election

NZ Labour Party: List

Fairfax media:  Labour’s Maori MPs opt to go ‘electorate only’ and not seek list places

Wikipedia: Maori Party – 2014 Election

Fairfax media:  Hone Harawira gets clear Te Tai Tokerau run for Mana not running against Maori Party in other seats

Additional

NZ Herald:  Andrew Little’s full statement on resignation

Other Blogs

No Right Turn:  The big gamble

The Jackal:  Andrew Little is the devil

The Standard:  Ok, I’m pissed off with the Labour caucus again. Time to switch

The Standard: Thank you Andrew – go well Jacinda!

The Standard: Helen Clark burns Matthew Hooton

The Standard: So NZ Labour wanted the Headlines.

The Standard: Greens and the Māori Party on the new Labour leaders

Werewolf:  Gordon Campbell on the Labour leadership change

Previous related blogposts

No More. The Left Falls.

 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 2 August 2017.

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Flying the Red-Green Banner of Resistance

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The Red Green Banner of Resistance

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May 31st was the day that many in the Labour and Green parties had so earnestly wanted to see – a formal declaration between the leadership of their respective parties for greater co-operation to remove National from power. For most (if not nearly all) of the rank-and-file membership, it was a no-brainer that the two parties – both similar in so many ways – would seek a more formal partnership.

The wonder is that it has taken so long to achieve.

When Labour undermined Hone Harawira’s chances of holding on to his  Te Tai Tokerau electorate, I wrote this prescient piece on 11 June 2014;

That is why the Left will lose on 20 September [2014].

Unless Labour radically changes tack and demonstrates to the public that they are more interested in working together with potential partners – than wrecking their chances at winning votes – voters will be put off. Telling the public that Labour “can work with other parties after the election” is not good enough. Labour must show it can do it.

Otherwise, as one quasi-fascist right-wing blogger put it, the public will perceive that “things are falling apart for the Labour Party“.  He may have a valid point.

Again, as Gordon Campbell stated,

 Labour may just be mule-headed enough – and tribally fixated on the FPP-era of politicking – to try and get rid of Harawira at all costs, and thereby torpedo one of its main chances of forming the next government.

At which Scott Yorke at Imperator Fish added;

 How not to win an election…

…Pretend that we still have a First Past the Post electoral system.”

It is supremely ironic that National – the champion of the Cult of Individualism – can work collectively and collegially with other political parties. But Labour – a party of the left, which espouses collective action for the greater good – is desperately and greedily scrabbling for votes for itself and attacking  potential allies.

That was written four and a half months out from the 2014 election.

After Labour’s disastrous drubbing at the 2014 election,  I penned this post-mortem on 26 September 2014;

The forces on the right are very united”,  said Josie Pagani, on TV3’s political panel. And she would be 100% correct.

This is one of the lessons that Labour should be taking from the 2014 elections; unity is strength.

National did not seek to destroy potential allies. With the exception of the Conservative Party, it actively supported them. Either with direct deal-making (Epsom and Ohariu), or with “nods-and-winks” (Maori Party).

Even with the Conservatives – though Key refused any actual deal-making, he did not go out of his way to under-mine Colin Craig’s party. Just in case they reached the 5% thresh-hold and thus became potentially useful to the Nats.

By contrast, Labour campaigned to destroy the Mana-Internet Party, and the Greens undermined Labour with it’s comment that Labour’s policies would have to be “independently audited” – a phrase picked up by Key and used to attack Cunliffe.

Key projected stability and co-operation on the Right.

The Left projected intense rivalry and a hatred of each other that was volcanic in intensity.

Who did Labour and the Greens think the public would vote for?

Ten things Labour and the Greens should consider in the coming days, weeks, months, and next three years.

A couple of weeks later, on 10 October 2014, I repeated my views;

Perhaps Labour’s worst mistake of all the above was constantly deriding the Mana-Internet alliance. The constant attacks on Hone Harawira and his Party signalled to the public that Labour was weak; full of self-doubt and lacking in self-confidence. Labour’s  desperation for votes was so dire that they were willing to attack and destroy a potential coalition ally, to cannibalise their electoral support.

That showed weakness.

And the public took note.

Contrast Labour’s treatment of Hone Harawira and Mana-Internet, with how John Key related to ACT, United Future, and the Maori Party: with confidence; courtesy; and collegiality.

When Key refused to make a deal with Colin Craig’s Conservative Party, he did so with professional courtesy. There was never any rancor  involved, and despite refusing any Epsom-like deal, Key still left National’s options wide open to work with the Conservatives.

Key even flip-flopped on his previous hand-on-heart promise never to entertain any coalition deal-making with Winston Peters;

I don’t see a place for a Winston Peters-led New Zealand First in a government that I lead.” – John Key,  2 February 2011

When the public looked at Key, they saw a politician who said categorically he would be prepared to work with anyone.

