Poll: Davis leads Harawira easily

According to a Newshub/Reid Research poll  Hone Harawira isn’t close to winning back his Te Tai Tokerau seat off Kelvin Davis.

  • Kelvin Davis (Labour) 67.4%
  • Hone Harawira (Mana) 30.3%
  • Godfrey Rudolf (Green) 2.3%

Davis got 43.90% in the 2014 election to Harawira’s 40.53, with the Maori Party candidate getting 11.65% and an independent getting 2.05%.

Party vote:


That looks good for Labour, and also for NZ First, with little change for the Maori Party.

There is a relatively high margin of error of 4.98% meaning a low sample size.

And the polling was carried out over two months from about 12 July to 12 September and a lot has happened in politics over that time.

Maori Party versus Labour

A key contest this election is between the Maori Party and Labour, especially between Labour’s Maori MPs.

It is not certain that the Maori Party will survive the election, but if they do there are reports that Labour’s Maori MPs won’t allow a coalition with them.

Te Ururoa Flavell appears to have a tight battle with Tamati Coffey in the Waiariki seat. If Flavell loses that puts his party at risk.

The Maori party has another lifeline – Howie Tamati has polled ahead of Labour MP Adrian Rurawhe in Te Tai Hauāuru, and if he wins the Maori party will also survive.

If either or both Flavel and Tamati win then the Maori Party survive. There also seems to be a reasonable chance of them getting a second MP, either Tamati if he wins, or Marama Fox off the list again. There’s an outside chance of three MPs.

But If the Maori Party survive they have two problems having an influence in government. With National slipping repeating the arrangements of the last two terms looks slim.

The Maori Party are probably a better fit with Labour, but they seem to have a problem there too.

Jon Stokes: Labour’s Maori MPs will not allow a coalition with Maori Party

The dramatic change in the political landscape means even greater importance around the battle for the Māori seats. The rise of Labour has come by and large at the expense of its likely coalition partners, most notably the Greens and NZ First. Until recently Labour required both parties, and some, to form a government. Now a Labour, Greens and Māori Party arrangement could also be an option.

However, while this works in theory, in reality, it is nonsense and won’t happen.

The Labour Māori caucus would not allow any deal with the Māori Party. Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell would likely expect to keep the Minister of Māori Development and Whanau Ora portfolios. This won’t happen under a Labour Māori caucus led by Willie Jackson and Kelvin Davis.

It seems nonsensical to me that Labour’s Maori MPs would refuse a coalition with the Maori Party.

For one thing it could significantly reduce Labour’s coalition negotiating strength. On current polling they could feasibly form a government with Greens+Maori or alternately with NZ First, and theoretically with both NZ First and the Maori Party.

If there is no chance of the Maori Party being involved that means Labour may only have one option, NZ First, and that strengthens Winston’s hand significantly, and he wants an anti-Maori seat referendum.

While Jacinda Ardern has stepped up when she took over the Labour leadership Kelvin Davis seems to have taken to his new responsibilities far less smartly.

Will Ardern pull Davis and Jackson into line over dealing with the Maori Party? Or will Maori rivalries be one of the first threats to unity in the new government (presuming Labour leads it)?

Seeing through Labour’s tax transparency

One of Labour’s biggest weaknesses in the last three weeks of the campaign is tax – what they may or may not tax, especially regarding Capital Gains Tax.

Just after she became Labour leader Ardern spoke on Q+A (6 August):

JESSICA MUTCH: Capital gains tax – yes or no?

JACINDA ARDERN: I will not be campaigning on that this election.

JESSICA MUTCH: So no for a capital gains tax.

JACINDA ARDERN: But let me be transparent, though, here. I won’t be campaigning on it in the next seven weeks. I don’t think anyone would expect us to generate a policy like that in seven weeks. But I’m very clear on is that we are giving a mandate to a tax working group, as we’ve always been clear that we will, to look at the way we tax assets and wealth in New Zealand. 

JESSICA MUTCH: So laying the groundwork for post-election?

JACINDA ARDERN: Yeah. That work will be done after the election. We do not tax assets and wealth the same way as other countries do. If we want to look at inequality, then it is necessary that we do that. But I will not be doing that in this seven weeks.

