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Speaker: An Open Letter To David Cunliffe

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  • Mr Mark,

    Craig Ranapia in reply to me: "....the usual house style is to extend people the presumption they're speaking in good faith and engage with what they've actually said"

    Craig Ranapia in reply to Sue (a few comments above): "You're being spectacularly disingenuous there, Sue...."

    Milk Monitor, Heal Thy Self.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2009 • 128 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    It would have been much more pleasant and cleaner if David Cunliffe had stood down after the election and a new leadership team quickly put in place. Then the focus could have quickly gone back on fighting the Government. It is unfortunate in many ways that this didn't happen. Mainly because there are some frustrated people in the Labour Party now flinging barbs in all directions. This is particularly unpleasant because many of them have spent much of their energy and time for the last few months working for a common cause - the LP - one way or another. Now they are angry and bruised and raw. James Dann has been the target of some nasty stuff for writing this post - which is so unfair.

    I think it is human nature to have your biggest battles with those you are closest to and have most in common with (like families!). Some of the most vicious fights I have observed have been on school boards or community groups with people who have also chosen to send their children to that school or have joined that community group because of similar and shared interests.

    Conflict can be healthy and democratic so long as there are processes that are deemed to be fair and there is a way to make up and be allies again later. So it is probably best not to be too violent as we might need to be friends again soon.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3214 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    It would have been much more pleasant and cleaner if David Cunliffe had stood down after the election and a new leadership team quickly put in place.

    Wow. I think it's been all of 11 days now and still we don't have an entirely new government in waiting? What kind of snail pace do these people move at.

    James Dann has been the target of some nasty stuff for writing this post – which is so unfair.

    It would be pretty unrealistic to think that wouldn't happen. He's not just some guy with an opinion, he's the candidate for a major political party, and he openly attacked it's leadership, issuing an ultimatum. I was pretty surprised to read it here. About as surprised as I was when Keith Ng pretty much threw down against Cunliffe last time this happened, straight after 2011. You have to expect pretty frikken robust opposition to anyone making ultimatums about who the potential next leader of the entire country should be.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Sue, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    You’re being spectacularly disingenuous there, Sue, and while you’re perfectly entitled to disagree with me you’re NOT entitled to totally misrepresent me.

    Except I actually was surprised by your words
    maybe it's my naivety

    Obviously Cunliff has broken no party rules
    But he's manipulated them to get what he wants rather than what might be best for the party, not best for him, but best for the Labour Party.
    Starting with his rather unimpressive post election email i feel he has (while staying with in the letter of Party Law) broken the spirit and intent of a good party leader.

    I thought this was a place where I don't have to answer questions I consider pointless irrelevant, but i have. Did you expect my answer to bring me some sort of Intellectual Epiphany? Because no it didn't, it is irrelevant to me. TO ME.

    "rather naive at best." Sue
    who will now just go sit in the stupid corner

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 527 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    as surprised as I was when Keith Ng pretty much threw down against Cunliffe last time this happened

    Why do all these Labour Party people keep saying that David Cunliffe is bad idea?

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to BenWilson,

    You have to expect pretty frikken robust opposition to anyone making ultimatums about who the potential next leader of the entire country should be.

    Did I miss the memo about James getting to pick the PM? He has no more say than any other Party member. And whoever the Party chooses will still have to be elected by voters in the usual way.

    James is a regular guy with a passionate political commitment. He's working for the good of the Labour Party as he sees it. He deserves to be treated like the decent person he is.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    Why do all these Labour Party people keep saying that David Cunliffe is bad idea?

    Except for the majority that voted for him, you mean?

    Excellent question.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • krothville, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    his candid and neutral opinion (he doesn't vote)

    Not voting does *not* make you "neutral", for goodness sake. Stop peddling this nonsense. Everyone has biases built into their world view from their experiences and beliefs they've grown up with.

    Since Sep 2014 • 73 posts Report Reply

  • CJM, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    Erm, might be an idea to flag as NSFW…..yeah, I know it's the Onion but the top bar is pretty explicit.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2014 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Lilith __,

    And whoever the Party chooses will still have to be elected by voters in the usual way.

    As Sofie said:

    James if Cunliffe wins again, your choice. If you love Labour, you could still help.

    James’ ultimatum is that if Cunliffe is elected by voters in the usual way then James will leave the Labour Party. If Cunliffe loses then James expects him to leave Parliament. If either of these scenarios eventuate Labour loses, more than it already lost in the election. As Ben said; "you have to expect…"

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to mark taslov,

    James’ ultimatum

    James has made a statement of his own personal position. It would be an ultimatum if he actually had power over Cunliffe. Let's not be too silly.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    I'd love to see you write an open letter to Clayton Cosgrove.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to BenWilson,

    issuing an ultimatum

    I honestly did not read it that way.

    To me it read as him saying that if Cunliffe is the preferred Labour leader then it means that Labour is not the party he thought it was and he would not want to be a part of it.

    That seems to be a perfectly reasonable statement. And to be fair given the last few years I can see a lot of people unsure what the Labour party is meant to be and hence questioning their own attachment to the party.

    None of that says that the Labour party can't be the party that Cunliffe represents, just that some people would prefer to be represented by a different kind of party.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Why do all these Labour Party people keep saying that David Cunliffe is bad idea?

    Except for the majority that voted for him, you mean?

    Excellent question.

    I think quite a few of them won’t be doing so this time. And I suppose it’s okay for me to note that James isn’t the only new candidate who encountered the same public sentiment about Cunliffe while canvassing, and who now feels it is untenable for Cunliffe to lead the party into another election. I have heard this directly.

