MUST READ: Why I Won’t Be At The Labour Conference This Weekend

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I SHOULD BE at the Labour Party’s annual conference. I fully intended to attend. I’d received the usual e-mail inviting me to apply for media accreditation. But, with the deadline looming, I just couldn’t do it.

Wearing a media pass around my neck this year would have felt hypocritical – inauthentic. Labour conferences have never been just another journalistic assignment for me. Ever since I cast my first vote (more than 40 years ago now, God help me!) Labour’s cause has been my cause. Regardless of whether I was attending as a delegate, or a journalist, Labour conferences mattered.

It’s why I worked so hard to get to them. As the only political organisation in New Zealand with a realistic prospect of actually improving the lives of working people, the internal life of the Labour Party has, for me, always been a matter of huge significance.

As a journalist, I never found the official conference speeches of much interest. What mattered to me were the conversations with rank-and-file delegates; the policy workshop debates on economics, trade and foreign affairs [all closed to media this weekend] and the chance to get some idea of who was on the rise and who was on the way out. I never got the impression that more than a handful of the journalists in attendance were remotely interested in any of these things, but for me this annual pulse-taking was invaluable.

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I kept coming back for more because I never went away from a Labour conference disappointed. At the grass-roots level of the party there was always a sense of optimism. No matter what the setbacks, I never got the sense that Labour’s forward march had been halted.

Even at the annual conference following the rout of the Fourth Labour Government in 1990, delegates could point to established leaders like Helen Clark and Michael Cullen, and to new MPs like Steve Maharey, Pete Hodgson and Leanne Dalziel, and tell me with considerable confidence that Labour’s sun would rise again. And, of course, nine years later, with a lot of help from the Alliance, it did.

Even with the departure of Clark and Cullen, the party’s confidence remained undimmed. Indeed, between 2008 and 2014 I detected an exciting groundswell of rank-and-file assertiveness. There were hundreds in the party who, with Clark safely ensconced in New York, were determined that their party should, once again, become the driving force of progressive change in New Zealand. These were great conferences to attend.

Two individuals stood out in this headlong rush for a Labour rebirth: Helen Kelly and David Cunliffe. Like those undaunted delegates in 1990, Labour activists looked to them in confident expectation of another brilliant sunrise. It was not to be.

Maybe that was it – the reason why, on the afternoon of Tuesday, 1 November, I just couldn’t fill in my accreditation form. Helen was gone, and now David was going. Labour’s bright sunlit morning had turned into a grey rainy day.

Yes, the delegates will all be there in the conference hall this weekend. The workshop debates will splutter and stutter to some sort of conclusion. Party vacancies will be filled, reports presented, and Andrew will deliver his speech. Except, this time, the political drama’s script will not have been written by a Kirk, a Lange, a Clark, or even a Roger Douglas, but by a committee.

Labour’s villains have become banal, and her heroes are dead and gone. For me, the party’s annual conference no longer beckons. Fortunately, there’s plenty to keep me busy in my garden. This year’s roses are a particularly vivid shade of red.

38 COMMENTS

  1. in the few years leading up to 1984 the party was stolen from its members, a great number of us left and watched the next 30 years in disgust, finally in 2013 the workers took back the party with the election of their leader, it okk but a few months for King and her 5th column to get storm the castle again, leaving the party bedraggled and stunned since then.

    • 100% Lloyd! My thoughts exactly! After what they did to David, Labour is dead to me. I am a socialist and am now watching TOP’s with interest.

  2. To continue to trot out Clark and Cullen as Labour successes is either a deliberate attempt to mislead or is an indication of severe delusion, Chris.

    Helen Clark was a neoliberal wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing, and under her guidance everything that mattered was made substantially worse, while all the factors that needed to be addressed were ignored; her neoliberal business-as-usual stance was the very reason she got offered a position at the UN -just another corrupt wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing organization that promotes the international money-lender’s agenda. Ditto Michael Cullen , though he never made it to the UN: perhaps he didn’t feel inclined to go overseas and was content to collect directors fees from organisations in NZ that he misdirected. And do not forget it was the voter’s disgust with the dictatorial form of government and blatant lying that emerged in the last years of Clark’s rein that resulted in Key getting so much support.

    The only good thing we can say is that the entire corrupt, exploitive, money-lender system is going down the drain very quickly as a consequence of decades of failure on behalf of politicians of all colours to deal with anything that needed to be dealt with, their utter determination to promote business-as-usual come hell or high water (both of which are on the way), and their well-documented mendacity.

    Planetary meltdown

    Daily CO2
    November 4, 2016:  403.76 ppm
    November 4, 2015:  399.21 ppm

    and resource depletion continue apace, and the next round of global economic mayhem is underway.

