Max Weber famously described politics as ‘the strong and slow boring of hard boards.’ It’s one of my favourite quotes about politics and reflects, I think, the reality that political success comes down to hard work over a sustained period. To win an election you have to ‘win the day’, day in, day out, for weeks and months and years before the campaign even starts.
Over the past five years Labour have hardly ever ‘won the day’. You never looked at any conflict between Goff and Key and thought, ‘Goff looked good there.’ Instead there was a lot of bad strategy, super-short term tactics and conservatism all topped off with magical thinking: ‘The polls will narrow, somehow’, or ‘people will wake up and realise they hate John Key.’
So it’s refreshing to see the party’s new list and not see any obviously insane decisions. Shearer’s solved his Cunliffe problem, and his former rival is high on the list and – as many predicted – matched up against Steven Joyce. There are new faces on the front bench. Sure, they have to prove themselves, but that’s still better than the old guard who simply proved they’re rubbish in opposition. Given some of the dire material Shearer and his team had to work with, this is an impressive outcome.
The new leader also got good coverage in the weekend papers – giving out names of his buddies to various journalists who then pretended they’d ‘dug into his past’. Another thousand-or-so days like these and things’ll be looking pretty good in 2014.