A couple of months ago I was asked to write a post for the Ruminator and, rather optimistically, I agreed.The original brief was to respond to a post by Judith Collins. My post was going to be about snapper, not trout. But considering that issue, along with Judith’s leadership aspirations, has floundered, I’ll try another hook.
Idiot/Savant pretty nicely captures the self-satisfied Dad Joke tone of it all.
Judith Collins is a vile fucking human being. There are just so many things we can pick on her for. Using a tired old slur about her age, gender and appearance? Just fucking stop it.
This is a repost of a comment I left at The Standard, responding to a guest poster’s assertion that
It may upset some Labour members who position themselves to the Left in the Labour camp, but in broad terms Labour should seek to target and capture the support of those who generally consider themselves centrist. And those who would consider themselves to be an intermittent Labour voter. This is the real ground to be captured in 2014.
I feel like this phrase is key:
those who generally consider themselves centrist
Because what it says to me is that we’re not talking about policies or ideology, we’re talking about appealing to people who don’t see themselves as having an ideology. That’s where National’s jibes about the “far left” come into play: it’s the view that a lot of New Zealanders call themselves centrists because “left” means Stalin and “right” means Colin Craig.
I feel like a lot of people who would call themselves “centrist” are really pretty leftwing/non-National in NZ political terms, i.e. of wanting people to get a fair deal, having a safety net when times are hard, getting a good free education and healthcare system for their kids.
But we’ve allowed this myth of the “centre” to dominate. It’s the Peter Dunne approach: he doesn’t get votes because he’s strongly for a particular political perspective, he gets them because he’s seen as an ideology-free “common sense” kind of guy.
I don’t think we recapture those voters (if that’s who we really want to recapture) by cuddling up to what National are doing. I think we do it by reminding them that all those values they believe in and take for granted are leftwing values.
And to his credit, David Cunliffe has already started doing this:
“If putting a warm dry home around every Kiwi child and making sure their tummies are fed and they have shoes on their feet is suddenly far-left, well go ahead with that tag,” he said.
Congratulations to David Cunliffe, who won on the first round of preferences. My Storify of how the announcement went down on Twitter is here.
Now in the wise words of RuPaul:
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, TV3 broadcast the public portion of the final hustings meeting of the Labour leadership election. There are too many prepositions in that sentence.
So dispose of the prose and check out the Storify of the hashtag, now with even less pointless edgy derailing by the Occupy “movement”.
A continuation of yesterday’s post, wherein I appropriate the labour of Young Labour to comment on the
Old Labour leader candidates.
Well, that clears that up.
Cunliffe: Yes it is my intention to do so, but I want to check that sufficient protections are in place.
Basic political answer for the issue.
Jones: Highly unlikely.
And Jones immediately shatters his straight-talking stance, inasmuch as he had one, by dodging a pretty simple yes/no question. Of course, it all makes sense if you add “unless Sealord makes it worth my while” at the end
of everything he says.
Cunliffe: I really think we need to improve the financial support and structures for students. I can’t make a commitment to a universal allowance until we’ve crunched the numbers – but it’s something I want to strive for. I am committed to extending eligibility for the allowance.
Jones: I will, subject to fiscal resource, deliver a universal student allowance system.
Robertson: Question is not if, but when. One of the things I am proud to have been part of was the interest free student loan system. I have always been committed to making study more accessible.
They’re all pretty much the same – no one’s saying “yes, 100%, in the first 100 days we’ll get it sorted”.
What I will be picky about? Is Robertson being proud about merely ameliorating the shittiness of student loans by making them interest-free. Those who studied while interest was being applied? Still have to pay that interest back. And we now live in a country where there’s a new “being a grown-up” milestone: the milestone of getting the first paycheck after you’ve paid off your loan.
If you ever pay it off, of course. It’ll take you longer if you’re a woman. And we know that social and educational outcomes for children are on average a lot better if their mothers have higher education.
Meanwhile people wring their hands about why younger people aren’t able to afford first homes …
Boy, that sure tells us a lot about them.
Cunliffe: Helen’s great achievement was putting the brakes on the neo-liberal experiment and putting people and social justice back into politics. The role of a government I lead would be to really move forward on making fundamental changes to our economy based on the traditional Labour Party principles of fairness and social justice.
Jones: I will alter the tax system to reward investment and jobs in the regions.
