Labour needs more leadership contenders

A no contest with an arranged Grant Robertson leadership would have been the worst way of dealing with Labour’s current crisis, there would have been too much unaddressed dissatisfaction.

A contest between just Robertson and David Cunliffe is nearly as bad. Cunliffe was not attractive to voters and has performed very poorly since the election. A Prime Minister can’t take a week off to “soul search” whenever they are in a difficult situation.

The best way for Labour to explore leadership options is for more candidates to put themselves forward (and for Cunliffe to drop out).

Shearer if he wants to test whether his party thinks he’s learnt a lot since standing down a year ago and can handle a much wider range of issues off the cuff.

Phil Goff if he thinks he can outperform his last attempt.

David Parker. Annette King.

Andrew Little if he survives the final count.

Nanaia Mahuta if she thinks it can fit with her family commitments.

Jacinda Ardern should step out of other peoples shadows. She may think she’s not ready to step up yet but Labour need to be imagining how someone can perform in three years and in six years.

Ditto Chris Hipkins and Iain Lees-Galloway.

And anyone else who fancies their chances of performing up a few notches.

Then let the party explore the options and decide who and what they think will inspire and lead them.

The whole caucus and the party need to think radical and think future, and not get confined within a couple of forceful ambitions.

A futile last stand plus a jack up job with Clayton’s choice is likely to do far more damage than good, especially if the opening salvoes are any indication of how a duel may progress.

All potential leadership options should be put on the table.

The difficulties of cleaning up Kiwiblog

David Farrar has a major challenge trying to clean up Kiwiblog, as comments on his latest post on proposals to clamp down on abuse demonstrate.

Abusers want to be able to continue to have an unfettered forum to abuse and bully.

Kiwiblog stands out as a major blog with very little restrictions on who can say what. Farrar has been a strong supporter of free and open debate, but this ideal has it’s down sides due to rampant abuses.

Farrar was noticeably reality checked by claims in Nicky Hager’s ‘Dirty Politics’. He hasn’t been anywhere near as bad as Cameron Slater but has been an integral part of the ‘dirty politics’ way of life.

One of his initial reactions was to seriously consider walking away from Kiwiblog. Since then he has posted several times on cleaning up his blog. This is on two levels:

  • his own use of Kiwiblog as a political tool
  • the frequently awful and abusive behaviour displayed in the comments sections of his blog (Farrar rarely participates there but also rarely intervenes).

The latest stage of an attempt to reform Kiwiblog was posted yesterday: Proposed Comments Policy where Farrar asked for input into his proposals.

Some of the reaction was positive and supportive, but it didn’t take long for the thread to be taken over by the same old barrow pushing and abuse. An eventual comment:

Kiwiblog does not need any change. If people cannot handle vigorous debate let them leave. DPF is possibly being far too sensitive.

DPF has been saying that he wants some change. He isn’t trying to quash “vigorous debate”, he’s made that clear.

…on most topics, you should be able to reasonably and robustly disagree.

He made it clear what he’s trying to target:

Generally they are not a huge change from the status quo except in the area of personal abuse. I want more people to feel safe to post on Kiwiblog, without being abused for their views. Their views can be attacked, but not them.

I could imagine him being a bit disappointed by some of the comments on this thread. It’s hard to know whether ignoring DPF and using the thread to defend abusive behaviour and display some of the things DPF says he is trying to clean up is through ignorance or blatant defiance.

Wanting to reduce personal attacks, abusiveness and bullying has nothing to do with ‘PC’, it’s an attempt at moving towards basic decency in a democratic and civil society.

That some seem to claim a ‘right’ to freely be abusive arses on a blog who’s owner clearly wants to clean it up, and that they ignore requests by displaying behaviours that the blogger is specifically saying they want to clamp down on, is a pretty sad reflection on what the Kiwiblog community has to an extent become.

I think if the obvious abuses of a small but vocal minority are reasonably limited then many more people are likely to be willing to contribute here.

An unfettered forum for a few arses? Or a decent debate blog? Obviously it’s up to DPF but I thought he has made his preference quite clear.

“I want more people to feel safe to post on Kiwiblog, without being abused for their views.”

That people are arguing (and acting) against that on the thread is remarkable to me.

Cleaning up Kiwiblog will be a big challenge for Farrar. It will be difficult overcoming entrenched habits of abuse and repeated hijacking, as the comments on his post demonstrate.

His attempts look like being strongly challenged by those who want to keep abusing his forum by continuing to use it to bully and abuse others and drive away decent debate.

Kiwiblog is far from the only blog with similar problems but at least Farrar acknowledges the problem and is trying to address it.

Labour’s insidious dirty politics

Labour supporters Deborah Mahuta-Coyle and Robert Reid clashed on a Q & A panel discussion this morning in a display of dirty politics.

Mahuta-Coyle is an ex-Labour candidate – Tauranga electorate and ranked 26 on the Labour list in 2011 –  and Robert Reid is General Secretary of First Union and was prominent in organising the anti-asset sales petition last term.

Dirty politics is spread across the political spectrum to varying degrees. One form of dirty politics is more prevalent on the Labour left – an intolerance of not being ‘left’ enough, an intolerance of different opinions and an intolerance of criticism and an intolerance of questioning of unsubstantiated claims.

