Robertson vs Cunliffe Facebook Wars round 2

By   /   August 29, 2013  /   27 Comments

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The narrative structure that Grant Robertson needs to combat right now is the perception that Cunliffe has the momentum after his candidacy launch and that Cunliffe has far wider support amongst the membership than Grant can gain.


The narrative structure that Grant Robertson needs to combat right now is the perception that Cunliffe has the momentum after his candidacy launch and that Cunliffe has far wider support amongst the membership than Grant can gain.

As Brian Edwards so righteously points out however, the ABCs (Anyone But Cunliffe) who have built their careers on the back of neoliberalism will not under any circumstances allow Cunliffe to revisit those sleeping dogs and start a discussion about Milton Friedman. They would prefer to lose 2014 than threaten an open discussion on their economic paradigms.

The NZ Left are always guilty of having leaders who would rather be captains of the losing team than be members of the winning team.

Grant won’t want much scrutiny of how he and his clique propped up a leader like Shearer for 20months who never had the ability to lead the Party to victory, so Grant needs to skewer the perception that Cunliffe has the wide spread support that the pundits have assumed.

How does he do this? Why he plumps up his social media cred. Robertson has cleverly merged his Leadership FB page with his Wellington Central Candidacy Page into one giving the false impression of a staggering 2206 likes compared to Cunliffe’s fledgling 1312 (I say fledging as Cunliffe started a full 24 hours after Grant).

Normally such chicanery wouldn’t become news, but with a vacuum of news, Journalists will start making it up. The Wellington Press Gallery who initially came gushing out for Robertson are feeling a bit dumb for showing how utterly out of the loop their precious bubble world beltway opinions are after the tub thumping of Cunliffe in Auckland, so expect them to be the first to start using Robertson’s inflated social media rankings as a sign that Grant now has the momentum.

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  1. amirite says:

    Today’s update – Facebook pages:
    David Cunliffe, politician – 4,873 likes
    David Cunliffe for Labour leader 1,317 likes
    Grant Robertson – Labour’s Future 2,207 likes

  2. Keir Leslie says:

    Oh come off it Martyn! This is getting ridiculous. Why not focus on the positives: the Labour Party’s got two great candidates for the leadership, and they’re both doing an awesome job of reconnecting with the party membership. Shouldn’t we be celebrating that?

  3. Ovicula says:

    The trolls are hitting the Cunliffe page. I don’t know whether they’re ABC/Jones or NAct. He’s got someone worried. I haven’t bothered looking at the Robertson or Jones pages.

  4. Ha, come on Martyn, this is pretty transparent isn’t it mate?

    “so expect them to be the first to start using Robertson’s inflated social media rankings as a sign that Grant now has the momentum.”

    No, actually, *you’re* the first to start using GR’s inflated social media figures, clearly with the intention that the MSM might pick it up and run with it. Which is a perfectly reasonable expectation, but I’m sure you’re very aware of what you’re doing, rather than objectively commenting “oh those medias, they’ll just start making stuff up…”

  5. “The Wellington Press Gallery who initially came gushing out for Robertson are feeling a bit dumb for showing how utterly out of the loop their precious bubble world beltway opinions are after the tub thumping of Cunliffe in Auckland, so expect them to be the first to start using Robertson’s inflated social media rankings as a sign that Grant now has the momentum.”

    You may as well have name-checked Tracy Watkins.

  6. Sufi Safari says:

    This post is just stupid.

    The ABC trope, however valid it may once have been, is now little more than a trite excuse for NBC cultists to ignore that other people with overlapping political values might have different opinions about these candidates. The absolutism of that position is starkly ironic when set against the origins of the democratic process currently in play. The Edwards’ post you link to suffers a similar hubris.

    The Facebook analysis is just grasping for straws to build straw men. Both Grant and David are leveraging their existing social media to reach as many people as possible. Good on them both and good luck to them both. The suggested connivance to hijack narratives is at the same time a valid political tool and the very least of the motivations likely to be driving Grant’s social media policy, which will be motivated primarily by the simple need to connect with as many people as possible. As is the primary goal of pretty much any social campaign.

    I’d be less worried about the impact Grant’s friend count will have on the media in a news vacuum, and more on the impact it’s having on this blog in the absence of anything meaningful to contribute to a healthy competition between a couple of candidates with plenty to offer. Because this stuff is lame.

