Cunliffe camp denials, Labour foes and woes

Supporters of David Cunliffe keep claiming there was no conspiracy to undermine Shearer’s leadership. They may me right. But they also keep claiming that Cunliffe only showed loyalty and support for Shearer. From Keystone coups Mark 2 at The Standard:

21 November 2012 at 9:35 pm

I don’t know if there was a coup or not. I wasn’t at conference and I didn’t see any particularly strong evidence in the media. And people I trust from both sides of this blue are telling me different things.

What I do know is that there is some desperate flailing going on as (mostly pro-Shearer) people lash out at perceived conspiracies.

Insistence there was a coup attempt:

The Fan Club
21 November 2012 at 9:47 pm

Fundamentally, there was a coup attempt. Anyone who disagrees is not in touch with reality. Cunliffe trotted surrogates out to argue a party line — Wall, Chauvel, Dalziel, Presland — and refused to endorse Shearer. That’s just a fact about the world.

There is determined defending of Cunliffe, like this.

21 November 2012 at 11:30 pm

Show me where. Point to a single, verifiable report of Cunliffe being asked to endorse the leader and failing to do so.

This is provided as proof of his support before and after the conference:

21 November 2012 at 11:33 pm

“Find me the quote.”

Pre Conference
Tues 13 Nov

I am very clear that our leader has my support.

Post Conference
Mon 19th Feb

Mr Shearer does have my support. That’s good for now, that’s good for if there is a caucus vote any time soon,

That is typically vague “I support but don’t” language. Cunliffe supporters are not wanting to see that, but it’s very clearly a Claytons vote of support.

And this:

22 November 2012 at 1:02 am

@Fan Club 10.45pm

“Find me the quote.”

It has taken me ages but here it is at the conference itself which should take care of
one of your other comments . Will try to find you more instances of Cunliffe’s loyalty and endorsements tomorrow. As it is I only have them on my own recordings.

This is one of the many times David Cunliffe endorses his loyalty to Shearer on screen over the weekend.

What exactly does Cunliffe say in 3 News?

Gower: David Cunliffe, I’m asking you to rule out having a go at the leadership in Februrary.

Cunliffe: This is a constitutional conference, not a leadership conference.

Gower: Just rule it out, show your loyalty to your leader…

Cunliffe: I have always said, I am always loyal to the leader of the Labour Party, this is a constitutional conference, not a leadership one.

Gower: If you’re loyal rule out a challenge.

Cunliffe: It’s not a matter at hand in this meeting.

It’s very difficult to see how that can be taken as “endorses his loyalty to Shearer on screen”. It’s clearly vague, and almost certainly deliberately so.

Cunliffe could have dealt with this clearly before the conference. Instead he chose to play along, albeit under excessive media attention.

There’s no doubt feelings are high on both sides and perceptions are heightened. Small signs are taken as treason, deliberately vague statements are taken as cast iron endorsements.

It is remarkable that at a time Labour is badly divided and faces a crisis, not just of leadership, the future of the party is at stake, that so much attention is paid to who is right and who is wrong about perceptions of coded political statements.

What can’t be disputed is there is now a low hurdle (40%) to initiate a leadership challenge in February, and if that’s successful the caucus, party and unions will all have a say in who is Labour leader. This will ensure speculation and non-denials for the next three months.

There’s little doubt there’s a major battle going on for power in Labour, within the caucus, between the caucus the party, and between the unions and the caucus.

Individual and faction ambitions have taken precedence over the immediate good of the party. Some have said that they would be happy to lose the next election if it means getting the results they want in the battle for the party.

A myriad of complex battles are raging. A victor may emerge, but they may only have rubble to plant their flag on.

From Kiwi Politico – Political Fratricide:

Party fratricide does not necessarily spell the death of the Party but is a sign not only of deep division within it, but of fundamental weakness. After all, if a Party cannot unite around a common set of objectives, leaders or beliefs in the face of a coherent and well-organized opposition, then it is less a political Party than an amalgam of sectoral interests forced together by political circumstance and shallow ideological affinity.

Strong leadership ensures the party will support and follow. Weak leadership leaves a vacuum. The Labour Party risks being sucked up the hose and bagged.

1 Comment

  1. This whole episode is really quite bizarre. There is no way Labour will get in 2014 now with this kind of history behind them.