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No time like the present

Written By: - Date published: 11:34 am, February 24th, 2012 - 84 comments
Categories: david shearer, welfare - Tags:

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.

84 comments on “No time like the present ”

  1. Morrissey 1

    The Labour Party chose the wrong David.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    None of this matters; the tide is going out on National and coming in on Labour. So just sit and wait it out people, no need for panic or action.

    • aerobubble 2.1

      Asset sales and bend over for China. Key implodes on the spike of neo-liberal stupid.

    • I think when the tide comes in it’ll be on the Greens.

      • Vicky32 2.2.1

        I think when the tide comes in it’ll be on the Greens.

        Please, nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! IMO they simply cannot be trusted.
    • Agreed CV but I do not want Labour to sleep walk to victory.
      And there are a couple of senior ops who should not be allowed near any decision making.  White anteing a contender while supposedly working for the party should not be tolerated.
      If anyone thinks of the past three years and can think of any jarring, stupid sloganistic type policy that did not mesh in with what was a complex integrated policy framework they are to blame.

      • Futurity 2.3.1

        I think CV is being cynical there. 🙂 The same strategists who led Labour to 27% are just sitting there waiting for the cycle to put some wind back into Labour’s sails and drive them over the line in 2014, whatever and whoever the leader is.

        Or there is a greater agenda, one that sees another leadership change prior to 2014

        • tc

          I hear that most of the members who attended the leadership candidates meetings supported Cunliffe over Shearer but it was the Mallard/Robertson team that got Shearer over the line. This could get pretty ugly. If Shearer does not get high in the polls the duck will be into him.

          You also have to wonder about the mentality of those who swung away from DC given it was from the same folk behind the 2011 failure persuading them…..interesting times in the red camp.

  3. Brad 3

    There is over two and a half years till the next election, things don’t change in an instant. I admit I am also a little concerned about his absence from the media recently, but he has been travelling the country recently which can’t hurt

    • aerobubble 3.1

      The MSM is stacked against anyone who doesn’t play to Murdoch tune. So Shearer needs to get out and just hit the road, alone with getting some geeks on line to push all the new openings in cyber space. Labour should be formulating a platform and nudging Key to the cliff edge. Not that Key needs much nudging, having just had the courts declare that kiwi investors do have rights and government cannot ignore those rights because key got shonkey free trade lawyers advice.

  4. muzza 4

    Yeah, lets just swap sides every few years cos that is what democracy is – I vote therefore I am!

    The rise of Shearer on the back of epic Nat failure, great stuff, can’t wait for it!


    • burt 4.1

      Oh muzza, it’s not about what is good for NZ. It’s all about the political parties. Flip-flopping all major social and economic policies every 3-9 years is what keeps them popular. Please don’t think about the cost; fiscal, social or opportunity…. The prize muzza… the prize is the front benches and the ends always justifies the means.

      • muzza 4.1.1

        Indeed Burt….Long term prognosis by running the same play book over continually..

        Pretty F-en poor, I’d say!

  5. tc 5

    Labour will become a minor party with the same old guard guiding strategy and lazy MP’s just taking the money.
    Gone are the days when it had plenty of passionate enthuusiatic MP’s wanting to make a difference….they’re just marking time expecting to get their turn eventually.

    • Rosemary 5.1

      And gone are the days of enthusiastic, caring and innovative strategists. All they have now are a bunch of tired old boring fuckwits who think of themselves as part of some political academic elite responsible for everything Labour politicians do and say. Labour sorting themselves out also requires a good and total clean out of these dicks who think they know how to advise but who in reality spend all their time up their own arses.

  6. shorts 6

    everyday Labour does little the Greens get stronger – which isn’t a bad thing in itself

    I await Mr Shearer to take some sort of lead as he only has 2 1/2 years (which isn’t very long) to convince so many he is the right man to take New Zealand forward

    meanwhile I watch with dismay and dread as many of this countries fine institutions are slowly dismantled

  7. Enough is Enough 7

    I agree there is no time like the present to be putting your name and party name in the headlines. Shearer’s silence can only be considered a wasted opportunity.

    I think the reason why Shearer isn’t coming out on the attack as we expect him to is because of his long term strategy. Rightly or wrongly Labour was perceived as negative between ’08 and ’11. The rightis went on and on about Labour being the nasty party. The right were happy to forget that the role of the opposition is to to oppose.

