Dunne: “the decidedly inferior Mr Little”

In his weekly blog post Peter Dunne has made it clear that he doesn’t rate Andrew Little highly.

Dunne is obviously not angling for a memorandum or any sort of understanding with Labour. He may not care, it’s unknown whether he will stand again next year. He may also not care for an alliance involving Greens and NZ First along with Labour.

Dunne’s post takes a historic look at why he thinks Little’s spurning of the centre is likely to be unsuccessful, interspersed with some fairly pointed remarks about Little.

While the Leader of the Opposition is right to talk of “coalitions of interests” he is wrong to assume he alone can put them together without the glue of the centre ground. Fraser, Holyoake, and more latterly Clark and Key fully understood that point.

Mr Little, who is nowhere near their league, appears not to.

Not very complimentary.

So, the Leader of the Opposition thinks elections should not be about who wins the centre ground. He is right, up to a point, especially about bringing together “coalitions of interests” in his bid to win office.

Where he is wrong, however, is that no New Zealand Government – single or multi party, pre or post MMP – has ever been elected without winning over the centre ground of politics. Moreover, for at least one hundred years, New Zealand has had moderately conservative governments, led since the 1930s by either National or Labour.

But Dunne also opines that Little is nowhere near the quality or popularity of Labour’s successful leaders, like Norm Kirk, David Lange and Helen Clark.

It is no coincidence that along the way, Kirk, Lange and Clark had all moderated their message to win the public confidence, and that Labour only won office when they did so.

Yet the far less impressive Mr Little apparently believes he can eschew those lessons.

And again:

But again, the decidedly inferior Mr Little knows better.  

Dunne is yet another ex-Labourite who is not on good terms with the current Labour leadership.



Little: I’m not in the centre at all

Andrew Little on  ‘If that’s the centre, I’m not in the centre at all.”


RNZ (audio) Andrew Little rejects labels of centre or left

The Labour leader Andrew Little has dismissed Helen Clark’s advice Labour should work at ‘commanding the centre ground’ saying labels such as centre are meaningless.

He said virtually the same think on Breakfast where he tried to explain: “I’m focusing on issues that affect middle NZ’s and solutions for it'”.

There has been technical debate about whether centre, left and right are the right argument, like at Dim-Post in Notes on the unidimensional spatial model of politics.

Talking about ‘the left’ or ‘the centre’ is useful shorthand, but the ‘median voter theory’ or, as political scientists call it, the ‘uni-dimensional spatial theory’ of voter behavior is meaningless and has been discredited for several decades, although some pundits still seem attached to it.

For intellectuals interested in values and policy the unidimensional model is important. You can pick your side – ‘the left’ or ‘the right’ – and decide that they’re the good guys, and the others are the bad guys, and convince yourself anyone voting for the bad guys is doing so out of bad intentions or false consciousness.

But very few voters think about politics like this. They decide based on social identity, valence issues like competence, their mood, largely determined by economic factors but also influenced by retail politics: interactions with politicians and their supporters.

I think of this as ‘The Good Look’ spectrum (based on the press gallery’s current favourite euphemism for when a politician does something illegal or evil or stupid, that it is ‘not a good look’) and it interacts with the left-right spectrum

Rob Hosking (of NBR):

Little’s right. It is meaningless, mostly, But in politics you pick your battles, you choose what messages you want to send, and you don’t want to choose those which reinforce your existing negatives. This one does.

Vernon Small at Stuff: John Key promotes Helen Clark. Andrew Little distances himself from her views. Say what?

Even if things should fall apart, it seems the centre cannot hold Labour leader Andrew Little’s interest.

In a strangely intense rejection of Helen Clark’s suggestion that parties on the left must “command the centre ground” to win elections, Little dismissed the idea as “meaningless” and “a pretty hollow view”.

Strange, because it is truism. Winning power requires 50 per cent plus one of the voters – and Mr 50 and Mrs 51 are by definition in the centre.

That is where the centre is critical.

He may even have been worried his own insiders would take “centrism” as an abandonment of his mandate.

As he explains it, he is constructing a “coalition of constituencies” ahead of next year’s election. It is one that transcends simplistic Left and Right, but is focused on some salient issues, such as health, housing, inequality and the needs of small business.

