Labour rumblings and reshuffle

Rumours are reported to be rumbling in the Labour camp, but Andrew Little denies there will be any major changes when he reshuffles his caucus following the the announcement that Clayton Cosgrove won’t stand again next election.

Cosgrove seemed to be in semi-retirement anyway.

Heather du Plessis-Allan reports on some insider moans in Labour needs a hero and a cause:

For a while now, everyone in the party has bravely kept painting their faces, putting on their party frocks and pretending life was peachy.

That’s the line that’s been spun. But…

I was killing time around Parliament, waiting for a minister. A Labour Party insider was killing time too. We got talking.

Andrew Little said this. Andrew Little said that. Tired of his cock-ups. Tired of being blamed for his mistakes.

It wasn’t a surprise morale in the Labour Party was low, it was a surprise someone was being honest about it.

It would have been surprising if there hadn’t been concerns expressed, privately at least, about Labour’s and Little’s performance. And this was before last week’s poor poll result and before Little’s flailing attacks on John Key this week.

Later that day, I walked through the arrivals gate at Auckland airport next to a well-connected political mover and shaker. We got talking. Trouble’s brewing in the Labour Party.

They’re talking of cutting Grant Robertson. They’re talking of cutting the chief of staff. Watch this space.

While the political buck stops at the top chief of staff Matt McCarten was recruited by David Cunliffe and that didn’t work well. Little retained McCarten in the critical role and that hasn’t worked out well.

If Little isn’t going then McCarten has to go. Something drastic has to change and that’s one of the few options Little has.

But shuffling Robertson out of the Finance role? That’s less likely for a couple of reasons. Dropping Robertson from Finance would be an admission of a failed gamble with Robertson and would threaten his whole Future of Work thing, something Little is probably reluctant to do.

And demoting Robertson from the most demanding of portfolio roles would give Robertson more time and a reason to reconsider his leadership ambitions.

In any case little says he is not including Robertson in his shuffle plans.

Claire Trevett writes in Labour to ‘rejig’ caucus:

Labour leader Andrew Little will do a “slight rejig” of his caucus this week after Clayton Cosgrove’s decision not to stand next year, but has ruled out changing key personnel such as finance spokesman Grant Robertson.

Little said he had no plans to replace Robertson.

“There will be some slight rejigging in the next week or so, but I’m not anticipating any significant changes.” There was speculation former finance spokesman David Parker could get the finance role back, but Little and Parker denied it had come up.

Little said nobody had suggested he change the finance spokesperson, and when he set up his Shadow Cabinet in 2014 he made it clear Robertson would be in the finance role until at least next year’s election. “I’m totally satisfied with Grant’s performance and have no intention of changing him out of the finance role.”

After stating that Little can’t drop Robertson.

So were the rumblings about Robertson discussed by Labour’s leadership?

Or does it reflect dissatisfaction further down the ranks?

Either is a potential problem for Labour.

What Little has committed to is a minor tweak of caucus roles. Cosgrove is ranked 18 and has hardly been seen over the last eighteen months, but relatively low profile responsibilities…

  • Spokesperson for Commerce
  • Spokesperson for Veterans’ Affairs
  • Spokesperson for Tourism
  • Associate Finance Spokesperson

…so re-assigning those will probably not give any indication that Labour are doing anything different.

So Little’s best option to vitalise (you can hardly revitalise something that has been on life support for nearly a decade) his leadership is replacing McCarten.

Chief of staff is a vital role in a party leadership team. Little is noticeably struggling. If he can find someone who will do the hard work for him behind the scenes, and who will give him frank and helpful advice, then he might (just might) find a way of looking like a future Prime Minister.

Little said the poll was “disappointing” but had not spooked him or the caucus. “We are struggling to get clear messages through on our priorities. We’ve got to work harder at that.”

But this week Little’s priorities seemed to be muddy messages dirt mongering, pretty much the opposite of what he says Labour should be doing.

It’s not a matter of working harder, it’s more a matter of working smarter. Much smarter.

And it would be a smart move to appoint a smart chief of staff.

But the biggest problem may be finding some one willing to try to sort out Labour’s mess.

Leave a comment

42 Comments

  1. David

     /  17th April 2016

    Little should leave Robertson in finance and not just because it keeps him busy and not plotting but because it exposes him as pretty bloody hopeless. The future of work has given us cut and paste from The Economist, the debacle of the UBI, free education, the revelation that 80% of jobs will disappear and a summit with far left academics….Roberston is a political operator and doesn’t have the intellect for his role.
    I think Ardern is equally awful but her nonsense doesn’t get wide coverage, same for Hipkins.

    Reply
    • Iceberg

       /  17th April 2016

      Yep, Future of Work was dead in the water since the cut and paste job in the first report.