    I think Shearer has bought into that meme and therefore wants to be positive and is going out of his way to not be seen or regarded as a negative person. His strategy is to propose an alternative positive vision for New Zealand.

    Whether that strategy works or not is debateable. Unless he starts doing something soon we will never have the chance to find out because DC will roll him.

    • Deano 7.1

      you don’t have to go negative on everything like Goff did. In fact, this is the time when Shearer should be laying out a positive vision – details can come later, but its important that he sets up an imagine of himself, and a negative counter-point for National now.

      Like Zet, I fear it’s too late already. The media has tired of waiting and won’t be receptive. In fact, invisible and indecisive is becoming the Shearer story.

      • Enough is Enough 7.1.1


        he seems to have discarded negative but hasn’t quite found positive, leaving him in the neutral territory of the political wilderness

  8. Brad 8

    Of course he can adopt the Phil Goff strategy of appearing in the media commenting on every single issue, no matter how unimportant

  9. tsmithfield 9

    I think Labour has some major problems.

    I can see the union vote going to the Mana party and the liberal vote going to the Greens. This leaves Labour having to scrap it out for the middle ground with National, NZ First, et al.

    • Brad 9.1

      Well the middle ground is where most votes are to be found…

      • Deano 9.1.1

        but would Shearer inspire you to vote? Say you voted Clark 2 or 3 times, then twice for Key but you’re sick of him now, would you switch back to Shearer? Would you stay with Key because there’s no-one else suitable? Would you just stay home?

        It’s not enough for people to stop voting National. Shearer needs to bring votes to Labour.

        • muzza

          Say people just flip floped because they couldn’t be bothered to think for themselves, and just did what the media told them, or doggedly voted for their “families party choice”.

          Here you go little sheep, would you like the nice red one, or the nice blue one, don’t tell anyone that they are more or less the same thing….ssshhhh, its a secret.

          • Deano

            whether you like it or not, the reality is that the the government isn’t determined by informed people like you and me who rarely change the parties we support and are highly unlikely to ever go between right and left. It’s determined by the swing voters in the middle who are, by definition, the most easily swayed and least informed voters. It’s called democracy. A successful major party has to give those people a reason to vote for it, and they look mainly for personality traits and a compelling narrative, not policy detail.

            • muzza

              “whether you like it or not, the reality is that the the government isn’t determined by informed people like you and me who rarely change the parties we support and are highly unlikely to ever go between right and left”

              I’m not a party voter, I don’t support the system that way. I see supporting a party, like supporting a sports team dogmatically.

              Why would anyone want to not be fluid in theIr thought process, be able to see the wider view of the world, and weigh up issues based on the greater good, instead of being penned onto a manipulateable box, where your thoughts are no longer even your own, as you are directed by “the party” or “the ideology”, or whatever it is that prevents critical analysis, and thought!

              Nothing demoractic about it Deano – Try again!

      • Olwyn 9.1.2

        “The middle ground is where most votes are to be found”

        That is only conditionally true. If you are confident in having a strong support base, then it makes sense to court the middle to extend and stabilise it. But if you let your support base erode, so that they either turn to other parties or give up voting, then the middle is not going to make up for what you have lost. Look at Peter Dunne, who aims at the centre – he does not have a huge following.

        There is a temptation on the left to think, well we have to court the centre, because the low paid, etc, have nowhere else to go, which probably works in times of reasonable equilibrium. But at present the pendulum has swing so far right that a Labour Party that cleaves too eagerly to the centre seriously risks losing its support base, many of whom would rather not vote than vote for people who do not meaningfully represent them.

    • National is not a centre party, and nor is Labour. They are really at heart, conservative and socialist parties respectively. To occupy the true centre would be for those parties to alienate their voter base. The core of farmers, bankers and such who want further deregulation and smaller government, are the true core of National. The equivalent core of Labour are the unions, the minority groups who want a welfare net.

      The true party of the centre is New Zealand First.

  10. vto 10

    Sounds to me like too much talk and not enough action. What’s that saying about over-analysis leading to paralysis?

    He should just get out there and get into it.

    • muzza 10.1

      If Shearer is not capable to decide for himself, when and how he should interject – He is no leader!
      If Shearer has to be told when and how to interject himself – He is no leader!

      Not looking like much of a leader presently!

      What we have is media driven politics, aimed at semi conscious sheep who are not able to think for themselves.

