What the Hell’s Gone Wrong with Cunliffe!




WATCHING SHANE JONES work the room at the New Zealand Initiative Dinner on 13 March was pure poetry-in-motion. To see him duck and weave, lunge and swivel, pump the proffered hands, strike poses for the inevitable selfies, slap the backs and throw a brotherly arm across the shoulders of some of New Zealand’s most powerful CEOs was to witness “old school” politics at its best … and worst.

Jones may have been wearing a crisp white shirt and a tie, but he might just as well have arrived wearing a T-Shirt emblazoned with: “Hi, I’m Shane, Labour’s next Leader – A man you can do business with!”

Also on a roll this past week or so has been Grant Robertson. Not given to ducking and weaving, Grant stands up straight in the House of Representatives and seeks the Speaker’s call as if he’s preparing to tell him a particularly funny joke. Lately, however, Grant’s contributions have been anything but funny – at least not as far as Judith Collins is concerned. John Key hasn’t been laughing much either.

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Now Grant isn’t really a T-Shirt kind of guy, but if he was, it would say something like: Hi, I’m Grant, and this is what a real Labour leader looks like.”

Shane Jones and Grant Robertson were, of course, David Cunliffe’s competitors in the three week race for the Labour leadership back in August-September of 2013. They were the losers. Nearly six months on, however, it’s getting harder and harder to think of them as such

Whether it be Shane Jones putting the boot into the supermarket duopoly, or scratching the rough underbelly of Labour’s vote with wicked jibes about screeching Mollyhawks, skinny Australians and other Green objects of derision, or Grant Robertson, slowly and deliberately wiping that infuriating, supercilious and just plain ugly smirk off Judith Collins’ face, it is fair to say that both men have spent the last few weeks doing their utmost to induce, in all those Labour Party members who voted for David Cunliffe, the absolute maximum in buyer’s remorse.

The efforts of Jones and Robertson notwithstanding, Labour’s rank-and-file and its trade union affiliates are probably not (or, at least, not yet) regretting their choice. But they most certainly are asking themselves: “What the hell’s gone wrong with Cunliffe!”

How is it that the Herald-DigiPoll, which showed Labour at 37.7 percent following the Leadership Primary, is now showing the party with a derisory 29.5 percent support? And how in God’s name can their boy be rating lower in the Preferred Prime Minister stakes than the hapless David Shearer?

What the fuck is happening!

What is happening is actually pathetically simple. David Cunliffe: the man with the Harvard MPA; the former star employee of the Boston Consulting Group; the highly competent Labour Cabinet Minister; is determined to take control of New Zealand Incorporated and get it working as efficiently and effectively as possible.

David Cunliffe simply setting out to prove the wisdom of the late Bruce Jesson’s memorable quip: “National knows how to govern for capitalists. But only Labour knows how to govern for capitalism.”

David’s big problem is that no one ever got the dispirited and disillusioned voter off the couch or out of the pub so that he or she could vote for an increase in capitalism’s efficiency and effectiveness!

In the rarefied atmosphere of the offices of Gosplan – the supreme planning agency of the old Soviet Union – the Party apparatchiks’ hearts might have beat faster at the idea of improving the annual efficiency of the Ukrainian grain harvest, or lifting the effectiveness of Baku’s oil drilling rigs. And, who knows, the bright young things out of Harvard Business School and MIT might well react in exactly the same way after pulling off a lucrative merger and acquisition for the Boston Consulting Group. But, the average Russian, the average American – and, yes, the average Kiwi – listens only to WiI-FM. (What’s in it for me?)

Now, New Zealand may not have had any FM radio stations back in 1932, but it had plenty that broadcast using amplitude modulation. One of those was Auckland’s “Friendly Road” station, 1ZR, and its most popular programme was “The Man in the Street” – hosted by “Uncle Scrim” (Colin Scrimgeour).

In his broadcast following the Queen Street Riot of April 1932, during which unemployed workers fought with Police using wooden palings torn from the fence of the Methodist Central Mission, Scrimgeour (a Methodist preacher)  said:

“If what happened last night makes authority act to help desperate people obtain the justice they deserve, the pickets torn off the fence of the Methodist Mission in Airedale Street will have caused the church to give to the people the most outstanding service of the church’s hundred years of history.”

What was in it for the people who voted Labour in 1935?

The justice they deserved.

Are you listening, David? Do you get it, David? Just how much more plainly would you like us to say it, David?

What do people want? They want Jobs. Higher wages. A warm, safe home to live in. Affordable rent and a secure tenancy. Cheap power. Protection from those bastards at WINZ, CYFS and the ACC. Unions that people can join without fear of losing their jobs. Free doctors’ visits. Free dental care. Schools that give their kids the very best start in life. The right to hunt and fish and swim in the mountains, lakes and rivers of their own country without running into “Private Property – Keep Out” signs and without getting sick. An end to the selling off their country’s farms and forests to foreigners.

That’s what’s got to be in it for them, David – before they’ll come out and vote for you and the Labour Party.