The public liked that. The public want politicians to work together for the good of the country. Key not only said as much – he demonstrated it by working with parties as disparate as ACT, the Maori Party, United Future, and the Greens (though the latter not in any formal coalition agreement).

When the public looked at Labour, they saw a left wing party willing to consume another left wing party, to further their own selfish agenda.

Key showed collegiality and co-operation.

Labour exuded desperation.

Whoever leads the Labour Party after 18 November – take note.

It appears that Labour, belatedly, has finally taken note. Specifically, they have taken note of 21st Century Realpolitik in New Zealand;

  • We are no longer operating under First Past the Post
  • John Key is very adept at fostering good relationships with potential coalition allies
  • Labour either ignored potential coalition allies, or – in Mana-Internet’s case – actively destroyed it
  • Post FPP, National is still a monolithic  party of the Right simply because it has successfully become a political vehicle for religious conservatives, urban neo-liberals,  rural conservatives, and other assorted right-wingers
  • Post FPP, the Left is fractured because ideologies are wider ranging, and because many perceive Labour as still carrying baggage from it’s Rogernomics days and do not trust the Labour Party (whereas the Green Party has a pristine, untarnished reputation, free of dirty baggage from past betrayals of the electorate)

Adding to Labour’s woeful performance is it’s constant habit of  replacing their leader almost like we change the oil in our motorcars. As I wrote on 10 October, 2014, after Cunliffe was dumped as party leader;

Changing the leader, post-election. Does that mean Labour never had confidence in Cunliffe in the first place, and this his appointment was a mistake? Does that mean Cunliffe’s replacement may also be a mistake? Does it mean Labour has 100% confidence in their new Leader – until they don’t? So… why should the public have confidence in Labour’s new choice of a new Leader, when s/he may be temporary?

The only other parliamentary party that goes through it’s leaders like I go through a pack of toilet-paper is ACT – and we don’t really want to be like ACT, do we?

Support for the formal  MoU was positive from Labour-leaning blogs such as The Standard, and grass-roots members generally seem to welcome what was an obvious strategic move by both parties.

Those who were ascerbic tended to be the Right Wing (for obvious reasons), and some cynical media for whom deep political analysis has long eluded them.

Peoples’ Exhibit #1

This asinine “tweet” from  Heather du Plessis-Allan had all the constructive insights of a rural long-drop made from decaying, moss-covered weatherboards;

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Heather du Plessis-Allan - Labour Green MoU - tweet - twitter

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It “hurt her eyes”! Oh, how jolly witty!

It received eleven “likes”. Out of 4.5 million New Zealanders.

Is this the new nadir of 21st century journalism in New Zealand? All I can say is; thank-the-gods-for-Radio-NZ.

’nuff said.

Some other media punditry was only marginally better. Either New Zealand’s political journalists have become too cynical; too jaded; too dismissive to offer constructive reporting and analysis of new events – or, perhaps, such new events are beyond their ken to fully understand.

Peoples’ Exhibit #2

This column from former ACT-leader Rodney Hide, published in the Herald on 5 June;

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Rodney Hide - Marriage of convenience - Labour Green MoU - nz herald

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– spoke more of the author, than the political event he was commentating on.

Hide’s piece is little more than some bitchy, snide derision dressed up as political commentary. However, the more one reads, the more one becomes acutely aware that – carrying the “marriage of convenience” metaphor a step further – Rodney Hide is positively purple with apoplectic jealousy.

Hide is the bachelorette who missed out on getting a rose, and he’s miffed!

Whatever Hide might say about the Greens, there are certain truths he cannot easily dismiss;

  1. The Green Party won 10.7% of the Party Vote in 2014. ACT won 0.69%.
  2. The Green Party won it’s votes through it’s own efforts. ACT’s sole MP won Epsom through a deal between National and John Banks in 2011, and later, David Seymour.
  3. The Green Party leadership has been stable since 2008. ACT has changed leaders five times since 2008. (The next change will see them officially run out of members, and they will have to start from Roger Douglas again.
  4. In the 1999 General Election, ACT won 9 seats and the Green won seven. A decade and a half  later, in the 2014 General Election, ACT had one MP (elected solely at the whim of the National Party) and the Greens have doubled their parliamentary representation with fourteen MPs.

So for Hide to sneer at the Labour-Green MoU is a bit rich, considering his own party is on terminal life-support, and survives purely at the pleasure of the National Party. When ACT’s usefulness to National has finished – the electoral plug will be pulled from the political respirator that keeps ACT’s brain-dead corpse “alive”.

ACT’s passing will be the point in our history when we mark the decline and demise of neo-liberalism in New Zealand. Future generations will view it as a mirror-image of the 1960s/70s youth counter-culture movement; cruel, self-centered, and full of hatred for those impoverished for whom the “free” market failed.

In the meantime, the Green Party will do what green things tend to do: grow.

And the jealous bitterness of Rodney Hide will consume him to his final days.