      • vto 10.1.1

        well that is how it appears. If he wants to be his best then he needs to be himself. Lead the charge. Trust in himself. The easiest thing to be the best in the world at is himself. So if that self is leadership material then let’s see the best of Shearer – as written, directed and produced by Shearer.

        cast aside the drag

        • muzza

          Spot on VTO – Thats all any of us need to be is ourselves, trust our intincts, which have been bred and brainwashed out of us!

          Media will never allow it though!

        • felix

          Too right v.

          Do you get the feeling he’s trying to figure out where the people are going so he can jump in front and “lead” them there?

  11. oftenpuzzled 11

    Maybe it is better to put in a search for ‘Labour Party’, there are many more pages covering the work of the current team. Shearer wants the whole team to be participants not just himself as sole spokesperson as our Mr Key would rather be.

  12. Craig Glen Eden 12

    Labour got the wrong David that’s for sure.Shearer is a novice politically backed by the brains trust of pagani,mallard,goff, so don’t except anything different from them than we got for the last three years. As for shearers strategy of touring the country it didn’t work for goff did it? The sooner Shearer goes the better.sadly by the time this labour oppositions sorts out it’s shit the assets will be gone.

    • Te Reo Putake 12.1

      Er, can I politely say rubbish, Craig? There is no brains trust as you describe, and as best as I can work out, the concept is a deliberate lie engendered by people not actually in Labour. My understanding is that Goff cut Pagani adrift a year ago, and Mallard supported that move. Mallard confirmed a few days ago that he has no significant contact with Pagani, though I suppose they bump into each other at fundraisers and are no doubt civil to each other.

      • just saying 12.1.1

        My understanding is that Goff cut Pagani adrift a year ago, and Mallard supported that move. Mallard confirmed a few days ago that he has no significant contact with Pagani,..

        I’m interested. Link or source please?

      • Edos 12.1.2

        Pagani’s been working for Labour the whole time. He has an office on the same floor as Mallard.

        • Te Reo Putake

          No and no again. The facts are as I laid it out above. John Pagani’s only real involvement in the last election was in support of Josie Pagani’s campaign in Rangitikei, which was excellent btw and one of the few tory seats to see the majority drop.
          What he is doing right this minute for Labour, if anything, I do not know but if Shearer wants to make use of his skills, I would welcome that. Just as I would welcome Shearer getting advice or ideas from anyone with a pro Labour campaigning history. The big question, of course, isn’t who the ideas come from, but which ones Shearer chooses to adopt.

          • Edos

            Pagani was being paid $10,000 a month during last year for ‘strategic advice’ while shopping himself as a commentator.

            He has an office on the same floor as Mallard. Ring the Labour Leader’s office and ask to be put through to him.

  13. Brad 13

    After following this thread I think I better go outside and check whether the sky is falling

  14. Bored 14

    1.5 quality pages versus 13 shabby pages….I know which I would prefer.

    • Blighty 14.1

      Um, the post says they’re not 1.5 quality pages and, anyway, the point is it’s not about you. It’s about the people that the Left needs to get to vote for it if it’s going to win in 2014, not the people who will be voting Left anyway.

      • Bored 14.1.1

        Who says I will be voting “left”?

        Actually I am quite happy to watch Key making a total pillock of himself on as many pages as we can give him. On the converse the less Shearer says extremely well the better impression he will make.

  15. Tombstone 15

    Have to say when it comes to an opposition leader with a tonne of ammo at their disposal it would seem that Shearer, and ultimately Labour are a little slow off the mark to say the least. Key and the National Party are seriously vulnerable right now and Labour should be tearing them a new one as we speak and not sitting back like Tua waiting to land a last minute knock out punch. I like Shearer but have to agree with others – a good leader would be savaging National right now rather than playing easy does it. We don’t have time for that crap as a country. In fact I’ve read more coming from Little than Shearer as of late which says a great deal as far as I’m concerned.

  16. Chris Oden 16

    I do think that Shearer will lose any momentum he may have had if he does not make himself visible SOON! key and english are all over the news and even if it’s negative it’s keeping themselves in the public eye and we know how that worked for key before.People are waiting to hear what is going to be done about our children who are living only half the life they could and should be living.They deserve better.not just a green paper that will turn into a white paper which everyone knows will go straight into bin 13. key and english NEVER talk about the needs of the population and how they are going to address the poverty they have inflicted them. Its all about staying in power and to do this it seems they need to frack NZ to its nth degree.Politicians need to be talking about PEOPLE and what we have to look forward to. I am sick of key english and joyce poncing around like theyknow best when they have proved time and time again they know nothing.We need to know what Labour is going be doing and soon.Come on guys, we know you’re out there!

