The Dim-Post

December 1, 2011

Team of rivals

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:43 am

I’m coming around to the ‘Team Shearer’ side of the Labour leadership debate, as articulated by Lew here, partly because a couple of people I know who aren’t that interested in politics – but know that I am – have told me they really like David Shearer; given that he’s been invisible for two years and only emerged as a leadership contender two days ago that’s pretty remarkable. But also because one possible outcome is a ‘team of rivals’, in which Shearer leads the party, Cunliffe is Finance spokesperson (which he was born for) and Parker is deputy, managing policy development and strategy. In a Cunliffe-led party we get Nanaia Mahuta as deputy, for reasons that must make sense inside the hermetically sealed environment of the Labour caucus. Parker’s deputy would be Grant Robertson, who may or may not spend all his time consolidating his control over the party and plotting against his leader.

Watching the Close Up debate, I felt uncomfortable when Shearer made the distinction between himself and John Key – ‘he went overseas to make money, I went overseas to save lives.’ It seemed like a clumsy, pre-scripted line from a PR hack; a false moment from a guy who mostly comes across as genuine.

59 Comments »

  1. Shearer said on (I think) Monday that he not only just begun to canvas the caucus, and John Armstrong sees a Machiavellian long game being played by David Shearer aimed at replacing whichever of the other two Davids get made leader if Labour is still floundering in the polls 12-18 months time. I discount the long game theory simply because whilst John Armstrong sees everything through the lens of watching a horse race between watered Borgias, Shearer isn’t in politics to play at power as an end unto itself. He has gone to parliament to make a difference. It may be that his run is good politics, but that is happily incidental and not the primary driver – which is politics done the right way round IMHO.

    I also think Shearer is the ideal compromise candidate, placating the factions with Parker or Cunliffe as deputy and/or finance spokesmen and those three gents forming a political tenor – “The three Davids”.

    Comment by Sanctuary — December 1, 2011 @ 8:02 am

  2. Shearer is so obviously the best option for Labour that, just as obviously, he has no chance of getting the job.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — December 1, 2011 @ 8:03 am

  3. Shearer is not like Key, but he has one attribute similar to Key that makes a big difference to non-politicians – he looks and sounds like a non-politician. And being a bit unpolished is a plus, more like one of us.

    Comment by Pete George — December 1, 2011 @ 8:05 am

  4. You’re right Pete, Shearer has actually contributed something positive to the world and sounds intelligent and in control when he speaks – so yes, nothing like Key.

    Comment by Chris Bull — December 1, 2011 @ 8:19 am

  5. relatively free of baggage and sounds reasonably natural.

    but wouldn’t they need a woman MP from the South Is as deputy? Or some other demographic/cultural balancing?

    Comment by NeilM — December 1, 2011 @ 8:24 am

  6. I thought the day would never come, but I agree with Matthew Hooton.

    Comment by philoff — December 1, 2011 @ 8:32 am

  7. I liked his line last night “John Key went overseas and made money. I went overseas and saved lives”. He still needs a bit of media work, but I think outside the beltway people see that as a bit more human. Cunliffe describing himself in one word as “dynamic” sums it up. Parker saying he want to ‘touch people’, bad choice of words there…

    Comment by max — December 1, 2011 @ 8:45 am

  8. That’s the line that DPF suggested.

    Comment by derp de derp — December 1, 2011 @ 8:48 am

  9. Most people at The Standard don’t seem to like him either which tells you everything. They’re also under some weird spell where they think Phil Goff should remain leader. I wish that did happen for it would have been hilarious watching them moan how evil the media are for talking about possible coups.

    Comment by gingercrush — December 1, 2011 @ 8:50 am

  10. I feel that my understanding of New Zealand politics has deepened enormously now that I don’t have time to read Kiwiblog or The Standard.

    Comment by danylmc — December 1, 2011 @ 8:54 am

  11. I feel that my understanding of New Zealand politics has deepened enormously now that I don’t have time to read Kiwiblog or The Standard.

