Making The Change We Need: The votes Labour needs to win are still out there.



MUCH SCORN has been heaped upon the claims of Fairfax political journalist, Vernon Small, that a change of leader could rescue Labour’s electoral fortunes. But shooting the messenger, as so many have done in relation to this story, is a poor substitute for studying the message. Especially a message like this one!

According to Small, if every person who claimed they would vote for Labour if David Cunliffe was no longer its leader kept their word, then support for the party would skyrocket. From its present parlous position, located somewhere between 23 and 25 percent, support would rise by an astonishing 13.5 percentage points to an election-winning 38.5 percent.

Whether this projection is statistically valid or not interests me much less than what the numbers cited by Small tell us about the political preferences of the electorate.

Clearly, there is an extremely large number of voters (several hundred thousand) who would like to vote for the Centre-Left but are disinclined to so while it remains in its current state.

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At the heart of this disinclination is the Labour Party itself. Looking at it, they see a tortured, internally fractious, ill-disciplined organisation peopled by individuals who clearly loathe one another, and who seemed determined to not only lose the Election of 20 September 2014 – but all subsequent elections.

Not surprisingly, the person they blame for this state of affairs is the Labour leader, David Cunliffe. In spite of so obviously wanting the job, the general consensus among centre-left voters is that, having got it, he has made a God-Almighty mess of it.

Cunliffe’s tentativeness and outright bumbling has both surprised and disappointed his supporters. He had led them to believe that if Labour’s members and trade union affiliates made him their leader he would lead his party in double-quick time back to its democratic socialist roots. But, when Labour’s rank-and-file did exactly as he asked, Cunliffe spent the next three months doing three-fifths of bugger-all.

There is now a widespread feeling that, in some way extremely difficult to put one’s finger on, all those who backed Cunliffe have been duped.

It was that poster-boy for Labour’s Third Way-ism, Steve Maharey, who infamously talked about “the sort of thing you say when you’re in Opposition but then forget about when you’re in Government”. Does Cunliffe subscribe to the same doctrine? Was all that talk about socialism just the sort of thing you say when you’re running for the leadership of the Labour Party – and then forget all about once you’ve got it?

The thing is, after all that talk about taking Labour back to its core values; after brandishing a bunch of red roses and proclaiming them “the international symbol of socialism”; after responding “you betcha” to a question about raising taxes; Cunliffe, as Labour’s newly-elected leader, saw his party draw 37 percent support in the Roy Morgan opinion poll. And that number is as close as dammit to the number Vernon Small was citing as the level of support Labour could expect if the Caucus dumped Cunliffe and elected someone else to lead the centre-left into the general election.

Left-wing voters may have taken their phone to Cunliffe off the hook, but their direct line to genuine Labour policies remains open.

We should forget all about the mythical “Centre”. Political journalists may believe it exists, but the evidence suggests that, overwhelmingly, people continue to subscribe to the belief systems of either the Left or the Right. What really determines the outcome of elections is how faithfully voters believe “their” party is reflecting the values it claims to represent. If a substantial body of Labour’s potential supporters feel cheated by their party’s perceived backsliding and/or equivocating they will hold themselves aloof and, if the situation is not rectified, may even decide to sit out the next election in protest.

If  it’s true, this theory of voter motivation spells extremely bad news for all those in the Labour Party campaign team who have pinned their hopes on getting out the Labour vote. Because a significant proportion of those abstainers aren’t staying home because they’re lazy or apathetic, they staying at home because they feel let down by the person and the organisation upon whom they had pinned all their hopes, and which has turned out – once again – to be something much less than promised.

How questions are asked by pollsters often shape the replies they receive. Ask about leaders and people will think about leadership. But is that what the Fairfax-Ipsos pollsters have really revealed? Is it not possible that Vernon Small has afforded us a glimpse – albeit through a very grimy statistical window – of an important and quite likely definitive truth about this election? That Labour and its allies could win – but only if they can convince those hundreds-of-thousands of electors who so desperately want to vote for them that their votes will not be wasted. That the change they need will be the change they make.



  1. People are judging Labour and Cunliffe on what they are hearing from Garner, Gower, Hawksby, Smith and they are judging Labour and Cunliffe on what they are reading from Armstrong, Small, O Sullivan, Trevett, Watkins and now, sadly from Trotter. Give us a break Chris.

    • What you have written might begin to make sense if the voters Chris had referred to were swing and sway voters to the right of the centre. But, no, he has clearly identified the legion of embittered–rightly or wrongly–as those on Labour’s left.

      Assuming he’s right, these will be people who are disillusioned with a supposedly democratic socialist party continuing to staunchly advance and defend neoliberalism; they are not blind to the effects this corrosive doctrine has had on their lives and how it has shattered hope for intergenerational improvement for their families and society.

      You appear to ignore the duty implicit in being progressive not to silence your voice just because a group causing offence claims to share your values; where would the morality be in that and how undignified and enfeebling an action would that be?

      Sure, any true progressive wants National out as soon as possible but this position does not of right confer any legitimacy to Labour simply because it is located a few timid steps to the left of the right and so far to the right of centre that it is at risk of entirely losing its bearings, if it hasn’t already done so.