It frequently results in Labour Party members or supporters (or potential Labour voters) being attacked, often for not being left enough, with little or no attempt to debate the issues raised. On blogs it’s not unusual for it to be used as an excuse to ban people deemed to be not having the right degree of leftness.

Mahuta-Coyle describes this on Q & A during a discussion on the Labour leadership contest:

Mahuta-Coyle: But Labour has real problems within the party structure itself. , and what I’m saying is this process is gonna be messy but not in a good way, because at the moment there are a lot of members that feel as if the culture of Labour is wrong.

So for example if I hold a different opinion about say what people are calling a fringe issue, and I voice that issue in Labour, I will get attacked, I’ll get slaughtered on social media, I’ll be isolated.

Because even though we talk as a party about being a broad church, in practice it’s actually not real, and that’s the problem…

Reid:But half way though an election campaign you’ll sit on this panel and criticise your own party…

Mahuta-Coyle: Of course I will, the thing is  because give me something to defend…

Reid: …but this is a discipline that La-, this is a discipline that Labour is lacking…

Mahuta-Coyle: Don’t sit there and tell me I’m criticising my party, I am Labour, I will call myself original original Labour, I’m not light blue, I’m not light Green, I’m Labour.

And when I get up here and criticise my party I do so because I want the party to improve, I want it to change and I want it to win. Don’t sit there having a go at me…

Reid: I would do that a few months before an election or now after an election but not in the middle of a campaign.

Mahuta-Coyle: But that’s you, that’s you. For me I was not happy…

Susan Wood: I think we’re seeing as illustrated before the divisions in Labour…

Mahuta-Coyle: Exactly. Yeah because I criticise the party someone has a go.

That was relatively civilised. The example was picked up at The Standard by a long time Labour activist Anne:

Its just a pity no-one told Deborah Mahuta-Coyle on Q&A this morning. Loud and abrasive… she treated Robert Reid with overt hostility and tried to rubbish everything he said despite the pertinent points he was making. She shouted over the top of him and when in response, he brought up her disgraceful critique of Labour half way through the campaign, she did a Pagani and claimed victim status.

A terrible performance so what is she doing there? Together with Josie P, these two are light weights who, more often than not, have no idea what they’re talking about.

Was she another of Matthew Hooton’s “recommendations”?

Josie Pagani has also had a few run ins with The Standard. She is not considered left enough so is labelled right wing (as also happens to me).

David H continued:

If this is the New face of Labour then it’s going to be worse than the last one. Robert did make (when you could hear him) some pertinent points. I hope that she gets hauled up before the powers that be and told to pull her head in. Because tired Labour voters just want the leadership sorted and not another overly loud prima donna starting even more problems.

Colonial Viper (another Labour candidate from 2011):

Deborah Mahuta Coyle works for the oil and gas industry now in PR. Do you need to know more.

Karen:

As does Josie’s husband and Shearer supporter John Pagani.

Follow the money.

Anne:

Thanks.

More “Dirty Politics”.

Ironic accusing Mahuta-Coyle of “dirty politics” because of where she works. This was picked up by ‘lurgee':

Yes, actually. Unless you can actually prove influence or taint, you’re just smearing – engaging in your own little bit of dirty politics.

So they become the target of baseless attack by Anne:

Haven’t read the book have you cos if you had you would not have smeared. Some of us are well informed and have considerable personal experience to draw upon. Something you apparently seriously lack.

‘Lurgee’ responded:

Actually, I bought the book on the day after it was published. I have read the book and re-read it. Closely. And The Hollow Men.

I have commented several times that I see worryingly similar trends hereabouts – the constant denigration of people who have different ideas, the trial-by-rumour seen above, the implacable assumption of right and that the ends justifies the means, the Hollow Men style attempt to infiltrate a party an impose an extremist ideology on it and crush dissent. There are several pint sized whales swimming around this website.

Still, nice to see you doing a Slater yourself, immediately, and stupidly, trying to dismiss an argument with a personal attack.

If CV has proof that Deborah Mahuta Coyle is tainted or acting dishonestly because of her employment, let him present it. Otherwise, it is rumour and hearsay, smearing to silence or discredit alternative opinions. Very, very Dirty Politics.

Not at the level of Whale Oil dirty politics on it’s own but it’s so common – often the default reaction to anyone deemed critical or not left enough – and it is so widespread across the Labour left it’s insidious. It’s a trademark of the most Labour associated blog, The Standard.

The left of left activists of Labour are driving away support – and I know from experience that if you point out the negative nature of this culture of smearing and personal attack and how it’s counter-productive to building a health Labour Party you get banned.

They don’t want to hear, and they don’t want to change.

The rebuilding of unity within Labour and the attracting of new members and more voters will be very difficult, if not impossible. The culture is toxic and probably terminal.

See this exchange with Lynn Prentice yesterday – arrogant, self important and blind to the damage, he is a significant part of through his promotion of the toxic intolerant abusive culture at The Standard.

They are shitting in their own nest and blame everyone and everything else for the decline in support for Labour.

It’s not as in-your-face awful as Whale Oil but it’s at least as widespread and insidious as on the right and the results are a significant part of the damaging dirty politics culture ingrained in Labour, from top to bottom.

Whoever becomes the new Labour leader will have a very difficult job uniting a party riven by dirty politics.

Media mauls Minto moans

John Minto’s moans about media coverage of the election were countered strongly on The Nation yesterday.