It’s not rocket science. It never has been. Eighty years ago, ordinary working-class men and women, with nothing like your education, knew what had to be done, and they set about drawing up plans to make it happen. Along the way they were helped by decent middle-class folk like the “Three Wise Men of Kurow” – the local GP, the Presbyterian Minister and the local headmaster – who between them, on the doctor’s dining table, drew up the specifications for what, in four short years, would become the New Zealand Welfare State.

Everyone in the labour movement understood that the policies they were promoting would be fiercely resisted by employers, farmers and all the many other groups representing “authority” – but they didn’t let it stop them.

And neither should you, David. Forget about the effectiveness and efficiency of New Zealand Inc. Just look after the people, David. Give them “the justice they deserve” – and New Zealand will thrive.


    • I have to disagree with you Chris. I have recently been impressed with Cunliffe. It seemed to happen a couple of weeks ago in between a the nation interview and the q and a interview.

      He went from: trying too hard; constantly grinning like a Cheshire cat and trying to be humorous in the first interview to: being himself and speaking calmly and extremely well. He has maintained that since both in parliament and in interviews. He is now coming across as credible and reasonable. Maybe he got some simple advise – be yourself.

      The public like and identify with this calmness and reasonableness. More so I believe than with how Shane Jones is behaving. I expect cunliffe’s rating to improve in the near future.

      Incidentally I went to the Auckland coldplay concert last year. I stood in a huge line to withdraw cash from an ATM machine. David Cunliffe was in the line in front of me. The concert was close to beginning and the line was taking forever to move. I was extremely impressed by Mr Cunliffe, who stood in line with everyone else for what seemed like an hour. His demeanor was extremely calm and patient. I thought for an important man this showed great humility. Perhaps this is the real David Cunliffe. A reasonable calm and patient man who wants the best for his country.

      Keep being yourself David.

      • Totally agree with yu 100% Simon.

        Matt McCarten left labour in disgust during the times of Trojan horse and neoliberlist Roger Douglas. Was extremely critical of David Cunliffe, even though he had never met him. Then after working with David Cunliffe over a short period of time, Matt McCarten rejoined Labour after 25 years, to be David Cunliffe’s Chief of Staff.
        THAT in itself, is an amazing testimony to David Cunliffe’s character as a person AND a Labour party leader.

  1. Shane Jones – I, like many women, can’t stand the guy , he has all the mana of a league forward on the piss .

    Cunliffe … someone’s hit his snooze button – or is he in the usual Labour election mode of ” I don’t care if we win or not, i’m still gonna collect a big fat pay packet even when i’m on the opposition benches ..oh and fuck the poor ! ”

    Norm Kirk …now THERE was a LEADER with MANA – and a heart for the poor , disenfranchised and oppressed people of NZ.

    Labour lost it’s way under Lange/Douglas/ and the likes of those Torys-in-Red Ties Goff/Mallard and pals STILL haven’t walked or been given the boot ..what a JOKE

    • tautoko. Labour hasn’t given the NZ masses the slightest reason to vote for them. Under Goff, Shearer and now Cunliffe, one couldn’t help but think that Labour is just a lighter shade of National blue – not to mention a directionless ship.

      I’m not a fan of Matua Shane, although I think he would’ve been a better choice as Labour leader.

      Can you bet on politics at the TAB? If so, I’m putting my few socialist pennies on National. Gosh, 29.5% is a slap in the face. Come on Labour, pull yourself together, otherwise what’s the point?

  2. Brilliant. You said it all, Chris Trotter…..but…. I totally support Cunliffe because we have to be rid of this Key and his band of lily livered morons, this corrupt, lying executive director and his ‘yes’ men and women. So, whatever it takes, we must do…to get NZ working again.



    I have teen and early twenties beneficiary friends who are almost on their death beds because they haven’t got money to buy meds.
    How are they meant to be able and capable of going to work every day when they don’t have the money to be in a fit state to go.

  4. Cunliffe just needs to throw a bone. Such a bone could be…

    Labour stands for equality and opportunity. 6 years of National have seen opportunity increase for the 1% few of the NZ elite who have all managed to increase their wealth. Equality doesn’t even feature as a word in the National party dictionary unless you’re talking about equality for rich Ministers to benefit from having a cup of tea, irrigation schemes or paying off their house using taxpayer funds.

    Under a Cunliffe led Labour government those two words will feature in Labours vision and plan for New Zealand.

    Equality will be given to every citizen that wants to build a life here. Equality to buy a house. Equality to study higher education. Equality to work.
    Opportunity will be provided. The opportunity to earn a living wage. The opportunity to go overseas. The opportunity to feed your family without worrying how to pay your bills.

    Six years of National have been six years of missed opportunities and declining equality for all New Zealanders.

    Under a Cunliffe led labour government the following have been proposed and will be put into action.

    Kiwi power. The opportunity for kiwis to pay less for their power bills.
    Kiwi build. The opportunity for every kiwi to own their own home.
    Best start. The opportunity for our youngest citizens to have their early years the best they can be.
    First wood. The opportunity for our manufacturing sector to regain the ground its lost due to ignorance of its opportunities.

    Under Labour we want to bring NZ back to being the best country in the world to live and earn in.

    Under a national government, only overseas interests will benefit from their policies. Under a Labour government, kiwi interests will benefit.

    Stop the slide. Vote Labour for a real opportunity at equality.

