Dangerous Company: Andrew Little quarantines the Labour Right

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ANDREW LITTLE’S DECISION to ban Stuart Nash from sharing a platform with Wellington Mayoral hopeful, Nick Leggett, is instructive. First of all, it tells us that Little and his supporters are still very frightened of the Labour Right. Though by no means a majority of either the parliamentary caucus, or the party, Labour’s right wing constitutes a large enough minority to fatally injure Labour’s re-election chances if it feels so inclined. Secondly, it tells us that Little and his supporters lack the confidence to engage the likes of Leggett (or Phil Quin, or Josie Pagani) in free and open political debate.

Little, with a great deal of help from his chief-of-staff, Matt McCarten, has spent the last 18 months convincing caucus members of every ideological stripe that disunity is death. They point to the way the left of the party undermined the leadership of David Shearer, and how the right of the caucus repaid them by undermining the leadership of David Cunliffe. Their contention, that such behaviour simply had to stop, was supported by all those MPs who longed to escape the impotence of Opposition – i.e. every single one of them.

So why, given his undoubted success at dampening-down the fractious factions of both the Labour caucus and the wider party, did Little feel obliged to lower the boom so publicly on the head of Stuart Nash?

Clearly, the campaign team behind the Labour-endorsed candidate for the Wellington Mayoralty, Justin Lester, had a hand in his decision. They are only too aware of the political clout of the people backing Leggett’s campaign, and of the sheer volume of the money that keeps rolling in for the former Porirua Mayor. They are also rattled by Leggett’s winning ways. There is more than a little of Mike Moore’s populist style in Leggett’s political demeanour (not something you can say about Justin Lester’s). Little was goaded to action by a combination of fear and spite. Not a good look.

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Leggett’s ready access to the networks of power, influence and money, coupled with his backers’ plan to have him share a platform with Nash, would also have reminded Little and his team of the ambitious Napier MP’s own impressive connections to the power elite. This is, after all, the man who financed practically the whole of his campaign for the Napier seat with a Matthew Hooton-organised fund-raising dinner at Auckland’s exclusive Northern Club. The contrast between Nash’s fund-raising skills and those of the impoverished Labour Party is not a flattering one.

In such circumstances, it is easy to see how Little and his supporters might fall prey to the notion that Nash and his kind constitute a right-wing “Labour Party-in-waiting” with all manner of helpful friends in the business community, PR circles and the news media. Friends who, given the “right” line-up on Labour’s front bench will be quick to offer a helping hand.

The dangerously accurate sniper-fire kept up against the Little-led Labour Party by the likes of Josie Pagani and Phil Quin (key movers, along with Leggett, in a plan to form a New Zealand-based political think tank modelled on those advising the Blairite wing of the British Labour Party) can only have contributed to the siege mentality so obviously gripping the Leader of the Opposition’s office. Particularly galling for the Labour leadership is the fact that their critics, having allowed their membership of the Labour Party to lapse, are in no way subject to its discipline. As regular guests on The Nation and Q+A, they can articulate their critique of Little’s electoral strategy with impunity.

The only effective way to combat the undoubted influence of Leggett, Quin, Pagani (and Nash?) within the Labour Party is to confront them head-on. If it is not possible for them to counter their opponents’ “Third Way” ideology in open debate, then Little and his team must either plead guilty to being woefully ineffectual democratic socialists, or, to secretly subscribing to exactly the same strategic objectives as the Labour Right.

Leggett openly proclaims his conviction that: “You have to occupy the centre, and you have to appeal to a broad base of New Zealanders, and for Labour to win they’ve got to be as big as National … They’ve got to be a 40% plus party.”

Frankly, it’s difficult to believe that becoming “as big as National” is not also Little’s prime electoral objective. And, if that’s correct, then the real reason for his refusal to allow Nash to share a platform with Leggett is that Little does not want the left of his party to realise that the true extent of Labour’s ambition is no greater than the goal of its unreconstructed right-wing: “to occupy the centre”.

41 COMMENTS

      • Thank you for ‘deepity’.
        I’ll add it to ‘truthiness’.
        Now I need just one more to make the set.
        It’ll go with the ducks on the wall…

  1. Oh dear me, Chris is at it again, I wonder if he will allow my comments to be published, he failed to publish my last on his last blog and I wonder why.

