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The Standard

Don’t panic

Written By: - Date published: 10:30 pm, November 11th, 2012 - 73 comments
Categories: australian politics, david shearer, uk politics - Tags:

Twice this year we have seen Labour leaders  turn around perceptions of them and their party with one speech. Ed Miliband did it at the Labour Party conference in Manchester in early November. Julia Gillard did it in the Australian parliament in October.

A year ago both leaders were considered total losers by many in their own party and by most pundits. Their Conservative and Liberal opponents thought they were riding high to inevitable victory at the next election.

In Australia, everybody had completely written off Labor’s chances in 2013. The ALP’s primary vote had dropped to the twenties. Julia Gillard had to withstand a challenge from Kevin Rudd, after a long campaign of white-anting in the caucus and attack from Labor strategists such as Bruce Hawker. The Murdoch-owned Australian sustained a long personal campaign against her, led by senior editor Paul Kelly.

In Britain, Blairites and David Miliband supporters were proclaiming in late 2011 “Ed Miliband is not a popular Labour leader.” Immediately prior to his Conference speech, the Conservatives were totally confident in victory at the next election despite the fact that they were currently behind in the polls because “we’ve got David, they’ve got Ed.”

Look at the situation now. In Australia, the ALP briefly led the Liberals on the two-party preferred vote, and are still within striking distance. Gillard leads Abbott as preferred Prime Minister. Instead of Gillard being the leader under threat, the blowtorch has been turned onto Abbott. In Britain, Miliband is now written up as ruling  the Commons. Cameron was completely and utterly upstaged at the Conservative conference by Boris Johnson.

A year ago in both Australia and Britain you would have got very long odds on Gillard or Miliband’s survival. Now it is Abbott and Cameron who are under threat.

Harold Wilson’s famous dictum that ‘a week is a long time in politics’, and David Lange’s equally famous comment about the “reef fish” in the Press Gallery come to mind. The Canberra Press Gallery was unanimously dismissive of Gillard’s speech, but it went viral on You-Tube.

Criticisms of Shearer on this site and others seem to come down to these. He’s not Helen Clark, who was master of every portfolio. True, but neither is Key. He lacks fluency, is not a good communicator. True, but so was Helen Clark before she sought and obtained media training. He doesn’t have the relentless negativity of a Leader of the Opposition. True; that was Goff’s strategy, and it wasn’t a good one.

Scott Yorke at least gives Shearer till after the Labour Party conference, and so do I. There is no doubt it will be important for him, and for Labour. The good news is that the spotlight will be definitely on Shearer. Miliband and Gillard show hitherto derided leaders can step up, and that one performance can make a huge difference to theirs and their party’s prospects.

I think that calling for David Shearer’s head now, in the week before the Labour party conference, is a sign of panic. Panic doesn’t make for good decisions.

It is also very destructive of good organisation, which will be the other focus of the conference, and arguably the more important.

73 comments on “Don’t panic”

  1. Jenny 1

    Don’t panic Mr Mannering

    • bbfloyd 1.1

      That’s mr Jones who’s the panic merchant(no relation to shane)… and it’s spelled Mainwaring….

  2. hush minx 2

    To be fair Mike, I don’t think people on this site will have written any of this lightly. No one likes to se this stuff written down – and given your influential role in times past I’m sure you more than most will understand the depth of feeling that sits behind it.

    And it’s also true that the list of concerns they have had regarding David Shearer as a leader are not new. The problem is that despite articulating them repeatedly little progress has been seen to be made. In addition there is an air of disengagement from the caucus – which was merely emphasised by the decision of 18 of them voting against the wish of the party membership in December last year.

    It’s not panic that is making this happen – it’s frustration that Labour setting up a third term of a National led government through the inadequacies of a set of MPs sitting inside caucus, and a party leadership that appears out of its depth.

    • Dr Terry 2.1

      Probably there are some signs of panic, but be careful not to “put down” all the commentators. Most of these people are intelligent and able to reason and discern the signs. “Miracles” can happen in politics, we hardly need reminding of that. Shearer might be transformed over night.

      Nevertheless, too much emphasis has been focused upon Shearer, where more weight should be placed upon the Labour team as a whole. Even if Key can run a government on his own, it is unfair to place that expectation upon Shearer or almost any other individual. Good team-work is the thing, and that is what we must be convinced about.

    • King Kong 2.2

      Nobody knows who the authors of these Shearer attack pieces are so it is impossible to know what potential agenda they are pushing.
      Going for the jugular a week before conference makes me think that they have a dog in this race or they may be driven by purer motives…who knows?

