The Dim-Post

February 24, 2012

Dry powder

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 2:45 pm

Via Stuff:

Labour leader David Shearer has attempted to counter criticism his leadership style has been too laid back, saying he doesn’t believe in bickering and partisanship.

In a speech to Grey Power in Auckland this afternoon, Shearer said he was not the kind of leader who believed in ”rival tribes playing gotcha”.

”Of course that’s what a lot of people look for. They want to score the game, give points for the best smart remark in Parliament. But that’s not what most New Zealanders want.”

There was no excuse for not being constructive.

”I want a new kind of politics, pragmatic and attentive to what works, not tied up in the squabbles of the past.”

Shearer was at 10% in the preferred PM rating in TV3’s recent poll, which is higher than Goff ever got – but after three months as National leader John Key was at 27% (Clark was 32% at that point. Key is currently at 46%).

So Shearer doesn’t have to ‘play gotcha’, but he does have to do something, because while he’s doing well compared to Goff, he’s in a really terrible position historically.

I watched the news last night, and the Labour MP fronting on the two main political stories of the day was Phil Goff. That’s because they were both foreign affairs based stories and he’s their spokesman on that issue  – but Shearer isn’t chopped liver when it comes to foreign affairs, and he did make a big deal about how he was going to change the Labour Party. He could start by getting Goff – who just led them to an historic defeat – off the damn TV and getting himself on it. And, like I always said during Goff’s tenure, he should carry on by firing all his staffers who didn’t point this out to him.

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38 Comments »

  1. Bear in mind Key came in after two terms of a Labour govt, and following an election where National came within a whisker of winning. A fair portion of that 27% would’ve came from those who were sick of the Clark govt and voted against her. We are in a far different scenario at the moment

    Comment by Brad Gibbons — February 24, 2012 @ 2:48 pm

  2. Brash was only at about 15% – prior to the Hollow Men coming out.

    Comment by danylmc — February 24, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

  3. And also bear in mind that Key had been finance spokesperson for a good chunk of time, giving him a lot more profile. It is afterall 3 years until the next election

    Comment by max — February 24, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

  4. I still feel that strong anti-Clark sentiments even straight after that election would’ve played a major role in Key’s polling

    Comment by Brad Gibbons — February 24, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

  5. “There was no excuse for not being constructive. I want a new kind of politics, pragmatic and attentive to what works, not tied up in the squabbles of the past.”

    Maybe this is a none too subtle shot at the Mallard-Curran-Fenton triumvirate. But I suspect it’s merely rhetoric.

    And, like I always said during Goff’s tenure, he should carry on by firing all his staffers who didn’t point this out to him.

    Indeed.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 24, 2012 @ 2:58 pm

  6. I agree with the Shearer quotes above, I think the way MPs and parties do politics is overdue a decent overhaul. If he manages to get things changing in that direction I’ll applaud him. That will take a major change of direction from Labour MPs who seem to be still in campaign mode. Shearer doesn’t just have to be seen to be different, he needs to drag Labour to a totally different mindset.

    But some of the other quotes in the artuicle aren’t encouraging.

    The High Court’s overturning of the Crafar farms deal last week was a victory for common sense and New Zealand’s best interests.

    ”The Court said the same thing I’ve heard from New Zealanders right across the country. That the Government got it wrong.”

    He says things like that but doesn’t seem prepared to say he will change the whole way we handle Overseas Investment with a substantial reduction in foreign ownership and investment.

    ”Once our assets are gone, they’re gone. And experience tells us where they’ll go. These assets will end up in foreign ownership.”

    That’s a standard Goff line from the election. He’s not talking about his own experience. The Government will retain 51% so the assets won’t end up in foreign ownership. And I’ve not seen anything that substantiates the claim the sold share will end up in foreign ownership. Some may (if New Zealanderrs sell them), but almost certainly many will be held by New Zealand investors.

    So far a bit of refreshing new and quite a bit of same old.

    Comment by Pete George — February 24, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

  7. Speaking from experience Pete George, what happened when Contact Energy was sold to “Mum and Dad investors”? How much was then on-sold and is now overseas-owned?

    Comment by Me Too — February 24, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

  8. “I agree with the Shearer quotes above, I think the way MPs and parties do politics is overdue a decent overhaul. If he manages to get things changing in that direction I’ll applaud him.”

    Yeah, and maybe Shearer could reach the dizzy heights of Dunne in the preferred PM stakes.

