Little’s “Broad Church” Widens Labour’s Appeal


ONE SWALLOW does not make a summer, any more than a two-percentage-point lift in the latest One News Colmar-Brunton poll amounts to a massive political vindication. What Labour’s marginal rise in popularity does signal, however, is some very unhelpful news for some very unhelpful people.

Why do I say that? Because the furore over Willie Jackson’s return to the Labour Party can now be put in its more immediate context.

Before exploring that context, however, a word or two about polling.

Both of the major political parties have their own “internal” pollsters (David Farrar and Curia Research in the case of National, Stephen Mills and UMR for Labour) and both know when their researchers are in the field. Indeed, they often time their public policy pronouncements to coincide with such polling.

For very similar reasons most senior political operatives and public relations mavens also like to know when media-commissioned agencies like Colmar Brunton are on the job and when their results will be published.

In a society as small as New Zealand, acquiring such intelligence is relatively straightforward. Most of the people who believe they need to know, know someone who really does know when a poll is about to get underway.

The fieldwork for the Colmar Brunton poll that was broadcast on One News on Sunday, 19 February, was conducted between 11 and 15 February 2017.

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This is significant, because in the week prior to the survey the Labour leader, Andrew Little, found himself under vicious attack from persons (including Poto Williams, the Labour MP for Christchurch East) opposed to Labour’s strategic recruitment of the broadcaster, community organiser, and former Alliance MP, Willie Jackson.

That Williams consulted a Christchurch public relations firm, Inform PR, to shape her criticism of Little, and to assist her in distributing the resulting statement to selected political journalists, prior to posting it on her Facebook page, struck many observers as odd. Now that we know Colmar Brunton was scheduled to be in the field by the end of the week, William’s behaviour appears much less so.

The same applies to the letter of protest posted on Facebook by members of Labour’s youth wing – Young Labour. Like William’s media statement, this document attracted considerable media attention throughout the week, especially after two former Labour MPs, Maryan Street and Marian Hobbs, added their signatures to the document.

Throughout the week Little was required to endure the less-than-friendly attentions of the parliamentary press gallery, as well as a succession of highly critical opinion pieces questioning his political judgement and challenging his commitment to Labour’s quest for gender parity.

By the end of the week, the proprietor of the POLITIK blog, Richard Harman, was reporting that:

“The events last week [5-11 February] seem to be connected to what has been what one senior party source described as a ‘parallel universe’ of discontented party activists who have been active on the left-wing blog ‘The Standard’ and who also organised to promote candidates for office within the party.”

It is, therefore, very tempting to see, with the benefit of hindsight, the timing of the criticism of Little’s recruitment of Jackson as something more than coincidental. If Harman’s “discontented party activists” had prior knowledge of when the Colmar Brunton survey would be in the field, it is not difficult to fathom why they might be tempted to seize upon the opportunity to put a spanner in the Leader’s works.

Clearly, there are many in Labour’s ranks who do not like the idea of the party once again becoming a “broad church”. How better to prove the unwisdom of Little’s policy than to orchestrate a week-long outpouring of protest against the Jackson recruitment, culminating in a falling-off in support for Labour – and Little – as measured in the oh-so-conveniently scheduled Colmar Brunton survey?

Except, of course, the campaign failed to achieve its objective. Far from registering a falling-off of support for Labour, the poll revealed a small, but very welcome, rise in support. At last, Labour was back in the 30s – an important morale-boost for both the caucus and the wider party. The recruitment of Jackson and the selection of the former Police Association President, Greg O’Connor, had produced precisely the effect which Little and his team had be working for.

The question that cannot be avoided, however, is as straightforward as it is disconcerting: How many more percentage points might Labour have advanced in the Colmar Brunton poll had “discontented party activists” not spent the week prior to its execution demonstrating rank disunity and ideological extremism?


  1. “Clearly, there are many in Labour’s ranks who do not like the idea of the party once again becoming a “broad church”. How better to prove the unwisdom of Little’s policy than to orchestrate a week-long outpouring of protest against the Jackson recruitment, culminating in a falling-off in support for Labour – and Little – as measured in the oh-so-conveniently scheduled Colmar Brunton survey?”

    ‘Once again’ becoming a broad church? Where have you been? Labour have been reaching out right-wingers for decades and this broad church makes them incoherent and directionless.

