Is the Labour totara rooted?

There’s positives (a few) and negatives (big ones) for Labour on the confirmation that Shane Jones prefers to go fishing rather than stay with the party  stunned mullets and flounder.

Much has been said about the negatives and that dark cloud of criticism will hover for some time.

On the positive side it’s best for Labour that a senior minister who had lost heart and lost hope ion the party bails out. The timing is awful but lingering would have just extended the problem.

The best to come of this is it gives the widely respected Kelvin Davis pay and perks to help his election campaign, and to get back into the Parliamentary fold. There’s a good chance he’ll run Hone Harawira close in Te Tai Tokerau – if Labour allow it – but many Labour supporters will hope the party gives him a chance via the list as well.

Labour is left with major problems. The debacle of Jones’ exit is significant but on it’s own relatively minor.

But it is a symptom of much bigger problems for Labour. Their handling of the Jones news was widely reported as abysmal, and that’s how it looked. This screamed of wider and deeper problems including major lacks of management and common sense.

If Labour don’t urgently reassess their approach and drastically change it their problems could be terminal. Last election was an embarrassing all time low result for them but on current performance there’s a good chance they will do worse this time.

Voters don’t like disorganised losers.

Cunliffe appears to be struggling big time. He appeared on the Paul Henry show the night the Jones news broke. It was a mixture of stunned mullet and flounder, but even at a glance he looked bad, his dress sense matched his political sense – inappropriate and out of character.

Cunliffe on Henry

“One button undone casual, two relaxed, three Hasselhoff. <a href=”>(WO)</a>&#8221;

See Jones’ departure ‘not a disaster’ – Cunliffe. The holing of the Titanic wasn’t a disaster, the sinking was. The Henry interview was a symptom of a much bigger iceberg lurking below Labour’s surface.

If Labour keep repeating the same mistakes, and the Jones mess was just a larger one amongst a procession of smaller ones, then the outlook could be grim for them – and this is grim for New Zealand democracy as well, a disintegrating party is weakening Parliament already.

Labour need to urgently reassess and repackage themselves, if they have the personnel and the insight to recognise how necessary this is.

Josie Pagani wrote at Pundit in Warning to Labour; the heretic hunters are driving people away:

In 1996 the Labour party dropped to 14% in the polls, ten weeks out from an election. They choose not to batten down the hatches and double down on failed strategies. They looked at why they were so unpopular, and changed. They reached a more respectable 28% on election day, and laid the seeds for victory, and the most successful Labour government of my lifetime so far in 1999.

It’s about four months until the election.

The first essential is to stop the haemorrhaging.

Then Cunliffe has to learn how to be consistent and genuine, and build from there. Quickly. He looks and sounds like a variety of packaged fakes.

Whether he has the personality to look prime ministerial or not Cunliffe has to have confidence to present himself as capable of the top job and keen to lead. Is there a real Cunliffe behind the changing images and attempts to keep diverting from the issues of the day to bland PR?

And Cunliffe is only the tip of the iceberg. His caucus colleagues and his parliamentary team and his party organisation right down to Labour activists in social media need a total overhaul in attitude and approach.

All they seem to do is continue with the same old excuses and mistakes. It’s not all everyone else’s fault.

Politics is often unfair – especially if you keep stuffing things up.

Labour have to acknowledge they are currently on a slippery slope to oblivion. And they have to find the ability and the will to do something about it.

Cunliffe was right when he said that no person was indispensable in a party. He said “When a totara falls in the forest another totara grows to take it’s place.”

He should also recognise that no party is indispensable in a Parliament.

Jones lost the ambition to succeed in politics, he lost the will to continue as an MP. Is that also how Labour as a party is, but without the insight to see it or the candour to admit it?


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1 Comment

  1. Phil Wild

     /  24th April 2014

    I do not believe Cunliffe is capable of looking genuine, it would appear to be just another short term disguise for him.


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