    • The Daily Blog martyn bradbury says:

      Really? You sound like someone bitter from Wellington to me.

      • Sufi Safari says:

        Way to play the ball.

        Wellington, yes. Bitter, not particularly.

        I was unconvinced about the leadership contest reforms when they passed, I am now cautiously optimistic.

        I would say I support Grant over David or Shane, but I am increasingly bouyed by the impression that David has evolved into a person I could get behind if he won the leadership. And while I don’t think Shane can win, and I do think that’s for the best, I find myself pleased that for a whole bunch of reasons that he’s part of the process.

        I am really looking forward to some substantive debate between the candidates and some substantive discussion between the people who will be electing a leader from them.

        So that’s me, now would you like to address my points? (cool if you don’t want to, I expect these engagements to be largely rhetorical).

        • The Daily Blog Martyn Bradbury says:

          I can pick bitter Wellington at a hundred yards. So now you have outed yourself as Grant supporter, you admit the merging of Facebook pages is a political tactic designed to dismantle the idea Cunliffe has the numbers?

          Rather than pretending the ABCs don’t exist and trying to scrub clean those personal allegiances as the political landscape changes beneath your feet, my advice to the ABC Wellington clique who have worked so hard to deny change in the Labour Party is that they need to step aside.

          • Sufi Safari says:

            No, you can infer bitter Wellington at a hundred yards, and I’d wager further still in anyone who has a perspective that differs from yours.

            Yes I support Grant, but you’re telling me that I can’t possibly be supporting him on his merits, that I must be driven by some existential hatred of all things Cunliffe. Whereas I’ve already told you I’m feeling pretty good about Cunliffe, even though he’s not my preferred candidate. So who’s bitter?

            And you’re presenting this fundamentalist perspective on the leadership contest, wherein your candidate is the only choice and all other choices are wrong, by virtue of Wellington-ness, or bitterness, or just because you’ve convinced yourself that some secret handshake society exists down here with its sole purpose being the crucifixion of your messiah. Meanwhile I just want to see the candidates in action, make my mind up and cast my vote. Maybe have the odd debate with other interested parties along the way. So your last paragraph there seems pretty obnoxious. Which on reflection seems par for the course.

            • The Daily Blog Martyn Bradbury says:

              Sufi, Sufi, Sufi – you are disingenuous in the extreme. Out of all of Aotearoa’s thousands of Hamlets, Towns and Cities, I picked you as being from Wellington. Now as for bitter, I’ll leave the readership with exhibit A above to judge that.

              I’d also add defensive based on your second paragraph.

              I think calling my observation that the ABC faction kept Shearer in as leader for 20months to block Cunliffe ‘fundamental’ is the sort of passive-aggresive projections of a faction sensing the political landscape shift and desperately needing to re-write the narrative. Good luck with that.

              I think that the ABCs and allied factions that kept a hopeless leader in place for 20months should have that brought up for reminding. Those that empower crap should be judged on that. How quick those who benefited from the manufactured leadership coup at the last conference (the event that inspired this site btw) forget the manner in which Chris Hipkins defamed David Cunliffe.

              I think the democratization of the Labour party, something you claim you were initially against, is amazing for Labour, for the Left and for NZ. Your claim however of ‘your candidate’ which is what you hand most of this diatribe upon, must be challenged. I have been very specific about not coming out to endorse a candidate because I actually do want to hear what the candidates have to say. I want to hear Grant, David and Shane’s vision for NZ before I cast an endorsement.

              David Farrar has set up a post showing which pundits have declared for whom, you’ll note my name isn’t on that list.

              Sufi if you could just link us all here to the post where I have endorsed Cunliffe in this leadership contest, please post it.

              I’ll make it easy for you, here is the link to all the blogs I post on TDB. It should be a simple enough thing to do to show us all where I have blogged that I endorse Cunliffe.

              Here’s the link –

              I can save you some time, I haven’t made an endorsement. Once I have heard what the candidates have to say, I’ll issue an endorsement.

              You keep jamming words in my mouth and then want to damn me for them. I’m not sure if that’s bitter as much as it is fucking annoying. That by far is truly obnoxious Sufi.

              • Sufi Safari says:

                At the risk of piling metaphor upon metaphor, now you’re splitting hairs. This post is practically dressed in spanx and team colours, and waving pom-poms while chanting derisive cheers against the visiting team. Add to that the “bitter from Wellington” epithet, spat as if it described everything you needed to know about my motivations. And wrap it all in the banal, but inevitable ABC bogeymen as if those three letters could in and of themselves explain away the motivations of caucus members, cast all venal and destructive.

