The Dim-Post

December 7, 2011

Nobody cares

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 10:37 am

I think both of the contenders in the Labour leadership will (probably) be strong leaders, so while I’m tepidly pro-Shearer, I’m not staunchly anti-Cunliffe. (I do think his choice of Deputy is daft – although obviously it makes tactical sense within the hermetically sealed world of the Labour caucus.)

Anyway, one of the criticisms leveled against Shearer is that he isn’t – or won’t be – ‘strong in the House’, meaning Question Time in Parliament. That may be true, but it ain’t a drawback. The Prime Minister is reliably awful in the House and he’s our most popular politician ever. The House doesn’t matter. Lack of experience or presence in it is not a deal-breaker.

47 Comments »

  1. The Prime Minister is reliably awful in the House and he’s our most popular politician ever.

    People had pictures of M.J. Savage on their walls.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — December 7, 2011 @ 11:05 am

  2. Different times Gazza.

    Comment by merv — December 7, 2011 @ 11:12 am

  3. I agree with you Danyl, apart from your comment about Mahuta. Why is her nomination as Deputy daft?

    Comment by Ross — December 7, 2011 @ 11:12 am

  4. People had pictures of M.J. Savage on their walls.

    People still do.

    L

    Comment by Lew — December 7, 2011 @ 11:17 am

  5. Different times Gazza.

    My point entirely. Given that there have been different times, so the word “ever” is misplaced.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — December 7, 2011 @ 11:19 am

  6. Given that there have been different times, so the word “ever” is misplaced.

    Indeed.
    If wall placement is the measure then either Christ or Che Guevara would eclipse Key in the ‘most popular politician’ stakes anyway.

    Comment by Gregor W — December 7, 2011 @ 11:25 am

  7. Am more concerned the way Shearer is being touted as a ` nice ordinary guy you can go to the barbie with + social conscience’ type to counter Brand Key . Trouble is, by 2014, that sort of image of leadership may be tattered and discredited. An arrogant bullying bastard like Cunliffe may be the new black. Kiwi’s do go for that sort of leadership as well – No one could ever accuse Seddon, Massey, Fraser, Kirk or Muldoon of being in the JK (or DS) mould

    Comment by Leopold — December 7, 2011 @ 11:33 am

  8. Most of your clients get off charges via obscure technicalities in the subprint of the wording of associated legislation, don’t they Graeme 😉

    Comment by garethw — December 7, 2011 @ 11:35 am

  9. “If wall placement is the measure then either Christ or Che Guevara would eclipse Key in the ‘most popular politician’ stakes anyway.”

    …or indeed the generic topless ‘model’ of workshops across the world…

    Comment by Sam — December 7, 2011 @ 11:57 am

  10. Cactus Kate over at Kiwiblog seems to be confirming rumours that David Shearer announced his candidacy after meetings with such people as Hooton, Odgers, Farrar and Slater.

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2011/12/own_goal-4.html#comment-911827

    Comment by johnsonmike — December 7, 2011 @ 12:03 pm

  11. I’m not sold on Shearer. He’s probably a lovely person to sit and have a beer with (but most politicians are) but the reality is that 99.9% of voters never will sit and have a beer with the PM so it;s not a good measure. Being a good speaker and communicator is more than just Question time – it’s any time when you are out in front of the public

    It seems that most of the fans of Shearer seem overly enamoured with his fantastic back story, saving lives under fire in some of the most dangerous places on the planet, but the same was true of vietnam war hero John Kerry who made for a very mediocre presidential candidate who couldn’t even beat a relatively unpopular GWB.

    The leadership of the Labour party is about trying to pick an appropriate counterpoint to JK who would make a good PM. I guess the question I’m trying to raise is why do people think John Key got 48% of the vote and has been such a successful PM?

    Here’s two theories:

    1) Voters don’t care about politics they just like a nice story. John Key a poor kid from a state house who made a fortune in banking and that fantastic feel good story just really resonated with 48% of the population?

    2) Voters have picked JK because he is a pragmatic centrist who has broken with National’s ideologically driven past, marginalised their more extreme coalition partners and the right wing within the party, maintained a reasonable social safety net in welfare, super and WFF, shown a willingness to work with parties from across the spectrum and has credibility on the economy.

    For my money I think if the issue is 1) then David Shearer is definitely the man for the job. If the issue is number 2) then Cunliffe probably has the stronger expertise and background to front foot it against Key.

    Also, there is a certain irony that the people who campaigned on the platform of “This is not a popularity contest” now seem to be backing somebody who’s credentials are not in party political leadership or economic management but somebody with a great back story who can win a political beauty pageant.