Robertson: I am proud of what the Clark government achieved. But the economic framework of that time needs to change. This means a government that is more hands on in creating jobs and policies like a capital gains tax. The era of light handed regulation is also over if we are to have safe workplaces.
Cunliffe and Robertson both try to have it both ways, praising Clark yet criticising. Jones … again, I just can’t tell if he’s meaning to sound as snarky as he does (just add “unlike SOME governments” at the end to see what I mean) or if he’s just not much of a thinker or if he’s just that straight up-and-down (insert porn joke here).
The whippersnappers* of Young Labour have done a very good job canvassing Cunliffe, Jones and Robertson’s feelings on a number of topics … so I’m just shamelessly springboarding off their hard work to provide my own take (and also transcribe the answers for those who can’t read the images).
Of course, they were always going to start with the dread ManBan.
Robertson: I am totally committed to ensuring the Labour caucus is 50/50 men and women.
Nice and straightforward, doesn’t actually address the question.
Jones: I don’t support a quota system, I will reward merit and take innovative steps to attract quality candidates regardless of gender, ethnicity or creed.
Surprise surprise, Shane Jones believes in a meritocracy and doesn’t think he should take this golden opportunity to address the fact that people think he’s a fucking misogynist troll.
Cunliffe: I’d like to see Parliament made up of 50% women, but it’s not something we can legislate for. The place for deciding on quotas is in political parties. I am committed to 50% of Labour’s caucus being women no later than 2017 and earlier if practicable. That means a real effort to change our culture.
Well, you can actually legislate for that kind of thing, David … but points for actually addressing the question and stating clearly that this is something requiring a culture change.
Cunliffe: I am comfortable with personal possession of marijuana being a minor infringement. I do not believe that it makes sense to waste significant police resources on this issue. Did I ever smoke marijuana? I was a student in the early 80s but I swear I did not inhale while writing poetry.
A nice balanced answer, though not one that’s going to convert any ALCP members. And I like Cunliffe’s ability to make a joke of himself, which neatly takes the sting out of bullshit hacks’ jabs at him.
Jones: I am not a smoker and will not put any priority on legalising marijuana.
Robertson: Like any drug we need tight regulation, but I favour a partial decriminalisation approach. I have to say though that this issue is not a major priority for me. As for inhaling, yes, not for many years, and I did not particularly enjoy it.
Another balanced answer, but it’s always super-telling when a politician uses the phrase “I have to say though”. It’s an ass-covering manoeuvre, a sop to the people who will freak out over the statement preceding it.
*QoT rolls up her sleeves and readies the chairleg of truth*
Robertson: All women should have the right to control and determine their own reproductive health. That is an absolute non negotiable. In my mind, our current abortion laws fall outside this principle and need to be reformed.
… well that was unexpected. It wasn’t Holly Walker levels of awesome, but given the last Labour leader to be asked the question decided to put his male privilege on full display by declaring he “hadn’t given it much thought”, I’m impressed, Grant.
Jones: Abortion, for me will always be a matter for an MP’s conscience.
Surprise surprise, Shane Jones hides behind the conscience issue – but won’t actually let us know what his conscience (I assume here that he has one) would tell him to do. And that’s a big fucking deal for a party leader.
Cunliffe: I want to see a woman’s right to choose protected. The current law hasn’t been reviewed for many years and I think that is now urgent. The Law Commission would be best placed to undertake this review as it is a conscience issue which splits across parties.
David does well here, but … yeah, a definite second place. Saying the law “hasn’t been reviewed for many years” is a massive understatement which is barely balanced by “that is now urgent”. And I just hate the conscience issue thing. Sure, abortion is widely seen as a “moral” issue, but we don’t have fucking Parliamentary conscience votes on whether Viagra can be advertised on television during the cricket, and Viagra isn’t a necessary medical procedure the lack of which might kill people.
Of course, Robertson and Cunliffe both make abortion purely a woman’s issue. They’re neither of them strident feminists, and if Grant thought about it he probably didn’t want to hand the religious extremists another “look at the gay man who is gay!!!!” attack of opportunity.
