How well planned was Labour’s leadership change?

There are some aspects of Labour’s very quick leadership change that raise a few questions.

It appears that as far as Andrew Little went he was genuinely undecided about what to do on Sunday when the Colmar poll went public and Little went public in response, making a major mistake for a leader when he questioned whether he should remain. Who advised him to go public with doubts?

On Monday Little seemed to swing back to being determined to stay on, but I think he was out of Wellington.

However on Monday evening it was reported that he was going, and it was specifically stated that Labour sources had Jacinda Ardern set up to take over, with Kelvin Davis as deputy.

When Little returned to Wellington on Tuesday morning he was asked at the Wellington airport what he would do, and he told a reporter he would not step down.

But at 10am he fronted up to media and said he was quitting. That was followed by a Labour caucus meeting where he nominated Ardern as leader, and Grant Robertson nominated Davis as deputy. Both were unopposed so got the top jobs.

Soon afterwards, at noon Ardern fronted up to media seeming remarkably well poised and prepared considering she officially only knew she would be leader about an hour earlier. She read from speech notes or a written speech.

Afterwards Davis claimed that it was all a sudden surprise, but there are doubts about that. It would be remarkable for someone to make such a big decision that would dramatically effect their and their family’s lives in an hour or two with little or no chance to discuss with family.

Stuff:  Labour’s Kelvin Davis is ready for the spotlight

Kelvin Davis says he had no idea that he’d have a new job just 24 hours ago, but you get the feeling he’s been getting ready for a while.

He was nominated by finance spokesman and former deputy Grant Robertson, and was elected unopposed.

But while texts were swirling discussing the possible pairing of Davis and Ardern on Monday night, he is adamant he had no idea he would be in this role until the morning.

“24 hours ago I was in a totally different frame of mind, and not expecting to be the sitting where I am now – but that’s the nature of politics,” Davis said.

Davis was in Northland and planning to stay on, but his assistant booked him flights down to Wellington late last night.

He woke up at 4am, had “the quickest shower of my life” and drove to KeriKeri airport to fly down.

Davis said he managed to talk to his wife about the decision to be deputy leader before making the call – and she said “go ahead”.

He said “he had no idea he would be in this role until the morning” but that is contradicted by “his assistant booked him flights down to Wellington late last night”.

He may well have been uncertain whether Little would step down on Tuesday, but he must have considered the possibility well prior, and must have been involved in discussions on Monday, otherwise he wouldn’t have been named as deputy in advance.

Ardern has obviously been groomed and preparing for a leadership role for some time. She stood as Robertson’s deputy in 2014 when they lost to Little.

Normally Labour have a very involved leadership selection process that has taken about a month, being decided by a vote  split between Caucus (40%), party members (40%) and affiliated unions (20%). Little beat Robertson by just over 1%, but with scant support from Labour’s caucus.

There is an exception to this process – within three months of a general election the caucus alone can decide on a leadership change.

Given that it is now less than two months until the election and time is critical – Labour’s billboards and pamphlets have all been printed and there is not much time to reprint and re-plan their election strategy – I don’t think the exact timing was planned.

But it looks suspiciously like alternative leadership had already been well canvassed and planned, should the opportunity arrive to shove Little aside.

It looks like Labour’s caucus, or at least some of it, had at least deliberately been prepared to overrule the decision of members and unions.

Lynn Prentice at The Standard posted  Ok, I’m pissed off with the Labour caucus again. Time to switch

To say that I’m pissed off about whatever happened and deeply suspicious about the action of the caucus, would be an understatement. The vote in 2013 [it was November 2014] by the whole of the Labour party as a group to install Andrew Little was quite clear. He wasn’t exactly my choice of a best candidate, but he was the best candidate to cut across the whole party and their supporters. Especially bearing in mind the damage that the faction fighting inside the caucus had done since Helen Clark stood down after the 2008 election.

I neither have time or the inclination to dig around to see the machinations that caused this to happen in the 3 month window when caucus alone can elect the leader of the parliamentary party. But I am deeply suspicious about the timing and abrupt nature that it isn’t a coincidental move. It looks to me like a deliberate roll via whisper campaign and a general lack of support in a caucus. I’ve had rumors of a move by the conservatives and ambitious in the caucus to do this for a while.

Anne commented:

I’m with lprent on this one. We’ve both been around the Labour Party a long time and observed the machinations inside the Labour hierachy, and their parliamentary equivalents, from the inside looking out, and from the outside looking in. We’ve got form when it comes to understanding the nature of their respective ‘modus operandi’ and its not always a pretty sight. I could go on to detail what I mean but frankly can’t be bothered.