      When Cunliffe assumed the leadership of the party, Labour had a rare opportunity to recalibrate itself authentically and in so doing to realign itself with true democratic socialism. For reasons best known to a Beehive coterie and the ambitious sycophants buzzing around it, Labour has chosen to stick with the mistakes of the past 30 years and by doing so has yet again pulled a finger at the left and at those many, many families for whom daily life is a struggle and the future more ominous than it is propitious.

      • Where’s the evidence for this?

        On the other hand, there has been, since the day he took the leadership, a steady stream of ridiculous media beat ups about Cunliffe, designed to make him look foolish or weak.

        Some of my favourites.

        He misspeaks in parliament, and it is endlessly repeated on the news.

        Some old man yells abuse at him out of a car, and it is endlessly repeated on the news.

        Groundless accusations about his CV, endlessly repeated on the news.

        A guy he talks to during a media event about housing prices turns out to be an investor, endlessly repeated on the news.

        Donghua Liu accusations that are based on nothing, endlessly repeated on the news.

        There’s loads of others.

        The best is that I have seen at least a few times it mentioned in newspapers that Cunliffe’s nickname was “Silent T”. Now that may well be true, but all it is here is a means of obliquely calling the leader of the opposition a cunt.

        Labour can respond to this. Next time they get into power, they can massively expand public broadcasting and crowd these idiots out, and at the same time institute a fairness doctrine. If the news media is going to declare a side, then it should be treated as such. Anything else is useless.

      • Rubbish and I think you are completely out of touch Michael, but that’s what you get for believing the word of the media, or you are a right winger and are happy to believe it anyway. David Cunliffe openly stated that neoliberalism has failed New Zealand and labour has put out some great policy, with more to come. And its a far better alternative than to maintain the status quo of the current regime of an elitist self serving national party, that is selling us out lock stock and barrel and who are the perpetrators of much of the struggles and suffering that many NZ families have found themselves in. An unprecedented 42, 000 families have had their power cut off by rorting power companies. Thanks national for kicking the guts out of NZ, I for one won’t be a part of that shame, Im no traitor, Im voting to kick John key out, and am voting for positive change, and proud of it too.

        • @ WORD: There’s obvious dissonance between stating that neoliberalism has failed the country and then failing to use the one chance you might have to follow up this admission with a comprehensive set of policies that could replace the failed system with a different one.

          If Cunliffe and Labour lose this election, it’s highly unlikely he’ll be back at the helm anytime soon to lead it into another election campaign. Has he blown this one chance? We’ll only know after the results are in, but assuming for a moment that Labour do lose and knowing what you do, what do you believe might be the reasons for this outcome?

          Do you think that the main reason will be that it pitched its policies too far to the left or too far to the right? do you think its hypothetical failure will be because of the mainstream media or because of a failure to inspire a movement for change among voters and to energise them sufficiently to get out their vote?

          I too will be voting to get Key and National and their support parties out of the Treasury seats and am equally appalled by National’s callous disregard for the suffering of ordinary people, the working poor and those relegated to the economic and social margins; I just don’t believe that Labour have thus far advanced sufficient credible reasons to carry a large enough portion of the voting public with them.

          As someone who yearns for truly positive change, do I want this to be true? No. Am I out of touch? Possibly but most likely less so than those who are so deep inside the echo chamber that they’re unwilling to hear anything other than a mirroring of their own opinions.

      • @Michael Herman, so Labour intends to make changes to monetary policy to help reduce the exch rate, add 2000 teachers, build affordable homes, increase the min wage to $16 within 100 days, these are great policies IMHO…I would like you to provide 3 things that you suggest that Labour should do “recalibrate itself authentically”?

        • @SAARBO: I have no doubt that some good will come of those policies but they are just tweaks to a broken system not part of a strategy (at least not one publicly acknowledged and articulated) to replace the system.

          It’s instructive to recall the top tax rates and financial sector regulations introduced after the Great Depression–and the reasons they were considered essential–to get an idea of what a system that’s orientated more towards the ordinary person instead of corporations and the super rich looks like.

          If you believe neoliberalism and its various flavours are as good as it gets then all well and good, but that’s not democratic socialism.

          • The problem with that @Michael Herman is if you think Labour is polling badly now, the huge changes that you are suggesting will be the end of the party for ever.

    • You need to get your head out of the sand Saarbo. Your assertion that voters are persuaded by journalists on how to vote is a tad arrogant.

      I’d voucher that the vast majority of voters don’t read or listen to the views of the journalists you cite.

      They make their minds up, as you do, on the evidence that is presented to them by the politicians and their parties and by their experiences.

    • We can blame the media all we like but the fact is labour is in trouble. They can’t seem to work together. You only have to look at Cunliffes trip to Queenstown, seems their is always someone in his own party that is ready to take a cheap shot. Which is really quiet sad.

  2. I don’t think the 37% you cite was driven by the “international symbol of socialism” stuff as much by Labour having run a successful leadership primary, with three credible but diverse candidates, capturing much media attention and demonstrating Labour as a broad church.

    Remember, during that primary Labour’s policy differences were never more obvious.

