Labour reshuffle – it’s just a step to the middle – the rise of Kelvin Davis & Stuart Nash


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The Labour reshuffle is out and as TDB noted last year when Andrew Little won, it’s a step to the centre.

While Cunliffe’s Labour was hardly revolutionary, the questions he raised and the issues he championed have been seen as part of the problem so progressive identity politics and social justice will be quickly replaced with JOBS, JOBS, JOBS.

The hard word of God fell upon many behind the scenes of the Labour Conference on how important framing the debate was for the election and how being off message was damaging.

Little’s Labour won’t talk 5 Eyes or Abortion rights or Transgender rights or TPPA or Cannabis reform or euthanasia. It will be JOBS, JOBS, JOBS.

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Labour are targeting those who voted Helen Clark and now vote John Key, that’s their audience and to those folk, NZ is conservative with a little c and likes to get bargains at Malls.

That’s why two of the most attractive MPs to that electorate, Stuart Nash and Kelvin Davis have both gone up. This will cause angst amongst twitter and social media activists but the grim reality is Labour is pitching to an electorate who voted Key despite gross abuses of power, and that electorate wants to hear clear and simple messages like JOBS, JOBS, JOBS.

The challenge for activists will be to hold and defend the line while dialoguing with Leadership. Most of the policy activists want to change are all in the Labour Party policy platform. They all pretty much suggest an inquiry to look into these issues, that’s where activists should put their efforts, in participating and influencing those inquires once Labour is in power. It’s a hard lesson to accept, but 2014 proved NZers detest big ideas and want very simple politics. You can’t get much more simple than ‘JOBS, JOBS, JOBS’.

With the mainstream media openly hostile to progressive politics and a middle class who have allowed their inflated house valuations blind them to their previous egalitarianism, there isn’t much space for Labour to take risks or be too provocative.

Labour have cleverly kicked TPPA into touch by giving Trade to David Clark and not anti-TPPA Twyford or pro-TPPA Shearer, so Labour retain a ‘wait and see’ position.

It’s a smart reshuffle that allows Labour to look like it’s reaching out to the voter base they need to win over to gain power. Activists need to know that their issues will be heard and given weight post that win however or Labour can expect backlash.


  1. time for a new ‘Labour Mana Party’ imo..or a ‘Emerald Labour Mana Party’ (ELM Party)

    ….which is a real socialist Labour green feminist party representing New Zealanders

    Labour is no longer a Labour Party… it is a Liberal Party and does NOT deserve its name imo

    NZers are waiting for an alternative party that does not pussyfoot around and compromise with the right

  2. Cute, Martyn, very cute.

    But no, I’ve never really subscribed to sell out politics.

    So thanks to Little’s ‘enlightened’ approach we’re going to see another seven years of John Key’s and the National Party’s stagnation politics.

    Jeez thanks Andrew…

  3. ..after the disgusting lovefest of saturdays 80th anniversary pigout, I despair of labour coming back to its’ roots.. to have Douglas et al welcomed back into the fold .. when we have people sleeping on the streets.. and everything else .. sends a signal that Labour has lost sight of its original constituency. A Labour party really concerned about workers and the underclass should have donated their money and time to a charity to support the people hurting. Not a goood look for Labour..I was waiting for one of them to say ‘let them eat cake’.

  4. reshuffle =a case of the “bland leading the bland”

    Labour well and truly rogered this country’s working class people in the 80s and has never fully recanted and why would they–they support the retention of the Reserve Bank Act, SOEs and the TPPA

    we need reforms such as a massive house building programme and restoration of union rights and a UBI more than ever but they are not even up to that as the caucus rather than the members runs the party

    apart from basic politeness to some individual Labour members I have known for years from unions etc they get no support from me, social democracy as an ideology of reformism stifles and misleads class action

    so shuffle away the deck is stacked with jokers

  5. my initial jolt of surprise was the top right corner..and the bottom left corner.. we have kelvin (i’ll catch up soon!’) davis..

    ..a man who if he tries to think on his feet..falls flat on his face..

    (tho’..when all is said and done he is only there ‘cos of election ’17..and retaining what was harawiras’

    and in the bottom left corner we have the person who is head and shoulders above anyone else in the labour party in oratory/debating skills..

    ..cunnliffe is the only one in labour that the tories fear..(am i the only one to see this..?..they openly laugh at all labour throw at them..

    ..they don’t laugh at cunnliffe.. he has the ability of a surgeon..and taking them apart he achieves with ridiculous ease..

    ..and that little promotes such chaff..and also ignores one of his strongest assets..speaks ill of him more than either of them..

