And now for some good news

By   /   March 7, 2014  /   26 Comments

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There’s a lot of people offering David Cunliffe advice at the moment. Some are experienced political operatives; some are experienced political journalists and commentators; many more are self-styled PR ‘experts’. Frankly, given the last few months, it’s hard not to want to join in.

David Talbot

There’s a lot of people offering David Cunliffe advice at the moment. Some are experienced political operatives; some are experienced political journalists and commentators; many more are self-styled PR ‘experts’. Frankly, given the last few months, it’s hard not to want to join in.

But today I will try to restrain myself because I hope the only person David Cunliffe is listening to right now is Matt McCarten (which, knowing most politicians’ deeply narcissistic compulsion to know what people say about them, may be a vain hope).  Whether you believe Cunliffe’s current media malaise is due to the man himself, his office, plain bad luck, or whether it’s down to a malicious right wing press, the only way to change the story is for there to be a prolonged period without Labour making the headlines for the wrong reasons. Otherwise, Cunliffe will simply not look competent enough to be Prime Minister and people will vote accordingly. Or not, in the case of the 800,000 non-voters Labour needs to reach in order to win.

I think it’s a combination of all of the above but ultimately the state of Labour lies with its leader and it is David Cunliffe who must take responsibility. The media is what it is. If John Key is allowed to get away with blatant lies it is because, whether we like it or not, he is an extremely successful and competent Prime Minister and media coverage of him fits into that frame. Cunliffe’s framing is now the  opposite and it’s up to him to change that. Despite their masters, the media did not accord Don Brash the same reverence and during the last election the press was highly critical in the wake of Key’s cuppa tea with John Banks. And he still won.

There is however, one other person I would permit into the McCarten/Cunliffe lockdown and that is Labour’s new Campaign Manager David Talbot.  News of his appointment and then McCarten’s seemed to point to a clarity of purpose that’s been badly missing in Camp Cunliffe. Like so many on the Left I  hope this combination is going to be a bit of a game changer.  David and I worked side by side for five or six years at the Labour Party. It was our team of two who put into action Mike Williams’ first ever ambitious plan to reach the enrolled non-voters in 2005, creating the Labour ‘Factory’ and using many hundreds  of volunteers to hand deliver targeted direct mail all around the country.

David Talbot is almost without fail one of the smartest people in any room and most certainly the nicest. He understands how people work and what motivates them. He gets on and gets cool stuff done without making a production out of it – you watch Labour’s social media take a quantum leap under his direction. He and Matt will be a great combination.

The only downside to Talbot’s appointment as Campaign Manager is that I now feel obliged to work hard in an election that I’d almost washed my hands of.  I do really want David to win.

Both of them.

 

 

 

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26 Comments

  1. anker says:

    That’s encouraging to hear about David Talbot.

    However I think we MUST recognise the sustained attack on DC credibility by the msm, starting with Hooton. If we don’t, the left are in danger of losing clarity about DC as a leader.

    We could say the responsibility lies with DC, and he has never shunned taking the responsibility. He then gets criticised by some for that.

    The reality is that Gower and Trevett and their elk are on a witch hunt and distorting the truth into a narrative that attack’s his credibility. If you go looking for stuff you will find it, because the reality is no one is perfect, that is a human impossibility. They find very minor details and then magnify them and that becomes the story.

    In the last few media pieces I heard DC on he was stunning. Gave a brilliant performance. IMO I think he is one of the few people in parliament that can make the changes to the appalling neo-liberal policies we have been subjected to for the last 30 years. I remain 100% behind him

    • MarkE says:

      The problem with the rightwing media-bias perspective is that it conflicts with what has happened in the past. I can’t stand the way Gower et all has treated Cunliffe but I believe they have only done so because they smell blood in the water, they pursue weakness until they perceive the public is bored with it or something better crops up.
      Think about how the very same media nailed Key after the teapot tapes or during the gcsb thing. I enjoyed seeing Key getting chewed up in the media then but it sucks to watch the media do it to my team. I think the media will be back on National’s failings before too long.