    But the candidates showed goodwill towards one another, and voters could relate to at least one of them.

    Which argues, in my view, for big parties targeting the median so-called “common sense” voter, smiling and waving a lot, and trying to personify the whole nation etc.

    This doesn’t excite me politically (nor you) but the empirical evidence suggests elections are indeed won in the centre, no matter how much we may want it not to be so.

    • You were like almost there with making sensible comments until you chose to interpret the situation as a call to pander to “common sense” voters.

      Shouldn’t political parties actually strive to communicate their policies and beliefs better to get the country behind them? That would create a much longer lasting support than a worm responding to Peter Dunne saying ‘common sense’ every third sentence, or John Key being a smiling everyman.

    • Matthew, I think your comment;

      But the candidates showed goodwill towards one another, and voters could relate to at least one of them.

      – nailed it.

      My gut feeling is that the public aren’t willing to support Labour because it shows little inclination to be able to work collegially with it’s potential allies.

      Remember that Key always makes favourable comments toward National coalition allies. He never disses them. Nor do other National ministers and MPs.

      By contrast, Labour MPs have attacked the Greens and Mana-Internet with such venom that you’d think they had hailed from the US Republican Tea Party…

      It’s this ability to show positiveness that has been part of Key’s success.

      Labour disinclination to work with it’s potential allies shows voters that it is only interested in grabbing votes for itself – not forging a broad coalition with potential allies. It’s that selfishness which is a turn-off to voters.

      And the irony is? Well, I’ll be making that point tomorrow in a blogpost. Brook Sabin may choke on his early morning cuppa and toast.

  3. Perfect! I dearly want to support Labour. More than that though, I want them to be staunch about where they stand.

  4. Chris, most people just need postive affirmation in regards to Cunliffe’s leadership. This is something you, the ABC’s and the media have not given him. Playing the public is so easy. All you have to do is micro-analyse all the minor indescretions of one leader while brush over the major mishaps of the other. Keep reinforcing the negative branding ‘tricky’ ‘incompetent’ for weeks on end until it sticks. The man could be practically walking on water and the media would laugh and jeer at him for not wearing the right footwear. As to your comments Chris, you come across as someone with a personal grievance. You have said before that you can’t put your finger on it but you just don’t like the man. And boy do we know it!
    I am sick of hearing about Cunliffe’s resignation or sentences that start with Cunliffe is wrong because…
    Lets keep it positive, and lets keep our personal grievances to ourselves. Change is difficult but it is exciting to see the Labour Party finally renew itself. It has fantastic new idea’s and policies attractive enough for the opposition to steal. It is now up to the smart, progressive and young to decide if they want a better future for themselves, and Cunliffe is the leader to do it!

    • I have to agree that the role of the media in all this is huge. Every time I see Cunliffe through the MSM lens he looks like a fool. Every time he gets to talk or write directly I see a very smart and capable person.

      I think the worst thing about the political journalists is that they now comment on politics like a sports commentator at a rugby match. They’re all besotted by John Key’s ability to present like a casual kiwi bloke and criticising David Cunliffe for not appearing relaxed in front of the cameras.

      First of all, if they’re so aware of Key’s ability to present as a kiwi bloke why aren’t they giving him hell about what is clearly a piece of fakery given that he is a multimillionaire who has lived out of the country for a very long time.

      Secondly, I don’t know what sort of drugs would make Cunliffe relax in front of the media but they’d have to be pretty special ones given how much of what he says is deliberately twisted and used against him. I certainly couldn’t do it – although I imagine for a sociopath like Key it’s pretty easy.

      and Thirdly could these idiot journalists do some bloody analysis and talk about policy and the real world effects of said policy! They’ve effectively neutered themselves by chosing to comment on how well each policy is presented and avoiding the hard work of analysis. Their performance over the 11 year old letter was quite mad. They were all seemed to be feeding off each other’s excitement at a potential scandal that they failed to notice how stupid it was to expect someone to remember an 11 year old letter.

      I can only presume Chris has been spending too much time in the company of MSM journos. It’s a mistake that is guaranteed to warp anyone’s view of the world.

    • Well said D- Man, very nicely put. And the real ABCers apart from the one you already mentioned, are John key, the national party and the complicit pro national biased media, who are doing everything in their power to get rid of Cunliffe and knock labour out of contention.

        • Then why are the media doing everything in their power to discredit and destabilize David Cunliffe’s leadership, trying to oust him prior to the election and john key and cohorts going to great lengths is orchestrating smear campaigns? wakey wakey.

        • Dream on .
          Hooton was almost hysterical on Q@A at the mention of Key having to go head to head with David Cunliffe.
          So panicked was he by the thought, that he blurted out some ridiculous suggestion that The Greens should be part of the Key -Cunliffe debate because the current round of fictitious propaganda polls have them within 14% of Labour.
          I mean ,that kind of warped thinking shows how corrupted his brain is.
          Even Susan Wood ,who normally nods and smiles at anything a right wing ‘commentator’ says, was looking at him like he was on some sort of drug.
          He is. It’s the drug of fear and desperation!

