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Speaker: An Open Letter To David Cunliffe

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  • cathy holloway,

    Hi James Macbeth Dann,

    Yes i sympathise with you and your letter.

    Undoubtedly you are very sincere and will be a loss to the Labour party if you have to leave.

    But if David Cunliffe is does not continue as leader, many many thousands of members and supporters will leave. This is known.

    So either way, Labour will lose some members and supporters, but with Cunliffe as leader, Labour will lose far less.

    And as for Labour's fortunes "going forward" Grant Robertson will never be Prime Minister of this country. With him as leader, Labour will not be elected into Government. This too is known.

    auckland • Since Apr 2014 • 4 posts Report

  • slewratedotnet,

    Well said James. As a volunteer in Wellington the same issues came up here also with Cunliffe. My family who all voted Labour throughout the Clark years had the same response and voted either National or Green whilst still giving GR their electorate vote. Whilst I certainly believe other issues were at play with policy, the economy and internal politics the public simply did not resonate with DC and it is time to move on.

    Sydney • Since Sep 2014 • 1 posts Report

  • simon g,

    Headline: 13 bizarre things said by Cunliffe ...

    Then you read the 13 things. My personal "bizarre" count was zero. A couple of them were poor attempts at spin (e.g. the Labour vote not going down much), some people may object to the mention of tears as insufficiently "staunch" (though I certainly don't), but taken as a whole, they seem like no more or less than a politician doing what they do. "Bizarre" would be "no toilets on Planet Key" or "little butts saving big butts" or any other infantile insult you care to recall, courtesy of our "likeable" PM.

    In other words, are we talking in this thread about David Cunliffe, or the filtered David Cunliffe? The latter has no chance - and nor will Grant Robertson. Or any Labour leader of mortal flesh.

    (and before somebody says "Helen!", it's not the 90's and the betrayals from Douglas to Richardson to Winston were a platform then, but a fading memory now.)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1333 posts Report

  • Marc C,

    James Dann may be right with some criticism, but he compromises by openly declaring is long term favoring of Grant Robertson, whom he chose for leader in the first Labour leaders contest. So I fear there may be a hint of partiality, now wanting to be firm, in supporting Grant, and putting on the pressure.

    Yes, it has been quoted repeatedly, especially by many in the media, that Cunliffe apparently does not appeal to that many in public, especially not to male Labour supporters and voters. But how much of this perception is real and how much is media hype, which has been ongoing, really "anti Cunliffe" since early this year, since before the contest, and even since David Shearer was voted in as Leader, following the stepping down of Phil Goff?

    Cunliffe has been undermined all along, by some key persons in the MSM, and the MSM just still happens to have a LOT of influence on public perception. Even if David Cunliffe may be too much of a talker or "preacher", from "up high" to a fair few, is that alone what the future leadership has to be decided on, yes, is it all about the personality, the appearance and how much the caucus members think of David?

    I see only that the actual frictions, that have been much reported on, about the ABC group, about the other factions within caucus, are now really showing. They are real, and I also noticed that the Labour candidate for my electorate made NO mention of Cunliffe, had only his face on flyers and signs, and did not even prominently show "Labour" on it. Also did I get NO one from Labour knock on my door, in an addition due to electorate chance to a long term, traditional Labour seat, and did I only get one election flyer in the letter box a week or so before election date. There was much more advertising from other parties, especially Nats and Conservatives, and a Greens member knocked on my door, but no Labour supporter.

    So when Grant today attacks Cunliffe re comments he made on the beltway, saying he insulted hard working supporters, activists and so, I wonder who he was talking about, as the hard working activists did NOT make a showing where I live?

    Labour seems split, and I an starting to see that David Cunliffe's days are probably over, as leader, but I see no-one else there, who would make a convincing, strong leader, who could truly unite the caucus and the rest of the party.

    A miracle may need to happen, with some new blood turning up, for things to change, but I cannot have much faith in a party that is now in self destruction mode, where some personalities make it all a competition for their interests, before those of the party. The loss was poor strategy, changing tones and party alliances, not being able to deal with distractions, and not getting the message across. Many non voters will never be won, by just doing social media and other efforts only weeks before voting day. Labour should have worked on itself and the voters they wanted, long time ago, now it is almost too bloody late.

    I will vote another party, also next time, but rest assured, it will not be National, ACT or Conservatives, and probably also not NZ First, it will also not be Labour, I fear, unless something "revolutionary" happens very soon.

    Auckland • Since Oct 2012 • 437 posts Report

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Russell Brown,

    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.

    Yeah I am, kinda :) I’m not dismissing people’s experience, just very wary of jumping in any old direction because – well – gotta jump!

