The Dim-Post

December 13, 2011

Most hyberbolic statements ever

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:29 am

A commentator at The Standard warns against the terrible error the Labour Party is on the verge of repeating:

 With only six years’ parliamentary experience before becoming leader of the NZLP he was also the least experienced of all Labour’s twelve leaders to date. David Lange got eaten alive.

His inability to manage his caucus opened the door for an unprecedented high-jacking of the Party’s ideological compass by neo-liberals, and Lange eventually became an unwilling puppet for the more experienced but less principled old-hands behind him.

As a sensitive man Lange didn’t handle the awful pressure and toxicity of the leadership and paid a heavy emotional and physical toll. He left Parliament a pretty broken man. It wasn’t a good experience for him, for the Labour Party, or the people Labour represent.

So will [David Shearer] be the newest ‘least experienced Labour leader’ or will we have learned the lesson?

This asks us to accept that after twenty years running aid camps in war zones David Shearer will be unable to handle the pressure of managing the Labour caucus, and that Grant Robertson and David Parker are analogous to Richard Prebble and Roger Douglas.

Meanwhile, Keith Ng writes:

Let’s face it, if Cunliffe didn’t offer his supporters portfolios and positions, there wouldn’t even be a contest. That’s why this contest isn’t about him – it’s about the Labour caucus and the Labour Party, and whether it’ll ever be able to rid itself of the entrenched interests of patronage and machine politics.

This is also pretty silly. Cunliffe is a really experienced, accomplished politician. It sounds like Shearer’s gonna be their next leader, but if Cunliffe wins it’ll be because he’s out-performed Shearer in every single media opportunity and party meeting in the leadership contest.


  1. Poltical experience is like none other…

    Comment by RedLogix — December 13, 2011 @ 7:37 am

  2. So people have been telling John Key. I suppose he didn’t get the memo.


    Comment by Lew — December 13, 2011 @ 8:02 am

  3. We seem to be living in the age of the anti-politician, or at least there is a backlash against careerist politicians. The kiss of death these days is to be labelled a career politician. Populists of varying hues of blue and those who affect to be self-made men and women engaging in celebrity politics as amateurs seems all the rage just now.

    Comment by Sanctuary — December 13, 2011 @ 8:16 am

  4. Just another political fashion. Like most fashion these days I suspect it is there to relieve journos boredom and to allow other opportunists to leverage a few baubles out of it.

    Makes as much sense as any other one. Mostly you just have to ride them out cherry picking the bits that work.

    Comment by lprent — December 13, 2011 @ 8:23 am

  5. Nice attempted tar’n’feather of Shearer Lynn, “…allow other opportunists to leverage a few baubles…”. Too bad Cunners will lose.

    Comment by merv — December 13, 2011 @ 8:28 am

  6. While I sort of like this whole public leadership selection process in principle, I think that it will prove to be damaging for the Labour party no matter who wins.

    I think that what should have happened is that the leadership contenders shoud have met and sat down and worked out a plan. Come to a united position and then presented that to caucus so there was a united front.

    Comment by Socrates — December 13, 2011 @ 8:43 am

  7. I hope its Shearer just so I can see The Standard authors and most of the commenters there go absolutely toxic.

    Comment by gingercrush — December 13, 2011 @ 8:46 am

  8. Couldn’t agree less, Soc. Best-case is a relatively good-natured leadership contest out in the open, followed by the leader swiftly and decisively acting to unite the party once elected. The first part of that we’ve had — what rancour exists has largely been played out between proxies and activists rather than caucus factions themselves.

    Now for the second bit. The fact that some, erm, “elements” are talking about a mutiny against Shearer if he wins should be music to his ears — an opportunity to ruthlessly put down an upstart insurgency doesn’t come along very often, and would be a great way to demonstrate commitment to renewal and show some leadership chops.


    Comment by Lew — December 13, 2011 @ 8:49 am

  9. As one enthused by neither Shearer nor Cunliffe, but willing to go along with whoever gets it, makes me nostalgic for the good old days when Nordy could displace Nash, and Kirk Nordy in purely in-house coups. None of bringing in wider party nonsense, and resultant Cult of Personalities.

    Comment by Leopold — December 13, 2011 @ 9:05 am

  10. Given the Beehive is a very expensive tent, if I was Shearer and won, I’d sacrifice Robertson ( who? ) for Cunliffe as deputy – ” in the party’s best interest ” naturally.

    Comment by Bruce Hamilton — December 13, 2011 @ 9:27 am

  11. Good comment, Bruce.

    As to the “fashion”, I personally have never been in favour of careerists leading us. They are like 18 yo Police Officers protecting us – sure they may be incredibly smart and know all the rules but have no idea how to apply them.

    Also, careerists tend to the extreme, to become part of the problem rather than the solution. Pragmatism and compromise become mere words in the online dictionary so where concencus could be acheived, absolutism results. Case in point – the final 3 years of the Clark gummint.

    Comment by XChequer — December 13, 2011 @ 9:57 am

  12. @Leo: Neither of them did so immediately after a cripplingly bad election loss, though. It rather changes the dynamic.

    And as to Danyl – you seem to believe that because Shearer did one hard thing, he can do any hard thing. David Lange’s management of a criminal law practice in South Auckland can’t have been easy either. It didn’t help him handle Douglas et al.

    As for Robertson and Parker being analogous to Douglas and Prebble, in 1981, Douglas and Prebble were not very scary people.

    Comment by Hugh — December 13, 2011 @ 10:35 am

  13. We seem to be living in the age of the anti-politician, or at least there is a backlash against careerist politicians. The kiss of death these days is to be labelled a career politician. Populists of varying hues of blue and those who affect to be self-made men and women engaging in celebrity politics as amateurs seems all the rage just now.

