The difficulty with the Left’s leadership

I thionk there’s two key things that many voters look for in political parties and in potential coalitions – a perception of competence, and capable and strong leadership.

The Left have problems in particular on leadership.

So far Andrew Little has failed to inspire as a leader. This is a significant problem for what should be the lead party in a potential coalition.

Winston Peters seems to be setting his sights high. It’s been reported as high as being Prime Minister for at least part of the next term. Peters seems to despise inexperienced wannabees leapfrogging his seniority. He seems to see himself as the de facto Leader of the Opposition.

New Zealand First is currently the smallest of the three Opposition parties. The Greens would presumably and understandably not be happy if Peters took a greater leadership role than them in a three way coalition.

But the Greens have a problem too – their dual leadeership might suit them in at a party level, but at a coalition level it dilutes their leadership.

Peters would not be happy sharing deputy leadership with two Green leaders who were at primary school when he first entered Parliament in 1978 (Shaw was five, Turei was 8).

It’s quite likely that the next election will be contested by John Key, undisputed leader of National, versus Little, Peters, Turei and Shaw, all competing for ascendancy.

When it comes to a leadership contest four versus one could be difficult to sell.

What now for Labour and Little?

The Labour Party and Andrew Little are in a difficult position – partly due to National’s strengths and the Northland opportunity that Winston Peters whipped out from under their feet, but made substantially worse by their own efforts which at times border on abysmal.

Peters outmanoeuvred Labour in the Northland by-election, but Labour and Little compounded the problems by rolling over and opted out of Opposition leadership.

National have outmanoeuvred Labour with their policies announced in last week’s budget.

Again Labour and Little compounded the problems with an awful response – the criticisms have come from everywhere, most notably (and widely) from the left.

So what now for Labour and Little?

Changing leader again shouldn’t be an option. They are onto their fourth leader since Helen Clark. Labour’s problems are wider and deeper than at the top. Getting a new leader seems to just repeat the same mistakes.

So the time has come for Andrew Little to show whether he the ability to become a leader. He showed some raw glimpses of this capability last year when he took over but this year so far looks like an accumulating train wreck for him.

One of Little’s biggest problems is that he seems to have been taken over by a Labour remodelling committee and has become no more than a puppet – with incompetent string pullers. Really, it’s starting to look that bad. Little’s budget speech last week was awful.

David Shearer in particular – remember him? He was three leaders ago. David Shearer in particular seemed to follow the same path as Little – initial raw promise of being something different but quickly becoming a bumbling follower of foolish strategy.

David Cunliffe did similar but he also had inherent problems that put off voters.

So can Little recognise the problems and rise above them and become a leader of Labour rather than languish as a limp Labour lackey?

It looks like Little needs some fresh advice from outside the waning whining party mindset.

And he needs to lead. Become himself at the head of the party, look like himself.

The only way Labour will look better than National is by looking better than National. They are a long way from this.

They seem to have resigned themselves to trying to make National worse – which they have overdone incessantly for the last seven years with no success.

And they seem to have resigned themselves to trying to fool voters into thinking that they can somehow look better despite relying on either NZ First or Greens (or both) to take them over the line.

One major problem with this is that Russel Norman and Winston Peters have both looked stronger opposition leaders than the procession of Labour attempts.

Their situation looks as dire as it has during the post-Clark era.

The Labour Party badly needs to reinvent itself and look like a competent alternative. Their recent track record is of repeat failures.

Andrew Little has to step up and present himself as a leader and carry a revitalised Labour with him. This year he seems to have taken the opposite approach.

So can Little reverse his slump? If he’s learned lessons he could, he has time to do it but he really needs to come alive and lead soon.

If that’s possible.

Andrew Little’s pre-budget speech

Labour leader Andrew Little gave his pre-budget speech yesterday to an audience at Mac’s Brewery in Wellington.

It is also being promoted to a wider audience it has been posted via Labour’s website. The intro:

Thanks for reading my pre-budget speech. In it I talk about how National has broken so many of its economic promises, how it has failed to prepare us for the future and why so many New Zealanders feel they are missing out right now.

Due to an awful layout it’s hard to read through, there are too many changes of format and font. And as this intro suggests it concentrates on slamming National.

The most reported line was :

A lot of effort has gone into glossing over the broken promise. But I see it for what it is — one of the biggest political deceptions in a lifetime.

