Labour have sharpened their knitting needles

Earlier this week David Cunliffe acknowledged that he had made mistakes but would be starting a fight-back and focus on the things that mattered.

Stuff reported: Cunliffe: The fightback begins now

“I am sure that the caucus will be as determined as I am that we stick to our knitting and to our core messages about jobs, homes and families, and avoid distractions,” Cunliffe said.

“We have got past anger a long time ago, we are focused on what a campaign needs – a positive contribution by everybody and focused on the issues that matter.”

Labour’s campaign slogan is VotePositive.

The big thing being discussed today was sparked by another Stuff article:  Labour claims Hosking’s biased.

The Labour Party is in a standoff with TVNZ over plans to use presenter Mike Hosking to moderate the live televised leaders’ debates.

A Labour source said that, despite protestations, the party was unlikely to pull out of the two scheduled TVNZ debates. “When we heard it was Hosking the initial reaction was ‘Are you f…ing joking?’ But we are trying to get it changed. We are not making a hullabaloo about nothing, we’d rather they get someone else.”

Senior Labour MP Grant Robertson said he was not part of the negotiations, but joked: “If it’s true, we’d rather have Jeremy Wells as Mike Hosking, than Mike Hosking.”

Cunliffe said he was not involved in the negotiations. Chief of staff Matt McCarten is understood to be overseeing the arrangements.

It’s all over Twitter. And Labour blogs are full of it:

Rob Salmond at Polity:  Mike Hosking and this has been re-posted at The Standard: Polity: Mike Hosking

Is this Labour sticking to it’s knotting?

They have sharpened their needles and are taking stabs at the media.

It almost looks like Labour has conceded defeat already and are making excuses in advance. “Poor us” laments and blaming the media are only going to increase the electoral damage.

It’s a very difficult situation for them but they have to do something to not contradict their ‘VotePositive” slogan.

 

Cunliffe cheerleader chumped by change of tune

David Cunliffe’s chief cheerleader at The Standard, Greg Presland, has been chumped by Cunliffe’s change of tune on whether he knew anything about the sexual offender before meeting in Queenstown.

Presland posted in Herald says weird things about Cunliffe and Labour Clutha Southland candidate:

The Herald said:

… the Labour leader threatens to be distracted by internal ill-discipline and criticisms over his judgment, including the holiday itself and a meeting last week with a prominent New Zealander given name suppression on charges of performing an indecent act.

Mr Cunliffe confirmed to the Herald last night that he had arranged for the person – whose case has been the topic of media coverage – to meet a Labour candidate but said he had no idea about the controversial background until yesterday.

“If I had known of the suggestion, no such meeting would have taken place.”

You have to wonder why the meeting was mentioned and why it was thought that it would cause a distraction to Cunliffe.  

No doubt the intent is to continue with the bad news narrative that the right have been pushing but what was Cunliffe to do?  Have a Police vette conducted of all people that he may meet?  Even this would not have helped because the person involved received a discharge without conviction and had all details suppressed.  

And Cunliffe confirmed to the Herald he had no idea of the background until yesterday.

Presland is presumed to be close to Cunliffe in his electorate and he’s the lawyer who organised the donations trust. He’s been a dogged and loyal supporter.

But now Cunliffe has changed his tune in “Sometimes tough times make you tougher” – Cunliffe.

 Mr Cunliffe admits a prominent New Zealander’s possible sexual offending had been raised with him before he met with the man in Queenstown last week.

The Labour leader says the meeting went ahead because no proof had been supplied.

“There is a suspicion that a person who asked to meet me and my candidate down there might be a person in that category. All I can say is had I known that, and we did ask around if there was any reason not to meet, we wouldn’t have had the meeting.”

It must be tough  being a Labour cheerleader at the moment when Cunliffe keeps saying weird things.

There’s not much cheerfulness at The Standard these days.

Cunliffe’s sorry, support slumps

There are many reasons why David Cunliffe’s and Labour’s support is slumping. Cunliffe has conceded that saying “sorry for being a man” may have contributed.

How he has dealt with it could also be indicative of his struggle to impress people, especially men but also women.

Audrey Young reports on NZ Herald’s latest poll results in Labour losing its appeal for men:

Labour’s support among men has fallen to just 23.9 per cent in the latest Herald-DigiPoll survey and leader David Cunliffe concedes it may have something to do with his “sorry for being a man” speech to a domestic violence symposium.

