The second Auckland speech has genuine buzz in the air from supporters. I must admit this is the most excited I’ve seen Labour voters for some time, even at the last conference there was this terrible fear in everyone whether Shearer was the right leader for them. Turns out he wasn’t.
What I am loving is how quickly Labour is moving to the left every time a candidate opens their mouth. Under these 3 Labour are to the right of Marx. Just.
Cunliffe up first, he had the majority at the meeting (it’s his turf so he should have). Here were my notes
– multi- lingual opening followed by ‘warm Westie welcome’
-focusing on the role of his Dad in his life on Fathers Day – getting spontaneous cheering and clapping
-will force through living wage for all government contracts – will repeal all anti-worker laws in first 100 days
-attacking key and crony capitalism – lots of cries of ‘shame’ – we are better than trickle down and free market collapse
-Lots of detail on regional development
-any mention about sticking it to Telecom gets cheered
Shane Jones up next, his speech was by far the best. Here were my notes…
-says that he is standing to make the debate invigorating
-starts to quote himself – he’s so self referential he’s almost 3 dimensional
-doing his speech with no notes, real tub thumping stuff
-thinks Labour need to win National votes – he’s like Josie Pagani with more charm
-voters are waiting for Labour to show a face
Grant up last, he had the best lines of the night. Here were my notes…
-It’s time we start our own boy band (my suggestion is ‘Beige Against the Machine’)
-Quoting Norman Kirk
-We will work in the interests of all NZers not just Key’s friends
-Plenty of reasons to vote out key, we have to provide the reasons to vote in Labour
-This is a bosses Government
-Economic development is not a big night out at Sky City
-I don’t want a generation of grandchildren who only know their grandparents through Skype
My impression overall, Grant was very impressive, Jones was very funny but Cunliffe was the only one who could go toe to toe with Key. I was surprised how much I liked Grant, I’ve known him since University days (he was the President of the Aotearoa Student Press Association a couple of years before I was) but his quick shuffle into the coffin of the Wellington beltway means he has limited wider electorate recognition and he hasn’t really been on my political radar. Now he is, I am excited that even if Cunliffe loses (IF), Robertson could be an incredible leader.
Morgan Godfery does an excellent job in his blog today of examining the difference between Grant’s cautious re-invention of himself as a left wing Labour leader and Cunliffe’s road to Damascus during the Global Financial Crisis. For me, Grant is the cautious prodigy of Helen Clark’s style of softly-softly-manage-rather-than-challenge style of politics where as Cunliffe strikes me as someone who was surprised by the free market collapse and has had to ask himself hard questions of the hegemonic structure which leads him to some pretty radical conclusions. Jones on the other hand is wanting to earn his place on the front bench and wants to stamp some authority on proceedings, his countless hours in the courts of Maoridom has given him oratory skills that really need to be seen to be believed.
I’d love to see a front bench that utilizes all these talents to the best of their abilities.
LOTS of gossip afterwards and the question the smart punters betting on the leadership is who Shane’s second preferences will be, because who they decide to back will be the king maker in this giving Shane a vast amount of influence over proceedings.
It’s a long 3 weeks, but Labour are going to be a better Party for this process.
One bum note however is Labour’s blindness when it comes to social media beyond their MPs tweeting. I’m surprised by Labour’s lack of appreciation of how interested the rest of the country is in these debates and they have showed a bewildering lack of understanding of the impact of social media in shaping the narrative. Labour’s lack of appreciation is mirrored by the Unions in this respect, these debates, like the Unions recent rallies, should have been live streamed and then made available on demand with some of the more poignant speeches quoted and edited into memes. The outstanding success of the GCSB Town Hall meeting was driven by social media using these exact same tactics, with just over a year till the elections, what should be a dry run for the Labour machine social media team looks like a barren desert of ideas.
If I were National, I would be exploiting this social media weakness mercilessly next year.