That may have attracted attention but  it was More than a Little over the top – especially considering that in Little’s lifetime the Lange/Douglas Labour government is famous for a far bigger flip in the 1980’s than failing to quite reach a preferred economic target.

Little’s intro also says:

We need to create more wealth and share it — that means putting jobs front and centre, investing in a more diverse productive economy and boosting our regions.

He gets to what he thinks National should have done about two thirds of the way through his speech.

What they should have done

So, what would a responsible government have done between 2008 and today?

I say there were four major missed opportunities.

  • First, a responsible government would have laid the foundations to diversify the economy.
  • We should have used the economic growth of the last four years to increase our investment in innovation. The government ignored that approach.
  • The third missed opportunity is that a responsible government should have revitalised New Zealand’s regions. Instead, this government ignored them.
  • Finally, this government should have reformed tertiary education to prepare for the coming tidal wave of change in the future of work.

Then he gets to what his vision is. I won’t put this in quotes to retain the formatting.

New Zealand’s next government

I began today by telling you that it is rare for a budget to profoundly affect people’s lives. But that’s the sort of Budget we need now. This could have been one of those budgets. With good growth and low inflation, this is the moment for visionary thinking.

So what is my vision?

I want a New Zealand where neither your postcode nor your parents determine the success you can achieve in life, only your effort does.

I want a New Zealand seizing the opportunities of new ways to do business this century, not struggling to catch up as the world moves on.

A country that trains its young people for the jobs they’ll actually do, not the jobs their parents did.

A country where we reward the risk takers, the innovators, the unafraid.

Where we celebrate growing wealth, and where everyone who works for that success shares in the rewards.

A country where owning your own home is still an achievable dream.

None of this will be easy. The deep, structural problems we face in New Zealand don’t have any quick fixes. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a fraud.

Tackling New Zealand’s problems takes commitment, perseverance, vision, and the willingness to take risks. Doing the right thing for New Zealand requires focus, not focus groups.

That’s why our Future of Work Commission, led by our finance spokesperson Grant Robertson, is a two-year commitment where we listen more than we talk, and we come to pragmatic solutions that will guide our policy in the decades ahead.

The Commission is a model of the way we’ll approach all the big issues. We’ll listen, we’ll deliberate, and when we act we’ll make a real difference. That’s the only kind of government I want to lead.


The challenge ahead

We’ll be holding this Government to account on New Zealand’s big issues next week and beyond, in the House and around the country.

That’s our job, that’s what we do.

But there’s a role for you, too.

After the budget each year, Ministers hit the road.

John Key, Bill English and Steven Joyce will be speaking to businesses many times in the coming weeks.

That’s the opportunity for everyone to raise the issues the Government hasn’t delivered on.

Hold them to their word. Ask them:

· Why haven’t we hit surplus?

· Why are we still so reliant on so few commodities?

· Why are you still ignoring the housing crisis?

· Why are you still neglecting the regions?

· And, most importantly, where’s the plan to diversify our economy?

Put these questions to the Government, and see if they have any answers.

Next Thursday, this government has an opportunity to start answering these questions. They have a chance to chart a new course for the New Zealand economy.

It is imperative that they take it.

It’s not unreasonable for every New Zealander to want the best for New Zealand.

· We deserve a government in surplus

· We deserve a solution to the housing crisis

· We deserve vibrant regions

· And most importantly, we deserve a plan to diversify the economy, bringing good jobs to all.

That’s what a responsible government would deliver.

Thank you.

We deserve less exaggeration and nonsense claims about what National have done and haven’t done.

We deserve some detail on what Little and Labour would actually do different

That’s why our Future of Work Commission, led by our finance spokesperson Grant Robertson, is a two-year commitment where we listen more than we talk, and we come to pragmatic solutions that will guide our policy in the decades ahead.

Opposition parties should listen and learn. But they also need to give some indication of what they would do.

Labour have had the last six and a half years to listen and to come up with pragmatic solutions. It sounds like we’re going have to wait another two years to find out what their policies will be.

The Commission is a model of the way we’ll approach all the big issues. We’ll listen, we’ll deliberate, and when we act we’ll make a real difference. That’s the only kind of government I want to lead.

It doesn’t sound much like leading. As much as people like to think they are being listened to they ultimately look for leadership.

All Governments try to ‘make a real difference’. There’s too much vague speech writer babble.

