Bryce Edwards: Political Roundup – Did Louisa Wall get a fair deal from Labour and Jacinda Ardern?

Bryce Edwards: Political Roundup – Did Louisa Wall get a fair deal from Labour and Jacinda Ardern?

Scores are being settled at the moment, with Labour MP Louisa Wall going out in a blaze of media interviews to air the dirty laundry of her party. These surprising red-on-red attacks are going to be damaging for all sides.

Wall’s media blitz over the weekend paves the way for her valedictory speech on Thursday in Parliament. She’s been putting her side of the story about why she was de-selected from her safe seat of Manurewa, and why she was never given a Cabinet role when other less experienced and often inept politicians kept being promoted ahead of her.

Why did Labour and Wall fall out?

Wall has confirmed that her lack of political elevation to Cabinet was no oversight, but a deliberate policy of Ardern’s. She claims that Ardern told her that she would “never” be a cabinet minister while Ardern was prime minister. And Wall says that Ardern also wanted her out of Parliament, saying “She was obviously very clear that she didn’t want me in her caucus”.

So, why the falling out? Wall said yesterday on Q+A that she was being punished by Ardern for her support of David Cunliffe, who beat Grant Robertson for leadership in 2013.

There are other reasons that Wall’s colleagues may have doubted her loyalty. For instance, it was revealed over the weekend that when Wall was fighting to retain her candidacy in Manurewa, she hired former National Cabinet minister and Attorney-General Chris Finlayson to challenge Labour in court.

Despite this, there’s a lot of sympathy for Wall on the left. For instance, leftwing political commentator Martyn Bradbury says today that the episode highlights once again that the “Left hates talent and rewards subservience”.

Chris Trotter suggests today it was because Wall was too economically left-wing, and didn’t fit with the more conservative, do-nothing approach of the new leadership.

Right-wing commentator Matthew Hooton says the most likely scenario is that “Wall is extremely difficult to work with, has been disloyal at times to Labour’s political strategy and Government policy, has fought with and belittled colleagues and staff, and enjoys little or no support among Labour MPs or party members”.

Regardless of the reason for her departure, there’s also the question of whether Wall has been mistreated by Ardern and her party. Wall is in no doubt about this. Ardern has, in contrast, said that Wall “absolutely” was treated well.

And today, former party president Mike Williams has said that not only are Wall’s accusations unfair and untrue, but the outgoing MP has also been well looked after, especially with the Labour Party organising a good job for her to go into.

A damaging departure

MPs who are out of favour with their leadership normally get eased out of power in a less controversial way. And there were signs both in 2020 (at the time of her de-selection in Manurewa) and in the last week, that the party was successfully keeping the grievances inhouse.

Why is Wall speaking out? For her own legacy, it might well have been better for Wall to keep silent on the divisions within the party and the degree of dysfunction between herself and the Prime Minister. After all, her party has come up with a very generous retirement package, and she’s had the opportunity to go out on a high, mending fences.

Of course, there is still the chance for Wall to do this on Thursday in her valedictory speech, which is likely to be more controlled and statesperson-like than her recent media interviews. Even then, it will be highly uncomfortable for her colleagues. As Martyn Bradbury quips today: “Bets on the PM has an important engagement elsewhere when Louisa Wall gives her speech.”

Nonetheless, it is clear that Wall is still very hurt and angry.

Certainly Labour really doesn’t need a negative focus on its internal machinations at the moment – especially when it is suddenly struggling in the polls. Previously, the perceived unity of the party and Ardern’s integrity have been a powerful part of their electoral success. These are undermined by Wall’s allegations.

Former Labour Party candidate and political commentator Josie Pagani says today that it raises questions about Labour’s culture: “The empathetic, new kind of politics that was promised by the Prime Minister… It just reveals that this is nothing new, this is a bullying culture, this is business as usual in politics.”

Regardless of whose narrative is accepted, the nature of Wall’s departure will simply reiterate to the public the pettiness of the tribal politicians, with Labour seeming no different to the other parties in having dysfunction and division.

Questions about the integrity of Wall’s new job

Perhaps the most controversial element of Wall’s departure – and one that has barely been commented on – is the legitimacy of the Labour Government establishing a job that enables her exit deal.

Last week it was announced that Wall was going to be a Pacific Gender Equality Ambassador, a diplomat with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It’s a new position, and one for which there are very few details. It gives the appearance of political favouritism, in which a taxpayer-funded job has been created, so that the ruling party of the day is able to get rid of a political problem.