    Sadly one can’t say the same for The Dim-Post. Sometimes the discussion among those who know that they wear the fancy-pants is more than a tad precious.

    Comment by Galeandra — December 1, 2011 @ 9:02 am

  12. > Shearer is so obviously the best option for Labour…

    Really? It isn’t so obvious to me. Certainly he doesn’t seem to have the baggage that the others may have. Cunliffe has been portrayed (rightly or wrongly) as having little empathy and being a dick at times. Parker has been described as bookish and reminds me a little of Bill Rowling who of course was never elected PM despite a few attempts. I don’t think these are necessarily major or insurmountable problems but Shearer – being relatively new – is possibly more baggage-free than the other contenders. I was surprised, however, that when he was asked last night what his weaknesses were, he said he didn’t have any! Maybe that just goes to show that he hasn’t been corrupted by PR and would be a good choice.

    Comment by Ross — December 1, 2011 @ 9:14 am

  13. ‘What is your weakness’ has to be the dumbest interview question, at least Shearer didn’t go for the default – ‘sometimes I work too hard’.

    Picking a new Labour leader is a bit like picking a new All Black coach after a disastrous world cup effort, the promise of someone new and different out ways the desire to pick the safe option.

    Comment by ieuan — December 1, 2011 @ 9:30 am

  14. Re. the weakness thing- I thought Shearer did better than the others. The replies that Cunliffe and Parker gave were in the vein of…… “I’m just a bit too awesome sometimes” and seemed fake. It was a stupid question, and Shearer responded pretty naturally I thought.
    It also doesn’t help that anyone can see that Cunliffe’s main weakness is that he’s smug and arrogant, and that Parker lacks charisma. The fact that neither of them seem aware of it works against them.
    I personally thought Cunliffe was cringe-worthy, and will end up embarassing the NZLP (even more).

    Comment by helmet — December 1, 2011 @ 9:33 am

  15. The arguments for Shearer resemble the arguments for Herman Cain in the US presidential race: people stumping for the candidate with the shortest record so they project their political fantasies on to them. Still, as long as Shearer hasn’t sexually harassed half the women in Somalia, he could work.

    Comment by bradluen — December 1, 2011 @ 9:51 am

  16. “They’re also under some weird spell where they think Phil Goff should remain leader.”

    I think I can explain that. Cognitive dissonance. I never liked Goff’s politics and didn’t want him to be leader (yes, he’s a man of sincerity and a decent character, but that’s not enough for me). However, as the campaign wore on, as a committed Labour person, I found myself warming to him and by the end thinking “good show, he’d be a good Prime Minister, well done”. This is simple social psychology. The harder you work for someone with no obvious return, the more cognitive dissonance, and your psyche resolves that by telling you that you like the person, explaining your effort and commitment to yourself.

    It’s going to take a few months for that feeling to wear off for some people.

    Comment by Stephen Judd — December 1, 2011 @ 9:55 am

  17. > at least Shearer didn’t go for the default – ‘sometimes I work too hard’

    Yeah that made me cringe. It’s meant of course to be a strength.

    Comment by Ross — December 1, 2011 @ 10:03 am

  18. > at least Shearer didn’t go for the default – ‘sometimes I work too hard’

    Thats such a no-no in job interviews. When someone asks for a weakness you need to say a weakness but somehow turn it into a positive. If I was Shearer I would say something like “Some people may say I am inexperienced in parliament, but I think I bring a lot of outside experience and I am a fresh face with fresh ideas”

    Saying you work too hard though, just shows arrogance.

    Comment by max — December 1, 2011 @ 10:09 am

  19. “John Key went overseas and made money. I went overseas and saved lives”.

    For every one impressed by that line I can imagine two or three (myself included) whose main reaction is to want to puke. The level of self-regard is stratospheric. Labour has shown over the last six years that self-esteem issues – it has far too much – are among its core problems. Adding Mt Albert’s Mother Teresa probably wont help with that however attractive Shearer may appear in other ways.