    (wot..?..has little/labour got a stable of people able to take it to the tories..have they..?..they have nobody..with perhaps their weakest link being little himself..and he does this to his strongest card..?..wot a feckin’ idjit..!..)

    ..and that the likes of far-right/tory stalking-horse nash get the little hand-up comes as no real surprise and was predicted by myself and others..

    ..and/but..i gotta say.. being correct does not feel actually leaves quite a bitter aftertaste..

    ..and can we just put to bed this scapegoating of cunnliffe as the reason labour the sole author/parent of that debate.. is all far more nuanced than that..

    ..and it actually gives my ire all sorts of grief to see those who sent cunnliffe out with an empty policy-satchel..sitting up the top..(i’m looking at you..robertson/parker..with yr insistances on sticking to the neoliberal-playbook..)

    ..all he had was words..and not one single game-changing policy..(the neoliberal-clique controlling the purse-strings insisting that nothing could be ‘afforded’..) putting all the other clusterfucks by others that led to defeat to one side..

    ..had cunnliffe been given/allowed some gamechanging policies..

    ..he/labour would have won..

    ..both parker and robertson (and the other neoliberals in labour) deserve equal-with gongs for their roles in that defeat..

    ..keep all that in mind when scapegoating all over

    (disclaimer:..i have never met/communicated with david cunnliffe..)

    • +100 pu…they do NOT deserve to win the next Election with what they have done to Cunliffe ( and I have never met him either)

      Cunlifffe is to the thinking and feeling moral Left…where this Liberal Party which calls itself Labour should be.

      Time now for a new Labour Mana Party…and hope Cunliffe jumps ship and takes the membership with him

      • NZ is going through a self-destruction/personality politics cycle.

        I don’t even try to understand it, as it will just make me depressed that humans adopt the lowest common denominator as their ideal, and that is being richer or ‘better’ than someone else.

        Why do you think people are clamoring to suck up to John Key’s government, as they want to believe John Key, and that they might be ‘like him someday’. They see everything they could have in Key i.e. wealth, power, ability to do whatever he wants within reason.

        I am not sure that Labour has anyone close to John Key, and I doubt that it can be elected by copy-catting National. As I am pretty sure it wouldn’t be wrong to profile a large portion of NZ voters as selfish, narcissistic, and of a ‘I don’t give a damn’ position.

        But I don’t believe Labour has a hope of winning next election, even if all their MP’s danced, juggled, and sung daily, in a political circus of desperation to be elected. So abandoning principles for a quick vote or buck not going to convince people, when they decide they really do want an alternative to the Nats.

  6. About what what I expected. Martyn Bradbury’s remarks about the value of engaging in Labour’s internal policy development processes intrigue me. I recently submittted an idea, which hasn’t been rejected out of hand, so far. OTOH, I submitted several in the late 1990s, all of which were strangled by the caucus once they attained office (never “power” for a modern Labour Party).

  7. The far Left need to understand who politics works:

    Labour has your vote: You’ve pretty much got nowhere else to go.

    So why should it court your favour?

    In order to grow support it has to sell to the centre.

    • We have somewhere to go.

      Greens. Mana. They’re quite left. Greens have some fabulous policies.

      What I don’t understand is why the left here on TDB hang on to Labour so tightly, and cry there’s no other left party, when we have two!

      Why do those commentators here on TDB ignore Greens and Mana?

      • LARA

        Indeed you could go to Greens or Mana.

        However, the consequence of this is that there would be no far left influence in Labour anymore.

        In effect you would cast yourselves into the wilderness, never getting more than 10% of the vote and never having any influence on actual policy by actual governments. Maybe you’d get in as a minor coalition member one day but still you’d have little or no influence.

        The Bottom Line: There are so few of you out there that nobody really cares what you do or think.

      • “What I don’t understand is why the left here on TDB hang on to Labour so tightly, and cry there’s no other left party, when we have two! Why do those commentators here on TDB ignore Greens and Mana?”

        I have no idea…they also love NZ First here, which are basically Colin Craig’s Conservative policies.

        And sadly, with what Kelvin Davis did to Mana in the last election, and with Kelvin Davis’ rise in Labour, it looks as though Labour have choked Mana to death.

        I don’t see Labour as the solution, I see them as the problem. Since I was the age of 3 they’ve been neoliberal. They can’t even offer the basics like free education, state housing and a living wage. They say ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ but those jobs pay poverty wages. Sounds like a shit deal to me. Is this the best Labour has to offer?

  8. Predictable. Boring. Shallow. Self serving with a sprinkling of incompetents. About what I expected from the dull Mr Little.

