Sunday, November 18, 2012

Carter's Coup:New leadership may change Labour’s fortune

This article was written in May 2011 when leadership battles were looming in Labour Party and Chris Carter had thrown in name of David Cunliffe as a suitable leader in place of Phil Goff. As a result Carter lost his seat and David Shearer g
ot elected as Labour Leader despite LEC's direction for Cunliffe as the leader. So began the woes of Labour Party. It appears my friend Chris Carter would be redeemed, or avenged, with looming coup expected. What I suggested of David Cunliffe can happen now- David Cunliffe may emulate a Gillard - on - Kevin Rudd on Labour leader David Shearer.


New leadership may change Labour’s fortune


New leadership may change Labour’s fortune
As the popularity of Labour and its Leader Phil Goff continue to slide, it is time the Party revisited what former frontbencher and Member Chris Carter had initiated last year.
Labour now has little to lose and perhaps much to gain from a younger leader who could be a match for National’s John Key.
Politics is a numbers game and numbers depend on popularity. Australia’s Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd knows it well, as he found himself displaced (as Prime Minister) overnight by his ruthless Party caucus.
When 78% of the voters say ‘you will not win’ and 55% of your own supporters discount your chances of winning the next election, warning bells should start ringing in the Labour caucus.
What happened in Australia in July 2010 appeared to have been taking shape in New Zealand, as we saw Mr Carter’s bungled efforts in being a one-man crusade to change leadership in the Party.
The Carter Principle
Was his action intended to change Labour’s misfortunes in 2011 elections? Was he really out to save the Labour Party?
Mr Carter’s action cannot be discounted as actions of an unsound mind. He has proved his worth not only as a credible, capable and visible Minister, but also as an effective MP. As a migrant and as a community worker in his Te Atatu Electorate, I vouch for his popularity, especially among the ethnic communities.
Mr Carter polled 14,620 votes in the Te Atatu Constituency in 2008 Election, while his Party collected 11,263 votes, which indicated his personal popularity.
In TV debates following the ‘Letter fiasco’ last year, there appeared consensus on one issue: how he revealed the disenchantment in the Party was questionable but what he had stated was the truth.
You need not have the crystal ball to see that Labour would not win in the 2011 Election with Mr Goff as the Leader. One commentator said he lacked the charisma while according to another, he suffers from the ‘Prince Charles Syndrome,’ of being around too long. That was in August 2010.
Missed opportunities
With Mr Key backing down on the mining of reserves, increasing economic woes and National’s assault on the rights of workers, coupled by New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters joining with (former MP and Wanganui Mayor) Michael Laws, may yet spell some positive chances for the Labour Party in Election 2011.
If the Party is prepared to go for a copy-cat gamble of Australians in ditching Mr Rudd for better election chances with Julia Gillard, then perhaps the smouldering embers set up by Mr Carter may be worth fanning by the Labour caucus.
The Cunliffe Factor
Now that the gap has widened further, they may have nothing to lose in ‘doing a Rudd,’ on Goff, but in a relatively more civil manner.
One name floated as a possible challenger for the leadership role is New Lynn MP David Cunliffe who, like Mr Carter, is popular in his electorate.
The New Zealand Herald, in its November 10, 2008 issue, named him as the possible competitor with Annette King for the role of Deputy Leader and said that he was tipped to be Labour’s next Leader.
It is perhaps a prophecy that could come true.
Mr Cunliffe had reportedly said that he would not put his hand up for leadership.
“Labour is a Collective Party. Wisdom will be shared, and I will not be surprised if people come to a pretty shared collective view.”
That was more than two years ago and the supporters are waiting to see if Labour will come to a collective view that Mr Cunliffe had hinted.
Things have gone worse for Labour now. Those with ears close to the political ground already know that the change in leadership is a foregone conclusion.
Some claim, though prematurely, that Mr Carter had either strategically planned or inadvertently put things in motion.
One scenario is that if commonsense is to prevail in the Labour caucus, then Mr Cunliffe should lead the Party, which may have a remote chance of wresting back political control.
If there is a change in leadership, fanned by the heat that he set, Mr Carter’s political life may be far from over.

[Thakur Ranjit Singh is a political commentator, a Waitakere community worker and a postgraduate student in Communication Studies at AUT University.