But whatever the explanation, it seems odd that Little would allow himself to be seen as offside, or peeved, with Clark’s view.

She is, after all, Labour’s most recent and consistent winner.

Contrast Little’s stance with Prime Minister John Key’s enthusiastic championing of Clark, his former rival, as the next United Nations chief.

Clark was, after all, popular with many a centrist and women voter in her time and still commands respect. Showing magnanimity towards her can hardly harm his prospects of a fourth term – and might well improve it.

Which underscores just how odd it was that Little would distance himself from her comments – especially when the UN secretary-general vote is coming to a head.

I’m not sure that this is a winning strategy.Others are also doubtful.

Tough gig for Mike Jaspers coming in as media guy for as he eschews the centre.

Jaspers is filling the vacant position in Little’s office as Chief Media Officer. I don’t know if he has started yet, but he would appear to have taken on quite a challenge.

Little dismisses Clark’s centre ground

This morning on TV1’s Q & A Helen Clark said that to win an election it was necessary to command the centre ground, but Andrew Little dismissed this as unnecessary and said that his aim was to form a “a coalition of constituencies” such as low- and middle-income Kiwis concerned about issues like housing and the economy.

Stuff: Labour leader Andrew Little dismisses Helen Clark’s advice about ‘commanding the centre ground’

Clark told TVNZ progressive parties like Labour could not be written off and had to “roll with the punches” despite poor results around the world in recent years.

“The truth is that the modern politics in democratic societies has become a bit like a consumer exercise. You try something; you try something else.”

However, they had to ensure they had the support of voters in the centre in order to succeed, she said.

“It’s possible and it’s necessary, because to win an election in New Zealand or probably any Western society, you must command the centre ground.

“You have your strong core of supporters, but you must get the centre ground voters, and I think I was successful in that for quite a lot of years.”

And John Key has been successful for three elections since Clark led the country.

But Little sees Labour’s future opportunities.

But Little said he didn’t think an analysis about the centre is at all helpful – “it’s meaningless”..

“What I talk about and what I think about are the issues of the day and the constituencies who are most concerned.”

Little said his focus was instead on forming “a coalition of constituencies”, such as low- and middle-income Kiwis concerned about issues like housing and those in the business sector unsatisfied with the Government’s efforts to grow the economy.

“Right now, we’ve got a whole bunch of people in New Zealand who are being shut out of the kind of opportunities that were taken for granted 20 years ago.”

Little has a bit of work to do to convince voters this is a winning strategy. It’s a huge risk trying something untested like this.

Labour “all the more certain” to win

Party President Nigel Haworth has said that Labour are “all the more certain” to win next year’s election because of Andrew Little’s leadership.  He was speaking at an event in Dunedin celebrating the centenary of the party.

That’s rather optimistic given the current state of the party and polls.

ODT: Labour confident in its 100th year

The event was held at the Community Gallery to celebrate the party’s centenary exhibition.

It allowed Labour to look back on its achievements with pride.

“We have done the hard yards. The other side has picked up what we’ve done and sort of tinkered with it,” Prof Haworth said.

The party expected a September 2017 general election, and was six months ahead of what it had anticipated in its preparations, Prof Haworth said.

Hard to see how Labour is six months ahead of preparations, unless they mean with fund raising or candidate selection.

Clare Curran acknowledged the party had not always lived up to its ideals.

It had mostly, but not always, stuck to its values.

“Let’s be honest,” she said.

Asked about the comment, Ms Curran told the Otago Daily Times  there was no point  “glossing over” the economic upheaval of the 1980s, but people should remember it was one part of a significant history.

Labour in the 80s rescued the country from the dire economic situation left be Rob Muldoon, nut now some on the left seem to see Lange and Douglas as dirty words.

Mr Little was keen to look forward, rather than back, devoting much of his speaking time to a campaign-style speech that talked about the “Kiwi dream” and the “deep housing crisis”.

Littler has been using those themes for some time.

If elected,  Labour would not put up with further delay to the Dunedin Hospital redevelopment, and would start rebuilding immediately.

‘If’ elected? I thought politicians spoke more positively than that.

Labour would guarantee no loss of services, and would safeguard its status as a “fully fledged” teaching hospital, Mr Little said.