    The quicker Little dumps the batch of right wing members of the caucus the better. Labour has been and was corrupted from the days of Roger Douglas and Richard Prebble. Chris wrote:

    “They are also rattled by Leggett’s winning ways. There is more than a little of Mike Moore’s populist style in Leggett’s political demeanour… Little was goaded to action by a combination of fear and spite. Not a good look”. Yeah right…Chis is still a fan of Mike Moore…yuck

    That’s why labour is up around 33% in the polls and when combined with Greens are over-taking the nats.

    If I was John Key and read Chris Trotters latest rant…I’d make him an honorary member of the National Party…and offer him a free holiday in Hawaii.

    Maybe that’s his secret desire. Birds of a feather stick together as the saying goes. Chris also wrote:

    “The only effective way to combat the undoubted influence of Leggett, Quin, Pagani (and Nash?) within the Labour Party is to confront them head-on. If it is not possible for them to counter their opponents’ “Third Way” ideology in open debate, then Little and his team must either plead guilty to being woefully ineffectual democratic socialists, or, to secretly subscribing to exactly the same strategic objectives as the Labour Right”.

    It is well known that Nash plays both sides of the fence, like hiring Simon Lusk etc, Jose Pagani was never labour and was always Pagani first.

    I think the labour Party should ignore Chris Trotters self-serving advice and get on with slowly but surely getting back on track, we must never forget that Labour, Greens, NZ First and Mana plus I believe the Maori Party could have an overwhelming majority next year.

    • A) On this site, Chris Trotter does not have any hand in whose comments get published. As far as I know, Bomber probably does, + Scarletmod.
      B) How do you work out that Chris is a fan of Mike Moore? Please read more carefully. Moore did have populist appeal for quite some time, but the idea that Chris is any kind of ‘fan’ is purely your invention.

      The rest of your comment I find confused and confusing. I would like you to explain your assertions more clearly.

    • It seems to me Peter that you have a personal dislike of Chris and are seeking to justify this with your arguments.
      Alas you fail.

      It seems to me that your rage has interfered with your ability to comprehend a reasonably easily understood critique.

  2. When did you become such a right-winger Chris? What happened?

    Rogernomics all but destroyed the Labour Party and now you want Labour to invite all the neo-libs back because … why exactly?

    Leggett, Quinn, Pagani et al spent all their energy undermining David Cunliffe going up to the last election and have been trying to turn Labour rightwards for years now. And you think it is fine that Nash (who only got elected because McVicar split the right) publically supports a candidate in standing opposition to the official Labour candidate.

    • I was gobsmacked to see Quin alongside Heather Roy (former ACT MP) and our “expert commentator” Bryce Edwards on the panel on Q+A this morning. Again it was hosted or co-hosted by right of centre Jessica Mutch, and of course they had to take a dig at Andrew Little for what he said and did last week.

      Quin denied all suspicions about some right wing conspiracy, but the way he talked, he was not convincing me, and I believe not convincing others who closely follow politics and what happens within Labour.

      The publicly funded MSM is shifting further to the right, as I note, week by week, it is a serious concern.

    • No, Karen, I think you need to read this again
      “The only effective way to combat the undoubted influence of Leggett, Quin, Pagani (and Nash?) within the Labour Party is to confront them head-on. If it is not possible for them to counter their opponents’ “Third Way” ideology in open debate, then Little and his team must either plead guilty to being woefully ineffectual democratic socialists, or, to secretly subscribing to exactly the same strategic objectives as the Labour Right.”

      • …Or …Maybe its worth giving leggett a leg up? Into the Mayoralty by giving him a profile to beat the other right-wing candidate..Bill English’s sister inlaw, whatshername? Then you’ve got him in the box seat to hold down Pagani & Quinn in their place? If you can’t control them …position them and restrict their ability?

  3. Chris, great article, all apart from the last paragraph.

    Little is no leader and Labour will get nowhere with him at the helm. His CV is inadequate and he has twice failed to win the electorate of his home town, instead gifting a wider majority to his opposition. That’s a strong indicator of just how poisonous he is.