    • “Under a national government, only overseas interests will benefit from their policies. ”

      That is utter bollocks. I’m not an ‘overseas interest’ and I’ve benefitted from this Govt’s policies, as have most NZer’s. That’s why consumer confidence is high. It’s why business confidence is high. It’s why 2/3rds of NZer’s believe the country is headed in the right direction. And it’s why Labour is polling not far above half of National.

      • You do realise, I hope, that business and consumer confidence is not actually correlated with the state of the economy or change thereof? Something our dear National-loving media never take the time to point out.

        • “…business and consumer confidence is not actually correlated with the state of the economy or change thereof?”

          Huh? Are you serious? The state of the economy is precisely what these views are based on. What else would it be, the amount of pixie dust being produced by the Labour caucus?

          • I think you know that confidence is a subjective dataset, and only suggestive of the real state of affairs – as we see when confidence exceeds performance – a market bubble.

            A similar fiction is substituting job advertisement data for people in work, or looking for work. They ought to correlate closely, but gaps can develop and these may be exploited by unscrupulous politicians to validate failing policies, or create ficticious skills shortages to further depress wages.

      • “I’m not an ‘overseas interest’ and I’ve benefitted from this Govt’s policies, as have most NZer’s. ”


        I’d say that’s wishful thinking Intrinsictory. Anyway, I doubt you care a damn whether or not “most” NZers have benefitted from Nats policoes. You care only about yourself, being a selfish little Tory troll.

      • At some point, Intrinsicvalue, there comes the realisation that there is no point waiting for an upswing, or better times, and that old whiteware or carpet is going to have to be replaced before Bad Things Happen – even if it means lingering debt to be met by miserly amounts of pre-spent ‘pay rises’..

        ‘Consumer confidence is high’. Ha! You’re jesting again, aren’t you. Airily trusting that ‘perception is everything.’

        Two thirds believe the country is headed in the right direction… Oh well. That’s all right then.

        ‘If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there’ (Lewis Carroll – the originator of ‘wonderland’)

  5. Chris, you and I don’t see eye-to-eye on every issue, but I think you absolutely nailed it with this paragraph:

    “What do people want? They want Jobs. Higher wages. A warm, safe home to live in. Affordable rent and a secure tenancy. Cheap power. Protection from those bastards at WINZ, CYFS and the ACC. Unions that people can join without fear of losing their jobs. Free doctors’ visits. Free dental care. Schools that give their kids the very best start in life. The right to hunt and fish and swim in the mountains, lakes and rivers of their own country without running into “Private Property – Keep Out” signs and without getting sick. An end to the selling off their country’s farms and forests to foreigners.”

    Hopefully DC and his handlers are paying attention.

    • Agreed.

      Oh, and we want our bloody assets public property back, getting cheap power through Kiwipower is not a substitute nor compensation for its theft.

    • Yes I totally agree, that paragraph laid out what most New Zealanders want for this country. Somehow those basic things, which make life good, have become impossible dreams.

      I don’t think Labour has it in them to do any of the above however the Greens just might.

      • I do tautoko (agree) WITH YOU WHOLEHEARTILY with the green party but Chris also has some good points also and hopefully Canliffe I still don’t think hes strong enough, not with puppies nipping at his heels,.
        will come through and win this election just to get Keys, National out

  6. Bit of an ask for a Labour pollie to “control NZ Inc” surely???
    Control seems to me to be a typical “leftie’ term that has rather dire ponderings methinks

  7. I can hardly wait for Chris Trotter’s next column a few days from now in which he will extol the virtues of Cunliffe and attack Jones for being a Tory, and Robertson for being into identity politics.

    In the meantime, I will continue to characterise Jones as being more suited to National and in politics for his own ends. The fact that he can throw his fat arm around a few CEOs’ shoulders doesn’t impress me in the least. If he really wants to be mates with them, maybe he should take along his guitar and play a certain Engelbert Humperdinck song. The guy is a clown. Even when he hops on a reasonable bandwagon, such as with Countdown, he goes off half cocked and ends up supporting Kiwi businessmen who just happen to pay their staff less than Countdown does. But Shane is too bloody lazy to find out anything about that. As long as he gets on tv, he’s happy. Bloody hell, we’ve already had a white Tim Shadbolt. We don’t need a brown one.

  8. However you must remember we are a “Rock Star Economy” under the the superb management of Johnnie Sparkles and Bill English and remember Johnnie Sparkles is so wealthy he donates all his salary to charity – beat that Cunliffe and Labour.

  9. God I am so sick of this blaming Cunliffe shit. We all knew what we were getting when we voted for David. He’s a BRILLIANT SPEAKER, he has obviously been working his arse off on policy. And I have seen more press releases from him that previous leaders.

    Very soon after he was made leader DC committed to implementing a Living Wage for govt workers and in govt procurement deals. He has also talked about an incentive programme for other employers to do the same. Committed to minimal wage going to $15 (or thereabouts). Changing employment act. Best start (evidence based policy), Wood policy, outlined how to grow real wages and real jobs. If he does things like Best start money to people over $150000, he gets criticized for pandering to the middle class and then someone comes out and says he has to get the centre vote.

