Google news has 1.5 pages of articles mentioning David Shearer to John Key’s 13 in the past week. The only ones directly about Shearer or Labour are saying ‘where’s Shearer? He’s wasting his honeymoon’.
Since that honeymoon is with the press, when they start saying it’s being wasted, it’s already over.
The rightwing pundits are telling Shearer to ‘keep his powder dry’, which happens to give the impression that he has no powder, and saying he’s doing everything right. A sure sign he’s not. The Right know that, in the end, the public won’t vote for a major party if they don’t think its leader can be a good PM. And they know that the media narrative around a new leader, which then becomes how the public sees them, is fixed during these first few months.
I wondered what his strategists are thinking, just wasting their opportunity needlessly. I pondered that their plan might be to watch National’s polling be dragged down by asset sales and the economy, pray that some of the votes come their way, and then shimmy back into power without anyone really noticing – as if New Zealanders change PMs that easily, as if Shearer is preordained to rise from 10% in the preferred PM stakes.
Then I saw they’re all the same people who just led Labour to 27% and I realised the scary part – they’re trying their best.
Even they, though, will be finally waking up to the fact that they’re losing the journos and the narrative on Shearer is getting bleak. This will be panicking them, even though it’s already too late.
Expect to see Shearer announce Pagani’s half-arsed reactionary welfare policy in the next few days. Expect its only outcome to be to drive what’s left of Labour’s working class and liberal vote to the Greens and Mana, while emboldening National to go further and comfortable outbid Labour for the reactionary vote.