Minto was interviewed by Lisa Owen on a panel including former TV news executive Mark Boyd (who’s completing a PhD in media coverage of the election), Internet Mana candidate John Minto and Sunday Star Times and Sunday News editor Jonathan Milne.

Minto’s moans were mauled from all directions.

Internet-Mana got a huge amount of media coverage relative to their resulting vote compared to other small parties, especially the Maori Party who got more party votes.

Lisa Owen: The election campaign has been described as chaotic, surreal and the grubbiest in living memory. In the midst of it all, the right hammered the media for its supposed obsession with Dirty Politics. And now those on the left are saying journalists are falling for National’s spin cost it the election. So how did the media do, really? Well, I’m joined this morning by former TV news executive Mark Boyd, who’s completing a PhD in media coverage of the election; Internet Mana candidate John Minto; and SundayStar Times and Sunday News editor Jonathan Milne. Good morning to you all.
John Minto: Good morning.
John Minto, if can come to you first. Can you explain how did the media cost the left the election?
Minto: Well, I think if you look at the clip of Pam outside the campaign launch and you looked at what happened on TV3 that night, the entire coverage was devoted to what Pam had said and how she had behaved. And inside that launch, we had the most important— I think the biggest jobs policy that the country has had for several decades, where full employment was the objective, and we spelt out very carefully how that was going to funded and how it was going to lead to a dramatic change and, you know, giving everybody a stake in the future of the country. But that was not even mentioned on the TV3 news. Now, I can understand that being reported, but the fact is that jobs package was just completely lost and I think across most of the media that night.
Owen: Yeah, that—
Minto: That’s a good example of—
Owen: That outburst was obviously on a number of number of media outlets, but that’s a single incident, so in the bigger picture, what went wrong, do you think with the media, in your view?
Minto: Well, I think in the bigger picture, we have the news people receive is dominated by television. And I think we’ve got this culture developed in New Zealand where TV journalists see their job as catching journalists— sorry, catching politicians out. And, I mean, I’ve got no objection to journalists having political opinions. I’ve got no objection to them expressing those opinions. But when their personal opinions drive the narrative that the public receive as the news, then I think we’ve got a serious problem. And I think in TV3, for example, right from the get go, their chief parliamentary reporter, Duncan Garner— Patty Gower, was hotly opposed to the link-up between Mana and the Internet Party. And I think that drove the way the TV presented the news all the way through the election.
Owen: Is that not the job of political reporters to ask questions which you might not find particularly palatable?
Minto: I think it is. Absolutely it is, and journalists should be really drilling down, and they should be enhancing the idea of an election as a contest of ideas. And they should put every politician on the spot. They should really drill down, but this idea of we’re going to have an interview and the purpose of the interview is actually to catch you out, rather than what the up-front reason given for the interview.
Owen: Okay, let’s bring Mark into the conversation here. You are crunching the numbers. Have you seen so far any evidence of, say, a right-wing bias in the coverage of the election?
Mark Boyd: Absolutely not. I mean, this is just fantasy on the part of the left. You know, let’s go back to what John just said about Pam Corkery’s outburst. That wasn’t provoked by the media. The media didn’t put words into Pam Corkery’s mouth. Pam just lost it, and that was covered. And also that night, the National Party had a launch as well, but that was the second story in both bulletins. Look, in this campaign, and I’m analysing in detail both television and newspaper coverage in cooperation with Dr Babak Bahadorat Canterbury University. I’m about halfway through the campaign so far, up to day 18 of a 31-day campaign. The media coverage in those first 18 days — there was a lot more coverage than 2011, both on television and in newspapers. It was a lot more negative. There was a lot less policy. But that was mainly because of Dirty Politics. So the left can’t claim that there was a right-wing conspiracy when, certainly, in the first two weeks of the campaign, all of the media were absolutely hammering the Government and hammering John Key on Dirty Politics.
Owen: Well, if the—
Boyd: And it led to the resignation of a Cabinet minister, and that hardly ever happens in New Zealand.
Owen: If there was a disproportionate coverage of Dirty Politics, was it warranted? Were those issues legitimate?
Boyd: It was not disproportionate. It was absolutely proportionate. It was a legitimate issue. It wasn’t a policy issue, but it was a legitimate issue. It raised some very serious questions about accountability and credibility at the highest levels of government.
Owen: John—
Minto: And yet we’ve still not seen an interview with Jason Ede. You know, we’ve not seen that whole—
Boyd: The guy keeps running away.
Minto: Yeah, he does. He does, indeed.
Boyd: He put up a sign in his front yard saying, ‘Implied consent to enter is denied to media.’ So, you know, that’s—
Owen: Let’s bring Jonathan Milne in here. Was there an appetite for policy with your readers, and did they get that policy?