    Comment by Tinakori — December 1, 2011 @ 10:24 am

  20. “John Key went overseas and made money. I went overseas and saved lives”.

    For every one impressed by that line I can imagine two or three (myself included) whose main reaction is to want to puke.”

    And pisses me off because it shows Shearer suffers likewise with Key Derangement Syndrome.. the principle cause of Labour’s unpopularity of the past four or five years. When will these fucking idiots learn that this is NZ where ordinary people evaluate the person.. not the money or class.

    JC

    Comment by JC — December 1, 2011 @ 10:52 am

  21. Saying you work too hard though, just shows arrogance.

    Far better to go Berlusconi on it and imply that you’d be PM in your spare time.

    Comment by Gregor W — December 1, 2011 @ 10:57 am

  22. He’s more attractive than ‘ratty’ Parker and ‘smarmy’ Cunliffe imho.

    Comment by merv — December 1, 2011 @ 11:02 am

  23. >‘What is your weakness’

    He should have said chocolate (or women) – that would have been so much more real

    Comment by insider — December 1, 2011 @ 11:02 am

  24. Kryptonite?

    Comment by Gregor W — December 1, 2011 @ 11:07 am

  25. “John Key went overseas and made money. I went overseas and saved lives”.

    Sounds like something Helen Clark would have said.

    Comment by gn — December 1, 2011 @ 11:09 am

  26. Throwing yourself behind a leader candidate at this point is crazy. They need a strategy first, and then a leader to fit it, not the other way around. Cunliffe might do really well if the idea is to keep at Key until he cracks right open. Shearer might do better if the idea is to out-Key Key. Or maybe, just maybe, they could do without a leader for a bit, and continue to present all of their leaders, the way they did on their opening night address that made such a splash. Tactically, that would give the Nats nowhere to sink their teeth. I expect they’ve wargamed their bag of tricks for every leader choice.

    In the long run, a leader will emerge, by simple virtue of being the person most eloquently articulating the Labour vision (which they need to get thoroughly sorted right now), and having the most people listening to them.

    Next election, I’d even suggest Labour avoid Leader’s debates with Key altogether, unless the minor parties are there. Why give Key airtime for his presidentialism and his slick one-liners? Those debates trivialize everything about politics. Force the media to either engage in ways that engage the public, or leave the mainstream media out altogether, and focus purely on advertising and media events of their own creation.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 1, 2011 @ 11:18 am

  27. “Far better to go Berlusconi on it and imply that you’d be PM in your spare time.”

    Drawing a very long bow there.

    Comment by max — December 1, 2011 @ 11:21 am

  28. Have just finished going through today’s iPredict numbers – see http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1112/S00002/ipredict-cunliffe-for-labour-leader-shearer-for-labour-pm.htm

    Things will change, of course, but right now the numbers seem to be saying:
    1) Cunliffe to become Labour Leader in two weeks
    2) Shearer to roll Cunliffe sometime after that but before 2014 election
    3) Shearer to beat Key and become Prime Minister

    You read it here first.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — December 1, 2011 @ 12:00 pm

  29. Shearer just seem like another attempt to play Key at his own game (which he is really good at), no wonder Hooten likes the idea of this over changing the game altogether.

    Comment by Anthony — December 1, 2011 @ 12:07 pm

  30. Anthony, history shows that losers don’t get to change the game.

    L

    Comment by Lew — December 1, 2011 @ 12:17 pm

  31. @Matthew Hooton

    >Shearer to beat Key and become Prime Minister

    W00t! iPredict has been very accurate. Brilliant system. But looking that far out is crystal ball gazing. Stockmarkets get it horrible wrong over those time periods too.

    Good work on the iPredict show, btw, really enjoyed your commentary, despite not having aligned views at all. I think the format of making predictions like that was highly conducive to productive debate. Amazing that someone as left wing as Bomber could get rational, productive debate even when flanked by two right wingers. You guys looked like you were having fun, and it was fascinating to see how close to bang on the market got the Nat party vote.