  17. Te Reo Putake 17

    “Expect to see Shearer announce Pagani’s half-arsed reactionary welfare policy in the next few days.”
    Howsabout a link to Pagani’s article so people can actually read what he said and come to a sensible conclusion as to whether it is as bad as you have misunderstood it to be?
    Other than that quibble, top post and you raise some pertinent points, Zet. But, as usual, I would point out that Shearer is already way more popular than Goff and that Labour are heading back to respectable figures in 3 polls in a row. Not bad for a bloke who isn’t doing anything, eh?

  18. McFlock 18

    I was intrigued that Scoop indactes Shearer’s office is only plugging out a media release every few days – I’d expect it daily. And work on his aid history by giving him some sort of welfare/education/development/families/child health supremo job – the individual spokepeople have their portfolios, but he daily slugs the big picture.

  19. Hilary 19

    Could it be that Shearer is actually using his eyes, ears and brain rather than his mouth, and listening to people and groups away from the media glare? It’s called building relationships. The media at the moment is all over the place, and still a little bit entranced by Winston – and no one will win a publicity battle with him. I expect some form of collegial leadership led by Shearer will emerge in the next few months, probably of a different style than we have seen before.

    • McFlock 19.1

      But the main relationship a politician needs to build is with the electorate.

      Personally I’d recommend Shearer be “Jeff” to Winston’s “mutt”. Winston attacks well – so Shearer should complement that skill, not compete.

  20. Te Reo Putake 20

    Well, it looks like Shearer reads the Standard (or Danya Levy does, given the headline).
    In a speech to Grey Power in Auckland this afternoon, Shearer said he was not the kind of leader who believed in ”rival tribes playing gotcha”.
    ”Of course that’s what a lot of people look for. They want to score the game, give points for the best smart remark in Parliament. But that’s not what most New Zealanders want.”
    There was no excuse for not being constructive.
    ”I want a new kind of politics, pragmatic and attentive to what works, not tied up in the squabbles of the past.”

    • Lanthanide 20.1

      Can’t help but think Shearer has been reading Pete George’s comments.

    • Ad 20.2

      I don’t mind so much that he has managed to start playing in a field that Winston Peters has owned for weeks.

      I could even cope with his total absence from the Ports of Auckland dispute. Sigh.

      It rankles just slightly that we appear grateful that Labour has a leader that finally gets to 10% approval, when we are dealing still with a 40% spread to the leader and simply risible Party numbers that honestly are not really moving.

      It is slightly more annoying that he can’t spit out a coherent framework – even a simple moral framework would do – after six months, and particularly after preparing to take the party to the wire on how much he wanted the leadership.

      But to me what is truly galling that he does not think that politics is a competition. Both for the broader population and for that activist sorts. It is as silly Goff saying “This isn’t a popularity contest”. It really is. And it really is tribal.

      This isn’t Mr Smith Goes to Washington. This really is politics, and he has to deal with it. The crowd really is watching. And there really is only one winner, even in a future coalition.

      It is time we stopped being satisfied with leadership in which the bar has been sets low we start popping corks for a 2% change and are grateful if they don’t drool. Were we not flabbergasted when a candidate the stature of Winston Peters could take 6% from a standing start? He had a small simple spark.

      And we also know we need so much more than Winston Peters. Everyone on this site would know what a compelling progressive leader would look like.

      It ain’t Sherer – come on people.

      I have absolutely no faith in Sherer at all and it would take a miracle to change it.

      • Jackal 20.2.1

        Shearers moral framework is well established. Perhaps you need to read up on his history Ad.

        Labour provided one of the most comprehensive opposition “frameworks” ever seen in this county prior to the last election. The detail of which was used by National to attack Labour. We now know that National lied about their figures, so perhaps providing ammunition is not the answer.

        What makes you think that Shearer believes politics is not a competition? I have seen nothing in the media that points towards such a conclusion. Personally I think politics should move away from the ideological competitiveness and towards a more unified governance that is truly designed to benefit all New Zealander’s. A brighter future for all should not just be a slogan.