    Constantly reducing this to a hate-fest on the so-called ABCs seems to be missing the point. Although it’s interesting that that’s the angle Patrick Gower has latched on to – probably because it’s the path of most conflict.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    Can I have a hate-fest on the ABCs and think it might be best if David let go of the idea of being Leader?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lilith __,

    It would be an ultimatum if he actually had power over Cunliffe. Let’s not be too silly.

    You might want to look the word up. And Bart too. I don't want to play dictionary monitor today.

    I should add that my surprise to see James' words does not mean I disapprove of them, or even of him saying them. I'm just saying that there's no country on Earth you can chuck down that kind of gauntlet and not get a fight. I'm surprised because this debate seemed likely to become highly confrontational. It was last time, and led to some pretty large rifts within the community.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I think quite a few of them won’t be doing so this time. And I suppose it’s okay for me to note that James isn’t the only new candidate who encountered the same public sentiment about Cunliffe while canvassing, and who now feels it is untenable for Cunliffe to lead the party into another election. I have heard this directly.

    Cunliffe will not lead the party into another election, because he will lose the leadership contest. Threatening to leave the party if he should win such a contest - all the more since it won't happen! - strikes me as an incredibly unhelpful public pronouncement to make, as well as one that should raise concern about the capacity of sectors of the party to come to terms with internal democracy.

    Is there truth in this "I don't like Cunliffe" anecdotal meme we're hearing from door knockers? I don't know. Results in James' own electorate suggest maybe not. Would voters have responded in similar ways, or worse, had another candidate been at the top of the ticket? I don't know that either. The theory that Cunliffe is solely responsible for Labour's defeat or even its main cause seems outlandish to me. Either way, Ben is right: the one-sided vilification of Cunliffe (he's a narcissist! Unlike every other leadership hopeful ever) is as bizarre as that post of Keith's in 2011 originated by someone in Shearer's camp telling him that Cunliffe was offering positions in exchange for support. Which is very precisely what Shearer himself was doing, as later became clear when all the slots on his front bench were filled exactly as had been anticipated by the media.

    There is a very thin line between freely expressing your opinion and manipulating the democratic process. If you people choose candidate X, I'm leaving, is really not a ringing endorsement of the party membership that James wishes in the future to represent.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to BenWilson,

    You might want to look the word up.

    You used that word, not James. You are framing his letter in your words and then arguing semantics. Not up to your usual standard Ben.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Leopold,

    I'm having to rely on NZFirst and the Greens to provide any opposition against the govt. The LP seem to find indulging in fighting each other more attractive.

    Since Jan 2007 • 153 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to BenWilson,

    God, dueling dictionaries? Let's not. I got better uses for my time. See y'all.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to BenWilson,

    You might want to look the word up. And Bart too. I don’t want to play dictionary monitor today.

    Ultimatum : Either he goes or I do! Ultimatum.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    The theory that Cunliffe is solely responsible for Labour’s defeat or even its main cause seems outlandish to me.

    Yup, he seems more of a symptom than a cause to me.

    If you people choose candidate X, I’m leaving, is really not a ringing endorsement of the party membership that James wishes in the future to represent.

    Sure, but it is one of the few genuinely honest statements of position I've heard. At least we know where James stands. That's worth something.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    This is nothing compared with the late 1980s. For years the Labour Party tore itself to pieces. Halls full of people shouting at each other. People who had been on the same side of the barricades in 1981 nursed an active and long lasting hatred of their former allies. No wonder so many people are still fighting those battles.

    I was amused today when one of those young journalists tweeted a photo of himself in 1990 as a baby. Seems amazing that there are adults around today for whom that era is mere history.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3214 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    You used that word, not James.

    Yes, I know, and I stand by the word. If you wish to have a semantic debate (I personally don't), have at it, go look it up. I already did.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Mr Mark,

    I did have a few things to add, but Mr Tiso is expressing many of my sentiments (and rather more eloquently than I ever could).

    I'll just say that any negative feedback on Cunliffe during the 2014 campaign (as highlighted by Russell, James, Stephen and Keir) is not necessarily unique/unprecedented. Consider this:

    One News (April 2011)
    "There are worrying results for Phil Goff's leadership in the latest ONE News Colmar Brunton poll. The poll....found almost half of Labour's supporters say they are unsure who would make the best leader for the party." Just 30% felt Goff was the best person to lead Labour.

    Marae DigiPoll (Sep 2011)
    (1000 Maori voters in both Maori and General seats)
    Should Shane Jones take over from Phil Goff as leader ?
    Yes 47%, No 31%

    Bryce Edwards' Liberation Blog (Sep 2011)
    "Labour's troubles continue to be embodied by the leadership of Phil Goff. (North and South's Mike White) tries to explain how the public has come to have 'an image of 58-year-old Goff as weak, bland and with no hope of winning an election'".

    Fairfax-Media Research (Aug 2011)
    If the Labour Party chose to change their leader before November's election, would you be more or less likely to vote Labour ?
    TOTAL More 20%
    TOTAL Less 11%

    NZ Herald (Oct 2011)
    (Labour) still suffers from the problem that has vexed it throughout the term - leader Phil Goff's unpopularity....Because of the distraction the leadership issue has caused, Labour has sought to remove it by downplaying the role Goff takes in the campaign."

    Danyl at Dim Post (July 2011)
    "Voters really, really, really don't like Phil Goff."

    Precisely how unusual is it for some erstwhile Labour supporters to be grumpy about the Party leader in any given Election ?

    Wellington • Since Dec 2009 • 128 posts Report Reply

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