    You did underestimate the Winston factor though. Any thoughts there? Some things are just unpredictable?

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 1, 2011 @ 12:27 pm

  32. And pisses me off because it shows Shearer suffers likewise with Key Derangement Syndrome.. the principle cause of Labour’s unpopularity of the past four or five years.

    Oh, for goodness sake. He was invited to distinguish himself and his background from Key, and did so.

    Perhaps we can move on from the taking of exaggerated offence at any reference to Key’s previous job?

    Comment by Russell Brown — December 1, 2011 @ 12:59 pm

  33. Shearer is my local MP. I honestly don’t think I’ve had an MP who has gone about that job with the humility and dedication that he has.

    I tweeted early in the campaign about seeing him outside the Pt Chev Countdown, on his own, engaging and talking to people. Someone else replied to say they’d seen him a couple of days before, planting trees by Oakley Creek — just him. I found it quite remarkable that he’d gone and done so without turning it into a media opportunity.

    I had my doubts about his ability to step that up to executive level — and still do to some extent — but I’ve been surprised at how well he’s projected so far, and at the way he seems to be getting the tone right now he has declared his ambitions.

    Also: Shearer’s by-election campaign manager was Conor Roberts, who helped deliver what was probably Labour’s best moment of the past three years and then went on to get Len Brown elected. If Roberts was to come over for anyone for the 2014 campaign, it would probably be Shearer.

    Comment by Russell Brown — December 1, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

  34. Lew, that is a good point but I’m still thinking that if it comes down to a “worthiness of deeds” competition Key is still going to do well. Danyl approached it satirically but the “we all help in our own way” will probably hold just as much sway with voters because it’s how they like to think of themselves, and applies more to their lives than running an aid camp in Darfur – it’s a generalisation but Kiwis seem to hate a guilt trip.

    Comment by Anthony — December 1, 2011 @ 1:18 pm

  35. Thanks for that Ben. I’m very proud of the show we put on and am grateful to the very weird combination of people who made it happen!

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — December 1, 2011 @ 1:31 pm

  36. @Russell it’s nice to hear that Shearer is as genuine as people say, but the real question is can he beat Mallard in a bike race🙂

    Comment by R Singers — December 1, 2011 @ 1:50 pm

  37. I had forgotten about the Conor Roberts connection – another big tick in the Shearer column, because having the up and comer campaign manager as part of your team eliminates a whole lot of the inexperience argument.

    Comment by Sanctuary — December 1, 2011 @ 1:54 pm

  38. “Perhaps we can move on from the taking of exaggerated offence at any reference to Key’s previous job?”

    Its not about taking offence but one of a clean and promising start immediately compromised by a snide comment. What does it tell the business community that he tried to include in his speech the day before.. that they are rich selfish pricks compared to him? Cunliffe and Parker now have a club to beat him with by saying this guy cant raise money from business with that sort of attitude.

    JC

    Comment by JC — December 1, 2011 @ 2:37 pm

  39. Its not about taking offence but one of a clean and promising start immediately compromised by a snide comment. What does it tell the business community that he tried to include in his speech the day before.. that they are rich selfish pricks compared to him? Cunliffe and Parker now have a club to beat him with by saying this guy cant raise money from business with that sort of attitude.

    You know, I really think the business community will be quite a lot more grown-up than that.

    It may be, as Danyl suggests, that the line came out sounding too scripted. On the other hand, it is true. Of course the guy is going to run on his record of courage and good works. He was named New Zealander of the Year by the NZ Herald for his work in Somalia, and made an MBE by the British government. Why would he not make that part of his brand? If he does so, he’s making an implicit comparison with Key anyway. Much as various National MPs have enjoyed comparing their own real-world experience with that of the teachers, unionists and academics on the Labour front bench.

    If I were Shearer, I’d respond to the business question by noting my excellent relationships with business groups in the electorate. There’s more mileage in that than in worrying about triggering a sobbing fit amongst some hypothetical captains of industry.

