OK. Shearer is still leader of the Labour party (although clearly things were closer than his lieutenants would have wanted – no unanimous vote of approval). You can tell I have my reservations, but I’m going to step back and let him prove himself. Unfortunately, the compilation of polls over at Kiwiblog highlights that Labour has stagnated since he took over, but hey, the caucus know what they’re doing right? And if the Dom Post editorial states that:
He is desperately inarticulate, unable to deliver a sound bite without a lot of rehearsal or an auto-cue….Mr Shearer has a long way to go before he and his party look like winners….Trevor Mallard likens Mr Shearer to Norman Kirk, which is laughable. By 1972, Mr Kirk had become a poised and appealing politician. Unlike Mr Shearer, he was quick-witted and articulate, and thrived on hecklers….
well, we know the media like to build people up only to rip them down. But I guess we shouldn’t be surprised with this comment from the TransTasman [offline] that:
It’s not often Govt Ministers are happy at the outcome of a leadership vote in the Opposition. But the Labour caucus endorsement of David Shearer this week had one joking “shall we crack the champagne?
Yes, we’re going to give him the chance to prove that he can do it, but I’m thinking we’re not off to a good start.
Ok – it’s a month since I wrote. And Labour are going nowhere but backwards. Meantime National has had horrors heaped upon it and it’s still got it’s head above water (actually it scarcely looks like its floundering at all). Can we break out of this cycle of dispair pease and get some opposition happening from Labour. Bouquet to the Greens however, who are going from strength to strength. All on for Labour conference I guess.
It’s heading to crunch time for Labour and, vicariously, David Shearer.
The latest Roy Morgan was interpreted by those who see the world in a rosy red glow as a harbinger of good things ahead. I am not unsympathetic to that as the desired result – but polls are forever changeable beasts, and you can’t afford to let your guard down. And so TV3 has brought those dreams of government benches down from their lofty heights, back to earth where Key and National continue to reign supreme.
So where to? Shearer has ended up on the back foot over the Dotcom, with his dancing around the video.
Never over egg it when laying out an attack. You can quickly get whisked towards the quicksand of overstatement, which is where he’s ended up. Now the pressure is off Key, at the very time when it should be ramped up ahead of the House returning.
Who’s to blame? Well Shearer’s strategy team of Grant Robertson, Trevor Mallard, and Alastair Cameron must be aghast at how it has blown up in David Shearer’s face – mustn’t they?
And the pressure was already on.
Mike Smith says needs Shearer needs to get motivational and move up several notches up on his performance at conference. Members are keenly watching. And no one is impressed by the persistent failures over the last year.
Shearer has almost had a year as leader. Yet he’s still mumbling and stumbling over his words like an amateur. Two weeks ago it even led to him accidentally announcing a reshuffle on national television (and good luck with the politics of that reshuffle David).
Let us not forget who really pays for this mismanagement of the largest opposition party. The people who need an articulate and audible voice to balance the ledger against what this National government is doing. And the people of the party who live and breath politics on the ground and so often go unthanked and unappreciated. I’d be having a serious think about how to convince those activists and voters that I understand what’s at stake when November’s conference rolls around…
A startling and provocative piece of analysis has emerged from Duncan Garner, entitled “Has Labour got the wrong guy”? Currently offline at Wellington magazine Fishhead, politicos around the country will be cursing its lack of online viewing. So I’ve pulled out the standout sections for those unable to access a local copy until that time that it goes online (or you can locate a copy to purchase!):
Garner: Labour has emerged dazed and confused from its winter of discontent….and much of that confusion rests on the decision it took a year ago to promot newbie MP David Shearer as its leader.
I want this on the record. Shearer is a hell of a nice guy…Labour picked him to be like John Key. But he can’t out-Key Key…The public doesn’t know what he stands for or against. He struggles to articulate himself….and in my opinion he’s largely botched his honeymoon….It’s become clear too that Shearer divides not only Labour’s caucus, but its membership too. He’s neither steeped inLabour Party knowldge or history.
I recently wrote a piece on our 3News.co.nz website about why Labour MPs didn’t like his challenger, MP David Cunliffe. It caused a stink. It’s…clear that Cunliffe has more support that I initially gave him credit for…There is real pressure from the Labour Party backstreets for change…The wider good of the Labour party needs to be put first. If Shearer can’t get his numbers up by late this year, Cunliffe may indeed put his name forward, again. And he should.
Labour needs to take it to Key in 2013 and 2014, and Shearer hasn’t really kicked in. How would Cunliffe be any different? Substantially I think. He’s enormously articulate and can present an alternative vision. But there’s an element of fear within the caucus. A number of the more mature MPs fear Cunliffe will demote them and it will be the end of their careers. That’s why he is bad-mouthed so often. Some of those MPs need to go. Their time is up.
None of this should stop the caucus. .. The leadership of the party if too important for personal agenda to get in the way right now.
The other leadership options are either not ready or aren’t up to it: Grant Robertson: Ambitious? Yes. Ready? No. He’s best to bide his time. To be brutal, Key will wipe the floor with the Wellington Central MP. His time will come. But his immeditate elevation will not bring back the provinces. Jacinda Ardern: Way to early. Out of her depth as it is. David Parker: Get real. Andrew Little: Should put his name forward…
But all of this leaves Cunliffe as the obvious challenger – not that he’s openly looking for the job – but he’d do it in a heartbeat.
Well this will make for an interesting conference won’t it?
It was late in the day before I was able to view David Shearer on Q and A this morning. But by the time I had watched it I almost wished I hadn’t bothered. Rather than feeling righteously inspired to political activism from watching Key in action instead I was left mourning the state of the Labour leadership. If you can bear it watch the panel response. Even Josie Pagani couldn’t defend his inability to communicate what was vote Labour business. So very disappointing. Here’s what Raymond Miller said:
Oh dear, where to begin with this interview quite frankly? .almost devoid of new ideas…I honestly felt that here is a person who has not been able to clear his head and think through the issues that are very important to his party. He seems to me to be like a very reluctant leader in the kind of Bill Rowling mode and he’s trying to explain himself without the passion or the clarity that you need to be a leader, particularly the Leader of the Opposition.
So what now? Constitutional review up at conference, including changing how leaders are appointed….surely the caucus can’t be satisfied with the current state of things, especially given both Roy Morgan and the NZ Herald polls had Labour down, albeit only just. But anything that sees National increase its lead given their current difficulties is signaling something is not working for Labour. Who is going to make the call on the elephant in the room?
I was pleased to to see Louisa Wall’s Bill pass its first reading. It’s a tangible reminder of how far we have moved as a society since Homosexual law reform progressed so painfully 30 years ago. A good description can be found over at Duncan Garners blog here.
Not directly relevant but interesting nonetheless to observe which Labour MPs vote against it. Now how do you think they would vote in a Robertson versus Cunliffe vote? Politics, it is forever interesting!
Was it just me or did anyone else find Helen Clark’s speech a reminder of what once was? If you missed it here it is. Nothing startling or especially new, but delivered with vision and conviction. The comparison with current leadership is almost too painful to contemplate. I fear New Zealand is not going to create a green smart future if we carry on this current trajectory. Nor are we going to build the political consensus which will allow it to happen without a significant upgrade in the quality of our political leadership.