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Speaker: An Open Letter To David Cunliffe

614 Responses

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  • Keir Leslie, in reply to Andrew Jones,

    I don't think that was an option here, which does annoy me - I would have preferred more time to think and reflect.

    Cunliffe made it very clear he wanted to do this as quickly as possible. He sent out an email on election night announcing his re-election bid, and saying he wanted it done by the new year. Many other MPs and members said they'd prefer more time, but DC has always been trying to move this as quickly as possible, before the review was done.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    It’s time for a new generation of leadership in the Labour party, one that is closer in both age and understanding with the people it needs to represent. It’s not just time for Grant, but also for people like me.

    This is the most salient point. Labour really needs to clear out the oldies that are there on reputation, not form. The likes of Goff, King, Cunliffe and Mallard all need to retire.

    There's probably a fair few backbenchers that have done nothing than make up the numbers for the past six - nice years that should hit the road as well.

    It beggars belief that someone as talented as Hamish McDouall languishes at #41 on their list, while old and untalented dead wood make it back into Parliament.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 760 posts Report Reply

  • Blair,

    I suspect it's probably easy to over-analyse this situation, but the article for me is on the money. Unfortunately for him, David Cunliffe is simply not likeable nor liked by his target market in anywhere near the volume required to ever win an election. I say this as someone with no political affiliation, or axe to grind one way or the other.

    Add to that the fact that he's also highly unpopular with the very team he's supposed to be leading, and has been openly disloyal to his leader in the past. This is not a recipe for success.

    New Zealand • Since Apr 2014 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Several years ago I went to a talk by Colin James. He has been watching and writing about NZ politics for decades. In response to a question from the audience he gave his candid and neutral opinion (he doesn't vote) that the next generational shift in the Labour Party leadership would be with a Robertson/Ardern ticket. Neither had even been in Parliament long by then, but he must have spotted their potential. The next question was the inevitable one about Grant being gay. I recall his answer being along the lines that it was probably more of an issue for the questioner than the country.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3218 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    This is the most salient point. Labour really needs to clear out the oldies that are there on reputation, not form. The likes of Goff, King, Cunliffe and Mallard all need to retire.

    As an oldie myself ( 62) I disagree that age is the problem , its more that those long serving MPs - like Mallard - are just stale and not open to new ideas or different ways of thinking. Maybe all MPs should be biffed after 3 terms .

    Northland • Since Nov 2006 • 510 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Tinkler,

    If the Labour Party spent half the energy on fighting National they are spending on fighting themselves they might have become government. However every MP seems to have an ego that prevents this. And Cunliffe is probably the worst.

    Another thing is why pick Matt McCarten for strategy. Matt is charming and I like the man. I have been a room where he professes the campaigns he won for the Alliance In the real world those campaign were won because people wanted a change nothing to do with Matt.

    I think the Labour Party needs to take a good hard look at itself. Once it works out what is is them pick a leader that reflect it. Picking a leader first is the plain stupid

    Sorry for the muddled response

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2010 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Jones,

    I think the Labour Party needs to take a good hard look at itself. Once it works out what is is them pick a leader that reflect it. Picking a leader first is the plain stupid

    +1

    Over the Bridge, Auckland… • Since Jun 2009 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Richard Aston,

    I disagree that age is the problem

    With you here. It would be better to talk about length of service. Time to give others a go. A new person in their 60s could be just the ticket.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Richard Aston,

    How about have the membership rank the list like the Greens, with the alternation male/female thing? Then, make a rule that a candidate can't contest a safe/winnable electorate if their list rank doesn't justify it, so candidates and MPs have to reflect the membership.

    Also, it would mean that candidates work their way up through low list rankings and un-winnable seats as they gain experience and profile.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Just to add: I'm also dismayed at the back-biting and leaking - and even more at the distance it seems Labour must travel. Everything I see postulated about 'what Labour should do' screams of guesswork (often with the sound of axes grinding.)
    Truckloads of data would be nice. Even supertanker full of anecdotes doesn't cut it.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Carlos DelFrago,

    The economy is going ok and compared to many countries around the world we are doing very well, Labour missed this fact and tried to paint a different picture which by far the majority of New Zealanders didn’t believe. I

    The economy's not going that well. Easily the biggest influence on GDP growth is the Christchurch rebuild and most of the regions are stalled at best. Our export performance still relies overwhelmingly on world commodity prices (which are now in downturn). We have another property bubble and the dollar is overvalued. (It's significant that Key addressed that last one as a problem as soon as the election was won, and not before.)

    But yes, you're right, Labour didn't mount an effective critique on those lines -- although the surprisingly favourable reception for what David Parker had to say at the Herald's Mood of the Boardroom event was worth noting.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Also, maybe the problem is that the Labour party and its ideals are intrinsically out of step with a populace that has been convinced of the merit of the right's narrative.

    You could argue this will always be the case, and for both parties:
    - if you give everyone a left-right percentile factor where 1 is the 1% furthest to the left and 100 is the 1% furthest to the right, then Labour supporters would tend to the range 5-50, with a mean around 27.
    (and similarly National supporters will be 50-95)
    - hence most voters will be well to the right of the Labour consensus and well to the left of the National consensus

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • jh,

    What makes you think someone from a group "Multicultural Aotearoa" would connect with the Labour voter?
    Haven't you heard of the Putnam study which shows diversity is the inverse of civic engagement?
    Don't you know that humans evolved in small groups of people like themselves and developed bonding mechanisms so they could trust, sacrifice and thereby survive?
    Didn't you hear of the (government appointed) Savings Working Group and their verdict on immigration policy and the well-being of New Zealanders?