And too many clashes with reality. For example how much have Labour consulted and come up with a pragmatic solution to low voter turnout? Labour proposes withholding tax credits unless enrolled to vote may be a policy in progress but it’s been reported that not even the Labour caucus was consulted about that.

And in being so vague and promising to listen there’s risks. Little’s speech was to a business audience. If the business community say they and the country would benefit from lower business tax rates what sort of ‘pragmatic solution’ would Labour come up with? Pragmatic for whom? New Zealand businesses? Or party appeasement?

This speech seems too long, too negative, too vague, and clashes too much with reality.

Too much blah blah blandrew.

What happened to the blunt, direct, believable Andrew Little of the first few months of his leadership?

He seems to have been transformed into just another package of palaver dominated by pissy pouting.

As one person remarked, this looks like a speech by committee. Labour has lacked effective leadership since 2008. After a brief glimmer of hope it looks like the party under Little is back in it’s rut.

Key remains committed

John Key has told National’s Northland regional conference that he’s as determined to still lead National in 2017 as he was in 2008.

NZ Herald reports John Key determined to stick around.

Prime Minister John Key has scotched speculation he could stand down this term, telling National Party faithful in Northland that he is just as determined to lead National in 2017 as he was in 2008.

Mr Key’s speech to National’s Northland regional conference at Waitangi was his first on home soil after a torrid fortnight dominated by questions about his pulling a waitress’ ponytail.

He avoided directly referring to that incident in his speech but made it clear he did not intend to quit: “I am just as committed today to leading National to victory at the next election as I was when first taking up the role as your leader in November 2006.”

Mr Key also gave a behaviour pledge of sorts, referring to the need for hard work, oversight and good judgment.

He said he did not take the high levels of support in the polls for granted. “You have my strong commitment that I will do everything I can to lead a strong Government and a strong National Party as we face the next two and a half years until the 2017 election.”

This will please staunch National supporters and dismay the left.

It may also dismay some on the right. Judith Collins played down her comeback ambitions on Q & A yesterday:

Judith Collins is happy as Larry in her role as member for Papakura and dismisses any chatter of a come back.

The former justice minister says she’s getting on with her work, having fun, and leaving it up to the Prime Minister when/if she will re-enter Cabinet.

“Obviously I would like to be back in Cabinet,” Ms Collins told Q A this morning.

Asked if she was planning a come back, Ms Collins fired back, “what come back?

But fanboy Cameron Slater seems to have different ideas. Yesterday he posted:

AFTER KEY. THEN WHAT?

When the media regularly speculate about what is to happen after you’re gone, it is an indicator that you are in the autumn of your political career.

It continues to amaze me how little political journalists understand of the National Party’s internal leadership processes.

They continue to confuse the apparent outward popularity of an MP with the public as a critical factor.

Not so.

But that aside, the talk about “after Key” has started.

Slater has been talking about “after Key” ever since Judith Collins was dropped from Cabinet.

Unusually for him he posted the full transcript of Collins’ interview in JUDITH COLLINS INTERVIEWED BY HEATHER DU PLESSIS-ALLEN ON Q&A.

But if Key stands again in 2017 and wins then time is running out for Collins’ (or Slater’s) leadership ambitions. By 2020 Collins will be a politician with a long past – she was first elected in 2002 and is seen as of Key’s generation.

Even if Key loses in 2017 National may look to a new generation of leadership. Paula Bennett is often talked about as a potential successor to Key.

But anything could happen. Slater may become a credible power broker.

In the meantime Key looks set to continue and Collins herself looks set to bide her time and see what opportunities may arise.

Green leadership contenders

There’s been no more nominations for the male co-leader position vacated by Russel Norman so there will four contenders:

  • Kevin Hague
  • Gareth Hughes
  • James Shaw
  • Vernon Tava

I think the leading contenders will be Hague – experienced and reliable – versus a contrasting new hope for the future, James Shaw.

My pick is the safer option, Hague. Shaw’s time will come – he had initially said he wouldn’t stand this time due to only being an MP for a few months but changed his mind.

Tava has some interesting ideas but with no chance of being an MP for the next two and a half years, and has said he doesn’t know if he will stand for the Green list in 2017, so I don’t think he has much chance.

Hughes may appeal to some Greens with his ‘do what members choose’ approach but his reliance on ‘hey Clint; guidance must count against him, ultimately people like leaders who are prepared to lead.

