General thoughts on the Labour Party Conference

by Jake Quinn

Phil and Mary Goff (Image NZPA)

Phil and Mary Goff (Image NZPA)

Andrew Little gave a very good speech to open the conference where he strongly endorsed Goff’s leadership of the party – this is actually quite important. Andrew who heads the EPMU will have been pleased to see Goff taking the party away from a social liberalism focus to a more traditional left-wing economic, workers, wages and conditions focus.

Goff generally got his tone about right (his speech is here). He drew the line in the sand over the Electoral Finance Act, the Foreshore and Seabed Act, Winston’s funding shenanigans and rest. Lots of delegates didn’t like to hear this stuff but they just needed to suck it up and get over it. In order for Goff to stamp his mark on the leadership and for the focus to shift to the future rather than the past this needed to be done.

The Dimpost says “Both The Standard and Fran O’Sullivan are critical of Goff’s apology, a pretty massive indication that it’s a sensible thing to do with broad mainstream appeal” which is probably a sound analysis.

Len Brown and Mike Lee presented to the Auckland Governance policy session. Len was fired up and apart from using the word ‘communities’ about 300 times in a 15 minute speech he was sounding good. Mike Lee gave an interesting history lesson about trams.

Overall the impression from the conference was of a party in high spirits with a surprising amount of positive energy. The caucus has 14 new MPs even though they just lost an election. That is unusual and quite helpful for their renewal.

Other than the ‘saying sorry’ stuff the other big announcements were that Labour as a future government would do something serious about power prices.  They would stop the state owned power companies from having to return such large dividends to the government thus freeing them up to reduce prices to the home.

Andrew Little, although I have no idea if he consulted anyone, also announced that monetary policy is going to get a kick in the ass and that Maori should get their day in court over the Foreshore and Seabed.  Both somewhat unexpected and interesting announcements from the Party President but both warmly welcomed by the delegates.

Cunliffe later acknowledged that while it was not an easy thing to solve, some action does need to be taken to control the variability of the New Zealand Dollar, the unpredictable fluctuations (and generally high value) of which, is crippling exporters and hurting New Zealand. NZD is one of the most traded currencies in the world, a lot of people make a lot of money shafting us and it was widely acknowledged something needs to be done.

The condoms sideshow care of the Herald on Sunday is just that, a side show. At conferences delegates have ideas, they should be allowed to. Sometimes they even involve such outrageous topics as sexual health (gosh). Patrick was just being a bit cheeky and fair enough to him. But of course the spinsters then take the piss out of it and pretend this is somehow Labour’s big policy idea of the weekend. No one mentioned it outside of one tiny remit debate and the leadership team wouldn’t have even heard about it till they read it in the news.

The intro video for Phil’s ketnote address is here.