Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Conflicting Priorities: Has Poto Williams just cost Labour the 2017 Election?

Queen Of Fools, Or Pawn In Someone Else's Game? Poto Williams' very public intervention against Willie Jackson has inflicted considerable damage - not only to Andrew Little and Labour, but also to her own political future. Was the offending media release (allegedly prepared and distributed by a Christchurch PR firm) all her own work, or did someone put her up to it? And, if so, then who is responsible? Cui bono?
 
POTO WILLIAMS’ very public criticism of Willie Jackson’s return to Labour has done huge damage to her party’s re-election chances. At a stroke, her ill-disciplined and (presumably) unsanctioned outburst has undermined the positive perceptions created by the joint Labour/Green state-of-the-nation event of 29 January. All of those “good vibrations” (to quote TV3’s Patrick Gower) have been drowned out by the high-pitched screeching of identity politics. Too wrapped up in their quest for a gender-balanced caucus to recognise the strategic importance of Andrew Little’s eleventh-hour recruitment of Jackson, Williams and her supporters have cost Labour tens-of-thousands of urban Maori (and Pakeha!) votes.
 
Little’s own quest: to reconstitute Labour’s “broad church”; is clearly considered secondary to the Labour Women’s Council’s determination to achieve a gender-balanced caucus in 2017 – as mandated by the Party’s recently revised constitution.
 
The recent recruitment of Greg O’Connor to contest the critically important Ohariu electorate has ruffled more than a few progressive feathers. (The Left deems the former policeman to be a rock-ribbed social conservative.) With the surprise return of Jackson to Labour (on the promise of a favourable position on the Party List) these already fragile feathers have started flying in all directions.
 
Predictably, it is Jackson’s on-air grilling of “Amy” during the so-called “Roast Busters” scandal of 2013 that is being used to discredit his candidacy. That Jackson, along with his co-host John Tamihere, were merely giving voice the doubts and reservations of a great many of their listeners (as talkback hosts are wont to do) has never been accepted by their critics. In the binary world of Identity Politics there is only space for rape-culture Devils and victimised Angels. “Devil’s Advocates” need not apply.
 
That there were many people living in South and West Auckland (and across New Zealand) who considered “Willie & JT” to also be victims of the Roast Busters scandal does not appear to have crossed the minds of their detractors. That these same people may have interpreted the fate of their talkback champions as proof of how little the Left has to offer voters like themselves either did not occur to the avenging angels of Identity Politics, or, if it did, was considered a price worth paying.
 
For Identity Politicians the psephological consequences of such moral crusading are matters of supreme unimportance. According to one recent analysis: “The correlation between voting National in 2014 and being male was 0.35, which was significant. This was mirrored on the centre-left: the correlation between voting Labour in 2014 and being female was 0.31.” Never mind. That National is well on the way to becoming the blokes’ party matters much less than ensuring a fifty/fifty split between men and women in Labour’s caucus. The question of whether or not guaranteeing gender parity should be accorded a higher priority than winning the election itself is studiously avoided.
 
As Labour’s leader, Little does not have the luxury of remaining indifferent to the demographic composition of his party’s voting support. In the simplest terms, his mission is to move voters from National’s column to Labour’s. Or, failing that, to lure out of the Non-Vote a large enough body of voters to nudge the election in Labour’s favour. Attracting votes to Labour is, however, unlikely if the party is perceived as subscribing to ideas and values radically at odds with the ideas and values of the voters to whom it is appealing.
 
Hence Greg O’Connor and Willie Jackson. For the working-class people who are, overwhelmingly, the principal victims of criminal offending, the idea of having the former boss of the Police Association in Parliament is likely to sound pretty good. To urban Maori, having the head of the Manukau Urban Maori Authority, Willie Jackson, representing them in Parliament may be similarly appealing – especially since so many voters already feel they know him from his afternoon talkback show on Radio Live.
 
Little’s announcement of O’Connor and Jackson was another important step in his carefully calibrated plan to reposition Labour in the minds of the voters. The intention is to change people’s perceptions of the party. From being seen as the political vehicle for highly-educated, politically-correct professionals living in metropolitan New Zealand, Labour’s election strategists are hoping to reclaim its original identity as the party for ordinary working people and their families.
 
Yes, O’Connor and Jackson may jar the sensibilities of inner-city Wellington and Grey Lynn, but they may also reassure less well-heeled Labour supporters that they represent something more than dull-witted but reliable voting-fodder. By providing such reassurance, Little hopes to avoid the fate of Hillary Clinton’s Democratic Party, which came to be seen by too many working-class Americans as a machine with only one function. To turn out enough people like themselves to elect candidates not even remotely like themselves to Congress and the White House.
 
