I rushed over to The Standard to read their critique of Phil Quin’s ridiculous opinion piece in todays Herald. Astonishingly there was none to be be found, so it’s up to me to provide one.
I promise to be nice.
Here’s the most ridiculous part of it…
That the review into Labour’s disastrous election defeat was leaked to the media is only the second most predictable thing about it. The most obvious was its emphasis on party unity as the single most important determinant of political success.
“Disunity within caucus seriously undermined Labour’s credibility,” the report stated. This aligns neatly with a view, ubiquitous in media and political circles, that Labour is prone to destructive factional wrangling; and that MPs were so hopelessly divided under David Cunliffe that it doomed the party’s chances. I think it’s nonsense.
Let’s start with the ABCs. According to proponents of this Disunity Hypothesis, a cadre of malcontents known by that acronym (for Anyone But Cunliffe) ceaselessly undermined the then-leader because they were threatened by his principled approach to politics and revolutionary zeal. The ABCs, in this version of events, are neoliberal careerist scoundrels who would rather lose to John Key than win with David Cunliffe.
It’s a riveting parable – plausible at first, but soon upended by its own logic.
It is true that the more pragmatic, career conscious and ideologically muted members of caucus didn’t support Cunliffe. This applies to Annette King, Trevor Mallard and Phil Goff – along with others. And yet the very pragmatism and ambition for which these MPs are (unfairly) criticised is why the case against them is so weak: yes, they opposed Cunliffe at the outset, but rallied around him with impressive discipline in the lead-up to the election.
Why? Because they are every bit as desperate to win as their critics contend. In fact, with the notable exception of Mallard’s ill-conceived proposal to clone the moa back to life, Cunliffe’s frontbench – aghast behind the scenes at his narcissism and poor judgment – were loyal to a fault during the election period. The ABCs exist mainly in the fevered imaginings of Cunliffe loyalists who would rather blame someone else for his failure.
…The claim the ABCs never existed is utter bullshit. They were furious at being forced to listen to the members when the members selected Cunliffe as leader. They staged a series of public attacks on his leadership leading into the election and Kelvin Davis was plotting to launch attack campaigns against a possible coalition ally in MANA. Throwing the election under the bus and Cunliffe with it while holding onto their positions of power is not the great leap of logic Quin is attempting to make it.
Pretending the ABCs didn’t exist is an attempt to re-write history.
I actually don’t mind the Right of Labour forming their own think tank, as I pointed out…
The think tank could be useful…Cookie Cutter MPs and beige spokespeople who dress like the middle and move like the middle and speak like the middle have more chance of winning the middle.
If this new right wing think tank can be focused on job creation however, tying the forestry industry to training schemes to building state houses and affordable homes then they could be an asset.
…my concern was if Quin and Pagani could park their spite and manage to gag themselves over social issues. Quin’s attack on Cunliffe in the above piece suggests that’s not possible.
What Quin and Pagani seem to want isn’t a Right wing Labour party think tank to promote strong economic ideas in the provinces, they want the ability to spit on those elements of the Left they despise.
Is this right wing think tank going to be an intellectual vehicle or a vanity project for those who feel aggrieved?