The people are screaming for Cunliffe – is Wellington Labour deaf? How Shane Jones wins the leadership



The ABCs and the beltway mafia must take pause at the latest opinion Polls showing that the nation is crying out for David Cunliffe…

Poll shows Robertson trailing Jones
A new poll has sent ripples through the Labour leadership contest after putting one-time favourite Grant Robertson in third place behind rivals David Cunliffe and rank outsider Shane Jones.

Even amongst Labour voters, they are giving Cunliffe 45.8 per cent, Jones 28.1 per cent and Grant on 26.4.

If the coven cut a deal to once again elect an experiment rather than the publics favorite champion, then they pay the electoral consequences of the Greens being 20% in 2014.

My real fear now is that the resentment towards Cunliffe will produce the most startling of consequences. Team Robertson won’t put Cunliffe down as their second preference, but if Robertson’s vote collapses and Jones comes second in the run offs, the preferences would accidentally give the leadership to Jones.

Beltway Labour has to take a long hard look at itself and the law of unintended consequences.


  1. mea culpa – have I screwed up big time- I have voted In preference order DC, SJ , GR – cos I thought Shane would make a good balance – shit – voted too early – damn it !

    • Well, it’s highly unlikely that David Cunliffe would come third, so your second option shouldn’t matter too much (although I do say that with caution; you should always think carefully about your second option regardless, even if it doesn’t look like it will matter).

      The way the system works is that your second option will only matter if your first option received the smallest number of votes. If that is the case, then your second option becomes your first option.

      Bomber is mainly concerned about people who put Grant Robertson as their first option, then Shane Jones as their second. Logically, you would expect anyone who believes in what Grant stands for to believe in what David stands for more than what Shane stands for. The worry is of people doing much like you did, where they put Shane second because they wanted a variety. Unfortunately, that style of voting doesn’t work when there’s only a single position…

  2. I suspect Cunliffe becoming leader is not sufficient on its own for many disaffected to return to Labour. A purge of caucus , or at least a demonstrable realignment of core ideology, away from business as usual within the neoliberal model, is required.

    • for this reason I suspect a big bloodletting will be happening if (and when) Cunliffe becomes leader. I think a number of longstanding MPs will be shuffled to the back bench at the very least.

      …which is why the Caucus is trying to prevent Cunliffe becoming leader. They don’t want big change, they don’t want to lose their position. Even if retaining their position onboard means sinking and destroying the ship in the process.

  3. I really hate the statements “I don’t have a problem with (insert minority group here)” for it’s usually followed by a statement that says they do have a problem . And “we are not ready to have a gay PM”. When will they be ready then? Most likely never. At least the Pacific Island Labour members were honest in saying they do have a problem. But it seems we as a nation are still homophobic for I believe the main reason Robertson is behind in the polling now when he started out a favourite is due to homophobia and hatred. Not good.

    • There are a variety of reasons. You can not be homophobic and yet worry that a GR led Labour will be perceived as privileging identity politics over economic issues. Labour already has a problem with people who are fed up of what they perceive to be identity politics driving the party, and I don’t think that Labour can win if that is the public perception.

      I personally think it’s time that Labour focused on economic issues for a while given that there has been massive progress in recent years on LGBT rights and very little on helping people get out of poverty. It’s not like a Cunliffe led Labour party will be any worse on women’s rights or LGBT rights than a Robertson led Labour Party.

      Plus, Robertson’s not ready yet. Give him five to six years and he should be fine. He’s already done himself a big favour by running.

  4. The imponderables are too numerous to really reach a conclusion in this race. The polls are not of the actual constituencies but of outsiders looking in… the TV3 poll did not, because it could not, question the real voters in this contest and therefore doesn’t represent the Party, as a whole, considerations. While the “beltway” may be the short hand for the Party Caucus we should always remember that there is a 60% vote weighting out there that has not been measured and assessed in any real manner. All opinions on the contest are conjecture rather than evidential in my opinion.

  5. Let’s all hope that the general consensus changes within Labour to unite behind Cunliffe. Because, nice though the man is, if Shane Jones gets the official nod, National will win hands down because all they will need to do is remind the masses of Shane’s dubious choice of hotel entertainment. Trivial though this may seem, in the cut and thrust (and decidedly low-down dirtiness) of a general election campaign, to the blind masses, Jones’ reputation will duly be fed.

    Sad but true.

  6. Labour party voters need to have the vision to elect the candidate who is (hopefully) the next PM. There is only 1 candidate who is capable of creating the groundswell of public opinion to make that happen. If David Cunliffe isn’t elected we are facing down the barrel of a long dark Nat re-election.

