Where do Labour’s ABC’s fit in?

It has been suggested that Matt McCarten’s appointment to David Cunliffe’s office is a way of controlling and bringing in to line a factionalised Labour caucus, only a minority of which supported Cunliffe becoming leader.

Part of that group is a hardcore Anyone But Cunliffe camp. They have fought strongly to retain their seats and their influence, and have been prepared to fight tough (and allegedly dirty).

John Armstrong suggests:

McCarten’s shock appointment as David Cunliffe’s chief of staff is likely to be viewed by not a few MPs in the Labour caucus as… more a case of inviting the fox into the henhouse and according him red-carpet treatment in the process.

For all the rapprochement between Labour and Anderton in recent years, placing the other most prominent figure in the latter’s former ranks into a role that will effectively make him the power behind the Labour leader’s throne has left those MPs as gobsmacked as everyone else.

Comments at The Standard point to the appointment as a signal to the ABC camp. ‘Ad’ comments:

Cunliffe is also signalling clearly to ABC he has both Affiliate and Non-Affiliate unions in his hand; that will well and truly matter when mustering delegates for List conference. It’s a Don’t Fuck With Me signal.

Murray Olsen:

The one thing Labour seems to need is someone to kick the ABC Rogernomes, either into line or into retirement. I think they should get rid of one of them within the next week, just to encourage the others. I’d settle for either Goff or Mallard. As long as their are no consequences to their careers and their parliamentary super, they’ll hang around forever. They need to be put on notice, and I think McCarten might be just the right person to do it.

And while he may now be relegated more to the party sidelines after his Internet Party embarrassment Martyn Bradbury is promoting this a s a huge thing in McCarten & Cunliffe – political survivors and how they’ll use MMP to win:

Just pause for a moment to appreciate the amazing turns of fate for Matt McCarten and David Cunliffe.

David was crucified in 2012 as part of a manufactured leadership coup created by the mainstream media and seized upon by the Anyone But Cunliffe clique to publicly flog and humiliate him.

David incredibly bounces back from that vicious political attack with a stunning victory from the members and the affiliates to become leader in a win that openly shocked Robertson’s supporters and some within the Union hierarchy.

It’s been a bad day to be an ABC.

David Cunliffe as leader and Matt McCarten as Chief-of-Staff is as good as it’s going to get in our generation – the time to get involved is now. 

Typical overstatements from Bradbury but he makes it clear he sees it as vital that the ACB faction is dealt to.

Also at The Daily Blog Frank Macskasy writes WTF? Is John Key having a melt down?! (that’s as bad as Bomber at over-hoped hype):

It also sends a clear, unequivocal signal to any remaining “ABC” elements within the Labour Parliamentary caucus – do not mess with the Leader.  As our American cuzzies like to phrase it, “Matt’s got his back” .

But members of the ABC club have been scrapping in politics for a long time. It is reported to include people like Phil Goff, Annette King, Trevor Mallard and Clayton Cosgrove. Possibly not in the core group but Grant Robertson and Shane Jones have also had leadership ambitions. There are several other MPs who were demoted by Cunliffe.

David Farrar at Kiwiblog points out that McCarten’s ability with managing relationships is not one of his strengths.

Matt has great campaign skills, but his relationship skills are not so strong. And the Chief of Staff role is 90% about relationships. You have to manage relationships with the caucus, the relationship with the party, manage a staff of 20, and also manage relationships with other political parties.

Members of the ABC may not fit in with Cunliffe’s and McCarten’s plans – Cunliffe said recently he was talking to all of his caucus about their futures. For some MPs it may be a battle for their survival. They may not go quickly or quietly.

And if there is political blood spilt it won’t help Labour’s election prospects.

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