  2. Win says:

    A couple of things –
    “Whether you believe Cunliffe’s current media malaise is due to the man himself, his office, plain bad luck, or whether it’s down to a malicious right wing press…”
    1. You didn’t mention one of the POSSIBLE causes of Cunliffe’s apparently poor performance is the use of technology to undermine the perception of efficiency and effectiveness of the target. Technology can be used in a myriad of illegal ways but its use cannot be proven. And people dance in the shadow of the “impossible to prove.” Flight of fantasy perhaps? Is Cunliffe’s so called left leaning a threat then?

    2. “he is an extremely successful and competent Prime Minister and media coverage of him fits into that frame.”
    Perhaps this should have begun with “the perception is…..

    Anyhow, I knew this would happen to Cunliffe, not because he is stupid or careless or incompetent but because he stated he wanted to move the party to the left so it just would.

  3. Dan says:

    How effective is “using many hundreds of volunteers to hand deliver targeted direct mail all around the country”. Is there a study that can be pointed to that shows that this kind of marketing works? Having delivered hundreds of these leaflets in a demoralising electorate – I have yet to be convinced that people don’t just chuck them in recycling.

    • Jenny Michie says:

      Dan, yes I am 100% certain that the targeted direct mail was effective. And that’s because it was targeted. With different messages for different people; state house tenants, families with young kids, students, Maori and another I can’t recall off the top of my head. Labour won by just a few points and we were pretty sure it was that effort that pushed us over the line. It was also one of the most cost effective political campaigns in the western world, coming in at about $1 a vote because of the huge volunteer component. I agree that just putting generic glossy pamphlets into every mail box is pretty much a waste of time and money. The point here is that you must have a message that gets to the voters and as Mike Williams used to say, people are motivated by either fear or self interest. You gotta get that right.

    • Pasupial says:

      Dan

      It’s more effective than doing nothing, and helps build volunteer networks which may lead to something more. Also “targeted direct mail” is more; form-letters with variable fields, and questionnaires, than leaflets. Good on you for partaking in the sometimes dispiriting process of leafleteering though!

      Of course, if you can convince donors to give you the cash now for future favours, then you can just hire a Transnational PR company to do the work for you. Then have associates set up a variety of astroturfing front organisations that in conjunction with a compliant media will deliver the election result that your backers require.

  4. Saarbo says:

    Jenny, For the life of me I cannot reconcile your statement

    “The media is what it is. If John Key is allowed to get away with blatant lies it is because, whether we like it or not, he is an extremely successful and competent Prime Minister and media coverage of him fits into that frame”

    sorry, but that sentence doesn’t make sense to me. This is the type of sentence that makes sense to someone who has been involved in politics for too long. And its a load of rubbish. Key is allowed to get away with ‘Lies” because he has very competent spin doctors and has the support of a “right” leaning media.

    • karol scribe karol scribe says:

      The media is what it is

      That makes it sound like the media has a natural life of its own. In fact it is partly shaped by government policies.

      Trisha Dunleavey gives an outline of NZ history, from a public service approach to increasing privatisation of the media.

      She describes how the current Key government has dismantled the last remnants of public service broadcasting in NZ.

      Although New Zealand’s public television has languished in crisis since 2011-12, its process of repair could be achieved through a few achievable measures, the real challenge being that these all require the dedication of ‘new money’. At this early stage of 2014, an election year in New Zealand, there is hope among public television’s supporters that its future will become an election issue. One reason why it might, even though electioneering politicians have many portfolios vying for their attention and promises, are earlier undertakings by the Labour and the Greens, currently the two largest opposition parties, to re-establish a PSTV channel.

      Key’s government, like that of Thatcher works to increase their dominance of the culture of their country by promoting the kind of media that will favour the values they espouse.

      The media is an important political battleground, and this should not be underestimated.

  5. David Talbot says:

    Thanks for the kind words Jen!

    For any readers who want to be part of changing the government here’s the link to click: http://bit.ly/1dQRoQI

    DT.

