Whipping caucus into shape

Whippings and unity

Trevor Mallard to have a sex change?

Friends of the Labour Party have announced that rules for a gender quota for the Labour caucus are being considered – see More Like This, Labour rules changes pushes for more women [LEAKED DOCS] and Labour’s proposed man ban.

Individual electorates would be able to limit candidates to being female:

New Rule 248A. An LEC may request that NZ Council determine that only women may nominate for the position of Labour candidate for their electorate. Such approval overrides the right granted in Rule 251 for any member to be eligible for nomination.

And the party list must be selected to ensure at least a 45% female caucus for 2014, rising to 50% in 2017.

New Rule 289A.  For the 2014 election the Moderating Committee shall, in determining the list, ensure that for any percentage of party vote likely to be obtained, and taking into account the electorate MPs likely to be elected with that level of Labour support, the resultant Caucus will comprise at least 45% women.  For the 2017 and subsequent elections the percentage shall be at least 50%.

They don’t explain how they will calculate which gender will win marginal seats. Presumably their selection will need to allow for a margin of error.

Current MP Trevor Mallard has been told that acting like and old woman in the House will not qualify him for the female quota. Mallard repeated recently that he is mid career so he may need to have a sex change to keep his place.

Clayton Cosgrove is also exploring various ways of keeping a seat in a caucus of diminishing blokes. This is, after all, the age of pragmatic politics.

This post is only partly satirical – actually the proposed rules aren’t a surprise, I saw this being discussed probbaly at The Standard, possibly around the time of Labour’s conference last October.

Shearer/’Voice of Reason’ rule out Labour leadership challenge

Going by the majority of comments at The Standard many party members want Labour leadership to go to a party decision next month. Word from the current leader is they won’t get that chance, David Shearer has virtually ruled out any chance of a challenge going any further than caucus.

On Saturday ‘Eddie’ launched a speculative play at The Standard – Shearer to put it to the vote…

Word around the traps is that David Shearer is going to use his state of the nation speech next weekend to announce that he will put his leadership to full membership vote in February.

Yesterday IrishBill quashed hope of that in Drive-by posting…

Unfortunately the source on Shearer’s plan to put his leadership to the party didn’t pan out so well. He’s confirmed to Vernon Small that he does not intend to let members vote (I’m not surprised).

This referred to a tweet from political journalist Vernon Small (Dominion), and there was another from Felix Marwick (Newstalk ZB):

Vernon Small@VernonSmall

Stand easy Labour. Shearer says he will put leadership to caucus vote not straight to full electoral college.

Felix Marwick@felixmarwick

contrary to some speculation in the blogosphere David Shearer won’t be putting his leadership on the line for a partywide vote

Marwick expanded on this on Newstalk ZB:

Chances of Labour vote slim

The chances of the wider Labour party membership getting to vote on the party’s leadership look to be slim to none.

Left-aligned website The Standard has suggested current leader David Shearer might put his job on the line when it comes up for caucus consideration next month.

But Mr Shearer’s all but ruling that out indicating no-one else in the caucus is likely to put their name forward.

“I’m not expecting any problems at all.”

Mr Shearer says he’ll follow what is in the party’s constitution and won’t step outside the rules that are in place.

Of course any party leader would play down a chance of a challenge to their leadership.

But over past weeks at The Standard a Labour Party delegate has been saying frequently that there definitely won’t be any challenge. ‘Te Reo Putake’ (aka ‘Voice of Reason’) repeated this yesterday. In response to a party member saying…

Colonial Viper

Sigh. Is there a reason that Labour insists on doing everything the hard way? If caucus decides to give the members a say in February, it’s crucial that we get a full bodied Primary Process up and down the country.

Colonial Viper is blog famous for being the party member identified and gagged by Clare Curran, but he is back commenting this year after his few weeks apparently enforced break.

Te Reo Putake

You’re dreaming, CV. Leaving aside that the whole thing was a fantasy anyway, who is going to pay for a “full bodied Primary Process up and down the country”. You? And given that Shearer is the only candidate, exactly who was he going to debate? An empty chair?

I hate to say I told you so, but the new democratic process is working according to the rules set by conference. And its working to Shearer’s advantage, which is clearly an unintended consequence for Camp Cunliffe.

Te Reo Putake
23 January 2013 at 7:39 pm

Er, no, they didn’t Elizabeth. The affiliates voted for a system that might get them a say. Might. If a particular set of circumstances came about. Which doesn’t appear to be happening this electoral cycle because Shearer has the numbers in caucus. That’s the democratic system affiliates voted for, and it’s working as designed.

