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Brian Edwards on Shearer

Written By: - Date published: 10:15 am, January 30th, 2013 - 91 comments
Categories: david shearer, labour - Tags: , ,

The macho posturing we’ve seen from David Shearer since conference never quite gelled with the Shearer I knew. I’d always thought of him as a nice guy out of his depth, so the public defaming of David Cunliffe and the ‘I’m in charge’ theatrics always jarred.

Brian Edwards argues the confusion in the Shearer brand comes from the fact he’s trying to be someone he actually isn’t. He’s basically a nice guy being (poorly) advised to act tough and stamp his authority, but because it’s not who he is it doesn’t work. Good piece. Well worth a read:

Shearer’s media image remains a problem. The blame for that must lie in part with bad advice.

Faced with criticism of his seemingly ineffectual leadership Shearer was advised to talk and act tough. He clearly took that advice. His essential message to the November conference was: I’m running the show, I make the decisions, I’m in charge. That was the talking tough component. His subsequent interviews were notable for the number of times he said ‘I, me, my’, a self-conscious attempt to reassert his personal dominance of the party.

Acting tough, in the theatrical sense of the term, came in the form of the public flogging of David Cunliffe. Cunliffe had declined to give an absolute assurance that he would support Shearer in the February confidence vote. He was not only entitled to do so, but right to do so. Shearer’s demand – by no means, I understand, restricted to Cunliffe – that he not merely reveal his voting intentions for the secret Caucus ballot but guarantee to support the leader in that ballot – was democratically, constitutionally and morally improper.

The show trial of Cunliffe nonetheless proceeded, soon to be followed by the predictable verdict of banishment to the back benches.

At the time, I wrote an open letter to Shearer accusing him of dishonesty and described his bullying treatment of Cunliffe, intended primarily for public consumption, as evidence not of strength in leadership but of weakness.

Nothing since has provided me with any reason to change that opinion. Shearer is still doing most of the talking about himself, still involved in the first-person defence and praise of his own leadership: ‘I, me my…’ And there it was again in his State of the Nation speech: ‘I can tell you that today I’m refreshed. I’m fired up and I’m raring to go.

The somewhat curious thing is that the lines, delivered with almost evangelical fervour, weren’t spontaneous; they were scripted, there word for word in his speech notes. But they cannot disguise the fact that Shearer should not have to ‘tell’ his audience that he’s fired up and raring to go, that it should have been obvious not just on this occasion, but since the day he was elected leader. It hasn’t.

Nonetheless, as it was intended to, the line made it onto both the TVNZ and TV3 news bulletins along with this little piece of stand-up: ‘Two days ago, John Key had an epiphany: We have a youth unemployment problem – we need apprentices. Good on him. I thank the focus group that brought that to his attention.’

Actually it’s a pretty good line. But have another look at Patrick Gower’s TV3 News report on the speech. After both the ‘fired up’ and the ‘focus group’ lines Shearer gives this slightly self-conscious, questioning smile, which seems to say, ‘Did you like that? That was a good one, wasn’t it?’

The simple fact is that Shearer isn’t comfortable in the ’talk and act tough’ role. The best demonstration of this was in his response to the media scrum after Cunliffe had been dismembered in Caucus. He was a stumbling, bumbling, incoherent wreck. I suspect he was deeply upset by the lynch-mob mentality and the savagery that had dominated the previous hour. He eventually walked off, refusing to answer any more journalists’ questions.

Shearer is a reasonable man, a conciliator by nature. He has to stop trying so hard to be something he isn’t. He can’t carry it off and we will see through it. He is a poor actor.

This week John Key gave him a lesson in strength. He sacked two under-performing ministers, in all probability ending their parliamentary careers. Yet he’s taken little or no flack for what seems like a pretty brutal thing to do. Maybe that’s because he didn’t act the strong leader, didn’t say much about it at all, was matter-of-fact about a necessary decision. Maybe that’s the lesson.


91 comments on “Brian Edwards on Shearer”

  1. Enough is Enough 1

    I agree Zet, a very good piece by Edwards.

    Pre conference we had Mumblefuck not knowing what he stood for and giving silly soundbites like the bludger on the roof.

    Someone has given him training and he is now staying on message and not straying too far. But the message is I am Mr Tough Guy and I will smash all opposition within the ranks. The message and delivery has changed but it is still very hard to work out what the hell Mumblefuck stands for!

    Contrast with Russel Norman. Enough said.

    I really worry how he will go in debates when there is no teleprompt for him to read the speech written by someone else..