    • Well he had better get his policies about women and the living wage among other working class folks issues in line then otherwise Labour will be down the gurgler in the next election anyway. Core (ex) Labour voters will simply not vote …again…rather than vote for a mirror image of National and after the policies they have put in place
      previously ripped the guts out of the country.

      • I’m a core ex-Labour voter who hasn’t voted for a long time (I cast an electorate vote for a family friend in 2008, but no party vote since 2002).

        If Cunliffe wins, I will make a point of voting Labour. In fact, I’ll probably volunteer to knock on doors for him, since, if he sticks to most of what he’s said, he will be the person to return Labour to something like the party my father was a proud member of in the 1970s.

        There are hundreds, if not thousands of people like me.

      • You need to have a listen to some of his speeches, or have a read of what he says… There’s a great Q & A on The Standard which Cunliffe did his best to answer questions for a couple of days, which is pretty good for someone incredibly busy out on the campaign trail.

        He is campaigning for a raised minimum wage, a living wage for govt workers, talks about real social policy, and talks a good game against beneficiary bashing. He’s the only politician outside of the Greens far-left (now gone) to be talking about this.

  7. Labour voters need to vote with the vision to choose the person who will (hopefully) be our next PM. There is only one candidate who is capable of creating the groundswell of public opinion which can bring this about. If David Cunliffe is not elected we are facing down the barrel of a Nat re-election in 2014.

  8. And I can just hear Key now. Porno this, and Credit card, that and on and on, so on and so forth for the Next 4 years. What would be best is that Jones bows out, and gives his vote to Cunliffe.

    If Robertson wins I agree, a decimation, in not only the polls, but in the 2014 Election as well. And then the ABC’s will be out on their collective asses, and the next leader will have nothing to work with, because the Labour party will be down to 3rd place.

  9. Grant Robertson was only the early favourite amongst some Wellingtonians. Interesting scenario if Jones pips Robertson and collects his preferences. I suspect many are not familiar with the subtleties of a preferential voting system. I backed Cunliffe with Robertson second. I hope that that Grant will continue to serve as Deputy. That is the team I want and in that order.

  10. “Beltway Labour has to take a long hard look at itself and the law of unintended consequences.” Martyn Bradbury.

    This is not an unintended consequence, Bomber.

    I predicted this very possible scenario at the very beginning of this leadership contest in a comment posted on that site. (Before I was banned, by the same beltway insiders, for having the temerity to suggest that the candidates could do something concrete about climate change.)

    What I said was that the ABC’s hatred is so great, that they would be tempted to blockvote Little or Robertson if it could frustrate the members wish for Cunliffe. (At that early stage Little was considered to be a likely candidate, Jones had not put his hand up.)

    All it would take then to hand their agreed shoe-in candidate the leadership, would be a common platform with the affiliates. I also mentioned that over many years, over many issues, the EPMU, which is the biggest private sector union, has set the agenda for the affiliates. Where the EPMU goes the rest of the affiliates usually follow.

    So is a stitch up with the affiliates still a likely scenario?

    It depends on how the vote is carried out. Cunliffe a very popular candidate at the Grass roots of the union movement. However David Cunliffe is also the candidate that has come out strongest for taking action against climate change. This does not go down too well with the conservative leadership of the EPMU, which is the union that represents coal miners and oil workers, and who see action to rein in CO2 emissions as a threat to their members jobs.

    On their website and publicly the EPMU say that they don’t endorse any particular candidate. But who knows how their delegates are being lobbied behind closed doors?

    Anything is possible including a stitch up.

    Hopefully democracy is the winner on the day, and the grass roots of the affiliates, and the grass roots of the Labour Party are not denied and get their preferred candidate of choice of David Cunliffe in the leadership role.

    Watch this space and keep your fingers crossed.

    • I always enjoyed your anti eco-capitalism rants on ‘that site’ Jenny.
      I banned myself because my questioning of generational privilege was always shot down by the same old commentators (ironically my comments usually followed their moans about younger people being politically disengaged).
      I have had a look at ‘that site’ over the past week and noticed that the questions to Cunliffe and Robertson have avoided student fees. They are not concerned about people getting into a lifetime of debt. The rock and a hard place is apparently fine for the future of NZ
      I doubt Cunliffe and Robertson will do much for students, or those paying off their loans. And in 12 months time those who never gave the young a voice will all be moaning about those selfish young people not voting.
      Robertson represents a new generation? Cunliffe is sick of seeing hope die in the eyes of the young?
      Bollocks. Its the same old. Same shit, different mouth.
      The idea of paying for education comes from the ideology of personal responsibility, employment is seen as an individual’s responsibility – this is neoliberalism in its purest sense. So pretending to end neoliberalism and keeping student fees is bullshit.
      Labour and ‘that site’ don’t care about the future of the young, just as they don’t care about the environment.