Peoples’  Exhibit #3

Winston Peters dismissed the Labour-Green MoU. He repeated his usual mantra;

“We do not like jack-ups or rigged arrangements behind the people’s back. We’ll go into this election, just ourselves and our policies seeking to change how this country is governed.”

And five days later on TVNZ’s Q+A;

@  0.46

“But the idea that you would go out there with a pre-arrangement on a deck of cards you’ve never read, we simply can’t see how that works.”

Which is deeply ironic, considering that;

(a) Prior to an election, Peters never discloses to the voting public whether he would coalesce with National or Labour,

(b) Once the election is over, Peters then negotiates in strict secrecy with both National and Labour – in effect, “behind the people’s back“.

In effect, a Party Vote for NZ First is akin to giving that political party a blank cheque; the voter has no way of knowing where that “cheque will be spent”. Will we get a National-led coalition? Or a Labour-led coalition?

At least with parties like ACT and the Greens, the voter has a good idea where a vote for either party will end up on the political spectrum.

With a vote for NZ First, you are effectively handing over to Peters your voting ballot-paper, un-ticked,  and he alone will decide whether to cast it for a National-led coalition or Labour-led coalition.

Peters’ derision of the MoU  was therefore wholly predictable.

Peters understands that a resurgent Labour-Green team poses a dire threat to NZ First’s chances of being “king maker”, post-2017 election. If closer co-operation between Labour and the Greens  results in electoral success and the birth of a new red-green coalition government, NZ First’s role as “king maker” would be scuttled.

In such a case a  vote for NZ First becomes a “wasted” vote.  He would be left isolated on the cross-benches, sniping impotently at Prime Minister Andrew Little, and his Deputy PM, Metiria Turei.

Another jilted political suitor who missed out on  a rose.

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Steven Joyce - green labour memorandum of understanding - twitter

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Evidence for the Defence

There is nothing preposterous about a closer  Labour-Green relationship.  It is no more absurd than the Liberal–National Coalition which has existed in Australia since early last century;

The Coalition, also known as the Liberal–National Coalition, is a political alliance of centre-right parties, which has existed in Australian politics in various forms since 1923.

The Coalition is composed of the Liberal Party of Australia (formerly the United Australia Party, the Nationalist Party of Australia and the Commonwealth Liberal Party) and the National Party of Australia (formerly named the Country Party and the National Country Party), as well as the Liberal National Party (LNP) in Queensland and the Country Liberal Party (CLP) in the Northern Territory.

And coalitions in Europe are the norm.

So what was the fuss about the “living arrangement” between Labour and the Greens?

Summing up for the Jury

At the moment, the public sees the National-Maori Party-Dunne-ACT coalition, and understand it. But one thing that voters want to know is; what would an alternative to a National-led government look like?

Far from negotiating this Memorandum from a position of weakness, as some have suggested, it is instead a well-executed strategy. As Andrew Little said with simple clarity;

“Voters want to know that there are opposition parties who are capable of working together, can work strongly together and can offer stability and certainty. And that’s what this agreement is about, that’s what we will demonstrate.

Up-coming polls will show whether the voters like what they see.

And on election day next year, the verdict will be delivered.

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References

Green Party: Memorandum of Understanding

Gordon Campbell: Gordon Campbell on the rise of Laila Harré

Imperator Fish: How to win an election

Fairfax media: Greens eye bigger supluses

TVNZ News: No deal – Key leaves Colin Craig out in the cold

Fairfax media: Possible coalition line-ups after election

TVNZ News: Winston Peters not grabbing John Key’s olive branch

NZ Herald: PM rules out any NZ First deal

Twitter: Heather du Plessis-Allan

NZ Herald: Rodney Hide: Marriage of convenience

Wikipedia: New Zealand general election, 2014

NZ Herald: Political cups of tea shared

Wikipedia: ACT Party Leadership

Wikipedia: 1999 General Election

Wikipedia: 2014 General Election

Fairfax media: Labour and Green leaders announce closer co-operation agreement

TVNZ: Q+A – Winston Peters interview (video)

Twitter: Steven Joyce

Wikipedia: Coalition (Australia)

Radio NZ: NZ First labels Labour-Green deal ‘worthless’

Other bloggers

Boots Theory: On the M.O.U.

Pundit: In which universe will Winston Peters become PM?

The Standard: Labour Green announcement – working together to change the government

The Standard: Why is it that?

The Standard: Labour Green MOU well received in poll

Previous related blogposts

A Study in Party Stability

The secret of National’s success – revealed

Election 2014; A Post-mortem; a Wake; and one helluva hang-over

2014 Election – Post-mortem Up-date

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 14 June 2016.

