Apr 11, 2011

O'Connor on Labour

I am not particularly impressed with Damien O’Connor’s comments, but I do see where he is coming from. This from Stuff.co.nz:

O'Connor said he stood aside because he did not trust the list ranking process. ''Frankly, I didn't trust the system to give a straight-shooter a fair deal ... It is dominated by self-serving unionists and a gaggle of gays.'' 

He would not name individuals, but said he was disappointed the system did not deliver better results for rural and provincial candidates, such as himself, who were outside the party's power blocs. 

''It does not truly represent the rank-and-file members and delivers a list that is not truly representative of those who vote Labour.'' 

The list selection process is largely predetermined. Each delegate goes into the process with clear instructions from their region, union or branch, for example the women’s branch. The party ensures each delegate is aware of the hierarchy’s expectations and each delegate is encouraged to vote accordingly. Simply put, the process is a sham. Each delegate backs their own man/woman without considering what is good for the party. Wider political considerations are secondary to personal political agendas.

The process rewards insiders, for example Deborah Mahuta-Coyle, who can gather support within the upper echelons of the party. The process penalises grassroots members who cannot court the support of the parliamentary leadership or the party establishment. It is a recipe for elitism.

The list is, without a shadow of a doubt, unrepresentative of those who vote Labour. The homosexual community and the urban liberal bloc are overrepresented, the Indian and Pacific communities are underrepresented and the so called “straight shooters” are near non-existent. The number of Maori on the list is satisfactory.

I grew up in provincial New Zealand where jokers like Damien O’Connor win votes by the booth. A New Zealand where city folk like Grant Robertson and David Cunliffe lose votes. Labour values are respected in the provinces, but Labour faces are derided. That is an oversimplification, but it holds true nonetheless. If Labour wants any show in heartland New Zealand the unions and the rainbow bloc need to need to move beyond their own personal agendas. The list selection process needs to be put in the hands of ordinary members.

Admittedly, O’Connor’s comments were “a bit redneck” and poorly timed. Labour does not need this sort of controversy. The government is quite possibly at its most vulnerable, but once again Labour mucks it up.


  1. Your post misses the point entirely. To get anywhere in life, as in political parties you need to work hard and back yourself.

    The people who were placed highly, such as Deborah Mahuta-Coyle have worked hard and proven themselves in the Party. She has earned the respect of the leadership and rank and file members which is why the Wellington Region ranked her number one after sitting MPs.

    Deborah represents a stark change in Maori leadership. The old BS of people like Mahara Okeroa needs to be flushed out.

    The New Zealand you come from doesn't represent the majority. The majority of people live in cities. They're urbane, liberal and have diverse lifestyles and views. People like David Cunliffe and Grant Robertson won their seats (if you hadn't noticed) - and they'll win them again.

    Even the National Party have worked out the demographic changes and their candidates like John Key, Nikki Kaye and Simon Birdges have a broad 'urban' appeal. You can even say that of retiring minister, Simon Power.

    This post seems to come from a place of ignorance.

  2. I don't agree that it is pre-determined, with there only being 32 delegates it is not so much about voting but trade-offs. Branches are not represented, neither are electorates. They are represented by their 2 regional reps.
    Off course their is a hierachy within the 32 delegates, but that is unaviodable.
    The electorates/regions cannot make the delegates vote any particular way.
    Often regional lists are indicationary only, with non-MP positions being easily interchanged.
    this is especially true of female candidates were raised higher to ensure better gender equality.
    In terms of Homosexual community Grant and Charles both got good positions, but the next highest is Jordan who will struggle to get in at 40 (46).
    The actual process on the day is very secretive, with strict rules. This is necessary however does mean most party members dont know what happened, and attendees actually do stick to the secretiveness, and very little makes it to the gossip line.

  3. I guess I was looking for some vote-changers, people that would make a difference to the way we see Labour. Instead we have an uninspiring list that won't really wow the electorate. Labour has little chance of winning the election, but in 2011 they should be building a fresh team to hit 2014 with avengence.



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