  2. Rhinoviper 2

    It’s good, but it smacks a little of “If only the Tsar knew…”

    Shearer’s not just getting bad advice, he’s choosing to take it.

    Also, I see that down in the comments Edwards gets snippy about anonymous commenters – to paraphrase: “If you’re worried about someone losing their job because something gets attributed to them… well, the bosses should have thicker skins.” Yes, they should – but they don’t and he’s still not getting it.

  3. Bill 3

    Y’know, this ‘but he’s really just a nice guy’ stuff is tiresome. There are probably numerous examples of quite monstrous political or otherwise public figures who were or are ‘quite nice guys’ in private situations.

    David Shearer has no discernable political position to stake out. He’s insincere. He’s wooden. He’s really good at bringing on involuntary cringes. And at the end of the day, for me, rates a big fat zero on the trustworthy stakes.

    Just last night I watched the Sainsbury ‘three David’s’ leadership interview through ‘TV 1 on demand’. And for anyone who has forgotten what was said and how each of the three David’s responded to questioning, then really – go back and watch that 15 minutes worth of TV again.


    • I was amazed that Shearer won the text in poll. I imagine a number of tories multi texted for Shearer that night!

    • just saying 3.2

      Thanks for that Bill.

      It finished just at the wrong moment as Shearer was about to refuse to acknowledge any personal faults or failings. Some reporters have remembered because he’s been asked again with the same response.

      I think the word is “personable”.

      I’m sure to some my views on him are extreme to some because I don’t like him at all. I certainly don’t see him as being “a nice guy”. From my point of view, I can’t see why it isn’t obvious to everyone that the emperor is stark bollock naked.

      • Colonial Weka 3.2.1

        I thought the ‘what are your faults?’ question was very telling. Sure Cunliffe had more time to prepare an answer, but it’s job interviewing 101 to be able to answer that question well. The other 2 David’s failed miserably, both because they had crap interview technique, but also because they obviously haven’t thought about it enough to be able to answer well. How can you lead a government if you don’t know what your weaknesses are? How can you make up for your weaknesses if you don’t know what they are?

        • mickysavage

          I probably should not get on my soapbox but the end of the clip was chilling. The first email read was clearly anti Cunliffe and you wonder why it was chosen. The second one was pro Shearer. I am sure that other choices of emails could have been made.

          You also have to wonder at who texted in support of Shearer at 75c a pop and what motivated them. I doubt there were many young South Aucklanders texting away for what for them was a really important decision.

          I can also clearly recall a wave of “independent commentators” at the time coming out in support of Shearer. I made lists of them and they included David Farrar (National), Cameron Slater (National), Matthew Hooton (National), John Tamihere (National voting), Michelle Boag (National), Deborah Coddington (Act), Chris Trotter (still Alliance), and other names who will be recognisable including Nick C, Mr Magoo and Pete George.

          Trotter apart they all obviously had the best interests of the Labour Party and the desire to create a more egalitarian New Zealand as their foremost consideration.


          • King Kong

            Finally you have worked it out. The right rigged your leadership selection and it was easy.

            You forgot the other people that supported Shearer;

            Grant Robertson, David Parker,Jacinda Ardern,Maryan Street,Clayton Cosgrove,Phil Twyford, Ruth Dyson,Trevor Mallard, Kris Faafoi, Iain Lees-Galloway, Damien O’Connor,
            Darien Fenton, Clare Curran, Phil Goff, Chris Hipkins, Annette King, David Clark, Andrew Little, Megan Woods

            Obviously all evil agents of the right.

            • mickysavage

              I knew it at the time Kong but thanks for the reinforcement.

            • felixviper

              Can you think of another example of a party leadership contest where one candidate was overwhelmingly and publicly endorsed by the hierarchy/members/activists/employees/operatives of the opposing party?

              • fatty

                bill english

              • Te Reo Putake

                Ignore the righties, felix, they don’t understand the question. The correct answer is, of course, United Future … every time an election brings a change of Government and Peter Dulle needs his ministerial warrant renewed he seems to magically and retrospectively endorse the new PM.

              • King Kong

                To be fair, I can’t remember a leadership selection for either party that was quite so public and out in the open and which allowed people to pick a dog and tell others why.

                There was televised debate, public meetings, the whole nine yards.

                Alot of the time this stuff is done and dusted before it becomes public debate.

    • Dr Terry 3.3

      Bill – extremely well spoken, thank you. More than time New Zealanders got over the absurd and meaningless “just a nice guy” shit – we do not need these gormless asses in parliament. I have never understood why it is that anyone should consider Shearer a nice guy anyway, please someone explain to me his great qualities of character (other than what he has told us about himself!)