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Andrew Little’s “dangerous” speech – a cunning plan for the Middle and the Left

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Labour Party - Andrew Little - pre-budget speech (24)

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Wellington, NZ, 22 May – Speaking to a fully packed downtown conference centre in Wellington, on a cold, gloomy rainy afternoon, Labour-leader, Andrew Little launched into a fiery attack on the current National Government focusing  on it’s inarguably lack-lustre track record for the past eight years.

With a heavy media presence, Rimutaka MP, and Labour spokesperson for Education, Chris Hipkins, was tasked with making the introduction;

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com Labour Party - Andrew Little - pre-budget speech

 

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Hipkins said;

“Certainly there is a mood for change around the country now and that mood for change is increasing.  But the question that everybody has been asking us, is is Labour ready? And that’s a fair question to ask.”

“They say that being the leader of the Opposition is the toughest job in politics. Well I can tell to tell you that Andrew has taken to that tough job in politics like a duck to water.”

“In all of that time that he has been doing that job, and all the hours he has put in, he has never forgotten why is there; for people. And that is why the Labour Party is here.”

The short  introduction over, the audience of committed Labour members clapped enthusiastically as Little mounted the podium;

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com Labour Party - Andrew Little - pre-budget speech

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To say that Little had plenty of material to work with would be an understatement as the growing crisis for both affordable housing; skyrocketing rentals; and shortage of state houses have been well publicised in the media and by bloggers.

From just one day in Wellington’s Dominion Post Monday 23 May edition;

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dominion post - housing crisis

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Jane Bowron’s piece especially – Marae shows up Government with haere mai to homeless  – is a must-read, head-on assault on the warped ‘values’ which currently afflict our government and some peoples’ thinking.   Yet, the Dominion Post is hardly known as a bastion for marxist agitation.

Little wasted no time as  he launched into a recitation of National’s failures after eight years in government;

“It’s becoming harder for many people to get ahead.  Harder to find a good job or get a pay rise. Harder to find a home, put some savings aside, or get the health care you need. Parents are paying more for their childrens’ education, but our schools aren’t performing as well.

[…]

Look at the headlines from the last couple of weeks: Children sleeping in cars or forced to lives in houses that make them sick; plummeting home ownership; rising unemployment, [and] stalled wages for many people.

[…]

And while the few at the very top got to enjoy special rules that meant they didn’t have to pay their fair share – everyone else is paying the cost.

We’ve seen increases in unemployment. There are now 144,000 people out of work in New Zealand, 40,000 more than when National took office.”

Little is correct on those stats. According to the convenient graphs and data from US website, Trading Economics, the increase in unemployment in New Zealand has remained stubbornly high;

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unemployed persons 2008 - 2016

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Little explained that the unemployment problem was worse than just sheer numbers;

“And it’s not just that more people are out of work – it’s that many more are out of work for longer.  Under this government the number of people unemployed for more than a year has tripled – up over 11,000 since they took office.

The situation is especially tough for our young people. Under this government the number of young people who aren’t in work, education or training has risen by more than 26,000.

The truth is those are the young people this government has given up on – the ones they label as ‘pretty damn hopeless’.”

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Bill English describes some Kiwis looking for work as 'pretty damned hopeless'

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Little pointed out the numbers who had not gotten any wage increase in the last year, and more importantly that workers were missing out on the benefits of economic growth;

For those in work, getting a pay rise has become harder. 43% of New Zealanders saw no increase in their incomes at all in the last 12 months.

[…]

Under the last Labour government, the share of economic growth going to wage and salary earners was over 50%.

Today, it’s 37%.

The slice of the economy going to workers has fallen each year under National.

This year, that lost income works out to be fifty bucks a week for the average family.

His comments will most likely resonate with those workers who feel they are working harder and longer hours – and yet do not seem to be progressing. The back-stories of mega-rich tax-evaders hoarding their wealth in tax havens will fuel feelings of resentment by those who work and pay their  taxes so we can have roads, hospitals, schools, etc;

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Panama Papers investigation 'NZ absolutely, conclusively is a tax haven'

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Little then hit the big story of the last few weeks – growing homelessness in New Zealand. Coupled with a fall in home ownership rates since 1991 (from 74% in 1991 to 64% in 2015), and we get a clear picture how “free” market economics has impacted on our society.

National’s response was to deny that a problem existed in New Zealand at all. According to Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett;

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"I certainly wouldn't call it a crisis. I think that we've always had people in need."

“I certainly wouldn’t call it a crisis. I think that we’ve always had people in need.” – Paula Bennett, 20 May 2016

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Andrew Little’s response was less dismissive of the challenges facing 21st century New Zealand families;

“When kids are sleeping in cars. That’s a crisis.

When families are crowded into garages. That’s a crisis.

When an entire generation is locked out of ever owning their own home, that is a crisis.”

He firmly sheeted home blame for our current predicament, in no uncertain terms;

“Instead of owning up to that and fixing it, the government is siding with property speculators and land bankers, while everyone else misses out.

