TRP Adviser 11 August 2017

This week we learned many things.


Bill English is donkey deep in the Todd Barclay affair, Labour have their mojo back and it’s all about me me Metiria.

The revelations that Bill English was texting his former electorate secretary hundreds of times in the lead up to her resignation was bad enough. Now we learn that English unlawfully destroyed the incriminating texts, presumably to avoid public opprobrium.

It seems likely that Winston Peters has some or all of the communications and is going to drip feed them over the next few weeks. He’s going to let English squirm and fret. That’s as it should be, because forcing someone to resign against their will is appalling behaviour.

In the legal trade, that’s known as a constructive dismissal. It’s when someone of power and authority makes life so miserable for an employee that they have no reasonable alternative but to resign.

At least that’s what I hope English was up to with his txt torrent. It’d be truly awful if, as some people have suggested, he was a sex pest. No, that simply can’t be true.


The latest polls have Labour riding high. They’re back up to the giddy heights of the mid thirties, a place that was only a few years ago the death knell for former leaders Shearer and Cunliffe.

There’s a sad irony that a mediocre result is a cause for celebration, but kudos to Andrew Little for allowing this to happen. The Jacinda Affect is real. But will it be sustained? And after the Greens implosion, will the coalition numbers still stack up, even with NZ First’s support?


This has been a chastening week for the Greens. The initial response to Metiria Turei’s admission that she was a benefit fraudster was a leap in support. There was clear public sympathy for her claimed circumstances, but as her story unravelled, that faded fast.

It was political madness to alienate middle class support. The Greens don’t exist without the money and votes of the relatively well off. Trying to rebrand the party as mana with muesli was always going to come at a cost.

The maths simply don’t add up. The beneficiaries Metiria was pitching to are notoriously hard to get enrolled, let alone to get to vote. The gain was always going to be minimal and the potential downside catastrophic.

In short, Meteria Turei’s attempt to be down with the kids has cost her and two other MP’s their jobs. Because they will know struggle to get to double figures, she’s also cost 4 or 5 list candidates seats in parliament as well.

And still she won’t apologise. That’s weird, because she’s going to be doing a lot of apologising in private in the coming weeks. Mainly to the wider family of her child, who she has effectively cast as uncaring and distant.

One last question I haven’t heard asked in the media. Was James Shaw aware of the content of her speech? If he did and was supportive of it, he should also go, because the polling is not their only problem. They’ve effectively given Winston Peters the right to demand they be left out of cabinet if Labour form the next Government.

That’s the real damage me me Metiria has done.

Turei promoted as ‘New Zealander of the Year’

It appears that there is a campaign to promote Metiria Turei as New Zealander of the Year.

This is unusual given that Turei has only come to prominence over the past month, and in that time she has precipitated chaos in the Green Party.

She has also made a dramatic recovery of the Labour Party’s chances in the election, so perhaps she deserves credit for that, our democracy was weak when Labour was weak.


2018 New Zealander of the Year Awards Update

The New Zealander of the Year Awards office is pleased to provide the following nominations update for the 2018 New Zealander of the Year Awards.

• 41 people have been nominated for the 2018 New Zealander of the Year title.
• There has been a surge in nominations for former Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei since her resignation.
• Other nominated New Zealanders for 2018 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year include:
o Peter Burling – Team New Zealand helmsman
o Mark Dunajtschik – Wellington Children’s Hospital benefactor
o Nicky Hager – author
o Heather Henare – Skylight CEO and former CEO of Women’s Refuge New Zealand
o Mike King – mental health advocate
o Nigel Latta – psychologist and author
o Jono Pryor – television and radio personality

After nominations close on 18 September 2017, a judging panel – comprising representatives of awards patrons, presenters, sponsors, community leaders and independent experts – will evaluate the nominations. The shortlist of 10 candidates to be considered for the New Zealander of the Year Award will be announced in December.

Not sure why Turei gets a special mention there.

No mention of a surge for Andrew Little. While Turei precipitated his stepping down as Labour leader, his going quickly and gracefully made it possible for Jacinda Ardern to take over with gusto.

TRP Adviser 4 August 2017

This week we learned many things.

Andrew Little is a gent, Bill English is going to be the first National Party leader to lose two elections and Mark Richardson is possibly the stupidest man in the media.

Andrew Little was always going to do it tough as leader of the Labour Party. He took over a caucus that was still a seething pit of factional infighting and a party that was organisationally down in the dumps. To his eternal credit, he whipped caucus into shape and retuned the party organisation.

What he couldn’t do was convince the public that he could offer something distinctly different from the Nats. So he did the honourable thing and stepped aside. That’s a mark of the man. Honest, self-effacing and loyal. Strangely, exactly the qualities that would make a good Prime Minister.

Bill English is – how can I put this nicely? – shitting himself. No National party leader has ever lost two elections. None have ever been given the chance.

In their world, success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan. After leading the party to a 22% drubbing 15 years ago, English should never, ever have been re-adopted. And if the Nat’s brains trust (Joyce, S) wasn’t so full of himself, thinking the party could sleep walk to victory, he would have spotted the danger.

