Soon returning MP Kelvin Davis launches

Kelvin Davis will soon replace Shane Jones in Parliament as next on the Labour list. He has posted this comment in Facebook.

Well today is my first full day of being unemployed. I had to resign yesterday to avoid compromising my former employer (MoE). Public servants aren’t allowed to make comments to the media and the 24 hours after Paddy Gower dropped his Shane Jones bombshell I would have broken that rule, I dunno, maybe 30-40 times.

Anyway I sat down this morning to address all the Facebook, twitter and email messages and well-wishers only to find my computer has well and truly crapped out.

Responding to them all on a smartphone is proving nigh on impossible.

So sorry if i don’t get back to people in a timely way.

So far people have been gracious regarding my pending return to parliament, but I expect the threats and nutters to start up again the closer we get to the Election. Oh well, such is the lot of a politician.

I just want to reinforce my four political priorities before RSI sets into my thumb.

People will no doubt criticise them and say there are other, better, more important things I should focus on, but I guess in the first instance I’ve got to be true to myself and focus on what I’m passionate about.

Priority 1: no surprises, improving Maori educational achievement, and more importantly, improving Maori achievements through education. I’ll argue to my dying breath that education is the road to Maori success.

Priority 2: Regional Development for Te Tai Tokerau. We’ve got plans and strategies coming out our ears in TTT, but unless a Govt stumps up with some serious dough to implement these plans we’re wasting our time. Even a quarter of 1 percent of the money going into the Christchurch rebuild would go a long way to rebuilding the Tai Tokerau economy. Te Tai Tokerau has endured it’s own tragedy, but it happened over 40 years not 40 seconds. The effects on our people have been equally devastating in the long run.

Priority 3: Te Reo Maori, it’s in a sad state and one of the reasons is that it has been rendered down in most communities to a ceremonial language that had little relevance to most peoples everyday lives. We need to make Te Reo a transactional language so that if i wish I can walk into any business, bank, supermarket, service station or pub and conduct my business in Te Reo if I choose. It is a right English speakers enjoy without having to think about it. Those who wish to conduct daily transactions in Te Reo do not enjoy this right. There are a number of simple and relatively inexpensive practical activities that can happen to get people speaking Te Reo in the community. A lot of dosh is being spent on initiatives that have questionable impacts on improving Te Reo. They need to be reprioritised.

Priority 4: Stopping sexual, physical and emotional abuse of women and children, and yes to men as well.

I was outraged with the Roastbusters scandal and the well publicized sexual abuse/ pedophile cases in Kaitaia over the last few years.

I sat back and waited for a male MP especially any male MAORI MP to make a stand and say something along the lines of “What the bloody hell is going on that men can treat women and children like this?” I was waiting for a male MP to take a stand and tell all of us men that this abuse is (predominantly) a male problem, and that we need to sort our shit out ourselves. We need to have serious conversations with our sons, grandsons and nephews about how a real man treats a woman. But i bet this is just too hard for most males.

I said in my maiden speech that it’s one thing to be born a male, but another thing entirely to become a man. We need to MAN up any have the balls to have those hard conversations with our boys.

Instead the only noise coming from male MPs was the sound of crickets chirping.

So I determined if no other male MP was prepared to stand up and start lecturing men on how we need to treat and love our women and children, and if I was ever in the position again to pick up that mantle, I will.

Some months ago I approached some people who work in this field and told them if i ever get back into parliament, tell me what I need to do to support them. I’ll give them a call soon.

So men, I don’t give a rats arse if I’m accused of not being a REAL bloke, I’ll still be a sports and rugby fanatic, get on the piss, keep up my fishing, shooting and getting lost up in the bush – but i love my wife, daughters, mother, sister, nieces,cousins, friends and colleagues too much to ignore sexual, physical and emotional abuse any longer.


So that’s me. No doubt I’ll make plenty of stuff ups along the way but what the hell. I’m determined to enjoy my second chance at this and loosen up a bit.

More than one Maori reporter had told me “You’re bloody hilarious on Twitter, but when we interview you you’re as dry as a brick. We need to see more of the real you.”