    Don’t get me wrong, Shearer could surprise everyone and be absolutley fantastic, that’s the nature of an unknown quantity. But you can bet your bottom dollar that right now National has parliamentary staff researching Shearers time at the UN with the intent of ‘swift boating’ his backstory and neutralising that as a benefit, so I hope people aren’t making that the swing factor in their decision. Those members of the Labour caucus need to ask themselves “Would I still support Shearer for the leadership if he’d just spent the last 20 years working in admin for a large but unglamorous New Zealand NGO?”

    Comment by Richard29 — December 7, 2011 @ 12:11 pm

  12. >Cactus Kate over at Kiwiblog seems to be confirming rumours that David Shearer announced his candidacy after meetings with such people as Hooton, Odgers, Farrar and Slater.

    That seems wildly improbable. If it’s true, it’s wildly alarming, but would go some way to explaining why Hooton looked like he wanted to kiss Shearer on iPredict.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 7, 2011 @ 12:13 pm

  13. Cactus refers to a barbecue held by Matthew Hooton the day after the election where politicoi of all stripes could stand about drinking Veuve and slapping each other on the back. My understanding is that it wasn’t exactly a secret meeting of the Freeman’s Bay Freemasons. Trotter, McCarten and other such noted class enemies were apparently in attendance.

    L

    Comment by Lew — December 7, 2011 @ 12:26 pm

  14. So it was really the iPredict final dinner then? I thought that was a more likely. All of those people were on the show.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 7, 2011 @ 12:41 pm

  15. Seems to me there’s a really simple solution to all this (or at least it’s solution that would be really simple if it weren’t for the fact that nothing is simple in politics):

    Cunliffe as leader now, with the stipulation that if he hasn’t captured the public’s imagination within two years he hands over to Shearer.

    If Cunliffe succeeds within two years all talk of his limitations in this area is rendered moot and his other strengths get to shine.

    On the other hand if Cunliffe fails then Shearer, who has now had time to learn about being an effective politician, gets a crack at it. Or, at least, he gets a crack if he’s proven himself as an effective politician.

    Comment by terence — December 7, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

  16. @terence: DO you think Cunliffe would give it up after two years? I doubt it.

    Comment by max — December 7, 2011 @ 12:55 pm

  17. “Cunliffe as leader now, with the stipulation that if he hasn’t captured the public’s imagination within two years he hands over to Shearer.”

    Or it could be the other way round.

    Comment by Ross — December 7, 2011 @ 12:59 pm

  18. “DO you think Cunliffe would give it up after two years? I doubt it.”

    He wouldn’t have any choice in the matter if the numbers were against him.

    Comment by Ross — December 7, 2011 @ 1:00 pm

  19. “…If wall placement is the measure then either Christ or Che Guevara would eclipse Key in the ‘most popular politician’ stakes anyway…”

    My great granny had Stalin and MJ Savage on her wall.

    Comment by Sanctuary — December 7, 2011 @ 1:39 pm

  20. seems to be forgotten that in the Helen Clark years, John Key – as leader of the opposition – was instructed not to get involved in Question Time in the House; it didn’t do his political prospects any harm.

    Comment by philc — December 7, 2011 @ 1:42 pm

  21. Sanc, that explains so much.

    L

    Comment by Lew — December 7, 2011 @ 1:42 pm

  22. I think a goat painted red could win in 2014 if Labour spend one twentieth of the time they do selecting leadership on working out what their policy is, and making it clear.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 7, 2011 @ 1:43 pm

  23. @Terence
    Worst possible scenario. That was one of the hardest things for Goff is everybody knew that there was the unnoficial agreement that he was the stand in candidate to lose the 2011 election and the focus for 2 years was on whether he was going to get rolled.

    Whoever wins the leadership needs to get iron clad commitments of support from the caucus and get rid of any of the old guard who are not committed to the new approach…

    oh… and it would also be handy to have a new approach. One of the concerns about Shearer is that he seems to be backed by Goff, King, Mallard and Robertson. The leader, deputy, house leader and campaign manager that just delivered one of Labour’s worst results ever. Yet somehow he is the candidate for the new look Labour party that is campaigning on being a clean break from the past.

    Comment by Richard29 — December 7, 2011 @ 1:55 pm

  24. Ironclad commitments are easy to give but become remarkably fragile when the numbers don’t improve…

    Comment by insider — December 7, 2011 @ 2:26 pm

  25. We all know what Labour should be doing, because we are dumb outsiders who just see the blindingly obvious, so naturally we don’t understand.