Poto Williams’ reckless intervention has done enormous damage to Little’s plan. Memories of the “Man Ban” and of David Cunliffe’s tragic “I’m sorry I’m a man” comment have been revived. Even worse, socially conservative New Zealanders have been reminded of the remorseless pillorying of two working-class Maori men by a swarm of (mostly) Pakeha liberals.
 
Poto Williams’ unsanctioned attack on Willie Jackson has conveyed to conservative working-class New Zealanders the following, fatal, message. In neon-lit letters ten metres high she has proclaimed:  “Labour’s priorities are not your priorities.”
 
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Monday, 6 February 2017.

32 comments:

Phil Saxby said...

I think the next election will be in 2017, not 2014.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

All that's missing from his recycled gang of Marxist has-beens is Jim Anderton and Sandra Lee.

Don't shoot the young lady from Christchurch for telling the truth. Shoot the idiot leader who is trying to fend off a leadership coup.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

BTW, I forgot to mention 2014 was some time ago.

Nick R said...

Little may actually relish this opportunity to show his caucus and the public who is boss. Shoulder tapping Willie Jackson certainly looks like a deliberate provocation to the left of the party as much as it is an appeal to urban Maori voters. And a lot of the most vehement criticism seems to come from people who have long and loudly professed their intention never to vote Labour again - so nothing lost there. But either way it is a chance for Little to show how Labour is becoming a broader church, if he can prevail.

Partytime said...

Go to any working mens club and any member won't have a clue who Poto Williams is or what identity politics is about.

But they will know Willie Jackson and what he is about.

Ask any working class voter: they just want the best candidate who can deliver economic progress.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"secondary to the Labour Women’s Council’s determination to achieve a gender-balanced caucus in 2017 – as mandated by the Party’s recently revised constitution."

Does a broad church not include women? Are all their issues identical to men's?

Isn't your attack on her similar to the attacks on Jackson?

How far down do you have to go in sleazebaggery before you decide that enough is enough and they're not fit to stand for Parliament?

If you want to attract the working class, the unemployed, and the nonvoters – wouldn't it be better to actually have policies that obviously favour their interests rather than relying on personalities? TBH I don't see much of that going on. The Labour Party seem better suited to relying on smoke and mirrors.

Richard Swan said...

i am sure willie jackson would be a popular candidate, but to say he will bring tens of thousands of voters to labour might be a slight exaggeration! Who else are these people going to be voting for? Are you saying that there are tens of thousands of swing voters would make their vote on say the 10th person (which jackson would likely be on a list??!!

Uxor mea me necabit! said...

Ah yes party discipline, the free prize at the bottom of every poisoned chalice. There is no opinion but the ruling elite's and this is enshrined in the anti-democratic bull's wool that is MMP. Now what on earth has you convinced that Labour has anything to do with working people's concerns and ambitions? Given your free attitude to timelines, it must be the 1917 version of the party you're dreaming of.

peter petterson said...

Leadership coup from whom? If such a coup was successful Labour would lose my vote, and many others.

John Drinnan said...

Well summed up. Though hasn't Little seems mismanaged?

David Stone said...

Hi Chris
I suspect that you and Martyn Bradbury have done more to remind the electorate of the ghost buster's interview than Poto's Facebook page would have done by itself if ignored by a factor of 10.
My prediction is that Poto's electorate majority will increase while labour"s overall will decline. That will be instructive of how the public sees this .
Cheers David J S

Anonymous said...

The "moral crusading" you refer to is a cover for gang bashing people, victims, on the basis of dubious smears, at the rate of a couple of real individuals per month. All decency and fairness goes out the window when it comes to attacking someone who has been foolish or unfortunate enough to get tangled up in their psycho rhetoric. Like a carnivorous plant, the more the victim struggles the worse gets the stricture. You can almost hear them salivating when blood is aired on Twitter.

Any illusions that these people believe in high-minded principles like fairness and equality should be dispelled at these times. They don't. Nazis too are identarians.

greywarbler said...

It is so easy for all the Uriah Heeps to come forth wringing their hands about the criticism of Poto Williams and also a very vocal and sympathetic female cohort. Rape culture has a special inflammatory effect when mentioned.

The practical aspects of the Left needing to make inroads into the voting population, and to draw in non-voters and how determined Labour has to be to break through is of no interest to such women. Their sensibilities are too pure to consider stepping down from their high horses, buttoning up for the period, and putting up with someone who has put his foot in his mouth in making public the facts about what some young people are doing. The two men probably know that there is a high degree of sexual activity among some young girls with slightly older boys and that it was courted and enjoyed by both and were looking for truth not the victim-oriented version that was currently being aired.

However it was not Willie or Tamihere's right to question this young girl on air in such an invasive way and for that he should have apologised. But there is also the shock of hearing it admitted, instead of remaining a taboo subject that really disturbs, and so some of this is shooting the messenger.