    Chris why don’t you go and join the likes of the Tory media. They are about 80% responsible for the polls IMO. It staggers me that you have been taken in by there spin.

    Great Shane Jones can work a crowd at a function with CEO’s , but if I wanted a PM who was popular with the common touch, I would vote for Key

  10. I hate to say I told you so , but I told you so . What a fucking nightmare .

    Cunliffe’s had a glimpse of the Great New Zealand Institutionalized lie and he , like others before him , doesn’t have the balls to deal with it .

    @ Pahtrisha . I lament for you . You’re looking for hope . You will not find it in Labour . I’m sorry .

    The only hope New Zealand / Aotearoa has is in its people . Us . You and I and everyone else .

    How we redesign our politics is another matter . I’m for making those fuckers do their jobs , irrespective of their corporates/ mates / foreign masters alliances .
    That’s always been the problem for us Kiwis actually . We vote the cunts in … then they please themselves . The reason for that is that they don’t FEAR us . Us citizens . They couldn’t give one small flying fuck . Once they’re in , they’re sweet with a six figure salary for at least three years , the fucking lazy , deviant bastards .

    I dared to hope Cunliffe was a better man but as I listened to his rhetoric I started to wilt like a sunburned daisy . ” Friend ” ? Fuck off . I understand the meaning of
    ‘ patronizing ‘ .

    We desperately need a strong personality to lead us all . We need a person who can out wit , out fight and out manoeuvre the lot of them . We need an Ed Hillary of politics . Where’s Hone Harawira ? Still dividing White from Brown ? That’s as anachronistic as fucking fins on a Dodge . See ? He has the balls but not the brains .

    We desperately need both . We need an actor ! Hahahahahaahaha a !

    Sorry , a little bit of hysteria there . And can you blame me ?

    Ya know ? I lament . I’m sitting at my desk and I lament . The frustration I have for us and our lands ( Sorry Hone , I truly mean you no disrespect ) is beyond measure . I see a utopia right out my fucking window ! It’s just out there for fucks sake . A vast and green land ripe with beauty and things . I threw potato peelings into my garden then covered them unconsciously in grass clippings , and I got a crop of spuds . Just like that . Do you know how many people in the world can only dream of doing such a thing ? And yet here we are . Letting unmitigated pricks fuck our shit up and not giving us medals for growing spuds . ( Metaphor alert . )

    I’ve often been accused of being a ‘ ranter ‘ . Do you know what a ‘ ranter ‘ is ? No ? Ok . Here’s what a ranter is ;
    verb [ no obj. ]
    speak or shout at length in an angry, impassioned way: she was still ranting on about the unfairness of it all.

    To be accused of ‘ ranting ‘ has negative connotations does it not ? But why ? I see ‘ ranting ‘ as my expressing a point of view that fucking warrants an impassioned point of fucking view .

    ( Deep breath in . )

    Cunliffe probably doesn’t actually know what to do next , have you thought of that ? He’s probably thinking ” We seem to need change . And um like to what ? Why change and Um , stuff like that . ”

    And as I write this madness I see that Mitsubishi is asking me to start a ten year relationship with them while Dominos Pizza is offering me a $30 delivered deal . Wow !

    We are so fucked .

    Hahaha ! Oh God . We’re fucked .

    • Rants are not negative.

      Ending is despair is not positive.

      Consider – it can be seriously hard to motivate and lead despairing people.

      If the table were spread with a feast – would the despairing eat well? Or wait for the crumbs?

      Don’t wait for a strong leader. Be that leader as far as you are able – at least enough to get people to believe they can have a share, too.

      And I love your rants :-))

    • Try kiwiblog if you want some upbeat posts on Labour. I’m sure they’re coming thick and fast over there

  11. We all want to see National defeated at the next election. We know that National’s best weapon in the fight for power is their control of the media. So why do we play into their hands by taking any notice at all of the skewed polls that they use to try and convince people that there’s no point in voting against National?
    And why do we join in and attack the leader of the biggest party opposing them instead of supporting him in the fight to get a better government in place. Once that battle has been won, there’s plenty of time to critique the finer points of how the various members of the party comport themselves in public but until then, please Chris, lets try and remember we are all on the same side.

    • We seem to be heading for a re-run of 2011, when opinion polls showed National far ahead of Labour, and this gap led the public to believe Labour did not have a snowball’s chance. So they did not vote. Much to everyone’s surprise, even with a massive non-vote, the centre right ended up with a majority of just 1 MP over all other parties! It could happen again…

      Last time, John Key had his famous cups of tea with John Banks and Peter Dunne. That is how he got his one-seat majority. And what was Labour doing? Did Phil Goff have a whiskey with Winston? Did Annette stop by for a latte with Russel and Metiria? Did Labour leaders hongi with Peter or Hone? Not a bit of it. No wonder the public was unable to see an alternative government, confident and united in its programme for NZ/Aotearoa.

      Chris has sketched out a programme for Labour. Funny, but it looks just like the kind of programme that would get support from NZ First and the Greens. And the Maori Party and Mana.

      What David Cunliffe (or any Labour leader) has to do is provide leadership to ALL the opposition parties, not just to his Labour heartland. He should look as if he really wants to lead a strong, progressive, reforming government – not one that wants to manage the capitalist system better than John Key’s can!