    Labour will do well in the polls over the next few months because Key has gone – and Labour might even rise in polls beyond the margin of error. Jackson and O’Connor will have not much to do with Labour’s rise and National’s drop. National has a lot of socially liberal voters who were drawn to Key, but won’t warm to English.

    • Fatty’s suggestion that “broad church” means a left-right coalition is at best ahistorical, and at worst deceitful propaganda. How do you think the neo-liberals took control and kept control of Labour? By make sure it had a huge membership and democratic organisation? Of course not. Since neo-liberalism has so little public support (see the ACT party vote), the only way to keep Labour pushing neo-liberalism was to keep the membership as exclusive as possible, and make sure they didn’t have any meaningful decision-making power.

      Now that the Labour constitution has been reformed to give the membership some real clout, returning it to its labour movement roots of being a mass membership party representing a broad range of social movements (ie a “broad church”) is incredibly threatening to its neo-lib rump (although probably not to global capitalism itself, I agree). In this context, the Williams maneuver, and the petty protest letter from the blue-reds of Young Labour, a toothless twitterati who have been unable to have any impact on the abolition of universal student unionism or anything else of significance, look like desperate attempts to keep the party wedded to neo-liberal-lite party line of the Clark-Goff-Shearer years.

  2. ‘Broad Church’ is good if Labour can manage it, and good on Little for trying. The problem is that Labour (and a sizeable portion of the wider ‘modern left’) has long since been hi-jacked by the ideological narrowness of ‘The Clever Twit’.

    The Clever Twit is an oddly contradictory soul – typically University educated, preferably in an impractical art or inexact social science, and urban-dwelling, preferably in Wellington. The said Twit’s political worldview, expressed with belligerence, is socially liberal, globalist, and neo-liberalism-lite. He/she (note the gender-neutral language, and the virtue signalling) reads The Guardian or Huffington Post, and considers Merkel a paragon of progressiveness. The Clever Twit hates Christianity yet takes political correctness to a religious level; watches John Oliver as a news-source and thinks that makes them highbrow; Thinks talking down to people, and apologising for being a man, is a clever political strategy; Sanctimoniously decries “post-truth politics” whilst their own proselytising hails from a fact-less realm that is beyond doctrinaire; Wouldn’t talk to anyone working class and thinks championing bourgeois identity politics makes them left-wing. The Clever Twit considers rational suspicion of certain religious sects racist, but blanket hatred of white males not; has a fondness for hefty pounamu pendants and, to appear urbane, utilises impeccably memorised Te Reo for greetings and formalities (they may even know a word or two of Sanskrit).

    The key to victory is to become a whole lot less Clever Twittish.

    • Well Chris,

      To victory first Chris!

      Then we can tweak the real policy to tailor the setup labour will need to partner with afterwards if successful.

      The thought of not facing the lot we have to look at as our defunct administration, is sweet.

      They are about as dysfunctional as it gets, so Labour may have some breathing space there during the “Honeymoon stage”.

    • So well said,… the self righteousness and arrogance of these types is plain for all to see,… though never in an overt and obvious demonstration of their passive aggressiveness ,… usually … like a snake,… it is formalized in ‘ board meetings ‘… behind closed doors, never in a democratic method , …and while to professing to be … ‘humanistic’ or ‘ philanthropic ‘… bears only the label but never the content.

      They are more akin to the powerheads, control freaks and authoritarians that infest and threaten any true democracy.

      This is why they have no problem whatsoever in using their deceits to walk hand in hand with any incumbent neo liberal govt and to use any identity issue or assumed ‘ morality’ to further that end. And this fact is borne out by the predominance of these types found in so many levels of the political hierarchy.

      The hypocrisy, indifference and hostility towards workers and the issues that affect them … in preference to their favored nebulous social charters is evident for all to see – except, of course , by them.

      And the manipulating and subverting of a traditional workers party as a springboard for their real agendas ,- ones which bear little or no resemblance to the real issues that affect peoples day to day lives – is of no consequence whatsoever to them at all ,…even if they did manage a twinge of conscience and acknowledge the glaring discrepancies of their chosen political party and their love affair with neo liberalism.

      Their hypocrisy has been laid bare.

    • ….. and the clever Twit will chastise you for being utterly judgemental, without realising of course that is exactly what they are. (Trump-like at times, though the hand and finger movements are replaced by a simple pat on their breasts – perhaps checking to see if the pearls are still there).