    • There is NO WAY a list MP…who has lost in his own seat should be a leader. Little may be a brilliant union man and all that but he needs to beat the feet (not to mention live in his area) and have the guts to do it in hostile territory at times to be considered seriously. To do otherwise is a “stitch up” for sure…

    • It’s a talkback website (thus holds a large right-wing bias), so I wouldn’t pay too much attention to what they say. Since those two MPs are from Dunedin, where Grant Robertson appears to have a fair background, it doesn’t surprise me that they’re backing him.

      From what I understand, the Labour Caucus has a relatively close match between Cunliffe and Robertson. It does sound as though Robertson has a lead over Cunliffe in the Caucus, but it’s not massive, and the size of that lead really does matter when you take into consideration the membership and the unions.

      Even after the events of the last week, it’s still far too close to tell. If anything, they’ve made it even more difficult. It seems as though Cunliffe still has a relatively strong lead amongst the membership (practically all the polls have him between 40 and 50% amongst Labour supporters, though who knows how accurate they are), while the unions would be too close to call.

      Ultimately, I think it will all come down to the second option votes, which is why people have to be really careful who they put down for their second option, even if they have Grant or Cunliffe for their first, as there still is a chance (albeit slim) that Shane could make it into the top two. The logical choice would be to put Cunliffe as second if you had Robertson as first (and vice versa) since appear to hold very similar policy views. However, petty grudges against the other candidate, or people who don’t quite understand the voting system placing the strongest opposition to their preferred candidate as the third option (even though they may prefer them over the second) could ultimately lead to Jones winning the leadership.

      Anyways, I’m really getting off-track now, but the point is, that post isn’t much to worry about as the leadership race is far from a foregone conclusion, even at this stage.

    • @Maureen, Sept. 7, 2013 at 3:46 pm “…. Do people think it is significant?”

      “Grant is a leader whose values were shaped though tough times as a kid in south Dunedin and most of all I think he’ll untie our caucus and our party.” Labour MP Clare Curran.

      Maureen, my first thought was, this is a parody piece by Curran. But I am not so sure.

      Can anyone tell me. Is the word “untie” allegedly spoken by Curran, an attempt at parody, or a genuine unintentional typo?

      Intentional or not. I would agree with the sentiment as it is written.

      Robertson as leader will “untie” rather than “unite” the Labour caucus and the membership. And keep the two untied for the foreseeable future.

  11. Martyn

    Your analysis assumes that any alternative than Cunliffe would be terrible for Labour’s electoral prospects. I think that would be the case for Shane Jones who fatally misunderstands that winning means campaigning on issues common to your base support and voters in the centre, not pitting the two against each other as Jones would do.

    I would confidently have my connections within Labour stack up next to yours for comparison. One of the clear messages throughout the party is that members and affiliates would be incredibly pleased with either David or Grant as our leader. Both would deliver confident fronts for Labour to capitalise on the momentum afforded by this selection process – a process fought for by those very members you deride as “beltway” and “mafia” for not supporting David or placate as “grassroots” if they do. Most members of the Labour Party are, on average, better informed on political issues and have extensive access to members of parliament. That doesn’t make them beltway, it shows that they give a shit about their country.

    It’s worth noting that the only person I’ve seen influencing members to rank Shane Jones as a second preference to tactically block another candidate was a firm supporter of David Cunliffe. Go figure.

    For the record:
    1. I encouraged both Robertson and Cunliffe to stand.
    2. I encouraged a contest.
    3. I have worked closely with both of these candidates and respect them both a great deal.
    4. I was undecided until this past Sunday until I attended the Otahuhu hustings.
    5. I am supporting Robertson, then Cunliffe, and third preferencing Jones.

    • Angus

      I’m surprised someone who has so much time to malign me on social media to the point I block them thinks they can just waltz into TDB for a chat, but such is the audacity of Wellington.

      It will be interesting to see what Shearer has to say about Grants loyalty on Q&A won’t it? The fact he’s voting for Jones speaks volumes about Grants involvement of running Labour into the ground for 20months. I think the Wellington clique who have empowered the ABCs for such a long time are delusional if they think a leader who isn’t from Auckland can win. It seems only the Wellington press gallery and your beltway chums are surprised that Grant came 3rd in the Polls.