I, too, was hopeful that the elevation of Little would put an end to the factionalism and he certainly has held them in check. However, its now starting to look like the leading parliamentary lights have taken advantage of the current situation and (I suspect) exacted their revenge on the membership and affiliated unions for daring to go against their wishes in the leadership election 2 years ago [closer to 3 years ago]. Unfortunately, the weaker members of caucus appear to have not stood up to them and have been rolled into line.

The truth will emerge one day.

No matter how they were put in these positions Ardern is now leader, and Davis is deputy. The campaign will roll on.

But it appears that the story about how they got there is being spun somewhat.

It will now be interesting to see what Ardern and Labour do about policies.

Policies are theoretically put forward and debated and decided by all of the party, involving party members.

Labour’s current policies have been developed and decided over the past two and a half years.

Ardern could put different emphasis on policies that are already in place or in the pipeline.

But if she makes policy changes, as some people are urging (the Corbynisation of NZ Labour has been suggested by left wing activists) that would be another usurping of party processes by a caucus cabal.

If Labour do well in the election then this may not matter – power placates the party plebs.

But if Labour end up in  opposition again for a fourth term the caucus could fragment and the party may want to take out their annoyance on someone.

Some of the affiliated unions may not be very pleased either. Recent donations:

Maritime Union of New Zealand – $40,500 received on 19 July 2017

E tu Union – $120,000 received on 20 June 2017

They have lost the leader they voted for.

D’Esterre at The Standard:

It certainly looks like that. I’m very angry at Little’s ouster and I’m done with Labour.

It infuriates me that I made a donation to the party the day before Little was forced out. Now Andrew Kirton is claiming a flood of extra donations over the last couple of days as an indication of public support for the change of leadership. It bloody is not, in my case at any rate! If I could get that money back, I would.

Last night, I got the begging e-mail from Jacinda Ardern. Would I be getting my cheque-book (to coin a phrase) out? somebody asked me. Not. A. Chance.

One thing seems likely – that while the timing may have been opportunistic quite a bit of planning had already taken place by some in Labour’s caucus. Ardern and Davis must have considered the options well in advance, they were too ready to jump in not to have been.

If that’s the case then some people aren’t being straight with the public. That’s a risky thing to do during an election campaign – especially if not everyone in Labour is happy.

Adam:

This is a coup d’etat, pure and simple.

An authoritarian one at that.

So much for democracy for the members of the labour party. This is quite an awful affair. But good news for us who have been saying all along labour is a liberal party representing the interests of the liberal class, by using the words of the suffering and pain to trick people.

Trick me once, shame on me. Trick me twice, shame on you. Keep on trying to trick us – well for that we have the labour party.

If the election goes well or ok for Labour most may be forgiven. If not Labour could be at risk of further turmoil. Politics can be a high risk game.

Leave a comment

32 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  August 3, 2017

    I might just point out that Gezza The Mighty Celtic Warrior was onto this plot like a robber’s dog late last nite.

    Reply
  2. Been on the cards since Robertson was thwarted by the Unions. He is the spider in the centre of the web in my view pulling the strings.The constant pushing of JA in the womans mags was the first visible move, the leaking of the internal polling etc etc etc

    This is perfect really as the Unions will NOT want to be seen supporting a woman and a maori in leadership roles – so they have been nicely put back in their box.

    I expect not a leftward swing at all, but a pivot to more centrist positions with an air brushed JA smiling beneficently down on her adoring masses from nice shiney new hoardings- the centrist stuff will be a smokescreen and fabianist gradual radicalism moving further left will occur…. i.e Helen’s playbook…

    The flies in the ointment are the Greens and Winnie First. Labour will be lucky to shift and stay above 30% between now and late September…… Winnies assumed role as Kingmaker gets a bit harder to achieve if Labour stops leaking votes

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  August 3, 2017

      I’m waiting to see whether Le Plotteur might suddenly find cindy the airhead & kelvin the scarlet pukeko are smarter than the average bears dave ?

      Jacinda looks like death warmed up. They are going to need to do something in the image department, although I personally wouldn’t recommend they follow all 3 of Corky’s suggestions yesterday.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  August 3, 2017

        Last nite:

        They need to replace the big background image of Andy in front of the team asap.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  August 3, 2017

          Aww … come on ladies. Be fair, differences aside. At least give her a hand on the presentation & deportment! This look’s not a good one! I’m thinking maybe long Page Boy, might fill out the cheeks? Makeup tips?

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  August 3, 2017

            (The long hair’s no good. It’s outdated, too ‘college kid’ & she’s got a long face, so the gaunt look is accentuated.)

            Reply
    • Gezza

       /  August 3, 2017

      Righto. dave. Watched 1ewes at 6 on Plus One.