      [lprent: Ummm. And your explanation about my post that I wrote last night? What “dog” do you think that I have?

      Don’t be a silly wee wanker and start violating our policy against attributing strange unsubstantiated motives to authors beyond what each of us state. It really doesn’t matter if a handle is used or a “real name”. If there is any actual hidden motivations then one or more of the other authors (starting with me) would start crying foul. In this case there had been some discussion running around the emails that authors were getting pissed starting several months ago and that has been reflected in posts. Eddie just wrote what he has been saying for months.

      We don’t need input by a political moron who appears to have been missing the evident dissatisfaction showing up in comments and posts here for months. ]

  3. Pete 3

    If David Shearer doesn’t go now, it will be too late to replace him in this term while allowing the party to get its house in order for the 2014 election. That’s why there is an urgency about this. Media training is not going to cut it. The man was a teacher for four years. If we are seeing the same communication skills now as he subjected his classes to in the 80s, he mustn’t have been very good at it. The GCSB tape fiasco exhibited an extraordinary degree of political naïveté. The beneficiary bashing dog whistle sent the wrong signals. Labour is supposed to be the party of the marginalised in society, not holding them up to suspicion. And you’re expecting Labour supporters to hang around like some battered spouse making excuses for the poor standard of Shearer’s leadership.

    • Jackal 3.1

      In my opinion, the GCSB tape fiasco didn’t exhibited an extraordinary degree of political naïveté on the part of David Shearer, no matter how hard the right wing propagandists spun it. What it did show was just how callous and manipulative John Key can be in order to not tell the truth.

      Whether the roof painter debacle sent the wrong signals is also a matter of opinion, being that Labours polling improved immediately after this. This was because there was a disproportional amount of coverage given to what was largely a triviality. I’m not saying it’s a good strategy, just pointing out the reality of the situation. Those facts make your claims that Labour supporters only come from marginalized sectors of the community entirely wrong!

      However, marginalizing potential supporters is not an effective method to ensure widespread support. That’s what National does all the time with its beneficiary bashing, and in the end it will work against them. Labour needs to look at an inclusive plan that ensures all New Zealanders benefit, not just the rich or poor.

      Despite the various arguments against him, I think David Shearer could outstrip some peoples expectations and win the next election for Labour and the left wing. It just so happens that the majority of Labour MP’s agree with me, and that’s why Shearer is leader of the opposition.

  4. felix 4

    Panic?

    Yeah sure. Four years of slow, grinding, repetitive panic.

  5. Jenny 5

    The vast bulk of the Labour Party membership, (apparently), are for David Cunliffe’s leadership over David Shearer’s.

    This will need to be tested by an open debate followed by a vote.

    Any other course could be disastrous.

    If it is true that Shearer supporters are in the minority, then the only way Shearer could remain leader after the conference is through some sort of suppression of inner party democracy, either through some sort of a technicality or other bureaucratic maneuver.

    :However if such tactics are imposed on the conference there will be a cost. If the majority opinion is not allowed some sort of democratic expression at this time, then Labour Party organisation will suffer an internal wound, it may be hidden and glossed over and dismissed as trivial, but mark my words, the majority will, will find it’s expression in some other way at some other time. Probably at the worst possible time.

    Possibly in a lack of volunteers and doorknockers come election time, resulting from a slow sapping of enthusiasm in these same loyal volunteers as they go about their daily lives.

    • McFlock 5.1

      This I agree with.

      And I think it applies to every political party.

      The democratic advance made by MMP (which as a system I think is beginning to mature, if needing tweaks around the electorate/threshold issue) needs to be matched by democratic advances in political parties. Members need to be able to affect changes beyond the caucus door, and hold caucus to policy and the wishes of membership.

      Whether or not the Shearer/Cunliffe thing is a caucus problem, or an Auckland problem, or a media/blog problem, or a Shearer performance problem, or some or all of the above, the way to put a lid on it is to have clear membership support.

      • weka 5.1.1

        I thought the point was that the membership don’t get to choose the leader. Have the changes to that been finalised?

