A glimpse into another universe with political correspondent Tracy Watkins

I was sitting innocently minding my own business at the computer today when a sudden, very specific tear in the fabric of space-time occurred and a copy of the Dominion Post, dated 18 Septerper 2013 dropped into my lap.  The stories made no sense: Premier Munster Joff Key was embroiled in a scandal over his re-nationalisation of the gambling industry, Minister Polla Bannert was curing children of polio with the laying on of hands, and the Lord Mayor Gareth Morgan Home for Adorably Voracious Cats was being opened with great fanfare in Wellytown.

Clearly this was a very different world, where things had gone very differently.  


New deputy not about to make new job easier

OPINION: Are the cracks already showing in Labour’s new-found unity?

The rank and file may have spoken in overwhelmingly backing David Cunliffe as the new leader – but the jury is still out on whether the caucus faction that backed his rival Grant Robertson has accepted the verdict.

The best start to Mr Cunliffe’s week would have been appearing with a new deputy from his own faction at his side yesterday.

Instead, that job went to former rival Grant Robertson.  That left Mr Cunliffe fumbling over explanations as to whether the job had been offered, or demanded in return for peace in the caucus.

There was plenty of murk yesterday surrounding who said what behind closed doors, because Parliamentary offices have annoyingly good soundproofing and the old “hold a glass up to the wall” trick didn’t work.  But it was Mr Cunliffe who had the most to gain from picking someone else as his deputy, and Mr Robertson who had the most to gain from demanding the role.

Two notable Opposition leaders, Jenny Shipley and Mike Moore, tried to forge caucus unity by doing deals with their rivals, and got knifed in the back for their trouble.  The symbolism of following in their footsteps would not have been lost on Cunliffe.

Camp Cunliffe were in no doubt following Sunday’s election that a Cunliffe/anyone-but-Grant-or-Trevor-or-Phil ticket was the dream team.  More than symbolism was at stake – shooting his opponent down in flames would have been a signal to Robertson’s supporters to sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up.

The failure to secure that outcome will only give fuel to speculation that Robertson and his supporters instead had him over a barrel and threatened to wreak havoc if he didn’t get the role.

Cunliffe has bitten off more than most with his leadership.  His unceremonious execution of Trevor Mallard yesterday suggests he will use his overwhelming mandate from the wider party to push through change regardless.

That job would have been a lot easier without Robertson behind him pulling bunny ears – or a knife.

– © Fairfux NZ News



My point?  Well … I’m just feeling seriously disillusioned about our political commentators.  They want to tell a story about Labour being divided and at war.  And some part of that story might be true, absolutely.  I just don’t think that it would matter to their editors either way …


One comment

  1. Pascal's bookie

    Yeah. My reckon is that there a bias towards a narrative occurs simply because a pundit can’t really change tack and say, ‘whoops, I got that wrong’. If they reckon something on Tuesday, what happens on Wednesday has to interpreted in light of their Tuesday reckons.

    Other interpretations won’t see the light of day because if a pundit says:

    ‘Shit I said “if not X then Y” on Tuesday, and it turns out “not X” but that doesn’t actually mean Y, because of Z and Q and the other damn thing I didn’t think of’

    then readers are gonna get side eye about the pundit’s punditing skills. So Y has to be in the frame. It just has to.

    And that sounds really bad when I put it that bluntly, but there it is, to an extent.

    There’s also the pack thing. On the predicting what will happen side of the pundit gig, or the offering of advice, or whatever we want to call whatever it is pundits do, they don’t like to stray too far from each other. If everyone is saying “Cunliffe has to do this because Clark/Cullen & Key/English” then you risk looking like a mug if you go against the herd.

    The herd has got ‘history on their side’ in the form of some 100 word comparisons that most of the readers can understand, and a more complex explanation of what is going on might take 500 words of new stuff, which you might not be right about in any case. It’s a risk, and if you get it wrong when everyone else did too, you are less of an idiot than being out on your own.

    So I guess what I’m saying is that I think the problem lies not so much in any political bias, or even mischief making, but in the nature of the punditry itself, they style of analysis that relies on making predictions and the if x then y business. And the over-reliance on historical analogies to explain what will, or rather ‘should’ happen. It’s some bullshit for sure.