      The older (i.e. approaching muddle age) clever Twit is also prone to clutch pearls and regularly attempt displays of superior intellect. They have practiced the art of how to be offended with long-winded explanations and justifications as to why they’ve taken offence – often to the extent of occupying several screen pages on The Standard.

      Many younger Clever Twits live in Mount Victoria, Thorndon or Aro Valley, and can sometimes be seen slumming it at various clubs and bars along Courtenay Place, though they generally prefer more sophisticated establishments.

      Just like the 80s neo-liberals, they can’t grasp why ‘others’ (as in the concept of ‘othering’) are offended by their not having the guts to start their own party instead of hijacking an existing one that for them uses the inapt name “Labour”.

  3. And thus we see finally….a sector of the descendant’s of the original supporters of the Rogernome’s and their modus operandi and agenda. It would appear these are the same that would prefer a Labour loss if it meant they could still retain power within that party at all costs…

    So this is why this party has been hamstrung all these years.

    Operatives such as these , that have a close DNA with senior political figures such as the one who ” wanted a Moa , just a small one ,…. one that I could pat ” to be cloned and brought back. Right in the middle of a general election campaign and designed solely to undermine David Cunliffes leadership of that party.

    So THIS is how they operate.

    It would therefore appear that they are affiliated with the wrong party .

    Perhaps a modicum of honesty would see them switch over to , … and declare their allegiance to , … the party that suits them best .

    National. Or perhaps even ACT.

    This being because they seem quite comfortable in propping up and supporting the working persons antithesis : neo liberalism.

    • Well said WILD KATIPO.

      They ooze plenty of hollowness and lack of what it took to make Labour a major party in the first half of the 20th century.

      Sad that as they have a strong sense of “entitlement at the time without any contribution..

  4. chris you and i know and a great many others as well know that it was KINGs way of showing who runs caucus, a quick word to poto and it was all but knives between the shoulders, same as the jucinda written baby bonus that was terminal for david

    • I associate the baby bonus with poor old Bill Rowling. (Then I travelled and found that every civilised country had one.) Who is this mysterious ‘Jucinda’? And which David are you referring to?

  5. Broad church? Some are happy to wallow in a tiny village chapel.

    They are likely to get their wish and when they do they can rejoice that they have sacrificed those they pretended to care about for their own self-interest.

  6. Interesting…

    I will await the next Roy Morgan poll. Let’s see where that one leads us.

    On a related point;

    It’s almost irrelevant if Labour hit’s the “30s”. Unless it cracks into the high “40s” (with Greens at least in the 10% region), then the person who decides the next government will be Winston Peters.

    On the plus side, with Trumpism sweeping the US, Peters may well have no option but to coalesce with Labout if it wants to truly implement policies such as abandoning FTAs (unlikely); banning farmland sales to foreigners (also unlikely); and restricting the sale of residential housing to New Zealand citizens only (possibly).

    National would have none of the above policies. Only Labour would/might countenance the latter two.

    Then again, Peters’ opposition to neo-liberalism is not as pronounced as some think it is, based on a certain document from 1997;

    There is still a long way to go.

    More than ever, there needs to be a super-human effort at party-discipline within Labour to achieve the goal of government.

    I’m not sure I am filled with confidence at that thought…

    • As NZ First is still touting a policy like “…moving resources to the front line”, yes I also doubt his social democratic heart. Sadly we look upon slim pickings for we the lowly worker on the political front.

    • Well said, Frank. While the left is more interested in in-fighting than rolling back Neo-liberalism, we’ll never get anywhere. Worse still, people will look to the right, to fascist demagogues like Trump to solve our social ills.

      If poto williams had problems with Willkie Jackson airing that kind of dirty laundry in public did more harm than good. I can only think she was too selfish to look beyond her own concerns, valid though they might be.

    • You’re bang on the money there Frank. I wouldn’t trust NZ First as far as I could kick them. A Nat/NZ-1st govt. still shapes as most likely 🙁
      Pickings are slim on the left. What’s the Alliance up to these days – can someone with some intel give me an update please?

    • NZF policies are definitely more aligned to Labours however NZF is pro business and private enterprise and wants some export led recovery, also NZF wants to train youth and looks towards training our unemployed to make a contribution to the economy.

      Immigration and housing definitely needs to be looked at as Auckland’s housing stocks are being bid up as some form of Ponzi Scheme, however this has tightened recently as the Banks are getting nervous that the bubble may burst?

