Rob Salmond wonders why people are turning against David Shearer when the aggregated polls show virtually no movement during Shearer’s tenure as leader (and a new Herald poll out today shows Labour gaining, albeit mostly at the expense of its coalition partners).
My take on the anti-Shearer cult and my fanatical adherence to it:
1. Shearer is a poor communicator. Maybe he’ll get better, but he seems to be getting worse. One gallery journalist told me that he really rated Shearer before he became leader but even since then he’d been unable to get a word of sense out of him about his goals as leader: it was all ‘what we’ve got to do now is figure out what to do’. Four months and two leaders’ speeches in and we still have no idea what he stands for, other than the apple pie pablum that all politicians stand for (investment, growth, education etc).
2. The government has had a terrible four months. They’re beset by scandals and the public is overwhelmingly opposed to almost every single position they’ve taken. Yet even in the latest Herald poll they’re still polling higher than they did during the election.
3. Shearer’s deliberately low-profile strategy during this critical period was patently absurd. Labour might be doing better in the polls – we’ll have to wait for more data to see if the Herald’s result is meaningful – but he hasn’t damaged the government during a time of great vulnerability.
Turning the polls around takes time. Sure. But Labour spent the 2008-2011 parliament doing things that were obviouslydaft, with a leader who was obviously inadequate and dismissing their dire poll results because ‘turning the polls around takes time’. If Shearer had a coherent strategy and articulate vision and the polls were still static, that’d be one thing, but static polls and a complete absence of vision and strategy is a really bad sign. And the fact that senior members of Shearer’s team are leaking to David Farrar and Cameron Slater? Also a really bad sign.