                I most particularly disagree with you on that last point. I would submit that your version of events surrounding David Cunliffe’s leadership ambitions up to and including the last conference is simply wrong (I’m fully aware this feeling is probably mutual). And as a result I think your casting of villains and heroes is off-base. I also think your perspective on the maintenance of Shearer beyond his shelf-life ignores the fact that the changes to leadership voting meant no-one could confidently calculate numbers, resulting in a Mexican stand-off of the kind that formed a large part of my initial doubts around the democratisation of the leadership vote. I suspect the etiquette of these things will improve with time, but it was going to take Shearer himself or apparently Marion Street (hardly a factional flag bearer) to break the stare-down, so to conflate the delay with the broader fantasy of some anti-socialist cabal seems like over-reach from my perspective. And while you can dismiss my perspective as bitter, you’ve got to admit my proximity is better.

                But anyway that’s all a bit subjective and ancient history really. David has done his time in the wilderness and seems genuinely changed by it, and much for the better (for what it’s worth I think it will make him a stronger candidate too). But at the same time the constant resort to “ABC” as a means to denigrate and dismiss other candidates and their supporters feels pretty lazy and played out in the context of this race.

                And it’s your dogged adherence to that lazy and played out retort that speaks to me of a fundamentalist zeal underpinning your support of Cunliffe the candidate. But in fairness, upon further reading, you have consistently withheld your endorsement in the race. So I apologise for putting words in your mouth, with the limited defence that in the absence of that explicit denial of endorsement in this post, and in the context of what you’d actually written, those words I was putting in your mouth just seemed like they belonged there.

                I should apologise too for belittling your geographic clairvoyance, but it still just doesn’t seem very remarkable and you used it as an insult. So I’m not giving you that one.

                • Sufi Safari says:

                  Tune in next week when I spell Maryan’s name correctly (probably while still picking a fight with Martyn).

  7. Keir Leslie says:

    Wow. Hey, Martyn, I dunno if you’ve realised, but in the Party we’re pretty keen on having a positive, friendly contest. We want people to feel welcome joining in and having an opinion. We don’t want a contest about personal attacks, petty squabbles, and childish egos.

    I know you’re not a member, and I’d like to ask that maybe you respect the party’s wish for a positive, welcoming contest, and cool the negativity?

    • The Daily Blog martyn bradbury says:

      Cool the negativity? Cool the negativity? That’s your comment from Party HQ is it? This isn’t the Standard and it doesn’t bow to the wishes of the NZ Labour Party ok Keir? If I wished to be negative Keir, I’d point out how the majority of your caucus backed a hopeless leader who simply couldn’t do the job just to block Cunliffe from espousing a different economic platform. It’s rich beyond belief that you want to sweep that reality under the carpet because you want/need a positivity whitewash gloss.

      Cool the negativity? You clearly are new to the blog.

      • Keir Leslie says:

        Hey Martyn!

        I’m not from Labour HQ. I’m just a regular member of the Party who’s looking forward to having a say in the next leader. You’re not a member, and you’ve tried to personally insult pretty much everyone who has disagreed with you on this thread — including a couple of rank and file members of the party.

        I’d just like to see a nice, clean, positive contest. If you’re interested in turning this into a negative for the Labour Party, if you’re into bagging good Labour MPs, then I think it’s a shame you’re using this process like that, and I’d hope that most people in the party would feel the same way.

        I’m not expecting you to bow to the whims of the party. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect political commentators to play the ball, not the man. And I do think there’s something unpleasant about throwing mud around like this.

        • The Daily Blog Martyn Bradbury says:

          Dearest Keir.

          If you think pointing out that Grant merged his Facebook pages together to give the impression of a support wider than Cunliffe’s to negate the current perception that Cunliffe has that momentum is “negative for the Labour Party”, “bagging good Labour MPs” and “throwing mud”, well you are going to faint when you read the comments section of Kiwiblog, The Standard and Whaleoil.

          Kindest of Regards

      • adam says:

        This is the reason I so dislike Labour and the soft left. They always fall back to – be positive man – don’t drag up the past man – we need to be focused on the goal.

        What goal – more of your neo-liberal bullshit – more piss poor paying jobs, more white washing over the poor state of this country. The quite racism you seem to embrace or the fact labour gave up on people in this country – you as a labour supporter just gave up on them.