I’ll try to remember that advice, but in my own defence improving outcomes for Maori, growing the Tai Tokerau economy, breathing life in to Te Reo and stopping sexual, emotional and physical abuse is fairly serious work.

I better get on with it I guess.

Smarmy and fake is hard to shake

I’m posting this reluctantly but I think it needs to be said.

David Cunliffe has a major image problem. I’ve heard that in private he comes across very well, but his public persona (or personas) are crippling him politically. Especially amongst women.

Unfortunately this comment from ‘bmk’ at Public Address is a common impression of David Cunliffe.

The most depressing this about this whole episode was only tangentially related. My partner only follows politics very casually until close to the election when she decides (last couple of times for Labour). Anyway as we don’t normally watch much tv we were for once watching tv and she saw Cunliffe on late-night tv being interviewed about the Jones departure; she was highly unimpressed.

She asked me who this ‘smarmy prick’ was and why on earth they made him leader. She said he continually had a fake smile and sounded smug, fake and smarmy.

She also commented on his dress (something I never really notice) – saying that he was probably trying for casual since it was late night tv but instead it came across as 70s sleaze. She says she still hates Key but couldn’t vote for such a smarmy fake.

While this is simply one person’s opinion I have heard similar from others. Particularly the smarmy and fake thing. My concern is that he makes this impression on those who only have a passing interest in politics. At the time the Labour leadership was being contested I supported Cunliffe; I now wish I hadn’t. But I really don’t know who would have done a better job – certainly not Jones.

I have heard Cunliffe talk intelligently before but I think he needs some good media training to drop the smarmy, fake look he projects. Possibly smile less and sounding less convinced of his own cleverness (even if he is that clever).

Will Cunliffe or his advisers listen to this? Can they do anything about it? Or do they think what they are doing is the right approach?

Polls show Labour is shedding support – particularly amongst women.

The latest Herald/Digipoll has Cunliffe polling lower than Shearer ever was in ‘preferred PM’.

Party poll results for Labour (compared to December 2013):

  • Total 29.5% (down 5.9)
  • Male 27.2% (down 5.5)
  • Female 31.5% (down 6.6)
  • Auckland 26.7% (down 9.9)
  • Rest of NZ 31% (down 3.7)

Labour usually gets more female support but that is coming down significantly.

Preferred PM for Cunliffe:

  • Total 11.1% (down 5.4)
  • Male 12.3% (down 5.3)
  • Female 10.1% (down 4.8)

Female support for Labour is higher than male support (31.5 to 26.7), but females rate Cunliffe lower as preferred PM than males (10.1 to 12.3) - Source.

First impressions matter a lot in politics, many people see little beyond first impressions until they take more of an interest during an election campaign.

‘Smarmy’ and ‘fake’ are impressions that are gaining ground and won’t be easy to shake off, but if Cunliffe wants to reverse Labour’s failing fortunes it’s something he has to address. If he can.

Is the Labour totara rooted?

There’s positives (a few) and negatives (big ones) for Labour on the confirmation that Shane Jones prefers to go fishing rather than stay with the party  stunned mullets and flounder.

Much has been said about the negatives and that dark cloud of criticism will hover for some time.

On the positive side it’s best for Labour that a senior minister who had lost heart and lost hope ion the party bails out. The timing is awful but lingering would have just extended the problem.

The best to come of this is it gives the widely respected Kelvin Davis pay and perks to help his election campaign, and to get back into the Parliamentary fold. There’s a good chance he’ll run Hone Harawira close in Te Tai Tokerau – if Labour allow it – but many Labour supporters will hope the party gives him a chance via the list as well.

Labour is left with major problems. The debacle of Jones’ exit is significant but on it’s own relatively minor.

But it is a symptom of much bigger problems for Labour. Their handling of the Jones news was widely reported as abysmal, and that’s how it looked. This screamed of wider and deeper problems including major lacks of management and common sense.

If Labour don’t urgently reassess their approach and drastically change it their problems could be terminal. Last election was an embarrassing all time low result for them but on current performance there’s a good chance they will do worse this time.

Voters don’t like disorganised losers.