      Even allowing for the fact they’ll be showing Jacinda at her ‘Leader’s best’ – this young lady appears to me to be detemined, very confident, photogenic-ish (see makeover suggestions above) & in absolute control of what she’s doing – & will not be pushed – by the msm or anybody else.

      Kelvin Davis, similar.
      National’s deputy is a lot less trim than Labour’s.

      The unions will go along with whatever they do. Those former loyalists who despaired of Andy and toyed with the desperate idea of voting for the party of the nation’s *most stupid benefit fraudster ever* will be flocking back to Helen’s reinvigorated party.

      National is in for a helluva fight. Imo.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  August 3, 2017

        They need to replace the big background image of Andy in front of the team asap.

        Gone. Now this:

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  August 3, 2017

          (Under Andy important speeches & other changes getting on to their website were often as slow as a wet weekend.)

          Reply
      • Pete Kane

         /  August 3, 2017

        G if you get time It relates to the wider pic.(I actually posted under the MT article).
        http://www.noted.co.nz/currently/politics/why-paula-bennett-is-trouble-for-the-national-party/
        26 July Graham Adams in the Listener I think.
        “As soon as Jacinda Ardern was made Labour’s deputy leader in March, the knives came out. Commentators on the right said Ardern was going to pose a terrible problem for Labour and Andrew Little because she would soon overtake him in the polls.
        They were right about Ardern’s popularity. She has featured regularly in lists of preferred prime ministers, regularly beating Little, and her popularity means Labour’s election campaign billboards feature the Little-Ardern combo.
        But nobody guessed in December when John Key slunk off into the night and Paula Bennett became Deputy PM that she would turn out to be a far bigger problem for National’s new leader, Bill English, than Ardern is for Little.”

        Prophetic and funny.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  August 3, 2017

          You might get an uptick, depending whether there’s any under mine when I check back later.

          Reply
        • Gezza

           /  August 3, 2017

          Really looking forward to Jacinda asking a Question In The House to Nikki Kaye, PK.
          Hopefully next week. Should be good. Especially the supplementaries.

          Reply
  3. Patzcuaro

     /  August 3, 2017

    “When Little returned to Wellington on Tuesday morning he was asked at the Wellington airport what he would do, and he told a reporter he would not step down.”

    I don’t take much notice of that. If a reporter sticks a recorder in your face at the airport it would be madness to say anything else. If he was resigning it would be better to do it in a managed way as transpired.

    Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  August 3, 2017

      If he had known, he would have gone with a “No comment” or fobbed the reporter off.
      To categorically state he wasn’t standing down suggests he had no idea of what what about to happen, as it made him look somewhat foolish.

      Reply
  4. David

     /  August 3, 2017

    Under Labours rules there is another leadership vote after the election in January, she could be a very short lived PM if she wins in September and the unions could just put Little back in the top job if Ardern wont deliver their demands.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  August 3, 2017

      Just a feeling, but I think Kelvin would be hard to oust from next in line in that case.

      Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  August 3, 2017

      Isn’t that only triggered if the caucus vote against confirmation?

      Reply
    • Joe Bloggs

       /  August 3, 2017

      I doubt even Labour would change leaders after the election if Ardern pulled off an improbable win in September. If she wins she’d be assured of the caucus and party votes and that’s 80% of the vote, and it would be suicide for the unions to turn their backs on her.

      Reply
  5. Blazer

     /  August 3, 2017

    The task at hand is to. .change the Government. ..egos. ..can. .wait.

    Reply
  6. Gezza

     /  August 3, 2017

    Question Time.
    Visiting Delegations from Bangladesh & Republic of Korea in Public Gallery welcomed by Hon Mr Speaker the Grinner.

    All on.

    Patsy question plus supplementaries to Joyce about multinational tax changes by Hon Melissa Lee. Rude interjections from cross benches, Speaker gave them a bollocking, not sure who it was but Joyce said might’ve been from a member relieved at keeping his job?
    Gant Robertson getting stuck in …

    Reply
  7. Pete Kane

     /  August 3, 2017

    I assuming urgent debate. Will be interested in Bridge’s approach. Alan made a timely (as it happens) little comment on his ‘approach’ this morning. following the Coleman article.

    Reply
    • Pete Kane

       /  August 3, 2017

      I’m

      Reply
    • Gezza

       /  August 3, 2017

      What is it about Phil Twyford that makes him always sound like a whiny, smarmy pain in the arse who just gets blown away every time by Nick Smith, of all people! They need to get rid of Phil, he’s useless.

      Reply
    • Gezza

       /  August 3, 2017

      Anne Tolley’s a very competent Minister & always good at Question Time. Underrated probably.

      Reply

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