    And we are ‘represented’ by a bunch of mendacious, cowardly politicians (including the Greens) who continue to ensure that no preparations whatsoever are made for what is clearly on the horizon, even though we’ve got probably only about another 3 years left before all hell break lose.

    You can bet your last dollar that nothing will be said about any that matters at the Labour Conference, but that there will be the same old bollocks about more better-paying jobs and more economic growth, and other mathematical impossibilities.

    Recognition that Labour is a phony party committed to making everything worse whilst attempting to present a façade of knowledge and competence would be a WOULD be good reason for not attending the Labour Conference.

    • @ Afewknowthetruth. You’re dead right in so many ways.

      I could never understand why Labour never tried to take the Farmer away from National. NZ farmers earn our export revenue after all.

      Why is that, do you think? Labour could easily steal away with the farmer by simply offering farmers security. They could then weld farmers to their urban, down-stream service industry people while managing a farmers financial ministry to help avert the cost of natural disasters and financial bull shittery so as to secure on going NZ farmer productivity for the sake of our survival
      It’s bizarre, that Labour never, ever mentions farming, farmers, the rural hinterlands and the smaller towns.
      Imagine taking out all the farm lands from a map of NZ and just left the cities. What collaboration of NZ cities could manufacture, market and sell a product/s that could equal what NZ farmers manufacture?
      All you’d be left with is a strip of mountains, a few thousand hectares of national parklands and a sundry few dots of city.
      Auckland has gargantuan debt and dysfunction, Christchurch is crippled by earthquake damage, Dunedin is tiny and all of them fiddle around with borrowed, false economies and andrew littles brain storm is to get unemployed sub 24 year olds on the minimum wage to work for the ‘ community’ ! What fucking community? The non existent ones we pretend we have?

      I’m sorry, but something stinks to high heaven and it’s so big and scary that no one politician will go anywhere fucking near it.

  3. So the one credible centre left columnist that I genuinely respect has decided not to attend Labour’s 100th Assembly.

    Ouch.

    But rudderless and as afraid to make great as the Turnbull Government in Australia is able to do anything good, I can sort of see your point. I just hope the colour of the Flanders field poppies at the moment is not a metaphor for Labour.

  4. Aw, Chris it could be worse.

    You could be the PM John Key seeing the All Blacks losing to Ireland, as a portent to the 2017 election.

    You could be Max Key, after showing his true colours about what real men do.

    You could be Paula Bennett presiding over 300,000 kids in poverty, people living in cars, and having to place security guards at every WINZ office.

    You could be Bill English, promising a tax cut, then having to rescind it, because the public would rather have the fairer society promised by John Key last election night, but still unimplemented.

    nobody likes me,
    everybody hates me,
    i guess i m gonna eat some worms…
    short fat slimey ones,
    long thin curly ones,
    see how they wiggle and squirm

    So bite off their heads
    and bite off their tails
    and throw their skins away
    how on earth can anybody live on
    a thousand worms a day?

    Nobody likes me, everybody hates me,
    Guess I’ll go eat worms,
    Long, thin, slimy ones; Short, fat, juicy ones,
    Itsy, bitsy, fuzzy wuzzy worms.

    Down goes the first one, down goes the second one,
    Oh how they wiggle and squirm.
    Up comes the first one, up comes the second one,
    Oh how they wiggle and squirm.

  5. Thanks Chris, sums it up beautifully. From our “why bother” files I guess.
    You will of course be attacked and vilified by the brain-dead one- eyed Labour supporters who comment so frequently on TDB.
    Redirect their bile to the latest Roy Morgan poll please, perhaps that will register on one of their few functioning brain cells. i too have retired to my garden, lucky to have one I know.

    • Yep I didn’t go to the National party fundraiser either. But I hear Boag’s attempt at rap was appalling and she probably cost the party money on that performance.
      Chris, sadly in this day and age, although you may not like change, you need to go with it. But you do have choice, you can change your political allegiance or make a difference going forward.
      But when you use your democratic right and voice your opinion, beware of trolls like Shona, I think she is a strong supporter of Boag.

    • @ SHONA.

      Ha! If you’re going to write about the ‘one eyed’ and ‘brain dead’ you should probably get your spelling and grammar double checked first ‘an shit.
      Now, have a double dose of Ha Ha .

  6. Another day, another terribly familiar Chris Trotter kick in of the Labour Party.

    Even when all’s quiet on the political front, one will see some musing or another nit picking at Labour by Trotter. You expect if from Trevett or old Audrey whatshername from the Herald but from a so called man of the left, whatever!