        I agree that we should demand more from our government and like the fact that Shearer isn’t beholden to the media. The media have proven themselves to be corrupt on numerous occasions and devoid of logical and reasonable thought. They’re obviously sold to the highest bidder. So what is to be said to those that will throw it in your face no matter what you say?

        It would appear that Shearer is in contemplation about what he will do about the mess from National’s mismanagement. I don’t think Labour is hoping that some votes will come their way, I think they realize they will inherit some major financial and social problems. Tell me what you would do if you were to be lumped with someone else’s financial problems?

        Some people might believe that being in the fore is preferable, but I like the less is more approach. No news is often good news… let National dig their own grave.

        Shearer is a compelling and progressive leader… especially in comparison to John Key. Mark my words, David Shearer will be New Zealand’s next Prime Minister.

  21. Not one off you has revealed the real reason why labour is not hiting the headlines . Its the Right-Wing press and media. The papers are owned by big business and they dread even a mild Labour Government . The Herald for one is just a long period National propogander machine . Be positive cancell your daily paper sub until they become truly independent and publish both sides of the debate. Key’s photo is a pemanent feature in the Herald. The Waikato Times is not far behind hardly a day passes when Keys smirking face is not somewhere in the waikato Times. If only the Left would amalgamate and produce a decent paper we would be getting somewhere .

  22. Bill 22

    I think it’s an absolutely brilliant strategy that Labour is executing.

    1. John Key is perceived as nice guy, so lets have a nice guy as leader who might be percieved as nicer than theirs.

    2. Their nice guy does nothing and their party maintains a high level of support, so our nice guy should do even more nothing.

    3. Keep on whining about the media not giving coverage to our ‘nicer than their nice guy’ doing more nothing better than their ‘do nothing nice guy’.

    It’s a sure fire winner!

  23. Vicks 23

    So Z to address your concerns. On the one hand you seem to rate Google as a reliable source – ie Shearer has only 1.5 pages of articles and Key 13. Then on the other accuse anyone who thinks Shearer “keeping his powder dry” must be unreliable RWNJ. I have seen many contributors to this forum accused of being RWNJ for having a different opinion from the author or other contributors who have an axe to grind.

    All that aside I think it is important to keep in mind that the National Party machine has a lot more dosh to fund minions to populate these publications – reliable or not. We on the left use activists so perhaps the solution is for a few of the authors here (some of whom may be Labour activists…) to divert some of their energy onto publications to even the score out.

    Another concern you have that Shearer is getting advice to keep his powder dry from the right. I am definitely not from the right and I think he is doing exactly what he should be doing. This time should be used to continue with the work going on in the background to form relationships and remake Labour a more vibrant and viable party. Continued harping on about the Labour leadership gives the real RWNJ leverage to destabilise the forward momentum that will see a change in Government in 2014.

    God help us all if we had to endure what is happening in Australia right now. The only winners are the Liberals.

    • Ad 23.1

      There is only one thing worse in the politics of the media than being beaten in an argument or ridiculed: that is to be ignored. Z is pointing out the consequences of Shearer remaining inconsequential because he is being ignored. Of course it’s not a conspiracy – it’s simply measuring Shearer’s poor political performance.

      As for publications that even the score out, the point is only partially taken. It is largely not up to activists to do the job of the political leadership within the mainstream media. If Shearer – the guy anointed to lead – had had just one really good story in the mainstream, we would be just so grateful as to be eating out on it for months on the blogs. It is on the blogs and Facebook that the media’s real amplification effects take place now.

      I guess i disagree that he should be concentrating on relationships at the expense of good powerful media stories. He has a whole shadow cabinet to help form relationships. And a party. His job is to be out front and centre. Political discourse doesn’t wait for you to be ready. You are either in the game or you are not.

      If Shearer had given any rhetorical knockout performance anywhere, he would have given us all confidence that – as many wanted from Goff – he would come out strong at the end and take the win. But because he has no political track record, and no wins anywhere in the media, this poor performance is all we have to measure him on.

      As for another leadership spill, well, I’m waiting for One Member One Vote, before I hope for that.

  24. coolas 24

    I like the way Shearer is travelling around the country talking, listening, watching .. and waiting. Smart man to stand back awhile. I don’t see the urgency of him to be media focused right now.

    I think Shearer may posses a quality rare in politics – sincerity. And that’s real hard for the MSM to suck up at any time.

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