Labour candidate James Dann launched an avalanche of anecdotes damning Labour’s electability due to David Cunliffe being significantly more liability than asset with voters – and this is before the train wreck since the election.
Dann is openly supportive of Grant Robertson but his open letter yesterday has had widespread corroboration.
Brand Cunliffe appears to be Labour’s equivalent of Ford’s Edsel (“the Titanic of automobiles”) and New Coke (that went down like a cup of cold sick).
Cunliffe says he spent a week soul searching but he seems to have failed to find reality. He has claimed to have substantial support but there seems to be far more who have given up on him, or never supported him.
Particularly damning was his deputy leader David Parker who said he had lost confidence in Cunliffe and thought his position as leader was untenable. Parker is now caretaker party leader until a new one is chosen.
Dann wrote in An Open Letter To David Cunliffe:
We ran a two ticks campaign in Ilam. All our material had “Party Vote Labour” proudly on it. We delivered tens of thousands of pieces of paper with your face on it. But the reality, the hard truth, is that people in the electorate just didn’t connect with you. I lost count of the number of times I door knocked someone who told me they had voted Labour all their life, but wouldn’t vote for us as long as you were leader. People who would have a Labour sign – but not one with your face on it. While those examples are strictly anecdotal, the result on election night isn’t. It’s unavoidable. It’s practically the worst result in the Party’s history.
Stuff backs this up in Moveable feast for leadership:
His opponents in caucus won’t bother mincing their words. There was silent agreement yesterday after Labour’s Ilam candidate, James Dann, wrote that he lost count of the number of times he doorknocked life-long Labour supporters who said they wouldn’t vote for Cunliffe.
One MP reckons he got the same response from eight out of 10 doors he knocked on.
NZ Herald reports “one MP” in Labour MPs undecided over front-runners:
“As things stand, one candidate is completely unacceptable and the other is regarded as a risk.”
Scott Yorke (Imperator Fish) writes in Facebook:
I’m not a party insider, just a boring old party member, so don’t shoot me if you disagree.
1.David Cunliffe: I like David, and I voted for him during the last leadership contest. But the voters don’t seem keen on him, to put it mildly. I’ve had plenty of conversations with people who might have been inclined to vote Labour this year, but chose not to precisely because David was leader. A lot of the shit thrown at David has been unfair, but it has stuck. He has also made mistakes. As an example, I was dismayed at his election night “victory” speech, which I thought was inappropriate.
It seems that David has very few friends in caucus. It doesn’t really matter to me whether or not the antagonism displayed by various caucus members towards David is justified. It exists, and I cannot see it going away if David is re-elected as leader. I can’t see how he can lead the party to victory when so many within his own caucus want him gone. How can he work with David Parker now?
So if David wins the leadership contest the party will be led by someone who doesn’t have the support of caucus, and who most voters don’t really like. A recipe for success in 2017? It’s possible, but I doubt it.
Russell Brown responded to Dann’s post at Public Address:
I lost count of the number of times I door knocked someone who told me they had voted Labour all their life, but wouldn’t vote for us as long as you were leader.
I had a couple of those conversations with people I know, just casually.
As did ‘Max':
I had a similar experience during the campaign where we were campaigning relentlessly for the party vote. The worst experience was talking to a 70 year old lady who said she had voted Labour her entire life (that is a lot of elections and a lot of Labour Party leaders!) – but she wouldn’t be doing it this time because she simply “couldn’t stand” David Cunliffe. She had met Cunliffe personally at an event and couldn’t bring herself to do it. He was just too smarmy and disingenuous for her. Easy to see how we go down to 24% when we lost those types of supporters.
And Dann’s campaign manager Stephen Judd:
How many of the “voted Labour all their life” people are actually Labour,
I’ll take that one, as James’ former campaign manager. Lots. We focus our limited doorknock and phone canvas resources on people that have canvassed Labour in the past or areas that statistically should be rich in Labour support (high deprivation index, low home ownership, good booth results in previous elections, that kind of thing). Ilam is dominated by Fendalton and Merivale but Aorangi, Bishopdale and Bryndwr where we went hardest are far different in demographic. To be honest, I got that same feedback too.
‘slewratedotnet’ writes at Kiwiblog:
As a member and volunteer I think James got it right. My family were Labour voters throughout the Clark government and that support has now gone to the Greens and Nats for much the same reasons as he talks about, they simply do not like DC.
Remember that this is mostly relating to sentiments before the election. There’s been widespread criticism of how Cunliffe has acted since the election.
It’s possible some comments may have ulterior motives with the pending leadership contest but the discontent with Cunliffe is widespread and growing.
Media are scathing of Cunliffe, especially since the election. NZ Herald: 13 bizarre things David Cunliffe has said in the past 24 hours.
Dominion Post editorial Labour needs a likeable leader:
The continuing mess shows up two fundamental facts about Labour’s defeat. Cunliffe is not liked by most of his caucus, and they are not going to change their minds about him. Why should they? He was in charge during the catastrophe. And second, most of the voters don’t like him either. In this he contrasts with National leader John Key, who is widely liked. It is a political truth that the voters are never wrong
One of Cunliffe’s biggest problems is he keeps claiming things that the voters know to be out of synch with reality.
There are obviously similar sentiments amongst those in the Labour Party who will vote for a new leader.