  6. Unfortunately Jenny that is exactly the plan. You need to take a very close look at the constitutional changes for leadership issues. Everyone has been focused on the rule that would give members and affiliates a share in leadership votes. What they haven’t focused on is the caucus trigger that is required before the wider vote can be held. Unless the threshold is less than the present 51% (67% is presently suggested) the Constitution is entrenching the current leadership. But the party hierarchy, including the LP Council have been persuaded there is too much risk of instability to have a lower trigger. The UK Labour Party has a threshold of 20%. So you would think there would be some comprehensive analysis and discussion of why the NZLP needs such a different 67%. I haven’t seen any discussion about that. Just an unsubstantiated fear of instability. Frankly, without a lower trigger THERE WILL BE NO VOTE for the members on leadership issues. The caucus controllers will decide when it best suits for Robertson to challenge or if there will even be a leadership contest. Look for them to do that dangerously close to the 2014 election. What the members are losing is an existing system where caucus would have (according to the caucus rules) had to decide in February whether they had confidence in the leaders. How about getting a pledge from Robertson that he will not challenge for the leadership until after 2014? Anyone think he’d sign up to that?

  7. Colonial Viper 7

    Mike.

    You used the examples of Gillard and Milliband as examples of how Labour Leaders can turn a listing Labour ship upright. Let’s assess what the standard set is shall we?

    Have you seen this video of Gillard taking down Abbott as a misogynist. She unleashes on him an utter 15 minutes of Opposition hell.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeGeooZOUdE

    How about Ed Milliband taking apart Cameron, Osborne and Clegg’s budget, earlier this year. 15 grand minutes of holding Tory feet to the fire.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmAv95OfTWI

    “wrong priorities, wrong values, out of touch, same old Tories”

    Just fraking brilliant, Ed’s speeches are usually damn good.

    • felix 7.1

      Yep, there’s the standard. Anyone seriously believe Shearer has that in him?

      And I don’t just mean the eloquence of the performances, I mean the guts to face the issues head-on and tear the tories to shreds.

      Side note: They really pack ‘em in at the HoC, don’t they?

      • I’d be astonished if he could manage it. If he does I’ll eat my hat and say he deserves a go. But if he’s going to convince Labour and Green supporters, he’s going to have to do it fast, before pressure mounts on him to resign.

        • QoT 7.1.1.1

          Somehow I feel certain we’d have heard if the entire Shearer speechwriting/comms team had been summarily sacked. And without any evidence he’s got a completely new team behind him, I rate the odds of his conference speech being a game-changer as approximately equal to those of a whelk in a supernova.

          Whereas David Cunliffe, just as a random example, has been turning out exciting, clear, engaging speeches all year. I would dearly love to believe that David Shearer can miraculously turn into a charismatic, inspirational leader in a matter of days, but signs and logic point to no.

          • Jackal 7.1.1.1.1

            Really? Would you perhaps like to supply some examples to show his exciting, clear, engaging speeches? Although I don’t like to raise the issue, here’s one example that turned up at the top of a google search. Didn’t the right wing propagandists have a field day with that one QoT. Charismatic or not, you don’t usually gain the treasury benches by appealing to minority groups.

            Now I can see why this might appeal to the more staunch Labour activist, and people like you and I. But how many staunch Labour activists are there? Some of the most staunch Labour activists are now questioning their association, somewhat because of supposed instability that has been promoted through websites like yours and The Standard. I think that if Labour fails to win at the next election, no matter who is leader, some responsibility will lie with those who have published work that clearly undermines Labour politicians. In my opinion that should be left up to the right wing propagandists to do, because without unity on the left wing, Labour will not win the next election, and the Greens will not be a part of the next government, no matter how many voters Labour sheds to them.

            Now I know I’m playing with fire, but the factional infighting that’s being published on left wing outlets isn’t particularly beneficial at all. Yes! The left wing is a diverse group of people that value free speech and differing opinions, but where the hell has the loyalty to the cause gone? You’re providing fodder for the right wing to use, which in the end will not help Labour to choose another leader, or help Shearer if the party decides to keep him. All it does is undermine Labour, and therefore reduces the chances of getting rid of National and their destructive neo-liberal agenda. Oh well you might say… My hit counter is going ballistic. Yay! But I damn well care, because its my business and lifestyle that will suffer if National propagandists foment division within the left wings usually cooperative team. It’s me who will suffer if left wing activists stupidly do the same thing as well.

            The fact of the matter is that Cunliffe’s style, like Phil Goff’s, isn’t going to appeal to the vast majority of the middle class voter, and if Labour wants to win the next election, simply relying on negative politicking won’t work. Cynical I know, but people like things they want to hear, which is perhaps why my blog isn’t particularly popular in comparison to those who purposefully stroke the over-inflated political egos of the right wing, and the factions they support.

            • QoT 7.1.1.1.1.1

              Gosh, Jackal, maybe you might consider that when I’m comparing Shearer’s speeches to Cunliffe’s, I’m talking about prepared speeches, not off-the-cuff protest remarks. And I’m not sure just how much of a “field day” “right wing propagandists” had with the comments in your link since I honestly do not remember hearing a single thing about them.

