What’s the problem with ‘Labour-led Government’?

I think it’s been fairly normal to describe Governments in New Zealand under MMP as led by the largest party, and led by the party of the Prime Minister. It has been common to hear of the Labour-led Clark Government, or the National-led Key Government. Actually it was common for the last lot to be referred to as ;the National Government.

So it is odd to see such a big deal being made over the term ‘Labour-led Government’. Or the Ardern Government.

National have recently been needling Winston Peters in particular on this lately – see The most pure form of MMP?

On Sunday while most of the focus and speech making was on Ardern and Labour, Ardern only sort of said she was in charge in her speech:

It’s a bit like a road trip that tells you who’s in the car, where you’ll be stopping, but doesn’t tell you where you’re going.

I can tell you, that as the person driving that car, that wasn’t enough for me.

She referred to ‘government’ 33 times, coalition 5 times and Labour just once:

This is our Cabinet mandated, Coalition Government work plan.

This plan represents our shared vision and priorities; Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens.

She even mention ‘green’ 5 times.

Ardern is going out of her way to appease Peters on this. NZH: PM’s verdict on the three words guaranteed to annoy NZ First leader Winston Peters

In New Zealand, we now have a Government which looks like a Labour-led Government called the I Can’t Believe It’s Not a Labour-led Government.

NZ First leader Winston Peters has expended some energy trying to eradicate the pesky phrase “Labour-led Government,” claiming it is not a true reflection of the coalition arrangement.

Instead, he has instructed media, MPs and anybody else in earshot to refer to “the Coalition Government” or the Labour-NZ First coalition government.

He will tolerate the addition of “with confidence and supply from the Greens” but only three times a year and only if uttered in a dark windowless room with no audience.

Antagonising Peters probably won’t change anything, he does cantankerous without any provocation.

Even Ardern gets jittery when the three words are uttered in her presence.

Asked if she had asked ministers to stop using the term, she replied “ah, I’ve never used that phrase, I don’t believe I’ve used that phrase.

“I tend not to and I’d expect [ministers] to refer to us as a coalition Government or a Government with a coalition partner and a confidence and supply partner.”

Peters has had some success with his eradication campaign.

The offending term has now been removed from the Beehive website and replaced with Coalition Government.

Ardern said that was not her doing.

“If you’re questioning whether or not because there was a change whether or not because there was a change on the website that I’m ceding power, the answer is no.”

Nor did the outlawing of the words “Labour-led Government” mean the Government was not led by Labour.

“I am a Labour Prime Minister, I am leader of the Labour Party and I am in a coalition Government. There is no doubt I don’t think that I am the Prime Minister and leading this Government.”

Sounds like talking around the issue. Someone in Labour seems to have been busy ensuring compliance with Winston’s descriptive demands.

Doing a search on site:labour.org.nz labour-led shows no hits in the last month, but there are still some references remain going further back, with 8 in October/November last year when the new Government took over.

For this year I can find three:

Not surprisingly the media are rebelling against instructions on how to describe the Government.

The media merrily ignore Peters’ edict and some may use the term in front of him just to annoy him.

Tova O’Brien (Newshub) leads with the term in Jacinda Ardern’s U-turn on pulling troops out of Iraq

“The Labour-led Government is extending New Zealand’s deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan”, which may grate given this is a NZ First leaning decision.

Brigitte Morton (RNZ): A SuperGold move from the coalition

What it didn’t address was the issues that the Labour-led Government has been having over the last fortnight. Simply changing it from being called the Labour-led government to the Coalition government didn’t address any of the differences that are emerging between the three parties.

Tim Murphy (Newsroom): The Push-me-Pull-you Government

It was an invite only affair, in a university lecture theatre darkened to permit viewing of a skite-video of the first, well, 11 months and featuring a scrolling, too-fast-to-read list of the achievements of this Labour-led Government. Or the Labour-New Zealand First Coalition. Or the Labour-New Zealand First Coalition with support on confidence and supply from the Green Party.

Looks like the Streisand effect in action.

1 News from yesterday’s Ardern media conference: ‘No’ – Jacinda Ardern says change in wording on Labour’s website doesn’t mean she’s ‘ceding power’

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told media a change of text on the Labour Party’s website doesn’t mean she will be “ceding power” anytime soon.

A reporter asked Ms Ardern if she has asked her ministers to stop using the term Labour led Government at her post-Cabinet address today.

“I don’t believe I’ve ever used that phrase and I expect them to refer to us as a coalition Government that’s the truth of our arrangement,” Ms Ardern said.

Another reporter then pointed out Labour’s official website used to have the phrase “to get the latest from the Labour led Government click here” on it’s homepage and that has now been changed to read “to get the latest from the Coalition Government, click here.”

“I can’t say I have noticed it or that it’s ever been raised with me.

“If you’re questioning whether or not because there was a change on the website if I’m ceding power the answer is no,” the Prime Minister answered.

But:

Also:

This may seem quite petty and unimportant, but it is a further sign of how much the Government is intent on massaging their messages, including trying to dictate descriptions.

The official website of the New Zealand Government refers to “Labour led government 2017-2020”

https://www.beehive.govt.nz/portfolio/labour-led-government-2017-2020/foreign-affairs

 

 

Leave a comment

30 Comments

  1. David

     /  September 18, 2018

    I can see why Peters wants the label change especially after he very competently ran the place and probably still is, why call it Labour led when Ardern is actually not leading it and her cabinet seem largely absent.