    Oh how I wish there would the same micro analysis of this horrendous government we have, let alone full on critiquing but no, you don’t see that, not from Mr Trotter. He’s like a more subtle Matthew Hooten and even then that man at least has a crack at some of the more insidious behaviour of the Key government. Trotter is probably more on a level with David Farrar.

    The David Cunliffe I saw before and during the 2014 election was not some Bernie Sanders, not a Justin Trudeau, not a voice for a common sense alternative way forward for Labour. The Cunliffe I witnessed rarely engaged his brain before he spoke. He seemed to drift carelessly without a rudder, bumping into things, as if he no real vision, drive, gut instinct or plan at all.

    I did not rub shoulders with this apparent legend the likes of Trotter whine on about, I, like most New Zealanders only saw his public side and a far from a competent voice of a different future did I see.

    It was also very much like Cunliffe had not experienced Nationals well funded PR machine and filth but of course if he had had his eyes open and been observant he might have noticed. He was easy meat for a polished liar like Key and an arsehole like Joyce.

    Labour is far from perfect. Their Future of Work announcements may be excellent academic material but that is micro economic stuff a government sets about quietly delivering when in government, not now. If Labour have learnt anything then it is that the corporate media hate them and the voting public have next to no attention span.

    What I want to see from Labour is pure clarity.

    Why are we even thinking of associating with the US on any level for example when they are demonstrating more and more what a dangerous, violent bunch of crazy’s there are running that nation or how their corrupt corporate culture infects and is destroying the world! Are we not getting a little bit worried about how much war is going on and how much money is pouring into it and who is making out of it and where is this all going to end?

    Where is the crystal clear clarity on Climate Change. Its real, its bloody scary and its happening quicker than we are being told. In comparison to Nationals secrecy and denial and lack of interest it’s now Labour need to tell me exactly what they are going to do and how. No pissing about.

    What about the appalling environmental damage to our country by farming, what is Labour going to do about that.

    And how about being straight up about housing. Stick it to investors, foreign and local, fuck them, they would never vote for you anyway and they are destroying our future.

    Or immigration, turn the tap off, pure and simple and think of New Zealanders.

    Be plain, be simple, be up front, give me and other Kiwis a bold vision because Nationals lying cannot compete. SAY IT AS IT IS!!!

    But I will say this about Labour, unlike the Trotters of this world. They are, along with the Greens are this countries best chance of reversing the damage being done by the millionaires and their business arrangement party, National. I suspect that what Labour are saying is to enhance their best chance of wooing voting middle NZ and somehow despite that Labour will not forget where they came from.

    Hence I will be voting for them.

    • ” No pissing about”. That’s all Labour has been doing since their betrayal of 1984, and most of it has been into the wind. I’m sorry Xray but while Labour sticks to its failed neoliberal lines it will not/ cannot beat Key’s slick and shady Natz machine. Chris is quite right and Afewknowthetruth is even better in his analysis.

      • That doesn’t wash. It’s over 30 years ago Garibaldi, and there has been a successful 3 termed Labour government since then. Didn’t hear people banging on endlessly about 1984 then.

        You can’t blame the current Labour party for what a previous Labbour government did over 30 years like you can’t blame Sidney Holland or Muldoon for john key.

        Labour is not sticking to failed neolib, haven’t you heard? Labour is saying the era of trickle down economics is over.

  7. The truth is Labour occasionally wants to bang on about child poverty, families and ‘the future of work’. Most young people cannot afford to have children, let alone afford a house. So Labour chasing this ‘working for families vote’ is pretty ridiculous and offensive to millennials (people under 35). Labour have housing policies, National have housing policies – both parties policies are woefully inadequate.

    If the election was held today I’d vote for either The Cannabis Party OR The Opportunities Party. Ironically the latter hasn’t even been registered yet. People say, “don’t split they vote,” but I’ll be voting for parties who represent my interests. Let me be clear, Labour DO NOT represent my interests, however I wish them all the best. I hope impoverished children turn out in force to cast their vote for Labour … good luck, good luck!

  8. I have to agree with you on this:

    ‘Where is the crystal clear clarity on Climate Change. Its real, its bloody scary and its happening quicker than we are being told. In comparison to Nationals secrecy and denial and lack of interest it’s now Labour need to tell me exactly what they are going to do and how. No pissing about.’

    And this:

    ‘Be plain, be simple, be up front, give me and other Kiwis a bold vision because Nationals lying cannot compete. SAY IT AS IT IS!!!’