  6. Phil Toms says:

    I disagree with this statement: – “Despite their masters, the media did not accord Don Brash the same reverence and during the last election the press was highly critical in the wake of Key’s cuppa tea with John Banks. And he still won.”
    The press was very pro National last election and methodically destroyed Goff, with Gower bringing up the non existent leadership coup almost daily, and Claire Robinson pronouncing that Labour cannot win because it is “not their turn”. Both Q+A and The Nation were stacked with tories. Goff won the debates but the media spun them for Key.Not sure how Brash is relevant. Brash was the already discredited fall guy. The media is blatantly right wing. Lets not kid ourselves.

  7. Papa Tuanuku says:

    why dont labour set a broad goal – our goal is to get rid of the national govt in 2014 as a matter of urgency and survival.

    we’ll do this in three steps:

    – enrol
    – be informed
    – vote

  8. Kate Kate says:

    Key kicks kiwis around and feeds the cuckoos at the top funnelling the money up, and people love him for that? How out of whack is this countries priorities, it must be the mean spirited culture vultures voting for the dead eyed lizard brain that fronts the views they relate to. Something is very wrong in this country.
    P.s Was Hillside workshop in Dunedin closed so Anadarko could have the building? Was that premeditated?

  9. blue leopard says:

    @ Jenny Mitchie

    “The media is what it is. If John Key is allowed to get away with blatant lies it is because, whether we like it or not, he is an extremely successful and competent Prime Minister and media coverage of him fits into that frame. “

    I disagree with this Jenny. Mr Key may be popular, however he is not competent – if the media were less transfixed on him and more prone to balance this would be far more clear to the population and he may well not be popular either

    Mr Cunliffe puts a word wrong and the media are all over him
    Key does not have this treatment by the media – Key’s State of the Nation speech contained a grave untruth yet does anyone who doesn’t read blogs know about it? Or did the media ‘sell’ his idea as a good one?

    The privacy breaches
    The Novopay debacle
    The sacking of democratically elected groups
    The dreadful state of safety conditions in forestry and mining
    The GCSB bill
    The Asset sales
    The treatment of unemployed people in a recession
    The selling out of NZ jobs to overseas companies
    The boosting of the wealthy in a recession
    The degeneration of all forms of education
    the list goes on and on

    This government is a complete shambles, the way they do not respect democratic principles, do not heed what the general public want, their cavalier attitudes towards everything other than profit and their ability to lie and not be called on it all lead to the above list.

    The only reason you can put forward that Key is ‘competent’ is the same reason that some might still see Key as ‘likeable’ – the complete lack of critical analysis in the mainstream media – it is a smoke and mirrors popularity and I do not see why you choose to spread such a foundationless mirage of a notion here – this is spreading an untruth propagated by National.

    I accept that the media are the way they are; I expect better from someone as politically active as you appear to be.

    • poem says:

      Absolutely agree with you Blue Leopard 100% that is the best post on here !!!

      • blue leopard says:

        Hey thanks very much Poem

        I just hope that all people who want a decent government in this country stop repeating the endless shite and lies that National propagate and start repeating ad infinitum how much of an incompetent shambles this government is -as so many on this thread have pointed out – or as you, Poem, so astutely put it (below) how much of a self serving dictatorship we are experiencing with National and Act in government.

        This would be to take National’s strategy – ‘the more times someone hears something the more likely they will perceive it as true’ – and turn it against them (Nats) – except when we who want a decent government do it, it is minus the lies.

        I omitted to acknowledge Jenny Mitchies attempt to spread some good news – (I was just so stunned at the statement contained in your article, Jenny) – and I do apologise for that.

    • Jenny Michie says:

      BL I am not endorsing Key or this government at all. I too can list many, many examples of National policies which I abhor and have fought against. I am saying that the public’s perception – based on polling – is that Key is competent and effective.

      And if we agree that the media is against him, then that is just another reality that Cunliffe and Labour have to deal with. And be smart about. Wishing it were otherwise does not make it so.

      Also I’m afraid Cunliffe has scored quite a few own goals and failed to set out either his agenda and a compelling narrative about why people would be better off under Labour in the six months since he was elected leader.