Too late now, Tories. Unless, of course, Bill swiftly does an Andrew Little and takes a long walk in the tundra so that Bennett or Bridges can take the reins.

Only seven weeks to go, Bill. If you’re gonna go, better make it quick.

So, it turns out Mark Richardson is numpty and a Neanderthal. Who’d have thunk it?

Richardson was notoriously slow running between the wickets. Turns out he’s equally slow between the ears.

He’s probably going to have to live with this half witted hetero hari kiri for the rest of his life. But hey, he’ll soon be making jokes about it and the men that run our sports media will happily slap him on the back for being a good bugger.

Apparently in NZ media management circles breaking your girlfriend’s back is entirely forgivable, so Richardson publicly wanting to send all women of child bearing age back to the 1950’s is probably grounds for a pay rise.

Sometimes I really do despair. But then I just look at a picture of Jacinda Ardern and break out into a beaming smile. As I’m sure all of you do.

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.

Party leaders on Little and Labour

Responses from party leaders on Andrew Little and Labour.

Gareth Morgan (TOP): Labour in trouble is not good for New Zealand

It’s an awful day for Andrew Little and I for one am sad to see him go; he’s a gentleman and for sure has the interests of New Zealanders who are struggling deeply ingrained in his being. That matters.

While Andrew has gone I would say that his departure does not address Labour’s challenge to stay relevant in 2017. What would do are policies that are designed for the 21st Century and not attempts to rehash a 1970’s tax and targeted welfare regime that is well past its use-by date.

Labour has gone so close to trying to promote stuff that’s relevant to the plight of increasing numbers of New Zealanders who are not sharing in the prosperity that the rest of us are. Their “Future of Work” conference and capital gains tax initiatives have been just two examples. But each time the party has pulled back for fear of opening too big a policy difference with National, the incumbent government. And that has been a loss for voters who need contestability of ideas if they are going to find the best way forward.

So in that sense we all lose from Labour’s recent implosion. In short there is nothing fresh about their approach – and that makes their election slogan this time around an oxymoron. They need to get some good quality, enlightened policy offerings out there for voters to have the best choice possible. Only by doing this will Labour get up and make a contest between a National-led alternative or Labour-led one. We need that contest.

So I welcome Jacinda & Kelvin’s promotion and wish them the best. I really do hope their era is one where Labour is again vibrant, innovative and bold. At TOP we began with a slogan “Let’s Make New Zealand Fair”. It’d be great to see Labour reiterating that message.

Bill English (National) from Stuff:

Marama Fox (Maori Party):

Metiria Turei:  Green Party committed to working with Labour to change the government

“Andrew Little has spent the last two and a half years standing up for all New Zealanders, working to bridge the gap between rich and poor, and to call out the National Government’s many failures. We thank him for that.”

 

Andrew Little – a good guy who failed

Many people have said that Andrew Little was a good guy, a decent bloke. That’s how i saw him. But he failed as Labour leader.

He failed to inspire the people of New Zealand. Part of the reason for this is he failed to inspire the media, who play a big role in the rise or fall or politicians.

But, while he seemed to manage to unite the Labour caucus and stop their feuding, he failed to inspire them too. It wasn’t just Little who was limping into the election campaign, the Labour MPs were limp in support, going through the motions at best.

I think it is significant that Labour’s Maori MPs decided to virtually go it alone, to not stand on the party list and to virtually run a separate Maori campaign.

It is impossible to know how well or how poorly a new leader will do. There is no way of knowing until they step up and try.

Helen Clark ended up being a very good Prime Minister for nine years, but it took her a long time to get there. She first became an MP in 1981. She was Labour’s deputy leader from 1990 to 1993, then took over the Labour leadership just after they lost the election in 1993. She led Labour to a loss in 1996 and it wasn’t until 1999 that she became Prime Minister. She had to work very hard and turn around abysmal approval ratings.

John Key’s rise was quicker, but it still took six years for him to rise to the top of the National Party, and another three to become Prime Minister.

Both Clark and Key campaigned and won electorates.

Little became Labour leader just over three years after becoming an MP so he rose to the top quickly. But he had failed to win two electorate contests. He only just made it back into Parliament on the list in 2014.

And he only just scraped in as Labour’s fourth leader since Clark bowed out – he had scant support from the Labour caucus, but member’s votes and the support of the 20% vote of the unions just got him past Grant Robertson.

As leader he simply failed to fire, failed to inspire. It was obvious he was struggling a year ago.

To try to bolster his and Labour’s chances he started to campaign in tandem with Jacinda Ardern after she was promoted to deputy earlier this year. That further highlighted his inability to interest audiences, and the media, and the people.

He meant well, he was by most accounts a decent bloke, but wasn’t up to it. Three bad polls and his poor handling of the publicity around them meant he was rolled in just two days.

Many say that it wasn’t just his fault. Labour have struggled in the 9 years since Clark left a huge vacuum. Labour’s party vote has decreased in every election this century.

Labour’s MPs have largely looked like seat warmers, career politicians unwilling to step up. That Little won the leadership in 2014, after failures by Phil Goff, David Shearer and David Cunliffe, shows the lack of talent available.

