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Tuesday, 1 August 2017

The King is dead! Long live the Queen!

Not much to say here except its been a long time coming.

I have been calling for this for some time and while it is a risky (if not dangerous) move two months out from an election but the reality was Labour was dead either way so changing the guard now at least has the potential to bring about positive change.

And, I, for one, am happy with this.

Little was an albatross around the party's neck from almost day dot and it only ever got worse as time went on. The fact that I was calling this outcome a year ago might surprise some but it was all there for anyone who did not have their ideological blinders on*.

Ardern is untested by and large but she has something (call it the x-factor of politics) and whatever that is it has not had any negative effects on her or the party up to now.

The best barometer of this will be the next round of political polling and I can bet that National will now be looking over their shoulders at this change because it was known that they wanted Little in the role for his dullard ability, political ineptitude and the damage those things did to Labour's election chances.

Well not any longer, there is a new sheriff in town and there are two key tasks that Ardern must face if she wants to make this 60 day sprint for the prize work.

The first is sorting out the dissent in her own party, if the faction that opposed Little's rise to leader are not happy with her she either has to win them over or root them out, there can be no room for mercy here because if the public gets a whiff of the same old stale Labour infighting this will all have been for naught.

The second is running a variation on the campaign Jeremy Corbyn ran in the UK which is "new leader/new agenda". If Labour can make a clean break with its grotty past and make amends for the betrayal of 1984, by electing a new leader and a choosing new agenda, 60 days is plenty of time to sell this to the nation. This will be the harder of the two but a new leader out on the hustings selling her vision of a better NZ is something that many can get behind.

If Ardern can make these two work then it may just be enough to boost Labours poll numbers and draw in some of the undecided voters which are ripe for the picking.

One word of warning to her is that National will be gunning for her and they will be digging out the dirt file on her to see what can be turned into mud and slung at her.

Even if she looses in 2017 she has the potential to lead the party to victory in 2020, she is young and has the energy and the spirit of Norm Kirk is with her on this one.

The only real downside of Labour making the change now, when it was obvious a year a go that it needed to be made, is that this will a trial by fire election for her but this is the perfect opportunity for her to strut her stuff and show that she can hustle under fire.

The only other things to wonder about is will Labour have enough cash to change its billboards?

Finally as many other seem loath to make predictions I am going to put my money where my mouth is and say that this will be enough to get Labour the prize on September 23, given that things like the Maori Party extending the olive branch was an almost immediate response to Jacinda getting the top job but with the minor caveat as per my two points noted above.

This will be just the thing to energize the election, the electorate and the political parties (save National, Act and United Future) to put some more energy in and look at working with a Labour government.

Its almost enough to make me want to vote Labour.

Benediximus Jacinda, benediximus!

*-And for those that scoffed at me making this call six months plus ago (and there were a few of you): I am not going to crow about this or say that I was right and you were wrong but simply encourage you to examine why you failed to see the obvious when I did not.


  1. You're not entitled to say "I told you so" yet. Your argument was that if Labour ditched Little they would see an improvement in their electoral fortunes. The first test of that will be the next polls and the real test will be the election.

    I don't see any improvement yet. At most what we've seen is Labour's leadership agrees with you, but that doesn't make you right.

    Once again you are talking about Labour rejecting the legacy of 1984, but why does this leadership achieve it? Labour has had umpteen leadership changes since 1990, many of those leaders explicitly rejecting the legacy of the 80s government (notably Helen Clark). If Clark's saying she wasn't going to lead an 80s style government wasn't a rejection, why is the mere fact of Ardern's ascension a rejection (especially when Ardern has, as far as I know, voiced no strong opinions either way about the 80s government)?

    What saddens me most is that you, like so many of your fellow mainstream commenters, are just totally uninterested in policy, and proudly so. Policy doesn't even enter into your analysis and when called on it you react with bewilderment. For example, to you the way to undo the toxic legacy of the 80s is to make a series of public relations gestures, not to actually do something to reverse their economic impact on the poor.

    Speaking of the 80s, this whole "Little out + Arden in" thng reminds me very much of the last minute leadership swap of Moore for Palmer. The only salient different is that Labour were in government then.

  2. Hi Moxon:

    I'm not uninterested in policy but at this stage policy is the least of Labours worries.

    Your right that its the polls which will show an definite swing but the recent news of a big jump in donations and volunteers for Labour show, I think, a good anecdotal base for saying that things are improving.

    As for the 80s, Clark might have said it but the policies did not change and the neo-liberal ethos continued, it has to be both not one or the other.

    So yes Jacinda could fumble the ball here and miss the mark and this is definitely a hail Mary play but they have nothing to loose.

    But to go back to policy for a moment, if you groove on policy then thats all fine and dandy but the larger models and ideas that underlay policy are just as important and as someone who has helped craft a few policies in my time I can say for certain that that ideological filter is always applied.

    Having a policy to help the poor, and have we not had a few of those, never seem to work and that's because the overall ideological current is going counter to any genuine intent to help people (except the rich).

    This is the key to Corbyn in the UK, a clear break with the past by stating something that genuinely scares those who endorse the free-market because its opposed to the free market.

    At this point policy wont fix anything, we need a shift closer to a revolutionary change than a policy fix.