Ardern has pretty much stuck with this line, repeating ‘transparency’ often but always deferring to a future tax working group.

On one hand it is understandable that Ardern doesn’t want to be rushed into making significant policy decisions when she has been suddenly thrust into the heat of an election campaign. Theoretically decisions like this have to be run through the party policy development system.

But on the other hand this lack of certainty leaves Labour wide open to claims and confusion. Even her deputy was confused.

Yesterday from Stuff: Jacinda Ardern tells Kelvin Davis off over capital gains tax comments

In a confused interview with the AM Show, Kelvin Davis appeared to know little of the detail of Labour’s tax stance and seemed to resile from that comment in the next breath.

Labour has faced tough criticism over its decision to establish a tax working group after the election, but not reveal to voters beforehand whether they intended to implement a capital gains tax or any other taxes.

This election, the party is refusing to rule in or out the possibility of capital gains tax at all.

It was the weak spot for Ardern in Thursday night’s first TVNZ leaders’ debate

Ardern said she was “absolutely clear” on the fact Labour would hold a working group, but refused to answer how far Labour was intending to go with its conclusions and suggested tax changes were more likely to occur in the first term.

“I’ve absolutely maintained our right, and my right as leader, to make sure when that tax working group reports back that I am able to act in Government in the best interests of New Zealand to try and address the housing crisis.”

Apparently not clear to Davis though.

Davis was asked during an earlier interview if Labour would put the outcomes of its tax working group to the country at the following election – Davis replied: “I can’t answer that”.

Pressed again he said: “my understanding is we’ll campaign on it in the next election”. Asked to firm up that answer, on whether Labour would slip it during their first term or take it back to voters to decide, Davis reverted.

“Look, I’m not going to answer that question,” he said.

“Because right now I don’t know, we’ve got to have the working group make their decisions and we’ll come to the country with whatever they produce.”

Ardern said she had not seen the interview, but Davis was “now very clear on our position”.

Like the voters, as clear as mud.

And Ardern is likely to get hammered on this over the next three weeks unless she finds some different lines. Ones that demonstrate transparency rather than just claiming to be transparent.

As transparent as treacle.

Duncan Garner: Hey Jacinda Ardern, what’s your secret tax plan?

They’ll also tax. Tax, tax, tax. And repeat. On water, petrol and tourism. And maybe on capital gains.

If Ardern wants to be PM, she must tell voters more about this capital gains tax (CGT). Would it start in her first term? Would she seek a fresh mandate by putting it in front of voters in 2020?

Whatever she does she should keep her deputy, Kelvin Davis, away from talking about it. He’s a liability. Labour needs to get him up to speed quickly.

So, when, why, what? Would a CGT cover the sale of small businesses and farms?

Voters have every right to feel like there’s a secret agenda on tax.

Sam Sachdeva: Ardern again under gun over CGT

“I’ve been absolutely clear and have absolutely maintained my right as leader to make sure when that tax working group reports back that I am able to act in government in the best interests of New Zealand to try to address the housing crisis,” Ardern said.

Asked why she would not take the issue to another election for a mandate, Ardern cited National’s example when it came to power in 2008 and commissioned a tax review, ultimately leading to an increase in GST. “He [Bill English] saw fit to act on that as he saw fit in the best interests of New Zealand. The difference is that he wasn’t quite as open about intent before the election.”

Fair enough criticising National’s change of stance on increasing GST – but pointing out another party’s campaign deceit and subsequent u-turn is hardly a good way of giving voters confidence that Labour won’t do likewise, a similar somersault.

“I don’t want to be in a position where that working group comes back and there’s some ideas in there that could make a difference for that next generation to get into housing and to deal with some of the inequity in our tax system and to have to sit on that for another couple of years just doesn’t feel right to me.

“My view is though that certainly voters still get a way to feed back to us whether they think we are right or not. There will be another election probably 18 months within us acting on that review and if they don’t agree with what we’ve done, I’m sure they will tell us that.”