    Comment by Me Too — February 24, 2012 @ 3:26 pm

  9. I was going to write something similar MeToo (#6) but then thought better of it.
    On further reflection, I couldn’t help myself

    The Government will retain 51% so the assets won’t end up in foreign ownership.

    Pete – have you missed the entire conversation that has been taking place about share dilution?

    The selloff proposal neither;

    (i) compels the privatised powercos to maintain the ‘Day 1′ stockholding status quo in perpetuity by issuing the Govt pro-bono shares when seeking to issue a new tranche, nor
    (ii) compels the Govt. of the day to buy said shares in order to maintained a 51% stockholding.

    Ergo, your statement is complete and utter bullshit.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 24, 2012 @ 3:42 pm

  10. @#5 “So far a bit of refreshing new and quite a bit of same old.”

    Ha! unlike your comment which is all same old… vintage (literally) PG

    Comment by nommopilot — February 24, 2012 @ 3:45 pm

  11. Honestly @ # 5 do you really think that?

    Comment by nw — February 24, 2012 @ 3:50 pm

  12. @ me too

    40% of Contact ws sold in a block to Edison Mission Energy when it was privatised. Whose Mum or Dad were they?

    Comment by insider — February 24, 2012 @ 3:53 pm

  13. Mine

    Comment by John Edison Mission — February 24, 2012 @ 3:55 pm

  14. According to Contact’s website, Origin Energy, through its subsidiary companies, has a majority shareholding in Contact. Retail and institutional investors own the rest of Contact’s shares. Contact currently has around 78,000 shareholders.

    Some of the retail and institututional investors are bound to be New Zealand. It’s also quite likely New Zealanders will own some of Origin’s (and subsidiary) shares.

    With the proposed asset sales there’s a good chance quite a proportion of the private ownership will remain here, but how much will depend on how many of the so called “Mum and Dad investors” decide to hold or sell shares. But at least 51% is guaranteed to remain in New Zealand ownership.

    Comment by Pete George — February 24, 2012 @ 3:57 pm

  15. @#10 Unfortunately for Pete G his party is in a bit of a bind whereby a good proportion of the voters of Ohariu responsible for Untied Future being in parliament at all are against asset sales, but Peter Dunne is compelled by his agreement with teh National – that gives him his limo and ministerial salary – to support them.

    Hence UF are trying very hard to justify their support for asset sales.

    Don’t worry, us mum and dad investors will be buying the shares not foreigners. There are plenty of mum’s and dad’s spread throughout our great nation with spare cash to invest in power companies… It’s not like we’ve got ever-rising power bills, housing and food costs to pay to keep our younglings happy and healthy…

    Comment by nommopilot — February 24, 2012 @ 3:58 pm

  16. @12: “But at least 51% is guaranteed to remain in New Zealand ownership.”

    Did you not read comment #8? There is NO guarantee of this. if future shares are issued the government’s shareholding can be diluted to less than 50% and there are no provisions to prevent this. You are wrong.

    Comment by nommopilot — February 24, 2012 @ 4:00 pm

  17. I certainly don’t buy the “keeping your powder dry” argument at all. Polls are like diets because it’s long-term trends that matter, with people’s overall impressions of the character, “brand” and competence of a party determining their amenability to persuasion.

    I can’t say that I had the impression that Goff felt compelled to comment on every minor issue – when he wasn’t saying “Me too!” and “Phwoarrr, that Liz Hurley – she’s a bit of alright, in’t she?” – there seemed to be tumbleweeds blowing through his office. There was no coherence, no guiding principles. He put on a good late surge in the election campaign, thanks in no small part to Brian Edwards, but he was by then coming from such a low and flimsy base that he had no hope.

    (Mind you, I do recall Grant Robertson sulkily blaming the media for not picking up every one of his press releases – after all, he’d done nothing wrong, he’d ticked all of his boxes. Sniff.)

    Labour has to show that it’s a credible opposition – and also present itself as a credible alternative governing party.

    I think it was after the 1990 trouncing Mike Moore admitted that “the phone was off the hook” as far as the electorate was concerned. Well, again, the phone has to be hoisted back on the hook before anyone’s even going to hear it ringing. To do that, to regain/create the absolutely vital foundation of a reputation for sincerity and competence, I think that they need to be coherent, clear in what they stand for, consistent in conveying that narrative and to relate their initiatives to that narrative. That’s going to take time.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 24, 2012 @ 4:03 pm

  18. @ nommo

    “if future shares are issued the government’s shareholding can be diluted to less than 50% and there are no provisions to prevent this.”

