Herald fundraising for Labour

Today’s Herald editorial makes an important point – Labour coffers of concern to all donors.

The Labour Party’s financial deficit problems should be of concern to all New Zealanders. It is not necessary to be aligned with National or Labour to recognise that a healthy democracy needs two parties capable of providing sound government.

I agree strongly with that.

The problem with Labour is that they have to find a way of earning financial support.

Labour’s fundraising difficulties, revealed in its latest annual financial report, are not a surprise. Ever since the party’s former president, Mike Williams, stepped down there have been murmurs that his successors did not have the same persuasive touch with business donors.

But corporate leaders should not need much persuasion.

Why not? If they think a Labour led Government woukld be a backward step I can imagine they would need a lot of persuading.

There is a long tradition of large companies in this country donating fairly equitably to both major parties for exactly the reason already stated.

I don’t know how accurate that claim is.

Labour has a pragmatic leader in Andrew Little, who is going out of his way to win the confidence of business and focus the party on the nature of work and economic security in the future. The Greens, too, have a new co-leader with corporate experience and a businesslike outlook on issues. No mad-hatter party is around anymore.

Not exactly. Some people still see the Greens as a bit of a mad-hatter party.

I think that many more people see the Greens as a good voice to have in Parliament, especially on environmental issues, but have serious concerns about too much Green influence in Government, especially on financial and social issues.

And that’s a big part of Labour’s problem now they dabble around the 30% mark – they need not only Greens but also NZ First to form a Government at current support levels.

So voters fear the Green lean and worry about the Peters effect, especially as he seems to not want the Greens in a position of power and he looks down in inexperienced leaders like James Shaw – and Andrew Little.

The country will go to the next election with sensible alternatives on offer, to re-elect National for a fourth term or decide it’s time for a change.

We don’t know how sensible the change option would look yet (nor the same-old option).

Labour may have to hang in for a longer haul and it needs help. It deserves a fair deal from those doing well in an economy that took two parties to put right.

To earn ‘a fair deal’ from business donors they need to look like the will give businesses a fair deal if Labour run the next Government.

Otherwise Labour wil have to rely on the unions to give some financial help in return for the influence they get in the party and in choosing Labour’s leader.

Twyford shoots defiance in the foot

Duncan Garner’s two part piece on Simon Lusk exposed a murky political player who is best known for his links with National and some National MPs, and his collusiion with and payments Cameron Slater for services rendered on Whale Oil.

It also exposed an awkward link for Labour (I have known about this since last year but it hasn’t been aired much in media).

Nash embarassed by links to Simon Lusk

Story also revealed Labour MP Stuart Nash has used Mr Lusk’s services and showed Mr Nash’s friends paid $20,000 to Mr Lusk to see if Mr Nash could set up an independent political party and ditch Labour.

Mr Nash is now embarrassed, and his party is unhappy with the links to Mr Lusk.

Nash subsequently won the Napier electorate in last year’s election, helped substantially by a right wing split vote.

Something else that can out of ther interview was a threat that Labour MP Phil Twyford was one of Lusk’s next targets (to politically destroy).

So Twyford is justified in responding to this.

Phil Twyford won’t be intimidated by smear campaign

Labour MP Phil Twyford says he will not be intimidated by an alleged smear campaign that is apparently backed by foreign property speculators.

Labour’s housing spokesman will reportedly be targeted by controversial political consultant Simon Lusk at the 2017 election because of his strong stance on offshore buyers.

TV3’s Duncan Garner said last night he was told Mr Lusk was being funded by “Chinese money” to carry out a “direct mailout” that would focus on the Te Atatu MP.

Mr Twyford said he would not by silenced by “this kind of intimidation”.

Fair enough. Murky money and lurky Lusk versus elected MPs does not a healthy democracy make.

But Twyford didn’t just stand defiant. He stuffed his response by trying to turn it into a National smear job.

Asked to respond this morning, Mr Twyford said: “I think it’s interesting that foreign property speculators are so concerned to defend the tax-free mega-profits they’re making in the Auckland housing market that they’re willing to hire the National Party’s dirty tricks machine to do their work for them.”

Labelling Lusk as “the National Party’s dirty tricks machine” is silly and petty, especially when it’s not just National MPs who have used Lusk’s services – and many National MPs want nothing to do with the Lusk method.

Twyford would have looked much better sticking to defiance without resorting to stick his political boot in. He shot his response in the foot.

Mr Lusk has also been linked to Labour’s Napier MP Stuart Nash.

TV3 reported that Mr Nash’s associates reportedly paid Mr Lusk up to $20,000 to investigate the potential for an alternative centrist party, possibly headed by Mr Nash.

