Thursday, February 29, 2024

Cam Slater: Death Spiral or Flat Spin?

Political journalists and commentators are often prone to examples of exaggeration. Tova O’Brien is one of the worst, but it is understandable when you work for a niche publication that is so close to failing that its staff resort to calamitous exaggerated headlines to attract readers to their dross.

She is saved somewhat by the question mark, but the rest of the article is rubbish.

She uses the example of Stuart Nash chucking his former colleagues under the bus as evidence of the start of a death spiral for Labour. Maybe.

As every single major political party has taught us while in opposition, you can only get elected or have any hope of convincing people you’re worthy of their votes, if your caucus is unified.

While Labour MPs – actually in the parliament – are holding it together by a thread, it’s former MPs who are starting to create fissures in the facade of unity and raise the spectre of another long stint in the wilderness of opposition for the left.

Such as it is between former Labour ministers Stuart Nash and Kiritapu Allan.

Former Police Minister Nash told RNZ on Monday that he pushed former Justice Minister Allan to go further on laws targeting gang assets but he was shut down by his cabinet colleagues and then-Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.

He wanted Police to be able to seize all gang leaders’ property – cars, bikes and bling – no matter their value but instead the threshold was set at assets valued above $30,000.

Nash then told NZME that when Allan shut the idea down with him directly, he asked to take it to Cabinet:

“And she said ‘No, this is what it’s going to be.’ She obviously went to Hipkins and Hipkins said, ‘Okay, we’re going to leave it at $30,000?. Why? Because it’s anti-Maori. Bulls….”

Nash said he went “toe-to-toe” with Allan at the time but told Stuff he didn’t now want a “tit-for-tat”.

It was an interesting insight into the vagaries of lobbying for action inside Labour’s cabinet and caucus, but a signal that the Labour Party is on the road to an ignominious death it is not.

O’Brien then uses quotes from former and current MPs, Kiri Allan and Willie Jackson to support her claims. All it shows is the freedom of not being an MP leads to the truth being told. Sure there are ructions, but are they terminal? I think not.

But O’Brien labours the point:

But this very public fight – debate warranted or not – feels distinctly like a harbinger of things to come.

More bad polls for Chris Hipkins and Labour could very well see the scrap boiling over from former MPs to current ones and what usually follows then, are questions over leadership.

That’s when the opposition death spiral truly begins.

It’s not a death spiral, because a party with a history of more than one hundred years of existence has an uncanny ability to rise from defeat again and again and again, albeit for brief stops on the Treasury benches.

Governments lose elections; oppositions don’t win them. All Labour has to do is wait until people tire of the current Government and then they will be back in. Politics is a game of redemption and forgiveness, and you only have to look at Winston Peters and NZ First to know that.

The only parties that enter a death spiral are third parties. They wax and wane, often in a single term. Labour and National aren’t that. Sure they both have issues, but they will never actually die. Commentators like Tova O’Brien are too young to know this stuff. You’d never hear those words uttered from the lips of Barry Soper.

But that will prove out in short order when the organisation O’Brien works for actually does crash and burn after its own death spiral that it is currently, desperately trying to pull itself out of.

Labour is just in a flat spin, and it is recoverable. Stuff is passing VNE (velocity never exceed), the point at which the wings rip off and it crashes spectacularly into a hard surface. Stuff‘s death spiral started some time ago. Now we are just eagerly awaiting the impact.

Cam Slater is a New Zealand-based blogger, best known for his role in Dirty Politics and publishing the Whale Oil Beef Hooked blog, which operated from 2005 until it closed in 2019. Cam blogs regularly on the BFD - where this article was sourced.

1 comment:

Tom Logan said...

So I read today David Shearer is making Ginny Anderson even more embarrassed than she has made herself lately. And Wednesday it was Stuart Nash leading the Labour Party self eating shark frenzy. A sinking ship ?

The Queen of Kindness wasn't the only one to abandon a severely leaking if not sinking ship. Andrew Williams and Grant Robertson recognised the Party's impending doom and departed. And many recent senior Labour MP's have left in shame and ignominy. Kiri Allan, Michael Wood, Stuart Nash, Clare Curran, Ian Lees Galloway, David Clark, Hekia Parata, any one I've forgotten ? She's only been gone 12 months and Ardern might not recognise some on the current Labour front bench.

And Nania Mahuta made herself the most unelectable politician in New Zealand political history.

Labour just suffered the one of their worst electoral defeats in their 108 year history. They left the country in a shambles. Fragile does not begin to describe it. The Labour Party went wildly left , leaving the broad middle ground they had fought over distantly behind them. And their ultimate shame is that the policy of Ardern's which the dead man walking didn't bonfire Luxon smashed to bits.

Ginny Anderson and Keiran MacAnulty have both been touted as future leaders. Is that the best they've got left ? Yes it is !

If the remains of the Labour was a crashed car it would be written off. If it were a family pet it would be put down

If the remains of the Labour Party were a company no one would buy it All the experienced staff have gone, the client base has mostly left .There are no assets worth paying for.

Labour faces a future choking on humble pie and internally fighting over their failures. Whilst having to create policy which placates existing followers and scrounges clients from the racist Maori Party and the socialist Greens. What a joyous and marketable thing that will be.

Labour is just an empty shell. It is a total rebuild. There is nothing of value left. Nothing left. Just some old bones for the die hard and embittered Labourites to squabble over. It is as if it were dead.

As Monty Python said if it looks dead and smells dead, it is dead. This parrot is dead Cam.

I do hope you are right though on Tova's future.