There is also a prudish attitude that arises in some women's comments on-line. The strong curiosity about sex from young women is not new,
and it is not connected with rape at all. And the desire of some young men to find out about it is being greeted with moral outrage.

The need for parents to help their children understand and control their hormones, and parents of boys particularly need to pay attention to attitudes towards girls so they are neither predatory, turning sex into a hedonistic experiment where alcohol or rape drugs might be used, or not advising them to beware of advances from girls who are fascinated by the unknown that is a constant topic of conversation.

Willie Jackson can be looked at afresh if the pointing finger of scorn and anger is dropped. If he can keep his mouth shut and breathe through his nose and bring his street-wise, no-nonsense persona to the Labour Party he may come across as a genuine, good-hearted bloke that makes mistakes like everyone, and end up as popular as Key's fake persona has been. So give Labour and the bloke a chance. And Poto can use him in her campaigns as how any man can change, all they have to do is try and show their good side to the world, not the one that biffs.

thegreatgonzo said...

So screw any pretence of Labour standing for something that matters, screw having policies that address the issues affecting the poor, just stuff the list with a bunch of high profile rednecks and hope that will cut it???

PS: Hillary got 3 million more votes than the small fingered orangutan.

Nick J said...

Seems to me that there is either bad miscommunication within Labours caucus OR some members feel that they can make unilateral stances. That could be Little or Williams. Either way they need to sort it out.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Phil Saxby and Adolf Finkelstein.

I wondered what you were on about for a while - and then I noticed the year in the headline. Hmmmm? Must be getting old. Thanks guys.

To: The Great Gonzo.

I would have thought offering the electorate a broad range of candidates was crucial to Labour winning the support it needs to ensure that the things that matter - like policies addressing the needs of the poor - have some chance of being achieved. Rednecks have votes too.

To: David Stone.

Oh no, David, that's just too cute. Poto did not just turn to Facebook in frustration. No, on or before 5th February, she went to the Christchurch PR firm "Inform PR" and had them help her draft a statement - which was then distributed to carefully selected representatives of the news media. Only then did she post the statement on her Facebook page. Martyn and I weighed into this issue after - not before - it had been carried by the mass media.

So, what you need to consider, David, is why Poto chose to go a PR agency i.e. why was there such obvious premeditation? Why didn't she just call Andrew and discuss her concerns? Also, when it came to distributing her statement, why did she deliberately bypass the party's communications people?

And when you've received answers to all these questions, David, you might also like to follow up the rumours that PR consultants based in Wellington were also involved in the attack on Little (because that's what this is) and, if you are able to confirm those rumours, why not ask the individuals involved what the hell they think they're doing. Because whatever their agenda is, it doesn't seem to include a Labour victory in September!

venezia said...

Andrew Little is perfectly within his rights to parachute in a non member who has a record of supporting the behaviour of Clint Richard and Willie Jackson in relation to abuse of women and (in Jackson's case - homophobia). He also has every right to support Greg O'Connor for candidacy in spite of his fascist tendencies. Labour is a "broad church" as you have pointed out. But he cannot expect the long standing support of Labour women's votes as well - and they are also part of the "broad church" surely?

David Stone said...

Hi Chris

I acknowledge my research is superficial so I take your point.(s)

I strongly suspect though that Poto's motivation for entering politics is tied to the underlying issue of abuse, given her personal experience. I expect she feels that not to have acted as she has would have rendered her political career pointless. But don't you think the issue would have come up anyway?

Cheers D J S

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,
I always enjoy your blog however sometimes I suspect you of too academic an approach to your exposition which frequently loses the point your are trying to make. Not this time, you are quite correct as well as eloquent in your argument. An excellent piece of work and it needed to be said out loud. Regards Neil

J Bloggs said...

Why didn't Poto call Andrew to discuss her concerns? When has any women calling the boss to discuss why some johnny come lately male has been parachuted in above the women who have been putting in the hard work ever had a positive outcome for the woman in question?

I can understand perfectly why Poto Williams didn't bother to waste her time and energy discussing what is obviously a "boys club" stitch up job with the chief architect of said job.

Sanctuary said...

The more I thought about it, the more I realised that Poto Williams actions were a sign of how weak her faction has become, not of it's strength. After all, you don't try and launch an insurgency if you can win a fair fight under the usual rules of engagement on an even playing field. The Guerilla war has already petered out, the motley crew of political has-beens of the 1990-2000s era women's faction who supported Poto Williams have been exposed as lacking in influence in Andrew Little's caucus and party.

However you cut it, Andrew Little is getting his way - albeit after some ritual charade of a meeting so Poto could save a bit of face. His clearly isn't strong enough for a final reckoning, but it is revelation of just how feeble the women's faction has become in Labour that their attempted -what? coup? Undermining? - collapsed with such little impact or real threat.