She denied it was a way of introducing a capital gains tax without having to say she was going to do so. “No, because I’ve been really clear with people. I expect to get scrutiny over that but I would rather be transparent around our direction of travel than say nothing at all.”

It was a government’s prerogative to act on the information a tax working group would give it. “But of course I’m setting out a few values, a few expectations going in; my expectation that it would never be on the family home and our major driver for this that it be around affordability issues, particularly in Auckland.”

Ardern is being clear in advance on the aspects of tax that suit her to be open about now, but refuses to be clear on others. This is cherry picking transparency.

Last week Alex Tarrant wrote about ‘Labour’s exclusion of family homes and income tax change aversion isn’t fit for a party wishing to fairly tax assets, wealth and income’

On Three’s The AM show on Thursday, Robertson was drawn into his views on whether New Zealand needs a better capital gains tax regime.

“I personally support a better balance in our tax system and I’m going to wait till we see the expert working group. But I don’t believe at the moment that someone who goes to work every single day, pays tax on every dollar that they earn, is being treated fairly compared to someone who flips an investment property and makes a profit on that.”

Robertson keeps repeating that. He must know that selling an investment property for profit is already taxable as income.

Take Robertson’s comment that the main cause of inequality growth in New Zealand over the past few years has been to do with asset inequality. Well, I’m sorry Grant, but New Zealand’s housing stock is worth $1.03 trillion. It’s the major component of our net worth. And about two-thirds of that housing stock is owner-occupied (which is the non-political way of saying ‘family home’).

If we want to ensure fairer tax treatment across assets, wealth and income, then you cannot just rule out capital gains or imputed rents made/unpaid on two-thirds of a trillion dollars’ worth of residential property holdings from the debate.

Perhaps Ardern needs to show some leadership and come out and be clear about Labour’s intentions on tax, some real transparency.

Otherwise she risks getting hammered on this in the remaining three weeks of the campaign, when voters start to look past her charisma and consider what a Labour led government would actually mean for them.

Claiming transparency when it is clear she is fobbing us off may be what ends up defeating Ardern and Labour.

Ardern has had a huge challenge stepping up in the heat of a campaign. I think many voters will be evaluating whether they think it is too soon for her to be Prime Minister or not.

Seeing through her claims of transparency could make the difference.

Election Aotearoa Leaders’ Debate

Oriini Kaipara and Heta Gardiner lead the Election Aotearoa Leaders’ Debate.

Tuesday 22 August, 8.00pm
On Maori TV, and streamed live on MāoriTelevision.com and Stuff.co.nz

Kelvin Davis (Labour)
Te Ururoa Flavell (Māori Party)
James Shaw (Greens)
Gareth Morgan (Opportunities Party)
Hone Harawira (Mana)

See: Maori poll semi interesting

NZ First refused to take part in a debate with Gareth Morgan.

A disappointing start – someone sang a song, then a ‘game’ that was fairly lightweight, then to the first break with virtually no debate so far.

The first proper segment was on housing. Mostly vague same old waffle. The one who stood apart and stood out was Morgan, he sounded like he knew what he was talking about and had actual suggested solutions. he got the best response from the crowd.

So far the rest have all been disappointing, notably Davis and Shaw. Harawira began by taking an off topic swipe at Morgan, to the silence it deserved.

It revved up a bit later with a few heated exchanges but I can’t see many votes being won out of that debate.

Shaw repeated the point that National weren’t represented, but it was never explained why National were not there.

Comparing deputy attacks

It hasn’t taken long for the left to pick up on a perceived attack on Jacinda Ardern, but they are making false claims about what Paula Bennett said.

On The Nation yesterday:

Lisa Own: Because I suppose we don’t think many people would deny the fact that Bill English has economic chops, but one political commentator has said to be prime minister, you need to be able to talk, to communicate, and to think. You need both those qualities. So now that Bill English is up against someone who is seen as a good communicator as well as an experienced MP, is he facing a stronger threat?

Paula Bennett: I just think what they’re also looking for is substance and someone who’s got the kind of brain to pull this country together and has got a proven record and—

Lisa Own: Doesn’t she have substance?

