One of the biggest talking points on the left of the Labour reshuffle announced yesterday was the demotion of David Cunliffe from 14 to 28, and what looks to be a humiliating appointment by his leader Andrew Little.
Cunliffe led Labour in an embarrasing election defeat last year. He then sort of stood down but stood for the leadership again.
Little beat him in the leadership contest, and punished Cunliffe with a ranking of 14, appointing him to these spokesperson roles in 2014:
- Regional Development
- Tertiary Education
- Research & Development
- Science & Technology
- Associate Economic Development
Yesterday Little ranked at 28 (out of 32 MPs) with these roles:
- Research and Development
- Science and Innovation
- Land Information
- Associate Education (Tertiary) Spokesperson
- Undersecretary to the Leader on Superannuation Issues.
Some similar roles but he has been dropped to Associate level on tertiary education. Chris Hipkins being given Spokesperson for Tertiary Education may gall Cunliffe (which may be what was intended).
Claire Trevett comments on that last role of Undersecretary to the Leader in Andrew Little takes bull by the horns in Labour reshuffle:
After successive leaders tip toed around the issue of David Cunliffe, Little has finally been brave enough to take the bull by the horns and simply dump him down the rankings with little hope of any return flight.
The dumping has come with some glitter attached but all up, that simply makes it the proverbial polished turd.
Mr Cunliffe has effectively gone from being the leader to the ignominy of being an Under Secretary to the leader. It will mean Mr Cunliffe is charged with the “spade work” in developing options for the party’s policy on superannuation and reporting on those to Mr Little directly.
Mr Little insisted that under-secretary role was meaningful and a show of confidence in Mr Cunliffe. He managed to avoid answering the question of whether it was a signal Mr Cunliffe should call time.
In a comment by Northsider in Labour’s reshuffle announced today at The Standard it apears that Cunliffe supporters have also taken a hit.
Lees-Galloway supported Cunliffe and is getting punished.
Wall supported Cunliffe and is getting punished.
Nash? ABC and a owned by RWNJs.
Mahuta supported Cunliffe and is getting punished.
You may think that there is a pattern here, but I couldn’t possibly comment.
(ABC = the Anyone But Cunliffe club)
As leader Cunliffe struggled to get support in the Labour caucus but he had a strong niche of support amongst left wing activists.
It may not be helpful to Labour’s chances of rebuilding to have politically smacked them in the face along with Cunliffe.
And Chris Trotter also comments on Cunliffe’s enforced slide at The Daily Blog in Puppet On A String? Has Andrew Little become the plaything of Labour’s dominant factions?
Consigning David Cunliffe to the rear of the battlefield, and replacing Nanaia Mahuta with Kelvin Davis do not strike me as the decisions of a wise general. (Although they may be those of a panicky one.)
As a number of right-wing commentators have already pointed out, the treatment of Cunliffe is as wasteful of the man’s talent as it is self-indulgently vindictive.
It is interesting to speculate about how Cunliffe’s supporters in the broader Labour Party will respond to Little’s brutal treatment of him.
Some will recall the statespersonship of Helen Clark, who judiciously divided up the top jobs between her friends – and foes. Others will recall with some bitterness the assurances given to them by the Labour hierarchy at the party’s recent conference.
The bitter divisions of the past had been healed, they said. Caucus and party were now working together, they said.
Cunliffe is down and seems to have been shown the way out of Labour’s caucus by Little.
Time will tell how that plays out with a small but very vocal pro-Cunliffe support base.