Jonathan Milne: I believe— I can only go only go on gut instinct here. I don’t have hard numbers to back this up, but I certainly felt towards the end of the campaign that people had had enough of a lot of the toing and froing of Dirty Politics, that they’d had enough of the mudslinging and the personality politics. We’ve learnt— We’ve been told for the last, going on 20 years now, isn’t it, in MMP that it’s all about presidential personality politics, but I think in this election, and I think this was really good, that towards the end of the campaign, people really did start saying, ‘Tell us what the parties actually stand for. Tell us what the policies are.’ Certainly in the final week of the campaign for myself, I interviewed the Prime Minister and David Cunliffe at length. We focused entirely on their policies because by that point, we’d kind of had enough of Judith Collins and everything else. As far as Internet Mana’s claim that the media was somehow out to get them, I really do think that’s utter nonsense. And we saw the rest of the left actually blaming Internet Mana, saying, ‘They got all the air time. They sucked up all the attention. They got too much attention, and that’s why the left’s going down.’ And that’s one of the things that we’ll be looking at very closely in this Sunday’s papers.
Minto: Internet Mana didn’t get the attention at all. The policies of Internet Mana didn’t receive that sort of coverage. What received coverage was Kim Dotcom, and he received—
Owen: Hang on, John—
Boyd: John, you got about 8% of the coverage I’ve counted so far. Now, admittedly, a lot of that was negative, but that was because of Kim Dotcom.
Minto: I know. I know—
Boyd: His brand was poison.
Jonathan: John, I don’t think I received a single policy press release from you guys. So if you’re not even—
Minto: Oh, look—
John Minto—
Minto: Can I say this? I put out a number of media releases. I’m one of the spokespeople. And throughout that entire campaign, the six weeks of that campaign, I had one journalist send me one email to clarify one aspect of our policy. I never received any coverage whatever for any of the policies that we were promoting. Instead, there was all this—
Owen: You were on an economics debate with us. I had—
Minto: Yes, you were. Yes, sorry, early on, I was.
Owen: Okay, well, just on the Kim Dotcom question, though, that now infamous outburst from Pam Corkery was because she was annoyed at the fact that journos were asking for an interview with Kim Dotcom. But I want to put this to you, John, if you fund a party and you fund a campaign and you publicly state that your aim is to get rid of the sitting Prime Minister—
Minto: Yeah, change the Prime Minister, change the government.
Owen: …aren’t you trying to influence the outcome of an election without accountability, because you’re not allowing yourself to be interviewed, to be questioned? You’re dodging that.
Minto: Oh, heavens above. Look, Kim Dotcom was interviewed numerous times. Multiple times. And all the way through the election campaign, he was prepared to front up. But what became clear to us was—
Owen: He cancelled— He was due on this programme for a long-form interview, and he cancelled.
Minto: Oh, look, there’s been so many interviews he’s done. So many interviews over such a long period of time that we were concerned that his presence was swamping things, and we wanted to get the policies out. I mean, an election should be this battle of ideas. Instead, there was this—
Owen: But was that your mistake, John, going into coalition with him as such?
Minto: Sorry?
Owen: Was that your mistake? You say you felt his image, his presence was swamping the campaign. You chose to run on a ticket with him.
Minto: We did, and we realised it was a big risk. We’ve said that.
Boyd: It was a big mistake.
Minto: It was a big risk—
Boyd: …to blame in that case.
Minto: No, it was a big risk. We realised there was a risk. We went in with our eyes open. And to be frank, I’m really proud of the fact that we took that risk.
Owen: A mistake in the end?
Minto: Yeah, it turned out to— Obviously, it didn’t turn out well, but I’m proud of the fact that we did it. If we hadn’t, we would have been stuck around 1% in the polls, as we are at the moment.,
Boyd: But you still are stuck at 1%.
Minto: I know we are, but the thing was— No, no, no, listen. The coverage of Kim Dotcom — I mean, in the last week of the campaign, The Herald just poured scorn all over him—
Boyd: Because he didn’t deliver. He had this—
Minto: He did deliver.
Boyd: He had this big revelation he did not deliver.
Minto: He did deliver. He delivered that—
Boyd: He had an email which appears to have been falsified.
Owen: Just in the couple— Gentlemen, just in the couple of minutes that—
Minto: Where did you get that evidence from, Mark?
Owen: In the couple of minutes I’ve got left—
Minto: How do you know it’s falsified?
Boyd: The media looked at it expertly. Got experts to analyse it.
Owen: Look, the blogger Keith Ng has written recently that journalists covering the campaign were not lazy, nor were they biased, but they have failed, he said, essentially because the claims around Dirty Politics have been neither proven or disproven. Is that fair comment? Because, you know, we don’t know who sanctioned— Do we know who sanctioned snooping in the computers? Do we know what Judith Collins’ role was? You mentioned Jason Ede. We haven’t got to the bottom of that.
Minto: Well, we haven’t got to the bottom of all of it by any means, but it’s certainly— The premise of Nicky Hager’s book, and I’ve read the book, and the evidence is there that we had, you know— that the National Party used this vicious right-wing attack blog to do their dirty work for them and this two-track campaigning where John Key could be the man stepping aside and having the lovely public image, while behind the scenes in the office two doors down from him, Jason Ede was feeding stuff to right-wing bloggers.
Owen: All right, last word to Jonathan Milne. Do you—?
Jonathan: You’re right. There’s still work to be done, and Keith is right. You know, we’ve still got to dig further into that. But, look, Judith Collins quit as a result of an investigation that the Sunday Star Times did into Dirty Politics. We have made some real progress there. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been accused by the left or the right of pandering to one side or the other, I really would be the corporate lackey that you accuse me of being.
Owen: So, Jonathan, in a word, was this election different from any other that you’ve covered in terms of coverage? Yes or no?
Jonathan: I think we worked harder, and I think we tried to be really fair, and I think we succeeded.
Owen: All right, thank you very much for joining me this morning, gentlemen.

