Red Claire writes Cunliffe’s political obituary, and it isn’t much, really


Cunliffe’s resignation came in the same week former Labour leader Mike Moore said on Q+A that Labour should change its rules back to allow leadership to be decided by caucus alone.

Moore said caucus support was critical: “because you need to lead people and take them down roads they’ve not travelled before. It’s a very lonely job, and the roads we haven’t travelled in the next few years are going to be important to us.”

Cunliffe certainly took Labour down roads it had not travelled before: direct to destination 25 per cent. It was Labour’s lowest result since the 1920s.

Cunliffe was elected by the members and unions but never had genuine loyalty from his caucus, despite the attempt to put on a show of it. MPs are human, after all.

Little too was elected by the members and unions but is a less polarising character and caucus have at least given him the benefit of the doubt.

Labour MPs have managed to refrain from public shows of delight or vengeance.

There is little point kicking a man once he’s on his way out and the MPs are still basking in the tsunami of endorphins induced by Cunliffe’s decision.

Even the Prime Minister managed to blurt out a compliment about Cunliffe’s talent.

National MP Judith Collins was less willing to gloss over Cunliffe’s record, saying her 2014 description of Cunliffe as “a moron” was still “pretty much” accurate.

Then again, Cunliffe had two strikes against Collins. The first was after Cunliffe was asked if he ever pondered who he would procreate with if the world blew up while he was on a plane.

Cunliffe replied “I have thought that if Judith Collins was the last woman on Earth, the species would probably become extinct.”

The second strike was when Cunliffe referred to Collins as a trout.

He ended up calling Collins to apologise for the first.

Cunliffe began his first day as leader announcing “Skipper’s feeling good.”

It took a while to reconcile himself to it, but ex-skipper is probably feeling pretty good as he prepares to leave too.

At least he can stop apologising now.

No. ?At least he can continue to apologise.

The underlying problem remains. ?As Mike Moore outlined, a party leader installed by the unions that does not have support of cabinet creates a lame duck party. ?We’ve seen it with Cunliffe, we’re seeing it with Little, and you can even see it overseas with Corbyn.

And yet, noises from Fraser House indicate the focus is on internal battles, such as implementing the delayed manban. ?How this is going to win them the treasury benches is unclear. ?But while Labour is focused on itself instead of winning, it really doesn’t matter which union puppet is its nominal “leader”.


– Claire Trevett, NZ Herald