    That blindingly obvious plan in full …

    1. Pick a leader.
    2. Accept result, unite and STFU forever about your high-school friending and unfriending, which nobody else gives a damn about.
    3. Anyone who doesn’t adhere to #2 becomes Cook Strait fish food.

    If the Labour caucus would like any more brilliant strategic advice, my consultancy fees are very reasonable.

    Comment by sammy — December 7, 2011 @ 2:38 pm

  26. The House doesn’t matter.

    Depends if 2014 is a “referendum on the government” kind of election or a “competing visions” election. 2008 was the referendum kind, so all the Leader of the Opposition had to do was look like a good, not-too-scary bloke and occasionally remind everyone the economy was falling to pieces. 2005 was the competing visions kind. I doubt the result would have been reversed if Brash had been a better Parliamentary performer, but it would have put Clark under a lot more pressure.

    Comment by bradluen — December 7, 2011 @ 2:38 pm

  27. >We all know what Labour should be doing, because we are dumb outsiders who just see the blindingly obvious, so naturally we don’t understand.

    That blindingly obvious plan in full …

    1. Pick a leader.

    Can I stop you right there? It’s not at all obvious the plan should begin with picking a leader. The plan should start with making a plan. The leadership choice would flow from the plan.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 7, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

  28. The plan should start with making a plan.

    I’ve suggested that too – a major review of everything related to the Labour Party and the election campaign has been intimated, so it would make more sense to restructure and reinvent the party first and then choose a leader who suits the new version of Labour the best.

    By choosing a leader first Labour are going to model their revamped party on that leader and the leadership preferences? It will be hard to avoid that.

    Comment by Pete George — December 7, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

  29. Ben/Pete

    Sure, I get the “wouldn’t have started from here” argument. But we can take that time machine back through days, weeks, years. There’s a lot Labour could have done differently. But they didn’t.

    Starting from here, there’s a leadership contest. Goff could have stayed in situ and overseen a stock-take, but .. he didn’t. Ship, sailed.

    Comment by sammy — December 7, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

  30. Yep Danyl- why is Mahuta more daft than Shearer?

    I’m not sure- apart from John Tamihere- that anyone has shown why she is a daft selection. She seems one of the few electorally well performed MPs.

    Comment by sheesh — December 7, 2011 @ 6:12 pm

  31. Mahuta is an above-average Labour MP, but the obvious joke that implies is pretty accurate.

    Comment by bradluen — December 7, 2011 @ 6:25 pm

  32. Anyway, since Team Shearer is basically writing fanfiction (“then David said ‘well, John, unlike you I’ve actually been to Somalia’, and the audience cheered and rose to their feet as Key burst into tears of humiliation”), here’s my Team Cunliffe Fantasy Frontbench:

    Cunliffe: leader
    Parker: finance
    Robertson: health
    Chauvel: justice
    Dalziel: economic development
    Ardern: social development
    Jones: Maori affairs
    Moroney: education
    Shearer: foreign affairs

    If Mahuta has to be deputy to make this happen then so be it.

    Comment by bradluen — December 7, 2011 @ 6:54 pm

  33. Bradluen @ 6.54
    Nails Team Cunnliffe.

    Comment by A Fraser — December 7, 2011 @ 7:14 pm

  34. “Cunliffe as leader now, with the stipulation that if he hasn’t captured the public’s imagination within two years he hands over to Shearer.”

    Oh Christ. Having seen what happened to the British Labour Party after Brown and Blair sealed their gentlemen’s agreement over the sushi rolls and miso soup, I think that’s a bloody terrible idea. Labour needs to pick a leader and get thoroughly behind him (or her) right from the get-go. Encouraging factionalism and backstabbing within the caucus is not the way to win in 2014.

    Comment by rj — December 7, 2011 @ 10:58 pm

  35. Shearer would certainly be a brilliant Minister of Foreign Affairs.

    And Danyl, even if Key is the most popular politician New Zealand has ever had* that doesn’t mean nobody should aspire to do anything better than him.

    *I must dig out this quote next time you criticise somebody else for indulging in hyperbole at the expense of calm, considered thought.

    Comment by Hugh — December 8, 2011 @ 12:44 am

  36. >Starting from here, there’s a leadership contest. Goff could have stayed in situ and overseen a stock-take, but .. he didn’t. Ship, sailed.

    Not really. Goff is still the leader, and they haven’t actually selected a leader yet. It is perfectly feasible for an organization to remain leaderless while they work out the criterion that their leader must satisfy. It’s not like they have a country to run, or that they can’t oppose effectively without a single leader. Parliament isn’t sitting again for quite a while. Furthermore, it’s not even yet clear what exact government they will be opposing since the votes aren’t counted, the deals aren’t settled, the Government isn’t formed. This is only less half-cocked than Helen Clark’s election night resignation by a few weeks, and she at least had the excuse that the result was overwhelmingly for National.