Since last month:

  • Labour’s overall support fell from 30.5%  to 26.5%
  • Men’s support fell from 27.6% to 23.9%
  • Women’s support fell from 33.4% to 29.1%

When Cunliffe spoke to the domestic violence symposium he received praise from people attending the symposium but had a much more negative response in many forums. He was accused of putting on an act. One suggestion commonly made was that it was a speech targeting an audience but lacked conviction. He has been accused of similar in the past.

Mr Cunliffe said it was hard to tell whether his speech to a domestic violence symposium was behind the fall.

“It may have had some effect.”

It most likely has, and not just support from men, some women also rolled their eyes at his statement.

In comments since then Cunliffe claims he does not resile from what he said but has avoided repeating his “sorry” claim.

“I certainly don’t resile from the comment that family violence and domestic violence is something all New Zealanders need to consider carefully and to take some responsibility for.

“At no time have I suggested that all men are guilty of it.”

No defence of saying sorry. No explanation or clarification.

This adds weight to the impression he was targeting an audience and doesn’t want to say the same thing to a wider audience, even though he was well aware there was media coverage of his speech.

Mr Cunliffe said he had clarified what he meant and was not planning to give another speech on it.

He has only partially clarified what he said but has avoided the most contentious part.

And that he doesn’t plan to “give another speech on it” suggests that outside the symposium audience he isn’t very committed to his words.

Mr Cunliffe’s speech was praised by many of the women at the family violence conference.

But if it was just a speech and he has no intention of backing it up with anything more even that praise may be short-lived.

Cunliffe talked the talk, briefly, but that seems to be where his “brave statement” ends.

This adds to a wider problem Cunliffe has – he appears to say what he thinks different audiences want to hear, without conviction, persuasion or proof that he meant it.

It’s not just men who don’t warm to Cunliffe’s speeches. Women also prefer politicians who give some action that they might practice what they preach.

Cunliffe’s sermons on the moment will continue but the congregation is rapidly losing faith.

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.

Cunliffe and the Labour blokes

Different columns on Labour, one from Rachel Smalley claiming David Cunliffe is trying to attract the female vote, and another by Duncan Garner on Labour blokes disregarding party interests and trying to shore up their electorate chances.

Rachel Smalley: Cunliffe courting the female vote

The most recent policy announcements suggest to me that David Cunliffe is not cutting it with women. You’ll remember Helen Clark lost the support of women in her final term, and I don’t think Labour has ever claimed it back. During his leadership challenge, remember that Cunliffe wasn’t popular with women in his own party. I suspect that’s resonating in the wider public too.

According to polls this year both Labour and Cunliffe have lost support from female voters.

So he’s going after the female vote. Women are more likely to bounce between parties. Men tend to vote for what’s right for their own wallets, but women are more likely to consider issues beyond personal wealth and economics.

A particular problem Cunliffe has is that women are more adept at reading body language and don’t like it when it differs from verbal language.

Even his “sorry I’m a man” speech, which was obviously targeting women, had suggestions of a lack of authenticity.

Meanwhile Duncan Garner posts Three Labour MPs say ‘stuff the party – I want to win my seat!’

Three Labour MPs have broken ranks in recent weeks – quite loudly and very publicly.

They are interested in one thing: self-preservation. They want to win their seats and they’ve given up relying on their party. They are clearly concerned Labour will poll poorly on election night, so they’ve decided to run their own campaigns – away from head office and away from the leader.

These MPs have either chosen not to be on the list or they have a low-list spot. They are vulnerable. It’s all or nothing for them.

They must win their seats to return to Parliament; this sort of pressure usually focuses an MP’s mind. They want to be back in Parliament and they want the $150k salary.

I’m talking about West Coast-Tasman MP, Damien O’Connor, Hutt South MP, Trevor Mallard and list MP and Te Tai Tokerau candidate, Kelvin Davis.

He has left Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene out.

Take Davis: yesterday he engaged Labour in its biggest u-turn in years. He told me he supported the Puhoi-Wellsford road project that his party has openly mocked and criticised.

Davis is a staunch promoter of Northland interests and has put this before the party.

Further south in Wellington, Trevor Mallard is openly campaigning for the return of the moa – against the wishes of his party and the leadership. It’s a desperate cry for attention: Mallard needs visibility and the moa got him the headlines.

That has been a bizarre sideshow. Cunliffe initially responded “the moa is not a goer” but Mallard has kept on going on about his pet project of the future.

And further south again, Damien O’Connor voted with the Government 10 days ago to allow storm-damaged native trees to be harvested in protected forests.