      The only thing of substance to come out of it is that nobody has to work anymore. The next thing to come out will be that we need to go back to compulsory unions, because inequality. If no one works, no need for unions. Happy Days. Tra la la.

      Reply
  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  17th April 2016

    Yes, finding someone interested in sorting out a party dominated by unionists and hard lefties meets as its first obstacle: “why bother?”

    Those likely to want to bother are journalists, teachers and other unionists – none of which are likely to have the necessary talents nor the insight to recognise the causes of the malaise.

    Reply
  3. Dougal

     /  17th April 2016

    I’ve made it very clear on a number of occasions that at the root of Labours problems is McCarten. Not only does the guy have a poor track record but is the “elephant in the room” as pointed out by WO where tax dodging is concerned and with Little’s current attack line how can McCarten exist in a senior role? He is not the only cause of where labour are at now but he is common denominator in poor performances from 2 leaders. Either way if Robbo goes or McCarten it’s nothing more that rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  17th April 2016

      McCarten should go.

      The problem is who else could they put in Robertson’s job as Finance spokesperson, unconvincing as he is? David Clark? David Parker? And the ructions demoting him would cause. Unless they leave him at No 3 with another important portfolio.

      Reply
      • David Parker ruled Finance out when he lost the last leadership contest, and I don’t think he has the credentials.

        David Clark was rated when he first became an MP in 2011 but I don’t think he has shown he was what it takes, yet at least. Some of his attacks have been distinctly lacking in basic knowledge and research.

        Reply
        • Dougal

           /  17th April 2016

          Parker certainly has the credentials from a real world perspective and does have a tertiary qualification in finance. His problem is he has been stepped on so many times he is flat as a pancake. This does not necessarily rule him out, look at English and his tilt at leadership. It’s the combo at the top that matters.

          Reply
      • Iceberg

         /  17th April 2016

        They shouldn’t stress too much about who to put in the finance role. It’s looking like they will have around 7 years at least to decide.

        Reply
        • Pantsdownbrown

           /  17th April 2016

          Once Key & English go National will also be floundering a bit (though they have more talent at their disposal than Labour currently do). 2020 could be interesting….

          Reply
          • Iceberg

             /  17th April 2016

            You’d be surprised at the depth in the National caucus. Even amongst those sitting in the cheap seats at the back, there are some quality operators.

            Reply
  4. alloytoo

     /  17th April 2016

    Labour needs to do “something”, no question.

    Question is, do we need Labour?

    Reply
    • We need a strong Opposition and a party capable of credibly challenging National.

      So the question to ask is whether Labour can be that party any more or if they are stuck in a downward spiral.

      Reply
    • Dougal

       /  17th April 2016

      My 2c worth.. Shane Jones as leader and a senior academic with a mild green streak as chief of staff. Jones is clever and has charisma. His mild digressions make him human and he connects well with Maori.

      Reply
      • Dougal

         /  17th April 2016

        Oh for an editing tool..”mild indiscretions”

        Reply
      • Gezza

         /  17th April 2016

        Porno boy. He pretty much jumped the waka taking up the Ambassador for Pacific Economic Development job and the rumours he may be considering joining NZ First won’t help. Or do you jest?

        Reply
        • Dougal

           /  17th April 2016

          Yes there is a degree of humour in my suggestion 🙂 The point is Labour has few options and any that make them more appealing to middle NZ have left or been self ejected. Jones is a good example of someone who would appeal to a wide range of voters. He is extremely well educated and is more than capable of cutting down National with a few clever words. COS should be someone smarter than all of them put together and someone who understands the same demographic afore mentioned. What is the point in having a politically myopic COS? They are supposed to be able to think like the opposition and beat them at their own game..So, who is THAT person?

          Reply
      • Not being in Parliament rules Jones out. And from what is said if he returns it’s more likely to be with NZ First.

        Even if he returned as a Labour MP after next year’s election it would be difficult for him to jump straight into a leadership role.

        And remember that Labour has given some union a virtual deciding vote in their leadership rules, Jones would struggle to get union backing.

        Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  17th April 2016

      I would be furious if someone I’d voted for said that they’d just been killing time-they’d never have my vote again.I don’t vote for someone who’s going to be doing nothing but sit around killing time.

      I wonder if Labour is just out of date-even the name is dated in a way that National isn’t. Maybe they should rebrand & rename themselves, although I can’t think what as-thinking up party names and slogans is probably a lot more difficult that it would appear.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  17th April 2016

        My mistake-I took it the wrong way, thinking that AL had said that-it seemed an odd thing for him to say. Waiting for a minister ? I thought it meant that he was waiting for a suitable person to be one….