Dunedin hospital has battled against losses of services for decades under successive governments. With the city and coastal Otago falling behind other parts the country population-wise and the ongoing centralising of expensive health facilities it’s hard to see the level of services maintained.

Listening to Mr Little’s speech was Labour supporter Richard Thomson, deputy commissioner of the Southern District Health Board and a member of the hospital redevelopment partnership group.

He declined to comment when approached by the ODT.

Thomson will know the reality of the situation.


Does anyone recognise this dude?





Stuart Nash versus the constitution and the Police

Stuart Nash, Labour’s spokesperson for Police, was strongly criticised recently for comments made on the sentencing of Nikolas Delegat, including by law professor Andrew Geddis who said Nash was “calling for the undermining of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements”.

Pundit: Shut up, Stuart Nash (with added thoughts on the Nikolas Delegat case)

Stuart Nash is trying to make political hay out of Nikolas Delegat’s crime and punishment. The problem is, in doing so he’s calling for the undermining of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements. That’s … not a good thing.

Here’s what the NZ Herald quotes Nash as saying:

Labour’s Nash said the Government should tell the Crown Law Office to appeal the “ridiculously light” sentence handed down to Nikolas Delegat for assaulting a policewoman.

“The Prime Minister and the Police Minister must come out and condemn the sentence as totally inadequate and state that Crown Law will appeal. This would send a very clear message that this type of behaviour against police will not be tolerated by our communities and offenders will be punished accordingly.”

There’s just so very, very much wrong with this. The Government can’t tell Crown Law to appeal anything. That decision lies in the hands of the Solicitor General, who is a non-political appointee.

Second, Ministers cannot come out and “condemn [Delegat’s] sentence as totally inadequate”.

What Stuart Nash is calling for here is Ministers to completely ignore fundamental precepts of our constitution. Now, I get why he is doing so – he’s seeking to capitalise on some widespread outrage with how Delegat was treated (more on that in a moment).

But the fact is that the Government cannot and should not do what he’s saying it should, and he’s completely out of order to demand that it do so.

A party spokesperson for Police should know these things.

More problems for Nash with publicity about him attacking Police officers.

Early yesterday via Newstalk ZB: Stuart Nash in stoush with Police top brass

A skirmish between Labour and the police has blown up into an all-out war of words.

Deputy Commissioner Viv Rickard has written to Labour leader Andrew Little, complaining that Napier MP Stuart Nash is going too far in his criticisms of Eastern District Commander Sandra Venables.

Mr Nash said he’s raising issues that the community wants addressed, but admits he possibly shouldn’t personally target the District Commander.

“She might not be allowed to come out and say MP Stuart Nash is wrong and I refute this, I’d like to meet him at dawn with pistols.”

“But what she can do is start taking a really proactive stance on communicating with the community.”

Nash said he might make future criticism less personal, but he still stands by his criticisms of police leadership.

The Deputy Commissioner has had enough, saying Stuart Nash is repeatedly attacking someone who isn’t allowed to reply publicly, and that he’s incorrectly blaming the District Commander for the problems he sees.

Judith Collins had a dig at Nash

Police Minister Judith Collins thinks something very simple is behind Labour’s criticisms.

“Well I think they both probably have a problem with strong women.”

After his strong criticisms and response Nash softened somewhat later in the day.

Stuff: Labour’s Stuart Nash under police fire over his attacks on the Eastern District Commander

Labour’s police spokesman Stuart Nash is backing down on his sledging of a District Commander after police attacked his behaviour in a letter to Labour leader Andrew Little.

“By and large my criticisms aren’t based on what people tell me, they’re based solely on statistics,” he said.

Little and Nash have met to discuss the letter from Deputy Commissioner Viv Rickard, which was also posted on the internal police bulletin board, and Nash says a decision not to mention Venables name in future was his.

“What I’ve said to Andrew, what I’ve promised to do is that I will not mention the District Commander by name again and I’ll confine my severe criticisms to the Police Minister and the lack of funding,” Nash said.

“It’s what I suggested as the best way forward.”

Collins pinged him again:

Police Minister Judith Collins said Nash is in the wrong and “needs to stop it and act more professionally”.

“He needs to stop attacking a senior police officer or any police officer who is not actually able to defend themselves publicly,” she said.

Nash’s plan to change tack and concentrate his criticism on Collins was a sign he has a “problem with strong women,” Collins said.

