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Hilary Calvert suddenly looks like the ideal politician – she’s been knifed in the back, yet she very gracefully retains her cool and grace by pledging allegiance to the party and the principles it stands for. She could have taught Chris Carter a thing or two, as well as most MPs who would have thrown their toys out the cot if in her situation. In this regard, read Ele Ludemann’s blog post, Departing with dignity. Other very worthwhile items include Dene Mackenzie’s Calvert relaxed about dumping, Dim-Post’s Thoughts on the ACT Party list and Whaleoil’s Act’s List released.
It seems as if Calvert might actually be better off away from what still seems like a rather dysfunctional party. For although Act is no longer having the meltdowns that plagued it for the last year, it still has the appearance of a party without a real soul or solid foundation. Whenever political parties lose their raison d’etre, they increasingly chop and change, brand and re-brand, refresh their personnel, alter nearly every element of their nature, all in the constant search to be relevant again. And without the ideological anchors and coherent social constituencies that originally cohered the party, they remain in flux and in search of popularity. Unfortunately for Act, the public will never entirely take the party seriously again.
The Labour Party struggles with some similar problems. And John Tamihere’s Sunday News column, It's Helen on Earth to get Labour right actually gets to the nub of much of this. One part of the column is worth quoting at length:
‘Another factor which can solely be attributed to Clark and her lieutenants was the destruction of any overt, robust, healthy contest of ideas. Instead of debating a cohesive and comprehensive ideology that defined what modern Labour stood for and how it was going to advance and implement that, Clark saw this very necessary conversation as a challenge to her leadership. The notion of left and right-wing factions in the party was done away with. The Labour Party was broken up into a number of interest groups, in effect powerful lobby groups that chose the lacklustre party list. The interest groups are the women's division, the gay division, the Pacific Island division, the Maori division – you get the picture. The union movement, which was the foundation of the party, when smoko sheds up and down this country vibrated with political discussion, is now gone. The unionists within the party now help negotiate marginal changes and conditions’.
As with the Act Party, Labour isn’t just beset by problems of leadership, but by real issues of ideology and social constituency. So likewise it’s stuck in the same political death cycle whereby it struggles to re-invent itself, re-brand, re-populate its representatives, and find a connection with a social constituency that might vote for it. Eventually it will find electoral success again, but this will probably owe much more to the inevitably decline of National than the discovery of a ‘political soul’ and raison d’etre.
The two other must-read items about Labour are: Audrey Young’s Shane Jones and Labour's power struggles and John Armstrong’s Never mind this year's vote-2014 is the target.
Bryce Edwards, NZPD Editor (email@example.com)
Act’s party list
Derek Cheng and Paul Harper (NZH): Brash defends Act's Calvert decision
Dene Mackenzie (ODT): Calvert relaxed about dumping
Andrea Vance (Stuff): Isaac tipped for ACT's third spot
Andrea Vance (Stuff): ACT's future no mystery
RadioLIVE / 3 News: Dumped ACT MP says it doesn't matter who's on the list
Ian Llewellyn (electionresults) ACT's Number Three Remains Unnamed
Hamish Rutherford (Stuff): Act list betting a 'dark market'
Dim-Post: Thoughts on the ACT Party list
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): The ACT list
Whaleoil: Act’s List released
Rob Carr (Political Dumpground): ACT List
Ele Ludemann (Homepaddock): Departing with dignity
Audio coverage of Act’s party list
Audrey Young (NZH): Shane Jones and Labour's power struggles
John Armstrong (NZH): Never mind this year's vote-2014 is the target
Tracy Watkins (Stuff): Goff: I'm Labour's best election hope
Tracy Watkins (Stuff): In search of the real Phil Goff
John Tamihere (Sunday News): It's Helen on Earth to get Labour right
New Tasman: John Tamihere is wrong about unions
Danya Levy (Dom Post): The new political networking [Not currently online]
Rob Carr (Political dumpground): Youtube Campaigning
Matthew Haggart (ODT): Tweets keeping MPs on the hop
Newstalk ZB: Leaders relaxed about 'the worm'
Toby Manhire (Listener): The 13 faces of John Key
Ele Ludemann (Homepaddock): Spot the leader
Whaleoil: Unbranding — Abandoning the Brand
Anthony Hubbard (SST): Devil's luck for liquor lords
John Hartevelt (SST): Key misjudges mood on alcohol reform
Press Editorial: Alcohol reform debate [Not currently online]
Michael Laws (SST): Govt shows no bottle with new booze laws
Audio-visual coverage of alcohol reform
Felix Marwick (Newstalk ZB): Doubts over "gone by lunchtime" phrase
Felix Marwick (Newstalk ZB): PM wanted relaxed media strategy over US relationship
Buller mine decision
Listener editorial: A four-year electoral cycle would be just right
John Pagani (Stuff): The start of election season
Vernon Small (Dom Post): Push may come to shove for NZ force