    Political parties generally don’t lead the voters, they merely align with the wants and needs of the majority of the voters if they want power. Outside of the tiny echo chamber that is the Hard Left, basically nobody wants a bar of old style socialist policies anymore. Many people who still vote Labour only do so out of habit or loyalty – they too have no desire for a return to the 60’s. If Little carries on down his current path he will shed these votes too.

    • Ye Gods! Chris must get depressed when he writes literately, only to be misinterpreted by a bunch of semi-literates.

      • “A bunch of semi-literates.” What are the odds he responds to assert that he has no problem with Jewish people?

  4. Labour Leader Andrew Little supports, and is calling on Labour Party supporters to vote for Labour MP (‘Independent’) Phil Goff, as Auckland Mayor.

    Phil Goff supports corporate control, by supporting the TPPA, Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs), and road tolls.

    Are these now Labour Party policies?

    In my considered opinion, anyone who thinks that these pro-corporate policies are going to get the 64% of non-voting Auckland masses to get off their bottoms and vote for Phil Goff – has GOT to be joking.

    The reality is that the centre-right vote for the Auckland Mayoralty is spoilt for choice (ie: split to hell).

    Sorry Phil – but as you know full well – I’m the only Auckland Mayoral candidate with over 20 years proven track record at Auckland local government level, defending the public and the public interest against the corporate 1%.

    How do Labour expect the public to have confidence in their political judgment by supporting a founding ‘Rogernome’ as Mayor of Auckland?

    Penny Bright
    2016 Auckland Mayoral candidate.

    ‘Activists – get things done.’

    • I am so sick of what goes on within Auckland local body politics, you may this time around get my “protest vote”, Penny, just to send these arrogant jerks a message.

        • Hah, what a silly comment!

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auckland_local_elections,_2013

          Penny got 11,723 votes in 2013 and ran fourth of all, just ahead of John Minto who came fifth. With John now in Christchurch, Penny may perhaps even double her votes, given those who voted Minto may throw their support behind her, and given also that many Aucklanders are disillusioned and disappointed with the direction Council has taken, e.g. with the acceptance of the flawed “Proposed Unitary Plan”, having accepted the ACT Party pleasing recommendations of the “independent” hearings panel.

          There is a chance of some interesting voting to occur later this year.

  5. What’s the point of holding power if you are just going to be National under the guise of Labour.

  6. Poor Mr Leggett: ‘ “You have to occupy the centre, and you have to appeal to a broad base of New Zealanders…’

    Broad base, narrow centre…Hmm. Looks like another pyramid scheme.

    HOw big IS this ‘centre’? How many hundred thou? How do they currently vote? Why would they change?

    And this collection of estranged seat-warmers keeps chittering on about ‘the middle’ like a bunch of startled possums.

    Politics as it is, certainly and for sure, appeals to an ever-diminishing puddle of people; the few who are in, not the many who are out.

  7. The American Indians had a proverb, “white man speaks with forked tongue”.
    It originated as a result of the French tactic in their 1690 war with the Iroquois , of inviting their enemies to attend a Peace Conference , only to be slaughtered or captured.
    I’ve come to the conclusion you don’t really know who you are or what you want .
    I can’t make up my mind if it’s blissful ignorance , delusional romancing or just revelling in the joys of being a shit stirrer with impunity or any responsibility, a la Henry, Hosking , Garner ,Gower and Hide. ( A cowards game if ever there was one.)
    None of these options are a good look!
    Hooton , is about as toxic as it gets. Not the type of person you want to be associating with. He helped out with a campaign to get some one elected. Whoopee! There will be a big price to pay somewhere along the line. He who pays the piper…..
    Debating opinions with them? We have heard repeatedly over many years now what they think . Nothing new to see there!
    Little is right and you are wrong.
    Drawing a line in the sand is a sign of strong leadership.
    You have whinged on for years now about how Labour need to return to their core values and cut loose the shackles of the last vestiges of neo- liberalism.
    Well, here it comes!!
    Time for you to do the same and get that massive chip of your shoulder!!

    • For fucks sake!! Who the fuck is suggesting anyone should associate with Hooton.
      Chris is giving this fund successful raising event as an example of on that was extremely successful. That’s all.

