15 September 2013

Cunliffe: the predictable option

At 11.30am Sunday, iPredict was pricing 'David Cunliffe to be the next Labour Party leader' at 84 cents.
And, guess what! At 2.45 pm, the Labour leadership contest was announced in favour of... DC!
The Labour Party has enjoyed the limelight in the media for the duration of the election, and this has done them no harm at all. It has even brought in many new (or renewed) memberships.
Party management have been at pains to emphasise the need for unity, however, given past disruptions and the risk that, without plenty of self-discipline, the election campaign could have descended into acrimony. Fortunately for them, it didn't, but this has not prevented commentators from speculating about the potential for revenge and recrimination once the new leader gets to work. This primary-style leader election process lends DC a genuine mandate, however. And so those who have been skeptical about him, if not openly hostile towards him, will have difficulty ignoring that democratic voice.
Reporters and bloggers will be on the look-out for the slightest hint of disunity, and some are even capable of drumming it up out of nowhere. Any demotion on Labour's front bench is now going to be interpreted by reporters in the worst possible light. No other political party on the local landscape at present is undergoing the same level of minute scrutiny. That's the downside of Labour's drawing attention to itself in this way.
Nevertheless, think back to the much bigger drama in the primary Democratic contest between Obama and Hilary Clinton. It was forgotten well before the election. Further to that, it's interesting how no-one seems to make a big deal any longer about the identity politics issue of 'the first black president'. Going on that example, we would soon enough have gotten over 'the first gay PM.' Every time someone said in the press that 'Robertson's sexuality isn't relevant,' they proved the opposite: by having to argue the point, they proved that it was relevant. But we would soon have forgotten about it all the same.
In the meantime, hardly anyone is examining disunity and pork-barrell politics in the National Party – and it's not because National lacks that kind of thing. Indeed, Labour's dominance in the politics headlines lately has limited the attention that otherwise would have been paid to Key's overriding of Treasury advice against the $30 million 'sweetener' he's paid out to Pacific Aluminium, and hence to Rio Tinto shareholders. See NZ Herald.


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