    Isn’t that kinda how it used to work? People would establish trades, or businesses, or careers and then head to Parliament for a few terms in their forties (or fifties)?
    [checks Wikipedia]
    Savage, for example, entered Parliament at ~47, and became PM at ~63

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — December 13, 2011 @ 10:44 am

  14. Yes – a quasi council of (experienced) elders. Giving control of the country to the baby boomers has shown just how short-sighted and selfish politics can be in the hands of those with ‘energy’, personal drive, and ambition instead of wisdom and compassion borne of experience…

    I just made that up. Feel free to re-quote…

    Comment by Sam — December 13, 2011 @ 11:21 am

  15. You got your wish gingercrush. Get your popcorn and enjoy the show.

    Comment by insider — December 13, 2011 @ 11:21 am

  16. Oh and they’ve already started banning people for comments barely three minutes into Shearer’s reign. 🙂

    Comment by insider — December 13, 2011 @ 11:25 am

  17. >Savage, for example, entered Parliament at ~47, and became PM at ~63

    Yes, well-meaning amateurs figured highly in politics in the period immediately before the world plunged into the most disgusting war in history. But there were always career politicians too, many of them extremely important. Abraham Lincoln, for instance, and Winston Churchill. Helen Clark, in NZ, and Robert Muldoon.

    It’s a mistake to think that choosing a career in politics makes people somehow disengaged from the concerns of the populace, and yet a career in business keeps you directly connected somehow. Many businessmen I know have lost all connection to how “average” people think, having been wealthy for too many years, and also often believing that their wealth came to them by processes that could form a model for society (despite thousands of years of evidence to show that it just doesn’t work out like that).

    Both kinds of people are needed. I don’t see either Cunliffe or Shearer having a clear advantage just on account of their backgrounds, in terms of their ability to run a party. More to the point, it’s the least interesting thing to me about Labour, who their goddamned figurehead is going to be. I want to know what they will be doing, what they stand for, what their plan is, what their policy to fix NZ is.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 13, 2011 @ 11:30 am

  18. @ Ben

    I want to know what they will be doing, what they stand for, what their plan is, what their policy to fix NZ is.

    Well the good news is Chris Hipkins and Darien Fenton have been appointed as whips. Talent rises to the top, or something.

    Shearer – the fresh new face of the same old Labour.

    Comment by Gregor W — December 13, 2011 @ 1:15 pm

  19. Darien Fenton is considered talent? God help them.

    Comment by gn — December 13, 2011 @ 1:56 pm

  20. Is a whip required to have talent? I thought all they needed was a whip?

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 13, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

  21. Labour took the higher-risk choice, and that’s not completely irrational. It does mean if the polls don’t improve, there’s no reason to wait long before making Shearer gasp “et tu, Grant?”

    Comment by bradluen — December 13, 2011 @ 2:16 pm

  22. Don’t forget Clare Curran too!

    Comment by sheesh — December 13, 2011 @ 4:23 pm

  23. Yes, because the name of the whip is well known to be a decisive factor in determining election outcomes (Grutterfunk & Schnaubee, 2001).

    Has anyone ever heard of Lindsay Tisch, the architect (apparently) of John Key’s 2008 triumph? Is it a he or a she?

    Comment by sammy — December 13, 2011 @ 4:44 pm

  24. Don’t forget Clare Curran too!

    Better watch what you say, sheesh. That’s the Shadow Minister of Internets you’re talking about. She has dark and unholy powers.

    I know I shouldn’t have but I couldn’t resist a little red ragging on RA and The Standard by opining that the old lags like Mallard and co. have run a good race (if possibly counterproductive for the NZLP) to sink Cunliffe and secure their sinecures.

    Both Curran and Prentice got their panties in a bunch. Not unexpected but kind of funny.

    Comment by Gregor W — December 13, 2011 @ 5:10 pm

  25. @Gregor: what side was Curran on?

    Comment by K2 — December 13, 2011 @ 5:44 pm

  26. No idea. She was appointed / elected caucus secretary for what it’s worth though.

    Comment by Gregor W — December 13, 2011 @ 8:15 pm

  27. Danyl – Keith Ng is correct; this battle has been all about whether Labour can overcome its inherent factionalism, and elect a leader to refound their caucus and party into a united team with a policy platform they are proud to admit to Kiwis (ie without the free market capitalism Labour keep quiet about, but have never resiled from).

    It’s really not about the political or parliamentary experience of Cunliffe or Shearer. It’s about their ability to do what Goff hesitantly tried, and failed, to do – clean out the deadwood and bring in new talent and bed them in PRIOR to the next election, so they go into the 2014 poll with a tough, united team singing from the same songsheet. The current Labour rabble couldn’t agree to sit in the same stadium.

    They could do this by alternately pushing out deadbeat electorate and list MPs in year 2. Keeps Labour’s rejuvenation constantly in the media, and spaces their byelections to ease the strain on cash and volunteers.

    Ironically, there was some truth in the Stranded commentator you quote. Lange failed to ‘manage’ his caucus, for the same reason Goff failed to rejuvenate his – because they lacked the numbers. It’s one thing to get elected leader of Labour’s caucus; it’s another altogether to get elected with a mandate to restructure it into fighting shape (especially when caucus members KNOW that means some of them will be kicked out of their six-figure sinecure). That is all this battle is about.

    The first few months will tell us Shearer’s fate – if he hasn’t implemented reform by March next year, then he doesn’t have the numbers to do so, and Labour will sink further into irrelevance to NZ voters.

    Comment by bob — December 14, 2011 @ 1:29 am

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