      He should start with a few public beverages – and not waste any more time staking out why Labour alone has all the answers (and looking a touch self-righteous?).

      Surely its obvious that a programme that could unite Labour, Green, Maori and NZ First voters would also have overwhelming appeal to NZ voters in general?

      You may wonder if such a programme is possible – well, if it does not exist how is Labour ever to form an alternative government?

      Let’s see some evidence from Labour that indeed, “we are all on the same side”, as Jenny Olsen proposes.

    • “We know that National’s best weapon in the fight for power is their control of the media. ”

      And therein lies the evidence for the greatest problem facing the left after irrelevance – delusion.

      • there’s nothing delusional about this

        Steven Joyce gave the largest private media company a greasy backhander. Mediaworks are ideologically aligned with neoliberal politics because they benefit from neoliberalism – government assisting large private companies, especially those in direct competition with government owned companies.
        The content within mediaworks aims to dumb down society and individualise issues. The fact that you don’t see it is an outcome of your simplistic thinking, and also because neoliberalism is hegemonic. The best ideology is that which has become hegemonic / invisible…but you’d have to read beyond your econ101 textbooks to understand that.
        The only major programme within Mediaworks that challenges Mediaworks’ ideology is Campbell Live, but John Campbell’s ratings are too strong for them to let him go to TVNZ. John Campbell gets to produce what he wants, the rest of Mediaworks does not.

    • Jenny, Thank goodness, finally a reasonable and ‘Positive’ point of view. You are so right in so many ways.How does bagging Cunliffe help in the God awful fight we are facing as a country.

  12. You underestimate the incredible skillful way in which National and its helpers distort the truth. Example, we are being told from all angles that our economy is going absolutely off the grid. We are Rock Stars people. But for Christ sake don’t try and find any evidence of it, just accept our soothing tones and hollow reassurances.

    The empty feel good bullshit that is permeating all corners of this country nowadays is creepy to say the least. More and more people can’t afford to buy a home but they feel good about things. Its just they really can’t put their finger on why that is. Nick Smith runs around claiming to be helping out the supply crisis for housing, that convenient boogey man who hides the real reason for supply problems, the investor, a favourite for many of our MP’s not the least of which government ones. But Smith has done bugger all, its just his marketing makes it look so.

    Labours slight drop in the polls is simply down to the Tricky Campaign, based on almost no evidence of deception or trickery or anything of interest. This information was packaged in subtle ways and revealed by John Key himself and God only knows why people still trust this guy. The Tricky Campaign was timed bang on to coincide with the start of the Heralds poll (do they flag these things or do National have insiders?) , and in the all important first week. By the time Patrick Gower had lifted the lid on Antoines Launderette of National Party donation washing the audience had turned off.

    Yes Cunliffe needs to get moving but this article like so many others including Fran O’Sullivan, John Armstrong etc only seems to feed off the paper thin facade of evidence that the Tricky Campaign hinted at giving it undeserved oxygen and reinforces the devious nature of the National Party along with their helpers and the way the bend the truth to achieve certain goals.

    The last thing they want is any sort of contest this election because they know they may get booted out if the result is not a foregone conclusion aka 2011. They do NOT want voters out in numbers and the tricky campaign and the fall out from it is just a hint of the misinformation they are capable of.

    The real question is; Why do National have to do this at all?

  13. Chris- Shane Jones will never be Labour leader because he will never have much support from left wing women. He comes across as a self absorbed, sexist bloke and the world has got too many of those in positions of power already.

    So what if he can ‘work’ a room full of businessmen, just more proof that he is in the wrong party.

    • Here’s a hilarious scenario. Shane Jones get’s the leaders job and come the election he would have picked up more votes from the centre but lost almost the entire women’s vote to the Greens, forcing him into an almost equal footing situation with the party he hates so much – what would Shane do then?

  14. I think David Cunliffe is playing a very smart game.While he has a great sense of wit, he is not a blokey,jokey room worker and nor should he pretend to be.Shmoozing a’la(“boy have I got a deal for you” )Key,is a bit desperate and come across like a used car salesmen.Key gets away with it because we have a fawning media sadly lacking any form of critical thinking.If David Cunliffe tried that he would instantly be labelled a ‘try hard’ and a ‘greaser’.He can’t win!
    Regarding Shane Jones on supermarkets and Grant Robertson on the Judith Collins scandal;why would you want to look like a one man band talking on behalf of these ministers.These issues relate to their given portfolios.Sharing the burden is all part of running a party.A more inclusive way of going about things.Not like the ‘one trick pony’ that is the National Party!You of all people should understand this philosophy.
    Why are you not celebrating Labours depth of talent compared to Nationals’ dearth.
    Even mentioning the ridiculous Hearld Digi poll tells me you too have been mesmerized by the right wing propaganda media machine.
    That in itself is more of a worrying sign than any poll!

