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.
You know, I’m no major-political-party bigshot or anything, but I can’t help but feel that it’s a little detrimental to the cause for an MP best known to the electorate for jacking off on taxpayer money to make a big deal out of his own personal change of heart on one of the biggest policy announcements of the year.
I look back and think, Christ, when David Cunliffe wouldn’t state how he was going to vote in a future anonymous ballot, the Labour Party management was all over this – Chris Hipkins, as whip, declared:
people have “had enough”.
“He’s been undermining the leader, he’s been undermining the whole team’s effort – I think people are frustrated,” says Mr Hipkins.
“Weasel words about supporting the leader for now simply don’t cut it.”
Whatever side of that [nonexistent] leadership challenge you were on, it’s a pretty clear situation: threatening (or being perceived to threaten) the unity of the Party gets you fucking gone, mate. This ain’t a leadership team who underreact to situations.
But where is this same sense of outrage when Shane Jones is openly undermining a massive, game-changing policy? Where is Chris Hipkins yelling into Paddy Gower’s microphone about how Shane Jones is undermining the whole team’s effort and weasel words about supporting [the policy] for now simply don’t cut it and now is the time to put up or shut up?
I mean, sure, we could easily be in a situation where Shane Jones is so up himself that he actually thinks that his turnaround support for the policy gives it extra credence – but that is simply not how the story reads, and simply not how the Labour Party – if it really is about unity and really does aspire to be in a position to cite collective Cabinet responsibility on its decisions – should let things run.
I mean, the whole point of “we have open, vigorous debate amongst ourselves but present a united front once the decision’s made” is that you present a united bloody front once the decision’s made. You don’t tell your children, “Look, Daddy and I have agreed you need to be grounded, but I did argue vigorously for letting you off scot-free” unless you intend to make it very clear that Daddy is the villain here and the decision isn’t your fault.
And let’s all just sit back and imagine that David Cunliffe, back at conference, with Gower’s microphone permanently fixed a foot from his face, had been asked to rate Shearer as a leader from 1 to 10, and replied:
“very close to eight, nine, ten, somewhere up there.”
Just imagine the screams of outrage, the smug Kiwiblog posts, the Standard commenting flamewars. One side screaming “hey, 7 is still a good number!” and another asserting “anything less than 11 is a coup attempt!” and another declaring “the average is nine and no one should claim to be perfect so it’s clearly part of a larger strategy!” and the usual suspects arguing “give them more time!” and it would have gone on for days. Weeks.