It should come as no surprise that I agree with the other posters on The Standard who think Shearer needs to go as Labour leader. But weka, in the comments of Eddie’s post, asked:
If Shearer is to go, then who replaces him? Who else is there in addition to Cunliffe? A serious exploration of the options would be a good next step.
Obviously I’m a Cunliffe fangirl but it’s a good question – no hierarchy-based structure has good long-term prospects when there’s only one person – or no clear person – with the ability to lead (see also: how Goff got to be leader, or for the more historically inclined, the fallout after the death of Alexander the Great.)
So, what are our prospects? Let’s assume we want to avoid the obvious pitfalls of pushing a 2-year n00b to the top. Let’s assume we want someone with experience, with a bit of a profile, with some pizzazz.
So, profile. While I’m far too lazy on a Sunday morning to reproduce something like this handy chart from Dim Post, let’s assume that if you’re a current MP sitting in the front two rows of Parliament, you’ve probably got a bit of a profile, giving us (alphabetically):
Ardern J; Chauvel; Cosgrove; Cunliffe; Dalziel; Fenton; Goff; Hipkins; King A; Mahuta; Mallard; Parker D; Robertson G; Sio; Street; Twyford
Let’s note that Labour has been absolutely pathetic at fielding attacks based on the actions of the fourth Labour Government – although we might allow that this was largely due to Goff, as previous leader, not having the will/spine to fully refute his actions at the time. So, remove anyone who was an MP under Lange/Palmer.
(I can already hear the objections on this one being a bit ageist, but I’ll just say this: find someone under the age of 30. Tell them Phil Goff was an MP before they were born. Ask just how much they think he can relate to them. Consider how much Obama just got re-elected thanks to a mobilised youth vote.)
Ardern J; Chauvel; Cosgrove; Cunliffe; Fenton; Hipkins; Mahuta; Parker D; Robertson G; Sio; Street; Twyford
Let’s take out Sio because, well, hahahahaha. Let’s take out David Parker on the oft-commented assumption that he was the first choice of the anti-Cunliffe club but was deemed unadvisable even by them. This handily gives us a top 10 of:
Ardern J; Chauvel; Cosgrove; Cunliffe; Fenton; Hipkins; Mahuta; Robertson G; Street; Twyford
Now it’s the truly subjective things: who on that list delivers a damn good speech? Who’s going to provide policy grunt and the debating skills needed in our usually pathetically-shallow election coverage to cut through the John Key waffle? Who can throw down against the Nats with “real-life” experience and business cred? Who’s got a solid electorate seat, which yes, shouldn’t really matter in an MMP system but still does to a lot of people?
I’m still picking Cunliffe.
I’d like to see more of Ardern, Robertson, Chauvel, even Twyford for all his wankery around the marriage equality bill, but I don’t see any of them being able to pick up the ball at short notice and make something of it. It’d be awesome to see them at work under a leader who can articulate real values and policies and actually fight for them instead of expecting “heartland” NZ to change sides just because he goes to Nelson and wears an “I <3 farming” shirt. Unfortunately, the “diversity at the top” argument totally nukes Twyford for deputy,
Cosgrove, Fenton, Hipkins, Mahuta and Street … well, they don’t do anything for me, to be honest. (A note on Mahuta, specifically: she’s been criticised recently for having no profile and objected strenuously to that, yet Parata is absolutely fucking up schools in Christchurch, Campbell Live’s been running non-stop stories on it and I have not heard a single thing from her on it. This could very well be down to the Shearer office fucking up, but nevertheless, she’s missing in action.)
So it’s Cunliffe for me. Cunliffe to take Labour into 2014 and win enough to form a solid, grown-up coalition with the Greens, to rebuild the party into something I can give a toss about, develop talent like Ardern and Robertson, and provide an actual legacy for the NZ left.
Of course, anyone out there can disagree with my assumptions – maybe you want to plug for young MP blood like Faafoi or Little, maybe you think some of the old guard still have it in them, maybe you’re one of those bizarre Shane Jones fans. Let’s have this debate – comments are open now!