Got Carter - won't travel
UPDATE | 11AM: NZ Labour Party press release:
The New Zealand Council of the Labour Party met tonight to consider the disciplinary proceedings it raised against Te Atatu MP Chris Carter, following his actions of 29 July 2010.
After hearing from Mr Carter and deliberating for several hours, the New Zealand Council resolved to expel Mr Carter from the New Zealand Labour Party, effective immediately.
The Council held that Mr Carter had brought the Party into disrepute, in breach of its rules, by acting in a misleading manner that was likely to foment internal discontent and encourage external ridicule, including by:
a) Preparing the written statement in the terms that he did, and circulating it to the Press Gallery;
b) Initially denying, including to colleagues, that he was responsible for the anonymous circulation of the document to the Press Gallery, and suggesting that named others were likely responsible for its circulation;
c) Eventually admitting (after being confronted with the evidence) publicly that he prepared the written statement and circulated it to the Press Gallery;
d) Purporting to disclose in the written statement that the Party is broke, by which it is understood that the Party is unable to meet its financial obligations, and further implying that the Party is incapable of withstanding the costs of a by-election;
e) In television interviews first broadcast on Thursday 29 July, calling for the resignation of the Leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party without having sought at any stage to invoke the Party's internal processes to advance that view; and
f) Giving an overall public impression through his actions and comments that the Party is divided, unprepared for and unlikely to win the next General Election.
RNZ and Radio Live reporting the NZ Labour Party Council has expelled Chris Carter. Phil Goff has had his actions vindicated. He gave Carter about two too many chances to start with and that kindness was repaid by Carter's betrayal. A party values unity and loyalty above all else and now he has paid the price for his destructive and petulant behaviour.
His media interviews over the last few days (where he continued to criticise the Leader) have only reinforced my impression that Carter is an oaf - a clumsy oaf - that is his MO. His stock lines he was using over the weekend about enjoying his constituency work the most and how he will miss that most when he leaves are an utter and transparent lie of course. His constant trips with partner in tow to all points overseas as Conservation and Education Minister - and then in the middle of the furor over those trips his trip to China courtesy of their government - is more than enough evidence for people to make up their own minds about what he really values doing as an MP.
He puts on a cheesy fake grin and slimes and smarms his way about, but the only person he ever impressed is now in New York learning French so she can run the world as she was destined to do.
The party will be a better one for having cast him out. And as for the supposed book he is going to write - that he oafishly tried to use as blackmail to retain his party membership - I doubt anything will come of that... unless he plans on writing it on a beach in Tahiti. John A Lee he ain't. Lee is a local legend in these parts - he has a corner at the Pt Chev. shops named after him, he ran a bookstore as well from what I recall - his expulsion from the Labour Party after saying Mickey Savage was mad was followed by his defeat at the next election when he ran as an independent. Lee wrote stories of the common man and ones that critiqued the powerful; many became classics.
While he has the distinction of joining Lee as an official dissident of that great party there is little hope that an empty, preening ("gay boy luxury trougher" is I believe how he puts it) buffoon like Carter could ever come up with a story worth reading. What's he going to critique - wine lists? How first class compares to business class? How he clumsily cocked-up the Whangamata marina decision the consequence of which was that part of the foreshore and seabed there was privatised? H1 and H2 are going to be the ghost editors at any rate, so it will not be a real insight into Helen and Heather's management - and not a tale worth telling.
From the files: a chronology of Carter's meltdown.
His stance was quite clear: some squalid little peasant on the state radio wants to quibble about some policy that sees tens of thousands - maybe hundreds of thousands - wasted on being dicked over by the Aussies - that's her own affair - me and my partner have another conference in Europe to attend, so ciao.
And you won't see any apology at all on his Red Alert blog post either - apparently there's nothing to be sorry for according to him. He lists only the very few things he considers beyond the pale (from a much longer list of extravagances identified by the media) and then blames his staff for it:
That's right - he's not sorry - it's the staff that should be sorry because it's their fault. It's their fault and he's not prepared to excuse them.
This gobsmacking insolence must be punished hard. It is an entitlement attitude and it is coming from someone representing Te Atatu FFS. He's appalling.
He's a smarmy operator that Chris Carter - I can see why so few people like him and why Phil Goff will hopefully take this opportunity to send him to the back of the class. If anywhere is open for the seat-less Phil Twyford in 2011 it should be Te Atatu.
The Labour Leader's loyalty, gratitude and indulgence of Carter has been instantly repaid in a sarcastic, smug up-yours to the prols the moment he left the room. He ain't sorry.
We get it. All in all he'd rather be in Monte Carlo with the card than in Henderson with some taxi chits; but that's where he's heading tonight. Back to Te Atatu. Privileged to represent the good people of Te Atatu Electorate as their local MP.
