Great news that David Shearer has been made Labour leader.
Here’s my earlier post (and I’m pleased to be told Mr Shearer did read it at the time)
It’s bizarre watching Labour continue to commit suicide.
Unless the party chooses Mt Albert MP David Shearer as leader and Jacinda Ardern as deputy, they’ll be relegated to be a minor opposition party behind the Greens and potentially NZ First.
Even then there is no guarantee they have a future.
It’s extraordinary to see potential self-obsessed leaders scrambling around trying to crunch the numbers to become the leader, while it is only Shearer who is making speeches warning the core of the party is rotten and doomed unless they wake up.
Read the speech that Shearer made yesterday about a vision for NZ and admitting Labour needs to change – when have you ever heard any of the other hopefuls express such a wordly grasp of the issues?
“The Labour Party needs to be articulating a vision and narrative that inspires New Zealanders.
The party, as I said before, should be the voice of the dreams and aspirations of New Zealanders.
We need seriously think how we do that….
In my view we need to re-think our economy. This requires us to rethink the way we harness our science and innovation, and the way we unleash for people new opportunities in education and training….
We will be travelling through some difficult economic times in the coming months.
It will require some bold thinking…
The government’s current ‘strategy’ goes something like this: as China and Asia grows richer they will demand a higher protein diet. We grow protein, therefore we’re ideally positioned.
That’s a hope, not a strategy. We hope that it changes out there, so we won’t have to change here – so we can continue doing more or less the same thing as we’ve done the 1960s.
We need to shape our own future, not simply rely on the prosperity of others. We are an inventive people but we have relied on a number 8 wire mentality to see us through.
Great ideas, but too often we fail to commercialise them.”
Labour’s basic fault is that they so underestimated John Key during the previous campaign, they went into shock and denial when Helen Clark was defeated and for the past three years blamed it on everyone but themselves, arrogantly thinking people made a mistake in voting them out when their policies were sure to have been right.
They have never fronted up to the public in a mea culpa moment to say they went too far with what become widely perceived as too extreme social liberal and controlling nanny state policies. That perception, enforced by exaggerated media coverage about regulations controlling hot water pressure in the last stages of the campaign, helped topple Clark’s government.
They had three years to come through with a fresh face and a vision but left everything to the last minute – and instead of a change at the top when it obvious Goff couldn’t compete with the popular Key, still fronted with a well meaning and good man but one from yesterday and tainted with all that had gone before including Labour’s asset sales Rogernomics era. There was never time to understand the reformed Goff who now did not believe in asset sales.
Ironically Chris Carter’s failed coup predictions about a massive Goff failure came back to bite them where it hurts.
They left it too late to announce policy even though they knew media would be obsessed with the RWC for 2 months and they had to make an impression before then.
In the short timeframe after the RWC, the public was weary, too weary to take in new complex policies with lots of fine print and and wanted the campaign over with and delivered simply. There was never going to be enough time to warm to Goff.
During the election they seemed to be making it up on the spot – a fact admitted by MPs when challenged why they opposed raising the super age a few months ago and then suddenly endorsed it. They admitted that policy was decided only a fortnight before its release. Remind me what the campaign strategy was suppose to be or is it that there wasn’t one? The latter seemed likely.
The party made mistake after mistake during the campaign including talking up more taxes including a Capital Gains Tax that was too complex to grasp.
Then it alienated its elderly base.
By raising the spectre of a super age raise, it sent nervous old people back into the hands of Winston Peters even though if they had read the fine print to see they’d be dead by the time it happens. Winston is that nice man who had given them free public transport and wouldn’t do such horrible things to them.
For a while Goff was kept hidden, then he pushed in front trying to smile and wave and kiss babies like Mr Popular. Just who did the media masters think they were fooling?
Yet Goff was out of the race early on, the moment John Key challenged him on his policy numbers – and media replayed endlessly the “Show me the Numbers” line from the Christchurch Press online debate.
Yet Goff still bumbled along unable to deliver the figures when given the opportunity in two subsequent TV appearances a week or so later. This just enabled the “Show me the Numbers” soundbite to be repeated again ad nauseam to accompany the new shambles.