    How can you know this when no legislation or detail on share offerings has been issued?

    Comment by insider — February 24, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

  19. nw @ 10 – do you mean do I agree with ”I want a new kind of politics, pragmatic and attentive to what works, not tied up in the squabbles of the past” and pragmatic constructive non-poliarised politics? I’ve been campaigning on and promoting exactly that so yes, I do agree.

    I think MPs, parties and people should work together more positively and when necessary pick the battles that really matter rather than resorting to endless cry wolf bickering. I talked to a new (visiting from Auckland) MP yesterday and promoted that message, and have several other meetings on it this week. Pushing for better democracy is why I’ve become involved. I’d like to find some Labour orientated people who support that Shearer ethos to work with in Dunedin.

    Comment by Pete George — February 24, 2012 @ 4:17 pm

  20. Jesus christ you guys are just terrible when it comes to letting Pete derail onto whatever the fuck he feels like talking about today, aren’t you?

    Comment by Hugh — February 24, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

  21. Pete, do you know any politicians who believe that parties and MPs shouldn’t work together negatively, should pick the battles that don’t matter, and should bicker endlessly and cry wolf? Do you know any politicians who say they are for an old style of non-constructive, unrealistic politics? In other words, are you actually make a stand for anything substantive or are you just mouthing platitudes?

    There is nothing more banal, more safe, and more meaningless than a politician saying “We need a new style of politics”. Ironically, it’s about as old-school as you can get, politically speaking, without resorting to bringing back the gallows.

    [And yes I know I've allowed myself to become derailed after criticising you guys for doing the same... what can I say, it was too fat a target for me to just leave it hanging]

    Comment by Hugh — February 24, 2012 @ 4:22 pm

  22. @nommo – there’s no guarantee of anything. Roger Douglas might go back to Labour and take them on a privitisation spree when they get in next. Or the North Koreans may invade us and take over the country. Or you might keep speculating on things that there’s no concrete reason to be concerned about.

    Comment by Pete George — February 24, 2012 @ 4:23 pm

  23. Hugh – the only way to make a new style of politics like that stick and work is for enough people to work on making them stick. Otherwise we just end up playing banal intellectual games on blogs that lead nowhere. If enough people engage positively with politicians it will encourage them to do likewise. Some might even end up following their leader.

    Comment by Pete George — February 24, 2012 @ 4:29 pm

  24. ” Roger Douglas might go back to Labour and take them on a privitisation spree when they get in next. ”

    I doubt Roger Dodger will feature but to be blunt I wouldn’t be surprised. A lot of what Shearer is saying that isn’t the sort of substance-free faff that I complained about above sounds eerily reminescent of the kind of stuff Lange used to say before he became PM. (And I have a much dimmer view than most of the other lefty-types you’ll find here when it comes to Lange)

    Comment by Hugh — February 24, 2012 @ 4:29 pm

  25. isn’t the whole point of being in opposition making savage attacks on the other sides’ personalities (and/or policies, if you’re the Greens) while trying to look as nice and constructive as possible?

    Comment by Amy — February 24, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

  26. higher than Goff ever got

    It’s *lower* than (though within the margin of error of) Goff’s result in 3 News’ last poll, which was 12%:

    http://www.3news.co.nz/Poll-shows-undecided-voters-figure-leaps-up/tabid/419/articleID/233967/Default.aspx

    Comment by bradluen — February 24, 2012 @ 5:12 pm

  27. Shearer would be crazy to be fretting about polls right now. He needs to be focussing on long term fundamentals*, and hoping that the polls come into line down the track.

    * Something Goff did very little of until the election campaign, ironically.

    Comment by Keir — February 24, 2012 @ 8:52 pm

  28. @Pete #22 “nommo – there’s no guarantee of anything”

    that was my point. you were the one who said a government majority was guaranteed.

    It’s nice of you to let me know what I should be concerned about, because for a minute there I thought the government was about to sell a whole lot of assets that are currently earning excellent dividends into a depressed market following a global economic crisis.
    I was a little worried that my already insane power bill was about to start going up and up as the new (foreign or domestic) owners of our power company began demanding increased returns from their investments.
    Thanks for setting me straight.