Andrew Little…

…said he supported Nash “who is doing his job as a local MP” but they had agreed he would keep his focus in the political arena and in particular on the Police Minister.

That’s a wishy washy ‘support him doing his job but he will change how he does it’ sort of comment, and doesn’t reflect the message he brought back from Canada of presenting a positive party.

Labour staff appointments

Andrew Little has made two appointments to vacant positions in the Labour leader’s office.

Chief of Staff – Neale Jones


Jones has been upgraded from his current job of Political Director in Little’s office.

Te Reo Putake has some detail at The Standard:

Excellent appointment for Chief of Staff. I’ve known Neale for years and he is a top bloke and good value for the job. I know he also worked with Andrew Little at the EPMU, modernising that union’s comms, and, clearly, they both work together well. I predict good things for Labour.

TRP has been predicting good things for Labour for years. He might be right about it one day.

Modernising the Labour Party may be a lot bigger challenge than modernising union’s comms.

Labour stalwart Greg Presland:

Neale is really good. Safe pair of hands and dedicated to the cause.

So Jones strengthens the EPMU influence in Labour. Some, especially those with union connections, will like that. Others may be less enthusiastic.

Labour leper Phil Quin tweeted:

The appointment of Neale Jones, a dyed-in-the-wool loyalist, is testament to Andrew Little’s utter impregnability as Labour leader.

Also from Twitter Stephanie Rodgers (who works in union comms):

Nice one, comrade

Little became Labour’s leader due to the crucial Union vote (affiliate unions have 20% of that vote).

Chief Press Secretary – Mike Jaspers


From NZH Labour confirms senior positions including chief press secretary

Mike Jaspers will be chief press secretary, filling a position that has been vacant since Sarah Stuart left in May after little more than a year in the role.

Jaspers works in communications for New Zealand Rugby including when New Zealand hosted the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

He has experience in Parliament – previously working as a press secretary for Sir Michael Cullen in 2006/07, and before that in Parliament’s press gallery for TVNZ.

It’s understood Little previously tried to hire Jaspers after he became Labour leader.

From a different sort of union, the Rugby Union.

Jaspers has been given the most attention by journalists and media who seem to rate him highly. The Standard reaction was more wary. Bill:

Fair to say “Neale Jones good, Mike Jaspers…jury out”?

Jaspers was very effective with the Rugby Union. This may pose a bigger challenge. He has to fill a void and somehow transform how Little and  Labour are presented.

One thing both Jones and Jaspers will need to try and overcome is the negativity that has oozed from Labour from the top down. On his return from a visit to Canada Little indicated that he was keen to follow Justin Trudeau’s positive methods.

Party comms can’t control what is said in social media but they can try to influence it. It desperately needs a positive makeover.

A comment on The Standard’s New lineup for Labour Leader’s office thread is a symptom of an entrenched problem of Labour’s image of vicious intolerance.

He is a semi-literate, trolling muppet, like Pockish Rogue and Maninamuddle. Their new tactic is to derail by being friendly and matey. Why else are they constantly cackling away on nearly every thread on this site?

A new form of Peter George.

Don’t respond to their apparent friendliness. Study the ways of One Anonymous Bloke. He identifies these sleazebags early in the piece and gives them hell. We all need to. Tell them to fuck off.

Friendly bad, fuck off good, so ‘In Vino’ and others seem to think.

Little recently very publicly branded ex-Labour members Quin and Wellington mayoral candidate as right wing traiters and and effectively told them to “fuck off”.

Enticing people like them, like me, and like thousands of other ex-Labour voters, to consider ticking Labour again will be a big challenge for Jones and Jaspers.

While some at the Standard are enthusiastic about these new appointments, hoping they finally have a ‘game changer’, shit continues to be thrown around their nest and elsewhere in social media.

Jones needs to reform the attitude of the party from within and from the top down.

Jaspers needs to present to the public a far more positive Labour, and to somehow paper over the crackpots.

Does Andrew Little finally get it?

Has Andrew Little had a common sense epiphany and now realises that being seen as a perpetual pissy fit leader isn’t very attractive to voters?

Little had to go all the way to Canada to find someone he would listen to, telling him he needs to present something positive to voters.