      • blue leopard says:

        Thanks for the reponse Jenny,

        A rather long response in return…

        “Also I’m afraid Cunliffe has scored quite a few own goals”

        A lot of these own goals have been fabricated by the media- it is my view that he has been weakening in the face of this onslaught and become too quick to apologise in recent weeks.

        However, I note that Mr Cunliffe set out his aims clearly in the Leader campaign – and these aims really are a watershed. This leads him to have very powerful enemies. His colleagues need to understand these ramifications and keep him strong and supported.

        “…. and failed to set out either his agenda and a compelling narrative about why people would be better off under Labour in the six months since he was elected leader. “

        I think that Mr Cunliffe has set a very compelling narrative.

        Here is what I have picked up:

        That Labour under Cunliffe are aiming at ensuring any economic ‘good times’ are shared out to the greatest number of people in the country – as opposed to what we have now – where a few benefit and many don’t.

        Cunliffe’s Labour have been strongly acknowledging that opportunities are getting thin on the ground for some and they intend to ensure this is rectified – that they are going to also focus on job creation, ensuring people are paid a good wage, and have safe conditions in their places of work.

        Cunliffe’s Labour have strongly shown an awareness of how having a wealth gap is bad for the entire society and lifting the bottom end will serve the entire society well.

        Cunliffe’s Labour has also been clear about having an understanding of the importance of diversifying the ways this country makes money – I consider this very important for the benefit of our country’s future.

        From Labour’s general responses over the last year to the disasters that have been created by this current government (not so Cunliffe specific) I understand Labour politicians have a great deal of appreciation and respect for democratic principles and processes and will work to ensure these are adhered to. For this reason – I trust Labour more than Key’s National to have respect for political principles I don’t think we would have degenerating circumstances in our education system, our workplaces, and our government if Labour were in power – we wouldn’t have had the privacy breaches, the ongoing Novopay debacle, the GCSB Bill passed, Asset Sales had Labour been in power (amongst other things).

        The vision to me is very clear – I agree that there has been some weakness with bringing out policies (more might be better – thick and fast might give Nat less time for their petty attacks) and some faltering with some of the reactions to this hostile media climate have occurred – yet I think that the narrative has been very strong – and a heartening one – from Mr Cunliffe

        One has to take every care not to believe the narrative of those who want Mr Cunliffe and Labour to fail – One thing is for sure such voices do not have the interests of the greatest number of New Zealanders at heart whereas I am confident that a Labour government with Cunliffe leading will be working strongly toward that end (in the interests of the greatest number of NZers).

        Hopefully this comment will hearten you that there is a positive narrative out there and being received by some – granted though, I read blogsites yet the information is out there for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear – those who don’t read blogs (I’m guessing many don’t read the papers either) may have such messages shared to them by those who do.

        • poem says:

          THAT is yet ANOTHER brilliant post from you Blue Leopard, and have heard those same messages too when listening to David Cunliffe. I found Jenny Michie’s post and subsequent response to you Blue Leopard some what contradictory, it appears that Jenny Michie has not been listening to David Cunliffe at all, and ha been taking more notice of the beat ups by national’s spin machine, and she should know better, as you so aptly pointed out in your previous post “….expect better from someone as politically active as you appear to be” and it strongly suggests that there is one “David” that happens to be the most important one, that Jenny Michie does not want to win.

  10. Win says:

    Maybe the strategy should be to present Cunliffe as the underdog and bullied by the media. But it has to done without the ?MSM. Has Labour got the nouse to pursue this type of election strategy? Bit different. I’m so pissed off with the news media I would come back to Labour to get try rid ourselves of this govt. But not sure whether Labour as a whole can embrace change and a new wAy of working. If they can’t then I don’t think my vote will count anyhow.

  11. Stuart Munro says:

    It’s time to put some pressure on journalists to be more professional. The current level of MSM bias should not be tolerated – it is not for brain-dead hacks like Paul Henry or John Armstrong to decide who should lead New Zealand.