What I’m most torn on is Jones’ answers. Because I think he’s below pondscum, I read his brief, politic responses as either the kind you give when you don’t really respect the person asking your questions, or the kind you give when you lack the political instinct to figure out how to turn it best to your advantage. Cunliffe and Robertson have both made efforts to either cement their progressiveness or reinforce their moderateness and they’re definitely aiming at the Young Labour audience. Jones doesn’t seem to give a fuck.
On the other hand, there’s probably plenty of people out there who will see that as a good thing: straight-talking, no waffle. No real principles either, but that probably doesn’t matter to Jones supporters.
*Oh god I feel old.
There’s a lot of buzz around the Labour leadership contest ending in either a deliberate “stitch-up” by Cunliffe and Robertson, or each of them endorsing the other as Deputy, or the relative merits of a Cunliffe/Robertson or Robertson/Cunliffe leadership team.
And maybe I’m missing something, but I just don’t see it.
There seems to be some kind of logic being applied which goes: there are two factions in the Labour Party who viciously hate each other. If we get the preferred candidates of each faction and mash them together into a leadership ticket, voila! Unity!
But doesn’t Cunliffe/Robertson just open the door to the Hootons and Garners and Gowers of the world making constant insinuations about Robertson’s treachery? Ooh, he was deputy to one leader and that didn’t end well, so can Cunliffe really trust his deputy? And the last guy Robertson stabbed in the back was called David, too!
And doesn’t Robertson/Cunliffe just open the door to constant insinuations about Cunliffe’s deep dark leadership aspirations being once again stifled by an ABC faction throwing him a figurehead role to appease his fans in the membership, and can Robertson really trust his deputy given his history of undermining those who stand in the way of his goal of world domination? David Cunliffe, I’m asking you to rule out a leadership challenge. Just rule it out, show your loyalty to your leader, rule out a challenge then!
This isn’t me saying that Robertson is a backstabber, or that Cunliffe is a treacherous worm. You can probably guess my actual opinions on either assertion. But that’s not the point of this post. If we can learn anything from the media’s behaviour since last year’s party conference, can we at least learn that they don’t really give a fuck and won’t focus on policy at all as long as there’s a quick and dirty LABOUR LEADERSHIP IN CHAOS AGAIN headline to sell?
That’s what a Cunliffe/Robertson or Robertson/Cunliffe leadership arrangement creates. Especially if there’s any hint of a backroom deal.
Also, you know, if we could avoid a two-white-dudes line-up that would be nice too …
To paraphrase a great man of the Labour Party, Shearer won, Cunliffe lost, eat that.
Whatever Cunliffe did or didn’t do, he’s been demoted. Shearer has arranged a convenient vote of confidence in his leadership which I have to hope even his supporters can see is a complete paper tiger.
There’s still going to be a vote in February. So there’s still going to be media focus on fun inter-faction crap instead of Actual Issues.
The point I’m stuck on is this: now there are calls for “unity” – which does kinda bug me because there’s a big difference between genuine unity (punctuated by hopefully constructive arguments) and everyone pretending to get along for the cameras and not calling out bad shit because It Will Look Bad.
And a lot of these calls for unity seem to imply that basically, it’s the anti-Shearer people who need to put up or shut up, who need to stop pointing out his perceived errors.
But even today, while David Cunliffe takes his lumps and doesn’t comment to the media, as instructed, as agreed by caucus … well looky here, someone’s been talking to Claire Trevett about what went down in the caucus room.
I’m all for unity – genuine unity punctuated by constructive arguments, that is – and I’m all for waiting until February, looking at Shearer’s performance, letting the democratic wheels of the Labour Party turn.
But not when “unity” means “Cunliffe fans shut up, Shearer fans do whatever the hell they like”. Not when “unity” means refraining from pointing out that it’s leaky bullshit like this which makes the Labour Party look unstable. Not when “unity” means pretending that David Shearer’s faction aren’t acting like insecure Mean Girls who just got told someone else is wearing white gold hoops to prom.
Let’s have proper debate if we need to. Let’s smack down the media narrative that people disagreeing within a party = SCANDALOUS INFIGHTING. Let’s all grow the fuck up. Starting with David Shearer and Trevor Mallard.
I want to apologise. I was one of the flood of lefties who posted anti-Shearer statements in the week ahead of the conference. I advocated for David Cunliffe as a prospective leader – indeed, the only leader with the potential for success in 2014, by my own assessment.