              How about any speech on this page? Pretty clear, covering the “issues that matter” according to everyone who wants the feminists and gays to go away and shut up, in relatable terms, and – comparing every recording ever of Cunliffe vs Shearer – delivered with some goddamned passion.

              Not to mention the fact he’s won New Lynn with increasing majorities – hardly an area known for its rampant hippie/radical demographics.

              But carry on, I can only assume you’ve set some personal goal for using the phrase “right wing propagandist” as often as possible and I’d hate to get in the way of that.

              • Jackal

                You didn’t hear anything about the right wing propagandists attacking Cunliffe over that speech? I find that hard to believe QoT.

                So it’s just prepared speeches that we should judge them on, something that Shearer and Cunliffe are OK at… We shouldn’t compare off the cuff responses with off the cuff speeches though. Something both Shearer and Cunliffe could do better at. Confusing!

                Thanks for the link btw. I don’t follow politics as well as I should, and Cunliffe’s speech seems pretty good. But the thing you like the most seems to be that he appeals to a minority group. As I said before, that’s not going to help Labour much in winning the next election. On the other hand he’s a bit more critical of the rich, which is a usable tactic. It was employed well by Obama in the US elections.

                Strangely, many New Zealand pundits are wanting our politics to emulate that media controlled and corrupt spectacle. Personally, I couldn’t think of anything worse. I hate personality politics, which is what we’re basically talking about.

                There’s no personal goal of mine in highlighting the fact that some left wing commentators are sounding a lot like right wing propagandists atm. It’s an observation… You’re welcome to disagree.

                • QoT

                  So it’s just prepared speeches that we should judge them on

                  Not what I said at all.

                  I made a comment comparing their relative abilities at prepared speeches.

                  You cited an unprepared speech.

                  I corrected what I assumed was mistake on your part.

                  But since you think it’s cool to accuse me of lying, go fuck yourself.

                  • Jackal

                    I doubt the referenced Cunliffe speech wasn’t totally unprepared. Although you’re right to make the trivial distinction about it not being a conference speech, you’re wrong that he shouldn’t be judged as a politician on it.

                    You also seem to be confused about the fact that I cast doubt that you were being truthful in your knowledge concerning the fallout from that speech, not about what kind of speech it was.

                    You see QoT, that was your opportunity to explain the inconsistency in your argument. But I suppose it’s just easier for you to resort to childish insults. How could you have missed this and this for instance, or are you of the crowd that just selectively chooses to read information that supports their beliefs?

                    Don’t get me wrong, I like David Cunliffe as well. In fact I preferred him at the time of Labours leadership debates. But Labour chose Shearer, and flip-flopping every time there’s a bad poll isn’t going to do Labour any favours.

    • Red Rosa 7.2

      Well said. Gillard’s speech justifiably went viral. We’ve never seen a shadow of that passion from Shearer. A nice guy no doubt, but in the wrong job.

      One of the very few times I’ve watched Parliament live was the DotCom tape affair. Utter humiliation.

      • Dr Terry 7.2.1

        I have to say it, I am utterly sick and tired of hearing that Shearer is “a nice guy”. How do we know that for fact, and does it need saying anyway? Through personal experience as a former constituent of his, I have my doubts. Are we trying to salve our consciences for opposing his leadership?

  8. Colonial Viper 8

    This is Ed Milliband being grilled by a tough interviewer over Labour’s own relationship to News Corp during the phone hacking scandal. She puts the screws in half way through the interview – tougher than anything you’ll see on NZ TV.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxQW9QPvBZc

    And here, Ed Milliband: highlights of his speech at Labour UK’s very recent conference, his delivery for about an hour was from memory and improvisation. (I guess the “One Nation” meme doesn’t have the same connotations in the UK haha)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XC3GIb0UWg

    • Pete Fraser 8.1

      Ed `these strikes are wrong’ Milliband. Yeah, he’s super slick. I mean ffs, he’s notoriously awkward and gets away with it by being fuck-off good, not by being a very good orator.

  9. Akldnut 9

    “Possibly in a lack of volunteers and doorknockers come election time, resulting from a slow sapping of enthusiasm in these same loyal volunteers as they go about their daily lives.”

    Good call Jenny – I and a number of activists I know, am becoming increasingly disenchanted with this current leadership as the days go by. If things don’t improve drastically and immediately I will look at the possibility of supporting another party and cease my payments into the century fund.

    We have already lost a lot of long term supporters over this and by not improving our leadership’s performance I am sure Labour will only lose more good people and slip further into a position of irrelevance.