There’s been just one nomination for the female co-leader position. Metiria Turei has tweeted:

Whew! Reckon my chances are pretty good…

But she points out there’s still a vote:

Yep.  We have a no confidance option for delegates who dont want to vote for me (or any candidate)

I don’t know if the vote is made public but I’d expect Greens to avoid controversy over Turei being elected without a solid endorsement.

The voting will be done at the Green AGM on 30 May so that’s another 6 weeks in leadership limbo with Norman phasing out.

And Turei has had a low profile over the last month, maybe contemplating her own future, maybe not wanting to dominate the leadership as Norman fades away.

Green leadership contenders on spying

The Nation had a panel discussion with the four Green male co-leader contenders (note that there could, nominations don’t close for another month).

They were asked about the GCSB and spying.

Vernon Tava: “extremely carefully circumscribed”, “far, far stronger oversight”, “treated very, very carefully”, “extremely tight rein”.

James Shaw: “rules around it have to be very clear”, “ transparent oversight”. He seems to contradict himself with “I think the thing that we’ve had in the last few years that people have become increasingly worried about is this idea that everyone is being spied on” but “I think there’s sort of an expectation in our society that that’s OK”.

Gareth Hughes: “I support NZ having domestic intelligence abilities with appropriate oversight and transparency, but we should not be spying on other countries”, “I think we should have a GCSB with appropriate oversight, and I think they should be supporting our companies to prepare themselves against cyber-attack intrusions”.

Kevin Hague: “I definitely would bail out of Five Eyes, and I would shut down the GCSB. I think, uh, that isn’t to say that there isn’t a place for surveillance, provided that there is a reasonable cause and that is independently verified. Um, and I think Gareth’s right that it could be the police that actually carries out that function.”

No GCSB, no foreign surveillance or intelligence seems to be a very naive position to have. It’s not likely to happen with both National and Labour seeing the need for the GCSB.

Greens complained that they don’t have a member on the Security and Intelligence Committee but if they oppose the GCSB and any foreign surveillance or intelligence gathering perhaps their exclusion shouldn’t be surprising.

3 News Transcript:

Is there a place for spying in our society? Vernon?

Tava: It needs to be extremely carefully circumscribed. There are people— you know, we’re seeing with the 1080 threat. You know, we’re seeing there are people who want to do malevolent things. But we need far, far stronger oversight and far less politically oriented oversight than we’re seeing now. It needs to be treated very, very carefully.

So it’s OK to spy as long as you keep a tight rein on it?

Tava: Extremely tight rein.

James?

Shaw: Yeah, I agree. I mean, I think the rules around it have to be very clear. There has to be transparent oversight. People need to understand what we’re doing. I think the thing that we’ve had in the last few years that people have become increasingly worried about is this idea that everyone is being spied on. You know, countries have spied on each other from time immemorial. Uh, for, you know, trade deals. Uh, you know, wars. All that kind of thing. I think there’s sort of an expectation in our society that that’s OK. I don’t think that there’s an expectation that it is okay to spy on everybody.

So, Gareth, is it OK to spy on people?

Hughes: I support the police having intelligence-gathering, uh, abilities with appropriate oversight. When it comes to the Five Eyes network, you know, I’m a dad. I teach my kids to do what’s right. Spying on our friends and allies. Spying on our major trading partner, that’s not right.

So leave Five Eyes and shut down the GCSB?

Hughes: I believe NZ should get out of the Five Eyes network. I don’t believe it’s in our economic interest. I don’t believe it is the right thing to do. I support NZ having domestic intelligence abilities with appropriate oversight and transparency, but we should not be spying on other countries.

But you name-checked the police, then. You said it’s OK for the police. What about the GCSB? Yes or no?

Hughes: I think we should have a GCSB with appropriate oversight, and I think they should be supporting our companies to prepare themselves against cyber-attack intrusions.

So, Kevin, bail out of Five Eyes as Gareth says?

Hague: Yeah, I definitely would bail out of Five Eyes, and I would shut down the GCSB. I think, uh, that isn’t to say that there isn’t a place for surveillance, provided that there is a reasonable cause and that is independently verified. Um, and I think Gareth’s right that it could be the police that actually carries out that function.

But are you aware what damage that would do to us to bail out of that agreement?

Hague: I don’t see any damage. What are you thinking of?

Economic damage with our trading partners.

Hague: Yeah, I don’t believe it would result.

