Clayton’s MPs

When researching The quiet achiever – tourism I found that Labour’s spokesperson on tourism is Clayton Cosgrove. Clayton who? He seems to have been all but an invisible MP this year.

Cosgrove got some attention in last year’s election by promoting himself in the Waimakariri electorate with barely a mention of Labour. He failed to win, so is a list MP again this term.

After Andrew Little took over Labour’s leadership last year he ranked Cosgrove fairly well down the pecking order. Labour promoted New faces, wise heads in bold Labour line up.


  • Clayton Cosgrove, Revenue, State Owned Enterprises, Building and Construction, Earthquake Commission, Associate Finance

Not high profile portfolios. And not a high profile spokesperson – since then Cosgrove has put out only three press releases:

In last month’s reshuffle Cosgrove ended up ranked 18th:

Labour List MP in Waimakariri

Spokesperson for Commerce, Veterans’ Affairs, and Tourism
Associate Finance Spokesperson

After this a Dominion Post editorial – The real hope for Labour is the rising star Kelvin Davis – suggested:

Ruth Dyson, however, does not need to be retained as a future Deputy Speaker. She and other politicians, such as Clayton Cosgrove and Damien O’Connor would do the party a favour if they retired.

Being a list MP Cosgrove could quietly retire and let the next person on the list come in gain some experience. So could some of the other dead wood MPs. Labour badly needs fresh talent.

A problem with replenishment off the list is due to Labour’s poor result last election appears to be Maryan Street (3 term MP), followed by Raymond Huo (2 term MP). After that there are some new names, Priyanca Radhakrishnan and Rachel Jones.

Cosgrove isn’t the only Labour MP that would do the party a favour by disappearing officially, with Dyson and O’Connor mentioned as other candidates, plus Trevor Mallard and Clare Curran being other candidates.

Plus David Cunliffe is obviously not wanted, and Phil Goff wants out but only if he wins the Auckland mayoralty.

Most of these could qualify as Labour’s Clayton’s MPs, the MPs you have when you don’t need them.

The Clayton’s photo…

…the photo Cosgrove uses when he doesn’t want to use a photo.

Yesterday a question came up on whether Clayton Cosgrove may have photoshopped himself a bit for his election hoarding.

Cosgrove hoarding

That’s not a very clear photo and it’s not clear when it was taken – at least one Labour is MP is known to be re-using their 2008 hoardings.

But it appears to be the same photo that Cosgrove is currrently using on his Facebook page:

Cosgrove FacebookIt is similar if not the same as on Labour’s campaign website:

Cosgrove campaign

Also on Facebook is a photo on a post that says …

“Today (Monday the 21st of July), I had my weekly radio slot with Chris Lynch on Newstalk ZB,

…with an accompanying photo:

Cosgrove radio

However that image is re-used as it also appears on his Timeline for his radio posts on June 30, 23, 16, May, April  etc.

Here is Cosgrove speaking in Parliament on Tuesday 22 July 2014.

Cosgrove Parliament 2014 July

Here’s something curious found on Google images.

Cosgrove van sign

That looks to be the same image as his current hoardings, Facebook profile and Labour campaign site.

Cosgrove is not MP for Waimakariri, he lost the  electorate in the 2011 election, but he is using the same image.

And if you look back at the first image he is implying he is still MP for Waimakiriri. Regardless of using old photos that’s misleading advertising.

Contrasting Labour hoardings

Labour leader David Cunliffe put up his first hoarding today, (as snapped by Patrick Gower).

Cunliffe hoarding

Interesting to see no ‘Cunliffe’ on it apart from the picture, and a meaningless slogan the most prominent wording. ‘Party vote Labour’ is far less prominent.

Clayton Cosgrove (source Whale Oil)

Cosgrove hoarding

Cosgrove is 8 on the Labour list but no ‘Vote positive’ or ‘Party vote Labour. Much less red, his own slogan which sounds a bit like National’s, and a very misleading ‘MP Waimakariri’ as Cosgrove is not an electorate MP.

Trevor Mallard has started putting his hoardings up a day early (source Holly Bennett).

Mallard Hoarding

Mallard is standing for the electorate only and isn’t on the list so is promoting himself, with ‘Vote positive’ and ‘Party vote Labour’ far less prominent at the bottom.

Megan Woods:

Hoarding Woods

Same layout as Mallard’s but Woods is also on the list (at 20).

Jacinda Ardern:

Hoarding Ardern

Same again. This seems to be the official 2014 layout. Jacinda is 5 on the list.

