ImperatorFish: Which Candidate Gets My Non-Vote?

Written By: - Date published: 9:18 am, December 9th, 2011 - 16 comments
Categories: david cunliffe, david shearer, labour - Tags:

Scott at Imperator Fish has kindly given us permission to syndicate posts from his blog – the original of this post is here


Which Candidate Gets My Non-Vote?

When David Shearer announced he wanted to be Labour leader I didn’t know what to think. Then, when it appeared he was favoured by the party’s “old guard” and by right-wing bloggers alike, I began to move more towards the Cunliffe camp.

But then I realised it’s hardly Shearer’s fault if a bunch of people he has nothing to do with decide they prefer him over Cunliffe.

Also, while Shearer may be the man many of the “old guard” want to see lead the party, he also seems to have the support of many newer MPs.

Is he a reform candidate? Who knows?

So I just can’t decide who my non-vote should go to. Cunliffe has experience in politics and is a more media-savvy communicator. On the other hand, Shearer has a background in aid and humanitarian work and seems to be a genuinely nice guy. Is he too nice for politics? Shearer hasn’t been around long enough for us to know, and he hasn’t made much of an impact in the House yet, but he has successfully led teams in third-world hell-holes, so the Labour job ought to be a cakewalk.

The party shouldn’t take too seriously Brian Edwards’ opinion that Shearer is a terrible communicator and would therefore be a disaster as Labour leader. I’ve listened for the last five years as various people on the left have panned John Key for murdering the English language and having an awkward and clumsy speech delivery style. If anything these things have made Key more endearing to middle New Zealand. We do not do soaring oratory in this country.

As a fully paid-up member of the Labour cabal I will go along to the public meeting on Sunday in Auckland to listen to the candidates. Perhaps then I will have a strong view on which of the two men would be the better leader.

But it would be even better if I got to cast a vote on the matter. The Labour Party needs to consider as part of its proposed review a process where party members can actually vote on things like the leadership and, God forbid, even the party list. The party list Labour put up this year was about as attractive to voters as a cup of cold vomit, so the current selection process clearly doesn’t work.

If that is too radical a solution then I have a more simple one. Just give me a right of veto over all Labour Party decisions. My status as a blogger means I have all the answers, so what could go wrong?

16 comments on “ImperatorFish: Which Candidate Gets My Non-Vote?”

  1. Lanthanide 1

    Is this just going to become a continual republication of everything that ImperatorFish writes, or just selected articles?

  2. ropata 2

    Hopefully everything!

    • deuto 2.1

      I agree. I read IF regularly but have trouble with his site (slow to load etc) but this is probably at my end not his.

      I particularly liked this short pithy one on Tuesday, December 6, 2011

      “Welfare Reform Must Start At The Top

      I’m pleased to hear the Government is going to appoint someone to manage the money of those irresponsible folk who suck off the public teat.and can’t budget properly.

      It’s about time someone took the finance portfolio off Bill English.”


  3. alex 3

    A very worthwhile post, the Labour party does need to become less about the views of the caucus and more about the views of the members. Love the non-vote bit, as for the members this is a non-election.

  4. ghostwhowalksnz 4

    The Israelis tried direct elections for their PM between 1996 and 2001.

    The problem was that the person who won couldn’t form a government without creating an unmanageable coalition from the parties in the Knesset.

    That would be the problem here with direct election by the party members, you could end up with someone who isnt supported by the senior MPs. Good luck with creating an effective opposition with that.

    Maybe this would be a good way for choosing the labour candidate for an elected President of a NZ republic. A stand alone office.

  5. Pundit X 5

    As a photojournalist I have seen most if not all of Shearer’s third world hell holes working at much greater risk than a man with the UN behind him just to tell a story of the disposessed that no one really cares to see. So does this qualify me to lead the Labour Party, no and no it doesn’t qualify Shearer either. I’ve watched the real risk takers and they are not David Shearer – they are the locals recruited to deliver the aid at much greater personal risk than Shearer faced. Shearer has taken isolated incidents in his career and formed them into a myth of a can do Kiwi facing insurmountable odds to get the aid through. If anyone has seen any evidence of that hero in his recent parliamentary career please enlighten us. The skills needed to get aid through are very different to the skills needed to lead the Labour Party – that is unless Labour will airdropping aid into Northland.