Cunliffe appears to be struggling big time. He appeared on the Paul Henry show the night the Jones news broke. It was a mixture of stunned mullet and flounder, but even at a glance he looked bad, his dress sense matched his political sense – inappropriate and out of character.

Cunliffe on Henry

“One button undone casual, two relaxed, three Hasselhoff. <a href=”>(WO)</a>&#8221;

See Jones’ departure ‘not a disaster’ – Cunliffe. The holing of the Titanic wasn’t a disaster, the sinking was. The Henry interview was a symptom of a much bigger iceberg lurking below Labour’s surface.

If Labour keep repeating the same mistakes, and the Jones mess was just a larger one amongst a procession of smaller ones, then the outlook could be grim for them – and this is grim for New Zealand democracy as well, a disintegrating party is weakening Parliament already.

Labour need to urgently reassess and repackage themselves, if they have the personnel and the insight to recognise how necessary this is.

Josie Pagani wrote at Pundit in Warning to Labour; the heretic hunters are driving people away:

In 1996 the Labour party dropped to 14% in the polls, ten weeks out from an election. They choose not to batten down the hatches and double down on failed strategies. They looked at why they were so unpopular, and changed. They reached a more respectable 28% on election day, and laid the seeds for victory, and the most successful Labour government of my lifetime so far in 1999.

It’s about four months until the election.

The first essential is to stop the haemorrhaging.

Then Cunliffe has to learn how to be consistent and genuine, and build from there. Quickly. He looks and sounds like a variety of packaged fakes.

Whether he has the personality to look prime ministerial or not Cunliffe has to have confidence to present himself as capable of the top job and keen to lead. Is there a real Cunliffe behind the changing images and attempts to keep diverting from the issues of the day to bland PR?

And Cunliffe is only the tip of the iceberg. His caucus colleagues and his parliamentary team and his party organisation right down to Labour activists in social media need a total overhaul in attitude and approach.

All they seem to do is continue with the same old excuses and mistakes. It’s not all everyone else’s fault.

Politics is often unfair – especially if you keep stuffing things up.

Labour have to acknowledge they are currently on a slippery slope to oblivion. And they have to find the ability and the will to do something about it.

Cunliffe was right when he said that no person was indispensable in a party. He said “When a totara falls in the forest another totara grows to take it’s place.”

He should also recognise that no party is indispensable in a Parliament.

Jones lost the ambition to succeed in politics, he lost the will to continue as an MP. Is that also how Labour as a party is, but without the insight to see it or the candour to admit it?


Greens and deputy Prime Minister

Green co-leader Metiria Turei talked about the possibility of having Green co-deputy Prime Ministers in a Labour-Green coalition on The Nation. It won’t be easy to negotiate two top ranks in a coalition cabinet. Much will depend on the parties relative numbers – and Winston Peters.

The Nation – Greens aim for co-deputy PM role.

The Greens could share the deputy Prime Minster role in a coalition with Labour, Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says.

Greens co-leader Russel Norman last month said he was keen on the role.

Ms Turei said she would like to be deputy Prime Minister along with Dr Norman.

“There’s no rules that stop there from being more than one deputy Prime Minister,” she told The Nation.

“Russel and I have had a co-leadership role in the Greens that’s worked very well for the Green Party. I think something similar would work very well for the country as well.”

They would divide the position the same way they do as co-leaders, she said.

“We each have our own expertise. We have our own roles that we play and we do that work.”

How much negotiating sway they had would depend on the size of their vote, Ms Turei said.

I don’t see a problem in general with having two deputy Prime Ministers. And having someone like Turei to stand up to some of the Labour cabinet might do them some good.

The biggest problem with the idea is balance of power. Greens having positions 2= and 2= in cabinet would be a very hard sell, especially if Winston Petersis in the mix, but even if it’s just Labour and Greens.

They might be able to get around this by the Greens being allocated two positions in Cabinet’s ranking, say 2 and 6, with Norman and Turei alternating eighteen months in each position.

Turei is right, it will depend a lot on the size of each party’s vote and their number of MPs in coalition.

If Greens and NZ First get a similar number of MPs it will be difficult for Greens to negotiate two near top ranks. If Labour continue to struggle and dropped their current proportion (27% at the last election) – and on current performance this is not out of the question – and Greens grow their vote then their negotiating strength will be greater.