Mr Nash said today he knew nothing about the alleged “hit job” planned for his colleague.

“I have nothing to do with taking Phil Twyford out,” he said. “Phil is doing a fantastic job.”

Garner effectively skewered both National and Labour with his interview – and allowed Lusk to skewer himself.

Labour’s opportunist fund seeking

After yesterday’s report of Labour’s financial and fundraising problems Labour are reported to have responded by emailing members asking for donations.

NZ Herald: Labour calls on members to donate

The Labour Party has tried to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse, using a Herald story about its financial woes to ask for donations.

The Herald on Monday revealed Labour had been in deficit for the past two years, forcing it to dig into its cash reserves and reducing its net assets from $270,015 to $198,642.

Party president Nigel Haworth downplayed any talk of financial strife, but yesterday sent party members an email linking to the Herald story with a large link for members to click to “Donate for Victory in 2017”.

He listed the party’s values and added: “I’m proud of those values but the front page of the Herald today tells the story of the challenge we face to make those values a reality.

“Today I’m asking you to help fix that. Will you help turn our party’s values into the values of our Government in 2017?”

This is news? Perhaps because it involves Labour.

Greens do this sort of topical donation drive all the time and have done for years. Quite successfully by the look of their fund raising results compared to Labour’s.


Games in Question Time

Question Time has taken an even bigger beating than usual in Parliament this week. The scene was set prior to the House sitting when Kelvin Davis got in John Key’s face in a hallway and caled him gutless.

Two comments here look at some of the issues.


Okay this is what it is about:
“This week Parliament has become a farce. OK for PM to tell lies and hurl personal abuse, but MPs who complain about it will be disciplined.
Question Time an essential check on govt power. But it should also involve answers!
Question Time is a farce. Specific questions go unanswered while ministerial insults and abuse go unrestrained.”

For those who haven’t been watching, which parts are wrong?

Goldie in response:

Which parts are wrong?
1. “OK for PM to tell lies and hurl personal abuse, but MPs who complain about it will be disciplined.” The PM hurled abuse at the opposition MPs in retaliation for personal abuse at him. MPs were thrown out of the chamber because they defied the Speaker’s ruling.

2. “Question Time an essential check on govt power. But it should also involve answers!”
I agree. But the current Opposition tactic is ask the question “Do you stand by your statements”, and then follow up with a supplementary speech (which invites only a speech in return). If the opposition wants answers, then they need to start asking proper questions. The recently retired Clerk of the House, Mary Harris (a non-partisan person expert in parliamentary procedure), said this – she said that opposition MPs cannot complain about the quality of answers if they ask questions that are actually speeches about an issue.

3. “Question Time is a farce. Specific questions go unanswered while ministerial insults and abuse go unrestrained.”
Like I have written – questions need to be specific and well written. Ministerial insults will get passed if the opposition make an insulting speech first. The “rules of the game” are that an insulting question gets an insult in return. So Little accused the PM of being weak and lacking courage, so the PM responded that Labour were supporting rapists. Do you understand?

Key and National get away with playing a diversionary circus game because the Opposition not only allow it through their approach to questions and interjections, they give the Prime Minister and National MPs plenty of ammunition to hit back with.

Labour is getting frustrated at losing the game so they resort to blaming the referee – the Speaker.

If Labour, Greens and NZ First put more effort into holding the Government to account perhaps they would be more successful at holding the Government to account.

Instead their combative and disruptive approach keeps backfiring. This has been happening for seven years. When will they figure out that it isn’t working?

Everyone makes mistakes but it’s politically very stupid to keep repeating the same mistakes for so long.

Geddis on New Zealand impotence

Andrew Geddis nearly sums up New Zealand’s impotence over the Christmas Islan detianees in Australia: purging the convict stain?

So there is pretty much nothing Key can do to get this policy even moderated, much less reversed, in the foreseeable future. Even if Turnbull wanted to help him out, he most likely couldn’t get it through his caucus. Leaving Key looking like what he is – “weak”, because that is what any NZ Prime Minister is when what he wants collides with Australia’s internal political imperatives.

So knowing that he will never be able to deliver what Labour (and others) are calling for, Key has been forced to take the opposite tack. He’s had to decry those wanting to moderate Australia’s approach – a group that last month, remember, included himself – as being  bunch of soft-on-criminals, coddlers of sex offenders and worse. Rob Salmond has had a stopped clock moment on this one; Key’s thrown a dead cat on the table (or, rather, a “rapist supporter” tag-line in the House) because he really needs people to talk about something other than what he isn’t doing, because he cannot do it.

It’s pretty ugly politics. But it’s being played out because, in the end, there is really nothing Key or anyone else in NZ can do to change Australian minds on this matter. Just don’t expect to hear your Prime Minister telling you that any time soon.

Geddis omits one very important point – don’t expect your opposition parties, particularly Labour, to tell you there is nothing Key or anyone else in NZ can do to change Australian minds on this matter.

Bradbury claims disputed – dirty politics?

The sun rose this morning and Martyn Bradbury made some claims about Labour and the Greens, and Greens and National, that have been disputed – some say he is wrong.

Bradbury has been promoting Labour and their conference over the weekend. Like co-Daily Blog stalwart Chris Trotter he seems to be manic depressive on politics.This was one of Bomber’s very enthusiastic phases, so much so that  Shayne McLean @NZGTMedia tweeted:

@BowalleyRoad meanwhile Martyn Bradbury looks like Labour has given him an Apple laptop to match the one Dot Com bought him

That refers to his of colluding with party operatives for money – is he being used by Labour in some sort of attempted ‘dirty politics’ two track strategy as described by Nicky Hager in his ‘Dirty Politics’ book? Chapter 1 The Rise of the Bloggers, Page 16:

The idea that Key, as party leader, would be presented as friendly and positive, while other people did the attacking.

Slater and Ansell understood this tactic because they had been working together closely on precisely this sort of arm’s length attack campaigning in the previous months.

Slater wrote back saying “If the Nats won’t attacj [Labour] then let us, but we need some cash to do so…I can put together a consortium of bloggers to attack…

Bradbury was posting conference reports on waateanews.com over the weekend. On Saturday he said:

Beyond all the nice words in public about the Greens and NZ First there are private mutterings. At this Conference, Labour were going to tell New Zealand who their preferred political partners would be so that there is no confusion about what form of coalition government could be formed post the election, but those plans of transparency were put on hold when the Greens and NZ First refused to agree to that announcement.

Inside NZ First, the Ron Mark faction who are closer to National than Labour don’t want to commit and within the Greens, James Shaw doesn’t want to lose the strategic edge he’s created by working with National.

In Notes on the Labour AGM Danyl at Dim-Post disputes this:

I don’t know about New Zealand First but I checked with the Greens and no such approach or proposal was made to them. I guess Labour are still seething about the Red Peak thing and prevailed upon Bomber to write this. It’s not true.

Danyl helped James Shaw in his campaign to become Green leader so I presume he has contacts high up in the Green Party.

Green supporter Weka also commented on Bradbury’s claims at The Standard:

There’s a few probems with that. One is that we only have Bradbury’s word that Labour had intended to make an announcement re coalition partners and that NZF and the GP refused. I’d like to see that corroborated somewhere else (Bradbury’s stance on the whole GP/National thing doesn’t make any sense, he also hasn’t backed up his claim and I think this makes him a biased and unreliable source on this issue).

If it is true, we’d also need to see the reasons that the GP refused, they might have been quite valid.

The other problem is that Bradbury is expressing opinion that Shaw can make the GP form a coalition with National, but it goes against all the evidence. Please have a look at my link above for an explanation of why it’s not Shaw’s choice, and how it would be extremely difficult for that to happen even if Shaw wanted it (which he doesn’t). It would require a nationwide change of stance amongst the membership including going through a remit process at least one AGM. Have a go at explaining how you think that might happen, because I can’t see it.

When you make factually incorrect assertions as you did with your first comment, you damage the left. What you said is almost word for word a right wing dirty politics meme aimed at undermining the GP and thus preventing a left wing govt. Is that what you want? If you can back up your statements, please do so, but I’m afraid ‘Bradbury said it’s true’ doesn’t count in this case.

And Joseph commented on The Daily Blog:

Highly unlikely, because the Greens public position is still to govern with Labour. This position was confirmed during the recent leadership contest where both Shaw and Hague said they did not support forming a govt with National. Someone spinning you, Martyn?

..and waateanews.com:

As I said on Martyn’s blog, I think it is flat out false that the Greens rebuffed Labour and he is being spun by someone. The Greens position is firmly to work with Labour to form a govt and James Shaw stated in the recent leadership campaign that he did not support forming a govt with National. He would not be leader now if he’d said otherwise. It is the Party that makes the decision on coalition choices and they are clear on this.

I can’t find any response from Bradbury on this. He has in his conference review Labour Party conference 2015 – winners and losers he has reiterated his claim of Greens working with National:

Identity Politics – the inability for identity politic activists to debate the issues in a way that doesn’t cause allies to become enemies and alienate the broader electorate has seen identity politics put on the naughty step for some time out.