Broadcaster Lloyd Burr has objected to this, saying: “It reeks of John Key’s jobs-for-the-boys which saw a number of his MPs and ministers and officials given cushy overseas postings. But what makes Louisa Wall’s new job so hollow is that it appears they’ve invented this role just so they could get rid of her, and keep her silent.”

Burr says that the lack of transparency in the appointment is very telling: “I’ve asked Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta what Louisa Wall’s remuneration package is, but I’ve had no reply. I should hardly be surprised.”

However, don’t expect the National Party opposition to be shouting “corruption”. They did the same thing – most notably in 2014 when they appointed then Labour MP Shane Jones as Pacific economic ambassador, thereby neutralising one of the Labour’s most effective critics of National.


Further reading on Louisa Wall

Audrey Young (Herald): ‘It’s unforgivable’: The real reason Louisa Wall quit politics(paywalled)
1News: Louisa Wall reveals depth of divide with Labour leadership
Tova O’Brien (Today FM): ‘Opportunity cost’ – Louisa Wall describes being blocked by Ardern in parliament
Lloyd Burr (Today FM): Louisa Wall’s new cushy diplomatic role
Monique Stelle (Today FM): Ardern, Labour bully culture: Political expert says ‘business as usual’ in political realm
Rachel Sadler (Newshub): Jacinda Ardern reportedly told Louisa Wall she would ‘never’ be minister under her leadership
Herald: Outgoing Labour MP Louisa Wall says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern did not want her in Cabinet or caucus
Herald: Louisa Wall quits politics: Jacinda Ardern refuses to say why she would not have her in Cabinet
Matthew Hooton (Patreon): Common sense over Louisa Wall (paywalled)
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): Q+A Review: Louisa Wall’s bombshell interview and David Seymour’s awful brilliance
1News: Ardern says her relationship with Louisa Wall is ‘fine’
RNZ: Departing MP Wall’s claims countered by ex-Labour Party president


Other items of interest and importance today

Chris Trotter (Interest): Debating debating
Damien Grant (Stuff): The Ardern govt has achieved close to nothing outside of Covid
Luke Malpass (Stuff): Nearly halfway through the term, parties start to stake out territory
Jehan Casinader (1News): Jacinda Ardern opens up on Covid toll – ‘Sheer exhaustion’
Maiki Sherman (1News): Green Party may scrap rule requiring male co-leader
Martyn Bradbury (The Platform): Woke Green gender co-leaders the final death of NZ Greens’ credibility
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): Why it’s all over for James Shaw & how The Greens will chose to blow that
Max Rashbrooke (Stuff): Rich list donors are great for political parties but not for democracy
David Farrar: Roy Morgan poll March 2022
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): Latest Roy Morgan Poll – 2023 NZ election will be woman vs men
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): What most voters don’t understand about NZ politics & why Jacinda is failing
Stuff: Points of Order: Covid-19 be damned, everyone’s out the door
Brent Edwards (NBR): Louisa Wall’s new job, climate change, friction over MHA(paywalled)
NBR: Attorney-General David Parker announces senior court appointments

Michelle Duff (Stuff): Why escalating misogynistic abuse of Jacinda Ardern is a national security issue
Michelle Duff (Stuff): Violent misogynistic language ‘unthinkable’ a few years ago, NZ spy boss says
Eva Corlett (Guardian): Here be trolls: New Zealand’s female politicians battle rising tide of misogyny
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): Here comes the mass surveillance Stasi response to Dumb Lives Matter Parliament lawn fiasco
Katie Doyle (Stuff): Followed, threatened and abused — being a Māori advocate in the pandemic
Hayden Munro (Herald): Racist and sexist abuse is constant for women in the public eye(paywalled)

Adam Jacobson (Stuff): How much power does Auckland’s mayor actually have?
Marty Sharpe (Stuff): Ratepayers be warned: risks faced by councils mean they may not deliver
Skara Bohny (Stuff): Council fees increase with calls for more Government support
RNZ: Wellington city councillor Iona Pannett dropped from Green ticket
Justin Wong (Stuff): Greens announce Wellington local body candidates, endorse Tory Whanau for mayor
Susan Botting (Local Democracy Reporting): Local Government Commission warns remuneration concerns not best driver for review
Logan Savory (Stuff): DIA wants local government to learn from Invercargill City Council troubles
Matthew Rosenberg (Local Democracy Reporting): Local Government Commission axes Gisborne’s rural wards
Kelvin McDonald (Māori TV): Rotorua council to have three Māori ward seats: ‘We’re ecstatic’