Hughes: How do you think our major trading partner, China, feels about us gathering their data? How do you think our allies and friends in the Pacific feel about it? Now, two decades ago, NZ stood up for an independent foreign policy. What we see now is we’re part of this—

Well, in the Pacific, a lot of the island nations have said they are not bothered by it. They accept it.

Hughes: And, to be frank, they’re in a different power situation vis-a-vis NZ. I don’t think they want, seriously, us to be surveilling and scooping up all of their communications.

Fourth candidate may be lining up for Green leadership

Stuff reports that there may be a fourth contender to replace Russel Norman as male Green co-leader. They say that it’s likley that rookie MP James Shaw is set to announce he’s putting himself forward after earlier saying it would be very unlikely due to his inexperience as a new term MP.

Three others have already announced they will contest the leadership, MPs Kevin Hague and Gareth Hughes and 3 News reported:

, a Green Party co-convenor in Auckland, is reported to be throwing his hat in the ring to be the party’s new male co-leader.

Mr Tava has decided to stand for the leadership.

He is a Waitemata Local Board member and is deputy chair of the board’s finance committee as well as being involved in work on parks and open spaces, and heritage, urban design and planning

Tava is not on the Green list so can’t get into Parliament this term.

Norman was elected co-leader while outside Parliament but came in via the list when one MP resigned and the next two on the Green list stood aside.

Hague will still probably be the front runner but Shaw has been talked of as a future leader.

After the last two Green leader selections (Norman and Turei)  losing contenders resigned as MPs – Nandor Tanczos.and Sue Bradford. I think that’s less likely this time.

Hague keen for Green leadership

Current Green number three  Kevin Hague has confirmed that he will put himself forward for the Green co-leadership position that Russel Norman is vacating.

On his Facebook timeline:

You may not have caught up with my news today: I have just formally announced that I will put my name forward for the election of male co-leader of the Green Party when Russel steps down from the role in May.

The vision and values of the Green Party are ones that I am hugely passionate about, and have spent much of my life fighting for, in various roles. For the past 6 years I have been the Caucus strategist, working as the wider leadership team with Russel and Metiria, and I can’t think of a role that I’d rather have than to stand alongside Metiria and lead this great Party through our next stage of development – into Government.

People reading this who are Party members already know about the process, which will see lots of opportunities to meet with me between now and the election at the end of May. If you’d like to have a say, and aren’t a member already, well . . https://contribute.greens.org.nz/civic…/contribute/transact…

James Shaw has indicated he is unlikely to stand as he considers himself too new and inexperienced (which he is).

There’s no other obvious contenders so it looks like Hague will be appointed uncontested.

If someone else stands for the leadership it’s unlikely they will be anything other than token competition, it’s hard to see anyone heading off Hague.

Kevin should make a good replacement for Norman. He is staunchly Green but is a political pragmatic who is willing to work with anyone to advance common causes.

However it will be a major challenge working out how to position Greens as a Government partner party.

UPDATE: David Farrar has also posted on this, and has listed some  what he sees as Hague positives:

Without discounting who else might stand, it is fair to say that Kevin Hague is a very good potential co-leader, and he could do significantly better than his predecessor, if elected.

The strengths that Hague would bring to the Greens are:

  1. He is not a communist (or former communist)
  2. He has significant political skills, playing a key role in campaigns such as the marriage equality campaign
  3. He is trusted and respected with most MPs from both National and Labour
  4. He will generally put progressing an issue, ahead of point scoring, for example working behind the scenes with National MPs on adoption law reform rather than grand-standing on the issue such as a Labour MP did
  5. Has the ability to work with MPs from other parties, including National. Involved in many cross-party caucuses.
  6. Has been influential in the Greens in reducing the power of the anti-science brigade, and has moved the Greens away from blanket opposition to fluoridation and vaccinations to more balanced positions
  7. Has significant management experience, having been a CEO of a District Health Board

I think Kevin Hague would be an excellent choice by the Greens to replace Russel Norman as the male co-leader.