  10. Jenny 10

    Politicians make up the bulk of the climate change faction, I call the Climate Change Ignorers, (CCIs). I predicted here that this faction won’t last long. I posited this because no matter the donations and bribes and all the other incentives and pressure politicians are put under by the Business As Usual lobby to look away, the change is so rapid and apparent, as to be unignorable, (that is, without making yourself into looking a a complete tool in public)

    For one American politician my prediction is coming true even as we talk.

    The world’ most prominent CCI and US politician David Rouzer is currently engaged in an arduous and “dispiriting” recount of votes in a desperate effort to retain his seat in congress which he has just lost by a mere 500 votes.

    Reality has the last laugh at the expense of North Carolina congressman David Rouzer

    Now ask yourself when it comes to the defining issue of our age, which politician of the two, David Shearer or David Cunliffe is a Climate Change Ignorer?

    I know that Cunliffe has given some speeches on this issue. (and damned good ones at that). Shearer, I don’t know. Can anyone inform me of any speech or policy or even a mention of any new climate change initiative coming from the Shearer camp. On these grounds alone, like David Rouzer and all other CCIs Shearer’s use by date has already passed.

    • muzza 10.1

      Ther are far gaver, more pertinent threats to people in NZ than CC Jenny.

      As benghazi (6) points out, most of you can’t see what the root problems are, you continue to focus on the issues which are not relevant!

      The con is so great, (nz’s destruction) you can’t even or don’t want to see it, and are sidetracked with issues like CC while children are abused, and starving, old people treated appaulingly, suicides of our young, education under attack, workers under attack, it goes on, and on.

      Yet you focus on other issues!

      • One Tāne Huna 10.1.1

        A loony can always manage to find something huge that no-one else can see.

        • muzza 10.1.1.1

          Shame, you were doing quite well today with your posts too, they made some sense, read well etc, then you just had take a shot eh!

          Which shows the following

          1: What a little mind you have
          2: That you don’t think there are more serious immediate issues in NZ than CC
          3: That because you can’t/don’t understand whats going on, no-one else can either

          • Te Reo Putake 10.1.1.1.1

            Your immediate leap to abuse marks you as rather shallow thinker, muzza. Jenny is right to raise climate change because it threatens all of us. You are right to raise local issues that need immediate attention, too. If only there was a pithy phrase that encapsulated the ability to think globally and act locally ;)

            • muzza 10.1.1.1.1.1

              Are you talking about my response to the thinly veiled insult below? Which was really the work of a small minded individual, who clearly as personal beef, given the content of what I had posted in my original comment.

              A loony can always manage to find something huge that no-one else can see

              If you are referring to my response to Jenny, it was not meant to be insulting in any way, simply that local issues are much greater danger to us than CC, and not to fall for the distractions.

              Shallow thinker, yup, illustrates nicely how little thought you put into your responses, and how little attention you pay to what people put up on here!

              • Te Reo Putake

                Two wrongs don’t make a right, muzza. I was talking about your response, not ignoring or excusing OTH’s comment. But, yeah, OTH could have phrased that more diplomatically, I suppose. However, you need to accept that some of your beliefs are loony, at least in the sense of being miles away from the mainstream. You can take some pride from that in that you are being genuinely contrarian (as opposed to the mildly conservative chap who posts under that name) and you have a good track record of sparking debate.

                Obviously, I indulge in a bit of childish abuse myself, from time to time, but I try to soften the blow by being exceedingly witty. And modest. Always modest.

                • One Tāne Huna

                  It makes me laugh – Muzza accusing Jenny of monomania! Is that a more diplomatic phrasing? :twisted:

  11. Sunny 11

    @ The Poster: We’re not in a panic…we’ve been saying since Shearer was foisted on us that he’s not a leader and most obviously, he’s not a Left leader and he can’t win an election.. That was after a total defeat, under Goff, another ‘good’ man, foisted on the party, who also was unable to win a (vital) election. So we’re not in a panic (projection on your part perhaps? ) rather we’re angry, frustrated, disbelieving, disenfranchised, despairing, sick at heart and right ready to be out of here if this garbage doesn’t stop. Now.

  12. Jester 12

    Mike, I assume you still haven’t quite got the numbers for a Robertson coup yet hence your attempt to quell the masses.

    Correct?

  13. One Tāne Huna 13

    Spare us the patronising bullshit Mr. Smith.

    It isn’t panic, it’s the desire to see an electable Labour leader.

  14. Descendant Of Smith 14

    From one Smith to another I don’t care who the leader is at this point.