Every initiative our bumbling housing minister Nick Smith has tried on housing has failed. Rather than go after the causes of the problems, he’s flailed around with gimmicks.

Remember special housing areas? Fewer than 1000 homes actually built.

Remember his gimmick from the last Budget? Releasing crown land? It turned out to include substations, cemeteries and even the back yard of Government House.

While the government’s been tinkering, the problem’s gotten so much worse.

In March, the average house price in Auckland rose by over $2,200 a day.”

For maximum effect, Little repeated that startling factoid to the audience and media;

“Let me say that figure again. Over twenty two hundred dollars a day.”

On Radio NZ’s political panel on Monday, 23 May, former Labour Party President, Mike Williams complimented Andrew Little’s speech, referring to it as “dangerous”;

“Middle New Zealand is concerned about health, education, housing, and the economy. And I think, as far as John Key is concerned, this is the most dangerous speech a Labour leader has given since Helen Clark resigned.”

Williams also made an interesting observation regarding how Middle New Zealand felt about their rising house values;

“I think there’s a bit of schizophrenia going on in Middle New Zealand which is showing up in the UMR numbers. If you own a house you are feeling pretty good because the value of your asset has been going through the roof. However, if you’ve got kids, you’re worried about their schooling; you’re worried about will they get a house; and  you’re worried about will they get a job that pays enough  to pay for a house. So I think, that, yes,  home-owning New Zealanders [are]  feeling ok, but parents are not.”

Little then addressed the growing under-funding of  public healthcare;

According to Infometrics, we’ve had $1.7 billion dollars cut in real terms from our health budget over 6 years.

That’s meant that 160,000 people in the last 5 years have been unable to get the appointment they need with a specialist.”

Which seems to be a replay of National’s cuts to the Health budget in the late 1990s;

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acute-heart-surgery-list-nearly-400-otago-daily-times-5-february-1998

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In response, Little promised;

“Under Labour, Kiwis will know that if they get sick, the public healthcare system will be there for them.  That’s why we are committed to meeting the cost pressures that are depriving people of the care they need…

…Budgets are about priorities, and under Labour, health will be a priority again. We shouldn’t be spending money on $3 billion of unaffordable tax cuts when we could be fixing our health system instead.”

Which, if the previous Clark-led Labour government’s actions are anything to go by, can be counted as a solid committment;

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1-5b-injection-for-health-9-dec-2001

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Little was also scathing at National’s taxpayer subsidies being thrown at Charter Schools;

“At the same time as National has poured millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money into privately run charter schools, our public education system is struggling.

In the last year alone, National has cut funding for pupils by $150 each.

And so schools load more costs on to parents in order to fill the gaps.

Ask any parent and they’ll tell you the cost of uniforms, class activities, camps and of course ‘voluntary donations’ just keep on rising.”

For all of National’s much-vaunted “reforms” in our education system, the results are less than impressive. Little rattled off a list of stats that should raise concern with all New Zealanders;

But here’s the thing: while costs are rising, standards are falling.

In 2006, we were ranked 5th in the world for reading.

Now we’re 13th.

We were 7th in science.

Today? 18th.

And in maths? We’ve fallen from 11th to 23rd.

So much for National Standards. And so much for the neo-liberal ideology that has not only not delivered on promises of excellence in our education system – but has seemingly damaged it. Our fall in international rankings are stark evidence that National’s policies in education have failed spectacularly.

Little then offered what can only be  described as Labour’s manifesto for the 2017 General Election;

  • We’ll crack down on the offshore speculators who are driving up house prices and locking families out of the market.
  • Labour will launch a mass home building programme to deliver new, affordable homes in Auckland and around the country.
  • That’s why we are committed to three years’ free post-school education so that Kiwis can train and retrain across their working lives, without having to take on huge debt. That’s how we support our people and its how we tackle the challenge of the future of work.
  • We’ll introduce a dole for apprenticeships scheme to give young people the opportunity to get into paid work.
  • We’ll raise the number of hours people can work without having their benefit cut.
  • We will feed hungry kids in schools…

In six, short, sentences, Andrew Little has put the boot into neo-liberal so-called “reforms”. If elected, and if Labour does not water-down it’s promises, we will be witnessing the dismantling of thirtythree years of the neo-liberal paradigm in New Zealand.

No wonder right-wing commentator, Matthew Hooton, seemed perturbed by Little’s speech during his regular ‘slot’ on Radio NZ’s Nine to Noon programme on 23 May.

Perhaps the most revolutionary aspect to Little’s promises is that of  “three years’ free post-school education“. This is, in effect, partially undoing user-pays in our tertiary institutions.

But the most clever aspect to Little’s speech is that it is “talking” to two different parts of New Zealand.

His reference to “that lost income works out to be fifty bucks a week for the average family” is a direct pitch to Middle New Zealand that feels it is not progressing whilst the mega-rich rort the tax system.