  4. ad 4

    He was always going to need all the help his caucus could give him. So far I don’t yet see them appearing united and pushing strong policy hits out there, thereby compensating Shearer for his deficiencies.

    And the way to do that is not yet another reshuffle. It’s by re-uniting the Labour Party – caucus, members and affiliates – together. IMHO that requires a full vote. It needs the whole of Labour to supprot the leader and defeat the Government. A full vote, for full unity, and full compensatory support for him.

    • AmaKiwi 4.1

      @ ad, what a beautiful dream. A full election like we used to have in the USSR.

      Team ABC generated irrational hatred of their opponent so they can never backtrack and compromise.

      @ ad, I have a dream, too. I will be working to help the Greens take 5 to 10 seats off Team Mumblefuck at the next election.

      • bad12 4.1.1

        Nah, i am a realist, i want the Green Party to add 2-3 seats in 2014 and i want the votes FOR those seats to come from the ranks of the ‘registered but did not vote bloc’,

        That’s how i see ‘the left’ winning in 2014…

  5. KhandallaViper 5

    I don’t feel comfortable with the use of pejorative terms in reference to Shearer.

    There many many solid words to describe the screw up that was the past 14 months.
    This mess was anticipate last year by many on these pages.

    Putting a novice unforged backbencher in the leadership role was an act of phenomenal stupidity.

    The mess has to be fixed immediately.

    • AmaKiwi 5.1

      For 3 years Goff was happy with Cunliffe as his Finance Spokesperson. If he wasn’t, he could have sacked him at any time. When Goff loses the election he unleashes a hate campaign on the most qualified potential leader. That was the stupid decision.

      Tall poppy.

    • Tiger Mountain 5.2

      On one level “Mumblefuck” is a fine if derogatory description.

      Parker would have lost to Cunliffe so “someone” (use your imagination) came up with the bright idea of David Shearer, who had been touch and go to even get selected as an electorate MP. Lamingtons all-round?

      Labour members and commenters here seem to have got all revved up over the long overdue party democracy review so there is some level of transference to David Shearer. Labour was a positive social democratic party that went neo lib and still substantially is, despite what the many sincere members work for.

      Will a leadership replacement change that?

      • Bill 5.2.1

        Will a leadership replacement change that?

        More or less that same question was put in that Sainsbury interview. As Cunliffe pointed out, the leadership matters because the leader sets the tone and brings an entire team to bear on any direction set by that tone.

        And again from that interview – when they were each asked, David Shearer couldn’t even state that he was left wing. From my ‘shot to pieces’ short term memory, Parker hedged his bets and only David Cunliffe was unequivocal in stating his position as being a social democrat of the center left within the Labour caucus.

        Does ‘center left within the Labour caucus’ constitute a break from neo-liberalism? Well obviously that depends on how left the left of the caucus is. But when compared to the two others who appeared to think that ‘left’ was a dirty word that shouldn’t be mentioned in polite company….

        • Tiger Mountain

          Well exactly Bill, not to get too dramatic but I met David Cunliffe unexpectedly in person prior to xmas at a partners function. We were introduced and had a chat during which I said “I am a bit to the left of Labour… etc” and he replied “I am too it seems at the moment…” with a grin.

    • Dr Terry 5.3

      KH – I see little that is pejorative. It was stupidity to put him up for leadership, and it was through stupidity that he accepted that position.

  6. debatewatcher viper 6

    The focus group line is funny when you first hear it, except when you consider that Labour’s housing policy was probably derived in the same way.

  7. delia 7

    Sorry, Brian, I liked David’s speech. After listening to a self important guy crack stupid jokes about cat bells and such nonsense, David’s speech that followed at least talked about working New Zealanders. John Key would ask who are they.

    • Enough is Enough 7.1

      Yes, but we all know Key is a fuckwit so we shouldn’t be comparing him to that Neo Liberal right wing lunatic.

      But how does his speech, his vison, his ideas, initiatives and leadership compare to Russell Norman. A true left wing leader who this country so desperatley needs. If we are stuck with Mumblefuck as a PM, how long will it be until we have a true left wing Prime Minister.

      • King Kong 7.1.1

        Vote for Norman then. If he is as shit hot as you reckon then so will alot of other people.

        If you have an alternative then why do you care about Shearer, unless you are here simply wailing on him for sport.

        • fatty

          If you have an alternative then why do you care about Shearer, unless you are here simply wailing on him for sport.