Source: Scoop
Transcript provided by Able. www.able.co.nz

Key’s intention “in the interests of every New Zealanders”

An open letter from John Key outlines the Prime Minister’s aims and aspirations in his third term of Government:

Elections are a chance for people to assess what party has the best plan, policies and vision for the future. My assessment is that voters remain focused on the issues that matter to them and their families — the economy, law and order, health, education and the environment.

So although a lot of media attention can focus on peripheral issues, it takes a lot to distract voters from these core issues.

I am very grateful to the million plus voters who gave their party vote to National. Thank you for your support and encouragement — and the endorsement of the past six years.

An election is when people vote for a particular party; however the elected Government should work in the interests of every New Zealander and it is my intention to do so.

There will be times when people will disagree with decisions we make, but that is true of core supporters as well.

Over the past six years we have been transparent and straightforward about our decisions and the direction we have taken.

Although we are likely to have an outright majority in Parliament, that won’t change. We’ll continue to do what we said we would do, and will not embark on any agenda we have not campaigned on. We have been, and will remain, a centre-right Government.

Now we are reaching out to other political parties to form a bigger buffer than the one-seat majority from election night. This will give the Government depth and breadth.

Once we successfully negotiate the Confidence and Supply agreements, I will look at forming a new Cabinet. There are two vacant spots in the existing Cabinet, which gives us room to bring in new talent, and in some cases it makes sense to change portfolios around.

Although the core economic team of Bill English in Finance and Steven Joyce in Economic Development won’t change, there are options for Ministers looking for new challenges.

Once the Government is sworn in, we will be getting to work quickly on our priorities. These include implementing our education reforms to lift professional standards, and our housing programme, which will see young first-homebuyers build a deposit through KiwiSaver HomeStart.

We will also continue to fast track the release of land and building through special housing areas.

We will continue to diversify and build productivity in the economy. That’s about more training places and apprenticeships in high-skill areas.

We’d like to finalise our Free Trade Agreement with Korea and will work hard on an FTA with the United States and other partners who are looking to form the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The country’s infrastructure build will continue at a rapid rate, including the expansion of ultra-fast broadband and the rural broadband initiative. We will work tirelessly on Christchurch’s rebuild, finalise those unsettled Treaty of Waitangi claims, and I want to work on the referendum process for a potential change to the New Zealand flag.

Welfare reform will continue to be a priority, as will health. One of our first targets will be to see hospice funding increased to 70 per cent, and we will also speed up the cancer treatment process so 90 per cent of sufferers receive treatment within 62 days of their first referral.

One of the messages we picked up on the campaign trail was that New Zealanders want us to do more for the most vulnerable children in our society. We will continue to try to move people from welfare-based homes to work-based homes, however we acknowledge there is potentially more we can do and we will be looking at ways to do that.

There is enormous opportunity over the next three years to continue to develop the job market in New Zealand. Over the next two years we expect to see about 150,000 jobs created.

Over the next three years we expect the average wage to move from $55,000 to $62,000 and expect to lift the minimum wage every year we are in office. We want to finalise our tax-cut programme and implement modest cuts for low and middle income New Zealanders from 2017.

This is while we continue to build surpluses, pay off some nominal debt by 2017 and reduce ACC levies.

In the time I have been Prime Minister I have marvelled at the creativity, ingenuity and generosity of New Zealanders. This is a remarkable country and there are enormous opportunities for us all. I am optimistic and ambitious for this country — and you have every reason to be as well.

- Herald on Sunday

Cunliffe’s resignation and leadership bid

David Cunliffe resigned as Labour leader this afternoon, but he also indicated he would stand for the leadership again.

Here is a statement he released.

I have today decided to resign the leadership of the Labour Party, effective from the end of caucus on Tuesday.

The party has suffered an historic election loss and in resigning as leader I take responsibility for that.

The party will review all the contributing factors. That process has begun and I give it my full support.

Labour’s values are New Zealand’s values. But the election result has reinforced that the Labour Party must change in order to uphold and communicate those values.

I was elected one year ago with a mandate to lead change.

In that time I have worked to pull the party and caucus together and put every resource available to the service of the campaign.

Clearly there is much more to do, and the party’s direction must be respected. There is no room for division or airing differences through the media despite agreement to the contrary.

The recent election confirms that Labour needs a more comprehensive overhaul.

We need to renew and rebuild our culture, accountabilities, how we do things and present to the world.

Achieving that in time for the 2017 election will require experienced and determined leadership with a broad mandate.

Whatever decisions are made must be in the best interests of New Zealand to have a strong and vital Labour Party.

The Party’s interests must come before any personal interests. I have thought carefully before responding to the calls to re-offer myself for the leadership of the party.

Consultation with colleagues, members and affiliates has affirmed that the whole party must participate in this choice, and not just one part of it.

Therefore I am announcing today that I will nominate for a primary contest, which will be held across the caucus, the party membership and the affiliates as the party constitution requires.

The process is a matter for the party Council, but the work we have begun towards creating a better country with opportunities for all New Zealanders must be fast tracked.

I would like to take this moment once again to thank my family and friends, my parliamentary colleagues, my office staff, my electorate committee, staff and volunteers, and the hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who voted Labour and who believe that Labour is a vital part of New Zealand’s future.

It is a privilege to lead the Labour Party. It is a great and proud party. It has the best interests of all New Zealanders at heart.