  5. I would be fascinated to know what your ideal Government would look like and more importantly what the exact detail of all the key policies would entail and the relevant costings, whether financial or intrinsic.
    Without that sort of datum to work off, it’s hard to know exactly when you have reached nirvana.
    I think you make some good points, but bagging David Cunliffe on ‘Radio Dead’ the other day, by insinuating he was lazy because he took himself and his family on a much deserved holiday, after working 18 hour days ,6-7 days a week since becoming leader was pretty disturbing, not necessary and plain not true.
    The last thing you want is David Cunliffe being half asleep during the ‘leaders debates’ due to exhaustion.
    Those sort of, off the cuff ,’old boys club’ comments don’t help the cause one bit. The vacuous Rodney Hide must have thought all his Christmas’s had come at once.
    You could have shown some socialist spirit by saying ,’being a good family man he is leading by example by showing how important a balanced work / family life is even when your leader of a political party in an election year. Very admirable!’
    I know you’ve got a huge axe to grind with Labour, and they’re not perfect,(neither are National by any stretch of the imagination), but if you are going to constantly berate them on msm at every opportunity, fair enough, but you could at least show some balance by also pointing out the plethora of crap that Key and National are up to.
    Otherwise just call yourself a commentator, not a commentator for ‘The Left’.

    • David Cunliffe was working for the party in Queenstown, judging by the facebook posts I have of him in suit and tie and coat, with Moira Coatsworth and the labour candidate for the area! It might be nice if commentators got their facts straight for a change! Give the man a break! He’s been attacked on every side from the day he became the Leader!

      • Well said and too true Hami. John key flies out of the country to his home in Hawaii, and not a derogatory word or put down from the media is said. David Cunliffe goes to Queenstown and is crucified for it. Whichever way the media see it in their get Cunliffe at any cost campaign, David Cunliffe is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t.

        • Just checked the Stuff site – interesting the ‘hard working ministers’ name checked by senior Labour party insider? To Chris Trotter, if you did bag him on Radio Live because of this Queenstown trip I do question where your stand on Mr Cunliffe -it almost seems you just don’t like him personally.

          • Read that, its clear its just another Cunliffe media beat up, the so called “insider” was not labour, and is most definitely a NAT.

  6. Chris, about time you wrote about the difference btwn hard and soft politics. I believe that there has been quite a shift. There were examples of hard in the past – Bastion Point, 81 tour etc. This govt is all hard politics. No analysis from the MSM. Does it date back to the massive sackings of journalists in Douglas’s times?

  7. Not long ago I predicted that the Labour/Green vote at the next election would not get to 40% and that New Zealand first would not make the 5% threshold, so for the Left to have any chance of victory at all IMP needs to get near 10%. Anything else is fantasy. This means Labour being friendly to those parties and showing signs of having a left wing agenda. So far it has tended quite the other way.
    Recently I attended a meeting in which Phil Twyford (Shadow Minister for Housing and Transport) spoke on Labour policy in that area. He spoke glowingly of the achievement of the first Labour Savage government in building “tens of thousands of houses” and said “what has been done before can be done again”.
    I asked if that meant that Labour would borrow money at 1% from the Reserve Bank, which is how they funded that program. No, Labour would borrow the money on the international markets. That will be at rates higher than 1%, I point out, so why not use the Reserve Bank money? “Because it will be inflationary” he says.
    If Labour supporters think that this kind of monetary thinking will win votes, they are delusional.

    • I came across Twyford during the early years of Rogernomics. I always had the impression that he was in basic agreement with neoliberalism, but thought that a few of the rough edges could be smoothed. I’m not surprised he wants to keep us indebted to the people who brought us the Global Financial Crisis.

      Labour is so mild and scared of upsetting the right that they have about as much appeal as a choko flavoured iceblock.

      • Hmm…. Impressions can be wrong, looks like the founding director of Oxfam NZ, Phil Twyford has changed alot since then doesn’t it.

        • Not really much change at all. He was working for CORSO for a while, then suddenly helped Oxfam move into Aotearoa, and was rewarded with a directorship. I saw it as a move very much in the interests of self-promotion.

          In any case, neoliberalism loves charity. It allows the government to abrogate its responsibilities.

    • God dammit. They still just don’t understand do they? If it wasn’t inflationary when Savage used Reserve Bank credit why should it be now?

      • If thats obvious to you and me, why not to them? Because they have accepted neo-liberalism as a religion and to question it is heresy?

        • David Cunliffe hasn’t accepted it. He said in a speech to a bunch of ardent right wing businessmen, that neoliberalism has failed New Zealand.
          David Cunliffe is right. People should take more notice of what is actually being said, not what the media tells you and want you to believe.

  8. People will say anything to get rid of pollsters or to mislead them.

    Corrupt and inept politicians have degraded politics to the point politics is now regarded as a sick joke by anyone with a brain.

    (Labour is still regarded as the party of traitors, and will continue to be regarded that way until all who endured the pro-corporate, pro-globalisation policies implemented in the 1980s and 2000s have died.)

    • But isn’t it fair to say that sell out national is a party of traitors with all the self serving elitist neo lib policies you have mentioned, that has been systematically destroying this country over the last 6 years. Its 2014, not the 1980s, its senseless to keep punishing for the sins of the past, no one seems to do that with national. Roger Douglas is long gone. Labour in under new management. Time you stepped out of the past and into the present.

