Opening Salvo: Labour’s fury at Key’s popularity

Dr Bryce Edwards lectures in political science at Otago University. He describes himself as a left libertarian without party affiliation.

After working as a public servant in the UK and then for deputy prime minister Jim Anderton in 2001, he earned his PhD from Canterbury University in 2003.  His thesis, Political Parties in New Zealand: A Study of Ideological and Organisational Transformation, argued they had evolved into highly professionalised but unhealthy vehicles for ambitious politicians, denying voters meaningful choices.

Dr Edwards achieved some prominence in 2008 as a left-wing political commentator. After that election, his main research project was a scholarly assessment of each party’s campaign, applying a theoretical model about party professionalisation and cartelisation. Précis can be found at his blog,

Through this work, Dr Edwards found that nowhere in New Zealand was there a compendium of all media coverage, advertising and blog posts that make up a modern election campaign.

For 2011, therefore, he decided to compile this information each day, so it would be available at one place for future researchers.

Every afternoon he also emails the information to 500 academics, students, journalists, bureaucrats and PR people, together with his interpretation of the day’s events. It’s also published each day on NBR Online.

This daily chore quickly overwhelmed Dr Edwards, who also teaches three papers, including an honours class, so he decided to employ a research assistant.

With no budget to pay the assistant he approached some dozens of organisations for sponsorship. In the end, the Public Service Association, pollsters Curia and my government relations and PR company Exceltium agreed to each chip in $100 a week. In return, our logos are displayed prominently on the daily update.

The Labour Party has cried conspiracy, given Curia holds National’s polling account.

Its campaign manager, Trevor Mallard, now a prominent blogger, says, and I quote him directly, that “Bill English funds Bryce Edwards.” He asks whether “Bill English signed the deal off or whether it was just a nod and a wink.” This would clearly be defamatory of everyone involved if it wasn’t that no one takes anything Mr Mallard now says seriously.

Mr Mallard’s friend and co-blogger, Dunedin South MP Clare Curran, expanded the conspiracy, alleging, and I also quote her directly, “a very cosy relationship between [Cameron Slater], Farrar, Hooton, Young Nats and the non-Labour left.”  This follows her attack on the Greens because they sought, as she put it, “to encroach on Labour territory”.

Labour has also rounded on Sir Peter Leitch, the Mad Butcher, who, after strongly supporting Helen Clark, now favours John Key. 

Labour List MP Darien Fenton declared she was, and I quote her directly, “never going near him again.” While he was “good in the past” he had “gone way out on a limb.” When asked whether it wouldn’t be better to try to win back his vote, she replied, and again I quote her directly: “Why?” Ms Fenton is guaranteed to be re-elected as a list MP, at the expense of quality Labour people like Kelvin Davis and Stuart Nash, who are both doomed.

At, a blog written by Labour and union staffers and other leftist activists, the attacks on Sir Peter, who won his knighthood for services to philanthropy and the community, were even more vicious. One, defended on free-speech grounds by the blog administrators, was: “I wish the Mad Butcher would hurry up and die.”

The same Labour activists slammed TVNZ for broadcasting Sir Peter’s views, something entirely consistent with Ms Curran’s policy of greater regulation and control of the media.  Labour’s Jacinda Ardern agrees, saying an “informed society” can only come from “public service broadcasting.”

In practice, we know what they mean by this: news content controlled by Wellington bureaucrats with a soft-left Labour perspective, and documentaries called “Wither the NZSO?”

Go the Warriors!
Such attacks on the Greens, left-leaning academics, the media and the popular Mad Butcher (in the very week his beloved Warriors will finally win the NRL!) suggest some kind of derangement syndrome caused by Labour’s fury at Mr Key’s popularity.

These people have learned nothing from their defeat in 2008. They despise the voters, whom they regard as ignorant and wrong. Unless such bitter and paranoid individuals lose influence within Labour, New Zealand won’t benefit from proper opposition until late 2014 at the earliest.

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The rats (ie the Labour party and the left in general) are turning on each other

Mind you it is a bit hard to work out what the point of all this stuff Edwards is doing is. Who is paying his wages to study and report on this rubbish?

The public will judge the effectiveness (or otherwise) of the various election campaigns


I agree with Ms Curran and Ms Adern. Politics would be alot less complicated, more predictable and less expensive if we had a one party state. I enjoyed Pravda.