But his reference to abandoning part of user-pays in tertiary education is directed at the Left who are demanding that the Labour Party make a public commitment to renouncing it’s Rogernomics past.

The trick for Labour’s hierarchy and strategists is to achieve both – appealing to Middle New Zealand and the Left – but without spooking the former, or further alienating the latter.

In effect, Labour has taken a firm step-to-the-left – and the public have not noticed.

Mike Williams was right: this was a “dangerous” speech from Andrew Little.

And a damned clever one.

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Addendum

Full text of Andrew Little’s speech here.

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Labour victory

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References

Fairfax: Jane Bowron – Marae shows up Government with haere mai to homeless

Trading economics: New Zealand Unemployed Persons 

Fairfax media: Bill English describes some Kiwis looking for work as ‘pretty damned hopeless’

TV1 News: Panama Papers investigation – ‘NZ absolutely, conclusively is a tax haven’

Interest.co.nz: Collapse in home-ownership rates among families formed since 1991 is an unfolding disaster for NZ’s economy

Radio NZ: No housing crisis in NZ – Paula Bennett

Radio NZ: Nine to Noon – Political commentators Mike Williams and Matthew Hooton

Scoop media: Andrew Little: Pre-Budget Speech 2016

Related

Pundit: Have We a Housing Policy?

Other bloggers

Chris Trotter: Left Unsaid: What Andrew Little Didn’t Say In His Pre-Budget Speech

Kiwipolitico: Not Quite But Getting There

No Right Turn: National should give us our $13,000 back

The Standard: Little’s $50 a week message getting through

Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘fmacskasy.wordpress.com’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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capitalism taking from those who work

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 25 May 2016.

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Letter to the editor – through a mirror, crack’d?

10 December 2014 Leave a comment

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Sunday Star Times <editor@star-times.co.nz>
date: Wed, Dec 10, 2014
subject: Letters to the editor 

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The Editor
Sunday Star Times
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I think the Greens will have no problems distancing themselves from the Labour-National Grand Coalition after both major parties voted to  increase the powers of the SIS.

I would not be at all surprised if the Green Party builds on this issue and receives a boost in poll ratings as a reward.

Then again, maybe I’m hopelessly naive and don’t realise that 21st Century New Zealand loves the idea of a Surveillance State (to protect us from Muslim jihadists; uppity brown people; Kim Dotcom; communist Greenies; martians, pod people, Uncle Tom Cobbly…)

In fact, somewhere along the line, I slipped through a tear in quantum realities and ended up in a Parallel Universe where the Rise of the Surveillance State is proceeding with hardly a murmur.

Clearly,  this is not the country I grew up in.

It is a hopelessly-apathetic; easily-led; twisted variant.
-Frank Macskasy

 

[address and phone number supplied]

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References

Libcom: 1982 – The death of Neil Roberts

 


 

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MSM under-mining of new Labour Leader already begun?

26 November 2014 Leave a comment

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confused-man

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It did not take long.

In fact, on the same day that Andrew Little won the Labour leadership*, the first media reporter was already asking if he would be stepping down  if Labour failed to lift in the all-important polls.

On Radio NZ’s Checkpoint, the usually uber-sensible, Mary Wilson asked these gormless questions of Andrew Little,

@ 4.35

Wilson: “And in terms of your accountability though, if at the end of 2016, there is no movement [in the polls] there is no change, what happens then?”

@ 4.47

Wilson: “Is there any point during the next few years where you will say, ‘Ok, this hasn’t worked; I haven’t done what I set out to achieve; I’m leaving’.”

@ 5.00

Wilson: “And if you’re not there by the end of 2016, would you step aside?”

Now bear in mind that Radio NZ is not part of the ratings-driven, advertising-revenue-chasing corporate MSM of this country – but still those questions were put to Little.

How long before the corporate MSM – sensing sensational headlines and potential advertising revenue –  begin baying for blood and drafting stories which begin to portray Little in a negative light?

It was the relentless attacks on Cunliffe from all quarters of the MSM (including non-commercial Radio NZ) which contributed to under-mining his leadership in the eyes of the voting public.

The public’s perception of a political figure is determined largely by how he is portrayed by the media. Fairness and accuracy can play little part in reporting stories targetting a political figure. As the Donghua Liu Affair, in the NZ Herald showed with disturbing clarity, even a non-story can be spun in such a way as to totally destroy a man’s credibility and reputation.

Note: As an aside, in defending the Herald’s story on the 13 year old Donghua Liu-Cunliffe letter,  Editor  Tim Murphy stated in June this year (in an email to this blogger), that “We fully expect further details to come will show the Herald’s earlier reporting to have, as we have known throughout, been accurate and soundly based“. Nothing further has been produced by the Herald to back up it’s assertions since it was forced to make retractions on 25 June.