Tirikatene also voted with the Government on the tree bill.

These three blokes are the outliers in the Labour Caucus. And they are blokes too; they need to make some noise to be heard. They clearly have issues with the tame approach within their caucus.

O’Connor and Davis certainly look in touch with middle New Zealand, their electorates and their issues. They have given the one-fingered salute to their struggling party and put self-preservation first.

O’Connor, Tirikatene and Mallard are relying totally on holding their current electorates in order to stay in Parliament, they don’t feature on the Labour list.

Davis is in a doubtful list position and to put a bob each way on his chances he needs to keenly contest Hone Harawira to try and win Te Tai Tokerau off him.

While Cunliffe is struggling to woo the women voters some of the strongest male presence in Labour is going their own way, disregarding the wider party interests, and as Garner says, putting self preservation first. This suggests they don’t hold much hope of the party doing well.

Cunliffe is struggling to appeal to women and failing to appeal to his own caucus for unity.

It’s hard to see how this can work out well for Labour.

Unless Kim Dotcom sinks National, giving Labour  a shot at forming a Government despite their shambles.

 

Labour accuse Government of interference in prosecutions

Labour list MP Andrew Little has accused the Government of pressuring the police to reduce the number of prosecutions. This has been strong denied by the police and Government. Stuff reports Pressure to lower stats – MP:

Police were under government orders to “minimise” the number of domestic violence charges they lay to make crime statistics look good, Labour MP Andrew Little claimed yesterday.

But the claim has been strongly denied by both police bosses and the Government.

Family violence figures released yesterday by the University of Auckland’s Family Violence Clearinghouse show police charges for domestic violence offences dropped by up to 29 per cent from 2009/10 to last year.

And for the same period, the number of offences recorded by police fell by nearly 10,000.

But the number of investigations into family violence grew from 86,800 in 2010 to 95,100 incidents last year.

Little, a list MP and New Plymouth’s Labour Party candidate, said he believed the drop in family violence charges was due to the Government putting direct pressure on police to lower the crime statistics.

“What I have been told authoritatively is that front line police have been told to minimise the number of charges they lay.

“That is not just family violence but across the board. I’m told it’s not just domestic violence, it’s all forms of offending.

“I think that a combination of that and using police safety orders is what is showing up in the reduced number of charges in relation to domestic violence,” Little said.

Little has said similar in a media release:

Police are being instructed to charge fewer people in order to meet National’s crime reduction targets, Labour says.

“Front line police and others in the criminal justice system are telling us police have had pressure put on by senior officers to reduce the number of charges they lay to meet the Government’s targets,” Justice spokesperson Andrew Little says.

On Firstline this morning David Cunliffe support these claims. He said that no evidence was available to support the claims but that they had been told of the issue.

Cunliffe said he had no “solid proof” but it had been heard on the street.

Government says the claims are unfounded and outrageous.

Some scepticism is justified, especially leading into an election campaign.

This is a serious accusation. Labour should back up their claims with evidence or they risk being seen as indulging in ‘cry wolf’ politics.

In a speech in the weekend David Cunliffe promised a clean campaign with no smear politics.

That’s what I believe in.

That’s what Labour believes in.

That’s what we’re all fighting for.

And that’s why on September 20 we will win.

This election campaign should not be about dirty tricks or dodgy deals; smear campaigns or a personality cult.

We’re going to run a positive campaign because people matter most.

It’s not long ago Labour were complaining bitterly (with some justification) about a lack of evidence in claims about Donghua Liu donations. They were saying it was a smear campaign.

There’s still a need for the Opposition to hold Government to account, but unless they can provide a solid case that Government have been interfering in prosecutions this may look like a dodgy dirty smear attempt.

Capital Gains Tax – how much more tax?

There’s some doubt about a claim by David Farrar that Labour to increase taxation by $5 billion a year through their proposed Capital Gains Tax.

On Q+A, David Cunliffe said:

By the way, a capital gains tax which at full running is going to bring in 5 billion dollars a year, close to, 4 to 5 billion is the single biggest change to New Zealand tax policy in decades and it’s one that I’ve personally championed for years.

That’s appalling. That’s an extra $5 billion a year ripped out of NZ families and businesses, to be spent by Government.

There is a case for a capital gains tax. I support a broad base tax system. However I’m sick of new taxes being added on, with no compensating reduction in income and company taxes.

If ’s capital gains tax was really about changing investment incentives, then they’d commit to reducing income and company tax by the same amount of revenue their CGT would bring in.

