Crossing The Fault Line: Making the Case for a Cunliffe-Robertson Unity Ticket

By   /   August 23, 2013  /   45 Comments

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Yesterday’s (Thursday, 22 August 2013) decision by David Shearer to relinquish the leadership of his party is an admission by the Labour Right that it no longer possesses the political strength to further delay (let alone prevent) that leftward break.

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“THEY TELL ME THE FAULT LINE runs right through here.” Mama Cass Elliot’s haunting hit single from 1968 has been echoing through my head all morning. Nothing to do with the recent spate of earthquakes that has shaken central New Zealand, the song has always reminded me of what ails the New Zealand Labour Party and why. Because the great political fault line that divides New Zealand society does not run between National and Labour, it runs right through the middle of the Labour Party itself.

Labour has always been the great change agent of New Zealand society – for good or ill. How extensive Labour’s changes turn out to be, and how far they reach, are determined by the balance of political forces: first, in the parliamentary caucus; and second, in the wider party organisation and the labour movement generally.

Labour’s capture by Roger Douglas and his allies in the mid-1980s and Labour’s subsequent turn towards neoliberalism set the political co-ordinates for the three decades that followed. The elevation of Helen Clark to the Labour leadership in 1993 may have slowed the party’s drift to the right, but it did not reverse it. Her successors, Phil Goff and David Shearer, under increasing pressure from both the Labour rank-and-file and the trade unions to make a decisive break to the left, nevertheless held the line.

Yesterday’s (Thursday, 22 August 2013) decision by David Shearer to relinquish the leadership of his party is an admission by the Labour Right that it no longer possesses the political strength to further delay (let alone prevent) that leftward break.

There are only two credible contenders for the Labour leadership: Grant Robertson, the party’s current deputy-leader; and David Cunliffe, a former cabinet minister and Shearer’s principal rival for the twenty months since Labour’s 2011 electoral defeat.

There can be no doubt as to which of these two most strongly represents the party’s and the unions’ desire for Labour to execute a decisive shift to the left. Since the onset of the Global Financial Crisis in 2008-09, David Cunliffe has steadily come to the view that the social democratic and labour parties of the West can no longer realistically subscribe to a business-as-usual approach to economic and social policy. Neoliberalism-lite, or free-market capitalism minus its jagged edges, is no longer a credible working model for parties of the centre-left.

The personal confidence (some would say arrogance) required to carry off such a departure from political and economic orthodoxy has, until now, weighed heavily against Cunliffe’s leadership prospects in the minds of his caucus colleagues.

The right-wing faction of the caucus certainly exploited this diffidence to slow the advance of their most dangerous ideological opponent. In the process they were greatly assisted by Grant Robertson’s personal leadership ambitions. Indeed, without the roadblock erected by Robertson’s supporters, the right-wingers would not have been able to prevent Cunliffe taking the leadership in December 2011.

Robertson made the votes of his own faction available to the right-wing “Old Guard” not only to thwart Cunliffe’s 2011 leadership bid, but also because, like his principal political patroness, Helen Clark, he is an exceptionally cautious and ideologically tepid individual. His first instinct is always to abjure radicalism in favour of a more moderate course – hence his willingness to take a risk on the all-too-moderate Shearer in December 2011.

But no matter how cautious Robertson may be, he is also an astute reader of political events. The effort required to suppress the movement within the party seeking to implement the policy prescription Cunliffe has been willing to champion was, Robertson quickly came to appreciate, opening wider and wider rifts between the rank-and-file and the caucus. With Shearer clearly unable to lead a major party, Robertson knew he would soon be facing a choice between two, equally radical outcomes: a change of leaders; or, a complete meltdown of the party. If he’s sensible, and he is, he’ll choose the former.

And that would mean the new leader of the Labour Party can only be Cunliffe. Were Robertson to run against him and thus set in motion the procedures of the new Electoral College, it could only be as the champion for business-as-usual social democracy. Were he to win (a most unlikely outcome, given the party’s present mood) both he and Labour would be no further ahead. The pressure for a shift to the left would not be lessened; on the contrary, it would increase.

Which leaves only one course of action for Robertson to follow, and that is to approach Cunliffe and offer himself as his running-mate on a Unity Ticket. A Cunliffe-Robertson combination would be unbeatable in the Electoral College – a fact which, once absorbed by the other possible contenders for the leadership: Shane Jones, Andrew Little; would argue for an uncontested succession.