  15. @ Dorothy & @Jenny…I so totally agree
    and @ the rest of you… for f***s sake grow up and stop that bloody nihilistic crap including you Trotters… go spend hour after boring hour in parliament, or watch hour after hour of boring parliament tv as the wheels of ‘democracy’ grind slowly and inexorably to the point of oblivion. If being a firebrand on point like a master chef/showpony is what you want from a leader you’re on the wrong planet. Of course we want a more human society but it’s not going to happen with this pathetic naysaying shit which populates this blog.
    and @ star show pony country boy…you’re so funny, go design some posters and be useful- glue them to walls & stuff.

  16. Quote: “What do people want? They want Jobs. Higher wages. A warm, safe home to live in. Affordable rent and a secure tenancy. Cheap power. Protection from those bastards at WINZ, CYFS and the ACC. Unions that people can join without fear of losing their jobs. Free doctors’ visits. Free dental care. Schools that give their kids the very best start in life. The right to hunt and fish and swim in the mountains, lakes and rivers of their own country without running into “Private Property – Keep Out” signs and without getting sick. An end to the selling off their country’s farms and forests to foreigners.”

    Hear, hear, that sounds a damned lot better than what you last wrote on ‘Bowalley Road’! But before I get carried away like some others, I think that David Cunliffe does indeed have some formidable challenges to deal with, and they are not just the ABC brigade in caucus.

    In my humble view, there are 3 major challenges Labour have:

    Firstly most voters that Labour tries to appeal are in the middle class, and that wider modern class of people are sadly a bit too much of hypocrites. Like in most western countries the large middle class in New Zealand wants it both ways. They want affordable social services and housing, but at the same time want to have their ambitious career and personal investment opportunities fulfilled. They do not want to pay higher taxes, and they also do not want to support people on benefits, unless they “deserve” it. That simply does not always match well with “left” and social policies.

    Also do too many New Zealenders (incl. middle class members) only think short-term. Those that can afford it do of course still invest in housing, because they do no longer trust governments and the sharemarket! Apart from that, most planning is from week to week, at best year to year, and that means, they want “carrots”. At the same time they are reluctant to put perhaps needed efforts, trust and investment in longer term planning and policies for the whole good of the country. It is all about what suits “me” best for now and the coming few years. That does not solve New Zealands big challenges, which require faith, commitment and long term planning.

    Lastly, the mainstream media have largely not given Labour under Cunliffe much of a chance. He was scrutinised and dismantled, before he could deliver, while John Key gets a never ending honeymoon treatment. It is not so much about the leader, unless you want to give too much credit to those claiming, female voters decide who to vote for by the facial attractiveness of a leader.

    It is a dismal situation, and I honestly fear, most New Zealanders must take an honest look in the mirror. How can you support a government and shallow, cunning Prime Minister, who are selling your assets and do shady deals with Sky City and others, and not look at the longer term future, which may require some trust and sacrifices.

    So the disappointment in Cunliffe is, because too many expected miracles and another charming leader, who makes many promises, and keeps up the momentum to make it appear as if it is all easily achieved. But apart from the few stuff-ups, Cunliffe had to face reality, and he is trying to present policies bit by bit, offering a different plan for the country, that will over time convince.

    What has happened is, that after the MSM took Cunliffe apart, the other rats have come out to play again, and sensed opportunity to jump into the limelight themselves. They forget, once they may be leader, they will be dismantled as was Goff, Shearer and now Cunliffe, as they are simply from the “wrong party”. Chris forgets the significance of the MSM contributing to the situation. Has he missed the abysmal reporting on Labour, and how Key and National continue to be given the easy treatment? The MSM wants to keep things as they are, and their editors and front-line staff are in their majority cheerleaders or apologists for Key.

    And Labour faces voters, who are not the same as Labour voters in the 1930s, in the 1970s and the mid 1980s. The voters these days have been conditioned by decades of neo liberal economics, they are no longer even interested in unions, they are tied into a buy and sell, work and spend, and aspire and achieve society, more about a collective of individualised people, who shy away from being seen with less favourable folk from the other side of town.

    So better wake up, and realise the real challenges, and they are not getting any easier. Stop dreaming, please, and take on the real challenges. Cunliffe is not the carnation waving unionised blue collar worker waving a red banner, he is from up town, and one of the many new breed, who just have a social conscience.

  17. Well Trotter it didn’t really take you that long to start trotting out the ‘What the hells gone wrong with Cunliffe’ did it. You spent most of last year bagging Shearer, the year before that bagging Goff. Then you write wonderfully supportive blogs on how brainy Cunliffe is and how much he should be leader etc etc, and now look at what you are writing.
    For Christs sake, Cunliffe is the man we need to win the next election and this constant needling about who is secretly or openly challenging him is just absolute tripe.
    I’m no fan of Jones, but he and Robertson are just doing their jobs, it’s exactly what they should be doing. Cunliffe needs people to DO THEIR JOBS not sit back and expect him to do all of it.
    I imagine there is no harder working politician at the moment than David Cunliffe. Just let him get on with it and shut up with the constant negative whinging. We all know the kind of Utopia we would like to live in, but few of us know how to achieve it as quickly as you would have it done.
    If you are so knowledgeable about what Labour should be doing, why are you not out there doing it yourself?

  18. Well – a bit of a curate’s egg Chris – you point out some of what people want fairly well. But bagging Cunliffe is both premature and counterproductive – and the virtues you ascribe to Jones are not evident to me. How about you leave the Cunliffe beat-ups to the MSM. The left has suffered enough, time for it to move forward, accumulating momentum for its landslide victory in September.