          Jeeze ding dong…that’s a stupid statement even by your moronic standard.
          Yes, there are many Green voters here…but a vote for Green in 2014 means that all Green voters will be hoping that the leader of Labour will be the PM.
          Its called MMP…you know those big people that do up your shoelaces? -ask one of them about MMP

          • bad12

            Buckle up His straight-jacket you mean…

          • King Kong

            Hang on a tick. If the Greens are so fucking fantastic why can they not be the main party that makes up a Government. Your argument sort of acknowledges that the Greens are a bit shit so you have to hijack Labours train.

            • mike

              “Your argument sort of acknowledges that the Greens are a bit shit so you have to hijack Labours train.”

              It acknowledges the political reality that for the Greens to get the most votes of any party in 2014 there would have to be some unprecedented, massive, and rapid change to long entrench voting patterns. It’s just not very likely.

              If someone here posted, “Hey us Green supporters don’t even need to worry about who the Labour Party leader is if we can get more votes than any other party,” you’d be be laughing your pants off at them.

              But none of this is news to you is it ding dong. Why do you do it? Why tr0ll with such pointless, boring, distracting arguments? I know many teenagers go through a “it’s fun to draw outraged responses on the net” phase, but you’ve been doing this for some time. What’s your excuse?

              • King Kong

                Fair enough. But sneaking around on online forums putting your two cents in on Labours leadership as if you care about the Labour party when it is really the Green agenda you are serving is very dirty pool.

                If this kind of thing keeps happening there is going to a massive punch up before the next election that will be incredibly destabilizing for the left. Yay.

                • mike

                  “Fair enough. But sneaking around on online forums putting your two cents in on Labours leadership as if you care about the Labour party when it is really the Green agenda you are serving is very dirty pool.”

                  Citation please.

                  I guess you mean a bit like Matthew Hooten coming here and giving hand-claps to Shearer? Wait, I don’t think he’s a Green Party voter…

                  “If this kind of thing keeps happening there is going to a massive punch up before the next election that will be incredibly destabilizing for the left.”

                  I’ll admit there’s interesting and challenging times ahead for the left side of the house. Who knows how it will pan out. At least they are helped by the fact that it’s only a matter of time before people realize that John Key is just a tape recording – “brighter future… jobs focus… there is no crisis… it’s Labour’s fault…” Sweet Jesus.


                  Yeah NZ politics. Yippee.

            • fatty

              Your argument sort of acknowledges that the Greens are a bit shit so you have to hijack Labours train.

              No and yes.
              No, the Greens are not “a bit shit”, but yes, the Greens have to “hijack Labours train”.

              The reason the Greens have to hijack Labour’s train is because people still see politics as red vs blue. Way too many people don’t understand MMP.
              Ding dong, you have responded to a statement with a question, but your question is already answered by the statement you are questioning.

              Don’t worry, as stupid as that makes you sound, its quite a common occurrence. Reminds me of the people who complain that driving somewhere takes too long because of the traffic…they fail to realise that when they drive, they are the traffic.

              • BM

                So Green party supporters will keep undermining Shearer because he’s not the guy the greens want.

                Explains a lot.

                • fatty

                  yeah, it explains MMP.
                  What is fuckin wrong with you morons.

                  • BM

                    I thought MMP was about similar parties working together not undermining each other to get a bigger slice of the pie.

                    • fatty

                      I thought MMP was about similar parties working together

                      Yes, it is. That is why left voters are questioning Shearers ‘direction’. They need to be similar to work together.

                      not undermining each other to get a bigger slice of the pie.

                      The critique of Labour from Greens supporters is not done to get a bigger slice, it is done in the hope that Labour will come to their senses and move Left…then together Labour and the Greens can share a bigger piece of the pie.

                      Same thing happened when ACT were criticising National’s third way policies from 2008-2011. ACT didn’t want a ‘bigger slice of the pie’…it wanted National to move to the Right so that the process of shifting resources from the needy to the greedy could begin.

                    • BM

                      Yeah and look what happen to act.

                    • fatty

                      can you expand on that…it appears as though you are predicting the Greens will dissolve into nothing? Is that what you really think?

                    • BM

                      Just pointing out it’s a dangerous game the greens are playing.
                      The dog may decide to chew on its tail.

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      Lol BM.

                      How many mates have the National party got? (none)
                      What does their slowly shrinking popularity rely on? (Key)

                      Good strategy.