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2120 posts Report

  • warren mac,

    Well said James. At the risk of getting personal (but hey thats what this is about) the biggest thing that DC lacks is self awareness. That has become abundantly clear since the election, but was very evident from early on. I also backed him in the leadership race, but had my nagging suspicions, but like a lot of people here supported him right up.
    But in retrospect all those suspicions have been borne out. I also have my anecdotal story about family of mine (first time NZ voters) who liked the policy labour had but couldnt vote for Cunliffe, simple as that. And I couldn't really argue with that.
    Nonetheless, all in sundry, caucus and party, really need to wake the hell up and think about what is at stake here. 6 more years of opposition is simply unacceptable, sort your shit out, all of you, because people are really hurting out there, and seeing you bicker and fight is not going to encourage them to get out and vote for you.

    New Zealand • Since Sep 2014 • 9 posts Report

  • Scott A, in reply to tussock,

    What election did David Lange lose?

    The wilds of Kingston, We… • Since May 2009 • 133 posts Report

  • Ianmac, in reply to Lynn Williams,

    Yes Lyn. Good question. Why don't people like David Cunliffe?
    Could it be the constant negative framing he received or is it something else? I do not really warm to him but why should I. After all I really dislike Key.
    Wonder if it is possible to survey this. Perhaps ask David Farrier to poll this.

    Bleneim • Since Aug 2008 • 135 posts Report

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Ianmac,

    Perhaps ask David Farrier to poll this.

    This is a poll I would quite like to participate in.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report

  • CJM,

    Key was genuinely rattled by Cunliffe right up to election day despite getting daily (very positive) polling results from Farrar. Clearly he could see there was something worth worrying about.
    Robertson or Ardern will get mauled, repeatedly and bloodily, by Key, Bennet, Joyce et al. It will be very ugly and very damaging.
    The new National cabinet must be licking their lips.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2014 • 107 posts Report

  • Hilary Stace,

    This is all so 1990. The third Labour Party leader in three years (Mike Moore) makes a less than conciliatory election night speech after a disastrous election result. The new leader-in-waiting (Helen Clark) is attacked from all sides. While the LP is distracted the new National Government immediately repeals pay equity legislation, hurries the pace of Rogernomics and within a year rolls out the mother-of-all-Budgets.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3229 posts Report

  • Ianmac, in reply to Emma Hart,

    his is a poll I would quite like to participate in.

    Emma. What do really think of David?
    Q1. How do you respond when he is speaking?
    Q2. What thought do you have that would correct what/how he is speaking.
    Q3. Would you mind if he took care of your kids for a few hours?
    Q4. What would you say to him if you met him in the supermarket?

    Bleneim • Since Aug 2008 • 135 posts Report

  • Marc C, in reply to Mr Mark,

    Mr Mark - You point out interesting details re polls over the time, where Cunliffe was leader. I noticed that for months, certain leading mainstream media hacks, AND especially talk back hosts, and some others on radio, were for months spreading endless "questions", doubt and negativity about Cunliffe. Repeatedly it was reported, he was not getting enough support in caucus (due to the so-called ABCers). It all sounded too much like "dirty politics" in full gear in practice, by the MSM, naturally also by right wing blogs.

    Then 'Dirty Politics', the book came out, only then did all over a sudden a lot of media start ask hard questions to Key and some leading Nats. This lasted nearly two weeks, but as Key and his party stuck stubbornly to the line of not answering to the more difficult questions, although they changed stories and did not deny some claims, the media were in the end "tiring" from "Dirty Politics", especially since Dotcom and Internet Mana suddenly acted in questionable manner, and distracted from Hager's book, his revelations and so forth. Dotcom tried hard to create hype about spying revelations and more, but only delivered in part, well Greenwald and Snowden did.

    Then it was about one week before the election, and all attention went off 'Dirty Politics' and Internet Mana, and suddenly Key was allowed much prominence, with his campaign, while Labour struggled to present policies, which were not given much attention by media before.

    Cunliffe also made mistakes, so did the Labour campaign team, first aiming at gaining votes from right and left of centre, declining a joint campaign suggestion by Greens. To some this seemed arrogant. When polls (landline dominated, favouring centrist and rightist home and line owners) dipped for Labour, Cunliffe and team panicked, suddenly they "embraced" Greens and NZ First as an alternative government, which did not convince many, as Winston was no guaranteed part of it. Also it was only two weeks before election day that Cunliffe clearly distanced Labour from any inclusing of Internet Mana (who gained no positive poll results), which also did not convince enough, as he should perhaps have distance Labour from the start.

    With all that, voters were totally suspicious and irritated, yes turned off by Labour, given the lack of clear direction over weeks or months, and the endless media repetition of the "I am sorry to be a man" apologies, and so on, that gave it all the rest, for the MSM, and some strategic misjudgments by Labour, to lose abysmally. Policy and leader only played part in it, changing the leader guarantees no success in 3 years, and a "review" will only show what I did in brief mention just a few lines above.