A Cunliffe-Robertson combination would see Labour cross the political fault line for the first time in thirty years. It could energise the party and the wider labour movement in ways that would transform the 2014 election into a genuine and passionate political contest. Cunliffe is prepared (indeed, he is now obligated) to seek out a new and radical path to national progress and prosperity. But, with the “reluctant radical”, Robertson, at his side he can plausibly reassure the powers-that-be that while they may experience a little shaking, they will not be too seriously stirred.

The party organisation, though champing at the bit to have, for the first time, some say in the selection of a Labour leader, would be wise to accept the uncontested succession represented by a Cunliffe-Robertson Unity Ticket. Elections are unpredictable things and do not always go the way people expect. Things can be done that cannot be undone; words spoken that cannot be unsaid. Better by far to accept the clear ideological and programmatic advance represented by Cunliffe’s topping of the ticket. That way, when their man walks into the November Conference as Labour’s new leader, they’ll be able to raise the roof in a tumultuous tribute not merely to his victory – but their own.

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45 Comments

  1. mervyn says:

    Excellent summation Chris !

    Let’s hope the Labour caucus see it that way and get behind the only possible way forward – - – a return to true Labour principles before Key and Co. totally wreck the social fabric of this country.

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    • Iain Parker says:

      Anybody but Andrew Little is the line the corporate media are starting to run – good enough reason right there to take a good look at voting for him!
      New Zealand needs a person with both integrity and knowledge – and some balls! A man who has always championed the equal economic opportunity of citizens and businesses of legitimate enterprise!
      http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/nbr-rich-list-highlights-inequality-claims-andrew-little
      Mr Little, Labour’s spokesman on justice and tourism, says he does not have an issue with the Rich List celebrating those who have created wealth but the plight of the less well-off should not be forgotten.
      “More people are being paid less than what they were the year before. There’s a real question about the distribution of wealth and the concentration of wealth.”
      He says he has great respect for those who have made it to the Rich List by working hard, creating innovation and putting their own capital at risk.

      “Those who have generated wealth through leveraging debt I wouldn’t be cheerleading at all.”

      Mr Little says people can succeed in business without benefiting the wider community, for example, by damaging the environment.

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      • Danyl Strype says:

        I was quite liking the idea of Little as Labour leader after meeting him in Taranaki, but these are the left-of-Shearer noises? More whimpering defence of capitalism and the rich? Oh dear god no.

        Perhaps the only way to get genuinely economic-left Labour leader is to somehow eject the remaining parasitic neoliberals from the party altogether? Somehow I can’t imagine NZ Labour having even a metaphoric Night of the Long Knives, maybe a Long Night of the Butter Knives while they decide which defender of the hard-working, productive rich to elect as their new spokemodel?

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      • Debs is dead says:

        I’m sorry but for me Andrew Little’s name is indelibly linked with Pike River.
        I would argue that the engineers aggressive swallowing of smaller industry based unions has had the unplanned effect of enabling the bosses to ride roughshod over health & safety resulting in an outrageous level of industrial accident in NZ.
        It is unfair to sheet that home as totally Little’s fault but I worry that his involvement in signing up to the Pike River deal reveals an aptitude for putting ends before means even when the consequences may be a horror story.
        Or even worse the engineers never fully understood the potential consequences because they had insufficient real knowledge of pit mining, and didn’t bother to get across why it was mining has been one of the most dangerous occupations for a worker.

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      • Michal says:

        Please please leave out the working hard stuff, those who come from the brown back blocks don’t have a chance, they work hard at 3 jobs on minimum wages, cleaning and other crap jobs reserved for the poor. The rich lists simply means more people have to be poor, the rich cannot be rich without the poor. Get a bloody conscience is what they need to do.

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  2. mcclairy says:

    Again, well said Chris and lets hope the rival factions in the Labour caucus see the error of their ways before it is too late and they take the whole ship down with them. Robertson puts up a good showing at Q time but needs a wee pull on the strings to the left and some good old Keynesian common sense installed in him, and I agree, Cunliffe and Robertson would make a good team.
    As for the criticisms levelled against Cunliffe since Clark departed I never really saw him in that negative light, but then I am biased. With Key self destructing on so many issues, his alignment with Uncle Sam being a horror story, he should be easy to get under the skin and make accountable to New Zealanders – woops, to New Stasi Zealanders.