‘SPC’ on Labour’s predicament

Another response to Kiwi in America’s essay on Labour’s failings, SPC has posted at both Kiwiblog and The Standard.

FACT 1 – The Rogernomics era had no mandate from the party. It nearly destroyed Labour.

FACT 2 – It took till 1999-2002 and a Labour government that delivered on its manifesto to restore trust between caucus and party member – this lead to the end of any need for “New Labour”.

FACT 3 – However this alone was and is insufficient for restoration. The Labour Party is not yet over what Rogernomics did to it (but then nor is New Zealand).

To have a party based on democratic, and meritocratic, selection involves trust that candidates will remain loyal to the party and its manifesto. This was something completely breached in the 1980′s. So between 1987 and 2011, selection was based on a party faction patronage – this of course meant it was somewhat insulated from inclusive participation by the general public.

The Labour Party was so abused by its caucus in the 1980′s that only the recent party reforms, the retirement of the last of the 1980′s era personnel and the decline of the party factions of recent decades will enable renewal.

Too much focus on the people involved just obscures the circumstance in which they operated.


FACT 4 – Being expert in managing factions gave Clark an advantage in MMP.

The irony however is in that with a majority in caucus being of the ABC persuasion, when he was the choice of the wider party, we have continuance of the caucus and party divide that began their problems 30 years ago. And for the same reason, those dominant in caucus “knew better” (about policy or who should be leader).

FACT 5 – Cunliffe will only get confidence from his caucus if the membership of it changes or he wins an election.

FACT 6 – Labour Leaders are now required to retain the trust of their party, and thus the idea that a caucus leader can lead the party in new directions without first getting a mandate is now buried. The party can no longer be hijacked by turning its leader or finance spokesperson – a message to Treasury, whether in domestic and international aspect, as much as to the caucus.

Whether this makes for a more left wing party is harder to say. The party activist is less likely to want caucus to compromise for centrist votes, yet a more open party means more internal diversity and a broader base membership.


‘Ad’ on Labour’s predicament

Amongst some predicable knee-jerk messenger attacks in response Kiwi in America’s essay on Labour’s failings there’s been some interesting contributions.

‘Ad’ has commented at The Standard:

It’s a thoughtful piece.

I agree with the general point in it that the caucus talent is thin, and that this is the primary cause of succession difficulties. I cannot think of any around me in my forties who would consider it.

I also agree that the rump of the Lange-Moore administration forms the ABC club that has actively fought renewal from day one.

I don’t buy the Clark conspiracy. I simply view comprehensive and systemic HR internal promotion and selection as being part of successful leadership.

The difficulties that David Cunliffe is facing are not caused by Helen Clark’s legacy. They are different.

Firstly to get where he is, those seeking to reform the party from within have had to engage in nearly a decade of careful momentum-building. This included the Labour Party constitutional reforms mentioned in the piece in 2012. Given the intransigence and hard internal attacks of the rump, there was no alternative but to spend considerable energy focussing inwards paving the way for change. This no doubt appeared unattractive and blunted grassroots political evangelical confidence, but strengthened party membership and mechanisms considerably.

Secondly, Cunliffe’s principle of meritocratic promotion of talent, rather than promotion for factional control, is going to take time to weed out the poor performers and invite talent to compete and win selection. National’s internal reforms of caucus have certainly been easier precisely because the churn enables more strivers to see a future pathway to power. Meritocratic promotion is in my view the only way to break down factions, but it’s root and branch, and it takes years.

Third, the policy platform is having to be rebuilt from scratch. It’s a different path from both Clark and Lange/Douglas. David Cunliffe has had only since the abrupt leadership change barely six months ago to get this going.

Finally, changing leader one year out from election has a massive drop in momentum internally. We can see that through the uneven changes in his leaders’ office. I am not yet convinced that the media team there are coherent, for example. That is only an illustration of the internal shifts that the entire supporter, membership and caucus groups have to go through.

On David’s side are a few things.
First, how close Labour got last time. In MMP it really is down to the wire. The essay writer appears to have left political activism under FPP and does not understand that it really is down to a 2-3% shift in National’s fortunes and all is in play.