        Why do labour people hold onto a group of self serving, self interested fools? Why do labour supporters think it will be different this time? And why the hell are labour people so gutless as to not hold these people to account?

        I don’t care who you elect really – your doomed to keep making the same mistakes if you can’t see them or won’t question them. Democracy is about being involved – good or bad. Not keeping you mouth shut and being positive for positives sake – nor is it about ignoring the past and refusing to discuss ideas.

        • fatty says:

          Well said Adam, the last thing NZ needs is another 2 or 3 terms of a third-way Labour leader who will nicely set up whatever is left of NZ to be sold off by National.
          Sorry to all the Labour-dorks, but considering what she could have achieved, Aunty Helen was more of a disaster than this dirty pervert Uncle John.
          As soon as Cunliffe is elected there needs to be serious demands from his potential voters, and the voters of his potential coalition partners. If Labour are going to rehash themselves as spokespeople for the capitalists again, then I’d rather have Key as leader again. At least his geeky-dad routine is comical, he’s the George Bush of NZ. He amuses me, he’s a satirical leader…Labour leaders just make me angry, because apparently they are on my side

          • Michal says:

            Yes good stuff, the difference between Labour and National is a about the thickness of a cigarette paper. Why have the rank and file not held their party to account, what is the point of being a member, why would you bother.

  8. Francis says:

    This post sure has brought up some…interesting…comments

    For the sake of the 2014 election (and thus New Zealand’s future), I would highly caution against anyone voting for a leader purely because they don’t want the other one to get it. I personally would support David Cunliffe because I believe he has the greatest chance of defeating National in the upcoming election, but at the same time, I believe that Grant Robertson would be a good leader too.

    However, I’m certainly hoping that the Labour Party (members, caucus, and affiliates) will be making the judgement on their new leader based upon their chances of bringing an election victory, as opposed to personal views and “not being someone else”. Both of them appear to have Labour’s core values at heart, thus it wouldn’t be a disaster for the Labour party if either became their leader. However, what’s really important is that the person who has the best chance against National gets in, and finally throws the anti-democratic, self-serving National Party out of government!

    Having said that, I do worry about those people who don’t have the best interests at heart (namely, the commentators on the right and much of the mainstream media) having an influence over who gets in. I can only hope that the people who do have a vote are much smarter than to believe what these kinds of people say. And in the grand scheme of things, I don’t think that many of these voters will be persuaded by who’s received the most number of ‘likes’ on Facebook (which, by the way, is absolutely horrible with nagging you to make an account every 5 seconds).

    • Jen says:

      I agree with you Bomber …it really annoys me when someone pulls out the ‘negativity’ card whenever one has the guts to point out the truth…if Robertson deliberately merged his face bk pages to make himself look in front then he can’t feel too confident …for anyone to feel the need to resort to such flaky tactics then I’d be worried if they got through as leader.

  9. Jen says:

    ‘I don’t think that many of these voters will be persuaded by who’s received the most number of ‘likes’ on Facebook’

    …one would hope not, but isn’t it about 80% of the human population follow like sheep!

  10. Stuart Munro says:

    My feeling is that the neo-liberals need to go. But the important thing is to have the debate. I suspect Labour will tank if it doesn’t start behaving more like a party of the left. If so, Mana and the Greens will clean up, but probably not enough to throw out Key this time.

    The better option is for Labour to rediscover its strength. They may find that winning is on the whole more pleasant than losing.

    • Andrea says:

      ‘Neo-liberal must go’…and ‘nature abhors a vacuum’.

      The neo-liberal memes are firmly embedded in the national psyche now, one form or another, and it will take much more than bleach or whitewash to start clearing the stains. Or a travelling circus of penitents in sackcloth and ashes muttering ‘Mea culpa’ at every crossroads so everyone knows they’re truly sorry for those awful things they did thirty years ago. (sarcasm)

      Personally, I want the ways of parliament and parliamentarians seriously overhauled. With much more accountability for what they do in our name. Starting 2015.

      And the development of inclusive solidarity instead of this tiresome partisan behaviour that reads like something from the s’leb pages – all faux curtain twitching and assumed ‘shock’.

      Walking up the stairs to the higher levels of discussion and ethical behaviours does take effort. Better some honest sweat than the cruise-y ride on the down escalator to the gutter politics, though.