    I’m looking for some policies such as increasing benefit rates, increasing the minimum wage, putting back the right to strike at times other than the expiry of a contract, re-instating good faith provisions after contracts have expired, increased taxation to reduce debt levels, lending Chch council money at interest free levels so they don’t have to borrow with interest to rebuild infrastructure, rebuilding state housing stock and a removal of market rents, universal family benefit instead of WFF so the state doesn’t require people’s financial information (and lets face it many wealthy get both WFF and a community services card anyway), investment in public education – I know what my local high school could do with the 2 million (and now more due to integration) that Whanganui Collegiate got, and so on.

    Whether it’s Shearer or Cunliffe or someone else is irrelevant as there’s little point of difference between National and Labour in terms of neo-liberalism (national are just both more honest in appealing to swing voters and dishonest in relation to their fascist tendencies about it) and little left wing about the Labour party these days.

    I still find it dishonest that Labour claims the 8 hour working day as an achievement on their website when they no longer believe in it. The modern Labour Party has so little in common with the old that they shouldn’t even use the name.

    They should change their name at this conference to something else that more accurately reflects their right leanings and change their colour to pale blue.

  15. muzza 15

    Lets get this straight first of all.

    Helen Clark delivered against NZ’s interests, which is why she has her job at the UN – Anyone who holds her up as some sort of examply needs to upper cut themselves, as well as examine the major policies which helped to strip NZ, which the the current lot have run with and extended.

    Shearer,Gillard, Milliband, all the same person, it makes no difference, and if you think that one speech is able to fool the sheep, then we really are in some strife.

  16. Craig Glen Eden 16

    Shit Mike is this the best you can do to try and reduce activist concerns to a “panic attack”?

    I have not posted over the weekend but have watched the posts with interest. Shearer was never up to the job a total bunch of looser’s stuck him in charge and they all deserve to go as well.

    The caucus played petty self interest politics they put themselves first and the party members views last. Well all those who voted for Shearer need to go as far as I am concerned the act of installing the bumbling inexperienced Shearer is not forgiveable. Any politician who thought Shearer was fit for the job showed what total bloody idiots they are. For the Parties sake Shearer and a number of others need to resign.

  17. kousei 17

    David ‘Roof Painter’ Shearer? Give us a break.

  18. Bill 18

    Disclaimer: I’m no devotee of parliamentary democracy. I’m under no illusions as to the limits of what that particular form of governance can deliver.

    Quickly. Because I’ve a lot of other things to do today….

    The Labour Parties in Australia and the UK are all tangled up in their neo liberal apologist bindings. So (currently) is the NZ Labour Party. And it has been that way for nearly 30 years. Through those years there has been the constant refrain of TINA in their policies. When in office, they do as the unabashed neoliberal Tories do. But they do it ‘nicer’. And they have, by and large, ‘cleansed’ their parties of all and sundry who don’t or won’t ‘get it’. Meaning that dissent has been silenced and people and ideas ostrasized. End result? The electorate get a choice between tweedle dee and tweedle dum fighting over a so called centre ground that has moved so far to the right that it’s just not funny.

    And so people stop voting. In their droves. Because there is nothing for them in the voting game. It’s disconnected.

    I’m not going to run through the policies that have come and gone through the years from the Nats and Labour where a cigarette paper could barely slip in the space between their positions. And I’m not going to run through the legislative ‘roll backs’ that only go in one direction, that are never reversed and that, at best, are stationary while the ‘nice guys’ of the TINA mantra excercise their managerial remit.

    So we have elections as personality contests now. Is anyone really surprised? Is there anyone who in all seriousness would argue that they don’t know why this is?

    Well, here’s a thing for all the managers, carreerists and neoliberal apologists who have occupied our electoral spaces. Neoliberalism is dead. It died with the global financial collapse and the rising stench of austerity would seem to be its decay. So it’s time for you to move on or step aside. We don’t need this stuff. We don’t need to be told (again) that we need to suffer a little pain to enjoy the gain somewhere off down the track.

    But what is the NZ Labour Party offering up beyond TINA? Well, obviously nothing. What could the NZ Labour Party offer up that was beyond the cruel defeatism of TINA? Well that’s the question!

    But it’s not a question we’ll ever know an answer to while David Shearer or any of the coterie of neoliberal apologists, carreerists or managerial types hold the reins of power in Labour.

    And that’s why they have to go Mike. It ain’t panic. It’s a matter of needing that question answered.

    • karol 18.1

      +1

      So we have elections as personality contests now.

      Exactly. It doesn’t matter to me who has the most marketable backstory, or most televisual face – it’s the political policies and direction.