    Auckland • Since Oct 2012 • 437 posts Report

  • jh, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    I do think that NZers will reevaluate their feelings about the economy when the housing bubble deflates and dairy prices regress to the mean.

    Except that we have strong migration pushing up demand (according to Treasury, Reserve Bank, Savings Working Group, Gareth Morgan) and I think that is what the public believe.
    Reid Research ran a poll that said 62% wanted greater restrictions on immigration (68% of Labour voters and 58% of Green voters). This election labour talked about restricting immigration but were equivocal. Someone on The Standard said it was a "beat up" and everyone was relieved.

    The first thing National wants to do is gut the RMA; the RMA isn't just about National Parks and dairy farms, it affects every urban area in New Zealand. Developers are salivating in anticipation. You can't argue quality of life or house prices while giving immigration a free pass it just makes Labour sound impotent.

    Since May 2007 • 103 posts Report

  • Jack Harrison,

    I think the 2002 election result is still a very good breakdown of how left and right N.Z votes.

    Nat Party 425,310 20.93, N.Z First 210,912 10.38, ACT Party 145,078 7.14
    Green 142,250 7.00, United F 135,918 6.69, Jim's Prg 34,542 1.70, Kapill 27,492 1.35 , OdoorRec 25,985 1.28,
    Alliance 25,888 1.27 , Cannabis 12,987 0.64, ManaMaori 4,980 0.25, OneNZ pty 1,782 0.09, Labour 838,219 41.26

    So the obvious solid right wing vote of Nat (21%), Act(7%) , United Future (7%) is 35% .The N.Z First Vote? Now at the time 70% I would say were Nat friendly so we ad in another 7%. Solid right wing vote = 42%. Kapills and outdoor rec votes, pretty rightish. Add them in , you have 45% for the right wing vote. So at Labours great day in the sun we still have a very solid 45% right wing vote.

    Labours great day in the sun was built on Labours 41% and the greens 7% to get to 48%. However even in Labours great day in the sun they failed to form a govt with a pure left voting mandate, only just though ,and had to use less friendlier minority parties .So at its base you have a 3-4% ball game of pulling voters in 2002 , from one side to the other. Lots of right votes, just not with National.

    Labour could need as little as 30,00 vote swings in 2017. So in 2002 terms they need the combined votes of the Marijuana Party and the Outdoor Recreational Party.,The difference of course is those 30,000 votes now need to come from 2014 National.

    Labour goes to 28, 10 comes from the Greens, NZ first (labour friendly 2014 version) gives its 9 and then it’s a voting pack of 47%. Now it’s just knocking over Peter Dunne and working with all Maori parties.

    Crosby- Textor shit bricks about those 30,000-40,000 voters and so should any party. Although its worth noting that such a small shift means that its worth anything politically to achieve that shift them, in America a good smear is always useful. Don Brash used racism.


    National Party 1,010,464 48.06
    Labour Party 519,146 24.69
    Green Party 210,764 10.02
    New Zealand First Party 186,031 8.85
    Māori Party 27,074 1.29
    ACT New Zealand 14,510 0.69
    United Future 4,533 0.22
    Conservative 86,616 4.12
    Internet MANA 26,539 1.26
    Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party 8,539 0.41
    Ban1080 4,368 0.21
    Democrats for Social Credit 1,609 0.08
    The Civilian Party 906 0.04
    NZ Independent Coalition 895 0.04
    Focus New Zealand 677 0.03

    wellington • Since Aug 2014 • 296 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    While the LP is distracted the new National Government immediately repeals pay equity legislation, hurries the pace of Rogernomics and within a year rolls out the mother-of-all-Budgets.

    Exactly. And the complacent warriors of the soft left wonder why we're concerned.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Sacha,

    Exactly. And the complacent warriors of the soft left wonder why we’re concerned.

    Team Key has the numbers. They will do as they please . All the protest in the World wont change Team Key's narrow mind. They got the numbers. It needed to be Party vote Labour to have enabled any change. Because it wasn't , I think it suggests it's not only the Leader that's the issue. It was wallets that decided also. I think many are on struggle street but don't admit it because, well, the economy is rock star so we are told. Whose going to say .Lets support CGT, raising minimum wage, lifting the age for Super when their wallet says they cant afford it. Best to be safe with what they have now because at least they are surviving so status quo it is. In general I think this time the "Left " come across as nicer people ,the "Right" harsh, selfish and with that disciplined and they have more so people go for the nice person but the successful wealthier Party. not necessarily true but perception is everything. So, until voters are hit too hard in the wallet, I don't think much will change, and until the Parties learn to compromise with each other, whether it be Green/Labour /NZFirst/ Civilian, (whatever it takes), they wont get a winning combo with fries.

