Monday, November 4, 2013

Richard Prebble: Insight into Politics - David Cunliffe


Being Leader of the Opposition may be the worst job in politics but it is also the job with the best prospects.  Do the job well and you are rewarded with the politics top job.  So it is rather important to discover who David Cunliffe is.

Commentators are not sure where to place David Cunliffe on the political spectrum.  So let us try.

Where would place a person who is an Anglican Minister’s son, was educated at the prestigious United World College of the Atlantic in Wales, got a BA with first class honours from Otago, a Fulbright scholar to Harvard, spent seven years as a diplomat, is married to a prominent lawyer, has two sons and lives in Herne Bay?

But then if I tell you his degree was in politics, that he did a diploma in Social Sciences at Massey, at Harvard attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government doing a Masters of Public Administration and is now a Labour MP.  You begin to suspect he might be a “Private school Marxist”. 

But then I tell you he left the diplomatic service to go and work for that symbol of capitalism the Boston Consulting Group. 

So now you are as confused as the commentators.  (To add to your confusion with a CV like that why would you bother to make claims that are not true)?

The party membership as always been far to the left of the average Labour voter and the members believe they have finally got a leader who shares their views.

In the primary and in his two major speeches since then Mr. Cunnliffe has gone out of his way to state his left wing credentials.  He promised the Trade Union Annual Conference a “red Labour Party” rather than a “pale blue” one.  At the party conference he gave a speech of the politics of envy.

A real lurch to the left would have been for Labour to abandon its three decade long support for free trade. The media reports Mr. Cunliffe supported the Dairy Workers Union motion that Labour “withholds support for the TPP until full details are made available and there is clear evidence that the agreement is in the best interests of New Zealand.”  These are weasel words.  Labour is signaling its support for the TPP as even Labour does not expect National to sign an agreement that was not “in the best interests of New Zealand”.

There are other indications of Mr. Cunliffe’s moderation.  Immediately after his blood red speech to the unionists he told reporters “but we don't know exactly what the state of the books is going to be yet and we're having to balance that with the need to be fiscally responsible which we will be.” They are weasel words to escape from any spending promise.


So now you do not know what to believe.  You are in the same position as his caucus colleagues who now voted twice not to support him. His fellow MPs do not trust him.  They see a person with no core set of values except to say and do whatever he thinks will make him popular. 


David Cunliffe does not believe he needs to tell his supporters unpalatable truths such as there are limits to what any government can do.  The electoral wisdom is that to win an election it is necessary to “win the middle ground”.  David Cunliffe does not believe he needs to win over a single vote and Labour can win by going to the left.


David Cunliffe calls on the party to reach the "missing million" who did not vote at the last election.   He says “I think with good organisation and with clarity of purpose a lot of the people that couldn't be bothered voting last time will sure as heck be bothered next time.”  Hence the string of promises like a “living wage” and the class rhetoric.


We are confronted by a government clearly ruling in the interests of a few at the expense of the many, and creating two New Zealands.

One for the rich and powerful, who don’t pay their fair share of tax because they have smart accountants to ensure they avoid it.

And there’s the other New Zealand. Where people struggle to put food on the table for their families.


Where children go to school hungry, and senior citizens shiver in their homes.
Families who pay tax on every dollar they earn, pick up the slack for the mega-rich and the foreign corporations who don’t.”
David Cunliffe knows what he is saying is not true.  The Finance Minister reveals;
  • Households earning less than $60,000 a year, which total around half of all households, are generally expected to pay less in percentage terms towards total net tax in 2013/14 than they were paying in 2008/09.
  • And only 6 per cent of individual taxpayers earn over $100,000 a year, yet they pay 37 per cent of total income tax. This has increased from the 2010/11 tax year, when those taxpayers paid 29 per cent of total income tax.
There is wisdom in crowds.  The electorate knows what Mr. Cunliffe is saying is not true.  The delegates at the Labour Conference may have applauded but just 12 months ago the same delegates were in rapture over David Shearer.  The delegates want to believe they have made the right choice but the polls have paused.  The delegates will go home and realize something did not ring true.  Real leaders tell it like it is and they heard only words of sugar and no salt.

And here is another worry for the delegates.  What if the million voters (another Cunliffe exaggeration) did not vote
not because Labour lacked clarity but because Labour lacked credibility? And here is another possibility. Maybe the voters stayed at home because they like John Key. 