Secondly, Labour understand their base far better, and are mobilising far better than previously.

Finally, it’s him. As Colin James said in March this year, when he’s at his best, David Cunliffe is better than John Key. The vital question is whether those around him allow him to enable his confidence, surefooted preparation, and his kind of future Prime Minister, to be made apparent.


I can go along with what Ad is saying. It IS going to be close, right down to the wire – but there are a number of things going for Labour which are “behind the scenes” so to speak, and time will tell if what is happening there will achieve the result we want.


A very good summing of Labour’s position Ad. Thanks.

But I don’t agree with the assumption that the caucus talent is thin. I think there is quite a bit of latent talent that, for various reasons, didn’t get a chance to see the light of day under the Clark/Goff/ Shearer regimes. Add to them the fact it seems likely a number of people will join the caucus later this year who will significantly boost the talent pool.


Outline them, and what they have contributed.

No response to that.

Why Labour is Struggling

Worthwhile reading for anyone interested in Labour’s progress (or lack thereof). Kiwi in America is an ex Labour activist with an in depth knowledge of the party.

Guest Post – Why is Labour Struggling in 2014? An Essay on the History of Labour’s Predicament

David asked me to guest post this while he was away so here’s some reading over this stormy Easter weekend (I’m in soggy Christchurch as I write this). With Labour consistently polling between 28 and 34% (current poll of polls has Labour at just under 31%) since its defeat in 2008, it has a number of problems convincing voters that they are an alternative government in waiting for the 2014 election. Labour’s problems are three fold and the purpose of this essay is to posit the origins of their problems by drawing on my time inside Labour to provide some explanations:

1 – Why its policies are less appealing to the vote rich centre ground of NZ politics
2 – Why Labour has such a shallow pool of caucus talent from which to choose an attractive leader
3 – How, under MMP, Labour have boxed themselves into a relatively narrow ideological centre left electoral corridor crowded out to the left by the Greens and Mana and to the right by National

KIA goes into detail on Labour’s recent history. He concludes:

Labour was once a great party. It attracted people of energy, passion and ability from many walks of life. It had reforming zeal usually tempered by the realism of its once broader membership base and if it went too far, the voters returned the Treasury benches to the safer hands of National.

Labour’s 1984 to 87 Cabinet, despite their leftist roots, embarked on a series of dramatic reforms that have transformed NZ into the more vibrant and dynamic economy it is today.

The left of the party waged a war so total and absolute to purge the party of that instinct that it has destroyed modern Labour and left it a shrunken left leaning shell of its former self that struggles to attract electable talent, will not rejuvenate its caucus, offers policies that excite only 25% of the country and fights with the Greens (who are seen as more pure and virginal) for the centre left vote.

The harder left base are tone deaf to the electoral realities of New Zealand politics believing that they will win the day if the great unwashed knew what was good for them and if the policies of the left were articulated better.

Without a major change of direction, Labour’s prescription is a recipe for long term electoral oblivion!

Posted at:

Grim Easter poll for Labour

An awful poll result for Labour. National are back up again.

National 48.5% (+5.5%)
Labour 28.5% (-3.5%)
Greens 11.5% (-1.5%)
NZFirst 5.5% (no change)
Conservatives 2% (-0.5)
Maori Party 1% (-0.5)
Mana 1% (+.5)
Internet Party 1% (+0.5)
Act 0.5% (no change)
UF 0% (-0.5)
Other 0.5%

Roy Morgan poll

Roy Morgan 14-04-13

“Right-wing Corin” and media bias

Corin Dann, TVNZ’s political editor, has been called on the resign “as his bias is a national disgrace” and an anti-GCSB protester now wants David Cunliffe to use the GCSB to spy on use the GCSB to track payments to MSM stooges like Corin Dann.

Without any apparent awareness of irony Dann’s interview of Cunliffe has been labelled “a nasty Tory disgrace”.

It’s common for people passionate about politics to lash out at news items and interviews that they don’t like. This is similar to what frequently happens in social media, if something or someone is deemed to be negative to a cause they are labelled as extreme opposites.

