Hard News by Russell Brown


Triangulated by Fools

I deliberately avoided writing anything about the Labour leadership last week because I had no interest in being part of a media tally for either side -- which I could see would inevitably be the case.

Apart from anything else, it's not my fight. My sole involvement with Labour has been in helping the Fabians (who aren't officially Labour, but, y'know) with the Voyage of a Lifetime seminars, which I think have highlighted real and urgent problems with the way the New Zealand economy operates -- and provided a strong intellectual base from which to try and address those problems.

The ideas developed in that setting, by the likes of Rick Boven, John Walley, Rod Oram and Bernard Hickey, are not particularly ideological, but neither are they incompatible with the will of party members as expressed at the weekend's Labour Party conference. There's a coherent way forward there; more so since Labour finance spokesman David Parker did his economics research tour, meeting with Joseph Stiglitz and others.

You can read about that here on Parker's blog and in another piece he wrote for interest.co.nz, but pretty much nowhere else. It doesn't fit the narrative of the angry activists for whom David Cunliffe has become a martyr (I spent 20 dispiriting minutes reading the forums at The Standard this morning, before giving up), or that of the endlessly-briefing MPs (the Mallard Tendency, you might call them). And it certainly ain't gonna play on 6pm news -- there are no gotchas to be got or hardball reputations to be enhanced. ("Was @patrickgowernz the most powerful man in nz politics last weekend?" Donna Chisholm asked admiringly on Twitter yesterday.)

I do feel deeply sorry for the people I know in Labour; reasonable folk triangulated by those three unreasonable masses.

At the recent Wellington Voyage session I almost -- almost -- told a joke about having a drink after the Auckland event in June and greeting Cunliffe. Just as Cunliffe was handing me his business card, Parker appeared at my shoulder, not having spied his caucus colleague. Awkward. But, you know, they'd just both spent three hours thinking about ideas, and not about each other. That seemed more than worthwhile.

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