But in reality, their CGT is just about increase the tax burden on New Zealanders by $5 billion a year.

There’s doubt about the amount at least. Oddly Labour don’t list Capital Gains Tax in their announced policies.

It is mentioned in Monetary Policy:

Another step to encourage NZ savings, and investment in the export and import substituting real economy, would be to remove the tax bias which currently favours investment in land based investments by introducing a tax on capital gains from property, excluding the family home.

The current tax bias is unusual in western countries and contributes to underinvestment in the productive economy, and savings.

The tax advantages drive asset prices, and demand for mortgage borrowing, to higher levels than would otherwise be sustained. This increases demand for imported borrowings, which puts pressure on the exchange rate.

This distortion in the tax system also pushes up house and other property prices beyond the reach of many, while enabling wealthier New Zealanders to pay lower rates of tax on their economic income.

It’s not mentioned in their Fiscal Plan summary  but it’s in the associated media release (briefly):

“Labour will introduce a new, progressive top tax rate of 36 per cent on income over $150,000; that’s the top 2 per cent of income earners. We will also raise trustee income tax to 36 per cent to avoid trusts being used as tax avoidance vehicles.

“This combined with our capital gains tax will allow the Labour-led Government to run surpluses and pay down National’s record debt by the end of our second term,” David Cunliffe says.

David Parker says: “Everything is paid for, plus we are in surplus.

It’s in their detailed Fiscal Plan:

However this only claims to bring in an extra $1 billion per year:

This policy will raise an additional $25 million in its first year, growing in outyears to reach $1 billion a year by 2020/21.

Cunliffe or the Fiscal Plan must be inaccurate about how much extra per year Labour would tax.

UPDATE: a comment at Kiwiblog suggests another total:

From David Parker in the 2011/2012 budget debate

http://theyworkforyou.co.nz/debates/2011/aug/02/estimates_debate

Treasury’s estimate of the long-term revenue from a capital gains tax excluding the family home was $4.8 billion per annum. We remodelled that through our consultants, Business and Economic Research Ltd, and they cut that back by $2 billion per annum at the maturity of the scheme. So it is raising $2.8 billion per annum once it is a mature scheme, rather than $4.8 billion. The sensitivities in the Business and Economic Research Ltd analysis show that it could be $1 billion per annum more than that, but we have taken the conservative course and assumed the lower figure.

The maximum claimed there is $3.8 billion, still well under Cunliffe’s $5 billion.

Labour’s poll hopes

Labour are not in a good place in the polls, having trended down since a surge just after David Cunliffe became leader. All the polls last month had Labour in the twenties.

This sort of support level makes a Labour led government look unlikely, but even if other parties on the left plus NZ First got enough support for Labour to cobble together a coalition their hand would be weak if they only had about half of the contributing MPs. The balance of numbers matter.

Polls were discussed in a Q & A interview with Cunliffe on Sunday.

CORIN If we could look at the polls now, back in February Labour was on 34%, you told Nine to Noon your goal was to get higher to the late 30s if not 40, those were your words. Now you seem to be aiming for 31.

DAVID Oh nonsense.

CORIN What’s happened?

DAVID No no I’ve never said that, I’ve said I’m sure that we will be back up into the 30s…

CORIN 2 or 3%…

DAVID No no no, that is 2 or 3% just from the ground game.

This is how Radio NZ reported Cunliffe on Friday:

The Labour Party goes into its annual congress this weekend after weeks of poor political poll results

Despite that, leader David Cunliffe’s message to members will be that Labour can and must win the election.

National dropped on average about 6 or 7 percent during election campaigns, and Labour’s work on the ground to get people to polling booths must add 2-3 percent for it, Mr Cunliffe said.

That put Labour well within striking distance of forming a coalition Government, he said

Polls for Labour over the last month ranged from 23-29%. Adding 2-3 percent to that would barely get them into the thirties at best.

Back to Q & A:

CORIN You still want to get 40%?

DAVID I would love to get 40% and I’m sure we’ll be well up into the 30s, and just remember in the last couple of election campaigns the National government or the National Party has dropped about 6% during the 3 months of the campaign. Now if they do that and we get 2 or 3% off the turnout, and make sure that our policy releases and our media and our comms are well placed, then I’m absolutely convinced we can win this election.

Same claim, hoping for National to drop 6% and Labour to gain 2-3%.

Labour’s media and comms have been performing poorly. Policy releases have also suffered hiccups. They had a hit financial policy release a week ago and had a lot of attention on their weekend congress which may have helped their cause, but Cunliffe’s “I’m sorry I’m a man” comment may have seriously undone a lot of good work.