                    • felixviper

                      “Yeah and look what happen to act”

                      Err, they had so little support that they only existed in parliament at all by National’s request? And the only mechanism for keeping them there was the single seat of Epsom? And when the member to whom National gifted that seat got caught with his snout in the trough and fucked it all up National replaced him with the corpse of John Banks whose ghost haunts them to this day?

                      Yeah, that’s totally relevant to the Greens’ situation, genius.

                    • Colonial Weka

                      The Greens are no longer the tail, more like the whole hind quarters. The media already treat them like the head. What does that leave Labour?

                      btw, the GP policy at the last election was to go for every party vote they could get. I don’t imagine it will be different next time, despite my hope that the left uses accommodations again.

                      However the Green supporters on ts generally are critical of (a) Shearer, and (b) the ABC’s focus on neoliberalism, rather than Labour itself. Personally, when Shearer gets replaced with someone who can lead, and when Labour starts to move back to the left, I’ll be less critical of them and talk more about co-operative politics.

        • Colonial Weka

          “Vote for Norman then”

          You can’t vote for Norman, unless you are part of the GP that chooses the leadership or party list. Do keep up.

  8. crying man 8

    I hope mps just give me the chance to have my say on the substance of the speech. When that’s done I’ll throw my support behind whoever leads labour into the next election.

  9. Yes I have faith that there are 13 MPs who think its important after all this disunity and infighting to give us a vote. Its the only way for Labour to get itself quickly into shape to win in 2014.

    I want to see the talent in the team and a fulsome Leadership campaign would demonstrate what we’ve got. Such campaigns are healthy for organisations. Backroom deals done by a few are not.

    Come on MPs – do the right thing on 4 February and let us unite to fight in 2014.

  10. Scintilla 10

    The point is that Key was always going to go for the throat of any Labour leader. Ergo, the Labour leader HAS to be a seasoned, articulate, quick-draw debater, with all the relevant data to hand. Someone who can give as good as they get – better, in fact. It makes not one jot of difference whether posters on the Standard or anywhere else point out perceived shortcomings in Shearer. Key can see it all by himself and has no qualms in dealing to Shearer – despite the fact that Key himself is a lispy stumbler! He’s made it work for him by playing at being just an ordinary kiwi bloke:

    He always looks confident and relaxed even when he’s being a tit.

  11. BeeDee 11

    Shearer is a new kind of leader and one who is needed in these dire times. We have the threat of extreme changes to our habitat evident even to the loudest sceptics and we have an economic crash that will roll on and on. We need a compassionate and knowledgeable leader like Shearer who can see that it’s not possible to continue with growth and business as usual.
    And his little smile after his staking a position as the future Prime Minister? Can’t you recognise the sense of irony he was conveying!

    • Daveo 11.1

      “Shearer is a new kind of leader and one who is needed in these dire times”

      Dire times indeed.

    • Elizabeth Bourchier Real Labour 11.2

      BeeDee, oh pleeeeeeease
      Shearer has NOT demonstrated being “knowledgeable” at any time.
      Shearer “compassionate”? Frankly there are toooooo many questions about his back-story. His inability to unite the Causic and lead a willing Party suggests many personal traits are deficient .

  12. fatty 12

    I agree with Brian Edwards that Shearer is straining to present himself as a tough leader…but I don’t think Brian’s analysis went deep enough.
    I’d say there have been 3 key moments that have led to Labour being stuck with a leader who has failed time and time again.
    The first moment was when he was chosen as the Labour leader, the second was his ‘tour’ of NZ where he strummed his way around the country with his guitar, the third moment was the Labour conference.
    All 3 of these moments have led us to Shearers current problem, all were major mistakes, all are irreversible and the reason why Shearer will struggle in 2014.

    1 – Shearer chosen as leader:

    I think its fair to view Shearer as a victim, as much as he is a perpetrator, of a monumental political fuck up. Shearer’s problems first began when people started to back him as a leader to keep out Cunliffe. Shearer is a puppet and I’m not sure if he even wanted to be leader…I’m sure he didn’t want to be leader so soon. Shearer was chosen to protect the career of *insert neolib rogernomic dinosaur here*. However, beyond protecting paychecks, there was an underlying assumption held by those in the Labour Party – ‘Doesn’t matter who is leader, NZ will wake up and they will hate Key by 2014’ …it was this assumption that made Shearer an option as leader. It is becoming clearer by the day that this assumption was, and is wrong.
    Although I see Shearer as a victim, I also balance that by what Rhinoviper stated above Shearer’s not just getting bad advice, he’s choosing to take it. So, although Shearer is a victim, he is also leader and possesses the opportunity and power to override his puppet masters.

