First Gillard, then Miliband, now Shearer – three Labour leaders who in the past two months have completely turned around their fortunes and those of their party with one speech.
Shearer’s task, like Miliband’s, was to tell the Labour Party and the New Zealand people who he was, what he believed, and where he wanted to take our country and it’s people. Introduction by his wife and fellow New Zealander of the year Anouschka told us who he was. He drew on his upbringing and their work in the world’s most difficult places to spell out his values.
And he was absolutely clear about where he wants to take New Zealand – to make a real difference to people’s lives by hands-on government. Others have spelt out the detail – there is no need to recap it here.
It has been my good fortune to hear two of these three great speeches in person – Miliband in Manchester and Shearer in Auckland. I watched Gillard on the viral You-Tube. Like Gillard, Shearer spoke from the heart, with real conviction; he is not one who has to question himself if he is sincere. Like Miliband, he demonstrated political intelligence and in a particularly Kiwilabour way - practical, hands-on, real.
I don’t know how many people the Ellerslie Event Centre ballroom holds – 800-1,000 would be my guess. It was packed, and the reception given Shearer inside the room shows that he has achieved the first key objective for a Party leader two years out from an election – a major party organisation that is united, enthused, and ready to work for election victory in 2014.
I think he has also achieved another important objective – giving Kiwis something worthwhile to talk about over the Christmas break. 100,000 new homes is a whole heap of opportunities, jobs and skills from a hands-on government.
Conferences can be turning-points for political parties, either way. I’ve been to many and I’ve seen both turns. Today’s outcome was one of the most positive.
For some, though, the result hasn’t been according to the script – doombloggers, coup plotters, and media splitters. I’ll have more to say about all that in a later post. In the meantime, Smith’s First Law of Politics applies – Don’t panic!