CORIN Okay, but the trend over the last 2 or 3 months has been down. Under David Shearer Labour was up around 34%, 35%, 36% in some instances. There has been a steady trend down since you have been leader to now what 29?

DAVID Well look I think we should be very clear about the rhythm and sequence and I’ll be quite open with you. Of course we started off after the primary campaign with numbers around 36-37, that’s if you like the blush of enthusiasm.

CORIN Well you had 34% after the campaign, and I think you had 1 point balance in our poll like that campaign. ….

DAVID We had a good conference, we had a good by-election result, we had a reasonable effort I think around the asset sales campaign. I think it’s true that it did go a little quiet over the summer break, and we had a number of changes in our team early in the next year which probably caused us to lose a bit of momentum if I’m honest, but we picked up from that, which is great.

They went quiet over the summer break and came back from it poorly, trending down in the polls since. They haven’t picked up, as David Farrar’s poll of polls shows:

Since the leadership bump last year it’s been all downhill.

There’s been, as you are well aware over the last couple of weeks, a sustained attempt at a smear campaign against Labour.

What has picked up are the excuses, blaming a smear campaign, blaming media bias and blaming polling company conspiracies (Cunliffe has only blamed a smear campaign but Labour bloggers have been claiming extreme bias and conspiracies involving National, media and polling companies).

Labour analyst Rob Salmond has done some research that is behind Cunliffe’s repeated comments on National dropping support. He has blogged on this at Polity – National dropped 6% in 2008, 2011 campaigns.

At my briefing to Labour’s Congress over the weekend, I made a point about National’s performance in recent campaigns, which was later picked up in David Cunliffe’s speech.

National has dropped six percent each time.

For those interested, here is the data that sits beneath this claim. All I did was find any published poll where the field dates included the day three months before election day1, then compared that to the final election result.

This six point drop in National’s performance often went to parties opposed to National. Famously, in 2011 the big beneficiaries were New Zealand first, who rocketed from around 2.5% in the polls all the way to 6.7% three months later. In 2008 the Greens were significant net beneficiaries of campaign-time changes.

Labour seem to be pinning their hopes on a similar trend down for National leading in to this election. It may happen again or it may not, as is the case every election the circumstances are quite different.

It is certain that National will be doing everything they can to avoid a repeat of last election’s tea party debacle, and while Winston Peters will again be looking to benefit from media attention that boosts NZ First he won’t be wanting a repeat of 2008 where NZ First missed the MMP cut.

The Internet Party-Mana mix this campaign could also make quite a difference. IMP could poach support from Labour, and they could also scare swing voters off Labour for fear of a week Labour coalition adversely influenced bu Greens, NZ First and IMP.

And Labour will be keenly aware of a different trend not repeating, when National’s support plummeted to 21% in 2002 when Bill English just failed to impress. Some pundits have been suggesting similar could happen to Labour under Cunliffe.

And Salmond, unlike Cunliffe, was prepared to mention potential negatives for Labour from the past two election trends.

For completeness, I should note that in those two elections not many of National’s went to Labour.

Labour also shed some support during these campaigns, but at less than a quarter the rate of National’s loss.

So Labour are hoping National repeats a downward trend but Labour does the opposite to those trends.

This all sounds like a mix of wishful thinking from Labour plus trying to talk up the polls and talk up the party faithful and the voting public.

At their congress Labour clearly signalled a party and policy approach to their campaign with less emphasis on leadership and Cunliffe. This approach didn’t end well for Labour and Phil Goff  last election.

Much could happen between now and September 20, but pinning hopes on National polling patterns to repeat but Labour poll trends to reverse recent and historical seems either hopeful or desperate for something positive.

And the message doesn’t seem to be inspiring the activists. The Polity analysis was reposted at The Standard yesterday afternoon – Polity: National dropped 6% in 2008, 2011 campaigns.

There has only been four comments on that. Another Polity repost on education policy has a more typical 109 comments.

Labour might have to hope for something other than poll history.

Conservatives: “Call us crazy…”

The latest Conservative Party website promotion begins:

Call us crazy, but the way we see it a politician’s job 
is to follow the instructions voters give them.

I’m not sure who has given instructions here:

Cunliffe must really, REALLY hate research
Press Release: Steve Taylor

David “Tricky Dicky” Cunliffe must really, REALLY hate research, given his recent foray into Education.