      I don’t think Labour can justify appointing another experimental leader in the form of Robertson just to blunt Cunliffe’s ambitions and next years election will be fought on the economy, not sleazy one liners from Jones.

      • Hey, Martyn, is your reaction to any disagreement an immediate recourse to ad hominem? I mean really, I have a lot of time for Angus, and I think he’s worth giving a bit of respect, and I know so do a lot of other people in the Party.

        • Hey Keir, Angus has maligned me many times on social media to the point of me blocking him, I think if you consider my response within that context ad hominem then you are being terribly precious.

          • I don’t really care about that detail, it’s not really any of my business (and as I have no idea what went on there, I’m not going to be drawn). I will say that in my experience, Angus has been a thoroughly decent human, who’s been generally positive, thoughtful, and respectful of others (as, indeed, he is above.)

            And quite apart from respecting Angus as a person, he’s also a member of the Party, and I think it’s pretty unpleasant to adopt a bullying attitude towards party members exercising their democratic rights.

            Anyway, Angus can handle himself, so I’m not going to keep this going, but I did feel it was important to say something here.

            • Right, so you are commenting about something you don’t know anything about then. Maybe The Standard is more your kinda blog Keir?

      • I had drafted a comment outlining why Robertson stands a very good chance to sustain support from the Labour membership, especially in mass Labour membership areas like Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin and his chance with the SFWU and the EMPU. This would have explained why it is dim to declare that Robertson does not have the support of grassroots members of Labour and the affiliated unions. However, it occurs to me that neither you nor your fans will pay much attention to realities on the ground so let me engage you on the point you’d rather engage me on: my maligning you.

        I can’t say I’m an avid reader of your blog any longer, but I did take perverse joy in your stonkingly incorrect musings on the byelection in Ikaroa-Rawhiti. If they were just musings then that’d be fine, but it bothers me that you masquerade these as political analysis as it misinforms your readership. So let me just point out that the first time I met you was at a BBQ at Phil Goff’s place. If you don’t consider yourself beltway, then clearly nobody here knows what that means.

        • You don’t come here Gus? Goodness you are missing out, we are now number 4 in the blog rankings in only 6 months – we must be doing something right? Not according to Gus.

          You conveniently miss out that RMTU, NZDWU, MUNZ have all backed Cunliffe. You avoid that the EPMU tried to push for Grant but the members stopped them because they back Cunliffe and as for SFWU – you seem to have no idea who John is privately backing.

          I think the beltway mafia in Wellington have run things for far too long and Labour has gone backwards for it. The momentum is to turf out the ABC, their enablers and the neoliberal paradigm they have all agreed on.

          As for your maligning of me. I said that MANA would have an amazing night and that Labour had a 75% chance of winning. Labour won and MANA had a stonkingly huge night coming second and beating the Maori Party. To twist my words into a different meaning so you can damn them is more whaeoil than rationale.

          You turned sour on social media because a movement further to the left than you highlighted all the hollow pretensions of your Party in the IR by-election..

          There is nothing as alienating as beltway Wellington, keep it up Gus, I’m sure a Party of one would please you no end.

          As for Phil’s BBQ, yes I remember you there, desperately ingratiating yourself to anyone who might empower your climb up the slippery pole. It made my skin crawl.

  12. Jones as the smoko room candidate is a total joke and an insult to workers. He probably spends more time in boardrooms than the whole of the NAct caucus. He comes across as a lazy pompous git who’s had everything handed to him on a plate, and has so much personal baggage that Labour would never win an election with him as leader. As an ordinary Kiwi bloke, he makes Key look genuine. If he had half a clue, he’d step down from politics before he does more damage.

    Sealord Jones – the Tory candidate for Labour leader.

  13. What appears to have been forgotten in this leadership battle is that the leader does not determine policy, the party (or rather the Caucus does). Certainly, a Party led by Cunliffe and Robertson would be seen as being to the left of where Labour is perceived as being now. However, whether it actually is, remains to be seen and will not be known until actual Labour Party policy starts to be released.

    So, in that context, I don’t have a problem with the Greens getting 20% in the next election, as Green policy is (generally) to the left of Labour. If, on the other hand, the Labour Party is led by either Cunliffe or Robertson and starts to release actual social democratic policy then I will support them.

  14. To me it’s a no-brainer- David Cunliffe can make a ‘Decent Speech’…and isn’t that what the Labour party needs right now because by God, all this waffling, voting and quasi-democratic shilly-shallying has the political effect of serving a good wine in a colander!
    “Let’s drink to Democracy!…..Ooops….”

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