Tagged: stuart nash

Green electorate candidates did not cost Labour in 2011

Here’s another old chestnut I’m really bored of hearing:  that the Green Party is somehow obliged to stop standing candidates in seats which Labour wants to win (i.e., presumably, all of them).

Stuart Nash rolled this one out two weeks ago – and don’t worry, Stuart, I’m just going to quote you again:

There is no doubt that an effective candidate improves the party vote: it’s the reason why the Green’s refuse to stand candidates aside in general seats, when to do so could well mean that Labour wins the seat; because they know that without a candidate their party vote drops.

Nash wants to act like this is just a terrible bit of self-serving puffery on the part of the Greens, who are denying Labour its god-given right to keep ignoring how MMP works and win all the seats.  And I say “act”, because Nash is a former MP and former senior adviser to the Leader of the Labour Party, so I think it’s quite fair to expect him to understand our electoral spending laws:

206C Maximum amount of party’s total election expenses

(1) If a party is listed in the part of the ballot paper that relates to the party vote, the total election expenses of that party in respect of any regulated period must not exceed—

(a) $1,091,000 (or such other amount as is prescribed by the Governor-General by Order in Council under section 266A); and

(b) $25,700 (or such other amount as is prescribed by the Governor-General by Order in Council under section 266A) for each electoral district contested by a candidate for the party.

My admittedly-not-legally-qualified reading of that is that parties get to spend an extra $25k for each electorate candidate they stand.  Any list-only candidates have to come out of the first million.

So of course the Greens are going to run candidates in a number of electorates where they know they don’t have a chance of winning – it affects the amount they’re allowed to spend campaigning.  And of course it raises their profile and of course it helps build activist networks and gives candidates valuable campaigning experience.  And sometimes people are going to vote for the Green candidate and not the Labour one.

This is an MMP world.  Labour candidates should win electorates if the electorate wants them to be their representative.  Not because Labour thinks it’s owed a guaranteed number of seats (and terms in government.)

Yes, this does create some annoyances for the left in odd electorates like Ohariu.  But we cannot treat voters like they’re too stupid to understand what their electorate vote means.  People in Ohariu who in 2011 voted for Gareth Hughes – or Peter Dunne – instead of Charles Chauvel had their reasons.  They may not be reasons I like, or reasons you like, and certainly whatever they are they’re not reasons Stuart Nash likes, but … that’s the lumps of democracy for you.

Labour can do better.  But it won’t start if it, its leadership, or the people its leadership listen to, persist in stomping their feet and laying the blame everywhere but at their own door.

I apologise for accurately quoting Stuart Nash

Stuart Nash would like you all to know that, despite the fact that harridans like myself have

misrepresented my position – and my values

he is

Still Concentrating On The Issues That Matter

and anyway, the post he’s

come in for a lot of flack

about

wasn’t actually about Louisa or the Marriage Equality Bill at all

So I apologise.  When someone’s post begins talking about Louisa Wall and the Marriage Equality Bill, I assume they’re talking about Louisa Wall and the Marriage Equality Bill.  But clearly, Stuart was talking

about the strategy Labour has pursued so far this year

and while you may assume that when a person starts talking about A, then starts talking about B entirely in the context of A, they’re drawing some kind of connection between A and B, you would be wrong.  And you should be ashamed.  Why, when Stuart starts by saying:

I want to start by saying that I support gay marriage and, if I had been in parliament, I would have had no hesitation in voting in favor of Louisa Wall’s marriage equality bill. It sits perfectly with the Labour values of fairness and equality.

Despite that, I am not happy about it!

And over the next two paragraphs says

… I warned that Labour must not get sidetracked …Labour MUST NOT get sucked into the game of responding to these periphery and/or manufactured issues

Little did I know that it wasn’t the Nats who would create the side shows …  Louisa’s Bill was ill-timed … the fact that it was drawn out of the ballot was unlucky for Labour).  For the past month or so this issue has been at the forefront of the mainstream and social media.

And then continues

In the meantime, the state assets sales programme is in trouble, farms have been sold to the Chinese, educationists decry the rise of charter schools, the poverty gap is increasing at an alarming rate, Kiwis are heading to Australia in record numbers, our unemployment rate is climbing, and there is at least one dreadful health story a day that should be in the papers.