Paula Bennett: I just think he’s got a bit more is all. I think she does, but I think that he equally has a proven track record, that he’s got a strength in other areas, that he is a good communicator, that he’s passionate about this country, and there’s some pretty hard calls you have to make as being the prime minister, and we’ve had some pretty shocking things that have happened in this country just in the last few years, and so we want a leader and a prime minister that’s actually up to that job. You’re not going to have a lot of time to get to know her under that kind of pressure in just a few short weeks.

Lisa Own: Are you guys backing off her? Are you going for the relentlessly positive approach too? You don’t want to be—?

Paula Bennett: I already had it. I feel that’s what I am. There we go. I’m putting that on the table. I feel like she’s stolen my relentless positivity, so I’m going to go for eternal optimism, I have.

Outrage has broken out on Twitter, but this has been grossly misrepresented in social media.

On The Standard  Paula Bennett says Jacinda lacks “the kind of brain” to lead

This quotes Newshub:

But she believes Ms Ardern lacks two key things Prime Minister Bill English has – substance and “the kind of brain to pull this country together”.

That misrepresents what Bennett said, but the Standard headline takes it further and blatantly falsely represents what Bennett said. This looks like a dishonest attack.

UPDATE: Newshub has amended their headline, and The Standard has updated their post accordingly to:

Having learned nothing from the slapdown, the Nats chose Paula Bennett to lead the attack this time – Jacinda Ardern lacks substance compared to Bill English – Paula Bennett. The original title of the piece was – “Jacinda Ardern lacks the kind of brain to unite kiwis”.

But The Standard hasn’t updated their headline, and the misrepresentation appears to have not been addressed in comments at all, with the misconstrued headline being unchallenged (I would have challenged it but I was banned there yesterday for challenging something else).

On Q+A this morning Kelvin Davis has just let rip with a string of petty abuses of a Bill English and other National ministers. This was far more open and direct than Bennett’s comments could reasonably be construed.

He said Bill English had the personality of a stone. See below for the rest.

Davis has just been called out in comments on Q+A. It was referred to as a tirade, justifiably.

Ardern was sitting beside him when he did this, laughing along.

This is the first significant misstep by Labour’s new leadership. If the left keep trying to slam Bennett while failing to condemn this then they should be seen as lying hypocrites.

Here’s Davis on Q+A, with ‘relentlessly positive’ Ardern smiling saying ‘that’s a bit harsh’:

Kelvin Davis: Look over at the other side there, and we seea Prime Minister with a personality of a rock, we’ve got the Jacinda effect…

Jacinda Ardern: That’s a bit harsh.

Kelvin Davis: ...and then we’ve got Paula Bennett who’s mastered the Lynn of Tawa effect,

…we’ve got Jonathan Coleman the doctor of death,

…we’ve got Steven Joyce who’s as effective as a four dollar Rolex,

…we’ve got Jerry Brownlee who’s got the energy of a small hill,

…we’ve got Simon Bridges, the only person under 80 who still buys Bryl Cream…

Jacinda Ardern (laughing): …and we’ve got…

Kelvin Davis: …and Judith Collins, her stare caused that ice shelf in Antarctica to crack off and float away…

Jacinda Ardern still laughing.

Jessica Mutch: And on behalf of the National Party I think that’s a little unfair.

Jacinda Ardern: And we’ve got Kelvin Davis, the free speaker.

Slinging a string of zingers like that is likely to have been prepared in advance, and it had the obvious approval of Ardern.

For someone who promised to be relentlessly positive and bring something different to politics this is an awful look for Ardern, as well as for Davis.

Post updated 7/08/2017 2:30 pm



Q+A – Ardern and Davis

Jacinda Ardern and Labour continue their media blitz on Q+A this morning.

Ardern won’t be making her Sunday policy announcement until later today but she and Labour are grabbing every promotional opportunity on offer. She tag teams again with Kelvin Davis (a repeat of The Nation yesterday).

Ardern and Davis are being interviewed separately.

Ardern first:

How is the Labour Party of last week different now? Leadership is now a major part of politics and campaigning.

Talking about a regional fuel tax in Auckland to fund transport infrastructure.