Andrea Vance wrote at One News: Little should take a leaf out of Trudeau’s buff book to pull voters

Andrew Little’s taken himself off to Canada to lick his wounds.

But it’s not too late, Little. A year ago, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party confounded expectations to win the federal election… and the hearts of millions of women around the world.

I doubt that Little is in the same league regarding hearts of women.

Here’s what Little can learn from Canada’s JFK.

Sunny – not sulky – ways

That advice in itself would be a great start.

Trudeau didn’t go negative. He had poise even in the face of ridiculous attacks on his hair – and Stephen Harper’s attack ads.

“You can appeal to the better angels of our nature and you can win while doing it,” Trudeau said.

His campaign focused on a “positive, optimistic, hopeful vision of public life”. He warmly embraced refugees, as opponents fear-mongered.

This “tone-at-the-top” was emulated by the party as a whole – from candidates through to volunteer door-knockers. Post-election polling showed Trudeau was the main attraction for 20 per cent of Liberal voters.

Little has heard this same message from Trudeau himself and has come back enthusing about it.

If he had listened outside his bubble in New Zealand he could have heard this same advice here, but at least he has finally taken it on board.

I hope Little can turn his image around, I really do. We desperately need a decent opposition, one that isn’t relentlessly negative and sullen and sulky. So if Little gets positive it will be a great start.

But will a sunny positive Little trickle down the Labour ranks? That could be a major challenge for Little.

Labour MPs seem to have become locked into a mostly negative campaign for the last eight years. Some of the sullens are leaving, like Phil Goff (probable) and Clayton Cosgrove. Will they be replaced by sunnies?

Another challenge will be the Labour troops, the door knockers who have had the stuffing knocked out of them over and over.

And an even bigger challenge may be the Labour activists, the online warriors who keep tearing their hair out in frustration and keep tearing to shreds anyone deemed to be an opponent or an enemy of Labour.

Little himself did this recently when he blasted ex-Labour party members as right wingers and banned his MPs from going to the same meetings as them.

The bashing of anyone deemed an enemy of Labour is on show at The Standard frequently, where it oozes bitterness and intolerance.

Burning off potential Labour voters is a stupid strategy, and that has been happening from the top down.

It seems that Little has finally got it, that sulky sullen negative leaders don’t attract support. Now he has been told the obvious in Canada perhaps we will see a sunnier more positive Leader of the Opposition.

Whether that can trickle down the party will be another matter, the Labour troops can’t all be sent to Canada to have common sense epiphanies.

Labour, polls and gender balanced list

Vernon Small points a tricky problem for the Labour Party.  They have pledged to have a gender balanced caucus by 2017, but with their struggles to make an impression – as shown by polls, this could be a tricky and imprecise balancing act.

Stuff: Poor polls sensitive issue as Labour MPs brace for gender-balanced list

Small suggests that Andrew Little was ill-advised having a moan about this week’s Colmar Brunton poll that had Labour on 26%, about the same level of support they got last election.

Small comes up with an explanation for Labour poll angst – unless they show substantially higher and sustained poll numbers their list is going to be tricky to put together.

It also came at a bad time for the party as it contemplates that most fraught of MMP political processes; the shape of its party list and who will be high, low and shafted.

It all comes down to the party vote, of course, but with a twist for Labour.

It has pledged to gender balance its caucus by 2017.

When the policy was signed off in 2013, then-president Moira Coatsworth said the target would be achieved by calculating the gender mix at various different levels of support and taking into account the likely electorates Labour would win.

But a party vote of 26 per cent, in line with the TVNZ poll, delivers a very different scenario – and a political death sentence for many a male aspirant – than the 35 per cent-plus yardstick the party is assuming.

Labour currently holds 27 electorates, with 17 held by men and 10 held by women.

Phil Goff looks likely to drop Mt Roskill but Labour have a male heir lined up there.

Christchurch Central may be winnable but they have a male candidate confirmed here. Otaki has selected a male candidate.

Can they afford to have any other male candidates in potentially winnable electorates?

To balance their caucus Labour will have to stack the top of their list with female candidates.

But that has it’s own difficulties. Little himself will have to top the list and will get in via the list unless he takes over a safe electorate – there is no way he will risk standing in New Plymouth again, having lost twice there.