    Since May 2007 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Lynn Williams, in reply to Max,

    Did you ask them WHY they didn't like Cunliffe?

    Canterbury • Since Sep 2014 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • James Dunne, in reply to jh,

    Yes, clearly Labour's problem is that it isn't racist enough.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2013 • 25 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    Truckloads of data would be nice. Even supertanker full of anecdotes doesn’t cut it.

    But you're kinda saying that if you call people and and ask them a list of questions that's data, but if you front up on their doorsteps and listen to them, that's anecdote.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to jh,

    Haven’t you heard of the Putnam study which shows diversity is the inverse of civic engagement?

    To be fair, we heard of it all the other times you've raised the exact same thing in discussions on this site.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • jh, in reply to James Dunne,

    Yes, clearly Labour’s problem is that it isn’t racist enough.
    …………
    It could start by looking after it's own people.

    Since May 2007 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Matt Crawford,

    I can accept that people think Cunliffe failed, he certainly didn't live up the hopes I had for him as a result of the his leadership race. I voted for him at the time - personally I don't see the infamous Cunfliffe superciliousness, though it seems I'm in the minority here.

    My thoughts from the campaign were that Cunliffe seemed a much warmer and genuine personality than Helen Clark, and more natural and confident than both Goff and Shearer. Certainly DC does not come close to the easy charisma of Key, who is preternaturally talented.

    For all that however, I certainly agree that the 24.7% result damns him a failure. The problem though is that Cunliffe is just one loser in a moribund caucus.

    Goff and King also lead Labour to a then historic defeat, and have spent time since actively undermining subsequent leaders. Hipkins uses his role as whip to act out personal vendettas in public against his caucus enemies. Mallard's contribution to his six years in opposition is a personal junket to the America's Cup, a campaign against the psychoactive substances bill he had voted for just months earlier, and hijacking Labour's campaign for 3 days to talk about bloody moa. Clayton Cosgrove didn't have the word "Labour" on his hoardings, loses his electorate and happily returns on the list and still finds the time to launch an attack on the party's policies only 12 hours after the result.

    Robertson's attempts to circumvent the membership by having caucus install him unopposed is contemptible, and him claiming Labour would have won if only he had lead the party is straight up delusional.

    The truth is that Labour, as a party, are unelectable. Voters are only too aware that Labour's parliamentary wing now solely exists to perpetually extend the careers of an ever-decreasing number of incumbents.

    Selecting Robertson or Shearer or Ardern to lead will do nothing to excise the dead wood that has been allowed to petrify within the Labour caucus, nor can a new leader afford to bring in any new talent before the 2017 election lest they bankrupt the party.

    But certainly Cunliffe has failed, and for that it is only right that he faces a leadership challenge. I just see the leadership as the least of the problems facing Labour right now. When so large a swathe of caucus refuse to run on the party list something is very fundamentally wrong.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 58 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall, in reply to Richard Aston,

    its more that those long serving MPs – like Mallard – are just stale and not open to new ideas or different ways of thinking.

    Fair call. There's a few stale MPs that haven't been around as Mallard, et al.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 760 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The economy’s not going that well.

    No, it's not but there's also a good number of people, I suggest, for whom it's not going badly enough to overcome a small-c conservative aversion to radical change. (And before anyone bursts a blood vessel, I'm not using "radical" as a pejorative.) It wasn't exactly days of wine and roses for the Fifth Labour Government, but "don't put it all at risk" messaging seemed to hit the target.

    I don't mean to kick Cunliffe in the slats while he's on the floor, but he kept say Labour was hearing a "mood for change" out there in the electorate. I think someone needs to be asking some hard questions about where the hell that perception was coming from, because it sure wasn't reflected in the only poll that counts.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    The next question was the inevitable one about Grant being gay. I recall his answer being along the lines that it was probably more of an issue for the questioner than the country.

    There was a good call on this by someone on Twitter yesterday about this. It said that the supposedly homophobic West Auckland and socially-conservative South Auckland didn't have any qualms electing Chris Carter or Louisa Walls.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 760 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    The economy’s not going that well.

    No, it’s not but there’s also a good number of people, I suggest, for whom it’s not going badly enough to overcome a small-c conservative aversion to radical change.

    That's it in a nutshell. But there is a problem with long-term thinking.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • SHG,

    It appears to me that Labour's problems are twofold:

    1. Labour doesn't have a clear reason to exist any more. "We're not National but don't worry, we're not as crazy as the Greens" is hardly a compelling mission statement.

    2. The pool of talent for potential Labour leaders is horrifyingly shallow. There's nobody in Labour who could go take them up against a Key-led National Party. Hell, there's nobody in Labour who could take them up against a Muldoon-led National Party.

    nup • Since Oct 2010 • 77 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    David Cunliffe goes to show, for lack of a better analogy, that good captains don't always make for good generals. The same could be said for those who came before him.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5430 posts Report Reply

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