    Comment by nommopilot — February 24, 2012 @ 9:18 pm

  29. @insider (#18)

    When queried about potential dilution, certainly English (but I’m not sure about Key) had no adequate response which leads me to suspect that either they hadn’t though about it (unlikely) or no provisions have been made which might restrict investor interest in the sale and future capital raising (i.e Govt. free lunch stock issue to ensure majority holding).

    Furthermore, there is a strong desire to sugarcoat this for the electorate and once the deal is struck, there are no legal means of changing the company charter to unduly benefit the major shareholders (except via direct renationalisation) over minority holders.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 24, 2012 @ 9:27 pm

  30. @28 you were the one who said a government majority was guaranteed.

    When did I say that? I don’t recall saying it, nor do I think it.

    Comment by Pete George — February 24, 2012 @ 9:39 pm

  31. In a speech to Grey Power in Auckland this afternoon, Shearer said he was not the kind of leader who believed in ”rival tribes playing gotcha”.

    that’s a fine sentiment that I agree with. But he has to translate that into something concrete. Ardern is supposedly one of the ones that will do this but her column on child abuse was incoherent.

    And Shearer did label those that disagreed with him on the Crafar farms as “unpatriotic’ which sounds to me likes tribal gotcha tactics.

    And meanwhile Mallard, Curan etc continue their craziness. Sack them or something.

    Comment by NeilM — February 24, 2012 @ 9:39 pm

  32. Pete George in comment 14:

    But at least 51% is guaranteed to remain in New Zealand ownership.

    Said NZ ownership presumably refers to the govt’s promise to retain a 51% stake in the companies, there being no other potential basis for the figure.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — February 24, 2012 @ 10:05 pm

  33. @30 “When did I say that? I don’t recall saying it, nor do I think it.”

    I was thinking the third paragraph of comment number 14 of this very thread, however upon re-reading I can see that’s not what you said:

    “But at least 51% is guaranteed to remain in New Zealand ownership.”

    you just said New Zealand ownership… but this is not guaranteed in any way either.

    Comment by nommopilot — February 24, 2012 @ 10:07 pm

  34. It’s as guaranteed as you can get it in politics.

    “Introduce statutory limits on the sale of public assets to no more than 49% of shareholding to private interests including limits on the extent of single entity ownership”- Confidence and supply agreement.

    There’s no good reason to believe it won’t happen in this term. Of course the next government (National or Labour/Green led) could get a mandate and a majority to change that.

    Comment by Pete George — February 25, 2012 @ 8:32 am

  35. He (David Shearer) should say: “Australia has the potential to be a great mining and oil producing nation. But New Zealand does not. Over the course of three years, Labour will invest $2billion in creating jobs here in New Zealand, for New Zealanders, in forestry, farming, fisheries, agriculture and horticulture”

    He doesn’t believe in indulging in squabbles about the past, but does he believe in having a stance on anything? Saying that he wants to find out what the people want is a bit like looking for a needle in the haystack. The guy needs to realize the importance of having a vision of his own.

    Comment by Daniel Lang — February 25, 2012 @ 11:08 am

  36. Like I said, he’s Lieutenant Jimmy Asher…

    Comment by Augie — February 25, 2012 @ 1:45 pm

  37. On the contrary Danyl, I’d be more concerned if Shearer was early out of the blocks.

    He is the new leader of a deeply dysfunctional organisation, and his problems are many. Labour will need to astutely run resources this year – just to cover the same ground they did under Goff. It’s not like a branding change and a friendlier and more interesting bloke at the top does anything to fix an atrophied membership, awful 2011 party list, confusing labour baggage [GST, Seabed&Foreshore, Winston Peters, EFA, asset sales, smacking], outspending by the opponent, yadda yadda yadda.

    Shearer has been applauded for competency in his previous roles. Competency will not win an election, but it sure as hell helps. The electorate in 2011 didn’t judge Labour as a credible or competent.

    Comment by Oh Busby — February 25, 2012 @ 2:58 pm

  38. I think Shearer is looking for National’s achilles tendon. National has not come up with any constructive ways to get the economy going. All they can do is sell assets, mine, and do some small patch work with reducing the size of government and blame europe for their failures.. they always play the blame game. Goff just reacted and that didn’t work. I like Shearer and what he said. I think he is depending on kiwi inginuity.

    Comment by jack — February 26, 2012 @ 2:35 pm


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