Friday, 4 December 2015

Stacking The Deck.

A Royal Flush: If only Andrew Little had these sort of cards to play with! Unfortunately, no matter how often he shuffles and cuts, cuts and shuffles, he's never going to deal himself a winning hand. Campaigning with the Greens, however, might just deliver the face cards Labour is lacking.
 
IT’S LIKE RESHUFFLING a deck of cards with all the face cards missing. No matter how often Andrew Little shuffles and cuts, cuts and shuffles, he’s never going to deal himself a winning hand. Labour’s failure to develop a simple and democratic method of selecting electorate candidates and drawing up its Party List has, finally, rendered it all but unelectable.
 
To become a Labour MP in 2015 one must first negotiate a multitude of competing interest groups: Women, Maori, Unions, Youth, the Rainbow Council. This is every bit as difficult as it sounds, with numerous compromises and trade-offs to be made all along the way.
 
Getting through this labyrinth leaves Labour’s candidates with an extremely detailed picture of the Left’s ideological landscape, but only the sketchiest notion of the world in which 95 percent of New Zealanders go about their daily lives.
 
It’s a process that also puts a lot of potentially excellent Labour candidates off. Someone confident in their understanding of industry, agriculture, science, or (God forbid!) running a business, rightly feels affronted at the prospect of being figuratively pinched, poked and prodded by people whose experience of the world is often extremely limited and narrow.
 
Not surprisingly, narrow and limited candidates have a head start!
 
Matters are not helped, of course, when these narrow and limited individuals – now MPs – turn against an obviously talented and successful colleague and conspire to bring him down. Andrew Little’s demotion of David Cunliffe – one of Labour’s most experienced politicians – represents the unwarranted triumph of spiteful Fives and Sixes over a much-maligned King of Hearts.
 
Nor is it helpful when these number cards are given royal faces. Her regular appearances in the women’s magazines notwithstanding, Jacinda Ardern has yet to impress as New Zealand’s Queen of Hearts. And no matter how rapidly he is pushed up Labour’s pecking order, Kelvin Davis will struggle to be recognised as the King of Clubs. Some chiefs may have started out as warriors, but not all warriors become chiefs.
 
What, then, should Labour do? If it cannot choose candidates with the same appeal to the voters as National’s selections. If it cannot break its habit of penalising talent and promoting mediocrity. And, if it cannot even persuade colleagues who have sat in Parliament for three decades that it might be time to move aside for someone younger. How can it expect to win?
 
Helen Clark undoubtedly asked herself the same question in 1996. Having just led her party to its worst result since 1928 (28.19 percent) she needed some means of lifting Labour’s numbers by at least ten percentage points to have any chance of winning the 1999 General Election.
 
Three-quarters of these she secured almost immediately when Winston Peters, against public expectations, opted to form a coalition with Jim Bolger’s National Party. The remaining quarter came from Jim Anderton’s Alliance, which, in one of the most generous gestures in New Zealand political history, invited Clark to its annual conference and there agreed to give voters the chance of ending the bitter civil war on the left of New Zealand politics by electing a Labour-Alliance coalition government.
 
With Colin James’s “Poll of Polls” currently putting the Labour Party just under 31 percent, Andrew Little faces an electoral conundrum no less taxing than Helen Clark’s. Somehow, he has to find an additional ten percentage points to become a credible contender for power.
 
The record shows that the Alliance’s embrace of its bitter rival cost it nearly a quarter of its 1996 vote. From 10.10 percent, the Alliance’s vote fell to just 7.74 percent. This two point drop, when combined with the decline in the NZ First and National totals, was more than enough to supply Labour with the ten-point boost it needed.
 
Will Andrew Little turn 2017 into a re-run of 1999? Will he use the occasion of Labour’s 2016 centenary conference to invite James Shaw and Metiria Turei to join him on the stage for a symbolic group hug? Will the three of them then invite the New Zealand voter to bring centre-left politics into the Twenty-First Century by electing a Labour-Green Coalition Government? The “optics” – as the spin-doctors say – would be compelling.
 
And useful. Lacking Face Cards of his own, Andrew Little could end up winning the 2017 election with a Royal Flush of Greens.
 
This essay was originally published in The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 4 December 2015.

30 comments:

abrainydeal said...

There need to be retirements: King, Cosgrove, Mallard, Goff, O'Connor, Shearer, preferably in the next 6 months so new blood can be brought in. otherwise I fear we will be stuck with Natioanl for the next 2 election cycles

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Lacking Face Cards of his own, Andrew Little could end up the winning the 2017 election with a Royal Flush of Greens."
Er... Only if they can somehow overcome Labour's horror at me in a coalition with the Greens. Which I've never quite been able to understand. It's not as if the Greens are extreme left.

Anonymous said...

Completely agree.
Labour candidate selection lives in it's own little world - they just don't see how distant this is from everyone elses. (The "real" world?).
All political parties have this problem, but Labour's perverse obsession with identity politics and its history of public factionalism make it particularly bad, esp compared to National.
Teachers, (especially primary school teachers) are similar.
Who was it that described than as "a party for homosexuals and teachers"?
Labour interpreted this as some sort of slur against gays..THEY would never think such unfashionable thoughts.

I had an email correspondence with Louisa Wall re the "man ban", which was as illuminating as it was frustrating.
For her, it was an article of faith that selecting people for who they are rather than their abilities was a good thing. I asked her the classic question "do you believe in equality of opportunity or equality of outcome?". She clearly hadn't thought about this! Eventually she replied something along the lines of "outcomes, because it's fairer".
A sure recipe for lowest common denominator.
I also asked her (a former netball rep) how she would fell if the Silver Ferns were selected along racial lines. She replied she couldn't see what sports had to do with parliament!
Furthermore, I pointed out that as a lesbian Maori woman, she'd get THREE goes at the 'minority' representative thing. Which would she be?

Anonymous said...

I do not believe that your suggestion has any consideration within Labour at this time, though your piece may change that. I know that the patience, within the Greens, shown to Labour is now an impatience highlighted by the snubbing of Metiria Turei by Little in not picking her for the security committee, and then not talking to her about his decision. She is still angry. The decision by the Greens to support National on the flag inclusion was Metiria's. An invite by Little/ Labour to the Greens would negate all anger and would also give both parties an opportunity to present to NZ a viable government for the future. But do not forget the ABC's and their fixation on safe seats, not the government benches.

Brendon Harre said...

I see David Cunliffe as more a King of Diamonds than Hearts. He was certainly sharp, incisive and shiny but somehow he lacked the human touch.

I have heard that David Little was stupid to discard the valuable Cunliffe-card. That Labour should have learnt from National about how it retained the English-card, even after that card led the National hand to an even worse defeat than what Labour recently suffered.

But maybe Andrew Little was looking at the game across the water where a King of Diamonds, the Kevin Rudd-card similarly lacked the human touch and how this led his ambition to become a human wrecking ball for the Labour hand.

Anonymous said...

I was a Labour party memeber from 2001-2014. I had helped out on Labour party campaigns in Australia & the UK thru the 90's.

I have found that in NZ, the Labour party have had some staggeringly inept MP's and candidates over the years of my observation.

Indeed, a few years ago I approached the Labour party General Secretary about research work in the Labour party. We had a meeting. I spoke long and hard about classic progressive issues ie health, education, & housing etc I could have been speaking quantum physics in swahili. He didn't have any interest or a clue.

I further approached my local Labour MP, submitted my CV (with a ton of experience and handy degrees from major NZ universities) and kept getting passed around and around until I was told that the Labour party parliamentary research unit head 'would get back to me'. Nothing eventuated.

Before the last election, I resigned from the party. At that point, I had had an absolute gutsful!

If the New Zealand Labour party were looking for a way to burn off top talent, they have well and truly found it!

Anonymous said...

Oh Chris, give it up will you? Your sniping is getting tiring.

I think your analysis is completely ill-informed and wrongheaded, but I'd be very interested to know what you think Matt McCarten is doing in all of this, if your analysis is right.

Marius said...

Labour is stuffed with Andrew Little. He is no Justin Trudeau and unfortunately style wins over substance every time. The Greens are a millstone around the neck of Labour. There are thousands of New Zealanders who are disillusioned with National but will continue to vote for them as long as there is any possibility of a Labour/Green coalition.

On a separate matter, perhaps there should be a legislative block on anyone serving more than 24 years.

Anonymous said...

Fully agree with your description of Labours promotion of mediocrity and stifling of talent, Im not sure about Labours capacity to fleece votes from the greens, they are hardly a reservoir of disaffected lefties like the Alliance I'd put money on them taking votes from labours metro urban liberal elite supporters.

National are the opposite of Labour, we have seen the packing off of MP's past they're use-by date in a process the center right call renewal and the left call rats leaving a sinking ship. This renewal on the right and perpetuation of mediocrity and stifling of talent on the Labour left is as important as the amiability of Key and the dour anger of Little in explaining the rights continued dominance - National are not running out of puff like the Clark regime, because of the enforced churn of renewel.

The icing on the cake (from a center right perspective) is the immolation of cunliffe - sure Id love to see him lead the party again into oblivion, but there's not doubt he's the sharpest operator in the house, unlike Maurice Williamson he was able to pull off local loop unbundling, Parliament will be safer for both Robertson and Key with his rinsing out, long live Little, Robertsons little wooden puppet.

Anonymous said...

I understand the LP centenary conference is late October/ early November, perhaps the Greens should invite Labour to their conference which I understand is earlier, can't get a date, that should decide the matter one way or the other. Labour needs the Greens more than the Greens need Labour, ain't them the facts.

greywarbler said...

Maris
"The Greens are a millstone around the neck of Labour. There are thousands of New Zealanders who are disillusioned with National but will continue to vote for them as long as there is any possibility of a Labour/Green coalition. "

I think that's what Labour believes. If there are such people they are dinosaurs about to die out, but if Greens and Labour wait for that we'll all be down the tubes.

So anyone in Labour who isn't a dinosaur living on its stored fat, better get in there with your jousting pole and knock off their perches those attempts at being 'verray parfit, gentil knyghts'. In the old days knights had to be tougher and endure real combat. Labour today might like to be knights, but they haven't performed their services, and aren't up on their combat and their strategy as those of yore.
Do to them as the villagers did to Sir Brian Botany, AA Milne.
http://www.voetica.com/voetica.php?collection=3&poet=685&poem=3335
Poem read - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKoL-fVMm5A

Chaucer on knyghts - http://www.luminarium.org/medlit/knightport.htm

Victor said...

Pitch perfect, Chris!

BTW back in 1999 it seemed to me that Clark needed the Alliance to give her front bench some credibility as well as to put Labour into office. So the parallel with the Greens today is highly apposite.

What a pity, though, that it will have to be the Greens without the estimable Dr Norman.

Meanwhile, I feel very sad for David Cunliffe, who's been pulled through the ringer personally as well as politically over the last few years. No well-intentioned person should be treated with such venom and spite.

Not only does it not speak well for the Labour Party. It doesn't speak well for New Zealand either.

peter petterson said...

Jeez Chris you have all the answers don't you? Ever thought of putting your money where your mouth is? You may have some positive ideas at the coal face!

Anonymous said...

Would the Labour party folk, who have criticised a joint approach to the election, have us believe that a vote for Labour is not a vote for their coalition with the Greens ?. A joint partnership before the election would be a honest and vibrant way to win over the punters.

Olwyn said...

With regard to David Cunliffe, " No well-intentioned person should be treated with such venom and spite...Not only does it not speak well for the Labour Party. It doesn't speak well for New Zealand either."

Victor, I could not agree more. And where the Labour Party is concerned, it adds weight to Chris's "fives and sixes" thesis that they can behave like this and not see themselves as having anything to live down or live up to because of it. I suspect that Andrew Little has gone along with it because he knows he is outnumbered and is not really part of a faction himself. I would hope that he at least can see that having knee-capped a very decent man "for the sake of unity" it is now imperative on him to show that he has more to offer than the base ambition with which some of his colleagues seem to be infected.

weka said...


"To become a Labour MP in 2015 one must first negotiate a multitude of competing interest groups: Women, Maori, Unions, Youth, the Rainbow Council. This is every bit as difficult as it sounds, with numerous compromises and trade-offs to be made all along the way."

How does that negotiation work? Is it formal selection policy or defacto from the internal Labour culture?

Clemgeopin said...

After the election, in order to form a government, Labour may need one or more partner parties such as the Greens, NZF, Dunne and the Maori party.

To make a pre-election public understanding, 'especially' with the Greens, whose economic, envirinmental and social policies are or are perceived to be quite extreme and scary for most (90% of the population) will, in my opinion

(1) lose votes for Labour
(2) consolidate the Green votes.
(3) Scare away potential ex-Nat or undecided voters away from Labour

I think it is smarter for Labour to let the voters have an independent choice to decide for themselves how to vote without fear or favour as to what parties they want in power, what policies they support and what sort of coalition they prefer.

All that Labour has to do is...

(1) Bring out well thought out economic, social and environmental polices for the immediate and the long term good of everyone and the country.
(2) Conduct politics with unity, intelligence, honesty and fairness.
(3) Hold the present government to account for their mismanagement and misbehaviour.

greywarbler said...

"To make a pre-election public understanding, 'especially' with the Greens, whose economic, envirinmental and social policies are or are perceived to be quite extreme and scary for most (90% of the population) will, in my opinion... "Clemgeopin

1 Doesn't this apply well to the 2014 election which Labour lost.
2 I question your broad inclusion of 90% of NZ electors being shit scared of the Greens. (Could you supply a reliable reference.)

And what is wrong with Labour being transparent about their likely allegiances instead of adopting the sneaky power-plays that Crosby Textor-like political advisors would advocate. Doesn't anyone in Labour have the guts to stand up and declare themselves for ALL the people and the country?

Your No.2 seem to demand groupthink, with no room for real intelligence, just the sort that you get from chatting with dodgy people in the media or like-minded individuals on the Other Side. The other two things - honesty and fairness. There's a plant called honesty and it needs sun and will shrivel if too much in the shade. Same with fairness. I think the Labour garden needs fresh plantings in open ground, with good organic green cultivation.

Rob said...

all i see with Labour nowadays is a bunch of moaners who never present anything in the form of viable alternative policy and seem to spend their whole time trying to convince us of the scurrillous,evil hidden agenda behind every Nat. politician..don't they know the average Kiwi assumes most pollies are up to something and are happy to live with that as long as it doesn't rock their boat to much....look around you...Labour globally is a dying art....my advice for the smartest of them, like Nash and co would be to join National or whatever party it is that relates to me and the New Zealand way of life...Labour will not get back in in 2017...The Nats. survived everything that was thrown at them in the last election and romped home...Labours living in a parallel universe on the beltway is like being stuck on a conveyor belt to nowhere....coal mining is long gone..get over it

Bushbaptist said...

@ Rob 18.50:

Gosh you have some learning to do mate! "~seem to spend their whole time trying to convince us of the scurrillous,evil hidden agenda behind every Nat. politician~" that's called a Parliamentary Democracy and they are the opposition, as such it's their job to oppose the Govt.

I suspect that Little won't say much about policies until the next election. Why would he?

Brendon Harre said...

What does it say about the National hand when Key has to pick up the Collins-card?

Can we have an article about that Chris?

Maybe something along the lines of National having few picture cards so Key had no option or maybe about Collins being another politician whose ambitions exceed their abilities or maybe an article about the risk Key is taking with the National party's future by allowing Collins to destabilise the party in the future with an ugly leadership battle.

Maybe an article that my aunt would like answered -being where have the statesman (stateswoman) politicians gone?

Anonymous said...

A bus company owner told me they intend to take on Chinese drivers. She told me that they are (actually) well qualified pharmacists etc who cannot get jobs. This is exactly the line Professor Spoonley told Katherine Ryan (Professor Spoonley cited discrimination). This emerged from (I think) the study conducted with MBIE funding "Capturing the Diversity Dividend" and Michael Barnett was also attuned to the message.
Bus drivers conditions have gone west over the years. I recall an old driver saying: "anyone who does this job while married is selfish". Back then that was the only drawback. Now the drivers are old men (a Dads Army), with the exception of the foreign drivers (Korean and Chinese) who can undercut with their language ability and because their coaches (often) live on the street, drivers are more inclined to the expectations of the clients country (and Indian tour escort tried to exchange two 1/4 hour breaks for a half hour legal break) and they share hotel rooms.
The beauty of multiculturalism is that it gives employers a devil to beat (racism) but they no longer have to motivate the Kiwi worker (i.e pay and conditions). The worker serves the industry the industry no longer serves the worker.
Chris talks a lot about Labour personnel but not principles. In 1987 (as though it had put something in the water), the Labour Government silently (and substantially) abandoned the notion that a nation has the right to exclude others, it turned the guns on it's own citizens in the interests of a borderless world. Now it is stuck with a foot in both camps.

Unknown said...

Redline (Contemporary Marxist Analysis)

The idea that there are only a finite number of jobs and a finite amount of variable capital which is locked up in a special “wage fund” is an old myth which Karl Marx himself demolished in his polemic against Ferdinand Lassalle, the founder of German state socialism. Marx explained that Lassalle’s so-called “iron law of wages” was based on the incorrect assumption that the level of national production always remained constant, and that the ratio of wages to profits, or as we Marxists like to say between wages and surplus value, also did not change.
They is always plenty of work (that could potentially be done), there just isn't enough high value exchange for the low value work.