Chris Hipkins:

Hoarding Hipkins

Another standard layout with the all important party vote note prominent. Hipkins is an electorate MP and 9 on the party list.


Sue Moroney (source Whale Oil)

Moroney hoarding

Two different versions. The top one is recycled from 2008, promoting both Labour and Moroney but obviously no current slogan ‘Vote positive’. The second is very prominent ‘Party vote Labour.

Ironically Moroney’s recycled hoardings are the best party promotions. She is 10 on Labour’s list and has trouble winning electrates.

It’s strange to see each MP with vastly different hoardings.

Asset sale referendum is flawed politics

After eighteen months of organising a petition and gathering signatures it has been confirmed that we will have a referendum on asset sales.

This has been driven by political parties with political agendas, not by citizens. The legislation has already become law, the first asset has been part sold and another is likely to happen before the referendum.

NZ Herald reports.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said the referendum should take place as soon as possible, and the partial sale of power companies should be suspended until the vote was held.

Labour’s state-owned enterprises spokesman Clayton Cosgrove said Mr Key should respect the democratic process, and the asset sales programme – including the Meridian float – should be halted until after the referendum

Greens and Labour have been calling for a suspension of sales for some time.

If legislation was put on hold pending a petition and potential referendum then so-called Citizen Initiated Referenda would become common political party obstruction to the government of the day.

If Greens were in Government and proposed legislation to give Working For Families tax credits to beneficiaries and an opposing petition was started would they wait for the outcome of that and a possible referendum?

Would Labour wait for a petition and referendum before introducing a Capital Gains Tax?

Would Labour-Greens wait for opposition delaying tactics to run out of options before implementing their NZ Power scheme?

They are abusing so-called citizen democracy to re-litigate what their failed election support and their failure to stop it in the normal parliamentary process.

They have used parliamentary funds to promote a political agenda. And the referendum will cost millions of dollars – so they can continue their political agenda.

Politicking is all they can achieve, because we know from past experience that Citizen Initiated Referenda are ignored by Parliament, including by Labour and Greens when it suits them.

The whole petition and referendum system has become severely flawed.

“Nice guys don’t last long in this game.”

In an NZ Herald article on David Shearer’s demise as Labour leader a sad observation is made:

The Mana Party’s Hone Harawira said he always found Mr Shearer to be “very, very friendly and very open”.

“I think that was probably his downfall. Nice guys don’t last long in this game.”

That’s how Harawira sees it, and I know others in politics see it that way. I was this told myself recently on Whale Oil.

It’s rubbish.

This sounds to me like it is an attempt to excuse bad behaviour, to excuse politicians who act awfully.

Some of the longest standing politicians in Parliament are widely regarded as decent, nice people – for example Phil Goff and Peter Dunne, both MPs since the 1980s.

There are also long serving MPs with reputations of being not so nice at times, like Trevor Mallard, Winston Peters and Clayton Cosgrove.

Politicians can be strong and still by nice. That means standing up and challenging the nastiness, and make it clear it doesn’t belong in Parliament. MPs are the people’s representatives, so they should represent decent and honourable behaviour.

Politics needs more nice guys and women. Strong and principled works best with nice.

Dunne as Public Enemy Number One

The United Future leader bears the brunt of abuse over the GCSB bill as Cosgrovian crap is flung at Dunne.

Claire Trevett writes about the short dabble with a “rather grand display of statesmanship” from David Shearer and then business as usual from Labour – Solidarity in the face of adversity has its day.

And some of it is quite nasty business.

The real political advantage to National in securing the support of Dunne for the bill also became increasingly clear. He has previously revelled in his “power of one” status as the casting vote in Parliament, most notably when he used it to ensure a member’s bill to Monday-ise Anzac Day and Waitangi Day passed.

He has now found the other side of that coin. For it is Dunne, rather than the National Party, who has become Public Enemy Number One for flipping his original stance to support the bill, in return for some changes.

This is apparent in Parliament, in MSM and on social media, where Peter Dunne is bearing the brunt of most of the pressure, criticism and abuse. It’s not new, this also happened over the asset sales MOM bill.

National won’t be unhappy that Dunne takes much of the heat off them – in fact they should be very grateful for this.

But apart from John Key openly stating his trust in Dunne there’s not much sign of National gratitude. On the National inclined Kiwiblog and Whale Oil there is a lot of vitriol and abuse directed at Dunne and scant support.