It gives the Greens some room to move on those issues but that could also erode the strategic edge the Greens have by pretending to work with National.

He seems to be trying to shame the Greens into shunning any contact with National and devoting themselves to becoming an obedient add-on to Labour’s election ambitions.

Is Matt McCarten using Bradbury here?

After Bradbury’s over-enthusiastic (paid for) promotion of the Mana Party and then the Internet Party last term perhaps Labour should be very worried about his association with them.

Especially if he makes things up, or is a ‘dirty politics’ repeater of misinformation fed to him from within Labour.

Bradbury is a political mercenary (similar but different to Cameron Slater) but apparently is not yet recognised as potentially toxic to Labour.

Ironically one of his first conference tweets:

Which journalist will be the first to now misrepresent what Annette King said as a ‘sugar tax’

Has Bradbury misrepresented the Green’s relationship with Labour? If so did he dream up his claims or was he fed them? If he was fed them, by whom?

Labour Party conference

The Labour Party will have their annual conference in Palmerston North over the weekend.

There’s no sign of anything about it on their Home web page although under Events they are advertising their conference dinner.

If you look for it you can find: Welcome to the 2015 Labour Party Conference

Labour’s Annual Conference is our highest decision-making forum and one of New Zealand’s largest political gatherings. Labour’s Annual Conferences have always played an important role in defining the future direction of our Party and the nation.

There will be a range of opportunities to members to engage with local, national and international speakers. As well as, attend organising and policy based workshops.

Date: 6-8 November 2015
Location: Palmerston North Convention Centre

So far all that’s on Facebook is:

This Sunday, just after 1.30pm, Andrew Little will be delivering his address to the Labour Party conference in Palmerston North.

If you’d like to receive an advance copy of his speech – just before he goes on stage to speak – sign up here

Want to receive an early copy of Andrew Little’s speech to Labour Party conference on Sunday? Sign up here.

This is an important conference for Andrew Little. He will need to make a positive impression and give the membership hope he has what it will take to build Labour up over the next two years to contest the 2017 election with some sign of being a credible lead party of the next Government.

Social media will no doubt get active on the conference over the weekend.

Member’s Bill on Medical Cannabis

In Mid-October Helen Kelly admitted to have used cannabis to self-treat her cancer, NZ Herald reported MPs back calls for medicinal marijuana.

Union boss Helen Kelly’s call for better access to medicinal marijuana has been backed by MPs from both sides of the House.

Ms Kelly, who is terminally ill, has admitted to using cannabis oil for pain relief and wants Government to improve access to the drug.

It was also reported that Damien O’Connor was drafting a member’s bill in support of medical cannabis.

Labour’s West Coast MP Damien O’Connor is drafting a bill private member’s bill which would improve access to cannabidiol.

He started work on the bill after the death of a Nelson teenager Alex Renton, who had taken a hemp-derived treatment for repeated seizures.

Last week the Greymouth Star also reported on this:

MP to draft medicinal cannabis bill

West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O’Connor is drafting a private member’s bill to allow the medicinal use of cannabis.

You need a subscription to see the whole article but it was republished by the ODT:

O’Connor drafting medicinal cannabis Bill

West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O’Connor is drafting a private member’s bill to allow the medicinal use of cannabis.

He says high profile cases such as terminally ill trade union leader Helen Kelly, who is using cannabis oil for pain relief because it does not make her sick like morphine, have helped changed public attitudes.

He stressed he was not advocating the decriminalisation of cannabis.

Mr O’Connor said today he had believed in the benefits of medicinal cannabis since the 2000s, when he was on a select committee which backed its use.

He said Labour Party technical staff were now helping him draft a private member’s bill.

There has been suggestions that O’Connor may have fibbed about who he is consulting with.

Every drug had some side effects, and it was important they were minimal and not harmful. Cannabis would have to be prescribed by a GP, and GPs in turn would need to be comfortable with it. It would need to be of consistent quality.

“It’s really important no one pushes too hard, too fast,” he said, as that could derail the process.

“People like Helen Kelly and others exposing the careful use of it – people understand there’s value.”

The value of medicinal cannabis products is still up for debate as the growing number of products haven’t been comprehensively tested yet.

Drafting the private member’s bill would take some time. He was also talking to other political parties including Health Minister Jonathan Coleman.

I presume he will also talk to Peter Dunne, odd that he doesn’t mention him here. Dunne as Associate Health Minister has represented the Government on cannabis matters.

I hope O’Connor also actually consults with people in New Zealand that have useful knowledge on the use of medicinal cannabis.