Poto's faction is in much the same position as the German High Seas fleet after the battle of Jutland in 1916, of which an American journalist observed - “the German fleet has assaulted its jailer, but it is still in jail”. And of course, just two and a bit short years later, the german fleet was meekly interned under the guns of it's enemy.

A O said...

I must admit I haven't paid much attention to local politics for awhile given the world of Trump and co that we live in now. What I do know though is that the world of Trump loves this sort of stuff. Let the left fight among themselves - fools.

There's one underlying issue in this world (climate change aside) and that is economic. The economic well-being of people or lack thereof, underpins every other issue. If we are ever to tackle the core driver of every issue on this planet - then we need to be united. And we need the best people that we can get to tackle this core issue. All other issues will not be adequately resolved until this one, core issue is overcome. We have got to understand that and until we do - we go nowhere. Absolutely no-friggin-where.

Ross F said...

While you may be correct in saying Greg O'Connor has been chosen for his law and order connections it may be simpler than that. Peter Dunn needs to go but putting a real Lefty into Ohariu won't work in an electorate that is mostly middle class to well-heeled. Having done a good deal of election canvassing in the past, I've yet to meet a policeman who doesn't have conservative leanings and I suspect O'Connor is no different. But he is a candidate with a profile and a strongest looking (on paper) we've seen for several elections in Ohariu.

jh said...

What's happening with James Dann of Multicultural Aotearoa. I would have thought multiculturalism was on the way out in a party which represents working class values? Working class values are about staying home and enjoying local rather than:

"when I came back from London, I was delighted to see black, brown and speckled chooks. When I left we had only white chooks"?

pat said...

Be very careful what you wish for.....what protection will there be for the vulnerable,LBGQ,women et al in an anarchic or fascist state?....even many National supporters should be very concerned at the further fracturing of the Labour Party.
Yes the Greens and NZ first will become the new home of many but we already have a million disengaged citizens whose numbers will be swelled by such an event...and where is the coalition block in such a scenario?...the result of an unimpeded Right is known all too well......it won't " different this time"....human beings haven't changed.

Nick J said...

Sanctuary, a very interesting perspective. I hope you are correct as Labour is badly needed to represent the real issues.....health, housing, education etc

Anonymous said...

Whelp, at least Poto can sit smugly in opposition for another 3 years, knowing her morale high ground has not been compromised. I am sure lower income earners wanting to be able to afford a home, will have a lot of sympathy for her.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Okay, so I've been modded? Let's try this then.

Just imagine if Chris did an article about ice cream.
Colonel JH Blimp would write:
In nineteen oh six there was only vanilla ice cream – with a sprinkling of chocolate chips. And everyone thought the chocolate chips were going to die out, but they got together and had lots and lots of chocolate sprinkles. Which is sort of a pity. But it was okay, because we just kept importing more and more vanilla ice cream. And then all of a sudden we started importing different flavours. Different types of chocolate, and worst of all some sort of lemon flavoured stuff which started buying up all the ice cream cartons and can’t drive for some strange reason.
And then as professor O. N. De Fringe would say in my cut-and- paste, “Conservative vanilla ice cream doesn’t mix well with other flavours, because at least with chocolate chips you can pick them out and flick them into the sink. They are more concerned with (insert twenty pages of incomprehensible blather here.) So in conclusion, we should refuse to eat any flavour of ice cream other than vanilla, picking the chocolate chips out optional.

Again. Give it a rest. An

pat said...

@ GS 11.22

is that a (poor) metaphor/analogy for racism/xenophobia? if so, why? how do you think that is relevant?

Jamie said...

It sounds like it's been a tough week for you Trotter and Willie.

Here's a little Lolz to cheer you up....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0BjpUhPg9g

Starring Willie Jackson and Chris Trotter as Boondock Saints.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Pat. The quality of the metaphor is often in the eye of the beholder. And it is rather extended. But my last attempt to get the relentless JH to give his a rest from his bullshit resulted in moderation. If you want to know why I wrote it, go read some more of JH's posts. No matter what the subject in the column, he manages to turn it round to his brand of weird fascism/racism/anti-migration. And while I agree with him that we could probably do with importing fewer farmhands or Chinese chefs, he pisses me off – to the point where I could well abandon this blog altogether.

pat said...

@GS...i,m afraid i cannot do as you request as i cease reading jh's posts as soon as he erroneously highlights immigration, which is almost always....much as I headshakingly do whenever anyone erroneously cries xenophobia, racism, sexism (or any of the isms de jour) rather than addressing the substance.

The quality issue was one of relevance.....a stahlwille spanner is of no use when tightening screws