Why, in that context, when I say things like

Instead, after Louisa Wall has put in the hard yards and taken shit for something in your own party’s manifesto less than a year ago, what you should really do is buy into the rightwing propaganda machine’s lines about “caring about things that matter”, and what you should really talk about is how, oh sure, a member of your party only brought us one step closer towards our egalitarian ideal, but don’t you wish she hadn’t?

I’m really just misrepresenting Stuart.  He didn’t say that Louisa Wall shouldn’t have submitted her Bill, he just thinks … she shouldn’t have submitted her Bill.  And he’s not buying into the idea that marriage equality isn’t important, he’s just saying it’s a peripheral sideshow issue distracting from the things that matter.  And he’s not bagging her, he just feels the need to write another post talking about the “unlucky” timing of it all on top of his previous insistence that she “hold back” for The Good Of The Party.

But it’s okay, folks.  Stuart has good people around him.  From his second post:

Anyone that knows me, my family and my politics will know that I value human rights above all else.  Equality of opportunity is my guiding philosophy and the reason why I am involved in the Labour party.

And you know that when someone says above all else, that’s a pretty strong statement indicating they won’t compromise on their core principles.  Someone who values human rights above all else would never, for example, write something like:

Louisa has to hold back. The vast majority agree that her bill is morally right and should be passed into law, but now it needs to take a back seat and let the issues of health, employment, education and finance come to the fore, otherwise there won’t be anyone left in New Zealand who can afford to get married.

… just like Stuart did in his first post.  I do so look forward to hearing about how finance reform will mean same-sex couples stop being treated like second-class citizens.  Oh right, because they won’t be able to afford to get married.  You know how the queers like to splash out on frocks, we need to avoid another recession for their sakes!

But then we are dealing with somebody who can sincerely type (in his second post):

Labour doesn’t need to convince voters that our values are sound

Which is true, because before voters can ask if your values are sound they have to know what your values are, and for someone who spends a lot of time emphasising that Labour Is A Great Party With Amazing Values And The Left

owns the political space around human rights

… Stuart sure loves acting like those values don’t mean shit unless Labour can convince voters that they are

prudent managers of the economy

… a phrase used twice in his second post.

Sorry, Stuart.  I guess I’m just going to keep unwittingly misrepresenting you, because for all you’ve made a second post about how people didn’t understand your first post, all I hear is “waa waa waa shut up minorities” with a coda on the theme of “anyway we don’t need to talk about values, just the economy, so shut up again”.

And when you’re blaming a single, well-supported Private Member’s Bill for an entire party’s inability to get on the telly, you should probably reconsider your political strategy cred.

Please, Stuart.  Try to dig up next time.

~

PS.  Doesn’t it absolutely tickle you to see someone waving the Old Left banner talking about “owning political space”?  Human rights discussions aren’t a commodity, Stuart.  And you don’t get to “dibs” the human rights conversation, especially not when you’re saying some human rights (i.e. the icky gay ones) can go sit in the corner quietly while the real human rights issues (i.e. the ones assumed to affect Waitakere Myths) get some breathing space.

Labour dudes: shut up please and let Louisa Wall lead you to victory

Via Giovanni I was led to this guest post at Recess Monkey by former MP and former Shearer Chief of Staff, Stuart Nash.

It’s lovely when the internet provides you with confirmation of your opinions.  Take it away, Stu!

I want to start by saying that I support gay marriage and, if I had been in parliament, I would have had no hesitation in voting in favor of Louisa Wall’s marriage equality bill. It sits perfectly with the Labour values of fairness and equality.

Despite that, I am not happy about it!

Cue then your generic “Labour should care about the issues that matter” with some wonderfully value-free “we need to focus-group everything” rhetoric in the comments:

While a party can NEVER betray its philosophies and principles, in opposition it must always look to maximise opportunities to prove to the voting public that it is on top of the issues that matter: or at least show that it understands the issues and has a plan as to how to deal with them. Only by proving competence will a party achieve electoral support (and fair enough too).

The notion that Labour, as our second largest political party, as the “main” or “major” political party of the Left, has absolutely no ability to actually influence those “issues that matter” is pretty much 90% of the problem with the party at the moment.