And now it looks like my post, among others, has shafted David Cunliffe. We stirred the pot. We shook the tree. We rocked the boat, which knocked over the pot the tree was standing in. And this convinced otherwise well-meaning, open-minded members of the Labour caucus that a dangerous plot was underway to undermine the very foundations of the Party by mounting an attack under cover of pseudonyms and Birnam wood.
So I’m sorry, David C. Sorry that I played a part in what’s happening to you.
What the fuck am I saying?
The mainstream media constantly come down on this site, and bloggers in general, for being
pseudonymous anonymous cowards with axes to grind. You couldn’t move last week for Labour MPs declaring they don’t give a damn about blogs.
And yet suddenly the word of a handful of bloggers, and some awful shillery by Patrick Gower, is enough to bring Cunliffe to the brink of expulsion?
I mean, he hasn’t done anything. Besides deliver good speeches and be generally charismatic and kind of dashing with the whole beard thing happening, Waitakere Woman likes a bit of scruff, yes she does.
… Sorry, got distracted there. Cunliffe has done nothing, at least publicly. Not spoken against Shearer. Not made increasingly more leader-ish statements to the media (when he can talk to the media). The only “source” for Cunliffe “threatening” the leadership is blogs, and Patrick Gower’s “but WHY, daddy?” interrogation methods.
Is it just me or does that make no fucking sense?
This situation is all the proof we need that there is, indeed, an anti-Cunliffe faction in the Labour Party. People who perceive his very presence, the very thought that he might like the look of the leadership some day, as an active, viable threat to David Shearer. (Because ambition is such a terrible attribute in a politician.)
Especially now the membership get more say, some might note.
So, because our media in their wisdom would really much rather report on a beat-up leadership challenge than actual policy, the ABCs are pretending to believe there’s a real problem here, that Cunliffe is up in the rafters in a mask about to drop a chandelier on Shearer’s head, so they can justify punishing and humiliating one of the most talented MPs on the front bench.
Because their first and only instinct, apparently, is self-preservation.
Wow, David C. I am sorry.
Good luck for tomorrow, mate.
It’s like this, people.
Last night Patrick Gower emailed me about how the Labour Party Conference was going. See, I’d criticised TV3’s coverage on Twitter, where an embarrassing clip of Paddy badgering David Cunliffe to predict the future was spun into “DAVID CUNLIFFE MAKING A MOVE FOR LABOUR LEADERSHIP.”
Then I, in a fit of girlish flirtation, emailed back, “Sorry, Paddy. I can’t confirm I won’t run against Shearer in February either!”
And thus my secret is out. By refusing to predict the state of the party in three months’ time, by refusing to make assumptions about whether David Shearer can pull the cat out of the bag or will continue to muddle along with his guitar getting nowhere in the polls … well, I’ve clearly thrown my hat in the ring.
You should also be aware that I can’t rule out moving to Thailand at some point in the future, maybe after the February Labour leadership vote. That’s going to be Paddy’s headline tomorrow night: “NZ BLOGGER TO ABANDON COUNTRY IF SHEARER REMAINS LEADER”.
And I also couldn’t rule out having steak for dinner tonight. On Monday, Paddy’s got Campbell Live locked down for exclusive coverage of RADICAL FEMINIST BLOGGER PLANS SUNDAY FEAST TO CELEBRATE CUNLIFFE’S IMPENDING LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE.
Seriously, people. There can be news stories in what people are happy or unhappy to confirm or deny. There are interesting implications for the future leadership of Labour in the changes that have been voted at conference.
But whining “David, David, show your loyalty David, rule out running against Shearer David, come on David, why won’t you prove your loyalty David” and then reporting that as ground-breaking leadership challenge rumblings is just sad.
Mind you, we’re talking about the journo who added up the number of job ads on TradeMe and Seek and then declared that there wasn’t an unemployment crisis.
Meanwhile, John Armstrong is clearly so upset at the prospect of more democracy in the Labour Party he’s been moved to tweet 4 times today already. Normally such flurries of activity are reserved for the super-cool fun times he’s having on overseas junkets, which you’ll recall he’d like us to note are really hard work, guys. All I can think? Is some senior journos are really worried that more democracy in the Labour Party means less juicy gossip for their pet MPs to leak to them.
Speaking of pet MPs, can someone find Trevor Mallard and duct-tape his mouth shut?