Bryce Edwards: Labour’s bitter divisions

Bryce Edwards: Labour’s bitter divisions

Chris Trotter continues to be a thorn in the side of the Labour Party leadership. MPs will hate his column today, which calls into question the integrity of this week’s caucus reshuffle and paints a picture of a bitterly divided party – see: Dishing out rewards to hungry enforcers. Trotter says the reshuffle has been used to reward the David Shearer and Grant Robertson factions of the party and to punish those aligned to David Cunliffe. And even more interestingly, Trotter recounts how some Labour MPs operated during November’s annual conference, by ‘hunting as a pack’ to suppress party dissidents who wanted greater democratisation. [Read more below]


NZ Herald 26 February 2013 Labour reshuffle

NZ Herald 26 February 2013
Trotter singles out Clare Curran and Darien Fenton for particular criticism. They have responded this morning on Twitter: Curran (@clarecurranmp) says: ‘I reckon it’s time Chris Trotter is given the true recognition and accolades he (seeks) & deserves as a fiction writer’, and Fenton (@DarienFenton): ‘chris trotter knows everything’.


3 Clare Curran Labour MP

Trotter’s picture of bitter division was reinforced this week by departing MP Charles Chauvel’s extraordinary valedictory speech – the highlights of which can be viewed here: Charles Chauvel Bids Parliament Adieu. David Farrar explains why Chauvel’s comments were so extraordinary and why they illustrate just how divided the party is – see: The Chauvel valedictory. A senior Labour activist, Greg Presland, has also blogged about Chauvel’s speech, particularly to criticise Trevor Mallard’s own provocative response to it – see: The Labour Party must have both of its wings to fly. And Patrick Gower (@patrickgowernz) has tweeted, ‘Just heard about Charles Chauvel’s nickname from his caucus enemies… Macchi-Chauvellian!’


In his speech Chauvel also raised a perennial criticism about the state of the media, possibly again reflecting Labour’s dissatisfaction with its own coverage. In fact, most of the media have been particularly positive about David Shearer’s reshuffle this week. See for example, the following very complimentary articles: John Armstrong’s Clever reshuffle adds punching power and King won’t disappoint, Claire Trevett’s Labour hoping for a health King-hit, and the Herald’s Shearer has come up with more credible Opposition. These analyses collectively declare Labour’s reshuffle a winner. Trevett, for example, says ‘The reshuffle marks a watershed moment in Labour’s time in Opposition…. perhaps the first time since it lost government in 2008, the Labour team has started looking and talking like an Opposition party’.



There has been other interesting analysis and criticism of the reshuffle, including David Farrar’s Portfolios not in the shadow cabinet and Pete George’s New Labour ranking compared to list. But two of the most important analyses focused on how the reshuffle might relate to a future Labour-Greens Cabinet – see Matthew Hooton’s Shape of new government emerges and The Standard’s Room left for Greens in Labour reshuffle.


The latest opinion poll offers more bad news for Labour – with a drop of 4% for Labour, and a 4% rise for National. The results are best presented at The Standard, with some despair: ‘it’s not the greatest feeling in world watching National coasting to a third term’ – see: Latest Roy Morgan… a bit sh*t. But coming to the rescue is Scott Yorke with his mocking blogpost, Ten reasons for Labour people not to worry about the polls. Meanwhile, Brian Rudman explains why Labour is doing so poorly at the moment – evidence suggests that people are fairly happy with their lot – see: Labour should be making inroads.


Chris Trotter might be tough on Labour, but he’s hardly become soft on the Government. Earlier this week, he wrote a stinging attack on the Government’s SkyCity maneuverings, and suggested that New Zealand’s low corruption status is an illusion – see: Corruption exists by the shovel load. Also, on the topic of Chris Trotter, to get more of an idea of how he thinks, his influences and why he thinks the New Zealand left is at its lowest point in his lifetime, you can watch an interview with him that I’ve just uploaded to YouTube. The 52-minute video is a filmed conversation with Trotter in front of a small studio audience at the University of Otago last year – see: NZ Politics Chat – Chris Trotter.