As a Member’s Bill this will go in an occasional draw with 60-70 other bills, with 3 or 4 usually drawn at a time.  So the chances of progressing this through a Member’s Bill are low.

Stuart Nash bashes The Standard

Labour’s Napier MP Stuart Nash has a guest post in a monthly series at The Daily Blog – TDB Guest Blog Project – Stuart Nash: ‘The most pressing issue in NZ right now’.

In it he almost promotes and praises Whale Oil, and takes a swipe at The Standard and people on the left who want the freedom to express themselves.

He first says:

Everything Labour does from now until Election Day 2017 must contribute towards a Labour victory.  For every strategic and operational initiative, the question needs to be asked “is this contributing towards a win in 2017?”  If it doesn’t then drop it, don’t say it and keep clear of it.

Then on Whale Oil:

My experience is that our supporters, while just as passionate, are not so disciplined.  We love to hate Whale Oil and yet we give him strength, purpose, relevance and breathe life into every pore of his existence time and time again by publicly throwing metaphorical mud at those with whom we are supposed to have a political affinity.

Labour once had a blog for MPs called Red Alert, and the rumour around at the time was that Cameron Slater wanted this closed down.  Then I found out the opposite was true: it gave him some of his best material due to the occasional ill-disciplined MP.

Red Alert was a self inflicted wound, with Trevor Mallard and Clare Curran wielding the ban swords.

Our supporters have the same impact when they squabble, bitch and back-stab on so-called ‘left-friendly’ sites like The Standard (a dreadful 21st century bastardisation of a once proud Labour broadsheet).

Sounds like some bitterness directed at The Standard there, but the ‘labour left’ blog has probably done more damage than anything to Labour over the past seven years. It’s hard to know how much potential support they have driven away.

Criticising your favourite Labour MP is not the route to victory, no matter what you think of their philosophies, hair or politics.

If you feel so aggrieved by something an MP has said, written or done, then email them personally and you are more likely to get a response and, just perhaps, an explanation.

What will their Labour MP do? Shove some letter box leaflets at them and tell them to shut up?

But ill-disciplined rants typed from an anonymous keyboard will only provide Mr Slater and Mr Farrar with a wealth of information and powerful ammunition to fire back with twice the impact.

So is Nash suggesting The Standard should clamp down on any Labour dissent? That’s one of the things that destroyed the credibility of Red Alert.

If you want to change the government, then get behind the cause and become an advocate for the lines the leader is leading with, because there is a reason why we have taken the stance we have.  95% of the time it’s because it’s what we believe is right; but occasionally, the politics of political pragmatism must rule.  That’s how you win, and that’s why we are here.

Whoa. That sounds like “toe the line and spin the line”. The Party rules, ok!

So Labour want a compliant membership and they want left leaning blogs to devote their efforts to spinning for the leadership.

That’s an awful approach to democracy in social media. And it’s an approach that has failed for seven years.

I don’t know if this is Nash’s own views or if they have the approval of the party hierarchy.

Perhaps he has followed his own advice – “get behind the cause and become an advocate for the lines the leader is leading with”.

He deserves to get blasted back by individuals at The Standard. If Labour still believes that silent obedience is the way back into power then I grieve for the corruption of modern democracy, where wider participation and diverse views should be encouraged and nurtured, and not told to shut up.

The Standard hasn’t done Labour any favours over the last few years but the Labour Caucus has self inflicted more damage and that looks like continuing.

Genter versus Robertson, Greens versus Labour

David Farrar has also posted on Chris Trotter’s hopes for a Trudeau type leader emerging on New Zealand’s left (see Scouring Labour for some Trubro magic posted here on Tuesday).

In Does Labour have a Trudeau? Farrar talks of an interesting observation:

I was listening to RNZ’s The Week in Politics today while running. It was on the budget surplus. What struck me was that Julie-Anne Genter came across as far more reasoned and logical on the economy, than Grant (Robertson).

He was still arguing that somehow the seven years of deficits were caused by National while also attacking National for not spending more. It was very weak, while Genter actually made quite reasonable arguments.

Green finance spokesperson Genter has always made quite reasonable arguments, especially on her speciality transport. Someone who is smart and eloquent and makes sure they know their stuff can shift their strengths to other issues.

Last week I posted about observations made by Colin James:

Little versus Shaw, plus the Winston factor

Colin James has made an interesting observation about Andrew Little and James Shaw in his latest column. He wonders if Little may struggle to look like Leader of the Opposition alongside Shaw.

Add to that Genter alongside Robertson as finance spokespeople and Labour versus Green could get very interesting.

Especially if Genter is elevated to co-leader alongside Shaw.


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