    Reply
  2. robertguyton

     /  September 18, 2018

    “This may seem quite petty and unimportant”
    – Pete George

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  September 18, 2018

      – but it is a further sign of how much the Government is intent on massaging their messages, including trying to dictate descriptions.

      – Pete George

      And in reality it is not, for a number of reasons, and that is why it is attracting so much attention and commentary

      – Sir Gerald Ormsby Battersea Bradders KFC, HTML
      🐧 Avian Aviation Authority 🐧

      Reply
    • PDB

       /  September 18, 2018

      You miss the point Robert – the fact Winston has control over even the minor things (in this case how the govt is described on the Labour website & beyond) makes this very telling as to where the real power lies.

      Reply
  3. Corky

     /  September 18, 2018

    Remember Global Warming Morphing into Climate Change thereby allowing the scam to cover more bases to prove its relevance? Nothing has changed..it’s still a hotly debated scam.

    The coalition government is in a worse predicament. Unlike Climate Change, the government can’t hide behind bs and shonky science. Television and their back pocket is telling voters their government are incompetent scam artists reduced to rebranding in a vain attempt to look legitimate.

    Roll on 2020. Let’s put this scam to bed.

    Reply
  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  September 18, 2018

    Winston’s commitment to democracy is as shaky as his every other principle except for Winston First. Hence his 7% outvotes Labour’s 35% every other day.

    It’s ok though. Robert and Z are fine with this.

    Reply
    • PDB

       /  September 18, 2018

      The 7% party no doubt signed a coalition agreement with the 35% party in which NZL First has at least a 50% stake – no wonder Winston is fuming at the disrespect being shown considering he has negotiated himself the deal of the century.

      Might be enough to make him start leaking the secret coalition agreement that underpins their arrangement and that Labour doesn’t want released.

      Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  September 18, 2018

      Perhaps NZ1 votes are ‘dog votes’.

      Reply
    • Corky

       /  September 18, 2018

      Even the village idiot could land a hit on this band of merry dysfunctional socialists.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  September 18, 2018

        Have you done so, then ?

        Reply
        • PDB

           /  September 18, 2018

          Come now Kitty, put the claws away 🙂

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  September 18, 2018

            Prrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr………..

            you must admit that that one asked for that response….prrrrrr. prrrrrr……

            Reply
            • Corky

               /  September 18, 2018

              Yes, I did ask for that response. I wrote it with you in mind. A prat confirmed is a prat known …again. 😄👍

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  September 18, 2018

              Backpedalling again. Failing to be convincing again.

              I don’t believe that you wrote it with anything like that in mind. It was a stupid statement that deserved the response it was given.

              It would have been better had you said nothing rather than make this pathetic attempt at face-saving and point-scoring. Too late.

            • Corky

               /  September 18, 2018

              Meoww, Meoww….why does Corky think I protest too much?

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  September 18, 2018

              I don’t know…why does Corky think that Corky protests too much ? You’d better ask him/you.

              Another bizarre post from you/him/them.

            • Corky

               /  September 18, 2018

              ”I don’t believe that you wrote it with anything like that in mind. It was a stupid statement that deserved the response it was given.”

              Look, I will let you off the hook. How is that a stupid statement?

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  September 18, 2018

              If you have to ask the question, you wouldn’t understand the answer.

              I am not now and never have been on a hook as far as you are concerned; do not flatter yourself.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  September 18, 2018

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  September 18, 2018

              TURN THAT CCTV OFF !!!!

            • PDB

               /  September 18, 2018

              Hey Patu! How’s business?

            • Corky

               /  September 18, 2018

              Let’s see. Jacinda sucked in by Mikey. Kiwi Build homes not qualifying for bank loans. The PM trying hard not to lose it in the debating chamber.
              And it’s only Tuesday for the Labour lead…coalition government?

              And Kitty asks why I wrote this:

              ”Even the village idiot could land a hit on this band of merry dysfunctional socialists.”

              Guess I was wrong. There are people dumber than the village idiot.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  September 18, 2018

              Not everyone watches Mike Hosking; most of us have better things to do. Almost anything would be better than watching that opinionated git.

              I’d say that the village idiots are the ones who admire this conceited fool; the rest of us avoid him if we possibly can. Fancy admitting that you watch Mike Hosking, of all people.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  September 18, 2018

              Labour led, not lead.

              Yes, it is indeed only Tuesday. It’s Tuesday for everyone, of course, not just those people.

            • Corky

               /  September 18, 2018

              ”Labour led, not lead.”

              It’s a pity you concentrated on the spelling mistake. It stops you taking the moral high ground – makes you look small. But honestly…I don’t mind.

              ”It’s Tuesday for everyone.”

              Really?

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  September 19, 2018

              Oh, just drop it, you droning bore.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  September 19, 2018

              I would advise you to look up the meaning of taking the moral high ground. Of course I don’t take it. It’s the last resort of people like you. Nobody who’s sure of their ground needs to ‘take the moral high ground.’

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  September 19, 2018

              Yes, really – it’s not just Tuesday for the few whom you mentioned. It was, of course, Tuesday for them, but not ONLY for them.

            • Gezza

               /  September 19, 2018

              Let it go.

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