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  3. Cliff says:

    I think Cunliffe has that much needed speaking charisma that will spark a lot of voters where Shearer simply couldn’t. Eagerly awaiting to see if this plays out the way it should.

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  4. Nice one. It’s been hard to watch the public unmoved by John Key jumping every shark he objected to as leader of the opposition, simply because they were too busy marvelling at the spectacle of David Shearer fucking every dog the Labour party had to offer.

    Grant Robertson should get the message that he is on thin ice, and lucky to be even considered fit to be Cunliffe’s deputy. His loyalty to Labour principles is questionable at best. We want left wing social and economic policy that address poverty and widening inequality, not bourgeois identity politics and the wilful appeasement of a vicious plutocracy.

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  5. Dave R says:

    Yeah, well, it could be a vote-winner as you say, and the best way of freeing us from the curse of Key and his mates. The only worry about unity tickets is that they don’t always stay unified: it could just perpetuate the fault-line problem you so correctly identity.

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  6. Countryboy says:

    @ Mervyn . I agree . And you mention Key & Co . Like all financial institutions , lets audit them after the 2014 election ? Lets pick at their stitchings and see what pops out ?

    Excellent Post . Thanks Chris Trotter .

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  7. adam says:

    To sensible Chris, to sensible. If Labour have taught us nothing, it’s that they won’t choice the sensible approach they will take the most fubar one. Once in 30 years I’d like them to do anything sensible, just once.

    I’ll go on record – if Grant can do the right thing and come to New Lynn – I’ll buy him and his partner both a round of beers and dinner at the Brickhouse. It’s always best in the West.

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    • Francis says:

      Fortunately, this time, the wider party plays a part in the leadership. Not just the caucus. Hopefully, the wider party has more sense than the Labour Caucus…

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  8. Northshoreguynz says:

    Two middle aged white guys! Really, that’s the view you want of the Labour Party?

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  9. Bertie says:

    Bugger off Chris I want a winner takes all approach let Robertson contend the leadership battle & bring his own sidekick, same as Cunliffe and let the winner take their chosen deputy. After undermining hapless Shearer who in there right mind will want GS stabbing them in the back!

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  10. Caleb says:

    Agreed. I see Stuff is portraying Robertson as the favourite. IPredict’s on your side. Time will tell who’s right.

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    • mcclairy says:

      Beware of right wing MSM bearing gifts of praise….it is in their interests to see the underdog rise up to be winner take all. Why even Matthew Hooten on Radio Live this am was all over Robertson for leader…..that is a warning that Robertson should not be the leader. It is called psychology 101.

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  11. fambo says:

    I think the stubbly beard look will help as well – kind of metro man but with a bit of that rugged colonial individualism that New Zealanders like to have in their leaders as well. John Key will look kind of pasty and wishy washy in comparison.

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  12. karol scribe karol scribe says:

    Whatever happened to today’s the day we take our party back?

    In November 2012, Chris you wrote about the revolution in which Labour Party members can now have their say in choosing the caucus leader.

    Today you are joining with others in the journalist commentariate, to side with the caucus to by-pass the membership and select the leader for them.

    whatever happened to the revolution?

    The membership fought hard to have their say in leader selection. But today you say:

    The party organisation, though champing at the bit to have, for the first time, some say in the selection of a Labour leader, would be wise to accept the uncontested succession represented by a Cunliffe-Robertson Unity Ticket. Elections are unpredictable things and do not always go the way people expect. –

    Why not give them a choice, and let them decide? Yes, the outcomes can be unexpected. It’s how democracy works.

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  13. Right thinking but wrong answer. For me and others a Cunnliffe- Little ticket is the winner. Both have strengths and virtues that compliment the other.

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  14. Tom says:

    If Robertson becomes leader, the Labour Party will be even worse off than under Shearer. He’s a good politician, but he’s not ready to lead the party yet.

    I think a lot of people would be done with Labour for good if he wins.

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  15. Chris Casey says:

    How about Jacinda Ardern as David Cunliffe’s deputy?
    She has strong electorate support, with a very strong electoral office support team,and is a radically left/ progressive socialist. She shows plenty of commitment and empathy towards the needs of the struggling poor, and importantly can encourage the 18-25′s ,the un-enrolled and women to vote Labour.