  9. ‘Little’s Labour won’t talk 5 Eyes or Abortion rights or Transgender rights or TPPA or Cannabis reform or euthanasia.’

    Nor will he talk Fractional Reserve Banking and interest charged on money created out of thin air, runaway debt, Ponzi economics, overpopulation, overconsumption, peak oil, collapse of the environment, the unsustainable dairy industry, sea level rise, or runaway greenhouse.

    Little will avoid discussion of everything fundamental, everything that actually matters, and maintain focus on peripheral matters, as the majority get ‘pushed off the cliff’ at an ever-faster pace….. following Key’s example, of course.

  10. In the current climate “JOBS JOBS JOBS” is very much an appropriate goal. People don’t have time to care about climate change and social progress when they spend all their time struggling to put food on the table.

    • Maybe not appropriate, but it will work.

      IMO climate change may well be our biggest challenge. If we fuck our environment so much we can’t live in it, then jobs may be the least of our worries.

      But that’s okay. It’ll happen to our kids, not us. Hopefully

  11. JOBS, JOBS, JOBS, and homes for those earning their share, in Labour’s NZ Aotearoa in 2020, I’d say.

    Stuff the ones at the bottom, stuff those that do not know work, as they cannot get any, stuff those depending on the “hard working Kiwis’ tax dollars” paid out in benefits. Some “gratitude” would be appreciated, Labour caucus members think.

    So Labour has set its eyes firmly on the property owning and property aspiring middle class, those who have jobs, expect all others to work HARD, when serving them meals in restaurants, making their beds in rest homes, when treating them in hospitals, when filling their bags at the supermarket check-out, and when filling their two per family cars with petrol at the service station.

    Never mind the looming climate disaster, we have “words” for that, we will print nice leaflets for next election, with fancy pictures and catchy slogans on them.

    And yes, the sick and disabled can also work, so they should, get them out of their wheelchairs and at least assemble ball point pens in sedentary work, that is fulfilling. There is always data entry, also a job, or answering calls in a call centre, one of those not yet in Mumbai or Manila.

    And we will have a glorious future, social housing will be little boxes stacked on top of each other in intensified Glen Innes and other parts of Auckland, no garden, sorry, but hey, you can grow some herbs in a pot on your tiny balcony.

    There is TV to watch, with funny infomercials, as public broadcasting is not yet ensured to be part of Labour’s priorities, same as many other things. Policy, ahem, we are still considering stuff, yes, we said a year ago, we would work on presenting some this year, but we decided, it can wait another year.

    How “exciting”, Labour, what a “smashing” party, I wonder, is it really?

    What I see is rather dull, rather dull and still lacking, and some headed for the back bench, some of the best talent there is, but hey, you got so much of it, have you not, dear Andrew Little?

  12. Conservative Labour MPs go up the ladder in caucus and the Party becoming more conservative is acceptable, but the Greens are lambasted as sell outs and moving to the right for having the temerity to get a flag option on the ballot while all their policies are the only ones of any of the larger parties that consistently represent progressive values. Time people stopped taking the Greens for granted and never recognising their merits.

  13. Labour need to appeal to the “missing million” voters, these are the people who are totally disengaged from politics and society.

    I don’t think many of them are National Party supporters?

  14. I think Labour underestimate that many of the Labour voters are a bit more educated and sophisticated than thinking the simple JOBS JOBS JOBS will work.

    The voters are smarter than the Labour MP’s. Labour underestimated their voters in the last election by deciding not to delve into dirty politics, but their indifference instead sent a message not to vote to 1 million voters. Last election we had a schizophrenic neoliberal divided Labour with more taxes plus Metiria wanting to ‘crash property’ as a potential partner. There was massive smearing to Cunliffe as well.

    It did not sound like a stable solution to many Kiwis with mortgages and jobs.

    That was the mistake. The idea that Labour voters voted National is not even true, they were far less votes in the election than it seems and the loss was from the missing voters or those who voted NZ First! Greens should have cleaned up more, but many Green voters are also home owners…. Labour and Greens both made mistakes. Deciding to go after Mana was also alienating to many.

    With the US situation of massive unemployment and poverty from the financial crisis it was not the right time for the Greens to be promoting some sort of similar situation in NZ. Especially refusing to think that 59,000 migrants were effecting prices but were not considered a factor. Maybe Meitria did not mean it the way it sounded but her own electoral votes were lower than the Green votes which is unusual I would have thought.

    As a person who likes the Greens policies in general, and more than Labour policy but don’t want a property melt down, more a crack down on immigration and migrant property investment criteria (but nobody is allowed to suggest that!).

    I can totally see why the election results ended up the way they did….

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