  9. Cunliffe is an unmitigated disaster, but Labour’s problems go way beyond it’s leader. I doubt a leadership change would make a great deal of difference, but Labour are so far behind they are likely to try anything.

  10. Excellent analysis Chris. Some hard truths to consider here. The commentariat would be wise to breathe through the nostrils before embarking on a predictable demonising the messenger exercise.

    • If this was such an excellent analysis as you suggest surely the central hypothesis should be able to be supported by more empirical evidence. Why for example are parties reflective of more left wing policies than Labour (say The Internet and Mana parties) not doing better in the polls?

      • The polls are being manipulated you can guarantee it, as their results are unbelievable and volatile, and Edward Snowden this week has released the facts on how they are being hacked all around the globe.

        Want to know more just ask?

  11. ‘ If a substantial body of Labour’s potential supporters feel cheated by their party’s perceived backsliding and/or equivocating they will hold themselves aloof and, if the situation is not rectified, may even decide to sit out the next election in protest.”
    Rather than remaining aloof these people could go over to the Greens or to Internet-Mana. But they don’t. Labour loses support and National increases it’s support. 61% of men in the last Stuff poll now supporting National , 20% Labour , 10% Greens and some fraction of one percent Internet-Mana.
    ( note to those with comprehension difficulties : this post is not an attack on any person , party or political persuasion )

    • Quoting ‘Stuff’ is akin to quoting Fox news. Wikipedia has redefined the word ‘biased’ because of their existence.
      If the ‘Stuff poll’ is to be believed it would only serve to highlight that the ‘Dumbing down of the Kiwi Male Policy,’ launched in 2009, has been a roaring success .
      What with their heads filled with Sonny Bill Williams, Richie McCaw, John Key durping, burping and planking at Barbies, fishing and driving shows, we clearly have some real intellectual heavyweights amongst us.
      They like John Key because he’s nice and simple and uncomplicated loywk us eh. Yeah nah, s’all good !

    • Lol Who said these polls are true? The 2011 election sure proved the polls wrong. I see the same scenario being played out again with “hoodwinking polls” but I don’t think people are going to be duped for a third time, John Key has lied his way through 2 terms, its not going to be that easy for him. Notice the unprecedented level of media attacks and national party orchestrated smear campaigns against David Cunliffe to undermine, and discredit and listen to the latest shrill calling for Cunliffe to resign even before the election proper has begun. You dont have to be Einstein to work out whats really going on here. national are worried, they are VERY worried, and they intend to get as dirty as they can with the assistance of a compliant bought and paid for media who are more than willing to play their part.

      “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
      Abraham Lincoln.

    • I think there is truth in what you say. I suspect the reason is that the dumbing down that we all recognise has reached a point where an election is regarded as a horse-race where the punters back the horse they think will win. This places all the baggage on the other horses to prove they are still in the race, and becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.
      We are stuck with that but it does show that Labour needs to look like a winner and that means getting the other horses on side rather than nobbling them.

      • How? when you have mainstream media actively and with irrational manic fervour sabotaging every move Labour makes and putting every word that Cunliffe says through a meat grinder. Bugger anything called policies, right? mainstream media think they can win the election for national.

  12. Yes, it all started off with a hiss and a roar, …I nearly fell over from disbelief when listened to David Cunliffe when he first was chosen….at last , I thought …here is a man with guts ! Here is a man with spine enough to get back the time when we REALLY could boast of a very egalitarian society.

    Alas….dishwater ,… worse than that he’s dead ,Jim… but not as we know it.

    The guys a cringing apologist (figuratively) for the neo liberal fifth columnists in the Labour party. I f he had any guts and really meant what he said those mutts would have been gone along time ago.

    This economic recovery/rock star crap I keep hearing about – let me tell you a wee story bout how wages REALLY are for hundreds of thousands of average Joes.

    The place I work ..a guy left a few weeks ago because in FIVE YEARS he had not received a wage increase. He was still working for $14:00 per hour , flat rate.

    In the job we work in..its common to work 12 hour shifts and to be called out if needs be – average hourly rate is $13:00- $15:00 per hour , no overtime, bugger all gear supplied, no bloody nothing – just a sodden flat rate akin to what a kid gets as a school leaver.

    All of us working there are people in our middle years. I got more than that when I was EIGHTEEN YEARS OF AGE back in 1983!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I was on about $17:00 an hour and on top of that there were many allowances because of the hard and often dangerous construction we did.

    No bloody wonder people have shoved off to Australia- who the hell wants to work for some cheap as crap wannabe lord and master – what is this?..

    Some sort of sicko game where we play peasants and lords????

    The bloody hell with that sort of carry on ! They can stick that bullcrap notion of servitude firmly up where the bloody sun don’t shine.

    And as for Mr Cunliffe…these days I don’t think he deserves the condescension of our vote – sad but true- the guys a lemon. Either that or is the neo libs strategy to make Labour just a figurehead…and tame it enough to carry on that peasant and lord B.S game.