All valid points – Hague announces candidacy

Laila Harre on The Nation

Laila Harre was interviewed by Patrick Gower on The Nation yesterday, Harre stepping down as Internet Party leader

Key points:

  • Stepping down as leader of the Internet Party
  • “I would love to be in parliament.”
  • The Internet Party “could be wound up”.
  • Continuing the merger with Mana “will be up to Mana”.
    “The agreement with Mana was always predicated on the assumption that we be in parliament.”
  • “We completely mismanaged the last month of the campaign.”
  • “…the media chose to focus on sideshows rather than to allow us to present ourselves in the way that we were presenting ourselves. 
  • “What I regret is actually the failure of the Left overall to get its act together in a strategic and tactical way during the election.”
  • “This was always going to be a very finely balanced election outcome. There was no way, no way, never in any polls that Labour and the Greens were going to get sufficient support to form a majority government. That meant we had to rescue progressive votes to.
  • “Labour ruled out just about every other party during the course of the election campaign, and I think that was a big mistake.”
  • On Labour – “They didn’t like us. They didn’t want us, but we were there and they needed to accept that reality.”
  • On Dotcom’s email fizzer – “I believe that Kim, given the opportunity to share everything about that email, would be able to defend his belief that it’s real. Look, I can’t answer that. I wasn’t directly involved…”
  • “What was there for me and for the kind of politics I represent, was the chance to change the government and to get a platform in parliament for some very new progressive ideas.”
  • “Where to from here? Well, for me, being outside parliament as a political party is not a game that I think is worth the candle. What I want to do, though, is continue to promote and connect with the kind of more radical, I guess, policies that we began to introduce into the election. And when I say radical, I don’t mean marginal. I mean radical in the sense of fundamentals. So I’m going on a journey in February with my sister. It’s called ‘Rethink the System’. We’ve got a website. Rethinkthesystem.org. We’re going on a sort of pilgrimage meets activism to connect with people over fundamental social change issues.”

Full interview:

Patrick Gower: Good morning. Good to see you after a while.

Laila Harre: Nice to be here.

Are you still here as leader of the Internet Party?

Yes, I am here as leader of the Internet Party, and at the moment I’m guiding the party through a review of the future. I’ve also made a personal decision that once that review is completed, I will step down from the leadership of the Internet party. All options are then open for whether or not the party continues as an electoral force or moves into some other formation and plays its part in politics in a different way.

So that will be by Christmas? You will step down by Christmas?

Uh… yes. The timeline at the moment is that we will be putting together a couple of options that members will engage on, will vote on and will take from there. I just wanted to make it clear to the members, from whom I’ve had tons of support, and there’s been a lot of good feedback to me personally from members, that continuing as a political party does not— they can’t make the assumption that I will continue in the leadership.

Sure.

I’ve made a firm decision about that.

It’s over; you’re out. What does this mean for your political career?

For me, it means that I’m no longer leading the Internet Party. Whether the Internet Party continues as an electoral party is up to the members. If it—

What about Laila Harre personally? Is this your political career over now?

Who knows? Look… (LAUGHS) rumours of my political career being over have circulated many times over the last, you know, 15 years.

Look, I would love to be in parliament. I would love to be articulating the kind of fundamental agenda and values that Internet-Mana promoted in the election campaign, and I’m not prepared to say never again to being personally at the front line. But I also saw emerging in our election campaign an incredible set of younger candidates.

And I feel a bit like a mother hen here. I want to enable them through my decision to step down to explore all their political options too rather than be trapped in this year’s political entity and this year’s political tactic, you might say — to explore their options more.

It may— it may be, by what you’ve said there, that the Internet party doesn’t continue as an electoral-type party.

That’s definitely one of the options that we’re actively canvassing with members.

It could become a lobby group or be wound up.

It could be wound up. It could— the capacity that we’ve built. Look, we’ve had massive engagement on our policy-development platforms, in our social media—

And the merger with Mana — that isn’t going to continue?

Well, I mean, that will be up to Mana and if the Internet Party continues as an electoral party, the Internet party. Um, the Mana Party are having their AGM in a couple of weeks’ time. The agreement with Mana was always predicated on the assumption that we be in parliament.

So, of course, all bets are off there, but there’s very strong goodwill. And again, for me personally, that was one of the strengths of what we did this year — was engaging our constituency with a kaupapa Maori party, which I think is critical to the future of New Zealand politics.

Let’s reflect on the campaign now, cos we know the story. Internet-Mana went from 2.3% on the 3News-Reid Research poll, higher than that on some other polls, then you started to crash. In the end, Hone Harawira didn’t make it; nobody did. What went wrong?

Um, well, what went wrong was that we completely mismanaged the last month of the campaign. We had amazing momentum before then. The road trip, I think, worked extremely well. What other party just went out there on the front line, engaged with such large audiences?

What was the mismanagement?