3 comments:

paul scott said...

Richard’s article brings up the subject of populist campaigning, and …well bribing people with sound bite ideas .
Over at ‘The Daily Blog’ people like Martyn Bradbury reported their excitement and delirium from the Labour party conference.
At that conference Bradbury claimed that Cunliffe was turning blood into water. The labour party is now officially a socialist party he said. The new State owned insurance Company will quickly bring an end to all our insurance woes ; New Brighton which has had a long miserable stagnating forty year death will be revived to a sparkling lively seaside village ; and all the red zone decay leading out there will have infrastructure magically reformed as the new socialists sparkle fairy dust over our entire City.
This is so great it’s a wonder someone didn’t think of all this before.
I said to Bob Parker myself, “ why can’t you transform New Brighton to a sparkling lively seaside village Bob”. He said ‘good idea but even I am not that crazy’

People who are interested in populist democracy can look to the corrupt Government in Thailand.
Briefly Thailand Parliament is ruled absolutely by the criminal previous Thailand Prime Minister in exile. Thaksin. His sister is the puppet Prime minister . He has enormous wealth gained from kick backs and bribes of during his Prime Ministership to the value of several billion dollars. Yes that’s billions.
He uses his corrupt fortune from Dubai to control the Parliament, a good part of the Police and insiders in the Army. These people accept bribes because the State does not pay them proper salaries.
It is all almost outside the understanding of those of us in the West, but it is true. It is estimated here that nearly 30% in all Government contracts feed back to bribes and kick backs to a very wealthy few. Thai people quite accept this. GDP here $US 360 billion.

I give this detail because this crooked Thai Government bought the votes of the poor north east rice farmers with a bribe. It worked. They voted for the bribe in the millions.
Now to say these farmers are relatively simple is not overstating the situation; and if Cunliffe told me and my friends he would pay twice the market price for everything we produced, we would vote for him. Self first you see.
So lets not pretend. Corruption and bribery works.
The Cunliffe program as set out could see flight of capital from New Zealand. Socialism has never worked anywhere. And opening the banks to lenders at nil deposit saved for property would lead to worsening of the housing situation. But the religious left will blame the rich pricks.

What is to be done. Cunliffe populism must be torn to shreds at every opportunity. Richard points clearly to the fact that Cunliffe knows that his lack of honesty is part of an exercise in utter cynicism.

End part 1, part 2 following

paul scott said...

Part 2 response to Richards article
The good news comes at the end of Richards article. When people like the PM and feel safe , a lethargy occurs. Do people vote for politicians they like?. I do. And I vote against politicians I dislike.
Cunliffe is unlikeable by nature . Even his own Caucus do not like Cunliffe.
Can you imagine John Key calling in his Caucus MP’s to ask them if they voted for his leadership.
I don’t think so .
I think Key needs to be told in various ways we expect him to be PM next year, and we

Well now, just back to the criminal Thaksin and his puppet Prime minister Sister of Thailand.
They arranged an amnesty for him to come back to Thailand and rule as Emperor again.
But the Thais have had enough. They see their Country being manipulated for one man’s greed and power. The populist promises were for one voting group only, and it turned out a disaster for Thailand.
In response the Thai people now, of all colours are on the streets . Family people, small business people, Bankers, Academics, hospital staff, and even judges are unified in the cause of rejecting this amnesty for one mans enrichment and Emperorship at his people expense.
You can only fool the people for some time; and we have plenty of time to see how our own bleeding red liar twists and turns

Glenn G said...

Paul you are exactly right, Cunliffe is a very dangerous man, I cannot figure out how he could be so well educated but still be so dumb as to take the country down the same old path again that has already failed, also I cannot believe how pathetic the spin doctors are that look after the National Government in terms of getting the message out there that Labour & the Greens will trash the place given half a chance. All the evidence is there based on their previous efforts as Government which have all led to a country that is worse off when they are removed from office . And therein lies the problem that the government will have leading up to the election, on the one side you will have cunliffe dangling the carrot & promising everything for nothing & then we will have the government trying to find a way to discredit them with a whole lot of info that joe punter will not understand. I certainly hope that they get their act together next year because as history will tell you labour came back from certain defeat twice when they dangled the carrot, one was interest free student loans which is exactly what Cunliffe is doing again.