These people and their constant behavior in parliament sickens me ..

There is nothing that can be said about Labour .. When they don't like democracy - they set out to slow process .

Even the fact that they are all a bunch of self serving, ignorant twits - this is still speaking of them glowingly .


The essential thesis here is quite right. Seems silly to ruin it with descent into wild argument and conspiracy making of your own, eg "news content controlled by Wellington bureaucrats " and "they despise the voters"


The problem for Labour MP's is plain and simple; we all see them for what they truly are and hence judge them on their ability to run the country based on their double standards:

MP # 1 – daughter caught possessing drugs but get off due to Dads connections
MP # 5 – drink driving conviction
MP # 6 – virtually invisible in Parliament except at Bellamys
Now ex MP # 8 – makes naked young men run in the street
MP # 9 – physical fighting in Parliament
MP # 16 – porn addict at taxpayers expense

As the old saying goes, “no matter how hard you try you can’t polish a turd”


didn't MP # 2 - under the influence of "conflict of interest" award some contract to a company employing her husband when she was head of DHB, Health Minister or something?

We don't say MP # 16 is a porn addict. He is an "adult film aficionado".


True - I forgot about #2
#16 can also be described as being the Minister responsible for singlehandedly reviewing adult films


No wonder Liarbour are all out of sorts at Key. He's successfully implemented more lairabour socialist policy in his short time than Klark Liarbour did in 9 years and remains popular for it. It's a remarkable success story that Liarbour envy.


Yep and all he need to do at the end of his term is pretend he is a h*mo and Aunty Helen will guarantee him a job with the UN fighting corruption in Afghanistan just like Chris Carter.


Forget the parties per se it is the Progressive agenda of polititians in general that we need to look out for.

All the Labour polititians have done is unmask some of their true feelings about the populace in general, that we can't think for ourselves, are stupid, like being told what to do and need to be put in our places now and again.

If you think this is limited to Labour then think again. There will be Nats that think this way too (we still have an anti-smacking law after a referendum remember and an ETS).

The difference between the two main parties is that Labour and their leftist mates are a jet plane compared to the train that is that National Party. Both are going in the same direction just one is slower than the other.

Labour are not mad at John Key. He is a temporary obstruction to them. They are mad at us for not doing what they want us to do. Helen had this covered by rolling out the boring Cullen and safe Parker to smooth things over. The current bunch don't have that cover... yet.

Always watch the other hand too. Right now there are some big distractions going on, RWC, sad death of another soldier etc while the country gets a downgrade or two and our attourney general puts more of NZ into Maori hands. Chris Findlayson could just as easy be in Labour as National, whichever serves his (not NZs) purpose best.


The socialists have no working class heroes. Just mediocre people with lofty ideals seeking personal advancement through politics. John Key, and others, succeeded in the real world and then entered politics. Labour offers know all noddies from Universities, teachers staff rooms, and government departments.


Nobody is borned to be popular...perhaps this can be learned.


So Sir Peter has, in the past, supported the Prime Minister & is now... supporting the Prime Minister.
I'd thought Labour's 'do as I say, not as I do' nanny state rhetoric was more generalised and ineffective. Good to see them getting down to specifcs.
Me thinks, if there is any cosying up to be done, then Sir Peter taking an opportunity to talk to someone who can make a difference in the things that concern him most, is more than appropriate.


Whilst Sir Peter's support of John Key doesn't sit well with my percepion of him, he is still entitled to his opinion. So good for him for going public with it.


Let's face it: Labour is a lost cause. They are irredeemably hopeless.


labour have lost touch with the man on the street ... offering bribes in the from of "working for families" etc and the like, is pure utter BS ... a redistribution of wealth in a smarmy way but hey... no idea on how to actually create wealth is their real down fall... fail fail fail .... old dogs with no new tricks!!


Labour run their politics like they do their social engineering & education strategies.
Remember children, it's not about winning (elections, jobs, economy) it's about participation. We don't have to add value (wealth creation, skills gap, future planning) or make sense as long as we can say we tried, and those less willing to improve their lot do not feel left out.


NZ economy, if not carefull, will be run down like Greece in no time....


bearing in mind that contemporary economics are literally linked to confidence it might be time for each of us to reflect urgently on our contribution.


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