    However, what is actually Labour doing? Pissing about, and promoting policies that make every aspect of our collective predicament worse! Labour is still promoting the international money-lenders’ and global corporations’ short-term agendas, and pretending that ordinary folk are going to benefit, somehow. Labour still stands for a continuation of neoliberalism, debt-slavery, and consumerism, together with the commensurate looting and polluting of the environment and exploitation of the masses, both in NZ and overseas. Plus the wars necessary to keep the system going.

    Andrew Little has had plenty of opportunities to ‘SAY IT AS IT IS’, and has run for cover every time.

    For the moment some of us can say it how it is: the present economic-political system is fucking us and fucking the planet, and the prognosis is terminal, in a matter of a few decades at best, and much shorter time frame at worst.

    https://ads.nipr.ac.jp/vishop/#/extent

    And we are enduring the last years of an ‘Easter Island culture’ in which the last of the most valuable resources are being consumed building ‘statues’.

    Truth-tellers are vilified, scorned, ridiculed, abused and censored (and in some cases locked up for years or assassinated) for saying so.

    It can be argued that Andrew Little would be dead within a few months if he didn’t promote the bankers’ and corporations’ agendas, and if he did start speaking the truth, so he prefers to sacrifice his children’s lives rather than his own.

  9. The final nail in the coffin of my life time Labour vote was hammered in by the universal vitriolic contempt expressed by local socialist journalists for Donald Trump. Trump is an American business mogul.The political Trump would not exist but for the people who follow him. And who are they? Why, they are those undesireable, deplorable riff raff, the dispossessed, the poor, the jobless, the great unwashed who were once, the workers. It is not possible any more for a voice to arise from some intellectual leftist midden to champion their cause so the voice comes from the realm of Pa Ubu. Are we surprised? How is it that we flail about in fastidious disgust?
    The left cannot ever bring itself to face the fact that it, itself has been shafted along with everyone else by Bolshevism, Fabianism, Internationalism, The Frankfurt School and the Jurassic monster, globalisation and ‘free trade.’
    Vladimir Putin understands that his people are better served by the ideals of the traditional Orthodox faith than the bilge out of The Frankfurt School but this is a bridge too far for the godless, leftist intellectual.
    The left fails because it is dimensionless.
    I always thought the potential of Pete Hodgson was hugely underestimated. I understand that since quitting the political arena he has engaged in Black spiritual and soul singing. He would have made a fully dimensional leader if given half a chance.

  10. Great job Chris – your usual. I am beginning to think that you really do want Jonky Donky back in. Why not apply to be their head of the National party ? You would do a great job and you are doing a great job turning folks away from Labour. How much are the Natz paying you ?

    Better yet – why not retire into your garden and allow TDB to welcome some new journo blood kinda like the great offerings on – The Nation recently. Those women rocked and we need more of that and less boring and ” out of touch ” and inauthentic dribble.
    Labour is far from perfect but they are a train load better than the elitist and psychopath globalist puppets that are in charge now giving our money away so that they can PAY AND PLAY with the likes of the criminal Clinton Foundation etc.
    If that submarine that came into the Auckland harbour recently was nuclear powered – than that is a royal ! ! slap in our face and a defiant show of their dominance over N.Z. – and we can thank our corporate and U.S. suck up PM for selling us out and damaging us.

    Anyone heard about Dr. Pieczenik and his recent sharing about Hillary ? Interesting !

  11. This isn’t a must read, it’s the same old put the boot in diatribe we have come to expect from CT. At least there is no longer a pretense of being of the left. What is interesting though, is the increase in the intensity of the beat ups. it looks like some people are getting worried. Labour and the left block are gaining traction.

    • Agreed ! I remain surprised and disappointed that TDB allows the likes of Chris to continue to bring down the quality of what they are about.
      I applaud freedom of speech but when the sharing is usually biased and plain ole negative shit stirring and lacking in intelligence, then alternative journos need to be considered and supported. We deserve better than the Chris’s and the Paul Henry’s and the biased Fran O’Sullivan’s ===>>> etc.

      • he hasn’t been left since ages ago…that’s the bit I don’t get- you are right, he hasn’t been that Left for a long time, despite a few spot on observations… and Labour aren’t exactly turning hard Left so why isn’t he with them?.. he’s missing the likes of Lange, Clark, and “even Roger Douglas”??
        What on earth is he pinning for??
        I’m thinking he’s just making stuff up.
        Maybe if we could have a serious collapse in the housing market we could get some of these ‘old boys’ to start making sense and for them to actually giving a toss.

  12. The left needs to abandon Labour if the left wants to create change. If the left keeps pretending this Labour-for-landlords Party is a solution, then we’re deluded.