And that is repeated on the other side of the political ledger, with The Standard and The Daily Blog targeting Dunne more than National.

Dunne might have only one vote to National’s fifty nine, but he gets a disproportionate amount of attention and attacks.

Another single vote, John Banks, is relatively unscathed.

Much was made of Dunne’s objections to the release of his own phone and email logs to the Henry inquiry into the leak of a GCSB report, with claims Dunne appeared to be happy for all New Zealanders other than himself to have their metadata trawled.

It’s not a totally accurate argument, but when there is a climate of hysteria and paranoia to be whipped up, why not make the most of it? So Dunne was shouted down when he first stood to speak on the bill. Labour MP David Cunliffe was even accused of changing seats so he could heckle Dunne more effectively.

Labour seem to be taking out their frustrations about their own (substantial) problems on Dunne. He seems to be a handy target for venting their spleens, and there is a lot of venting and some very snarky and sour spleens involved.

It was left to Labour’s Clayton Cosgrove to take the debate to a higher level. Cosgrove said he went to a Catholic school and he had a biblical quote for Finlayson. “As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.” He had a further biblical reference for Dunne, of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. “The cock crowed thrice as Judas picked up his 30 pieces of silver.” This only resulted in his being pulled up by the Speaker demanding he call his colleagues by their proper names. “I apologise to Judas,” Cosgrove replied, before going on to amend it to “Peter Dunne picked up the 30 pieces of silver”, although in this instance, Cosgrove could only assume the coins were the promised reward to move Dunne from the dogbox to an ambassadorial post in “Beirut or Somalia, or somewhere quiet”.

That was a disgraceful, nasty speech by Cosgrove – which, sadly, is not uncommon from him.

– Parliament at it’s worst

Other Labour MPs joined the Dunne attacks, notably David Cunliffe, Phil Goff and Maryan Street.

They seem to despise someone actually doing their job and achieving something in Parliament, something that Labour seem unable and/or unwilling to do.

In contrast the Greens manage to debate and oppose (and support with respect where justified) without being unnecessarily nasty.

Dunne did more than any other MP to make improvements in the GCSB Bill. And he cops most of the flak from the Labour and activist opposition.

National – it’s caucus and it’s party members – should be very grateful for what Dunne has done to help their bill and deflect criticism and abuse. But there’s little sign of it.

And there’s little sign of Labour becoming a decent, positive party. A day of statesmanship is back to dirty business as usual.

It’s a paradox of politics where a positive achiever cops most of the flak, while Cosgrovian crap flows unchecked.

If politics was fair Cosgrove should be Public Enemy Number One.

Trotter and KIA on Garner-Labour ‘coup’

Chris Trotter has written in Stuff about the claimed Labour coup attempt that was sparked by a Duncan Garner tweet – When politicians and journalists collide.

Trotter  tries to explain what might have happened.

So, why did Garner’s coup rumour fail to stack up? Let’s go through the explanatory options.

1) Some sort of leadership coup was on, but Garner’s tweet alerted Shearer’s supporters and the organisers were forced to abort. (Despairing Labour MPs may simply have been gathering sufficient signatures to persuade their leader to go gracefully and preserve the party from a debilitating civil war.)

2) No coup was imminent, but Garner’s source considered it vital that Shearer be forced to endure yet another destabilising round of media speculation concerning the viability of his leadership. (So vital that they were willing to abuse and lose Garner’s trust.)

3) For reasons of their own, Shearer’s backers decided to undermine Garner’s journalistic credibility by deliberately misinforming him that a coup was under way.

My guess is run 2 and watch what happens to assess whether the time and opportunity are right to try 1. It’s worth noting there was a bit of followup activity from at least one new pseudonym at The Standard. I don’t think it was an isolated dabble.

It was interesting to see how quickly and aggressively Robertson, King and Hipkins came onto Twitter to discredit the leak and Garner.

And Clayton Cosgrove was obviously not pleased as he demonstrated in a spat on RadioLive with Garner – see Cosgrove proves Garner’s coup claim and Cosgrove “is evil, he’s a liar”.

An occasional commenter on Kiwiblog, ex-Labour insider ‘kiwi in america’, gives some interesting opinion and insights.

I think its a combination of 1 and 2. Trotter claims Garner double checked with another caucus source. What likely happened was source no 2 merely confirmed a possible rumble was on but didn’t confirm the letter. Garner was specific in not just predicting a coup but that a letter to affect said coup was circulating.