Little did worse than Labour’s previous three failed leaders, but so do the Labour Party and the Labour MPs. It was a joint failure. But as the leader Little took responsibility and stepped down.

What now for Little? He is likely to be shattered and may or may not want to continue as an MP. Whether he gets the chance is largely out of his hands, being a list candidate only he is relying on Jacinda Ardern turning around Labour’s slide in the polls.

Statement from Andrew Little

Leader of the Opposition

MEDIA STATEMENT

1 August 2017

Statement from Andrew Little

Today I have announced that I will step down as leader of the Labour Party.

I’m proud to have been leader of the Labour Party, and have given this position my absolute and unwavering dedication, just as I have done so for more than 25 years in the Labour movement.

While obviously this is a sad decision, I have been privileged to have led a united, talented team of Labour MPs, proud to have progressed the values and issues that New Zealanders care about and proud to stand with working New Zealanders.

I remain committed to the Labour cause of putting people first, lifting the rights of working New Zealanders and strengthening Kiwi families.

The Labour team of MPs and staff have worked incredibly hard during my leadership, however recent poll results have been disappointing.

As leader, I must take responsibility for these results. I do take responsibility and believe that Labour must have an opportunity to perform better under new leadership through to the election.

I am determined to make sure that Labour fights this campaign with the greatest of resolve, because far too much is at stake for far too many New Zealanders.

New Zealand needs a Labour-led Government, and in order to achieve this Labour must fight without questions over its leadership.

The campaign is on a good footing, Labour’s caucus is united and the party is healthy.

My colleagues in the Labour Party caucus will elect a new leadership team this morning. I wish my successor all the very best in their new role, and offer my wholehearted support to them.

A difficult day for Labour

It will be a difficult day for Labour today with rumours of an imminent  leadership change all over the place.

On Sunday a very grim looking Andrew Little responding to a grim Colmar Brunton poll result that had Labour on a this century low (for CB) of 24%, saying he had offered to stand down, precipitated a flurry of speculation and anguish.

The hopes of those who tried to play it down with ‘just one poll’ were dashed when it emerged that prior to the CB result Labour had received an internal poll result of 23% from UMR.

So that was a double poll whammy tripled by Little’s response. On RNZ yesterday morning he said he was remaining as leader seemingly because no one else was willing to take over, and this set off a storm through Monday.

And this was topped off by a Newshub/Reid Research poll that had Labour on 24.1%.

This morning Little’s office has advised media he won’t be fronting up for any interviews, with a Labour caucus meeting scheduled.

Whatever happens, whether Little stays or goes, this is a monumental mess for Labour.

It will take several weeks for polls to show us what effect this will have all had on support for Labour but the outlook has to be grim.

We may find out what flavour of grim today.

UPDATE: Little has stepped down.

Robins responds

Over twelve hours after the Colmar Brunton poll result was published and Andrew Little admitted he had offered to stand down but no one else was prepared to step up, Anthony Robins has managed to post on it at The Standard.

Metiria’s gamble pays off in latest poll

To what must be intense annoyance from angry right-wing pundits, Metiria Turei’s gamble seems to have paid off for The Greens, an indication (though mind that margin of error) that there could be a real appetite for a Corbyn-style political revolution this election. Bad news in the short term for Labour because it hasn’t grown the left vote overall, but it will if it mobilises non-voters!

That he starts by trying to portray things as a negative for the right is telling.

And then resorts to that worn out dream, mobilising the non-voters.

Why would people who until now couldn’t be bothered voting suddenly be attracted to a party in which no one can be bothered being leader?

I think Labour and The Greens have it right.

Good grief.

Labour should keep aiming for the center-left, and The Greens go harder. If Metiria’s gamble mobilises non-voters it will grow the left share over all.

Does he really think that Greens on 20% and Labour on 15% would be a good thing for Labour?

It sounds like the only hope for Labour is if the Greens can get enough new votes. It has really become that bad for Labour.

First they gave up competing head to head with National, conceding they needed help from the Greens.

Then they conceded they would need both the Greens and NZ First.

Now Robins appears to be conceding that Labour may be able to hang on if the Greens do what Labour has repeatedly failed to do.

Little conceded any semblance of credible leadership yesterday.

Today Robins seems to be conceding Labour’s role as lead party of the Opposition.

Already the same old from Little

I’m listening to Andrew Little now on RNZ, and all I am hearing is the same old campaign sloganeering.

Of course he has been asked about him admitting he considered quitting. Little repeatedly tries to divert from this. But he can’t undo what he has said and what he offered to do.

He can’t undo the fact that no one else in Labour wants to captain a sinking ship.

He is back to trying to speak just like he was speaking last week, as if nothing has changed.

If he doesn’t change drastically and quickly then the only thing likely to change is support for Labour, in a negative way.

Repeating the same mistakes won’t turn things around.

Ouch.

Little just said ‘at 24% you don’t get to form a government”.

And on The Standard Espiner is being blasted for an unfair interview, in the comments thread here:

https://thestandard.org.nz/this-is-no-ordinary-election-fck-the-polls