    The ship has not sailed. The officers are still wrangling with the Company over who should be the captain. Since they don’t know the destination, it’s the wrong wrangle. Indeed, it’s going to end up like Moby Dick, with the captain waiting until land is out of sight before revealing his plan.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 8, 2011 @ 9:19 am

  37. “…Indeed, it’s going to end up like Moby Dick, with the captain waiting until land is out of sight before revealing his plan…”

    Another chap to do that was Roald Amundsen, who kept the destination of his south pole dash a secret until he had sailed.

    Which only goes to show, a plan is a plan is a plan. It is the execution that counts.

    Comment by Sanctuary — December 8, 2011 @ 9:31 am

  38. Oh Christ. Having seen what happened to the British Labour Party after Brown and Blair sealed their gentlemen’s agreement over the sushi rolls and miso soup, I think that’s a bloody terrible idea. Labour needs to pick a leader and get thoroughly behind him (or her) right from the get-go. Encouraging factionalism and backstabbing within the caucus is not the way to win in 2014.

    That pretty much nails the problem with it. (1) power being what it is, it’s unlikely that the necessary smooth swap could be effected and (b) although it’s the sort of deal you’d want to keep secret for perception’s sake, it would almost certainly leak.

    Seems a pity to me.

    Comment by terence — December 8, 2011 @ 10:21 am

  39. >Another chap to do that was Roald Amundsen, who kept the destination of his south pole dash a secret until he had sailed.

    Yes, he shafted a lot of people who had put trust in him when he did that. He only got away with it because they were already equipped and prepared for a near identical expedition, the North Pole. Sailors were also well accustomed to dictatorship – they suffered it or they swam (or more likely got thrashed within an inch of their lives). I don’t really see anything good about modeling a major political party around such an idea.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 8, 2011 @ 10:54 am

  40. As a candidate, I’ve been in debates with Mahuta twice. Both times she came across as personable, intelligent and very well-briefed. I think she would make good deputy leader. Danyl, can you qualify why you think she would be so terrible, or is this a case of incompetence by accusation ?

    Comment by mikaerecurtis — December 8, 2011 @ 10:58 am

  41. “…I don’t really see anything good about modeling a major political party around such an idea…”

    Better way of doing things than that loser Scott?

    Comment by Sanctuary — December 8, 2011 @ 11:06 am

  42. IS Scott in the leadership race now?

    Comment by insider — December 8, 2011 @ 11:10 am

  43. >Better way of doing things than that loser Scott?

    His method was also stupid. It’s not a binary – do it like Scott or do it like Amundsen. As a wild thought, it could have not been done at all, and Scott would have lived. Also, around 40 of Amundsen’s dogs might not have been eaten by their pack and their masters. Did it really fucking matter who stuck a flag in the middle of an ice-field first? Part of the reason Amundsen kept what he was doing secret was because his own government might have thought pissing the English off to be quite a foolish thing to do. The entire thing was done for the personal glory of Amundsen, fucking up the scientific purposes that he had actually agreed to with Scott, and causing the English undue haste that led to a horrific disaster. It could have been a disaster for Amundsen too, many of his people could have died.

    Again, it’s no model for a good selection process, nor leadership of something claiming to be the party of the people.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 8, 2011 @ 11:40 am

  44. Like they say, never trust a Norwegian bearing flags.

    Comment by Gregor W — December 8, 2011 @ 11:44 am

  45. Actually, the more I think about it, the better the Scott/Amundsen analogy makes sense, since Amundsen deliberately shafted someone he had made quite firm promises to, who was working in good faith with him, and who had offered him every bit as much glory in the conquest in the North Pole. Fully applying it, Labour should act like Amundsen, if it is their purpose to shaft the Green party. Indeed, I think they fully do intend to attempt that this time around. My question to Shearer on RedAlert (in response to their request for such questions) about this were met with no firm answer of any kind. He said:

    >Labour needs to work constructively across parliament. I will look keep discussions going with any parties in areas where we share common aims.

    Which is as close to “I don’t know” or “I won’t say” as you can get.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 8, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

  46. Still, the polar race was a bit like politics. First learn to count. And Amundsen knew how to count to “first”.

    Comment by Sanctuary — December 8, 2011 @ 12:10 pm

  47. One is Pepsi. The other is Coke. What matters is the quality of the end product.

    Comment by DeepRed — December 9, 2011 @ 12:26 am


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