There is a good example of this on Labour’s Facebook page where they posted:

This morning the next Prime Minister, David Cunliffe, was on Q+A talking housing, a strong economy, and our cooperative relationship with the Greens.

We’d love to hear your feedback.

Link to interview: Cunliffe: Scrap National’s State Housing Policy (8:23)

Here is one response, from John McCartney:

Right-wing Corin, up to his usual nasty Tory line of questioning and tricks. How much is he being paid to spout the right-wing’s patsy questions? This is as bad, if not worse, than Shane Taurima’s apparent Left-wing bias. At least Shane did the honourable thing and resigned.

Corin should resign as his bias is a national disgrace. His blue tie, blue undies, blue “I love National badge” were all showing and it’s a disgrace to journalism.

About time for an inquiry into MSM media bias. When David is elected PM, he should use the GCSB to track payments to MSM stooges like Corin Dann.

It’s a nasty Tory disgrace.

Seeking responses in social media can be a double edged sword for parties. The aim is to encourage praise to to show how well supported they are, but it can also attract bizarre and extreme comments that don’t look good for the party.

Interviewers are supposed to challenge and press politicians of all leanings. They are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.

I’ve often seen Corin Dann described as being soft on the left (and in much more critical language). That’s the nature of political commentary, disagreeing invokes extreme opposite abuse.

It’s preposterous to suggest that a Labour (or any) Government would use the GCSB to do anything like “track payments to MSM stooges like Corin Dann”.

Even more so when you see what John McCartney has posted criticising the GCSB and spying (he was active on a Facebook page Revoke the GCSB Bill).

Election year should sort it. End of story and end of GCSB.

OMG John Campbell – there are enemies of the state in New Zealand. Quick, urge politicians to give GCSB more power to catch the powder senders!!!! Hurry up and get them do it under urgency – we need to be safe from these spies and enemies that are sending powder to innocent people.


A comment on a blog post The GCSB Act – some history…

It was 92 people illegally spied on by GCSB (or other agencies) and Peter Dunne himself was one of them, Andrea Vance was the other, the Cuppagate journalist and the Cuppagate journailist’s lawyer were the others….

Grow some cochones Dunne and veto this abhorrent GCSB Bill.

McCartney was the twentieth of 203 people to pledge on #stoptheGCSBbill

John McCartney has pledged on 1 project.

And a comment on TVNZ Shane Jones unapologetic for targeting PM’s ‘sensitive spot’

John McCartney · The University of Auckland

Hmm…. bit colourful Jonesy. But we have had had a Prime Minister and his band of merry men and wonen who have rammed thruogh GCSB Laws, masterminded a Sky City CONvention Centre, paid a bribe to Tiwai Aluminium to stay in NZ..better to have the comments in public, than John Key being forwarded the comments by the GCSB. It’s ok for JK to talk about his vasectomy, but when the microscope goes on his sensitive parts by somebody else he blushes.

Methinks he doth protest too much.

McCartney is protesting a bit much about Dann’s interview with Cunliffe.  And his proposal to spy on journalists using the GCSB he has actively campaigned against is hypocritical and absurd.

Media will always appear to be biased to people like McCartney – except when media gives favourable coverage to their favourite politicians.

Could a minority Labour lead a coalition?

Cunliffe’s Labour has shown that it wants to contest the election alone and not alongside the Greens. Part of the reason for that is to keep options open with both Greens and NZ First, and acknowledges the reality that NZ First could decide if the next government is National or Labour led.

Labour has also indicated over time that they see themselves as the major party of the left, even to the extent of implying they are deserving the majority of the votes from the centre-left and left.

But the way things are shaping up, especially if the Internet Party picks up some if the votes from the left, Labour may struggle to hold it’s current share.

Labour have been polling in the low thirties in the polls, as they did leading up to the last election. They ended up getting 27% in 2011.

The following spread of support is not out of the question:

  • Labour 25%
  • Greens 15%
  • NZ First 10%
  • Mana/Internet Party 4%

It would be enough to form a Government should NZ First go that way, or if NZ First stayed on the cross benches. But Labour would have a minority in that mix, 25% to 29%.

That would be an very interesting scenario.

Could we have a minority Labour Cabinet?




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