    2 – Shearer’s guitar strumming tour:

    This is the moment we should look at as being when Shearer lost any chance of becoming PM. You only get one opportunity to make a first impression and Shearer fucked up. Team Shearer had two options when he became leader…either present Shearer as a nice guy, or as a leader. They chose the nice guy. The reason for this was, again, was that they considered Key’s popularity as temporary, that NZ would see through him very soon, and that the NZ public would want another nice guy to take over.
    The reason they misread the needs of voters was because Team Shearer ignored our past:
    post-depression, NZ needed a tough Labour leader with a coherent persuasive narrative – Savage 1935;
    post-1980s/1990s, NZ needed a tough Labour leader with a coherent persuasive narrative – Clark 1999;
    post-GFC, NZ needed a tough Labour leader with a coherent persuasive narrative – we got Shearer strumming his guitar and faffing about as a nice guy. That was a major blunder.
    We wanted a leader who would show signs of a political vision, but instead Team Shearer thought they could replicate Key’s depoliticisation and the tide would turn. Shearer ‘did well’ to depoliticise himself as a leader, but it is this image that he is now desperately trying to reverse. The continued rise of the Greens is evidence of Shearer’s image failure.
    Who would have guessed that NZ wanted a tough coherent leader during an economic crash?…anyone with a brain, that’s who.

    3 – The conference and Shearer’s image makeover:

    This is where I have a problem with Brian Edward’s analysis. I don’t see the problem as being that Shearer is not a tough guy, but rather that Shearer is attempting the almost impossible task of reversing his first impression. Shearer should have presented himself as a tough Labour leader with a coherent persuasive narrative when he first became leader, not now. To do so now, Shearer had to sacrifice Cunliffe. On the one hand, hacking Cunliffe has presented Shearer as tough to NZ voters, but it has failed to address his poorly planned first impression. The outcome is that it has muddled his first impression and leaves Shearer looking incoherent and way out of his depth. Is Shearer the nice guy? Or is Shearer the tough leader NZ needs? …your guess is as good as mine.
    Edwards claims Shearer’s nature is not suited to being a tough leader, but I am not convinced by this. A Prime Minister’s nature is irrelevant, what is important is how the public views them. After all, Key’s nature is to deceive and he has very selfish tendencies…but his image is one of a nice guy.

    Shearer’s problems began with the career MPs thinking that it would be their turn in 2014. His guitar strumming, nice guy image left him in a lose-lose situation. At least he has realised his initial image was a mistake and he is trying to reverse it, unfortunately he does not possess the skills to reverse his image. He will do well to rebrand himself to the NZ public without being viewed as a bumbling opportunist – Key avoids that by having a coherent image since he began.

    • Olwyn 12.1

      So you think he should have followed the “new teacher” trick of putting his foot down hard at the outset, then softening, thus giving the impression of firmness modified by depth and dimension.

      I think that whatever toughness was involved in knee-capping Cunliffe was not of the kind that you associate with ” a tough leader with a cohesive, persuasive narrative,” especially with Cunliffe being the only one among them who is willing and able to produce such a narrative. Instead it came across as spiteful, panicked and despotic. The people who rejoiced in this new toughness were those on Mickey Savage’s list, plus a few more of like mind, and the poll that bumped up a couple of points as a result was a Herald poll.

      • fatty 12.1.1

        So you think he should have followed the “new teacher” trick of putting his foot down hard at the outset, then softening, thus giving the impression of firmness modified by depth and dimension.

        Not really.
        You have used the terms ‘tough’ and ‘firm’ …I should have done this, because I think there is a difference between the two. Firm is desirable and that is the way Shearer should have been projected from the outset. Tough can be a problematic image to present because it can be controlling and we live in a world today where we all want agency (or at least believe we have agency, Clark discovered that the hard way).

        I think because Shearer never presented himself as firm, coherent and with a vision, he has now reacted by presenting himself as tough. This is done in the hope that he can present a coherent narrative.
        So I think he should have presented a coherent narrative from the beginning, which required him to be firm (or tough to a degree). Ironically, for Shearer to present himself as firm, coherent and with a vision, Shearer needed to dispose of the old rogernomic crew from the begining…but that meant using his power to dispose of people who supply his power.