    Comment by Russell Brown — December 1, 2011 @ 3:25 pm

  40. @Russell – thanks for the shout out, but I would not go so far as campaign manager. More like campaign/media *helper*. Kind of like a roadie in a rock band.

    Comment by Conor Roberts — December 1, 2011 @ 3:29 pm

  41. 40.@Russell – thanks for the shout out, but I would not go so far as campaign manager for Shearer. More like campaign/media *helper*. Kind of like a roadie in a rock band.

    Comment by Conor Roberts — December 1, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

  42. Kind of like a roadie in a rock band.

    You mean the one with all the speed?

    Comment by Russell Brown — December 1, 2011 @ 3:36 pm

  43. Yes Lew -‘history shows that losers don’t get to change the game’ but when they do get elected,if they’re a Nixon or a Howard, they give it a damn good try.

    K

    Comment by Galeandra — December 1, 2011 @ 5:26 pm

  44. Well, Parker is out of the race and has thrown his support behind Shearer. From the surprise dark horse at 3pm to the front runner at 5pm.

    Comment by Sanctuary — December 1, 2011 @ 5:30 pm

  45. “You know, I really think the business community will be quite a lot more grown-up than that.”

    Sure. But he introduced an unnecessary bum note. But as I pointed out, it gives an opening for Cunliffe.

    I *want* this guy to win.. the country can’t afford the tribal politics of the last lot.

    JC

    Comment by JC — December 1, 2011 @ 5:50 pm

  46. > But he introduced an unnecessary bum note.

    Yeah maybe. He was also caught in the headlights when he said he had no weaknesses. But that’s inexperience. How much experience did David Lange have when he was annointed Labour leader?

    Comment by Ross — December 1, 2011 @ 6:02 pm

  47. “But that’s inexperience. How much experience did David Lange have when he was annointed Labour leader?”

    The experience of brilliance and years at law practice in front of the opposing legal team, a jury and a judge.

    JC

    Comment by JC — December 1, 2011 @ 7:11 pm

  48. Lange was also one the most gifted orators we’ve ever had. He could get away with quite a lot.

    I agree that Shearer shouldn’t continue on with the negative attacks on Key. Labour have spent 4 years doing that and it hasn’t worked. All those faux scandals sucked time and energy and made them all look like Mallard and Curran.

    Comment by NeilM — December 1, 2011 @ 7:19 pm

  49. Parker has pulled out. Sanctuary got it pretty accurate (I was about to say “right”. but that seemed inflammatory).
    Actually the three of them as a troika would be formidable in the House.

    Bring it on!

    Comment by peterlepaysan — December 1, 2011 @ 9:24 pm

  50. Ruthless intent…does Shearer have it like Cunliffe has? and surely he’d need a female deputy with some nowse. Street maybe ?

    Cunliffe’s choice of deputy seems a bit tryhard.

    and Robertson reminds me of McCully….shifty.

    Comment by pollywog — December 1, 2011 @ 9:50 pm

  51. Shearer’s got the nose for the job. Thats all there is to it. Seriously have you seen his snout? Its the mark of a leader.

    Comment by swan — December 1, 2011 @ 10:06 pm

  52. None of the Davids deserve to be leader of the opposition. It was obvious 2+ years ago that Goff and King were hopeless and didn’t inspire the electorate. Each of the three Davids and their supporters were more concerned with self-preservation and post-2014 than doing what they were paid by the taxpayer to do between 2008 and 2011 – mount an effective and credible opposition to the governing party. Instead of building a strong and credible opposition to a pretty bland and vacant-eyed government, they spent the last 3 years infighting, power playing and stabbing their leader in the back. Their cowardice and self-interest handed John Key a mandate to sell assets on a plate.

    Thanks guys. Keep this up and watch your voters run for the Greens.

    Comment by Kiri — December 1, 2011 @ 10:25 pm

  53. you seriously cannot have ever heard shearer trying to speak in public or on tv and still believe he could ever lead labour to victory (assuming that’s why you’d support him).

    here’s an entirely representative sample of his talent from close up last night

    http://tvnz.co.nz/close-up/s2011-301111-wed-video-4583380

    Comment by the sprout — December 1, 2011 @ 10:36 pm

  54. Sprout,

    Have you ackshally heard John Key speak? Who would’ve thought that one day he’d make PM.