        Reply
  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  17th April 2016

    Labour’s only realistic current strategy is to try to piss off Key enough to make him retire.

    The flaw is that even if achieved it would just play straight into Winston’s hands.

    Reply
  6. And so it begins…..

    A little White Anting of the Leader:
    “Andrew Little said this. Andrew Little said that. Tired of his cock-ups. Tired of being blamed for his mistakes.”

    And someone has pumped Mr Slater up to revive via a drip feed, McCartens tax problems story…..

    So who benefits? Or who has an axe to grind against Little, McCarten???? Who has ambition and wears a cardie, who has a big smile and connects with the yoof o’todaaay? The Dream Team: Gracinda…..

    This is going to get progressively worse for the next 18-19 months to the next GE, as those who Watch and Wait spread the undermining and disharmony stories via their mates in the Gallery….

    And a nice touch to do the McCarten undermining via WOBH…..

    Reply
    • Whale Oil has been pushing the Mccarten tax problems for yonks and has periodically repeated it, so this may be just a continuation of that.

      Slater may be simply sticking his boot into McCarten to stick his boot into Labour, something he probably doesn’t need any prompting or leaking to do.

      Reply
      • Yes I know that Pete, its been a revisit meme for years re the Unite Service tax problem… maybe a coincidence…. but then again nice timing of blog posts and stories in the MSM don’t you think.

        Either way symptomatic of a Party at war with itself with the poor execution of communication of policy position and the ongoing disunity bubbling always just at or under the surface…..

        Reply
    • Dougal

       /  17th April 2016

      McCaarten cannot exist so long as Little is taking Key to task on the Panama Papers. WO bringing it up again may have a second dimension but is clearly a very nasty dead rat Little is swallowing.

      Reply
      • Indeed Dougal – McCarten is a millstone around Littles neck every time he or a member of his caucus go down the tax evasion route…..

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  17th April 2016

          He (AL) would do better to make a brief but sincere apology and admit that he was wrong. It’s hard to do, but it would pay huge dividends.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  17th April 2016

            Nope. He can’t. And it wouldn’t. He’s made that bed. He has to lie in it. He needs to move on with some positive stuff. And quickly.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  17th April 2016

              Well, maybe not HUGE dividends, but it might put an end to all the hoohah that he’s trying to create. A man who’ll admit that he was wrong will gain some respect, at least.

              I bet that there are rocks in his bed.

              I’d hate to be his cat; I’d be out when he was in, and if I had to be in I’d keep my bum to the wall and make sure that I was between him and the cat door.

            • Gezza

               /  17th April 2016

              It’d be the thin end of the wedge. Nobody’s going to forget Cunliffe’s apology, context or not.

            • Gezza

               /  17th April 2016
            • Gezza

               /  17th April 2016

              Aww that didn’t work. If this doesn’t scroll down his facebook page to the box – the YEP plan.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  17th April 2016

              David Cunliffe’s apology was a silly one over something that was beyond his control unless he had a sex change.

              This would be AL apologising for something he’d done-a very different thing. If someone never admits that they’re wrong, they look arrogant. He could admit that he was mistaken and he’d look a lot less of a fool than if he kept banging on about something that is obviously not true. If he did it now, it’d be a bit late, but not quite too late.If he pigheadedly keeps insisting against all evidence that he’s right and everyone else is wrong, he’ll look like a stubborn idiot who can’t ever accept that he’s made a mistake-and he’ll look like a bore. Remember Oliver, Mr Man(iac) and dear old Kiwi Guy ? (faints at awful memory)

            • Gezza

               /  17th April 2016

              Hasn’t been doin’ The Donald too much harm…

            • Gezza

               /  17th April 2016

              If you check out his facebook page you can see Andy’s staying the course on this trusts issue. I don’t think it’s a winner though.

  7. Pantsdownbrown

     /  17th April 2016

    Reshuffle what? Labour can’t find a decent leader but the ineptness of their MP’s is even more staggering.

    Replacing one useless MP with another.

    Reply
  8. Corky

     /  17th April 2016

    If us Righties are lucky we will get to watch two feature movies for the price of one admission.

    First feature coming soon will be Mission Improbable starring Andy. The second feature will be a teaser next year and will be called ” The Poseidon Adventure,There ain’t no morning after” starring a full Labour assemblage with guest appearances by Johnny and his All stars. This movie will bring a wrap-up to Labours three previous box office flops.

    Pass the pop corn boys.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  17th April 2016

      Next double feature: Key’s (in) The Kingdom, followed by Little(‘s) Shop of Horrors.

      After that How Green Were My Voters and Gone With the Winston.

      Popcorn ? I’d love some, thank you ! Plain, not caramel.

      We’re a witty lot at YNZ 😀

      Reply

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