I can’t see how either finance spokespeople Cunliffe or Parker have the nerve to say they were not responsible for making sure Goff had those numbers and despite their denials one can only speculate whether it was part of a motive to make Goff look bad so they could soon get to jockey to satisfy their own hunger for the position.
In the final fatal blow, on election day, thousands of the Labour faithful either couldn’t vote for Goff and hated the alternatives so stayed away.
A taxi driver I had on the night before the election told me he had always voted Labour and hated National but could not bring himself to vote for Goff who had no credibility in his eyes and no sound policy so he was not going to vote. As a Mt Albert electorate voter, he was very impressed with Shearer and wished he was leader.
A sign of how low the coffers have got for Labour was seen when the once strongholds of West Auckland and Christchurch vanished from Labour’s strong grasp this election. Their remaining lonely supporters seem to be in South Auckland or staunch members of unions.
Urban liberals have flocked to the Greens, a party that feels young, energetic, honest and relevant. It has a bloody good public transport policy. It’s about the future and a smart intelligent looking Russell Norman and Metiria Turei have shed the party’s hippie overtones.
With more MPs to make a noise in this incoming parliament, the Greens will increase their visibility and popularity.
Yet under MMP, Greens will need more friendly partners like Labour to be able to form the numbers to be a voice in government.
For Labour’s pending leadership decision, Labour should not let the self-serving MPs in caucus make their decision from the slim pickings – slim thanks to the party’s (again self-serving) union-driven choice of list MPs which prevented new fresh blood entering parliament.
However much it rankles, like it or not, a largely apathetic population, happy with their lot under president Key, and celebrity-driven media, thriving on scandal for ratings, have reduced politics to being all about personalities.
An independent marketing team should be brought in for Labour to pick someone to match Brand Key, a brand many women admit they find sexy. In Election Idol, Cunliffe and Parker would be eliminated from the survivor island immediately.
Here’s my take on how the hopefuls look on TV alone – not knowing any of them. This is how they come across on screen to me – not how they are in person. I am sure they are lovely people. These days, TV image is everything as we know from smiling and wave happy chappy Key.
Cunliffe does not have the looks and appears conceited, arrogant and aloof. He doesn’t smile and looks like a head prefect bully. His offsider Nanaia Mahuta looks scruffy and angry, a poor woman’s Tariana Turia.
Parker with his timid voice looks like an ineffective accountant who would run for miles in a crisis and – yes a sad indictment on society – Grant Robertson, as an openly gay person, will encounter some prejudice including from the Labourites who voted back in Damian O’Connor on the West Coast after his much-applauded attack on Labour having become a gaggle of gays.
By contrast Shearer comes across as a natural and honest, a kind of Kiwi blokey-er Key. Someone with an amazing backstory about leading teams in war-torn Iraq for humanitarian work for the UN.
I had several conversations with him during the Mt Albert by election (when he was on rail stations) and he came across as intelligent, upfront and in tune with people’s emotions. He can relate easily to people. There were lovely shots of him hanging out with primary kids in a low-decile school during a pre-election TV profile on The Saturday morning Nation programme. I can’t imagine Cunliffe and Parker doing hi fives down with the kids.
And that’s, pardon the pun, the key. New Zealand has become closer to a laid back Pacific nation of late where people are more relaxed. Shearer, like Key, has that air about him in his public appearances. Voters don’t do scary stern and grimace any more after too many years of the Clark era.
The stern-faced Cunliffe and Parker come across with the Labour disease highlighted by Clark and Cullen of academic aloofness and looking ill at ease out of their comfort zone. Remember Clark looking like a duck out of water when she swapped the opera for a Warriors game.
Jacinda Ardern does have sex appeal – a good look for the TV cameras- and is young fresh and also not tainted. She may be inexperienced in politics but will soon learn.
Again image is everything. She would help bring the needed generational change to the Labour leadership.
I have no personal stake in what happens to Labour.
But in the interests of democracy we need a strong opposition, not one party that will continue to dominate decision-making. And the energised Greens need some energy around them.