In other words, the affiliates and party members might get a say – if Caucus lets them.  And they won’t.

Te Reo Putake has repeated similar frequently, and for that has been accused of being a head office mouthpiece (there’s been a lot of infighting amongst party members on The Standard). He has repeatedly made it clear that:

  • Shearer has the numbers (60%+) in caucus to prevent leadership going to a party decision
  • There is no one who will challenge for leadership.

It’s curious how one party delegate seems to know with certainty what the results of a future supposedly secret caucus ballot is going to be.

Of course it could be all bullshit and bluster. A common political tactic is to keep repeating something over and over and over so that eventually people believe it will be true – ex Labour president Mike Williams mentioned that tactic on Radio NZ (Nine to Noon) on Tuesday.

But it could also be an indication of how caucus ‘democracy’ works. Promises of rewards for compliance and threats of repercussions (bench rankings, assigned caucus responsibilities, poor party list placings) are all talked about.

Some at The Standard still hold hopes that wider party democracy as determined at last year’s conference will prevail. And a number of them say their views are shared by many more in the wider party.

Mike Williams also referred to people at The Standard as:

 “the wacko nutter who used to stand up at the Waikikamukau local meeting”

There’s a few nutters on blogs for sure, but to dismiss all with that put down shows extreme ignorance or it’s a deliberate insult. IrishBill posted:

Now I know we’ve had a few wacky posters here over the years such as Robinsod and that short lived conspiracy theorist, Batman, but the last time I checked most of us were slightly left of center social democrats and Labour party members.

If David Shearer and Te Reo Putake are correct and the ‘secret’ caucus ballot is already whipped into place and sewn up then the majority of Standard Labour Party members will be disappointed, further disillusioned, angry, angrier, despondent – and very vocal.

And this won’t be confined to The Standard, or the blogosphere, or social media. It will be out in the electorates, in the LECs (some Standard commenters are in LECs), and in the wider voting public.

The problem is not just what Shearer and his caucus supporters are doing – more importantly, it is how they are doing it.

They are seem as domineering, dismissive, out of touch, selfishly holding power by any means possible.

Shearer and Te Reo Putake may win the February battle. But the festering and discontent will remain.

If Shearer can’t win the support of the left of the political blogosphere then more and more voters might start to believe what the bloggers keep repeating and repeating – that they have no confidence in a Shearer led Labour winning enough support in the 2014 election.

Something still rotten in Labour caucus

David Shearer dealt to David Cunliffe yesterday, saying “I no longer have confidence in him. He has lost my trust.”

It was also reported:

It is understood Mr Shearer is balancing the need to further stamp his authority with the requirement to reunify his caucus.

Meanwhile, he has clamped down on any dissent emerging after yesterday’s caucus meeting, winning a resolution by MPs that he would be the only one to speak about it.

But this morning in the NZ Herald:

Cunliffe denies disloyalty to end

An apparently unrepentant David Cunliffe is understood to have tried to persuade his Labour caucus colleagues he had not acted to undermine David Shearer’s leadership when defending himself in a brutal caucus meeting yesterday.

Mr Shearer stripped Mr Cunliffe of his fifth rank and portfolios and sent him to the backbenches yesterday for disloyalty after Mr Shearer sought and received an unanimous endorsement from his caucus colleagues.

Mr Shearer called the urgent caucus meeting after the party’s annual conference last weekend, during which Mr Cunliffe repeatedly refused to rule out challenging Mr Shearer and refused to pledge to endorse him in the future.

Sources said Mr Cunliffe angered some MPs in yesterday’s caucus meeting by trying to explain his actions away and deny he was trying to mount a leadership challenge.

In return, he was given a brutal drubbing by many of his colleagues in the meeting, described by one MP as “sobering”, and from which Mr Cunliffe emerged looking rattled.

He later said he was not able to comment because caucus had decided that only Mr Shearer would speak on the matter.

As far as I’m aware Cunliffe has honoured the resolution not to talk about the caucus meeting. He has been quoted several times pointing out he can’t talk about it, and has said so in TV interviews.

At least one Labour MP (and probably more) have not honoured the resolution.

Will Shearer question his trust of them and do something about it?

It seems that some in the Labour caucus have learned nothing from this debacle and are openly flouting caucus agreements. This sort of leaking is one of the things that’s sinking Labour. If the captain does nothing about it he will go down with the ship.