In today’s NZ Herald there is a very interesting report on a study by two Wellington economists which casts some serious doubt on the widely-held notion that new immigrants to NZ are to some degree responsible for the current unaffordable level of house prices.

The study’s authors say, “Our overall results raise doubts about whether the strong positive correlation that exists between immigration and house price appreciation over the time at the national level is in fact causal. . .”



Bryan Gould: 'Lump of labour' fallacy hinders effort to create jobs
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10669971

jh said...

Tony Abbott has put the cat among the pigeons



Mr Abbott used an interview on Sky News and a News Corp opinion column to argue for a "religious revolution".

"We've got to work closely with live-and-let-live Muslims because there needs to be, as president [Abdel Fattah] Al-Sisi of Egypt has said, a religious revolution inside Islam," Mr Abbott said.

"All of those things that Islam has never had — a reformation, an enlightenment, a well-developed concept of the separation of church and state — that needs to happen."

Mr Abbott's time as prime minister was marked by his strong stance against the actions of Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIL and ISIS) and other terrorist organisations like Boko Haram.

"Cultures are not all equal. We should be ready to proclaim the clear superiority of our culture to one that justifies killing people in the name of God," Mr Abbott wrote in the column.


to which they counter


"Violent extremism is the common challenges of all religions: Buddha, Christianity, Hindu, Islam and all faiths."

If you read any books by early travellers in the Middle East they were always looking down the wrong end of a sharp knife.

This goes to the heart of multiculturalism which holds (definitively) that all cultures are equal. It is a useful ideology that serves leftists as well as capitalists as they can hold the moral high ground and over ride the interests of their own populations. Maybe this is why it isn't making the news?

Grant said...

At the risk of being criticized for using Wikipedia as a source, perhaps Abbott et al could read and reflect on this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_Golden_Age#Freedom_of_Expression

and this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_contributions_to_Medieval_Europe

Which tells of a time when the boot was on the other foot and the Islamic world was a beacon of rationality, learning and religious tolerance compared to a superstitious, relatively primitive and extremely intolerant Christian Europe.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"If you read any books by early travellers in the Middle East they were always looking down the wrong end of a sharp knife."

I've read plenty of books by early travellers in the Middle East, including women, and while banditry might've been a worry at times, almost all of them stress the friendliness and hospitality of the local people. So give me some references or shut up.

Unknown said...

Charles Doughty lived amongst Bedouin for two years and was in constant danger being an infidel amongst Muslims.

Wilfred Thesiger: " including two crossings of the Empty Quarter, among peoples who had never seen a European and considered it their duty to kill Christian infidels."

jh said...

Interesting result in France. NZ First leads the polls so Labour/Green withdraw their candidate and Labour/Green supporters get National over the line.

Same as in Norway some time back. Elites/ Marxist academics versus the working class.

If only NZ First could up it's act with some argument behind it's policy: critical theory etc is in it's ascendancy and limits to growth exist.
In China wages now top Mexico's but they still have one billion people whose incomes don't exceed $3 / day. Immigration to the "wealthy" west wont help that?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Lamartine traveled in style, with a large retinue, at a gentlemanly and leisurely pace and on carefully planned routes. He was often greeted with great hospitality by local officials and notables,"

Not to mention that they often exaggerated or bullshitted, because they wanted to seem adventurous. And there are examples of people calling them on their bullshit as well. Often their guides exaggerated the dangers in order to get more money.

"Like Niebuhr, Burckhardt admired the Arabs as a free, hospitable and
independent nation."
Also, travellers in the 18th century did not report the bandit problems. In fact they emphasised the hospitality. So I'm calling bullshit.

Don Robertson said...

Re Man ban. As the all Black's coach said, it isn't about being top dog it is about being the right dog. If labour want to build the best team it doesn't necessarily mean the best players, it does mean the best player for the position. No point in having the ten best players if they are all full backs.

Second the greens. You as labour doesn't attract, for example, scientists. How many scientists are going to go to green party meetings and listen to the anti vaxxers, homeopaths, fluoride fear mongers and so forth. The greens have some good people at the top of the list, but would labour want to caucus with them if they bring in another 5 Stefan Brownings? With a party that even puts him on the list?

I used to meet you, Chris, when I was active in the greens, but I can't take the endless arguments about cell phones and cancer any more. I'd rather have national than let the greens get anywhere near science and health policies.