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    • Blueice says:

      I’m not a Labour Party member, and would define myself as a left leaning swinging voter. I think Cunliffe / Arderne would have a wide appeal. Labour need to focus on getting more than just the party faithful out to vote – all those people on the left who are not party members and felt that there was no-one who really represented them in the last 2 elections, so didn’t vote at all. I know I came close to not voting. Labour need to clearly differentiate themselves from the Nats. They also need to REALLY work on the youth vote and Jacinda might help there. My 19 year old son and his mates have virtually no interest in politics. In their eyes National & Labour are the same, and the Greens are too hippy for a lot of them. They like cars, and modern technology, and consider a lot of the Greens ideas entail way too much sacrifice or are frankly weird. They have never had any dealings with unions, and the union system has been so broken and derided that they have no idea of what unions got for workers in the past, and how much we have slipped backwards in the way of workers rights et.c. There is MASSIVE ground to make up there.
      Almost a whole generation are loosing interest in voting because they feel it doesn’t matter what they vote, no-one listens to them anyway. I have talked to them about some of this stuff and they are incredibly ignorant about, and disengaged from politics. They are all doing trade courses at tech, or apprenticeships, the very group that would have been natural Labour voters in the past, and have benefited from union activity, but now have virtually no contact with them. It’s not that they are stupid, they have just grown up in a world where unions are virtually invisible, and they have never been taught about the importance of their right to vote (except what I have tried to tell them). It’s not taught in schools.
      I talked to them the other day about what the proposed new labour laws might mean to them personally, they had no idea that anything like that was in the pipeline, and were appalled. They really had no idea about what the GCSB Bill might do either. Most of them would never listen to the news on the radio, watch anything to do with current affairs on TV or read a newspaper. Yesterday the radio station my son listens to (PulzarFM) ran a phone poll on who the next leader of the Labour Party should be – the most popular was Who Cares. I don’t know if the unions or the Labour Party have any contact with tech students, but maybe they need to get off the uni campuses and back around tradespeople in some way. There are a lot of votes out there for Labour, that are just trickling away at the moment.

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      • marc says:

        BLUEICE – my impression has been, that too many of the younger generation have been shaped more by the technological revolution including internet, mobile phones, smart phones, music and game downloads, and how to use that, than anything like politics and social or economic matters.

        As for work and careers many have high expectations, some of which tend to be rather unrealistic, but most settle for secure careers by focusing on getting degrees, doing trade training and what else there is.

        A “push button” mentality is common, thinking that things should be delivered and happen at the push on a button.

        The development of texting language has changed writing and communication, so many struggle to cope with traditional grammar. Some also struggle with basic calculations as I see again every day, when shopping and staff being unable to add a few coins up.

        So there is a lack of understanding, of putting up with and appreciating complex matters. Politics is not appealing, as one needs to stay informed on what is debated, proposed and passed into law, which involves complex information. Few bother doing that, and as most politicians are more “mature” in age, this is also a generational issue, as you suggest.

        So naturally more younger faces on the front bench, in spokesperson roles will perhaps appeal a bit more to the younger potential voters. But as for Jacinda Ardern, I have my doubts about her performance, as she has not delivered enough real opposition to Paula Bennett.

        What we have is a major societal problem, common in most countries, where younger people rather aspire individual self-fulfillment and ensuring they can afford and get the material things they feel they need.

        Yet there is too much individualisation, a lack of connectedness, which is not a technical problem, but is influenced by modern social and other media. The social fabric has been loosened, and the traditional, physical, perhaps more “natural” ways of interaction have been changed by technology, which is offering certain opportunities, but at the same time setting limits.

        Older generations grew up with more interactive, face to face contacts, with existing, connecting social structures that have given way to more individuality, self-centredness and the likes.

        I cannot see any major changes and improvements to create more appeal for politics and unions unless it is wanted by the persons that should be interested to get engaged. Change often comes from within, but the organisations like parties, unions and so are not being used by most.

        The more organised social structures are for many not the way they learned to behave as they grew up under different conditions than earlier generations. Many wants things to be “hip” and simple. That though is not what proper politics is about, as with anything, work, learning and active involvement is needed. Add to that the neoliberal policies that were followed by most governments since the 1980s, which only aggravated individualisation, competition and self-focusedness.

        Hence the “easy” option is for most not to bother, unless they feel directly affected, which sadly too many do not seem to feel they are.