The Donghua Liu Affair was part of  an ongoing, targetted, smear campaign against David Cunliffe. The non-story, involving a 13 year old letter; a non-existent $100,000 bottle of wine; and an alleged, yet-to-be-discovered, $15,000 book, painted Cunliffe as untrustworthy, and the Labour Party as dodgy.

The new  Labour leader will have to keep his wits about him and use every media-related connection and employ the best possible media minders to counter an MSM that can no longer be trusted to report the basic truth. With the likes of Patrick Gower and Mike Hosking competing to be the “baddest bad asses” on the Media Block, accuracy and truth play third-fiddle behind egos (#1) and ratings (#2).

TV3’s Patrick Gower has already had a ‘go’ at Little’s victory, referring to the democratic selection process as “the great union ripoff”;

It’s a backdoor takeover by the unions. Simply, Andrew Little would not be Labour leader without the unions. He is the unions’ man; Little is a union man, and the unions have got their man into Labour’s top job.

Gower’s statement mentions “unions” five times in three short sentences. Which, when you think about it, is bizarre given that the Labour Party was born from the union movement in the first place**. Who did Gower think would lead Labour – someone from the Employers’ Federation? Business NZ? The Business Roundtable?
Silly little man pretending to be a political commentator.

The TV3 on-line article is bizarre in itself with TV3’s “Online Reporter”, Dan Satherley,  reporting  TV3’s Political Reporter, Patrick Gower’s, utterances. Journalists interviewing each other?

What next – siblings marrying each other under an ACT-led government?!
Predictably, Gower then launched into his own “Who’s-the-next-Leader” guessing game;

Gower says there remains the chance Grant Robertson and Jacinda Ardern – known informally as ‘Gracinda’ – might have another crack at the leadership – but this time with Ms Ardern leading the way.

I think there will be a switcheroo – Jacinda as the leader, Robertson as the deputy. He’s probably seen the writing on the wall that it has to be her if they have another go.

They just can’t help themselves. In an ‘Interstellar‘-quality vacuum of any meaningful news reporting, media-hacks like Gower will  blather on about any silliness that enters their heads. Far be it for him to actually interview Andrew Little and ask him questions like;

What’s on your agenda if you become Prime Minister?

What’s your point-of-difference to National?

What do you hope to achieve, legislation-wise, in the First 100 Days of a government you lead?

You know, real questions that real journalists used to ask, in real interviews, with real people.

At the same time, the same brickbat used to beat the MSM around it’s collective head should be generously applied to the Labour Party hierarchy’s backside.

When Labour president Moira Coatsworth made this statement in the NZ Herald, congratulating Andrew Little;

Labour president Moira Coatsworth, who announced Mr Little’s victory, said he would lead a reinvigorated party into the 2017 election campaign.

Andrew has the leadership skills and the vision to win the trust of New Zealanders and take Labour to victory in 2017. I have no doubt he will go on to become a great Labour Prime Minister who builds a stronger, fairer and more sustainable New Zealand.

– it was the same gushing enthusiasm she voiced for David Cunliffe last year;

The Labour Party congratulates David Cunliffe on his win. David has been elected by a robust and democratic process and has won on the first round with a clear majority. This gives him a strong mandate as leader and he has the full support of the Labour Party.

[…]

David Cunliffe has the leadership skills and the vision to win the trust of New Zealanders and take Labour to victory in 2014. I have no doubt he will go on to become a great Labour Prime Minister who builds a stronger, fairer and more sustainable New Zealand.”

– and before that, David Shearer, in 2011;

I congratulate both David and Grant and look forward to working closely with them as we build towards a Labour victory in 2014.

David and Grant bring a fresh approach; a breadth of skills and a strong commitment to rebuild for a Labour win in 2014.”

The repetitive nature of Labour’s revolving-door leadership leaves the voting public scratching it’s collective head, wondering WTF?! As I blogged on 2 October;

If the Labour caucus don’t support their own leader – especially when times are tough – why should they expect the voting public to take their  leadership choices seriously? After all, with four leaders gone in six years, it would appear to be a temporary position at best.

And earlier, on 25 September, I wrote to the NZ Herald;

If Labour keeps changing it’s Leader after every defeat, then I put the following questions to them;

1. How will a Labour Leader gain experience, if they’re dumped every couple of years?

2. How can the public be expected to get to know a Labour Leader, and develop trust in that person, if their presence is fleeting and disappear before we get to know him/her?

3. How will a Labour Leader learn to handle victory, when s/he first won’t be allowed to understand defeat? Humility is learned in failure, not success.

I also pointed out in the same letter-to-the-editor;

The Greens have leaderships that are stable and long-term, irrespective of electoral success or failure. That is because the Party has faith and confidence in their leadership choices.

Even pro-National columnist for the NZ Herald, John Armstrong stated the obvious on 18 November;

 “The public should warm to him. But that will take some time.

Meanwhile, on the day that Andrew Little won the leadership contest, John Key made this astute observation;

What this process has shown is that there are deep divisions within the party, they’re a long way away from agreeing with each other or even liking each other.