If David Parker wants to remain in Parliament he will want a high list position. Trevor Mallard has already announced he won’t stand in his electorate so will want to ensure he gets in on the list so he can line up for the Speaker’s chair.

Currently Labour has five list MPs. Not much room for females there.

To seriously seek gender balance Labour will have to try and stack their list with females to achieve it at various levels of support, they can’t pick a number and base their decisions on that.

25%, 30%, 35% are all looking possible, so they should be trying to achieve approximate balance at each of those levels.

There are some suggestions that Labour’s vote could collapse, but if they drop to 20% gender balance will be a minor detail amongst the anguish that would cause.

No wonder Little is very sensitive about what the polls are telling him – prepare for a range of results.

Labour’s internal poll

Following advice from Labour chief Andrew Little’s acting chief of staff Andrew Little, acting chief press officer Andrew Little has revealed the private Labour poll that Little swears by, in contrast to Little’s lack of confidence in Colmar Brunton’s latest public poll.


This shows Labour within the range they have been in polls for months, albeit higher than the 26% in Colmar’s latest.

It also has National on the lowest poll result for eight years. No wonder Little wanted this to be true.

But it is just one poll. And in making a big issue out of yesterday’s poll Little has probably done himself any PR favours. His press secretary has let him down.


On bogus polls

The biggest talking points from the latest One News Colmar Brunton poll is that Labour are languishing on 26%, down from 29% from their 28 May-2 June poll, and that Andrew Little has called the poll bogus.

One News: National rides high, Labour slips to lowest since election

Labour has been quick to attack the poll, leader Andrew Little saying the poll is “bogus” and he doesn’t accept it. He says he has seen other polls that tell a completely different story.

But he doesn’t say what that “completely different story” isUnless Little provides alternative poll details from the same polling period (3-7 September) then I call bullshit on his claim.

‘Sigh’ commented at The Standard:

Sure enough CV can’t wait more than a few minutes to put up a bullshit poll attacking Labour. Do you think he put up the recent Reid Research poll as quickly which showed Labour on 33?

As someone who has access to UMR polls this Colmar poll strikes me as completely out of whack.

That will be the better polling that Little is referring to, but it is not published so can’t be corroborated or compared.

UMR got closest to the last two election results. Colmar Brunton had National on something like 52%.

The last polls for Labour before the last election:

  • Colmar Brunton: 25.2%
  • UMR (Labour’s internal poll) 26.3%

Labour got 25.1%.


The last three Colmar Brunton polls this year:

  • Labour: 28, 29, 26
  • National: 50, 48, 48
  • Greens: 10, 12, 13
  • NZ First: 9, 9, 11

That looks quite consistent. Without having the details of UMR polls over the last six months it is impossible to compare.

The last published polls for Labour:

  • Colmar Brunton 3-7 September: 26%
  • Roy Morgan mid August: 25.5%
  • Reid Research 22 July – 3 August: 32.7%

Another of Labour’s Little helpers (Anne) at The Standard:

I haven’t seen the item yet but Little needs to constantly show disdain for these polls – especially those involving TV1 and TV3. There is an inbuilt bias favouring National and it goes back decades. He needs to openly treat them with the contempt they deserve.

He should also point out that the media generally is a disgrace by constantly giving the govt a free pass for their disastrous governance on many fronts while, at the same time, over-egging minor alleged indiscretions against Labour personnel.

Sock it to em Andrew. The masses perceive politeness as a weakness.

The masses perceive bullshit as bullshit.

Andrew Little is talking about this right now on Breakfast. He is citing Labour’s internal poll (no numbers or details given) and ‘another poll’.

Little then goes into Government bashing spiel, claiming that because National have done so poorly since the election he just doesn’t believe they would still be polling about the same now.

On National: “Is it conceivable that they would shed an ounce of popularity? I reject the poll”

“There is a range of polls going on you have to look at everything, I know we have had more support than previously”.

“I just think there is something wrong with that poll… it doesn’t stack up with any other polling I have seen”

He is ignoring the Roy Morgan poll?

He just doesn’t accept the Colmar Brunton poll result and he doesn’t it is credible.

He says you have to go with “the instinctual thing”, he talks to a lot of people and says he knows how it feels when the polls are 25-26% and it feels different to that now.

Ranting about unfavourable poll results is probably not an election winning strategy. It risks making one look out of touch and in denial.