  19. What the Hell’s Gone Wrong with Cunliffe!

    Um… nothing. He’s still the same guy. He’s just had to suffer through a long and co-ordinated smear campaign of the likes I haven’t seen in New Zealand before (if you watched what happened to John Kerry’s presidential bid, you know how the script goes). Shearer never attracted anything like this because he wasn’t much of a threat.

    Get used to it, because it is likely to continue right up until the election, because the last thing the National Party wants to do is to debate Cunliffe about policy, because they would lose. Instead we’ll get ridiculous beat up after beat up that will cumulatively ruin him. Remember that the right got a lot of people to endorse the preposterous belief that John Kerry, a decorated war veteran, was a coward who had faked his own wounds.

    The truth is that New Zealand “democracy” is a complete and utter waste of time, and the sooner you and the rest of the left realise that and stop pretending that there is an easy solution, the better. As I’ve said before, the people who matter in New Zealand have decided that David Cunliffe will not be Prime Minister, and they are in the process of making sure of that.

    Go vote like a bunch of plonkers if you want. Nothing you do will make the blindest bit of difference short of praying for a miracle.

    If you are dumb enough to play a rigged game, you deserve what you get.

    • So agree with everything that has been said above. Cunliffe needs to make a mark, stamp his personality but how can he do that when every move he makes is turned into someone negative. The MSM can decide which way they run stories- positively, negatively, and guess which one way they choose to go to sell papers to the majority of buyers who either vote National or could be persuaded to vote NACT because of the surface rubbish paraded before their eyes as the gospel truth.

      But I really think the question should be what the hell’s gone wrong with the Labour Party? They seem like a party stuck in the Middle Ages with no vitality or new ideas, no cohesion or collaboration at least to work to get into power. Hallo! The disenfranchised have to be reached through means other than newspapers or TV. The Greens seem to have used the new media well. What is Labour doing to get going in this area? Cunliffe does talk about housing etc but How does he get his message across so people will listen. Have his advisors thought about it? Probably, but sheesh how long will it take for them to realise it’s the negative, turning the tables on the opposition, the witty turn of phrase which I’m sure he is quite capable, of that will get him airtime. Cunliffe is not the only one in the parliamentary caucus surely. Who else is there to deliver policy? And how should they deliver policy to the masses? This may give the appearance of Labour working as a team? Maybe. It must be bloody hard for him, as it was for Shearer, working in and for the Labour Party.

  20. Well, everyone on the left are convinced the MSM favour the right and everyone on the right are convinced the MSM favour the left which probably means the MSM have it about right…..or should that be left.

  21. Chris,

    Your last three posts on Bowalley Road have all been pregnant with doom for the NZ Left in 2014. You have simultaneously mourned the demoralization of the Left yet, unabashedly, have played straight into that narrative with your last 3 posts on your blog.

    But this isn’t your blog. So please, for a moment, step aside and let the young attempt to mobilize, and just halt your fucking fingers (you swore so I get to, too) for two seconds and stop bemoaning how times are a changin’ and how these days our challenges are insurmountable.


  22. So, so agree with this article. But really what chance has he got? He hasn’t been able to develop a persona that the public can warm to, something to put their finger on and say yes that’s David Cunliffe like they can with JK or Shane Jones even. The MSM prefer to hound him and enlarge every mistake he makes or doesn’t make and that makes him look even less relevant. His mates in his caucus won’t let him do the ‘left’ thing (Although I think he feels more comfortable in the centre anyhow). He is talking about providing the things you are talking about but getting no traction. And then I think “yeah but how are they going to do that?” For Robertson and Jones it’s easy to get traction and be noticed by going ‘negative’. Note Jones’s latest outburst about the kohanga Reo. That might get him a few mates. And why pick on the Greens who seem to be doing a much better job of getting themselves out there. They appear to have personality plus and are coming of age. I think it’s the Labour Party who should be thinking outside the square to get their message across. It’s not as if the MSM is helping them coupled with the possible influence of unseen forces undermining him; The polls are unbelievable I mean literally unbelievable. But still they are headlined in the worst possible way. Do you think the 800,000 registered voters will vote now?

    • My goodness has anyone seen the spewing on Stuff about National and Hekia. Those polls are so puzzling.

  23. What the Hell’s Gone Wrong with Cunliffe!


    Drawing comparisons between the modern Labour Party and the Party of 1935.

    I wonder if the Labour Party of 1935 would have done so well if they said that they were going to support big increases on taxes on the lower paid?

    Remember the campaign against the rise in GST spearheaded by Phil Goff?

    The modern Labour Party mobilised their members in a way not seen outside of an election, Phill Goff campaigned around the country in a big bus with the words “Axe the Tax” emblazoned on the side. But asked if on taking office, would a Labour Government reverse the increase Phill Goff said “No”.

    But to give him his credit, to lessen the impact of National (and Labour’s) GST tax increase and lift some of the burden of this tax increase from low income families, Phil Goff did promise that Labour would remove the (increased) GST off all fresh fruit and vegetables. And remove all income tax off the first $5,000 of annual income.