      How about you quit your knee jerk reaction to any criticism of Little or Labour and read and understand what is written.

  8. “Leggett’s ready access to the networks of power, influence and money, coupled with his backers’ plan to have him share a platform with Nash, would also have reminded Little and his team of the ambitious Napier MP’s own impressive connections to the power elite. This is, after all, the man who financed practically the whole of his campaign for the Napier seat with a Matthew Hooton-organised fund-raising dinner at Auckland’s exclusive Northern Club. The contrast between Nash’s fund-raising skills and those of the impoverished Labour Party is not a flattering one.”

    Money is power, and money buys its candidates, the money of big and not so big business interests and those sitting in the elite.

    So what do you expect from Andrew Little? Simply sit by and let his party be undermined? I think it is time to tell these neoliberal MPs to take a hike, some of them are, some need to follow, such as Mr Nash.

    And I am sick and tired of seeing and hearing Josie Pagani on Q+A and on the radio at times, the problem is, those running our publicly funded media are also part of the establishment and continue to invite the same old players that serve their interests. Besides of that there is also an evident laziness in the media, to reach out and seek the views of some other persons who have competence and capabilities to offer qualified opinion.

    Pagani does not speak for the left, nor does Quin and nor do others of that colour. Problem is, same as the private media, our public broadcasters seek to maintain the status quo, as that is taken for the “best” kind of society they aspire to, or cling to, they have no vision, no ideas, offer no fair play or democratic input from others, who may challenge the status quo.

    With all this we are stuck and damned, and may lose another election, as voters will be misinformed to think, laissez faire, neoliberal approaches, business and private enterprise are the best approach to deal with any challenge or issue.

    The government can lean back as the work is done by others to keep them in power. Joyce will also smartly operate behind the scenes to keep it all as it is.

    Andrew Little is too cautious, he offers a consensus approach, and he only takes such firm action, when he has good reason to anyway. It is not so much insecurity, but a need to keep the fold together, as Stuart Nash is more interested in promoting himself and his like minded mates.

    Good riddance that Leggett is no longer part of what Labour stands for. Who goes to bed with business and developers, to get into a mayor position, or other desired political position, he or she must be treated with utter suspicion.

    I may also warn our Phil Twyford that his links with the same may prove more harmful for Labour:
    http://m.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11553128

    • read that link – twyford really is a developers’ friend..

      ..he wants to relieve developers of the cost of infrastructure..(!)…and to lump that cost onto the lumpen proletariat instead..(!)..to give developers a free-ride..

      ..developers must be falling over themselves to support him..

      ..i soured on twyford when he came out as a cannabis prohibitionist…

      ….this only adds fuel to that raging fire..

      (anyone who is is a fool..as far as i am concerned..if only because of prohibition costing taxpayers a half a billion ($500m) each/every yr..

      ..and hey..!..you can build a hell of a lot of affordable home for a half a billion dollars…as just one example of better use of that money..

      ..so twyford..like little..and if only for that pot-reason…is an economic-illiterate…

      ..i do wish our media had the nous/skill-set to grill little/twyford on the ‘why?”s of their prohibitionist ideas..

      ..make them bloody explain it in a rational manner..

      (instead of just childish ‘gotcha!’s as displayed by lisa own on the nation..

      ..do they all lack the wit.intelligence to discuss this in a rational/inquiring manner..?

  9. Meh – Quin – no powerhouse, just an embarrassment. He left Labour trying to fit up Twyford for telling the truth about the property bubble- cannot expect support after that.

  10. Yeah , – so Labour wants to occupy the center … so what?

    They just don’t want to do it with neo liberals and their influence.

    And why waste time and energy making a scene?… more ergonomic to simply draw the line and fire a warning shot. That way you don’t give a platform for the ones to be ejected time for any public debate.

    And don’t worry,… no one is scared if there is to be a purge coming, the general public have been indicating they would be happy for this to happen, – and expecting it.

    The public want to see a REAL center left party …why ?… so they can vote for it ! …after all ,…isn’t that the issue of what all the kefuffle has been about for the last 32 years of neo liberal infestation in that party?

    Get on board , Chris and come along for the ride .

    There’s good times ahead for NZ with the Labour / Green MOU and the other party’s that will become part of the next govt in 2017.

