So we (apparently) now have a two way race for the Labour leadership. Much of the newspaper reporting on the contest has been at the level of football gossip, so it takes a while to work out which are the gems of truth, and which are the rumours heard by the guy next to someone at the pub.
But now Labour have a distinct choice for their future direction:
Shearer, the inexperienced candidate in need of media training, but who has a powerful team around him and would be a clean break for those swing voters for some reason wanting to move on from the glorious Clark government. He has a fabulous backstory that inspires. Running Iraq for the UN must show some serious leadership skills. And if the rumours are true1 and Grant Robertson is backing him, having David Parker as a policy and strategy guru and Robertson in charge of political management (Robertson was effectively H3 behind Heather Simpson for a chunk of the Clark government) would be a powerful combo. Shearer’s inexperience would mean that (like Key) he’d have to rely much more on his team for practical matters, and let his ministers get on with things – Key has actually been much more prime-ministerial (vs presidential) than recent leaders in his actual running of the country, even if his image has transformed National into ‘the Key party‘.
Cunliffe, the already complete candidate. A great communicator, intelligent (Fulbright Scholar), and on top of the financials and policy. A proven performer, both as an orator and as a minister (his telecoms reform draws praise from a wide spectrum2). Ready to go from day one, he’ll keep National to task. Does he have the team around him as much? He’d certainly be a stronger leader – for better or worse depending on your perspective. Raised by the Red Reverend of Timaru, and experienced both as a management consultant and a diplomat, he brings his own impressive backstory with him – even if a little less heroic than Shearer’s amazing tales from Mogadishu to Baghdad.
One candidate is a gamble – it may pay off big time, but there’s also a chance things don’t work… The other is a powerful contender, whichever way things go. It’s a tough choice, between 2 great men – both very intelligent, hard working and wanting the best for all Kiwis.
I’m changing my mind regularly which one I want – but in reality it’s not my decision, and I’ll be very happy with either. Discussion’s been hot on The Standard so far – and with the debates across the Nation (and on The Nation) this week, we’ll have more to chew on. Any fresh thoughts?
1 Audrey: “would represent a return to a more pragmatic party, with less emphasis on gays and feminists” – because all this election’s policies were about the gays and the feminists. No Asset Sales to help teh gayz. Capital Gains Tax for the wymynfolk. GST off fruit and vege for the lesbians… Just because Labour cares about minorities as fellow Kiwis (and women aren’t a minority…) doesn’t mean they can’t think about anything else – as 9 years of surpluses and raised living standards for all New Zealanders showed.
And I also need to comment on Duncan Garner and others “Labour have 3 Davids, but no Goliath” type comments. Does anyone in the media remember how that contest ended?
Media exasperation rant over…
2 Pun intended.