        I think that whatever toughness was involved in knee-capping Cunliffe was not of the kind that you associate with ” a tough leader with a cohesive, persuasive narrative,”

        Yes, Shearer is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Shearer is trying to balance reversing his original image, and the best way to do this is cut out old useless MPs, but he’d be biting the hands that feed him. So as a result, Cunliffe was crucified. Labour is sick on so many levels right now. I ain’t a supporter of Shearer, he fucks up on a weekly basis…I just think he has been, and continues to be used. In a way I feel sorry for him

  13. gobsmacked 13

    Shearer’s job today was to read out some prepared questions in Parliament. He struggled to reach the end of a sentence.

    Nothing has changed. The Nacts are giving this guy all the ammo he could ask for, and he can’t even load the gun, never mind hit the target.

    • Enough is Enough 13.1

      Dead right!!! Nothing has changed. He has to fucking go.

      All you pointy heads in the Labour Research Unit reading this. Let your leaders know. He can not win the next election and he has to go. And if he does happen to win he will not bring the change this country needs.

      February is two days away. Let the beltway know what democracy sounds like. Call your local Labour MP now.

      • gobsmacked 13.1.1

        By the end of Question Time, the government was floundering. Whenever the opposition is led (sic) by somebody else, Key’s emptiness is exposed. The Greens can do it. Other Labour MPs can do it. Winston can do it. Anyone can do it. Except the guy whose job it is to do it.

        So there’s one glaring problem. We can spend the next two years pretending it isn’t there, week after week after frustrating week … or we can solve it.

        As dilemmas go, this is about as tough as “Should I insert the fork into my spaghetti or my eyeballs?”. (No clues, you have to work the answer out for yourselves).

  14. BillODrees 14

    Bryce Edwards has his weekly resume of media things political (MSM & BLOG) in the NBR.


    Under the heading of Boring, Boring, Boring he castigates both Shearer and Key for their State of teh Nation speeches.

    The quote below from Chris Trotter aligns with Fatty’s points above in 12.

    “The Labour Leader’s inner circle of advisors is distinguished neither by intellectual creativity nor operational dynamism.
    Far from reaching-out to activists and supporters outside the party’s structures, most of the Shearer Camp’s energies appear to be devoted to finding new ways of insulting and excluding them from policy-making”.

    • Elizabeth Bourchier Real Labour 14.1

      If there is any truth in that comment of Trotter, it is a bad indictment on both Shearer and his backers.
      It does explain many things.
      Shearer was a virgin to party and parliament ripe for grooming.
      People got into his office who needed a strong direction but met a vaccume instead.
      Result: dysfunction.
      Solution: new leadership vote

    • Rogue Trooper 14.2

      interesting Bod

  15. Polish Pride 15

    I’m all for continuing the status quo for a while – The worse things get for peoplethe more likely a change to the entire system will become….

    • Enough is Enough 15.1

      I fall into your camp a little bit.

      A Shearer led Labour/Green government will not deliver any real substantial change. They will tinker and talk about real change but the same system wwill continue.

      I would rather see Shearer lose in 2014 so that he is dumped and restored with a real reformer who will come back in 2017 and defeat neo liberalism for ever.

      • Te Reo Putake 15.1.1

        What a twit you are, EIE. So you’d damn NZ to another 3 years of the Tories just to see a spurious sectarian point made, eh? No empathy, no understanding, no political thinking at all. Are you King Kong in disguise?

        • Enough is Enough

          what will change under Shearer led govenment?

          I see no evidence that any meaningful reform will take place with him at the helm.

          My preference is for him to be gone tomorrow and a true Labour party representing the workers of this country wins next year election.

          If he wins though the current system will continue throughout the next Labour Government and throughout the next National Government. It that scenario it would be 15 years before we see a government for the workers of this country in charge.

          Three more years of the Staus Quo with a left wing light at the end of that tunnel sure beats decades of this bullshit continuing which it will if Shearer ( the man who ave the bludger on the roof speech) wins the next election.

        • geoff

          So you’d damn NZ to another 9 years of muddling through? People’s perspective on this will reflect their personal circumstances. If you’re already at the bottom of the heap and making do with tories in power then you’ve little left to lose. what you want is a new system instead of tweaking the existing corrupt one. Increasingly people are finding themselves in this position and so for them, the half-arsed Blairite politics of Shearer have no appeal.

      • KhandallaViper 15.1.2

        The 1,000 a week that has to emigrate cannot wait that long.
        The 250,000 children that go to bed hungry cannot wait that long.

        The Greens, who do not have Labour values, will not wait that long to pick up many of our frustrated activists and disappointed supporters.

        The Nats backers, monopoly asset lovers, will not be waiting.

        We waited, sitting on our hands, booting our tongues, while we watched Phil headed to the 2011 loss. We knew it was happening. We did not act.

        We cannot not act again.

        Now is the time to eyeball YOUR MP and senior party officers.
        The MPs cannot vote confidence in the current leadership set-up. To do so is a lie.

        All we need is 13 MPs to with-hold their confidence, forcing Shearer to go into Q&A sessions with the members around the country.
        If you want change, call your MP.

  16. hush minx 16

    Like many of the commentators here I really hope that mps listen to members and activists and vote to let us have our say (yes, it’s enough to make me renew my membership!). But we should also prepare ourselves, should such a wondrous event occur, for TS commentors, authors, other opinion leaders and those mps who supported the vote to be attacked and vilified by the incumbents. We might want it to happen, but it won’t be pretty to watch!

  17. gobsmacked 17

    Shearer tries to talk housing on 3 News tonight: he’s floundering, as usual.

    There is no way Labour can survive two more years of this. Please make it stop.

  18. NoseViper (The Nose knows) 18

    It would be good to know that a leader has beliefs as to suitable policies and commitment to them, from the heart and mind, not from advisors. While clear communication that reaches the voters, and perception of them and the politician enunciating them is helped by advice, it doesn’t meam that we should get a cardboard character or one like the Wizard of Oz, making announcements followed by a cloud of smoke. Advisors who are informed on the subject are necessary and watching Sir Humphrey and PM Jim is amusing but leaves one uneasy.

  19. xtasy 19

    NOT FROM A CUNLIFFE FAN: Tonight I watched and heard on live Parliament TV the speech of David Cunliffe, now merely “MP” for New Lynn, on the Prime Minister’s Statement.

    Well, I was surprised, and that was pleasantly. Now why is he sent to the backbenches, while Labour have a leader that struggles to pull his foot out of his mouth, whenever he faces the media?

    Maybe Cunliffe is not the right leader as such, but he must be part of the team, at the front bench.

    Shearer has shot himself in the foot with condemning him for just refraining from giving full open allegiance to Shearer. Do we live in a dictatorship???

    I agree with Edwards, and I wrote so somewhere else. It is time for some stern, sombre thinking in the stubburn head of Shearer and those supporting him.

    Do they want Labour to have a real chance, a real competent team, perhaps a chance to win in 2014???

    At present I only see and hear the opposite.

    The speech from Cunliffe today convinced me, he must be part of the top team, and one day perhaps even LEADER of Labour.

    Otherwise, I will do ALL, to support a NEW LEFT PARTY to be founded and formed.

    • the Al1en 19.1

      “The speech from Cunliffe today convinced me, he must be part of the top team, and one day perhaps even LEADER of Labour.”

      “Otherwise, I will do ALL, to support a NEW LEFT PARTY to be founded and formed.”

      Read between those lines and introduce one to the other.
      Like it? Email D C and tell him. Address on the labour party page.
      Tell him the Al1en said hello.

      “You can’t always get what you want
      But if you try sometimes you just might find
      You just might find
      You get what you need”

    • benghazi 19.2

      Nope just watch the reshuffle. Shearer is going to shuffle in Shane Jones and shuffle out most of the women. Pity Marayan Street sold her soul to the wrong faction. Now let’s see how she likes it with no Mallard mentor.

      And as for promoting Cunliffe back to the front bench, I doubt it. When you do what Shearer did in November manufacturing a coup that never was, and breaching natural justice in the way he did, he won’t be bringing Cunliffe back.

      Guess what – Labour can go screw itself. They do not deserve Cunliffe! Shearer’s moral compass is every bit as twisted as Mallard and King.

    • JK 19.3

      Xtasy – The Allen – or anyone – Do you have a link to the Cunliffe speech in Parliament yesterday please ?

  20. Socialist Paddy 20

    Amen to that.

  21. Jim 21

    The ipredict website is calling a 52% chance of a National Prime Minister after the 2014 election. I think the odds of that happening are somewhat higher. The Labour leader and deputy seem quite unaware of just how unattractive is the proposition they present. We don’t just give those jobs to anyone who wants them.


    • NoseViper (The Nose knows) 21.1

      The Labour leader and deputy seem quite unaware of just how unattractive is the proposition they present. We don’t just give those jobs to anyone who wants them.

      No they have to pass the smile and blarney test to a high level.

  22. CrosbyTextor 22

    Thanks ZETETIC, you’re doing a wonderful job.

  23. hush minx 23

    Actually Crosby, I think you should be directing your comments to the Labour leadership….national couldn’t pay you enough for the job that the old guard are doing on Labour.

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