The source would likely be a Cunliffe supporter but in the end didn’t have the numbers. I’m sure the ABC faction and Shearer’s supporters moved swiftly to shore up numbers.

The venom in Clayton Cosgrove’s interview with Garner on Radio Live was revealing in just how angry Shearer’s backers were that Garner went with this rumour.

The cleanest execution is a Shearer resignation with only one name to replace him. There just is no consensus in Labour around that one name and so if its a contest then the new constitutional 40/40/20 rules apply. This is mega messy as none of the contenders seem able to win two of the three blocks needed to become leader.

Cunliffe may be the single contender with the most committed votes in caucus but even he cannot get to the number needed in caucus to trigger an off Convention year tilt at the leadership. The coup floundered on the rocks of this reality.

Its a marvellously messy conundrum that must have National’s strategists laughing in their beer. Almost all but the die-hard Shearer supporters realize Shearer is not up to the job but there is no consensus candidate at this time to execute a clean single option replacement.

Most sane heads in the caucus know a full party leadership contest is a recipe for months of poll sapping destabilization at the end of the last year before an election year.

Unless Labour’s polling in the two TV network polls in August is truly dire, Shearer is probably safe because of the complexity of the leader replacement mechanism. A Labour drop to the high 20′s will make it hard for a consensus candidate like Little to convince the Cunliffe and ABC factions to back him.

I’m sure Cunliffe still thinks he’s in with a chance so he’s biding his time knowing he’s got the party in his pocket hoping that a sub 25% poll rating will trigger the Rudd option – where naked political self interest with major caucus members staring down the barrel of defeat trumps the internal hatred of Cunliffe as a person and sees him emerge as the one candidate.

He’d hold his likely wider party backing as his negotiating card against the head of any holdouts in the ABC faction to sway them to back him in the caucus vote and to persuade the ABC crowd to not back Robertson or Little.

The only certainty is that the dissatisfaction with Shearer’s leadership and the speculation will continue.

Shearer might battle on unchallenged until the election.

Or someone might build the courage and the numbers to try to take over from him.

David Cunliffe seems to be the only one who could win enough support from party membership but it would take a major shift in Caucus sentiment for him to get a chance.

And there’s other possibilities often put forward, for example ‘greenjacket’.

This is consistent with what we know about the Labour caucus:
1. They all know that Shearer is politically drowning, and
2. the Labour caucus consists of people who couldn’t organise a piss up at a brewery.

‘Expat’ is short and to the point:

4. Labour are so fragmented and fucked up they couldn’t organize a knifing if the leadership was rooted and the polls were dire…

Cosgrove “is evil, he’s a liar”

Yesterday Duncan Garner addressed the destabilising campaign currently going on in Labour’s caucus. He was scathing about what is happening and how it is happening.

Everyone knows that David Shearer hasn’t measured up as leader and his time is just about up, but Labour’s problems run much deeper than him. Shearer failed in part because of his own inabilities but he has also been very badly served by his fellow MPs.

Garner interviewed Clayton Cosgrove, who acted exactly as predicted by Garner – Cosgrove proves Garner’s coup claim.

Cosgrove has been targeted as representing the worst of Labour and the worst of our politics in New Zealand, a nasty self interested win at any costs mentality.

The implication is that Cosgrove has been one of the prime trouble makers. In response to yesterdays performance by Cosgrove a source told me:

He performed as all those nasty pricks do.

Cosgrove is evil, he’s a liar

Strong words, from someone who has had a close connection with what goes on inside Labour.

And it fits with how Cosgrove presents himself in Parliament – there’s an obvious nasty streak evident there – and in other political hit jobs done openly by Cosgrove. And by some accounts he is worse behind the scenes.

Until Labour addresses their toxic core they will continue to fail at leadership level, they will continue to fail to recover from their losses in 2008 and 2011, and they will fail to begin a credible rebuild.

It looks like Labour is going to get worse before it gets better. They have dead wood to clean out, but more importantly they have saboteurs to confront and deal with.

If they do that they might start on a path to recovery.

Our Parliament needs a strongly competitive multi party environment. At the moment Labour is failing us.

If people within Labour recognise and deal with the Cosgrove crap – it’s not just Cosgrove but he seems to be a significant part of the poxy pack – they might start to become a party that earns credibility and support.

The obvious question – is anyone in Labour capable of confronting and dealing with it?

If they are not honest with themselves, if they don’t excise the evil, they will continue to self destruct.