    1. "As for the 80s, Clark might have said it but the policies did not change and the neo-liberal ethos continued"

      My point exactly. And yet a few days ago you told me, "At the end of the day this has little to do with policies".

  3. Oh and Ardern/Moore connection is true but Moore was also a glory hungry/old school/unionist power seeker who went for the power after Palmer fumbled the ball in short order.

    Also keep in mind that if Ardern is channeling the spirit of Moore then English is channeling the spirit of Marshall in 72 so its less a case of one established PM vrs untested newb but one newb vrs another slightly less newb.

    English proved in the past he has not the skills to lead the party, he is only doing well now as its election time, if National loose he would be rolled in short order.

    1. "Oh and Ardern/Moore connection is true but Moore was also a glory hungry/old school/unionist power seeker who went for the power after Palmer fumbled the ball in short order."

      Sure, but... so what? Do you think Moore wasn't able to retain power because he was a glory hungry old school unionist power seeker, or are you just throwing in a fun factoid you think I'm not aware of?

      Although I will note that Ardern also "went for the power after (Little) fumbled the ball in short order". So it's no big difference on that point.

    2. No, Moore being a power hungry unionist was definitely there for a reason. Moore pushed and agitated for the role and helped destabilize Palmer. His greed got the better of him.

      Ardern may have wanted the role despite her pretenses at humility but she appears to have been willing to back Little right to the election if need be and was not out openly trying to destabilize him.

      The differences between the two is that Moore was never popular as potential leader or leader and he just dragged the party down when he got to be leader.

      Ardern has some popularity and while untested I think she will do well, I have seen her speak and her recent TV interviews shows that she cant take some guff and give it back.

      Moore, on the other hand, was a fire and brimstone, fist clenching, unionist speaker that must have had a copy of the political hacks handbook at his bedside table because he was a terrible speaker. I saw him speak three times and he sounded good for five minutes and then it was just more of the same.

      The difference between the two is one of style but also of the times.

      Ardern has been a popular candidate for leader (at least if we can trust the polls) and did not agitate for the job so while she is untested as head honcho my gut says she will be good for Labour and its polling.

      What we may be able to agree on is the speed with which the change came, my guess is Labour had a backup plan on standby and when the polling went below a certain point it tripped the activation clause.

    3. "The differences between the two is that Moore was never popular as potential leader or leader "

      I think this is incorrect. Simon Bird in 'Full Circle' believed he had identified a 'Moore bounce' in 1990 - while Labour still lost with Moore as leader, they lost by significantly less than they would have with Palmer. Moore's ascension to the leadership was welcomed by the public (just like they'd welcomed Palmer six months prior)

      Do you think Labour would have done better in 1990 if they'd kept Geoffrey Palmer?

      Moore did well in preferred Prime Minister polls between 1990 and 1993, often beating Bolger, and got 35% of the vote in 1993 - more than Helen Clark got in 1996. The idea that nobody liked Moore and he was unpopular is sheer revisionist history. If anything he was more popular than his party (which is presumably why he often thought about leaving it).

      But I get it, you think Moore was crap and Ardern isn't, and you think that's a significant difference. I'm not telling you they are identical as politicians. I'm just saying that this is effectively the same scenario - change leaders at the last minute to avoid electoral oblivion. The particular features of each leader are not that pertinent in the short term - this is just about making a drastic change because nothing else seems to be working.

      I'm not even claiming it's not going to work - it did work with Moore in 1990. It just didn't result in electoral victory, but when you are polling as low as Labour was in 1990 and last week, aspiring to victory isn't realistic.

      It is interesting to me that to you "unionist" seems to be an insult. What's your beef with unions?

  4. I'll still punt Labour plus Green = 38%, no more than 40%.. Some minor redistribution within the left. The gap is just too big , and the substance too soapy soft .

    1. You Sir, have yourself a bet.

      Winston said last night that he saw Labour making 5 - 7% in the polls on this and not just by wrangling it back from the Greens so if the Greens can hold their 15% or so and Labour can hit 30% we will have a very interesting game.

      I'm going to say(and I will probably regret this) Labour/Greens 40 plus.

    2. What do you predict The Opportunities Party will get

    3. I'm not sure Moxon, I have a feeling that Morgan and TOP will stay below the 5% but as I am currently working on a TOP/Morgan post I may change my mind by the time I post it.

  5. I usually lose my bets EA. The last one $100 charity bet to [ non charity Greenpeace ] over the prediction of the end of Rodney Hide. I can't remember who I favoured.
    Labour Green at plus 40.0 % I am in with a good chance of losing.
    Anything above 40% you win, I pay $100 or named figure to your charity,
    Anything less. 39.9% you send $100 to the Hobson's pledge people.
    To be honest if the Country gives the corporate arrogant Nat a hiding it is good.

  6. Opportunites will work out the opposite to intentions Moxon.
    At 3% redistributed that is bad for the left. Madmouth Morgan knows that and this adds credence to the fact that he is nuts.

  7. Paul: I will take that bet but lets make its $50 as thats easier for my post election wallet.

  8. yes, agreed. I see the media hyped Jacinda should take you well over 40%

  9. I do think there is some media hype for Jacinda but I also think that this is an obvious reflex to nine years of National and Jacinda having the right stuff where Little did not.