The caucus needs a new dead-ender, zombie Robertson/Hawkins type MP like it needs a new Judith Tizard, but the leadership kudos the public will give Phil Goff for kicking his precious, well-pampered arse will probably be worth a few percentage points in the polls.
Carter would be one of the most undiplomatic and oafish people imaginable on the labour side for the foreign affairs portfolio. If he can't do his own PR then he can't do the country's - he deserved to lose that role and probably shouldn't have had it in the first place - and anything that invites the public to think he may have been trying to arrange an exit package with Helen Clark at the UN isn't going to go down well either.
What of Carter's conservation portfolio? Carter's disobedience and disrespect towards Goff must lead to him losing that too. Goff put his trust in him to continue in an executive-ranked position and Carter repaid that trust by having a tanty that essentially challenged Goff's instructions on the matter. Continued disobedience seemed the order of the day. The two obviously don't hold the confidence of one another.
It would not surprise me if in the very near future, like tomorrow, Phil will want 'Chris to remain reconnected with his Te Atatu electorate' - or similar - and the conservation role may pass to a younger champion of Labour's conservation agenda.
It was telling that Mallard's very well written statement about his colleague never mentioned the conservation position.
UPDATE | Monday 12:10PM: RNZ reporting the electorate reconnection has been instituted:
UPDATE | Tuesday 11:10 AM: RNZ reporting the portfolio reallocation process has been instituted:
Having called for Phil Goff to send Chris Carter to the back of the class from the outset and having commented on the astonishing series of events in more ugly detail than it deserved I observe today's astounding events as more evidence of the same traits aforementioned: bizarre, unprofessional behaviour, clumsiness. He's an oaf - I've said often enough - and he's botched this job. He was supposed to stab Phil in the back and ended up stabbing himself in the front - now that's clumsy, even for an oaf.
That self-inflicted wound will be his last act as a Labour MP. And what a show the last month has been - a double matinee of flouncy pantomime farce over airfares, flowers and frivolities ending with this terrific dramatic, Shakespearean scene - when Phil, The King, identifies the handwriting of the betrayal dispatch as none other than his trusted colleague, the ambitious, vain courtier. When will this show - now down to a gruesome one-man carnival act - shut up shop? NZ Herald and all networks reporting he has finally imploded into the vacuum of his own irrelevance.
Trevor Mallard on Red Alert has written some nicely turned out posts from his unique position within the Labour caucus - today's is a good example. An immediate, insightful, elegant political note treading between personal observation and partisan public discourse. This is what good political blogging is all about:
Today he did something incredibly stupid (made stuff up and circulated it to media in a failed attempt to be anonymous) which I think has ended his political career. He has been suspended from our caucus. Quite a few of us who can sometimes be pretty hard had tears in our eyes as we did it.
But as with sport when there is an extremely bad breech of team discipline you are dropped from the team. Our teams decision was unanimous.
Carter made his flashing white-toothed impact on the international scene as the bills for his extensive overseas travel prove, and if Helen can bail him out at the UN in NY then he will be outski quicker than you can say ciao. He doesn't respond to public opinion that well, he doesn't shame easy and he won't see being a lame duck MP as a problem, so he may need a solid reason/package to exit early. Awaiting some response from Carter tonight.
UPDATE | 10:30PM: TVNZ interviewed him at the airport tonight and he was making an oaf of himself again trying to tell Phil Goff that he had no support! The cheek of it. The guy who has just been sacked by the caucus (and with David Cunliffe running a trillion light years away from it) he thinks he can give advice to Phil Goff!? He reckons he'll be going the full term as well - so unless Helen comes through with a golden parachute, Te Atatu will be stuck with him for another year and a half. Phil Twyford must be quite a busy chap right about now. The Labour Party will have to re-open the nominations.
A self-inflicted crisis of delusional egotism, vanity and spite brought about by excessive holidaying on the taxpayer's dollar can only be remedied by... more holidays on the taxpayer?
The time between Phil Goff's mild demotion of Carter and this latest incident was spent on holiday abroad. Now he's given himself a two month extended holiday away from parliament as stress leave. No doubt he will not be spending a second more than he has to faffing around with the proles in their track pants and ugg boots in his Te Atatu constituency - he will be off on holiday again - this time most likely to New York to try to get a job out of Helen at the UN. Something to keep him in the international jet-set manner to which he and his partner have become accustomed. The voters will be feeling the same way about him too: just don't come back - and under the rules it appears he doesn't have to come back either.
As far as political suicides go this has been a meal and a show - with the prospect of multiple encores yet to come.
But Labour aren't enjoying the public spectacle and Goff's leadership will look weak if it isn't resolved quickly and in his favour. Two months of holidays for Carter buys some cooling off time, but dragging it out and potentially watering Goff's demand for expulsion down to anything less is not going to be worth it.
John A Lee was kicked out for calling Mickey Savage mad; what Carter has done is just as bad: he went on TV and said "the message is: we can't win." He's just a useless oaf and the Party has every right to expel him.