It has the values needed to create a fairer and more progressive society. I intend with the endorsement of the Party, to lead Labour to victory in 2017 so we can implement them.

I am now going to resume a long-booked family holiday until Monday evening and won’t be available for further media comment.

Thank-you. Kia kaha.

Grant Robertson’s leadership bid

After David Cunliffe’s resignation this afternoon Grant Robertson acknowledged he would contest the Labour leadership.

He is promoting a statement on Facebook:

This evening I announced my intention to put my name forward for the leadership of the Labour Party. Now is our opportunity to revitalise our party and to renew our connection with New Zealanders. We must be relevant to their lives, hopes and aspirations. We must be part of the communities we wish to serve. We must unify around our values – putting people first, fairness and opportunity. That will be the Party I would seek to serve as Leader.

I know that the members of our party and affiliated unions have just put their heart and soul into an election campaign and I am so grateful for that and I know that people are tired after that effort. Soon the Party Council will announce the timeline for the leadership election. In the meantime, I look forward to discussing the way ahead for our party and how we can contribute to a better and fairer New Zealand.

Labour denial and delusion continues

NZ Herald asks What’s wrong with Labour? Len Richards, Service and Food Workers Union organiser, provides some explanations, but not in the way he intended.

What went wrong?

More than a decade of dirty politics aimed at demonising and destabilising the Labour Party by well-organised and well-funded opponents have taken their toll.

The ‘dirty politics’ excuse is wearing thin. Attempts at “demonising and destabilising” opposing parties have been a part of politics forever. Nicky Hager overplayed the ‘dirty politics’ hand to swing the election and failed – it helped National more than the left.

I don’t like dirty politics but that’s a criticism aimed as much at Labour and the left as National and the right.

The opinion polls reflect the public mood deliberately created by the spin doctors of the right, and the very poor election results for Labour over the last three elections reflect the polls.

“The polls are rigged” is another tired old excuse. Like David Cunliffe Richards is avoiding responsibility, but poll conspiracies tend towards nut-job territory.

In response, our last two campaigns were run by many electorates as if MMP did not exist. Labour tried to win electorate seats rather than the party vote.

Blaming some electorate MPs is indicative of the factional rift that is tearing Labour apart. It’s up to the party leader and organisation to lead the campaign for party votes.

This time Labour received 200,000 more candidate votes (34 per cent) than party votes (25 per cent).

Perhaps that’s an indication that while some candidates are well supported by voters the party as a whole was not seen as a viable lead party in Government. Failure from the top again.

With 34 per cent of party votes we would be in government.

A forlorn “what if”. If Labour had got 34% instead of 25% (a huge reality gap) with Green’s 1-11% they would still have relied on Winston Peters to choose Labour over National.

How can Labour fix it?

A leadership change now will do more harm to Labour than good. David Cunliffe is more than a match for John Key. Our problems lie elsewhere.

The current lack of leadership – Cunliffe barricaded himself at home after the election, emerged to take a battering from his caucus on Tuesday and then disappeared back home for the rest of the week.

Cunliffe was far from a match for John Key, talking over him in a few debates didn’t win anything.

(NZ Herald)

Heads in the sand won’t revive Cunliffe’s leadership. Who wants a Prime Minister who goes into hiding “to contemplate his future” when the going gets tough? Cunliffe was unpopular with voters last Saturday. That has likely deteriorated significantly since then.

Labour’s policies are not “too left wing”. We lost votes to NZ First because Winston Peters outflanked us on the left. Labour pulled its punches.

Peters outflanked Labour on the left and right.

Labour needs to build its base among the people it represents. We need to turn outwards, to recruit, and to organise.

Yep. Should have been working on that after their 2008 defeat. Now it’s hard to know what people Labour represents apart from some out of touch unionists.

We need to go on the offensive and put up a credible alternative to the domination of society by the pursuit of profit at any cost. And campaign for the party vote.

“The domination of society by the pursuit of profit at any cost.” Out of touch with reality unionist. There’s a few on the left who believe this bull but most voters don’t see it as anything other than ideological nonsense.

If a business pursues profit ‘at any cost’ it will probably cost them their business.

Is the party prepared to do it?

The party showed over the last period that it is prepared to take a strong stance. The change in rules to democratise the election of the leader and the election of David Cunliffe is evidence of this.

This resulted in the election of a leader that didn’t have the support or confidence of his caucus. That’s proven disastrous for Labour in the election and this week.

The party needs to continue to stand firm and deal with its internal discipline problems.

Deal with it’s internal discipline how? Sack the majority of caucus? That’s not even possible, they are elected for another three years.

Whippings and unityI posted this when things were much better in Labour.

The Labour Party has a rock-solid social base. We can take heart from these supporters who gave us more than 60 per cent of the party votes in some electorates.

Rock solid?

  • 2002 – 41%
  • 2005 – 41%
  • 2008 – 34%
  • 2011 – 27%
  • 2014 – 25%

Very few electorates gave Labour more votes than National last Saturday.

As the problems of a system in crisis worsen and proliferate, Labour solutions will gain support if we organise and mobilise around them.

This is tragically ironic as the problems of a Labour in crisis worsen and proliferate.

The people see through old Labour and old unions with their forlornly fading fulminations.

Sorry to Len Richards for picking on him but he’s symptomatic of the entrenched old guard at The Standard and elsewhere in social media and the Cunliffe residence.