    If there was any advice for Mr Cunliffe , would be to start sounding off like he’s got a pair and stop with the B.S…either he means a return to Labours ideological roots – or get the FK OUTA THERE.

    • You’re still on $14.00 an hour and you are middle aged?

      Frankly you deserve no better, if you have done nothing to better yourself in all those years then tough luck.

      • I bet you’re a worse facsimile of a human being than you were in your youth, big turd. You may have been able to say something useful then. Now you’ve just degenerated to the point where you’re a stupid wind up toy spouting Whalespew rubbish.

      • Wow. Just wow. And, really? You inhabit a human skin but have the capacity of a scorpion to determine right from wrong? That would almost be impressive if it weren’t so outrageously shameful, if it wasn’t an utterance one would expect to find in the Freaks display at the Carnival of Privilege.

    • I’m pretty careful in my support of Mr Cunliffe – I was burnt in ’84 too. However, I was at a public meeting on the 3rd – 3 weeks ago – and I didn’t hear anything that made me doubt the honesty of his socialism. Talk of looking after everyone, that it’s not peoples faults that they fall on hard times, is this not socialist? This was a packed meeting with over 100 people, including the ones in the corrodor(reported in the local paper as 60 -lol!) and I even noticed my husband nodding away to policy solutions mentioned. You can’t blame David Cunliffe for our shitty work policies (not unless Labour gets in in Sept and they do nothing about them – which is not their policy now – “minimum wage rises within the first 100 days” ). If you want to know – go out and listen to a public meeting away from the spin, check the policies on line & if you still don’t like Labour, do the same with the other parties and vote for the one you like best.

  13. Call this a conspiracy theory if you like, but I think Vernon Small’s clamouring for a change of Labour leader is not all because they think David Cunliffe’s Labour DOESN’T stand a chance, but because they think it DOES. Goading Labour into changing its leader now would probably mean the end of Labour’s chances this time and the right (much of their confidence seems to be sheer bravado) would love this to happen so they can sleep easier at night.
    On another point, I disagree that the political centre is mythical. It exists but is too small to be of any great value because of our relatively small population. Just ask Peter Dunne why he can’t scrape up enough votes to coat tail his number two in beside him.

    • Agree Mike the Lefty.
      It’s as plain as the nose on ones face that ‘The Right’ have been panicking all along about David Cunliffe. Hence their oh so transparent fawning over David Shearer.
      It’s classic psycho behaviour. Ridicule, lie and cheat to get rid of someone who’s got it over you .
      ‘The Right’ is in for a big shock and I’m not talking about Kim.Com.

    • Exactly, they are trying to get rid of Cunliffe and knock Labour out of contention. national obviously see David Cunliffe as their greatest threat and they have done so ever since Cunliffe was democratically elected. Everyone knows Shearer is incapable of handling Key, thats why there is a media push towards him.

  14. ”At the heart of this disinclination is the Labour Party itself. Looking at it, they see a tortured, internally fractious, ill-disciplined organisation peopled by individuals who clearly loathe one another, and who seemed determined to not only lose the Election of 20 September 2014 – but all subsequent elections”
    On top of that it’s logical to assume that there are factions inside the party which are equally toxic to large parts of the voting public. You only have to loathe one small faction in the party enough and you’ll vote for National just to spite them.

  15. O.M.G, when will the stale, pale club piss off and let Cunliffe, Norman, and pull this country out from the grip of lunatic, narcissistic, corrupt, U.S.A butt kissing, polluting money grubbing ……

  16. Seriously has anyone seen the poll on the stuff website? The question is: Would you be more likely to vote Labour if David Cunliffe was not leader?

    Really, can anyone take this seriously?

    If the question for the poll instead was would you be more likely to vote National if John Key was not leader?
    How many people on the Daily Blog would vote to out John Key on this fictional poll.

    Whale Oil constantly posts anti-Cunliffe stories. There has been an orchestrated smear campaign against him. Don’t tell me that his detractors from the right would not have voted on the stuff poll. Then Vernon Small writes an opinion piece on this poll, which gains further traction with Chris Trotter’s article here on the Daily Blog. His blog is then reposted on the Whale Oil blog or the Kiwiblog and so the lie continues…

  17. Quote: “We should forget all about the mythical “Centre”. Political journalists may believe it exists, but the evidence suggests that, overwhelmingly, people continue to subscribe to the belief systems of either the Left or the Right. What really determines the outcome of elections is how faithfully voters believe “their” party is reflecting the values it claims to represent.”

    I have been waiting for this to be spoken out!

    It is about values and a society that believes that it belongs together that counts, and most believe that, but they have been so manipulated, corrupted and undermined by a commercially focused, right leaning mainstream media, that is in firm alignment with the policies of the present government, which favours the interests of their bosses and stakeholders. Division is applied and dictated to all of us, none else.

    They feed the messages out to the public, so the public do not get informed properly, they get lied to, selectively informed and thus manipulated. In the end nobody believes anybody and anything anymore, so people cling to short term thinking and solutions, and they cling onto straws. They rather cling to the bird in their hands, than to dare and take risks, even if the risk is small, and chance looks much better. That is WANTED!