Cosgrove proves Garner’s coup claim

On RadioLive this afternoon Duncan Garner spoke of his involvement in kicking off the public part of last night’s coup talk.

David Shearer will be gone as Labour leader soon – Duncan Garner – Audio

He also explained how coups work.

This is how coups work. This is how the destabilising campaigns work.

They’re not decisive, they’re slow, they’re unsure, and everyone involved in them is worried about being outed.

And Labour’s denials today are absolutely normal, this is how it works.

I have never had an MP say to me

“Ah, you’re bang on about this one, this is a coup. You’ve got me! We’re replacing him, how did you know?”

They never say that.

And Grant Robertson saying all MPs are behind Shearer is nonsense. They have never all been behind Shearer Grant, you know that.

MPs today in the Labour Party, and my source as well within that caucus, is lying to cover their butts.

That’s how it works.

This is part of the destabilising campaign.

Labour MPs are moving on Shearer, make no mistake, they’re undermining him, and their assurances they are supporting him are in my opinion not worth anything.

There are a number of MPs who have a lot to lose if Shearer goes, I’m talking Annette King, Phil Goff, Trevor Mallard, and Sky City Cosgrove when he comes on this afternoon.

Those people lead the ABC club, that’s the Anyone But Cunliffe club. If the leadership changes those careers are over, that’s why they want David Shearer to stay in the mix.

I’ll talk to Cosgrove after 5 o’clock, he’s got a few secrets himself about loyalty, I’m sure he will not want to discuss too many of those.

But make no mistake, Labour will attack me on this, they will attack my credibility, they will try and discredit me, that’s not new.

That is how a coup works.

Then after 5 – Clayton Cosgrove and Duncan Garner go head-to-head over Shearer and coup – Audio

There was too much talking over and too little of substance actually said to bother transcribing any.

Cosgrove didn’t try to answer any questions – he denied by avoiding answering.

He attacked Garner from the very first opportunity.

He attacked Garner’s credibility.

He tried to discredit Garner.

He proved everything Garner said previously. He seemed to clearly prove – That is how a coup works.

The only think that wasn’t clear was whether Cosgrove deliberately signalled that Garner was right, or whether he couldn’t hide old habits or was oblivious he was proving Garner’s point.

Was it recorded? If Cosgrove had heard Garner’s earlier spiel he wouldn’t have followed Garners coup recipe to the letter. Unless he wanted to prove Garner right without being open and honest.

Labour’s financial deficit

The economy will be a major factor in the next election (it could easily be the deciding factor). Labour’s financial credibility and their ability to promote themselves as competent managers of the New Zealand economy will be under close scrutiny.

Labour’s release of their NZ Power policy has highlighted some potential problems for Labour – they appear to have a significant financial deficit (and a communication deficit).

At the NZ Power policy launch David Shearer claimed it was “the big kahuna”. A two or three hundred dollar a year election bribe is not big, especially when you consider the potential down sides.

After the launch Shearer seemed to disappear, and has now gone on an overseas tour. This may not be a bad thing for Labour, his financial nous and his ability to express himself are well known deficits.

David Parker was interviewed about NZ Power on The Nation on Saturday. He is a policy wonk and a political wonk, and not a great communicator. It didn’t help that he looked uncomfortable trying to support aspects of the policy. Since then Parker also seems to have retreated from view.

Grant Robertson and Clayton Cosgrove have climbed in to the PR campaign. Neither present a strong voice on financial policy, and their politicking doesn’t

The financial credentials in the current and previous governments are strong.

Labour under Helen Clark had a strong contribution from her deputy and Minister of Finance, Michael Cullen, who was an integral part of a formidable team while calling the financial shots.

National has a Prime Minister with a financial background, and his deputy Bill English also has significant financial credentials.

In contrast Labour has:

  • Leader David Shearer with little known financial or business background.
  • Deputy Grant Robertson with little known financial or business background.
  • No 3 is Labour’s finance spokesperson David Parker – he seems to be far from a dominating force in Labour’s decision making team.
  • Labour’s biggest financial mind and arguably their best speaker, David Cunliffe, has been back benched.

Comparatively Labour has a very weak financial look, and it shows in their fragmented promotion of their “big kahuna”.

To be brutal, it’s not just in finance that Labour looks wish washy weak, it’s hard to see what they stand strongly for.

Labour seem to think NZ Power will be a game changer, but I don’t know if it is big enough or will be strongly enough supported by voters. Labour will still have to look like they know enough about financial matters to run the country.

Currently Labour have a significant financial credibility deficit.


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