I think the kind of beginning of that, really, was Georgina Beyer’s attack on Kim Dotcom, which fed into what became a narrative of a rift and division, and it was one that we just couldn’t knock through the rest of the campaign. It became completely distracting from the release of policy, for instance. I mean, we launched a full employment policy that was second to none and did not get one minute of coverage on, you know, national news.

That’s because Kim Dotcom stood up and talked about hacking,…

Well…

…and Pam Corkery attacked the media on the same—

Well, no, it’s because the media chose to focus on sideshows rather than to allow us to present ourselves in the way that we were presenting ourselves. So, you know, the media made a decision to focus on Kim, and in a very negative way during that period.

The only way that we could have avoided that was to take him completely out of the picture. And of course then there would have been all the stories of ‘what’s happened to Kim Dotcom?’ And ‘has he been side-lined?’ And so on. So we’re kind of in the lose-lose position. Beyond us—

Do you have any regrets in all of this? Cos you must have.

I have absolutely no regrets about choosing to get involved in this project. Back in April— late April when I was first approached to consider the leadership, it was very very clear that Labour and the Greens were not going to make it over the line.

I was utterly committed to a change of government, and in order to change the government, we had to make sure every single progressive vote would count. For that to happen, Internet Party votes had to count. For the Internet Party votes to count, they had to do the deal with Mana. And for Mana to do that deal, they needed a leader that Mana had some confidence in.

Sure.

So I said yes. I put myself into that position, and I think it was absolutely the right thing to do. What I regret is actually the failure of the Left overall to get its act together in a strategic and tactical way during the election.

What do you mean by the failure of the Left overall?

Well, let’s go back to early April when the Greens and Labour pulled the plug on each other. At that time I was on the Green Party campaign committee. I felt that was a terrible error by both parties. I thought it was a major error by the Greens to leak the collapse of that discussion.

You’re saying that you were working inside there at the time and the Greens leaked…

I was on the campaign committee as a volunteer. I wasn’t working for the party, but when the Greens decided to leak the collapse of their discussions with Labour, I felt really concerned about what that meant for the election campaign, because what it meant was what I went through before the… around the 1996 and previous elections, that this was going to become a competition for votes on the Left rather than a cooperation of Left parties to change the government.

Here’s the counter argument, and you know it. Labour and the Greens put the failure of the Left at your feet.

Well, it’s very convenient.

They blame it on Internet-Mana. Andrew Little, all of the Labour leadership candidates all say being connected to Internet-Mana and to Kim Dotcom helped bring the Left down.

I think, actually, what brought, overall… I mean, this was always going to be a very— Can I just give you my view on this? This was always going to be a very finely balanced election outcome. There was no way, no way, never in any polls that Labour and the Greens were going to get sufficient support to form a majority government. That meant we had to rescue progressive votes to. To do that—

I understand all of this. But what also happened was National romped home. It wasn’t close. The Left got thrashed. You guys have been blamed for helping bring down the Left and at the same time there’s an argument that you pumped up the Right. People who were scared of Kim Dotcom. People were scared of Internet-Mana. People didn’t like to deal with Hone Harawira. Not only did you tear down the Left, there’s an argument that you helped John Key win by more.

Well, let’s look at some of the facts here. The Internet-Mana Party deal led to an increase in support for the combined two parties. The early part of our campaign, which Kim was very actively involved in in the road trip, saw a growth in support for Internet-Mana. It was at that point that the Right went fully on attack against Kim, and used Kim and the Internet Party-Mana agreement as the basis for an attack on the Left. At that point, Labour—

And it worked.

Yes, but why did it work? Because at that point Labour and the Greens had a choice. They could either join John Key’s narrative, or they could do the only thing that would have made it possible to get over the line, and that was to accept that putting together a majority in parliament, this time round, that did not have National as part of it was going to depend on working constructively with other parties. Labour ruled out just about every other party during the course of the election campaign, and I think that was a big mistake.

So in summary, those parties not supporting Internet-Mana, those parties trying to distance themselves from you, is to blame for your downfall. You’re blaming Labour—

No, I’m not blaming them for our downfall. What I’m saying is that I think they just played into the Right’s narrative about it. So they fed it. They made it more of a problem. And I think the key to politics is knowing and accepting the environment you’re operating in. They didn’t like us. They didn’t want us, but we were there and they needed to accept that reality.

Let’s talk about Kim Dotcom now. Are you still on his payroll?

