Thursday, 1 December 2011

in support of nanaia

so the big thing for labour party members over the next couple of weeks is the caucus leadership vote. it's certainly been getting a lot of media coverage, and that can only be a good thing. i've just watched the closeup thing online, with the three davids & i thought they all did really well.

being a labour party member, i can say that i "know" at least two of these davids reasonably well, having interacted with them regarding policy as well as at various labour party events. that would be davids parker and cunliffe. i've met shearer once i think, and can't say i know anything much about him at all, other than what's in the public sphere. i did some door-knocking to support his campaign and to get out the vote when the mt albert by-election was on, but was too busy on the days i was in auckland to be able to have a chat.

it now turns out that david parker has pulled out and again i see that as a good thing. i think mr parker is hugely talented and extremely intelligent. he's certainly an extremely valuable member of the labour caucus, and a great debater. in fact, the last interaction i had with him involved a rip-roaring debate on the burqa at the event to launch nz book month. the fact that i don't see him as being the leader of the party is more based on gut-feeling than anything else.

david cunliffe is also hugely intelligent, hugely talented and also very sharp. i think he'd make an excellent leader. arrogant? i haven't personally found him to be so. in fact i've found him to be very easy-going and friendly, reasonably open and good at getting things done. he's also an excellent debater and performs really well in the house. i think he'd make a really good leader.

about mr shearer, i couldn't say one way or the other, at least not based on personal experience. when i look at the kinds of people who are currently supporting him, including lew & danyl, i have to say i'm not particularly impressed. the thing is that the people who are supporting him now will be the first people to rip into him as soon as he actually is leader (if he wins), which is why i'm not really prepared to place much value on what they're saying. still, i'm not likely to be influenced against him because of that lot, any more than i would be influenced towards. he might well make a good leader - i just don't know him well enough to make that call.

grant robertson is another MP who i have a lot of time for. he's so thoroughly decent, capable & also highly intelligent. i've worked with him on a pretty thorny issue as well as co-chaired with him on a committee, and found him really easy to work with. i've also found him to be extremely principled. he hasn't put himself forward this time around - at least not yet.

but it needs to be said - these are all white men. very capable white me to be sure, but it's still a pity that there aren't any women in the race for the leadership. that's a problem that the party needs to be concerned about - the development and promotion of it's very capable women MPs.

the only woman we've seen mentioned at all is nanaia mahuta, who will be deputy leader if mr cunliffe is successful. now i do know nanaia reasonably well, seeing as hauraki-waikato is in our region and i come across her pretty often. i think she's an excellent choice. she has experience and she's extremely capable. she's been a minister and performed well in that role (i dealt with her both as minister of customs and minister of youth affairs, and found her to be helpful and willing to listen). she was on labour's front bench. she's also great in the house. i saw her in action in her local community at the funeral of te arikinui dame te atairangikaahu. she was seemed to be managing affairs and working extremely hard.

nanaia has had a low profile in the last couple of years and that's by choice. she had suffered the loss of a baby in 2008, but carried on to fight the 2008 election and retain her seat. she had taken the risk of not being on the party list in 2008, so that she could have a clear mandate from her electorate. that she got, even though the maori party had taken all but one of the other maori seats, that of parkura horomia. since then, she has given birth to a lovely baby boy, and it's not surprising that she didn't want the pressure of the front bench just after giving birth.

she's retained her seat again in 2011 with a bigger majority. she's now ready to take up the role of deputy leader, and when it comes to merit, she has plenty of it. she's another person who is full of integrity, she's not afraid to speak out, and she has won some real gains for her constituents. aside from the fact that i would naturally be really happy to see a woman of colour in such a position, i can also say that i'd be really happy to see this particular person in the position. she fully deserves it and i'm sure will do really well if she were to get the job.

so at the moment, the one thing swinging me towards supporting mr cunliffe is that he has chosen nanaia to be his deputy. it's both a brave and a smart choice. brave particularly given the way that minorities are open to attack just for being part of a minority group. smart because he's chosen someone who really is capable of doing the job well. it's also good in terms of appealing to both women and maori voters. and if there's one thing no-one has been talking about, it's the importance of labour winning back the women's vote. simply picking nanaia won't do it, but once nanaia gets into her stride, backed by a strong labour women's caucus, i think it can be done.


Tamara said...

Did you see the Audrey Young piece, front page of Herald today, headline: "Defection led to Parker quitting"? Here's a lovely excerpt:" And Shane Jones is also an outside chance as running mate. He and Mr Shearer together would represent a return to a more pragmatic party, with less emphasis on gays and feminists." I don't even know what to say except labour party, please ignore Audrey Young.

Hugh said...

What about Annette King? Why is she not even being considered? She was deputy leader for three years, for chrissakes! I know that's not an automatic right to succeed and sometimes passing over the deputy is a good idea, but it's a bit bizarre that she's not even putting her hat in the ring.

I'm also a bit surprised that what I thought was a firm if informal policy of always having the deputy be the opposite gender to the leader (That's been the case with Labour ever since 1989!) but apparently it's going by the wayside now. Shame.

Re: specific candidates, I would not view Lew and Danyl as representative of Shearer's supporters. I agree that their reasons for backing him are not very substantive but I think if you dug through Cunliffe's supporters you would find some equally obnoxious people. That's true of almost any politician. So while I agree that Danyl and Lew's arguments for supporting Shearer need cutting down I wouldn't say Shearer must be a bad candidate just because they back him.

The question mark for me over Shearer is simply his brief time in Parliament. I haven't really heard much from him at all between his eletion and now. That's not a criticism per se, and I know some leaders have risen to the position after very brief parliamentary apprenticeships (Hawke in Oz, Lange here) but they didn't have such low profiles as Shearer did prior to being eected.