The idea that Labour has no power to say “Oh check it out, our economy’s in the toilet and our social services are suffering” in the face of John Key smiling and waving next to Hilary Clinton is ridiculous.

That Labour just has to jump aboard whatever bandwagon NACT is currently driving, has to parrot whatever rhetoric Paula Bennett is spewing about beneficiaries, has to “prove itself” to people.  Not, by the way, in any kind of “prove we have those philosophies and principles we can never betray” way, just in a “find out what people think is important, presumably by reading the front page of Stuff, and then talk about that” way.

So you can probably look forward to Shearer’s next speech to the heartland being on the importance of Sally and Jaime Ridge to our economy.

You know how you retort to people, Stuart, when they say “ugh, gay marriage, focus on things that matter“?

You say, “It’s the luck of the ballot!  Louisa put forward a bill that meant a lot to her, and in Parliament we have time put aside to consider those issues.”

You say, “New Zealand is a country that prides itself on fairness and treating people equally.  I think that does matter because it affects every single policy we have.  Do you think National thinks the same way, with Cabinet Ministers breaching people’s privacy and John Key getting carried around Rarotonga on a litter?”

Wait, no.  That’s not reaching to the middle!  Instead, after Louisa Wall has put in the hard yards and taken shit for something in your own party’s manifesto less than a year ago, what you should really do is buy into the rightwing propaganda machine’s lines about “caring about things that matter”, and what you should really talk about is how, oh sure, a member of your party only brought us one step closer towards our egalitarian ideal, but don’t you wish she hadn’t?

This is the writing of a man who was leading Shearer’s Parliamentary office.  This is the attitude of someone who must have had a major role formulating Labour’s approach and tactics and messaging.  And he thinks it’s a good idea to parrot rightwing key lines and undermine a great achievement by someone who in any just universe will be the future of his goddamn party.

It gets better:

Both David Clark’s $15 minimum wage bill and Clayton Cosgrove’s bill on state asset sales were both drawn in the same ballot as Louisa’s bill (how many knew this?). Both these bill’s represented headline Labour policies at the last election, and were very popular across a wide range of voters.  These are prime examples of Labour concentrating on issues that matter to a significant number of good hard working Kiwis, yet many of those same struggling Kiwis have no idea that we are still fighting hard on their behalf. Both issues have, by-and-large, been lost in the mele caused by the marriage equality bill.

You know what, Stuart?  The “melee” of the marriage equality bill happened because people give a shit about it.  Because ordinary people on their own mobilised Facebook pages and got out there on Twitter and created hilarious memes and challenged the Conservative/Family First bullshit right where it was happening, on Facebook, in Stuff comments, on the grounds of Parliament.

People with no Party resources or history of organisation to back them up.  People who cared, who found that this issue, rather than a somewhat highbrow economic discussion of minimum wage vs unemployment, rather than a bill on asset sales which seems superfluous given they’re already out there collecting signatures, was something they could really hold on to.  Something that mattered to them, even the heterosexuals.

Now, sure, marriage equality had a huge advantage in terms of being part of a global discussion; if we could only get George Takei to shoot a 30-second PSA on the living wage it’d do wonders.  And Gods know it’s easier to mobilise ordinary, unpoliticised people when you can say “You see that mean man Colin Craig?  He hates Tamati Coffey.  What a dick, right?”

But Labour is just sucking, as it has sucked for a long time, at making simple, punchy messages which engage people.  And what do you do?  You sit around complaining because someone’s brought more attention and mana to your party than its own leadership could manage in years.  Because it doesn’t fit the Waitakere Myth, which for some reason all the straight white dudes are desperate to cling to.

Please, senior Labourites:  get a fucking grip and recognise a good thing when it’s happening to you.  

Also, seriously, it’s this bad now: follow Gio’s advice and hire someone like me, who’s been offering you the same advice free of charge since 2009 and here again in 2011:  identity politics are not your enemy.  You’re the enemy, when you alienate your natural allies and shit all over your own success, when you buy into bullshit about how recapturing The Glorious Centre is a winning strategy instead of wondering why hundreds of thousands of people saw nothing worth voting for in 2011.

Related reading:  Scott Yorke at The Standard