    • Gosman says:

      In what ways will you apply pressure then?

      I’ll tell you one way to do so. Don’t watch or read their news. Of course that won’t likely be enough for a leftist.

  12. poem says:

    See this is what I was commenting on the other day, when I said that there appears to be some journalists, (and I use that term very very lightly), out there who are like a Trojan horse and are more like nats in labour clothing. I was stunned when Jenny Michie wrote “If John Key is allowed to get away with blatant lies it is because, whether we like it or not, he is an extremely successful and competent Prime Minister and media coverage of him fits into that frame” What?? Seriously??? John key is a self serving run away train wreck that has literally dismantled and tore this country apart for his own ends and as Saarb correctly pointed out “Key is allowed to get away with ‘Lies” because he has very competent spin doctors and has the support of a “right” leaning media” john key has the media white wash, sugar coat, down play, bury and hide national’s mistakes and wrong doings, if New Zealand had of had any “real” journalism in this country, john key would have been history long ago. And just look at the media now, TVNZ has gone insane, wanting to declare war against the “reds under the beds” in a seek out and destroy mission, such important matters like constitutional and democratic rights didn’t even come into it, and Martyn Bradbury was right when he said in his blog “The many falsehoods about Cunliffe Key is spinning with a compliant media” the appointment of Matt McCarten has “ sent a tremor of terror” I don’t think it’s a coincidence that TV3 then launched a most sickening frenzied witch hunt against David Cunliffe. It shows that national are not as confident as the media are making them out to be.
    But is there a Trojan horse or two within the labour party itself? who may be getting skittish over the new Chief of Staff, and no, I am not making reference to the so called “it has to be the ABCers” that the national biased media or the nats in labour clothing like to trot out with regularity to destabilize the labour party leadership. It sure looks like David Cunliffe was very astute in his appointment of Matt McCarten.
    But one thing puzzles me, john key has done some pretty serious damaging shit against NZ and its people, just to mention a few out of many, selling assets (and our resource) to his foreign interests against the will of the people, the GCSB fiasco, the undeniable systematic erosion of our democratic and constitutional rights, being shut out and gagged (ie TPPA, Oil exploration etc), national’s highly secretive nature, the ongoing horrendous bashing and beat ups of the vulnerable and poor of our society, as more and more people sink deeper into poverty, NZers increasingly feeling like they are tenants in their own country, the economic shambles of NZ sinking under enormous debt and yes, unchecked rampant corruption are all cause for much concern, but yet none of this seems to be factored into the analysis by many commentators who make out that national will just breeze right back in, as though nothing has happened. Doesn’t anyone think that even some of what’s been listed above will have some impact on kiwis that will be reflected at the ballot box???? Much if not all of what john key has done is unprecedented, all rules have been tossed out, its not the same anymore, speak to average kiwis, most see john key and his national government if you can it that, as self serving dictators, national act against the country and its people rather than for it. This time, I don’t think people will have those short memories at all, like some people are inclined to think.

  13. Dave Robinson says:

    Any thinking person knows that Key’s mob are screwing the country. However, many also still find it hard to trust Labour. Forget Reds under the bed, there are still rogernomes IN the bed. Unfortunately neither the Greens nor any other 3rd party or combination thereof are going to be able to form government without teaming with one of the tired old parties, so once again it will be a matter of holding your nose as you vote, and deciding which of the former foreign exchange dealers is the less dangerous. Having said that, I should say that there is a difference, and we do need to support the apparent change of direction within Labour.

    • poem says:

      As New Zealand has seen in the last 5 years, john key is the most dangerous Dave and john key will ALWAYS be a currency trader, you dont think that ended just because he became PM do you? And who is the other currency trader that you are making a reference too? As far as i know David Cunliffe has never been a currency trader. Totally agree with you “that there is a difference, and we do need to support the apparent change of direction within Labour” thanks to David Cunliffe who wants to take labour back to its roots where it should be and away from the neoliberalist disasters of right winger co founder of what is now more akin to a desiccated corpse, the Act party, Roger Douglas.


 
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