She won’t be campaigning on a Capital Gains tax this election, but it will be considered post-election.

Retirement age (actually age of eligibility for super) – not campaigning on that.

Taking votes from the Greens? She will appeal to voters from anywhere and won’t mention specific blocs.

‘Relentlessly positive’ again, and she wants to grow a vision for New Zealand.

She mentions those who ‘sit in the middle’ – a key voting bloc.

Then Kelvin Davis joins in.

Davis just went through a list of disses of other politicians, which means that the attacks on Paula Bennett for dissing Ardern are just that, one sided attacks. I’ll post more on this when I get the transcript.

Post on this: Comparing deputy attacks


Ardern on the Māori seats

Jacinda Ardern and Kelvin Davis were questioned on The Nation about Labour’s position on the Māori seats.

Lisa Owen: OK, well, while we’re talking about the Maori seats, Winston Peters– This is another one of Winston’s bottom lines is to have a referendum on the Maori seats. Would you pay that price? Would you be prepared to pay that price to get into government?

Kelvin Davis: We’re not going to have a referendum on Maori seats. It’s off the table.

Lisa Owen: I see a head shake. A referendum is asking the people. You know, you would find out whether you have to get rid of them or not from the people. Definite no? Even at the price of government?

Kelvin Davis: No, Hone Harawira tried to sell the Tai Tokerau for $3.5 million last election to Kim Dotcom, and here’s Winston trying to give away all seven for nothing.

Lisa Owen: OK. So, Ms Ardern, definite no on a referendum, even if it’s the price of a deal with Winston Peters?

Jacinda Ardern: What we said on Tuesday is that we don’t want to spend the entire election campaign talking about other parties’ policies. So I’m happy to share with you Labour’s policy in that area.

Lisa Owen: Well, this is about how you would form a government. This is about how you would form a government. And voters want to know that, and that’s why I’m asking you. And you were shaking your head, so no referendum on the Maori seats?

Jacinda Ardern: The makeup of government will be determined by voters. So voters deserve to know what each political party’s position on those issues are. Labour’s position on that issue is that the Maori seats are for Maori to decide. Labour will allow only Maori to make the decision about those seats. That is our position.

Lisa Owen: All right. So, is Labour’s position, Labour’s policy, no referendum on Maori seats?

Jacinda Ardern: Only Maori should have the decision around whether or not those seats remain. We’ll stay firm on that.

Lisa Owen: That sounds like you could have a referendum where only Maori on the electoral roll could vote.

Jacinda Ardern: I believe that’s what Shane Jones might have– See, there’s not even clarity within New Zealand First on this position.

Lisa Owen: That’s why I’m wanting clarity around your policy. You’re saying Maori should decide, so Maori on the electoral roll, they could be polled whether they think that the seats should stay.

Jacinda Ardern: Well, that’s a question for Winston because he’s the one coming up with–

Lisa Owen: No, I’m asking you your policy. I’m asking your policy.

Jacinda Ardern: And I’m being very clear – only Maori will decide whether those Maori seats remain. We have no reason right now– I have not heard from–

Lisa Owen: That leaves the door open for a referendum of people on the Maori roll.

Jacinda Ardern: No, it does not. Maori have not raised the need for those seats to go, so why would we ask the question?

Kelvin Davis: Those seats were foisted upon Maori back in the 1860s just to really control our voting power, and we’ve become quite fond of them, to be honest, so we really don’t want them to go.

Jacinda Ardern: It’s not on the agenda.

I think there would be hell to pay in Labour and amongst Maori if Labour agreed to an all-voter referendum on the Māori seats. It has to be a non-negotiable for in any coalition wrangling with NZ First.

Māori get to choose every five years whether they want Maori seats or not.


The Option only happens once every five years or so, just after the New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings.

What you decide during the Māori Electoral Option is an important choice, as it determines who will represent you in Parliament.

If you’re on the General Electoral Roll, you will vote for an MP in a General Electorate at the next General Election. If you’re on the Māori Electoral Roll, you will vote for an MP in a Māori Electorate at the next General Election. Every voter, regardless of which electoral roll they are on or where they live in the country, has the same list of political parties to choose from when using their Party Vote.