    Labour’s GST cut just for fresh produce

    Mr Goff said that if Labour took power next year, it could not afford to undo the rise, but removing the levy from fruit and vegetables would “reduce the unfairness and the pressure” on families.

    Andrea Vance Stuff.co.nz September 28, 2010

    Removing GST off fresh fruit and vegetables plus removing income tax on the the first $5,000 earned, would have put $1.5 billion back into the pockets of the less well off.

    So what, after gaining the Leadership of the Labour Party, is the first major policy that David Cunliffe announces?

    That he will massively reverse Phil Goff’s earlier promise to lessen the burden of National’s GST increase on the low Paid!!

    Instead of the $1.5 billion of tax relief promised by Phil Goff, David Cunliffe promises the less well off only $520 million.

    And to add insult to injury, declares that this $520 million will be paid in the form of “targeted assistance”, effectively turning a tax cut into a charity handout. The message to potential Labour supporters? “You are too dumb and selfish to know how to spend this less generous amount, so we have decided it for you.”

    At the same time as he made the announcement that we would drop the promised tax cuts for the low paid. David Cunliffe confirmed his support for Deep Sea Oil and for raising the age of pension entitlement to 67. Popular policies? Not according to all polling on these subjects.

    Maybe he is trying to appear “fiscally responsible” to the big corporates and treasury.

    But is this effort to appease the corporates and treasury by being fiscally responsible election winning stuff?

    Not according to the pollsters.

  24. Excellent post Chris. Got it in one there.

    Instead of throwing his lite blue arm around a few CEOs, Shane Jones needs to be out there door knocking in communities and wrapping his arm around few workers and beneficiaries, offering up some positive policies. Those who really need to know there is a political party on their side!

    In fact, all Labour candidates should be out there, knocking on doors, pounding the streets, talking to ordinary Kiwis, giving them some hope through good solid policies, reasons why their vote should go to Labour.

    As for David Cunliffe. My observation of him in Parliament recently is that he seems to have lost some of his former clout! He is even speaking more quietly now. The energy and fire is waning. Something doesn’t seem quite right there.

    Not sure what Labour is up to at the moment. It’s just a pity that the NZ Greens require Labour to get into government for them to be able to make an impact, because they are the only party which is emerging as pro worker.

  25. I don’t think there is anything basically wrong with David Cunliffe. I just think Labour left the leadership change far too late, it should have happened a year before to give him room to find his own feet and use his own abilities and qualities in his own way, rather than have them forced on him due to time constraints. Will he make a good leader, yes, if Labour stops panicking, trying to please everyone and pays more attention to its roots. Will he make a good PM? Probably, but by the time this happens National will have done irreparable damage to NZ society. Do I think Labour will be the largest party in the House after Sept 20? No, but I hope I’m wrong.

  26. Chris, have you read Martyn Bradbury’s post about “Rumours of David Cunliffe’s death have been greatly exaggerated” on this blog?

  27. Thanks Chris, your “what do people want” list hits the nail on the head.

    We want to be treated as people (not as economic units that, once redundant, get carted aside, fed rubbish and finally screwed for the last time by greedy rest-home corporations).

    Spot on Chris, and the really depressing part of National’s re-election would be that that we probably never get that.

    And, isn’t it about time Shane Jones joins National? Go where your heart is, Shane, and serve the corporations. No more Labour-in-drag please. We have had that and people don’t vote for that anymore.

    • Shane will be our Prime Minister one day, probably our first Maori prime minister (someone has to be).

      Might be best to keep him in Labour…. and stop worrying about 1984 repeating itself. Shane is not Roger Douglas; nor even Richard Prebble.

  28. By christ, Mr.Trotter,! Put some steel in your spine. You’ve been a bag of nerves lately. If this campaign was the battle of Stalingrad, I’d have invited you into my office for word with Mr. Tokarev by now before you rattle the troops.

    Shane Jones and Grant Robertson getting off their arses and doing their jobs doesn’t make them look like they are vying for the leadership, it makes Labour look like they are an actual team for the first time in years. The public have made clear that they don’t like leaders who put the boot in or roll in the dirt, so it makes sense that Cunliffe has delegated it.

    • YES!

      “To lead people, walk beside them …
      As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence.
      The next best, the people honor and praise.
      The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate …
      When the best leader’s work is done the people say,
      We did it ourselves!”

      And it’s about time we got moving instead of being over-glee’d by a flicker of life in the economy.

      Rock Star economy…yeah, Buddy Holly and Elvis.

  29. I disagree. neither Robertson or Jones are a threat to Cunliffe. Neither are prime minister material. And I don’t believe the digipoll either, already contradicted by the next poll. I think Cunliffe is good. the media tried really hard to discredit him over his campaign funding which was not illegal and broke no rules. So he is the man under the spotlight, feeling the heat. Give the man a chance.

  30. Would like to know why the Daily Blog removed my post saying….
    I am really surprised that someone as “seasoned” as Chris Trotter fell for a poll from the heavily right wing biased NZ Herald. Or am I? Chris Trotter spends more time and effort pulling labour to bits than bothering with national, who are literary dismantling and tearing this country apart for their own selfish neoliberalist ends

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