David “Tricky Dicky” Cunliffe

“Smaller class sizes” whines Mr Cunliffe.

“2000 extra teachers” bleats Mr Cunliffe.

“$350 million to fund it” gasps Mr Cunliffe.

What an intellectual lightweight Mr Cunliffe must be , says me.

If I could show you a summary of 50,000 individual research studies, and over 800 meta-analytic (a study of studies) studies, that concluded that “smaller class sizes” don’t make any difference at all to teaching outcomes, and that teacher quality, reinforced by regular real-time supervision and incremental skills and performance progress via regular evaluation was the key to teaching success, what would your response be?

Incredulity? Surprise? Disbelief?

Unfortunately for “Tricky Dicky” Cunliffe, one of my academic roles is as an Outcomes Researcher, so every time Cunliffe makes a populist, vacuous, absent-of-evidence claim about………..well…………anything, then I can simply smash his claims down with valid, reliable, and consistent evidence to the contrary.

Professor John Hattie is a name known by most in the International Education field, and he is one of our own.

Here is a study presentation that Professor John Hattie has compiled that illustrates the factor effect size of “what works” in delivering quality teaching.

Class size ranked 105th out of 138.

Seriously, if David “Tricky Dicky” Cunliffe is the supposed IQ and debating giant of the Labour Party, then I literally cannot wait until we cross paths in the public arena.

Because for me, it is going to be a case of Barrel, meet fish, with me doing the shooting.

Not mentioned, but Taylor is apparently the Conservative opponent of Cunliffe in the New Lynn electorate. It follows another media release: Conservative Party Candidate not going to apologise:

“Waitakere Man” Conservative Party Candidate not going to apologise for “being a man”.

A West Auckland private social service provider, academic, consumer advocate, media commentator and local West Auckland resident says that it is time for the electorate of New Lynn to have a parliamentary representative who actually lives in the area representing the Electorate, and not one in David Cunliffe who is so willing to emasculate his own gender whilst being perpetually absent from his electorate.

After 51 years of the Labour Party flying in outsiders into the New Lynn electorate, I’m now standing up under the banner of the Conservative Party of New Zealand and as a local resident of West Auckland, and saying “Vote for a Local –Vote for Steve Taylor – & Party Vote Conservative”.

Well, we have had an invitation to call them crazy.

Cunliffe’s calamity

As soon as I heard a report of Cunliffe saying sorry for being a man I thought it would would be bad for him. And that’s how it is looking. While some have praised him for “speaking bravely” many many people, both men and women, have reacted negatively. Some very negatively.

Cunliffe has gaffed too much already, but this could be the gaffe to top all gaffes. It could be a calamity for his leadership. People don’t respect apologetic wimps.

He obviously doesn’t under stand the violence debate well. Neither do those who have advised him on this approach.

Sure some would have thought it was a great approach, especially for a women’s refuge audience. But his speech was also aimed at a much wider audience. It was a major policy launch.

But there was no way an apology like that, whether staged or authentic, was going to go down well with many people. Men and women.

One problem is that people want party leaders to be strong and confident. Saying you are sorry for being what you are portrays the opposite.

Another problem is that this feeds into the image of the Labour party being dominated by women. By targeting the opening of his speech very clearly at a very feminine (and feminist) audience reinforces this.

But the biggest problem by far is that stating he is sorry for being a man in general terms implies that he thinks he is to blame for male violence, and that he thinks all men are to blame for violence.

That implication really really gets up the nose of many men. Especially men who abhor violence and would do anything they can to confront and reduce the violence in our society. Men like me.

Men who are proud to be what they are and who they are.

And the reaction from some women has been very negative as well. From a fundamental level of not respecting apologetic theatrics. And on a more common sense and practical level.

Deborah Morris-Travers of children’s lobby group Every Child Counts said:

‘‘One of the solutions to family violence is having all men healthy, educated, feeling good about being parents, feeling supported and engaged in their community and having a strong identity – not apologising for being male.’’

We need strong leadership to address appalling violence in our society. We need strong male role models.

The Cunliffe of yesterdays speech is not someone many people can look up to. They don’t just see his comment as wrong, they feel insulted.

This isn’t superficial tribal politics. It goes much deeper and personal. It questions the decency of all men.

So far Cunliffe has stood by his comment. It’s difficult to see how he can repair the damage and recover any respect he may have had with many people.

This could be Cunliffe’s clinching calamity.

We may now see this excuse for a man limp to an election lashing.

Someone else will have to lead the campaign against violence. Someone who can stand tall and can be respected.

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