Blogs on first day of Labour conference

The Standard has been oddly quiet about the first day of the Labour conference. Anthony Robins put up a post in the early afternoon yesterday – Labour’s conference which quoted a couple of preview comments and then said:

This year’s conference has more “closed” (media excluded) sessions than most. Some of the media are a bit miffed about it – they need copy to file poor things. I would have gone for more open sessions myself, but it’s Little’s first conference as leader and he’s playing it cautious. No doubt the media will find something to fill the column inches with.

I’m not at conference this year, and lprent is overseas, but some Standardistas are going so no doubt we will get reports. Have a great conference all…

There was some pre-conference discussion – very mixed and a significant amount was not very complimentary.

Greg Presland commented:

Stephanie Rodgers and I will both be there and will no doubt report on things that we can.

I also expect numbers to be down. I know quite a few people who will not be there for various reasons. Palmerston North is more out of the way and after last year there is still a bit of fatigue.

Some of Ad’s recent posts indicate the importance of making sure that things ramp up next year and I think the Party needs to think about doing things for activists to increase enthusiasm.

Colonial Viper:

Holding the Conference is Palmerston North doubles or triples the cost of attending from regional areas of NZ like Otago, as compared to holding it in Auckland. Which means that ordinary people can’t get there. The Labour Party of the 10%.

Presland later:

I just arrived and the mood is remarkably upbeat. Numbers are apparently much stronger than some have talked about with 500 being mentioned.

Little else was reported from the conference.

A very late comment from Leftie:

Just read a very positive report on TDB by Martyn Bradbury, who has, in the recent past, been no friend of the Labour party. Worth a read, look forward to more reports on the conference.

So no report on the conference from The Standard yet but there’s one at The Daily Blog.

Labour Party Conference 2015

By Martyn Bradbury

It is the 99th Conference of the NZ Labour Party and instead of looking excitedly towards their 100th birthday as the oldest political party in Parliament, Labour, after one of their worst election results ever, face deep existential questions about their political relevancy, what they actually stand for and how they will woo voters back to voting red.

But that links to Waata News:

Labour Party Conference 2015
Friday 06 November 2015
MARTYN BRADBURY

It is the 99th Conference of the NZ Labour Party and instead of looking excitedly towards their 100th birthday as the oldest political party in Parliament, Labour, after one of their worst election results ever, face deep existential questions about their political relevancy, what they actually stand for and how they will woo voters back to voting red.

The shadow of last years electoral meltdown has strategists, political gurus and polling shamans all desperately searching entrails to make meaning of a result that seemed counter intuitive to every crazy twist of what was easily the weirdest election ever undertaken in Aotearoa.

It is this above all else that haunts Labour.

How do you appeal to an electorate when the majority of that electorate voted for John Key DESPITE all the filthy tactics of National’s Dirty Politics, DESPITE using the Secret Intelligence Service to falsely smear Phil Goff months before the 2011 election, DESPITE mass surveillance lies and DESPITE abuses of political power not seen since the Waterfront lockouts. Helen Clark was crucified for signing a painting she didn’t paint, yet here we have the PMs Office colluding with spies to smear opponents, handing sensitive information to far right hate speech bloggers and allowing the security agencies of America to have access to everything any of us do online.

How do you come back to an electorate who simply shrugged to all of that and turned a blind eye to National’s corruption?

You start by trying to work out why they turned that blind eye. Many NZers who voted for Helen now vote for John – why? This middle class now earn more from their property speculation than they do from their actual job. Labour’s challenge is to try and convince someone who has this year alone earned 24% in untaxed property valuation to vote with their social conscience instead of their wallet.

That’s a very difficult job.

After rambling on he concludes:

These long suffering Labour members and Union affiliates are still waiting for a policy platform that speaks to their aspirations right at a time when Labour are trying to attract voters with very different words and values. Maori flocked back to Labour in 2014 – where is their articulation of political interests? Women within Labour are still being scolded for pushing for greater representation because of the way it gets sold in the media and Trans rights aren’t on any agenda.

