Labour’s self laid GCSB minefield

Labour may have created huge problems for themselves should they lead the next Government. They chose to take a political approach to the GCSB bill rather than follow the convention of cross-party cooperation with legislation on national security.

They have promised to dump the new bill and base any replacement law on an inquiry.

The current law is not much different to the previous 2003 act put in place and used by Helen Clark’s government. If Labour lead government again after next year’s election they will either have to stick with something similar to what we have now, and similar to what was supported by all major parties over the last decade, or they will have to make radical changes to how we use the GCSB and SIS.

The latter is the expectation of many activists on the left. There are calls (from a minority) to dump the GCSB altogether.

Lyn Prentice at The Standard:

This Act has a short lifetime.

I think that we should have a serious look at killing the GCSB at the same time. Throughout this debate I haven’t heard of *anyone* giving some coherent reasons for the retention of their excessive budget or what return we have or are likely to get from it.

Not a single person. All you ever get is fear mongering without any detail. Looks to me like it is an arm of the US intelligence community. Time for it to depart for another country and stop distorting our laws.

Prentice is a long time Labour and Clark supporter but has vowed to vote Green next year. In the same thread he describes The Standard:

The site isn’t a democracy, it is an anarchical cooperative.

The Standard has been prominent in it’s involvement in opposing and undermining David Shearer (by some authors and most commenters).

And on the left wing activist Daily Blog Martyn Bradbury tries to rally ongoing action in The GCSB Bill has passed – if you refuse to accept that, here’s what I think we should do next :

1: Repeal the Bill at the 2014 election:
Call upon every opposition MP to signal before the 2014 election if they will vote to repeal the legislation. Every week until the election the Blogs will post up the names of all those opposition MPs who will repeal the legislation and all those who won’t. We will advise people not to vote for those opposition MPs who will not repeal the Bill. Take the public Town Hall speaking tour around the main cities and provinces in the lead up to the election culminating in Auckland in the week of the election.

This is a part of Bradbury’s grand campaign plan – he’s a paid adviser for the Mana Party. If he gets enough support for this agenda Mana may increase their vote, but that’s most likely to be at the expense of Labour’s vote.

If successful this could cripple Labour and drag it left, something Bradbury and Mana may like, but they won’t be so keen on the fact that it may make a Labour led government unelectable.

‘Bomber’ Bradbury seems intent on blowing up Labour in next year’s election.

It’s worth noting here a Fairfax/IPSOS poll result from yesterday:

53.6% said they trusted the Government to protect their right to privacy whilst maintaining national security.

If Labour survive the election blast they then have to try and cobble together a coalition with Greens and Mana, who both oppose the bill and oppose the GCSB. That could result in some fiery negotiations.

If Greens and Mana (and perhaps NZ First) manage to agree to coalition deals that survive this then Labour’s promised inquiry (unless they simply let the inquiry in 2015 required by the new law) could be a political minefield.

If the inquiry recommends retaining the GCSB and SIS similar to how they are now would Labour have to get support from National to fulfil their promises? It’s hard to see Greens and Mana voting for it, that would blow up those parties.

And Labour can’t hope that the GCSB will just fade away from public interest. The new legislation requires a 2015 inquiry, so if they do nothing else about the GCSB that will come up anyway.

Labour chose what they thought was a populist political approach to the bill that has just been passed.

It’s hard to see them winning a popularity contest over this over the next two years. They have turned their backs on the half of the voters who support GCSB security. And they will find it very difficult to please the hard left.

Labour seem to be caught in a minefield laid by their own strange strategies.

Leave a comment


  1. sean

     /  23rd August 2013

    Looking at John Campbell’s poll I can not see how your comment that only a minority want the spy bill dumped makes sense. Most people are upset by this piece of legislation and want it gone. Only 11% of those who voted on Campbell’s poll think its ok.


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