    Polls are totally unreliable, as the way they are conducted are not sufficiently scientific and logical at all.

    Those on the right tend to think their solution is the “right” solutions for a functioning society, those that tend to be more socially minded, and left of centre, they tend to think that they have the solutions. So New Zealand continues to be divided almost in the middle, a mythical middle, full of nuances.

    Yet the manipulative MSM do all to tilt the balance by employing largely biased media “personalities”, “commentators”, superficially reporting “reporters” and infotainment serving “moderators”.

    With such poorly informed public and voters as we have, we will NEVER have a functioning democracy. And that is WANTED, by Key and his lobby groups, that favour him and the Nats.

    So Labour is facing a mightly challenge and what Vernon Small writes, is just more of the manipulative stuff that his employers want to feed us.

    Believe NONE of it, be alert, vote for your values and preferred society, above all VOTE, and take action, as YOU can determine the future, let it not be done so by biased MSM and manipulative spin masters working for a no hoper, useless government, that has no plan, no ideas for a future for this country.


  18. I agree with you Chris that the disconnection between rhetoric and policy has resulted in Cunliffe being viewed as unvoteable in the eyes of many potential voters (Cunliffe should have talked centre and delivered to the margin, not talked left and delivered to the centre). However, I don’t see a leadership change at this stage helping. It’s also worth remembering that Cunliffe’s strength is in one-to-one debating, so it’s worth keeping him.
    If Labour were going to keep Goff & Shearer’s policies (or step to the right as it has done under Cunliffe) then Shearer should have stayed…but I thought we all agreed that Labour couldn’t break Key’s personality based hypnotic hold, and therefore Labour needed to shift policy to the left and shift politics towards policy and away from personality…I’m sure that’s what the Labour party members decided when they backed Cunliffe? Didn’t they?

    I don’t agree with Vernon Small’s claim, but it’s pointless blaming him or the mediaworks lapdogs. Cunliffe talked left and then delivered right, which pisses off everyone. He got it around the wrong way. Cunliffe should have dragged Labour’s policies to the left, and then talked neoliberal gobbledegook. Talk centrist and drag to your ideological margin like Key has done. The centrists won’t read leader’s policy, and political fanbois like TDB readers won’t give a shit what leaders say to Gower because we don’t watch d-grade journalists.

    • I know I’m going to sound stupid but what policies – under Cunliffe – have been a step to the right, comparibly with Labour under Shearer and Goff? This is an honest question.

  19. As long as Labour are a “light blue” party, and do not even dare to speak out any alternative social security policy, they are not going to convince many that want a fair, equal opportunity and respectful society. Sadly the right have succeeded in undermining and corrupting the social fabric, so most do not trust each other, look at other’s mistakes and failures, and strive only for their own individual advancement. Migrants are favoured if they fit that same mind set and agenda, to compete, work and “invest”, and do all to avoid “costing” society, be this by way of losing jobs, relying on the social safety net and health-care.

    New Zealand has been corrupted beyond recognition, is more of a class system as it has been for many decades, and too many in the middle class only feel consolation or a chance to feel “better”, by being able to look down on the “less deserving”, the damned “beneficiaries” and supposed “bludgers”. Sadly Labour played their part in developing all this, and have not convincingly repented from their mistakes.

    The present caucus is the problem the party has, it has the old neo liberal hangers ons, quite happy with a “Nat Light” version of policy, while the potential reformers are too weak, partly deluded and clinging to PC stuff, that nobody in public is much interested in.

    The only solution after the possibly lost election will be: A NEW LEFT party, that replaces Labour, that is what I fear and expect.

    They have only a few weeks left to get their crap together, so we will need to see. Without the Greens nothing will go, yet they had the arrogance to frown on the Greens trying to work together and fight a team spirited election campaign. Only Labour can blame itself, nobody else, really, that is my resume.

    • Labour under Cunliffe isn’t a “light blue” thats the national biased media words that you are repeating.

  20. The problem with most in the supposed “left” in NZ is, they have NEVER suffered, like real workers, they are spokespersons from an elite background and do not quite get what they want to be and talk about.

    It takes others to cut the custard, but not in middle class and well educated NZ, where they try to convince the poor to vote for them. They are losers and NOT convincing.

    See the other side to the story here also, in another country:

    They suffered and BLED, maybe our Labour MPs have to learn some suffering too, to convince?!

    • I remember reading a comment thread at The Standard where some of the regulars were talking about how working class people might feel about something. They were asking if anybody there knew a working class person. The some women mentioned that she had quizzed a tradie doing work on her house and that he was probably working class. I mean you couldn’t make this stuff up.

  21. Every so often you write an “I hate David” piece which totally demolishes the fabulous historical analyses you have built on since the last one. Give the guy a break, I suspect that what you call “three fifths of bugger all” is actually negotiating a maze of political intrigue not of his own making. Roses are fine, imho, as long as they come with $1 bread.

  22. So guys, please answer me this, if you are so unhappy with Labour under Cunliffe, why don’t you not vote for the Greens (or possibly even Mana / Internet)? Is it because they aren’t one of the two parties that have held the power over NZ politics for so long and haven’t deserved it???