Labour needs something different, new and forward looking. That won’t happen if they continue to be dragged down by denial and delusion.

Farrar versus Gilbert and ‘dirty politics’

A spat between David Farrar (DPF) of Kiwiblog and Dr Jarrod Gilbert continues, with connections being made to ‘dirty politics. Gilbert posted on Wednesday:

Proof of David Farrar’s deception: my own experience of Dirty Politics

In the lead up to the election the Minister of Corrections Anne Tolley launched a gang policy. In order to justify the government’s approach she used gang figures that overstated the gang problem. Not by a little bit, but a lot. And I mean a lot. I couldn’t prove it at the time (I can now) but because they were so obviously nonsense I called her out and said I would eat a suitcase full of carrots if she was correct.

Carrots proved to be the least of my problems. My problem proved to be the dishonest Right Wing blogger David Farrar. I initially took Farrar’s challenge in good humour thinking it would be a healthy tussle to seek the truth. It wasn’t. As we know now, he and Cameron Slater are birds of a feather, but where Slater is dim-witted Farrar is marginally smarter and this makes him more insidious.

Farrar quickly leapt to the Minister’s Defence. He was able to gain the figures – presumably from the Minister’s office – and with them he attempted to ‘prove’ that I was wrong and discredit me. Sound familiar? It was my own little experience of Dirty Politics.

Farrar responded with an apology:

Jarrod was right

September 24th, 2014 at 1:55 pm by David Farrar

May have some carrots to eat.

I had an exchange with in August about the proportion of crimes caused by gang members, in reference to his disputing a statement by Anne Tolley.

I blogged:

Is Dr Gilbert Saying the Corrections Department is lying when it says 28% of the prison population are gang members? They supplied the data, and I see no reason why they would make it up.

I’ve just been told that the Corrections Department figures do include associates and family – something they did not make clear at the time.

So Dr Gilbert was quite right that the Minister was not comparing apples and applies, as one figure included associates, and one did not.

UPDATE: of course I apologise for doubting when he says Police and Corrections were using definitions of gang members. They were!

Graeme Edgeler took him to task

I’ve just been told that the Corrections Department figures do include associates and family – something they did not make clear at the time.

You were told that at the time. In fact, you quoted Dr Gilbert and responded as follows:

What the 28 percent prison number represents is gang members as well as gang associates in prison.

So it is a technical argument over definitions. I don’t care what you call them.

What’s changed? You agreed it was an argument of definitions then, but didn’t think it mattered.

David Fisher at NZ Herald:

Minister used wrong figures on gangs

Figures used by Police Minister Anne Tolley to justify a new law tackling gangs were wrong, police admitted last night.

The error was picked up by police shortly after Ms Tolley announced the policy in the run-up to the election but it has yet to be publicly corrected.

“Our intention is to shortly publish the relevant Cabinet Paper and clarification online,” a spokesman said last night.

Ms Tolley launched the policy as a “whole of government” approach to gangs which included drug dogs at domestic transit points – airports and ferries – and a new gang intelligence centre.

Launching the policy, she issued a press release saying 4000 gang members were responsible for a crime wave, including a quarter of murders last year.

She said that during the first three months of this year those 4000 gang members commited 34 per cent of serious drug offences, 36 per cent of kidnapping and abductions, 25 per cent of robbery offences and 26 per cent of grievous assault offences.

University of Canterbury sociologist Dr Jarrod Gilbert, who challenged the figures at the time of the policy launch, was yesterday citing proof the press release was wrong.

And Gilbert countered Farrar yesterday:

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean the government isn’t playing dirty.

Ten minutes or so before I posted my blog yesterday proving the Police and Corrections Minister had used dodgy gang numbers, David Farrar wrote something akin to an apology on Kiwiblog for attacking me for exposing the truth. He was getting the jump on criticism coming his way.

Was this a coincidence? Of course not. He was tipped off by the Minister’s office following an inquiry by the the Herald’s ever diligent David Fisher just an hour or so before Farrar posted. Tolley’s press secretary is a man named Gillon Carruthers. Leaked emails used in Dirty Politics show that Carruthers has been providing material to Farrar’s offside Cameron Slater since 2011. Old habits obviously die hard.

And:

When I wrote in my blog that I used somebody else to send in the Official Information request because I was concerned the fact I was doing so would be leaked to Farrar or others (to whatever end), I thought I might be seen as paranoid. To be honest, I thought I might have been too. Unfortunately it appears not.

It is already quite clear that numerous people have been attacked by Slater, Farrar, often at the behest of government ministers or those working for them. This is not a small matter, it is about how we want our democracy to operate.

After the revelations of Dirty Politics, it might have been assumed these practices were halted. It seems that they haven’t been. Cameron Slater said to me last week on Twitter ‘wait until you see Dirtier Politics’. The worst, it would seem, is yet to come.

Slater has sounded unrepentant about playing dirty in between claiming to be a victim.

Farrar has pledged to clean up Kiwiblog and be more vigilant about disclosure of sources but he’s also been taken to task about this by Edgeler:

“if any content substantially comes from a parliamentary … source, I will state so when using it.” cf.

I haven’t seen a response to this from Farrar.

Some of this has been highlighted in a post at The Standard. Anthony Robins concludes:

Business as usual then (what a surprise). Expect dirty politics, and personal attacks on critics of the government, to escalate even further over the next three years.