    • NZF policies are definitely more aligned to Labours however NZF is pro business and private enterprise and wants some export led recovery, also NZF wants to train youth and looks towards training our unemployed to make a contribution to the economy.

      Immigration and housing definitely needs to be looked at as Auckland’s housing stocks are being bid up as some form of Ponzi Scheme, however this has tightened recently as the Banks are getting nervous that the bubble may burst?

  7. Oh my God no! ? Looks like Machiavellian confederate deep state operatives are lurking within what was once NZ’s Human Being party AKA Labour? Noooooooooo …… ? Surely not.
    You’ll be telling me next that the moon isn’t made of cheese and that the moon lander wasn’t loaded up with mouse traps, that the earth is not, in fact, flat and that all the planets in our galaxy orbit the sun! Ba haha ! Outrageous !

    Ok. Sarcasm aside…. Why do you think that might be so?
    It’s not a clash of cross party values as to whom best to serve.
    It’s not some religious mania which means that a belief system must be covertly put forward but first, the one already in place must be displaced.
    No. It’s none of those things.

    It’s money. It’s money baby.
    The dirty right wingers stole $-it from you and I (some of whom were excreted out of the Labour which should be a clue surely?) then ‘they’ supplanted dodgy fuckers into Labour, think parasite, to disperse any inquiry, dispel any dissent and use logical fallacies to deceive and beguile the media rendered compliant by large $’ers or at least the threat to media Big Puffs of the loss of their Big $’ers (Once they became used to the smell of the leather in the Ferrari aye short arse mike hoskings? ? if they don’t fuckin’ watch it mate.

    In short? ( But not hoskings short. That’s just too short. ) We were/ are all $/asset ripped off and ‘they’ are now desperate to hide their crimes. It’s really that simple. Well, to me it is at any rate. But then I could, of course, just be nuts. ( Could someone loosen the straps? I need to scratch me arse?)

  8. For many the broad church that includes being open to Charter Schools and the other incident involving comments about a child that was raped is too far outside of their church.

  9. As much as I agree with Poto Williams in her criticism of Jackson’s elevation in the Labour Party, the way she went about it was a total clusterf@@k from whoa to go.

    This is precisely why I’ll be voting Green this year. They seem to have better self-discipline than Labour MPs. Maybe Labour MPs should remember that they serve at our pleasure, not because they have guaranteed tenure in Parliament.

    • As you say, Poto might be worried about the elevation, but at the same time (given the way she went about it), she’s too busy trying to decide whether to clutch her pearls or her pounamu . Meanwhile over at TS, there’s a Prent (the one that’s the world’s best programmer) trying to develop an algorithm to decide which and a Weka trying its best to consider underlying meaningfulness and how best to be offended. (I did TRY to persevere with much of the valid points made, but I decided there was no so much discussion, as there was lecturing).
      Never mind though! We don’t have to worry about the plight of TS posters and commenters – be assured, they’re comfy enough and they’ll survive

  10. Can only see one change at election time . It will be a coalition of National, Maori, Act and the New Zealand media.

    All other parties will be in opposition due to in fighting, over confidence and an unbalanced media.

    Why do I say this? Because people are contented with the current lot in power and not the demise of our once great country over the past nine years. Why would the brainwashing cease this year.

    Whilst the people fight N.Z. burns.

    • Oh so true, the coalition party that is never seen in Parliament, that is on those chairs, called the NZ biased MSM.

  11. I think Chris and some others are vastly exaggerating the importance of certain “personalities” that have now recently been announced as future candidates in the coming general elections.

    This personality focus or obsession has been nurtured by the media for decades, as that makes life so simple for the shallow and lazy journalists that we have left (I am generalising, there are still some good ones). They cannot themselves be bothered studying party policy programs and reports with much data and scientifically based projections for affordability of tax and spending changes.

    For that modern day, trendy, lazy journalist, who is not as well paid and respected anyway, it is simply more attractive to rave on about Willie Jackson, about Shane Jones, about the former Police Association boss and about some front benchers in Parliament.

    They rather report on gossip or rumours they hear, or the odd leak, or chatter that they heard at some barbeque up north, at a dinner party, at whatever event, where also many trendy journalists go, to meet with “that political folk”.