However the Cunliffe / Mahuta ticket kind of irks me too. Cunliffe has an extensive background working for corporations as a business consultant. I wonder how many people he fired? Is he going to bring a business consultant's perspective to the Labour leadership?

And while everything you say about Mahuta is true my understanding is that in 2004 she came very very close to joining the Maori Party. I think some people inside Labour might feel uncomfortable with that, although it was a long time ago, and she didn't actually join.

stargazer said...

anette has chosen to resign & no doubt has her own reasons.

So while I agree that Danyl and Lew's arguments for supporting Shearer need cutting down I wouldn't say Shearer must be a bad candidate just because they back him.

sigh. which is exactly what i said in my post.

Cunliffe has an extensive background working for corporations as a business consultant. I wonder how many people he fired?

um what? that's just wierd. do you also wonder if he's walked on the moon? he has other experience besides business consultancy, which i see you've ignored.

And while everything you say about Mahuta is true my understanding is that in 2004 she came very very close to joining the Maori Party.

i'm not overly impressed with your understanding at this point hugh, so i'll take that with a huge grain of salt. in fact i don't accept it at all.

Anonymous said...

John Tamihere's comments about Nanaia Mahuta are particularly offensive. He basically suggests that Cunliffe picked her not on merit but because she is female and Maori.

He goes on to laud Shane Jones as a possible deputy because he would appeal to male voters. Because its not enough that all the candidates for leadership are men, they need male deputies too.

We all know Tamihere is no friend to women (or to GLBTs, for that matter). But I sure wish he would just shut up.


Hugh said...

I didn't know about Annette's resignation, which is quite silly of me since she's my local MP. She's been in politics for a long time so it's probably just fatigue.

As for the other points, I guess there's nothing more to be said

Hugh said...

I find it quite bizarre that Tamihere is still being approached for comment on this kind of thing, it's been a long time since he was inside the Labour caucus (is he even still a party member? I kind of doubt it) so any insight he might have is of purely historical interest.

stargazer said...

@ zeedoo: yes that's exactly the kind of attack on minorities i was talking about. mr tamihere can't even consider the possibility that she deserves the position because of her abilities. pretty sad really.

katy said...

I don't have an opinion about the leadership at all but this year I feel like I have bumped into David Shearer a lot, both at political events and in cafes in his electorate (which is where I work), so as someone completely outside of the party let me share my observation that he seems to have a very natural and easy manner. I started off being wary of him but whenever I have seen him he has been pleasant and he always stops for a chat, it is an attractive quality and one that goes a long way.

David Cunliffe I also see around because we both seem to frequent a particular Auckland suburb, he seems pleasant as well but less approachable.

Gina G said...

Just a point- sorry if this has already been said. Although David and Nanaia are running on a ticket- it is not clear that if Cunliffe loses, that Nanaia will too- although she could pull out if she thought she didn't have the support- or she could power on and still run for deputy. Likewise- Cunliffe could win, and someone else could technically beat her for deputy. So many things could happen. Either way- the 2 elections are separate.

Cara said...

In reference to the complaints about the choice of Mahuta from Tamihere, I posted the link on Facebook and received this reply which got me thinking:
"John Tamihere stands for urban Maori, many of whom lost their connection to their own iwi & marae, and many of whom are poor and disconnected from Society as well as their Maori roots. Nanaia Mahuta comes from a proud powerful Tainui family and has been given every privilege and support all her life. His dismissive comments may well have as much to do with that as her gender."

stargazer said...

perhaps she has cara, but the question is what she has done with that. i can think of others who have had privilege and support, and all it has lead to is arrogance and a mentality that everyone should be able to do just as well if only they worked hard, or that the poor are just lazy bludgers. nanaia on the other hand has used her privilege to fight for policies supporting those who don't. she's an excellent advocate with a lot of humanitarianism.

as for mr tamihere, i don't think he actually represents urban maori in the sense that i hope they don't all think like him - in terms of their views on women and other minorities. i always saw his "red-blooded male" schtick as an excuse to hate on people. the one time that i had any significant conversation with him, i jokingly teased him about the fact that he didn't have to guts to get a moko, because he was too afraid to stand up for his culture. of course i didn't mean it seriously - it's his business how he presents himself and he may well have some very valid reasons for that which has no obligation to share with me. but i guess my comments came from a sense that he isn't filled with positive feelings and pride regarding his maori heritage. i couldn't exactly explain to you why i have that feeling, other than the way i have heard him speak about issues the few times i've paid attention to what he has to say. he might have a valid point regarding iwi/tribal structures being out of touch with urban maori, but i'm not immersed enough or knowledgable enough about that to really be sure.

on another note, remember that a significant chunk of nanaia's electorate is south auckland (and i believe she had an office there), as well as the towns of huntly and ngaruawahia, and of course all of hamilton. i think she has a good connection with both rural and urban maori.

Lolcow said...

"of course i didn't mean it seriously"

Well, that makes it alright then!

Did he jokingly tease you about not wearing a niqab too?

stargazer said...

oh he's teased me about enough things, and the show we were doing at the time was actually about niqab. he really has the kind of personality that loves taking the p*ss, so i doubt he had any problem getting some back. also, since you weren't there, i don't think you're in any position to judge the context of the conversation, nor how it was said or received.

Lolcow said...

"I was just joking"

"You weren't there when I said it so don't judge me"

"Look, I know him, and although he never said so I'm sure he's fine with it"

All very common excuses for making culturally insensitive remarks.

stargazer said...

i'm sure they are. he did actually reply and we had a serious discussion about the topic. i'm not going to repeat any of that though, because it was personal to him. you're welcome to take offence on his behalf, and if he ever comes back to me to tell me what i said was offensive to him, i'll be happy to apologise.