Vernon Small writes about David Shearer’s recent showing as Labour leader (‘a work in progress’) and argues that he’s quelled doubts about his leadership due to improved performance.
On TV just being himself, in shows like Back Benches or Would I Lie to You, he has been a revelation; relaxed, funny and engaging.
In the House he is still far from electric, but far more fluent. Press conferences are still a challenge, though.
Some hesitancy has gone, and his briefing lines come to him more easily.
But when a question comes from left field I swear you can hear the cogs whirring as he seems to go through a sort of internal interrogation. What is our policy? Is this an elephant trap? Where does the caucus and the party stand? Am I sticking my neck out?
And his answers are often mushy and unconvincing on key economic and financial issues.
I haven’t seen the TV shows or press conferences Vernon refers to – actually I haven’t seen much of Shearer at all, recently. My impression is that Labour has moved to an informal co-leadership model, and while I still have no idea what Shearer stands for, and suspect he was made leader far too early in his political career, I don’t have any doubts about Grant Robertson’s convictions or his ability to put together and run a very high caliber government in 2014. My only real criticism of the party as it stands is that it seems absurd not to give Cunliffe the Finance portfolio, given the standard of his recent speeches on the state of the economy, National’s dire performance in this area and Labour’s inability to get traction on the issue despite everything.