        Add also the poorly informing media, and we see how difficult it is for young people to actually learn about what goes on. The TV news and radio news are brief, superficial and useless. Only some internet services and forums offer more information. But the “seriousness” and “efforts” necessary, to read, do not appeal to most. I am indeed worried about the future society we will have. I wish I had the answer for a solution.

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        • Blueice says:

          Yes, the whole problem of getting young voters involved is mind boggling, and you are right, it is a world wide phenomenon. It is something we HAVE to solve though, because if we don’t we are heading for a dire, technocrat and corporate run world. God help us then.

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          • fatty says:

            Getting young people involved?
            Maybe if the young people were listened to. Young people have been demanding environmental politics for years and all we get is capitalism with a green tinge.
            That’s fine for the people who will be dead in 20 years, but some of us have 60-70 years to go.
            Young people have had their political voice silenced by the generational population bulge before them. They have been talking and the politicians haven’t, don’t and won’t listen.
            People ask when will the youth get off the internet and get involved…what are we supposed to do – vote for some old fart talking about growth and the destruction of of future? Nah, screw that, there’s a cat on a skateboard on youtube…let us know when the oldies are dead.
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uMa_czIfJ4&list=PL1D0DE06F56864BA4&index=39

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            • marc says:

              Fatty

              “Maybe if the young people were listened to. Young people have been demanding environmental politics for years and all we get is capitalism with a green tinge.”

              I agree that one issue is that young people often do not get listened to enough, and that the “baby boomer” generation holds a lot of power with their vote.

              As for environmental politics, this is not shared as a priority by all younger people, as BLUEICE already indicated. The Greens should appeal, but I have spoken to young people who know very little about their policies. Some think for instance, the Greens are pro marihuana use and such, which appeals to some, but turns others off.

              There is a real lack of information that many young people have, and how can you spend too much time listening to poorly informed young people, wanting policies or other stuff brought in, which are unrealistic, unpractical and what else.

              There are a lot of websites on the web that offer an abundance of information, but one needs to access it and read it. Ok some make the effort, but others are too brainwashed and just look up products and services they desire, load and exchange messages, photos and so onto Facebook and just chat about trivial stuff.

              Brainwashing from a young age is a major problem that must be addressed first of all, and I would actually restrict advertising and strongly promote more and real public broadcasting that actually informs, offers room for debate and much more.

              We do not have it, and instead young kids get inundated with messages to have their parents buy stuff advertised. So that shapes minds and behaviour before the minds and brains have even matured.

              There lies a huge problem, I feel, and the situation we have is partly caused by that.

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    • Michal says:

      Yuck Ardern when along to hear the war criminal Tony Blair, at Eden Park, says it all really!

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  16. Steve says:

    Great analysis Chris.

    For some unknown reason there’s a percentage of the population who perceive Key as a “nice guy”. It was never going to work pitching a “nice guy” against him.

    Cunliffe is a great orator/debater and perfect counter to Key’s “she’ll be right mate” style. He has an excellent grasp on economics and can cut through the bullshit of the Wall Street trader.

    The 30 year neo-liberal experiment is already in its death throes around the world. This is Cunliffe/Robertson and the left’s time to re-define NZ politics.

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  17. Ovicula says:

    How about Cunliffe and Louisa Wall? She comes to mind as one of the few Labour MPs who’s done much worthwhile in the last ten years. While Robertson might make a passable deputy, he always has a scheming look about him and I don’t think his blood is red enough for the fights to come.

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  18. Lloyd Jordan says:

    Well written and thoughtful Chris the only problem with your diagnosis is it was the Rogernomes within caucus that had the Knives ready for Shearer.

    Until they are expelled from the party at large the infighting will continue to the end of time.

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  19. geoff says:

    An uncontested leadership deal would be a complete disaster as the membership would riot if they dont get a vote.

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  20. phillip ure says:

    of course another reason for going for cunnliffe over robertson..

    ..is that cunnliffe will be able to win auckland back for labour..

    ..which labour have to do..

    (a promise to fast-track public transport will help do that for him..)

    ..and cunnliffe is auckland..

    ..whereas robertson..?

    ..phillip ure..

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  21. peterlepaysan says:

    Cunliffe as leader has to be a no brainer for Labour to survive.

    Robertson as deputy may suit your analysis but I doubt it stands much chance in the world of realpolitik. Neither is it necessary.

    This is an mmp environment with a lot of non voters. A marxist analysis is probably irrelevant to the fevered conversations going on.