How will the stake holders within Labour promote progressive policy that don’t isolate the middle class property speculators Labour are trying to win over?

Things to look for will be how Labour respond to the TPPA now the text has been released, how well Andrew Little performs in his speech and how much patience supporters, members, volunteers and affiliates are prepared to give a Labour Party that can’t work out if they should be planning a celebration or funeral after 100 years.

So just questions from Bradbury.

But he has a post actually at The Daily Blog. The headline is odd – Why Brooke Sabin highlights the media ban – Labour Party Conference 2015 after hours  – as is the opening few paragraphs about Bradbury trying to find a late evening place to eat.

I add these details because the Labour Party Conference 2015 has surprised me. I thought I was turning up to give a political party the last rights. I was wrong. I can tell you the Labour Party are still very much alive and still very much focused on winning 2017.

I’ll go into details on how they intend to do that tomorrow, but the factionalised fighting has ended, the Caucus has united around Andrew Little as leader and Little is developing into a leader who can challenge Key.

I’m not sure how he has managed to determine that in one evening of a party packaged event.

In the past my excitement for Labour was over what I hoped they could achieve rather than what they could actually do, this time around I feel there has been a major change behind the scenes in areas Labour needed to change to become an effective machine.

But all of that for tomorrow, let me just point out the breathless Brooke Sabin report on the TPPA. Brooke says Labour were blindsided by the release of the TPPA text – that’s simply not true, Labour were aware far earlier in the week that the text was likely to be released and Little’s 5 bottom lines still stand, it’s looking more likely that Labour will turn the TPPA down than support it if the issues around asset sales to foreigners stands. You wouldn’t know that if you had watched TV3 on Friday, and Brooke’s report shows exactly why Labour are so keen to tighten media interaction at the conference.

Bradbury has very little to say about the conference except for satisfying his hunger and a comment about the TPPA – Little said something about that in his speech last night but Labour have not highlighted that in their social media.

So not much has come out. Does “Labour are so keen to tighten media interaction at the conference” apply to members and their social media interactions?

UPDATE: Greg Presland has put up a post this morning at The Standard, also with an apparent media focus: Which Labour Party Conference is Brook Sabin at? although he does begin with a bried conference report:

Day one of the Labour Party has passed. Numbers are damned good for a provincial centre, over 520 registered delegates not counting observers. The mood is upbeat with some very good speeches last night, a well deserved gold badge for Maryan Street, and much emphasis on the importance of activists in what we do for the party. And last night was marked by much laughing and singing and the occasional imbibing of liquid refreshments and despite suggestions to the contraryStephanie Rodgers and I did not eat all the pies.

He then digresses and like Bradbury complains about Sabin’s pre-conference item on 3 News.

He then discusses Labour and the TPPA in general terms:

Obviously the Labour Party needs to go through a process to make a final decision. I am not breaching any confidences by saying that some within caucus are supportive of free trade.  And I am confident that further analysis of the investor state resolution procedures will also trigger the breach of another of Labour’s bottom lines that “Corporations cannot successfully sue the Government for regulating in the public interest”.

I don’t expect a final response soon from the party. I doubt that it can make a final call on the protection of Pharmac because as far as I am aware that detail has not been released and is in a still hidden document. And the bottom line on meaningful gains for farmers in terms of tariff reduction and trade access will need to be assessed properly although the Dairy Industry’s initial response suggests that the gains are marginal at best.

Not much out of the conference there. He then closes with another complaint about the media and “poorly designed spin trying to create the impression of a crisis”.

It appears that Labour is trying to keep divisive issues like the TPPA subdued at their conference and will continue their appeasement of both sides of the TPPA fence.

Little’s speech on Sunday may give a better idea of where Labour currently stand on trade deals.

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