      Who will take the bold moves needed to turn so-called “left wing” parties towards a solidly left wing position?

    • Dr Terry 18.2

      Bill, that is pretty good for something you wrote quickly! You are putting it to us, and we need to hear your voice.

    • xtasy 18.3

      Bill: “Refreshing” comment – and REAL in much of your assessment!

    • kousei 18.4

      Impressive comments Bill. You’ve summed up exactly how I feel mate. I voted Labour at the last election but until the Labour party can reply to the question you posed with a clear answer then I will not support them.

  19. Blue 19

    Panic? It’s not panic, Mike. It’s the result of watching Shearer flail and flounder for months, and asking ourselves if this situation is going to change.

    I am not Chicken Little, going around squawking for a leadership change at the first sign of low polls. I supported Phil Goff to the very end in his leadership despite many of my fellows calling for him to be sacked. I did so because I believed Phil had it in him, and right towards the end there he proved that he did. If he had had more confidence in himself, and the party had had more confidence in him (billboards…) things could have gone very differently.

    But I will not sit around wasting time on a leader who doesn’t have it, will never have it no matter how much media training he’s given, and is apparently too much of an egotist to admit he’s not up to the job and step down for the good of the party.

    Shearer has made an utter fool of himself, from his beneficiary on the roof speech, to his crying wolf over the GCSB tape, to his allowing Shane Jones to run riot, to his clunky, waffling, stumbling dialogue that has shown very little improvement despite a year of media training.

    To be blunt, Mike, he doesn’t have what it takes, in either political experience or natural talent, and pursuing this project further is a waste of time.

    • gobsmacked 19.1

      Blue +1

      It really grates to be told that it’s “panic”, as if we lived in a world without history, without memory. Without the ability to observe what happens before our eyes.

      “Panic” is what we would see from Labour after Shearer’s first debate or interview in Election 2014.

      You can write that script now: “We should have acted when we had the chance … it’s too late now!”

      But it’s not 2014. It’s not too late. Or too soon. It’s now.

  20. ‘Dont panic’ in Dad’s Army usually spells an iminent disaster happening.
    Dad’s Army could also depict the current labour party ministers,some working ok,
    then a faction where they are not working at all,mumbling,stumbling around trying
    to put some sort of cohesive/policy strategy together to present to the voters,members,
    followers.It ain’t working.
    I for one was shocked when Shearer won ahead of Cunliffe, Shearer showed then, that
    he wasn’t up to the job, tv appearances showed Shearer was not leadership material,
    why was Shearer even in the race ?
    His leadership has presented nothing for the voters,members,followers of labour,at
    a time when the nacts have left a smorgasboard of topics,which i am sure has labourites
    shaking their heads in disbelief and anger,why can’t this be seen by those who are in the
    inner circle, when it is bleedin obvious.
    I really,really,want labour to do well in the next election,for the sake of the country and
    myself and family,but i am despairing that if Shearer is still there we will be heading for
    a 22% at the polls.
    A change of leadership needs to happen now, not later.

  21. Tiger Mountain 21

    Parting is such sweet sorrow, the real parting required is that from social democracy with members at large and conference running the NZ Labour Party on the platform of “they” the bosses, “indeed not liking it up ’em”.

    ”it” being pounding taxes, SOES piss off, no more PPPs, or reserve bank, a massive reconstruction of this countries infrastructure, crushing carbon tax and an invitation for all the “knowledge wavers” to bugger off. Anything less and and this leadership level bollocks will return year after year.

    I am well aware the above is highly unlikely which is why I am sticking with Te Mana Movement.

  22. LynW 22

    And Tapu Misa’s view

    Tapu Misa: Labour should look hard at leader’s competence

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10846696

  23. Michael 23

    It’s time Shearer went and the identity of his successor should be a matter to be decided by every financial member of the Party, via secret ballot. It’s called democracy and the spectacle of Labour’s pampered, overpaid and underworked Parliamentary wing respecting it would galvanise the Party’s fortunes. So would the election of a leader with the political nous to connect with the people and convince them that Labour’s commitment to social justice burns just as brightly as it did back in 1916, 1935 and 1972 (we’ll overlook 1984).

  24. I agree partly, as calling for his head at the same time as the MSM (who clearly want to destroy Labour so their neo-liberal idol can return to power) could hurt Labour in the polls.

  25. kea 25

    “Twice this year we have seen Labour leaders turn around perceptions of them and their party with one speech.”

    Are you writing it, Mike ?