    I agree that the so called neo con view is a load of old crock, but its overthrow is not going to be achieved by the selection of a party political leader and/or its deputy.

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    • Stuart Munro says:

      Robertson for speaker. Centrism is an asset in that position. An active intelligent speaker might do much to restore NZ’s confidence in MPs, who currently rank between child molesters and telemarketers as most-loathed profession.

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  22. marc says:

    “Labour’s capture by Roger Douglas and his allies in the mid-1980s and Labour’s subsequent turn towards neoliberalism set the political co-ordinates for the three decades that followed. The elevation of Helen Clark to the Labour leadership in 1993 may have slowed the party’s drift to the right, but it did not reverse it. Her successors, Phil Goff and David Shearer, under increasing pressure from both the Labour rank-and-file and the trade unions to make a decisive break to the left, nevertheless held the line.”

    I agree with Chris Trotter, the best solution would be a Cunliffe and Robertson leadership, where Robertson will have to accept that he will be none more than a deputy leader. He has though his forces, and that means he must after being beaten by Cunliffe in a leadership contest, swear support and allegiance to the logical new leader Cunliffe and his supporters.

    Of course the wider party membership will support Cunliffe before anyone else. There is no other real competitor but Robertson, as Jones and others just will not have the appeal and numbers.

    I thank David Shearer for having taken the inevitable step and resigned. He has used common sense after all, but clearly, he failed to have the support and credit that was given to him just about a year ago.

    So I look forward for a new leader being Cunliffe, a new re-arranged, freshed up front bench, solid support from those that have to concede defeat now, and a possible election win in 2014. I had not thought this was going to happen, but now I can start having hope again.

    I do not think there will be the kind of “left” move that Chris and some hope for, but anything heading into that more sensible direction is welcome. Cunliffe is not as left as many think, but he has the capability to reach out to the left and involve and engage them, to support a new direction and more successful policies than we have seen coming from Labour since the late 1980s.

    There is hope at last, and I will watch this space with utmost interest, especially the coming weeks. What Labour will need also is lots of “new blood” to replace the older generation of hangers ons, who have a lot to answer in all this.

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    • Michal says:

      Absolutely the old guard who sat by and watched the destruction of this country whilst sitting on the benches is must!

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  23. Geraint Scott says:

    That’s a very fluffy way of saying the Labour membership shouldn’t vote on their leader because you know what’s best. I agree that a Cunliffe-Robertson ticket would be fantastic, but it should ultimately be up to the party members to decide, not caucus and affiliates. Even if only that ticket stands, they party should have the option to send that option back and ask for something else, just like in the Greens. Then we’ll start to get a real democracy.

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  24. Neil says:

    Great Post Chris,
    But definitely Cunliffe for leader, finally someone with passion, vision and oratory skills. I vote Norman or Harawira for deputy Prime Minister. Fuck the Labour party for screwing the left for so long.

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    • Danyl Strype says:

      After seeing their performance in the first leader’s debate of the 2014 election (the GCSB Public Meeting), I nominate Harawira as Prime Minister! Or Russell and Metiria for the country’s first Co-Prime Ministers. Both Harawira and Norman got a standing ovation, while Shearer plodded through a soulless Key-lite performance, defending the GCSB through most of his speech, and the strongest he could say even about the soon-to-be-passed GCSB Act was “utterly unacceptable”. When Nicky Hagar got up to remind us about the Waihopai 3 defence, that the GCSB is a accomplice to collateral murder and mass destruction, Shearer just looked like even more of a chump.

      You could imagine Key trying to pass a law for the forced castration at birth of all boys whose parents are not at least salaried professionals, and Shearer moderately reminding us of the serious problem of overpopulation, and the need for a thorough enquiry into all castration-related law before committing to any policy position. Piss-weak bullshit.

      Shearer seems like a nice man, but I was hugely relieved to see him stand down, rather than stubbornly leading Labour into the Battle of Little Bighorn like that wankstain Goff did. Perhaps his years compromising diplomatically at the UN just got him too used to falling for the fallacy of the excluded middle. There is no meeting the Hollow Man and Women in the current National Party half way:
      https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/middle-ground

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  25. Jenny says:

    Be careful what you wish for Chris.

    The issue no one talks about….

    The wild card, the elephant in the front room, is climate change.