Andrew Little has the task of unifying a group of individuals who historically have shown they have very low levels of discipline.

He has a point.  Labour’s lack of internal discipline is in stark contrast to National’s public facade of unity. Both parties have their own factions – but National is the one that has succeeded in keeping in-fighting private and behind closed doors.

There is a weird  irony to this. Labour is supposedly the party that espouses an ideology of collective action whilst National is the party of unfettered individualism.

Yet it is the Nats who work collectively and collegially for their number one goal: power. Any factional agitation and cat-spats for dominance is kept well away from the public and media gaze.

By contrast, Labour appears to be a party of rugged individualists that would make ACT look like an Ohu commune from the 1970s.

Labour could do well do learn from their rivals.

The alternative is more dissent and dis-unity within Labour; more leadership changes; and a National government stretching into the 2020s, with Max Key taking the reigns of Prime Ministership from his father, and assuming the dynastic role of “Little Leader”.

Personally, I prefer a “Little Leader” to emerge from a Labour-led government, and not a future National regime.

Andrew Little’s success will be our success as well.

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* Disclaimer: This blogger is not a Labour Party member, nor has any preference who should be Leader of that party.
** Acknowledgement to Curwen Rolinson for his perception and pointing this out on his Facebook page.

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References

Radio NZ: Little man for the job of Labour’s big rebuild

Radio NZ Checkpoint: Little says narrowness of his win not a problem (audio)

NZ Herald: Donghua Liu’s new statement on Labour donations

TV3 News: Gower – Little’s victory ‘the great union ripoff’

NZ Herald: ‘He has the vision to win the trust of New Zealanders’ – Andrew Little elected Labour leader

Interest.co.nz: David Cunliffe wins Labour leadership contest, defeating Grant Robertson and Shane Jones

Scoop Media: Labour Party President congratulates new leadership team

NZ Herald: John Armstrong – Andrew Little’s first job – drown out Winston Peters

MSN News: Labour is still divided – Key

Te Ara Encyclopedia: Communes and communities

Facebook: Curwen Rolinson

Previous related blogposts

A Study in Party Stability

No More. The Left Falls.

Letter to the editor: the culling of Cunliffe

The Donghua Liu Affair – The Players Revealed


 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 21 November 2014

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A Study in Party Stability

2 October 2014 7 comments

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In terms of long-term stability, one party above stands above all others, with the exception of personality-driven groups such as NZ First and United Future. That party is the Greens.

If the Labour Party wants to look elsewhere for solutions to their problems, they need only walk down the coridor at Parliament and knock on the doors to Metiria Turei and Russell Norman.

The Greens’ record speaks for itself…

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2008

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2008 - Labour - Clarke - Cullen - Greens - Fitzsimons - Norman

(L-R) Helen Clarke – Michael Cullen – Jeanette Fitzsimons (retired 2009) – Russell Norman

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2009

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(L-R) Phil Goff - Anette King - Metiria Turei - Russell Norman

(L-R) Phil Goff – Annette King – Metiria Turei – Russell Norman

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2011.

2011 - Labour - Shearer - Robertson - Greens - Turei - Norman

(L-R) David Shearer – Grant Robertson – Metiria Turei – Russell Norman

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2013.

 

(L-R) David Cunliffe - David Parker - Metiria Turei - Russell Norman

(L-R) David Cunliffe – David Parker – Metiria Turei – Russell Norman

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2014.

 

(L-R) ? - ? - Metiria Turei - Russell Norman

(L-R) ? – ? – Metiria Turei – Russell Norman

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2017 .

(L-R) ? - ? - Metiria Turei - Russell Norman

(L-R) ? – ? – Metiria Turei – Russell Norman

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In the meantime, Labour’s ritual post-election  self-flagellation and purging of their leadership damages their standing in the public’s eye even further. The words I’ve been hearing in the last 48 hours are “clowns”, idiots”, and a few others that are unmentionable around kids.

If the Labour caucus don’t support their own leader – especially when times are tough – why should they expect the voting public to take their  leadership choices seriously? After all, with four leaders gone in six years, it would appear to be a temporary position at best.

The only thing that Labour is proving by it’s actions is that it cannot cope with defeat; cannot build positively; and most important – will not support it’s elected leader when he needs it the most. Not exactly an inspiring message to send to voters, eh?

Remind me why the public would think that this is a team worth supporting?!

No one benefits from this circus.

Except of course, Cameron Slater, David Farrar, Simon Lusk, and their parasitic mates. For them, despite Nicky Hager’s expose, this has been a dream-come-true. For the apostles of Dirty Politics, Christmas has come early.

Gift-wrapped and presented by the Labour Party caucus and hierarchy.

 

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References

Radio NZ:  Cunliffe resigns as leader of Labour

NZ Herald: Timeline: Labour’s years of leadership pain

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 28 September 2014

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