Rebecca Macfie (Listener/Herald): Fight for fair pay: The radical plan to increase Kiwi workers’ slice of the pie (paywalled)
Jared McCulloch (1News): Calls for temporary visa wage exemption while businesses recover
Cate Broughton (Stuff): Rest home staff working 16-hour shifts, caring for up to 15 residents at a time
Liam Dann (Herald): How China’s Omicron showdown will cost Kiwis in inflation fight(paywalled)
Ian Powell: Should employers compete on the price of labour?
Anusha Bradley (RNZ): First interview: Man kept as slave in NZ speaks out
Hamish McNicol (NBR): OCR should go up 50bps this week, Craigs’ analyst says(paywalled)

Jane Clifton (Listener/Herald): Shrinking cities: Is urban life losing its allure? (paywalled)
John Minto (Daily Blog): Labour’s disgrace – the housing catastrophe for low-income families rolls on…
Jo Lines-MacKenzie (Stuff): Year-long battle for Hamilton woman to get a gate on Kāinga Ora home
Denise Piper (Stuff): Northland’s housing crisis sees social housing waiting list soar, street living
William Hewett (Newshub): New Zealand property: First home buyer share lowest it’s been in four and a half years
Thomas Coughlan (Herald): MPs are concerned the Government’s new planning rules could see city trees milled (paywalled)
Brian Gaynor (BusinessDesk): NZ housing: what if land values tank? (paywalled)
Monique Steele (Today FM): Concerns about the affordability of housing for older people approaching retirement

Colin Peacock (RNZ): Measuring trust is tricky with suspicious minds
Steven Cowan: A matter of trust
Chris Lynch: Trust in New Zealand news media nose dives, “No strong case for public funding of commercial news content.”
Greg Presland (The Standard): Why trust in the media is declining
Emile Donovan (Newsroom): Swear words and slurs – what’s offensive on TV and radio?
Mark Jennings (Newsroom): John Campbell v Paddy Gower, Round 2
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): The list of subjects you can not talk about in NZ mainstream media

Geoffrey Miller (Democracy Project): Jacinda Ardern and Nanaia Mahuta struggle in Ukraine lethal aid debate
Audrey Young (Daily Blog): The Australian election – what it means for NZ (paywalled)
RNZ: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to lead trade mission to Singapore, Japan
1News: Jacinda Ardern to lead first trade mission since travel lockdown
Fran O’Sullivan (Herald): NZ at the party as US launches Pacific push (paywalled)
RNZ: Political blacklist a sign Russia playing the victim – expert

RNZ: Greenpeace blames agriculture sector for softer wording in UN climate change document
Marc Daalder (Newsroom): NZ scrubbed ‘plant-based’ diets from climate report
Hayden Donnell (RNZ): A mismatch in coverage of climate science and climate action
David Williams (Newsroom): Waste plan doesn’t go far enough, petitioner says
Andrea Vance (Stuff): Making waves: how the Kermadec sanctuary is about to send rumblings through the political landscape

Rachel Smalley (Today FM): Long term cost of removing parenting classes a costly move
RNZ: Plunket to cut parenting programmes due to lack of funding
Sophie Trigger (Herald): Research shows New Zealand life expectancy dropped in 2021, after 2020 increase
Kevin Norquay (Stuff): Honoured haematologist and HIV pioneer fears he won’t see action from ‘glacial’ Pharmac in his lifetime
Rachel Thomas (Stuff): Health workers get $10 bonus, peanuts, and popcorn for working through Omicron
Kate Nicol-Williams (1News): Historic pay settlement leaves some nurses feeling betrayed
Victor Billot (Newsroom): An Ode for .. Dr Ashley

Keith Lynch (Stuff): A Covid-19 reality we may need to live with
RNZ: Cases expected to climb again during winter
Chris Hyde (Stuff): The dilemma of Covid immunity: If now’s not a good time to drop Omicron restrictions, when is?
Herald: Covid-19 Omicron outbreak: New Zealand’s steady decline in cases continues

Claire Trevett (Herald): The plight of Police Minister Poto Williams as National Party cranks up the heat (paywalled)
Ireland Hendry-Tennent (Newshub): Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern defends under-fire Police Minister Poto Williams

Paula Bennett (Herald): On the lack of leadership from Minister of Police (paywalled)
Duncan Garner (NBR): Tough on gangs: meet for lunch, put millions on the table(paywalled)