    My feeling Chris is that there will be a stitch up. But it won’t be the one you will like.

    Caucus 40%

    Affiliated unions 20%

    Membership 40%

    What do these figures tell you?

    The affiliated unions are probably meeting right now.

    The biggest and most powerful union in the country is the EPMU. Over many years over many different issues. Where the EPMU goes the rest of the union movement goes.

    Andrew Little was the secretary of this union for 11 years.

    Untried, unready, and with no mandate to act, on anything, Andrew Little, even if he gets to be Prime Minister will be another slow motion train crash.

    Despite this, my bet is that Andrew Little will get the support of the affiliated unions.

    Their other option will be Robertson, whichever one of these two the affiliated unions settle on, they will vote for them as a bloc.

    But why not Cunliffe you might ask?

    The EPMU which is the representative union of the coal miners and the oil workers, both. Don’t want Cunliffe because of his stand on climate change.

    http://blog.labour.org.nz/2012/06/27/the-dolphin-and-the-dole-queue/

    The affiliated unions will vote as a bloc for Little, and if not for Little, for Robertson. After coming to their decision the unions will seek to meet with the Labour caucus. The ABC caucus will take their cue from the unions and also vote as a bloc.

    60% Affiliates + Caucus

    40% membership

    The membership will be denied again.

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    • the pigman says:

      Wiltingly pessimistic, but I admit, not impossible. If they do so, however, Labour will likely be punished by mass-desertion of their core vote to the Greens.

      I doubt they are so stupid.

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  26. Jenny says:

    This is good news and will prevent (somewhat), the chances of a stitch up.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/9081515/Contenders-face-US-style-primary

    Openess and democracy are always to be favoured over inner party maneuvering and horsetrading.

    I have invited the main candidates to post their policy positions on their website the Red Alert.

    http://blog.labour.org.nz/2013/08/19/today-we-are-a-better-country/comment-page-1/#comment-369724

    http://blog.labour.org.nz/2013/08/08/that-guy/comment-page-1/#comment-369723

    This is democracy of a new type.

    But maybe it is democracy of an old type from the days of the birth of democracy when candidates would get up in town square and openly state what they stood for.

    Nowadays we have the electronic town square. And citizens, we don’t have to board a horse and dray to get there.

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  27. Whoever next takes up the reigns, I wish him/her well.

    The only thing I’ll say that that I pray to whatever gods there may be that the infighting; back-biting; innuendo; leaks; etc, etc, comes to a stop.

    We need a cohesive, coherent, Labour Party that is set on leading the next government. I, for one, have had a bellyful of the factional game-playing.

    After the next leader is chosen, I hope every Labour MP tows the line and knuckled down to some hard yakker.

    ‘Cos, if they can’t, they should fuck off and let others do the job.

    Labour MPs that let their egos get in the way, are in Parliament for the wrong reason.

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  28. John Hurley says:

    Yesterday’s (Thursday, 22 August 2013) decision by David Shearer to relinquish the leadership of his party is an admission by the Labour Right that it no longer possesses the political strength to further delay (let alone prevent) that leftward break.
    ……………..

    what left-ward break are we talking about? Is it the one that tells workers what they “deserve to hear” (Chris Trotter on Shearer’s speech @ Hornby Workingmen’s Club) or does it see through the eyes of those on the ground? Or is this the ambitious left of the “internationalist tradition” who favour open borders and multiculturalism and are rewarded with cushy jobs at the U.N?

    If the Savings Working Group report was considered news worthy the public might learn:
    “The big adverse gap in productivity between New Zealand and other countries opened up from the 1970s to the early 1990s. The policy choice that increased immigration – given the number of employers increasingly unable to pay First-World wages to the existing population and all the capital requirements that increasing populations involve – looks likely to have worked almost directly against the adjustment New Zealand needed to make and it might have been better off with a lower rate of net immigration. This adjustment would have involved a lower real interest rate (and cost of capital) and a lower real exchange rate, meaning a more favourable environment for raising the low level of productive capital per worker and labour productivity. The low level of capital per worker is a striking symptom of New Zealand’s economic challenge.

    http://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/reviews-consultation/savingsworkinggroup/pdfs/swg-report-jan11.pdf

    Cunliffe won’t agree with the Savings Working Group: he can’t or he would be wrong as would those who promote a diversity dividend as an economic tool to make us better off.

    Stick to principle sweep reality under the matt.

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