No! Goodness, no.

Are you still in contact with him?

Yes. I’m periodically in contact with him.

How?

Mainly by text message. Kim is focussing on his legal issues, obviously. That’s the critical point.

Did you ever seek assurances from him that he was not involved in the hacking, that he was not connected to Rawshark?

I didn’t need to because he was absolutely upfront and direct about that, and I completely accept those assurances, and I also believe that John Key knew, and John Key said now that he knows who the hacker is. I think he knew who the hacker was, and he that he knew it wasn’t Kim Dotcom, and he kept feeding you guys.

Look, we had this conversation during the campaign where he had convinced you that he believed Kim Dotcom was the hacker. I think we now know that he knew right from the start that Kim Dotcom was not the hacker. That was just a complete red herring.

As for the moment of truth when Kim Dotcom failed to deliver. You know, the proof was apparently that email from Kevin Tsujihara. Warner Brothers says that that was a forgery. I mean, do you believe it was real?

I believe that Kim, given the opportunity to share everything about that email, would be able to defend his belief that it’s real. Look, I can’t answer that. I wasn’t directly involved in obtaining it or being involved in the process of—

Either Kim Dotcom’s forged it or Warner Brothers has made it up.

I absolutely don’t believe Kim Dotcom has forged it. I absolutely believe that Kim believes it’s real based on the evidence he has about its origins.

The $3.5 million. What happened to that? Who’s got control of it?

Well, that money’s been spent. I mean, let’s remember that that money was spent from pre the launch of the Internet Party in March and committed. I think we could have done a whole lot—

Was this it for you? The dream of a well-funded campaign — the chance of a lifetime. Is that what was there for you, and now maybe you regret it?

What was there for me and for the kind of politics I represent, was the chance to change the government and to get a platform in parliament for some very new progressive ideas. Look, I’ve walked off platforms in this election campaign where I was the only candidate—

And speaking of walking, where do you go from here?

…the only candidate promoting free tertiary education. You know, you had Labour and Green candidates saying user-pay tertiary education was a necessary evil. I reject that. Where to from here? Well, for me, being outside parliament as a political party is not a game that I think is worth the candle.

What I want to do, though, is continue to promote and connect with the kind of more radical, I guess, policies that we began to introduce into the election. And when I say radical, I don’t mean marginal. I mean radical in the sense of fundamentals. So I’m going on a journey in February with my sister. It’s called ‘Rethink the System’. We’ve got a website.

Rethinkthesystem.org

We’re going on a sort of pilgrimage meets activism to connect with people over fundamental social change issues.

Sounds like fun. Really sorry. We’re out of time.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Source: Scoop

Good Standard on Labour leadership

An unusually good post and comment thread at The Standard on Labour’s leadership contest – My (late) vote.

Lyn Prentice is a campaigner from way back and has a good idea about how things work, especially with Labour – he’s it bit off the mark with some of his claims about National but that’s not his strength.

For a review of the leadership contenders and an insight into Labour campaigning it’s worth reading through the post and most of the comments.

Prentice happens to pick the leadership contest similar to I would (I’m not a Labour member so haven’t had to decided):

  1. Andrew Little
  2. David Parker
  3. Nanaia Mahuta
  4. Grant Robertson

I think I’d reverse Mahuta and Robertson.

And another old school Labour campaigner Anne names her preferred front bench.

  1. Andrew Little
  2. David Parker
  3. Grant Robertson
  4. Nanaia Mahuta
  5. David Cunliffe
  6. Phil Twyford
  7. Jacinda Ardern
  8. Annette King
  9. Phil Goff
  10. David Shearer

Her comment:

Yep. I came to the same conclusions for exactly the same reasons as lprent. A Little/Parker combination is what the Labour Party needs with Robertson, Mahuta, Cunliffe, Twyford, and Ardern taking the next five places. Annette King and Phil Goff still have a lot to offer in the way of experience and knowledge, but they have to give way to a new team. Having said that, I think they should – along with Shearer – take the next three places.

Leader plus ex leaders/acting leaders fill half of those positions – experience is valuable but it’s time the worked out how to work together and put the party ahead of their own ambitions or grievances.

I’d swap Robertson/Mahuta and Twyford/Ardern to put more female presence up the list. And I’m not sure that Goff should be that high, I’d rather look to the future more through Hipkins instead.

It’s worth repeating – interesting and worthwhile post and comments at The Standard.

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