A bit ironic considering the levels of personal attacks on critics at The Standard but fair enough holding Kiwiblog to account.

Dirty politics and personal attacks won’t stop overnight, they are ingrained practices across the political spectrum and across blogs.

Steve R also commented at Kiwiblog:

You need to do more to make up for how poorly you treated Dr Gilbert who I note you now refer to simply as “Jarrod”.

You misrepresented his position and allowed ignorant vitriol to be published whilst at the same time you suppressed counter arguments in support of his position. For instance, I wrote the post below and then watched and waited, and waited, and waited for it to be made public and funnily enough you only released it to the public well after activity on the thread had died off. If you’re going to manage your blog with such little integrity and courage then why don’t you openly label it for what it is – a gathering place for those of the right with feeble minds that cannot cope with a dissenting opinion.

My earlier post: “The one thing that Dr Gilbert has got wrong is that you deserve a reputation for honesty. You are being quite dishonest to suggest that Dr Gilbert has conceded the point, he absolutely has not. And it is utter nonsense to suggest he is wrong by simply standing by the initial apparently flawed data.

Furthermore, your refusal to accept there is a significant difference between gang members and associates betrays nothing but sheer ignorance. Having worked with gangs as a police officer (including time undercover in their midst) I can assure you that there are numerous people who are recorded as “gang associates” that have no association with “the gang” although they might have a completely non-gang related association with an individual “gang member”.

For instance, consider the co-worker who has his name taken when he gets pulled over in the company of a gang member; the person whose cousin or brother in law is a gang member (such people include policemen, lawyers and even a Judge); the tradesman who does work for a gang member etc etc. All can be recorded as “gang associates” and in the event that they commit an offence it is recorded as having been committed by a “gang associate” notwithstanding the fact there is no “gang” connection to the offence. Thus, the definitions used do matter because if the “gang problem” is wildly overstated because of a flawed nexus between offences and “gangs” then policy decisions and resource allocations are potentially misguided.”

Holding prominent political blogs and bloggers to account has become an important aspect of New Zealand politics.

It will be interesting to see how Farrar and Kiwiblog responds to what will no doubt be ongoing pressure to clean up.

The Green ceiling

The Greens had high hopes for their party vote this election, expecting an upward trend to continue. Targets and claims were 15% and higher. If you believed their hype like Greens did a significant improvement was not only feasible, it was a certainty.

Green reaction to a mediocre result shock, disbelief that their rising greatness wasn’t reflected in the polls. Depending on the special vote count they may barely get the same as in 2011, which to Greens is a pounding of their pride and expectations.

But from outside the Green bubble it is not surprising, despite Labour’s weakness leaving many left wing votes up for grabs.

While many people have some admiration for Green advocating on environmental issues there are strong concerns for too much Green influence, especially anywhere near Government. This is due to extreme stances, such as moratoriums and bans on anything to do with fossil fuel and mineral exploration and extraction.

And it’s due to their strong socialist leanings and policies. Greens try to disguise their socialism with do-good fronts like lifting children out of poverty, but many voters see through their solutions, which invariably mean giving everyone the same amount of money and housing, all provided or imposed by the State.

Making things better for kids and poor people is admirable and should be given more political attention. Greens have succeeded there. But there is not a lot of support for their blanket ‘handout’ approach, which many people see as idealistic and unworkable.

A major push for Green growth was based on giving much more attention to their economic credentials and ambitions. Instead this helped fix the Green ceiling in place.

A common phrase that’s associated with Greens having anything to do with running the country’s finances is “scare the bejeebers”.

At a time when the country is just emerging (relatively successfully) from the worst world financial situation in generations there is a wariness of starting a Government spending spree, handing out money and houses to every poor person who “deserves” as good as anyone else regardless of their efforts.

It’s ironic that a party that campaigned hard on having a forward looking “smarter cleaner” economy wants to achieve their aims through last century socialism.

There’s also a number of conflicting images.

Rod Donald, Jeanette Fitzsimons and Nandor Tanczos looked and acted like real Greens. Sue Bradford looked and acted like a sleeves rolled up social campaigner.

While Greens transitioned to new leadership very successfully and improved their vote Russel Norman and Metiria Turei look  very different to their target constituency. Bradford left the party when she missed out on the leadership (and this year she left the Mana Party when they betrayed their principles by joining forces with Kim Dotcom).

Green election results:

  • 1999 – 106,560 votes, 5.16%
  • 2002 – 142,250 votes, 7.00%
  • 2005 – 120,521 votes, 5.30%
  • 2008 – 157,613 votes, 6.72%
  • 2011 – 247,372 votes, 11.06%
  • 2014 – pre-specials 210,764 votes, 10.02%

Greens will have picked up a significant share of Labour’s decline in 2011 but although Labour kept shedding votes this year Greens weren’t able to capitalise.

The Greens seem to have hit a support ceiling and unless they change markedly 10-12% is likely to be their limit.

And they will be a little nervous about Gareth Morgan proposing a ‘blue-green’ party that is prepared to promote environmental issues with any government with a more pragmatic and effective approach, and without the socialism.

Greens do contribute significantly to Parliament and will be partly responsible for National paying more attention to environmental and “poverty” issues. But they haven’t yet been a part of Government after nearly two decades of trying.

And a support ceiling won’t prevent them from declining due to competition and ongoing impotence.

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