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

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    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.

    Yeah I am, kinda :) I’m not dismissing people’s experience, just very wary of jumping in any old direction because – well – gotta jump!

    The last time that Tim Barnett ran for Chch Central he blogged about how he'd been both surprised and dismayed by the number of sad and broken single men he'd met when doorknocking in his electorate. I was impressed by his apparent candour in describing a problem that existed under a Government that he was part of. Then again, I wondered how such an outgoing and apparently approachable MP could have remained unaware of something that was happening in an electorate he'd represented for years.

    Respect to those who put in the hard footslog, but it seems there'll always be hidden depths beyond the reach of doorknocking and datamining.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report

  • Ben Austin,

    Speaking as someone who has been overseas for all of Key's rule I find it rather hard to assess both his popularity and Cunliffe's lack of popularity. Both seem to be intangible and I assume make more sense if one is in country and interacting with locals.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report

  • Kevin McCready,

    I have no candle for David either way, but I know tosh when I read it. And this meaningless tosh from James is completely devoid of policy, analysis or sensible argument. It fails to consider the short time Cunliffe had as leader. Its argument that age is particularly relevant is pathetic. Its plaintive tone is likewise forced and pathetic. Given the real problems NZ faces, I'm disppointed this crap has even seen the light of day. Shame Russell for following MSM agenda. This is not news.

    Auckland • Since Jun 2013 • 119 posts Report

  • BenWilson,

    Cunliffe seems to have every right to throw his hat in again - then at least it's not his choice, but the party's, whatever that means. Both he and Robertson seem like OK choices. I'd say that people have simply hardened their hearts to Cunliffe, though, and it's a big uphill fight from here. For whatever reason, he rubs people the wrong way. Why over-analyze it?

    Robertson's sexuality doesn't really seem to me like the issue that could break the left. I don't think that even the center right is as homophobic as that. The extreme right, sure, but they're lost, and fuck them, I say. It could actually sit there as the one thing that nobody can slag off. It's the one thing that any candidate will actually gain sympathy for, when ruthlessly attacked over it. It corners the bigots and begs them to shine the light on themselves. I reckon it's far more likely that it will just never be mentioned by political opponents. Then the only people it will affect will be through their own personal convictions, and anyone that strongly convinced is a pretty tenuous vote to be courting. Robertson would do well to make no issue of it himself either, treat it as a private matter, which it is. I think people would soon be judging him on the quality of his performance as a leader much more than anything else. If he's good, he could pull it out of the bag. If nothing else, instead of coming across as "smarmy with something to hide" he's "open, honest and professional". That's as well-liked a combination in this country as the other is disliked.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report

  • Jack Harrison,

    Cunliffe was championed early on by Big Russ. He is a great wonk.

    He can't do election media 2014. It's a strange,fucked up circus. That's the realpolitik of 2014. Cunliffe needs to be cool about it. It kind of actually makes him cooler if he leaves. His passion looks like posing to some. Not his problem, but a T.V problem. D.C fights for justice. We know that. Keep on keeping on brother. You have a media problem and you hold the most important figure on the left. It's over but in a way thank god, some other martyr needs to step up and for the good of the country win.

    Play the game, new strategy, leaders will always need you. Go back to the great politician you can be. The left have 800,000 voters.We want to win.

    wellington • Since Aug 2014 • 296 posts Report

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to cathy holloway,

    And as for Labour’s fortunes “going forward” Grant Robertson will never be Prime Minister of this country. With him as leader, Labour will not be elected into Government. This too is known.

    Known by the same people who said nobody was every going to put a party lead by some arty-farty intellectual Dorkland bluestocking into government?

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

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Mark H,

    Personally the Green's have better leadership and frankly better discipline, which is iconic considering they don't even have a 'whip'.

    You don't need a whip if you're all committed to winning together and behave like mature adults rather than ambition-driven ladder-climbers. Likewise you don't need to have public angst about policy direction if its the driver of your party rather than a matter of political window-dressing to be changed as necessary to appeal to the voters.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1717 posts Report

  • WH,

    It's interesting to read about the feedback received during the campaign.

    I saw Colin James' views about the party's centre-left and 'left-left' factions. It all sounds pretty unappealing. There must be ways to talk about positive change that do not alienate Labour's core constituencies. Is it really true that only 20% of New Zealand men would consider casting a vote for the party?

    There is no place for you in this party anymore.

    Unless you know something I don't, I think that goes too far.

    I think there is further scope for Labour to use widely respected senior figures to support its leader and to influence public debate. It needs more people with the ability and the gravitas to play this role.

    Whatever happens, I don't want to hear about personal leadership ambitions and/or infighting for another three years.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report

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