    Comment by Ross — December 1, 2011 @ 10:48 pm

  55. key has hopeless diction but he can speak fast enough and think just fast enough to still sound convincing to the stupid. shearer doesn’t have that ability. watch the video.

    Comment by the sprout — December 2, 2011 @ 6:12 pm

  56. Yeah Sprout, I agree but the public speaking thing can be improved with good coaching. However, he also lacks charisma and presence, I’m not sure how much he can be coached in these.

    Comment by MeToo — December 2, 2011 @ 8:38 pm

  57. While I’m (obviously) Team Shearer, I agree with Sprout on this one. He ums, stutters and hesitates, speaks too softly and lacks cut-through. When he’s been put on the spot he has struggled. He is much better at the set-piece but that on its own is not enough. What he does have to say is often very good; he is a very strong listener and he has a pretty remarkable grasp on a wide range of issues. (There’s a comprehensive archive of his weekly in-depth interviews with interesting and important people on the radio here if you’re interested.)

    But yeah, he needs a lot of presentation training. Brian Edwards or someone like him is going to be busy over the summer if he gets the nod from caucus. But that’s not the end of the world; presentation is one of the few things in politics that really can be taught. Look at old videos of John Key, or Helen Clark.

    L

    Comment by Lew — December 2, 2011 @ 8:44 pm

  58. Yeah, yeah, umms and arrrrs, will never sell cars. But having worked in various orgs under both types, he’s got the goods. The Good, in fact. The votive motive. The motivating motive: the ability to yield, to harness the field. It’s a team, people, not Labour Idol: the aim to alleviate, not mimic the corporate. The cancer of the Left, division and qualm: humility and -manity the necessary balm. Stepping aside for talent if its own is weak; just can’t imagine Cunny taking the back seat. Single-slicker focus pulled NACT through this time: but at fatal cost to its partners in crime.

    Anyhoo, who gives a rat’s, because it won’t be commenters that determine our mokos’ future. That privilege belongs to Kath and Kim Swinger of Merrilands Ave, Vogletown, New Plymouth.

    “You have to vote doll, it’s your paterotic Judy. Mmmmm. Yeah he’s noice. Very noice. Very intelligent, apparently.”

    “Ooo yuck. Not old droopy eyes. Sick of him, reminds me of Mr Keenan. Makes me feel dumb”

    “Well what about this one then. Oh no hang on, he’s pulled out. Oooooo, I say…. oooo, noice. Noice eyes. Haven’t seen noice eyes for a long time, doll, and a chin! And oooo look, he’s a bit of a shy boy. Noice…”

    “Mmmmmm…noice. Different.”

    “Mmmmmm….different. Un-youzz-ual.”

    “Mmmm….un-youzz-ual. Went overseas and helped the poor people fighting in Banglacock apparently”

    “Ooooo I love a man of mystery… with those eyes he could clear up my festering trouble spots anytime….”

    “MUM!”

    On the other hand, Cunners could be just who we need. Nah frock it, why can’t we just have both? Or all? Labour united, co-leaders, co-co-leaders, cocoa and bikkie leaders, consensus caucus, helloooo Jacinda in the hacienda, with a permanent Mana/Green/MP/Winnie summit providing a united opposition, the coalition of the many against the peddlars of our asses, one for all and all for all? Frock the whole “leadership” question and keep the gutter scribes guessing. Make a humble shearer the chair for meetings, and annoint all spokespeople equals in their area of expertise and interest. Get on the gas regularly with all other parties, and plot like demons to end inequality.

    Comment by ak — December 2, 2011 @ 11:50 pm

  59. Brian Edwards or someone like him . . .

    Kiss of death.

    Comment by Joe W — December 3, 2011 @ 12:14 am


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: