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David Shearer – The Backstory

Written By: - Date published: 7:19 pm, December 14th, 2011 - 44 comments
Categories: david shearer, labour, Left, mt albert - Tags:

One of David Shearer’s campaign volunteers organised this video as a surprise for David on the night of the Mt Albert By-Election in 2009. We played it to David and the Labour Party activists during the election night celebrations and I’ve had it sitting on my computer ever since. After re-watching it with my partner last night we decided it was so cute it had to be shared. As Eddie pointed out this morning, the narrative around Shearer must be filled in before the Right’s smear machine fills it in for us. I want people to see the David Shearer that I know and respect and am inspired by:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTxGveN0Hvs]


Also in my election night 2009 folder was this short message of congratulations:

Many congratulations… when we were drinking your whisky in Somalia during the civil war little could I have known that you would finally become respectable. Are NZ MPs expenses like the ones they get at Westminster?

Jeremy Bowen

BBC Middle East Editor

Shearer’s speech to the Tertiary Education Conference on the Sunday after the election shows that he is focussed on the things that will benefit New Zealand into the future.

Danyl over at the DimPost has nicely summed up my feelings about Labour Party leadership change:

I’ve felt sour and dyspeptic about New Zealand politics for a looong time now, so long I’d forgotten what optimism feels like – but I felt it today for the first time in, I think, five years: an unfamiliar buoyant feeling that some point in the not too distant future our government might be run by people who know what they’re doing.

It might not work out that way – we’ll see what happens in Shearer’s reshuffle, for starters – but right now it’s nice to think about New Zealand politics and feel something other than the same old sick, queasy cynicism, and to congratulate David Shearer and Grant Robertson and wish them good luck for the future.

Many people, including many Labour Party activists have noted that it would be a risk to place David Shearer as leader given his lack of experience in parliamentary politics. I agree, however the Labour Party needs a fresh look and it’s difficult to do that when the faces stay the same. For someone without much experience in parliament Shearer does have an amazing back story and no doubt a lot of relevant experience to bring to the job. Last night on Close Up Shearer was asked whether his UN experience counts for much when all he was doing was handing out food parcels – which he responded to by noting he was managing a multi-billion dollar budget, building power stations and getting an economy back on its feet. Now that Shearer has been elected leader it is the responsibility of everyone within the party to ensure the risk pays off by surrounding him with the best support possible.

It is also Shearer’s responsibility to unify his caucus and place its best talent in the best positions. I believe David Cunliffe would continue to make a great finance spokesperson and one day a great finance minister. Helen Clark created a dream team when she promoted her political opponent at the time Michael Cullen to the finance portfolio – I hope Shearer can see the sense in doing the same.

So finally, congratulations to Labour’s new leader, David Shearer. I was very impressed by David when I worked on his by-election campaign for Mt Albert in 2009. I know that he shares much of my desire for policies focused on animal welfare, child poverty, and international human rights. I look forward to a new generation Labour party that continues to promote Labour’s long standing values but also takes us into the future with solutions to the major issues of our time.

44 comments on “David Shearer – The Backstory ”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    Given that David Shearer did not write a post for himself on The Standard in the run up to Tuesday’s caucus meeting, I hope he will contribute a piece which can be put up on The Standard sometime soon.

    • Craig Glen Eden 1.1

      No one is saying he isnt a good guy but I know he is not the best guy for the job.

      Many of us were involved in the MT Albert bye-election Shearer was anything but good. Often he was dazed and very unsure of what to do next. In the last 2.5 years he has done little in the house.
      His public speaking is poor his ability to think on his feet very poor. It amazes me that some in the Party seem to think we need a leader with a better back story than Key we don’t, once again we are following instead of setting the political agenda.

      What we need is someone who can communicate Labour’s message and values to the electorate, we need someone who is able to handle the media.We need someone who has good knowledge of the Party so they can lead progressive change in a Party that has got locked into its past.

      Shearer knows he is not up for the job I saw it in his eyes on Sunday he knows it I know it, who ever put him up to this has probably ruined what could have been a good career. Its actually very sad.

    • newsense 1.2

      Yep. Like the interviews with him I’ve seen so far. So far so good. Let’s see how the shadow cabinet is.

  2. Luva 2

    The right and mainstream media have done nothing but talk shearer up since the election. Yet every labour apologist is going out of their way now to suggest the right smear machine is pulling into position.

    The paranoia and conspiracy theories thrown around is comical.

    Relax lefties!!!

    • RedLogix 2.1

      Imagine we started praising Key to high heaven…. itchy sensation none?

    • Spratwax 2.2

      Oh please! Not the conspiracy theory right-wing retort again! It’s rather tiring and wearing a bit thin, actually. Please note that Farrar and similar ilk are now expressing the same doubts and faults about Shearer that many on this forum expressed thoughout the campaign.

  3. dancerwaitakere 3

    I dont believe that a backstory counts for that much if you cannot talk well, if you cannot advance your party’s cause using parliamentary process, and you cannot connect to Maori or PI voters.

    • Eddie 3.1

      look, this is politics. Sometimes your horse loses. Now’s time to move on and act in the interests of the Left.

      • dancerwaitakere 3.1.1

        So I should just fall into line because the almighty leader has now been chosen?

        Sorry. I am not an MP. I am a member of the party who has nothing to lose by saying what I think.

        • The Voice of Reason

          Actually, yes, you should get in behind the Labour Party. Assuming you are a member, that is. And if the membership card means anything to you, then just stop mithering and get stuck in, ya big sook.

          • dancerwaitakere

            Oh, I will get in behind the Labour Party. There is a hell of a lot more to the party than the leader. It is very important that we recognise that.

          • Craig Glen Eden

            Stop the insults and debate the issue VOF, the issue is this that Labour is meant to be about social democracy, the members across the country formed a very clear opinion, that was that Cunliffe and Mahuta are ready to lead the Party forward.

            Many Members and LECs told their MPs their views they asked them to vote for Cunliffe and Mahuta, clearly those MPs didnt do that. Our party and MP’s are out of touch with its members.
            This is why we are floundering round and not being progressive. The Greens are seen as progressive by the younger generation ( Dancerwaitakere) we ( Labour ) are not. This is why Phil Goff and Labour just got a shalacking. The Greens are growing we are not, if you want the likes of DW to piss of to the Greens keep up your petty insults.

            The old guard and old ways wont cut it with a new generation, the power that the MPs use to weld has to go, no young person is going to join or stay in a Party that behalves and has the attitudes you are displaying. Members the ones who work tirelessly and make the donations and LECS that is where the decision making needs to be done if we dont, we will be irrelevant come the next election. So less of the just fall into line shit aye because that does not and will not work.

            • The Voice of Reason

              Diddums, Craig. It’s over. The decision has been made and you are either going to continue to support Labour and work for the election of a progressive Government or you can just sit on the sideline moaning that nobody listens to you and its just not fair, etc. If you don’t like the selection process, then get involved in the change process that Moira Coatesworth is leading and lets see if we can move the internal structures to a place where members get more than just a say, they actually get a vote on the parliamentary leadership.

              Its up to you, comrade. Are you in or are you out?

              • Craig Glen Eden

                You see its not about winning and loosing its about process that engages people who care about Politics. Politics is a long game VOR its never over.With social media no one has to do what you say or any other so called leader/mp/office holder says, people dont have to get in line. In case you havent noticed we are in opposition and we may not even be the major opposition.Our party is not big enough or Financial enough for people like you to say to others you are either in or out. The next generation are not waiting for Moiras review you see they dont need us they can just go to the Greens and thats what they are doing. When we have Mps who elect a leader who is patronizing to woman as Shearer was in Auckland you realize we really are in the shit.

                You can feel smug because you think you have won, but you wont run a Party or have the finances to run a campaign on smugness.

                • Colonial Viper

                  I’m gonna wait and see what the front bench line up looks like, and whether caucus continues their move into a progressive left wing political economy…or whether they decide that a shift to a bluer centrist ‘middle NZ’ is the winning formula for 2014.

                  The fact that this is actually an open question now gives me the shits (Cunliffe had clearly stated that he backed social democracy ahead of giving free markets free reign whereas Shearer has said nothing equally definitive), but I’ll give things a chance.

                • The Voice of Reason

                  Won what, CGE? I supported Cunliffe/Mahuta, but that boat has sailed. The Labour Party (and all other parties) are voluntary organisations. Social media hasn’t changed that one iota. You bleat about wanting it done differently, but when I point out that a major review, the first in a generation, is underway, you won’t commit to being involved in it and claim its no good because the kids aren’t down wiv it, maaaan.

                  If you want the Labour Party’s constitution to be changed, then get off your arse and be part of the process. BTW, link for your absurd claim that Shearer was patronising to women, please. I’ll bet it never happened.

                  • Craig Glen Eden

                    Social media/ the internet has changed a lot VOF. Its changed the way people interact the way they get information the way they spend money its changed their views on how things can be run both in politics and political parties , if you dont think social media is shaping the way politics effects people turn on you TV.

                    The person who design the first NZ Grassroots Labour site was 12 years old.
                    VOF what where you doing age 12 . Do you really think that this generation is going to put up with undemocratic old fashion top down bullshit from the likes of you. Wake up.The world is moving on and unless we have progressive leadership not just reviews ( which I am involved both personally and with my LEC) and the Party leader understand basic stuff like how to get woman into Parliament we wont be in Government for years.Unlike what Shearer said Woman dont need more training to be in Parliament. Its that kind of out dated thinking that is holding us back and your patronizing toe the line bullshit wont move us forward.

                    • The Voice of Reason

                      Again with the slander against Shearer. If he said something misogynist, how come you’re the only who is reporting that fact? Either put up the links or stop spreading lies.
                      I get that you don’t understand how the Labour party works, particularly the separation of the parliamentary wing from the general membership, but to call it a top down process suggests you don’t even understand democracy. 
                      Anyhoo, glad you have decided to get involved in the change process. Put up your ideas, advocate for them, gain support and lets see where they take us. If they are any good, you’ll have my vote.

                    • Colonial Viper


                      Are you so young that you think the existence of an internet linkky is the final proof whether or not something actually happened?

                      Sometimes people were there first hand mate.

        • Damos

          For what it’s worth, you have a point. They must prove themselves now, especially with how they allocate portfolios and the caucus ranking. If there is “much the same” so too will the agenda be, dancer has a point. 

          • Craig Glen Eden

            To Voice of Reason I understand exactly how it works ( the Labour Party ) Thats what I am saying has to change, I been on NZ council. Stop being so arrogant. One of our problems is our Mps think they run the show when in fact legally and with regards to the Parties Financial liability its Council who is liable they run the show but thats not how the MPs think.
            The fact that the MPs have the only say in who is the Parliamentary Leader is just archaic.

            “Again with the slander against Shearer. If he said something misogynist, how come you’re the only who is reporting that fact? Either put up the links or stop spreading lies”

            Ask anyone who was their but if you like I would suggest you ask Judith Tizard she can tell what her replie was to” its bruising in Parliament for woman isnt it Judith”?

            There is no links VOF because if you went to the meetings you would know they were closed to the public and media.

            • The Voice of Reason

              So you are saying hundreds of people, including his political opponents, heard Shearer be patronising to women at a Labour Party meeting and you’re the only one that remembers? Really?
              At least flesh it out a bit for me. What actual words did he say (as best you can remember).

              • dancerwaitakere

                He said that politics was bruising for women. That it is why there are not more women involved, it is too hard for them. But that he will train them up.

                Judith Tizzard at this point yelled out and so did dozens of other women.

                • The Voice of Reason

                  Thanks, dancer.
                  I’m still puzzled as to why this has not be raised elsewhere if some offence was taken. Are you sure he said ‘too hard for’ and not ‘too hard on’, because the first sentence is obviously correct and leads more to the second option. 
                  And what was meant by ‘training’? Media? Martial arts!? I’ve gotta say, that could be seen as a bit Brentian.
                  If it was just a bad choice of words, I don’t have much of a problem with it, but if, as you suggest, it upset people, I can’t believe there aren’t blog posts from the Hand Mirror to the Sewer putting him to rights. So, was it really that big of a deal?

                • Olwyn

                  I was there, sitting just behind Judith, and it went exactly as dancerwaitakere says. More of a foot-in-mouth moment than anything else, but it did happen.

                  • Olwyn

                    Actually, I do not remember the “train them up” bit, but if it was said, it must have been brief and in jest.

                  • Redbaron77

                    David Shearer appeared to illustrating his argument regarding the big personal costs an MP’s life places upon their family relationships; which can be hard for women with children (this is what I caught). However DS did not follow through properly because he seemed to have either lost the train of his thought or run out of steam. I am not sure whether this was due Judith Tizzard’s and other interjections; but thats what happens in politics. However DS failed to save the situation by restating his point and then offer some practical solutions which a more experienced politician such as David Cunliffe would have probably done. Instead we were left “hanging” and not knowing whether the issue of MP gender imbalance was of importance to him or not. IMHO it was the low point of the meeting.

                    • LynW

                      It was indeed a very awkward situation. Whatever DS had intended to say simply lost it’s meaning in the exchange. Can’t have this happen too often. It did little for inspiring confidence in DS’s ability to get his message across. A worry!

  4. newsense 4

    Nice vid Rocky

  5. deuto 5

    Rocky – thank you for this post (and also Lynn).

    If you have noticed any of my comments over the last few days, you will note that I have been one of those that has been somewhat concerned and uneasy about the leadership decision taken. However, after my initial somewhat negative reactions, I am prepared to try to keep an open mind on Shearer. Time will tell whether it was the right decision.

    However, what I really want to say is that this post (and others) confirm to me that what stands out to me about The Standard compared to most other blogsites is its willingness to present a range of views on a particular subject from a range of posters rather than one only – and to allow a similar range of comments within limits. Go The Standard!

    Haven’t said that as well as I would like or as per my original attempt at a response which I lost – but hope readers get the drift; and also not trying to divert from the subject of the post; just wanted to say this.

  6. tsmithfield 6

    “David Shearer – The Backstory”

    Hmmm…I wonder if by the end of this term it will be “David Shearer – The stab him in the backstory.” 🙂

  7. Jester 7

    Haven’t got anything against David Shearer personally but it is interesting and perhaps cruel that there is snippets of information being leaked to the media that Davids backstory has some element of a bedtime story. Parts being more fantasy than fact.

    I liked his backstory and will be disappointed if he is not as squeaky clean as I had thought. I also liked Shearer as a national supporter because I see him as weak against key but some appeared to like him for the chinks in his backstory. Let’s hope the media don’t tall poppy him before 2014.

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      I liked his backstory and will be disappointed if he is not as squeaky clean as I had thought

      Cripes mate Shearer was dealt with real shitty hands in real shitty places in the real shitty world, to try and get real help to people who really needed it.

      You expecting him to be ‘squeeky clean’ is naive.

  8. Jenny Michie 8

    Thank you Rocky! I’d forgotten about this video; it was great and the by-election win was a wonderful night for the hundreds of people who worked on the campaign (I’d like to take this opportunity to remind the right that John Key lacked both the grace and guts to front Melissa Lee’s losing election night event. I cannot imagine Phil Goff not backing David had we lost).

    I was for either David because I rate them both highly and so we now have a new leader in whom I have total confidence.

    However like many commentators and members I hope the Labour Party and Parliamentary team will do what it takes and have the courage to make the changes to create a Labour Party as relevant now as it was in Mickey Savages’ day.

    • Craig Glen Eden 8.1

      I hope so to Jenny because if members don’t elect the parties Parliamentary Leader the next time that a leadership change occurs we in Labour are Toast. Unlike what many people think we are not just going to be able to stick around until the Nats fall over the BIG HOPE in 2014, that isnt going to work we are being out played because or MPS and Previous Leader and Advisors just arn’t as good as they think they are, we need radical change and very quickly.

      • Lew 8.1.1

        This notion that the Labour leader should be the guy who has activist appeal, rather than the guy who has general public appeal, is the single biggest threat to its existence.


        • Colonial Viper

          Well no, this would only be the case if you think that Labour is built upon one guy at the top who can summon popular appeal by himself, without party activists doing the hard work on the ground, or the MSM and its commentariat giving plenty of favourable exposure.

  9. kriswgtn 9

    I have watched Shearer a few times over the past week or so and im thinking give him a chance- hes clever and knows whats hes doing
    HE also looks like he can give wot Will dished out to him by the torys and the media.. time will tell

    but til then yeah give the guy a go

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