    Until then , expect all manner of underhanded tricks to be pulled out by a panicking right wing. They know their times drawing to a close.

  11. Sidetracking – mumbo jumbo – confusing rhetoric.
    Seems we have lost the focus on what is sane and how to make a better country. What are the plans to move forward instead of tearing – tearing and tearing down whatever we can to encourage division.
    Self proclaimed authority figures distract and confuse and leave us bewildered and frustrated. Waste of time and energy.
    Left – right – centre —- madness games.
    Move on. Write poetry instead.
    No one wants to be confusing and irrelevant and a right wing fence setter.

  12. Well Lester has lost my vote – sychophantic sucking up to Little and seeking his support does it for me.

    So I’m voting for Leggat (thanks for helping me make my mind up on this Andy).

    Wellington needs an energetic mayor prepared to act and make decisions independently of a monolithic national political party wanting to use its local political lacky (Lester) to impose its rigid ideology on Wellington.

    • what feckin’ ‘rigid ideology’..?

      labour are neoliberal/centreist-mush…

      ..and how would this manifest..?..this ‘rigid ideology’… in yr clearly fevered imagination..?

      ..will wellingtonians be forced to march in lock-step..singing ‘the workers’ flag is deepest red’..?

      ..you righties with yr scary! – scary! – tactics/stories are kinda funny..eh..?

      ..albeit simplistic..

      ..and yr language is hilarious..has hints of the cold war era..very retro..

      • Reasonable points Phillip.

        It seems to me that ‘rigid ideology’ can take several forms. In this situation its my view that Little’s stance on Labour Party members Nash, Shearer, et al in ‘banning’ them from associating with Leggat because Leggat, apparently, is too right wing, is an example of ‘rigid ideology’ in action.

        In acting in this way Little is demonstrating authoritarian non democratic leadership, which erodes the rights of others (Nash etc) to associate with whom they like, because if they do so they risk being ‘ex communicated’ from the ‘Party’.

        As such I do not have any confidence that Lester will be anything other than a ‘lackey’ (to use a quaint cold war expression), because to think and behave freely and flexibly in the interests of Wellington runs the risk of offending the ‘Dear Leader”.

    • When has a right winger ever acted independently of national and made decisions that are good for all? Youre dreaming OCON.

      • Whats your point Words?

        I’m talking about Little’s anti democratic leadership where he’s attempting to ban his mps from exercising their fundamental democratic right of free association, which the labour party once stood for.

        That has nothing to do with National.

        • That’s bullshit Ocon. Read the Labour party rules, Little had every right to pull his MP back into line, You can bet John key would have if the shoe was on the other foot.

          • So you’re saying, Words, that the Labour party doesn’t believe in the fundamental human right of free association?

            Are you also saying that Little’s decision to stop his mps’s from exercising their human right of free association is ok because of Little’s ‘right’ as leader to ‘pull his mp’s back into line’ is more important?

            If this is what you’re saying then there’s your bullshit.

            BTW rather than making things up about national – how about you provide an example or two of where Key has done the same thing. Then you might have some credibility.

  13. I was glad Little called it how it is. Pagani, Quinn and possibly Leggatt have undermined Labour values. I thought Little showed real leadership reigning the likes of Shearer and Nash in. No matter what one things of Leister he is the candidate Labour has endorsed. Toe the line boys.

  14. Andrew Little is showing leadership Chris, get over it. As leader he has every right to pull his MPs up should they step out of line. The fact is Stuart Nash should have known better, and he has apologized to Andrew Little, so who are the ones really afraid CT? it aint Andrew Little, that’s for sure.

  15. “the right of the caucus repaid them by undermining the leadership of David Cunliffe.”

    Jeez – if anyone was any more right of the current neo liberal old guard caucus that threw the last election, and now refuse to withdraw from the TPPA should Labour and Little ever funmble their way in to government, they’d surely be standing for the ACT party at the next election ! 😉

  16. Maybe its worth giving leggett a leg up? Into the Mayoralty by giving him a profile to beat the other right-wing candidate..Bill English’s sister inlaw, whatshername? Then you’ve got him in the box seat to hold down Pagani & Quinn in their place? If you can’t control them …position them and restrict their ability?

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