    The left needs something more than the conservative Nationalism put forward by Labour

  13. Well, Mr Trotter, if you pin all your hope on a few personalities as preferred leader, and put everything else as less important, then I fear you have a misguided idea about what politics and parties should all be about. You have also send “mixed messages” over time, at times people wonder, do you still support Labour ideals and policies, in the traditional sense, or do you at times fall for popularity and flair, which the MSM also tends to fall for? I remember you once expressing respect for John Key, and also supporting some of what he and his lot are doing.

    Anyway, I wonder if there were many that missed you. You show signs of age, retiring to your garden, and seeking peace of mind.

    For those that really care, it was a kind of non event anyway, that is the Labour Annual Conference, going at least by what the hopeless media portrayed. On the first day, Saturday, Lisa Owen had Andrew Little in the studio for an interview on The Nation. It was not that great a showing by Andrew, again betraying some insecurity and the showing poor skill in getting a clear message across with plans to introduce a levy for employers who would not train new workers.

    It was instantly slammed “anti immigrant” or even “immigration tax”, which was a bizarre claim. But Andrew could have prepared better, could have also expected his own staff or Labour members, or whosoever put that program together, to do a better job. It sounds rather ill prepared, the whole stuff.

    Then nothing much was heard from the conference itself, RNZ and other media just reported very, very little on Saturday, and even most of yesterday, Sunday that is.

    Only the 6pm news showed a bit more about Little’s speech and trying to excite followers and members. It may have sounded and worked will inside, and maybe even the committees and who else met, did get some good stuff together, but the media were largely shut out, we know why, so little transpired.

    The new program to get those not in employment or training, that is young people, that sounds good to a degree, but again, it was not that warmly welcomed by Forest and Bird today, as they fear such young people on subsidised schemes in conservation may not be well prepared for work needing to be done, and possibly doing more harm than good.

    Of course the MSM went straight to Joyce and Key, as the “authorities” on political stuff, as it now seems, rather than ask any independent experts, so the whole policy announcement pretty much backfired again, Andrea Vance on TV1 confirming to the newsreader, Labour did again not get their figures right. That may have some truth to it, it may not, but the impression was not good.

    Lloyd Burr on TV3 also thrashed Labour’s “immigration tax” on the news on Saturday, but yesterday was more diplomatic about Little’s speech, but hardly enthusiastic.

    Despite of all criticism of the MSM, most news still go through them, and so the websites, the papers, the radio and TV stations will again mostly dismiss Labour’s new proposals as obsolete, irrelevant, not well thought out, not being funded enough and so forth.

    The MSM, feeding public thinking and sentiment, have again smashed it all to pieces before it even got off the ground, so now Little and his troups are in defensive mode, which is not a good look at any time.

    We have also been told Labour will go into the election with a small set of policies, which is not that great at all, as it shows they are over cautious, again mindful to not upset that “middle ground”, the comfy middle class that is, that still bother to vote.

    In his speech yesterday Little went on about the Future of Work and ‘Ready to Work’, and he referred to Rocketlab’s Peter Beck as an inspiring kind of figure for New Zealanders to be proud of.

    So prepare for looser employment regulations, as such startups as Rocketlab do not work nine to five or seven to four kind of hours, they have “start up rules”, that means work for little and work hard for long hours, at least at times, as such “flexibility” is needed.

    We can expect more National Light from Labour, I fear, and little else, a fitting name for the leader by the way.

  14. I shall vote for a Labour Electoral MP or candidate BUT NZ First will get my Party Vote. The ‘ missing million ‘ should be the market for ‘ NZF ‘.
    Veritus en medio. E-382, M-12, Y-1. GE Day next year? I foresee it as
    The ‘ NZNC ‘ Party in Power.

  15. ‘ Helen ‘ never got my vote. As I predicted she failed in her bid for SG because she breached her mandate and was disloyal to ‘ NZ ‘ . The key problem is she held ‘ John’s hand.
    NZ First and NZ Labour for me next year. ‘ Veritus en medio ‘!!
    I predict at the GE 2017 it will be the ‘ NZNC Party ‘ in the majority.
    Y-1, M-12, E-382

  16. WHY DO YOU ALL AT – TDB ? – CONTINUE TO ALLOW CHRIS TROTTER TO BRING DOWN THE QUALITY OF WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND TRYING TO ACHIEVE ? ? ? ? He is far from an asset and we are amazed that you continue to showcase his dribble. Freedom of speech is one thing but to outright lie and try and push an unhealthy ; back-stabbing agenda is another. Really – why DO you have him highlighted at TDB ? ?

    • TDB allows criticism of ideas put forward in posts, so we do at least have the freedom to comment on Mr Trotter and his points of view.

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