The results of the Māori Electoral Option together with the Census data are used to determine the number of Māori and General Electorates in Parliament and to revise the electorate boundaries.

How does the Māori Electoral Option affect the number of Māori electorates?

There are currently seven Māori electorates. If more Māori enrol on the Māori roll, it could mean more Māori electorate seats in parliament. The number of General Electorate seats could also change.

Visit Calculating Future Māori and General Electorates for more detail.



The Nation: Ardern and Davis

Jacinda Ardern, along with Kelvin Davis and Labour, continue to get the political spotlight. This morning they are on The Nation.

A poor start by Lisa Owen trying to get Ardern to commit to what she will do if Labour doesn’t get into Government. It is pointless peculating on what losing leaders will do, or what losing parties will do to their leaders.

With Kelvin Davis included there is a focus on Maori issues – Davis says the key ones are housing, education, health and P.

They won’t commit to specific policies yet.

They are working on policy priorities but ‘wait and see’. Ardern won’t commit on Little’s ‘promises’ on taxes.

She says there will be no lack of clarity, but they need the space to work things out.

Owen keeps banging on about tax rates. Ardern still won’t bite. She guarantees sticking within their fiscal responsibility commitment.

Lisa Owen tried a few tricks to get a headline out of Ardern but had some very odd lines, especially trying to get Ardern to say what % of vote would be a success.

Ardern was assertive and focussed, another very good performance, but hobbled by a lack of policies to confirm – ‘wait and see’.

She was right to only comment on what Labour could control, and not to comment on whether Turei should stay an MOP with the Greens.

Davis added strongly and assertively at times, especially on Maori issues, but did not overshadow Ardern.

There are signs of a formidable team being developed.

Lack of policy direction is an issue that has to be resolved quickly – some time must be allowed for the sudden change in leadership, but there is not much time available.

Overall another strong, smart and focussed showing from both Ardern and Davis. Add to that the breath of fresh air.

What if Turei does resign?

Metiria Turei’s gamble on using her experience of fibbing while on a benefit from 1993-1998 to highlight then plight of beneficiaries has backfired badly.

Turei has strong support for her crusade from some quarters, but she has disillusioned many others, leaving the Greens in a serious situation. A recent surge in support now looks certain to reverse, and it could turn quite bad – it will take a while for polls to show this.

Yesterday she said she would not resign, but by saying she won’t seek a ministerial position in the next government if given the chance, and by saying she had considered resigning (a mistake made by Little) she looks like a lame duck co-leader.

If reality gets through her Green bubble, and if polls suggest a collapse in Green support – anecdotally people are already saying they will switch their support from the Greens to Labour – then Turei may reassess he current situation.

If Turei resigns Greens will need a replacement, and the two top contenders are Marama Davidson and Julie Anne Genter.

If Davidson takes over I don’t think it will help Green chances. She is a far left activist who is unlikely to win back centre-left support from Labour.

Genter is a different proposition. She is probably Green’s most widely respected MP. She specialises in transport and infrastructure, one of this elections most contentious issues in Auckland at least.

Jacinda Ardern has already campaigned alongside Genter, in the Mt Albert by-election where they camopaigned together to show how well positive cross party politics could work. They seem to have a very good rapport.

Last week the alternative to bill English looked like this:

  • Andrew Little
  • Winston Peters
  • Metiria Turei
  • James Shaw

If Greens change co-leader the Labour-Green alternative will be:

  • Jacinda Ardern
  • Kelvin Davis
  • Julie Anne Genter
  • James Shaw

That combo has a lot more appeal to voters across the centre and left.

Winston may still be necessary but may have significantly reduced influence.

Turei turned this election on it’s head by starting her beneficiary campaign. At this stage she has hobbled the Greens and precipitated a Labour resurgence under Ardern’s leadership.

If Turei’s biggest priority is really to ‘change the government’ then I think the best way of fulfilling this ambition is to step down and to endorse Genter.

Bill English will struggle not to look old, stale and male against Ardern and Genter.


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.


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.