    Aren’t you all just as guilty as everyone else who you think is being brainwashed by the media, because you seem to think that you have only two choices (for a left leaning voter);

    1. vote for Labour
    2. don’t vote at all

    If you are no longer happy with Labour, why not read the other parties policies and vote with your feet. There is nothing that binds you to Labour, other than an inability to show some initiative and think critically for yourself.

    I think the problem with most people in this country is that they have chosen a political party by default when they are younger, usually based on their parents preferences and never really evaluated the alternatives. Hence why I guess most of you above are only considering the vote Labour or don’t vote at all option.

    I do not want National in power but if they are to win this election, i think the best thing that could happen for everyone would be if Labour totally tank and the Greens ended up with a similar % of the vote as Labour… As going into the next election this should put the Greens on a level playing field with Labour. We really need people to get it out of their mindset that there are only two parties that they can choose from.

    • Very true DMan…but to be fair I think a lot of people on this blog would vote Green or MANA. However, we still want to see Labour move to the left for policy and ideological coherency, as well as ensuring that a change of government will actually change our material conditions

  23. Criticise Chris as much as you like but he pretty much sums up why I considered giving labour my vote 3 months ago but won’t be.

    In a Q and A Over at the Standard recently, Cunliffe avoided answering my question on why the party had not yet announced any intent to recover assets sold over the past 6 years.

    He skipped right over it preferring to address soft subjects.

    For a few days I hoped that might mean he didn’t wish to spoil an announcement at the upcoming conference. Boy, was I deluded in that.

    • Cunliffe couldn’t answer everyone’s questions he was on a tight schedule, aren’t you being a little impatient, the election proper hasn’t even begun yet. And Cunliffe has already said that they want to be fiscally responsible, if they can afford to get the assets back they will.

      • That’s right Word.
        Labour, (because of National’s steal and manipulate tactics), have had to hold back on a lot of announcements till closer to the election and I find it disturbing, for want of a better word, that a lot of people can’t see this!

        • 1) @ Grant (unsure if you are serious or sarcastic so this reply is to the former) National are not going to steal policies that re-nationalise sold assets. Ever.

          2) (@ Word) Re-Nationalisation is a core stance required for the reversal of the post 1984 neoliberal economic restructuring. Aside from the purchase of NZ Rail it is a stance notably absent from Labour policy for 25 years, post the 4th Labour Govt.

          Now you argue that we ought to wait yet another month until the election date is closer, as an election strategy? And do that on trust?

          Why? we’ve been waiting a quarter of a century for Labour to work toward dismantling the structures of neoliberalism that they helped implement. It is not difficult to conclude that labour are, basically, quite comfortable with the asset sales, and in fact, other neoliberal structures in place in our economy, for example, Clark Govt never sought to reverse the employment contract legislation.

          Until such an announcement on renationalisation and a timetable is actually made, this vote goes elsewhere.

  24. What is needed is a truly democratic Labour Party. One where the members are the ultimate authority not the caucus. Bottom up not top down. And while we are at it let’s democratise the economy. Workers’ control etc etc

  25. I’m too old to be called naive and yet I keep hoping that Labour will bring out a positive cannabis/hemp policy.
    This could be effectively woven into all of the campaign slogans that they are currently using and would attract a large portion of the non-voters in the hardest to catch age brackets.
    Not only that, the potential boon for the economy, both fiscal and social, is hard to over-estimate.
    Like a child with painted-on ears they seem deaf to every call for action.

    • There’s a time for that policy, and it isn’t during an election campaign. That is a politically contentious issue, and we all know that, right or wrong (I personally think right, I’ll admit) it would create an absolute shitstorm if they were to pull it out of the hat now. If they win, then that is the time to put it on the table. They would get a great deal of criticism, but so did National and the asset sales, yet that passed. That may appear cynical, but being pragmatic, the more important issue right now is winning.

      • Twaddle. How many elections do they have to lose before they realise that the hundreds of thousands of, mostly, young people are waiting for some honesty and respect from politicians?
        These people want a positive future unencumbered by irrational prejudice. They are informed, concerned about the future and politically disengaged.
        There is growing awareness of the usefulness of cannabis in the population at large (thanks to recent TV, newspaper and internet coverage) and the polls are overwhelmingly in favour of a change.
        A courageous, humanitarian stance could turn things around; ratings can’t get much worse than they are now.

  26. Should a Labour leader even go skiing at all?? I’m not having a go at David Cunliffe for having a holiday with his family, more the recreation choice. I know Helen Clark went on skiing holidays and many working class people still voted for her. But is it not true that most recreational skiers are wealthy? It just seems an odd thing to choose to do 2 months out from an election – go skiing then go ask working/poor people to vote for you, most of whom will never have the money to go skiing in their entire lives. It shows some kind of disconnect. Why not take the kids to a bowling alley then the RSA or cossie club for lunch? That’s as good as it gets for many people.
    I find it curious that when Labour leaders of today are given the choice they choose to hang out with the well heeled rather than their core constituents. I reckon Labour leaders of the past, like Norm Kirk wouldn’t have been seen dead in ski’s. He knew who his people were.

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