    I’ve spent the last thirty years watching politicians worldwide. I’v seen some class acts that would put many of NZ Labours finest in the shade. Cunliffe is one of the few who actually shine which is probably why so many in Labour’s caucus are reputedly ABC’s. If you seriously want someone to lead Labour into the the 21 century then choose a politician readily equipped to do so. Not someone with a humanitarian hero backstory who will quickly turn to Forest Gump once elected..

    • just saying 5.1

      I have been particularly appalled to see Shearer describe himself as a “hero”. I’m sure he’s had a few dramatic moments, but he was primarily a bureaucrat, and a very well paid (and pensioned) one at that. A bit of ‘legend in his own lunchtime’ methinks.

      As for being personally responsible for saving 50 million lives, pl-eease.

      I have friends who spent considerable time doing front-line aid work in Burundi, during the long-running civil war. No fat salary or five-star accomodation. They would cringe at the idea of being called heroic, and have always said that the real heroes are those that live there.

      As an aside they are died-in-the-wool Nat voters. Humanitarian work doesn’t guarantee a left-wing world view, unfortunately. Also, the UN has never struck me as a socialist outfit. Quite the opposite in fact.

    • felix 5.2

      Is it really Shearer playing up the “hero” back-story though? Or is he just going along with a narrative that others have formed around him?

      I watched closely as he dropped that clanger about saving millions of lives in one of the debates. He lowered his eyes, shifted nervously, blinked and visibly cringed as he delivered it.

      It seemed to me that someone had told him to say it, and that he felt it was the wrong thing to say, but chose to say it anyway, reluctantly and against his better judgement.

      That concerned me – not so much the clanger itself, but the not-trusting-his-better-judgement thing.

      I also note that in a later interview he tried to imply that he’d never said it, a move I also question the judgement of.

      • just saying 5.2.1

        He’s already said enought to really come back and bite him in the arse, if he is Labour’s next candidate for PM.

    • Hami Shearlie 5.3

      Agreed Pundit X! I have huge doubts about Shearer too. Great backstory, but will that make him an outstanding MP and PM? Haven’t seen any sign of it yet (certainly not in Parliament) and he’s had 3 years.

      • seeker 5.3.1

        “…. and he hasn’t made much of an impact in the House yet, but he has successfully led teams in third-world hell-holes, so the Labour job ought to be a cakewalk.” Imperator Fish.

        “If you seriously want someone to lead Labour into the the 21 century then choose a politician readily equipped to do so. Not someone with a humanitarian hero backstory who will quickly turn to Forest Gump once elected.” PunditX

        Very well said PunditX. A strong,pertinent, rebuttal of Imperator Fish’ weak reasoning.

        • Pundit X

          There hasn’t been buch questioning of Shearer the humanitarian hero. There will be if he’s elected Leader. Support for private security companies such as Blackwater being one area that neads a little light shed on it.

  6. Rich 6

    If anything these things have made Key more endearing to middle New Zealand

    Maybe, to counter Key, we need a candidate who’s demonstrably retarded. Is there anyone in the Labour caucus who can’t read and write, or has it been taken over by ivory tower academics with NCEA level 1?

    • pollywog 6.1

      Maybe, to counter Key, we need a candidate who’s demonstrably retarded .

      Hopefully next elections i’ll run for something so there will be that option 🙂

      at the very least i’ll make Kris Faafoi look like a brown suited bounty bar.

      I’m gonna bring the realness for shizzle…


      • seeker 6.1.1

        “Maybe, to counter Key, we need a candidate who’s demonstrably retarded. ”

        Rich, thanks for the huge laugh your comment gave me- still howling – wonderful!

  7. cherryjeary 7

    John Key’s oratory skills are an embrassment to me. For me Helen Cark is one of the best, very well spoken and never embarrased when overseas or on BBC Hardtalk. I personally don’t have a problem with shearer’s ability to communicate, to me Cunliffe comes off sounding too nice.

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