    [lprent: Yes he did. Please read the policy. ]

  26. KhandallaMan 26

    Mike, in your 537 word essay you yourself could not find anything positive to say about Shearer.  That speaks volumes.
    You ask us to forget one year of nothingness from Shearer (&Robertson) IF he make a single great speech!  Most of the bloggers here have jobs or businesses: would we survive 12 months  of non-performance by making one acceptable pitch? No . We would be out on our ear. 
    Shearer & Robertson were given a chance to prove themselves: the sceptical (ignored) membership bit it’s lip and gave the pair of them space.  They have failed to make the grade.  The whole party is now being tainted by this sad episode in our history. The sooner we bring closure the better.

    Let us get on with voting for the 40:40:20 and the 40% Caucus trigger. 

  27. Dee 27

    Mike, you remember Bill Rowling, well this is a similar situation. No one is panicking, what they are seeing are the results of months of watching Labour and its leadership and just feeling deflated. A leader has to speak well and David Shearer for all his good points, does not. The comment about a sickness beneficary stinks, considering many have invisible conditons and work in pain and exhaustion to do jobs in their homes. No apology either and it smacked of someone joining in the anti beneficiary bashing to win kudos…but with whom? Certainly not old time social justice voters like myself. If you want a good combination for Labour leadership — try Cunliffe and Moroney, who at least seem to stick to the original values of the party. My personal choice would be Parker for leader, but that is not popular with most Labour people. I hope we get some proper traction in the Labour party before many reluctantly de-camp to the Greens. Thank you.

  28. Anne 28

    I’ve been rapidly coming to the view that a tandem effort between Cunliffe/Parker is the best path to take if the wounds are to be healed inside the Party. They were competitors a year ago, but now they have a chance to bring the two sides together. The abilities of both have been clearly demonstrated, and if the Labour Party really wants to do the right thing for this country they would get in behind them in a big way.

  29. Jenny 29

    Twice this year we have seen Labour leaders turn around perceptions of them and their party with one speech. Ed Miliband did it at the Labour Party conference in Manchester in early November.Julia Gillard did it in the Australian parliament in October.

    Mike Smith

    Mike I would follow David Shearer to the ends of hell if he gave a tub thumping speech at conference saying that he will take serious steps to save the planet from the ravages of climate change. And that Labour under his leadership would oversee a Green New Deal program of government innovation and investment to create thousands of jobs to make New Zealand a destination for innovation and reverse the brain drain to Aussie.

    That a Labour Government would impose a moratorium on all deep sea oil exploration in all our territorial waters.

    That a Labour Government would refuse to issue permits for any new coal mines on New Zealand territory.

    That New Zealand would set world first in becoming the first nation in the world to put a ban on the international coal export and import market.

    That the $billions already put aside, earmarked for the Roads Of National Significance (RONS), will instead be switched to public transport.

    That a Robin Hood tax on scurrilous and reckless currency trading and risky financial speculation will be imposed on the banks and financial institutions to protect this country for the ravages of financial boom bust bubbles and financial collapses.

    That a huge investment in innovation in renewable technologies and Green tech. will be encouraged by inviting the world’s best and brightest angel investors and environmental leaders to become a part of designing a modern industrial economy better suited to the 21st Century than the creaky coal driven smokey oil soaked planet eating model being promoted by National.

    As we once were, New Zealand will be returned to it’s rightful place as a proud world leader by example, as we were in international suffrage, as we were on Social Welfare, as we were on nuclear proliferation.

    The sort of speech that lays out the minimum policies that all countries need to implement if we are not to see millions die and whole ecosystems to be wiped out.

    Do you think that David Shearer could give that speech Mike?

    You and I Mike will probably agree that he won’t.

    Is it possible Mike that David might give a speech somewhat vaguely in this direction?

    If he did he might still win my support.

    However barring a miracle and going on past form, David Shearer as leader, will give a sallow, uninspiring, thin on detail, steady as she goes, stick with our knitting, don’t scare the horses, Business As Usual, pale imitation of National Party policy, type speech which by turns, will either enrage or dishearten or alienate the majority of Labour supporters.

    Of course Davie will throw in a few John Key type aspirational Labour Party goals like a return to full employment and catch up with Australia and care for the environment, worker’s rights etc. but as there will be zero mention of how these aspirational goals are to be achieved even the faithful will be left to wander the conference aisles aimlessly trying to promote non existent policy to anyone they happen to bump into.

    And David may even weave in a few jokes into his miracle image resurrection speech if he is advised to by his makeover coach.

    To break the ennui let us hope that the buffet is something to look forward to at least

    • Jenny 29.1

      The crisis is upon us.

      What we have in Labour is a Chamberlain.

      When what we need is a Churchill.

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