    Hence we get the same damned over-rated, aged and obsolete faces on Q+A, on The Nation and news programs again and again, one is called Pagani, always portrayed as a “voice of the left”, even if she has hardly any credentials for being “left” these days.

    The lack of deep and investigative reporting, of raw real data, of presentation of real alternatives to a neoliberal holier than anything else status quo, that combined with the above I just mentioned, that gives many out there the impression, politics is all about certain persons and personalities, it is all like a boxing match, like a rugby game or wrestling, and so they pit one against the other on those terms.

    So we get the polls and elections results we get, that never mention the indifferent or undecided, and the status quo of bias and superficiality gets cemented, so people get NO real info that would even allow a substantive discussion on any feasible and real alternatives, full stop.

    I am depressed that Chris Trotter has apparently given up on presenting more insight into policy and matters, and now increasingly follows the sheeples in their herd, to present it as they want it presented, who is the greatest big mouth, the best wrestler, the strongest crowd puller, and who has got the guts, to be PM or MP.

    This is all just shit, this whole status quo, endless and hopeless shit, Mr Trotter, if you cannot bother anymore to present something more intelligent than this kind of post, suggesting polls are determined by such “quality candidates” and little else, then you should perhaps prepare your retirement and start writing on your biography.

    • Why don’t you try writing articles like Chris Trotter’s, Mike in Auckland? You seem to be brimming with with erudition and confidence.
      But don’t be disappointed if you meet with scornful critiques.
      I think you are another who does not like aspects of Chris’s historical accuracy, and resorts to accusing him of treachery.

  12. I think it’s useful for Chris to point out that the public statements by Poto Williams and Young Labour were conveniently timed in relation to the research period for the Colmar Brunton poll. I think it’s useful to point out that this poll fails to make a case for recent candidate announcements being bad for Labour. It also fails to provide any support for the case David Farrar inevitably tried to make, and that some of us here also made, that the public disagreement would play badly for Labour with potential voters. As Fatty says, the rise in Labour’s numbers is within the margin of error, so it doesn’t really make a case for anything.

    Some of the comments in this thread are frankly embarrassing. Nothing Chris wrote provided any justification for attacking people for being university educated, or calling them “Clever Twits”, or having a go at people for what suburb they happen to live in, or being a tenant. One comment resorts to that hardy annual of online hypocrisy, using the internet to criticize people for their use of the internet (people who criticize through glass screens should not throw stones).

    It particularly disturbs me that neither Bomber, Chris, Frank, nor any of the other TDB staff have challenged the comment that refers to “a Curry Muncher, or a Coon”. I’m all for free speech, but I don’t think that kind of bigoted, small-minded bullshit deserves to get published without being named and condemned as beneath us. Otherwise TDB is in danger of becoming the apologists for bigotry that the militant alt-left accuses it of being.

    [My apologies. That one slipped by me as well. I’ll keep a closer eye on things. If I catch anyone making comments like that, they are banned outright.- ScarletMod]

    • Good point Stypey – that comment was deleted but they posted it up again and it slipped past the moderators.

      They have been removed now.

    • It particularly disturbs me that neither Bomber, Chris, Frank, nor any of the other TDB staff have challenged the comment that refers to “a Curry Muncher, or a Coon”.

      I didn’t see it, Strypey. Otherwise I would have brought it to Martyn’s attention.

  13. The biggest problem we will have in this coming Election is getting balanced reporting by MSM, I can remember in the old days on about page 3 of the NZ Herald they used to have an article comparing the major parties policies and discussing the implications of such policies.

    These days be don’t actually get any constructive analysis of party’s policies just emotional hubris or the airing of party’s dirty laundry or some dirty tricks campaign to discredit opposition parties?

    • I’ve been thinking about this too Tamati. I would be willing to put some work into a website that pulled in the contents of all the parties’ manifestos, and allowed easy side-by-side comparisons. To do this properly would need a multi-skilled group of people to do the tech work, the data entry, and the research and analysis. If anyone is interested in such a project, please get in touch.

  14. Labour hold the KEY to this Election if they can keep their heads screwed on, show some empathy towards the average New Zealander and display an image that they can form a coalition Government with the likes of the Greens and NZF, they should be able to get over the line.

    1. They have to stop squabbling within the party
    2. Don’t squabble with potential coalition partners
    3. Keep NZF on side and demonstrate to New Zealanders they are a potential major stakeholder in the next Government.

    Follow the KISS principle Keep It Simple Stupid?

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