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Shearer makes a difference

Written By: - Date published: 4:59 pm, February 24th, 2012 - 46 comments
Categories: david shearer, privatisation - Tags:

David Shearer spoke to Greypower in Auckland today about the difference between Labour and National:

The difference between Labour and National is this:

They want to continue with the tired ideas of the past, just selling and cutting. We want the government to work in our own national interest, not someone else’s. The way the government is spending our taxes means more of the same, which has led to growing debt, slower growth, and now selling out our assets as a result. The alternative way is to get stuck in helping create more skills, more jobs, more successful exports that we build with our brilliant science, and stronger small businesses.

That’s the future I want.

Both National and Labour agree we should pay down debt and pay for the rebuild after the earthquakes – of course we must. Our difference lies in our intention to create a new destiny for New Zealand – and their hope that foreign buyers will somehow act in our interests instead of their own.

I can assure you that as the leader of Labour, I will be making sure we stand up for New Zealand and build the productive economy that we so desperately need.

The speech was very future-focussed, and shows Shearer is his own man. He wants a new style of politics, which is not about rival tribes playing “gotcha”, scoring the game, giving points for the best smart remark in parliament. Playing to the gallery in other words.

There has been a lot of comment from the gallery that Shearer needs to come out and say his piece. Well today he did, in a speech that has been diaried for over a month. As he said, scoring points is

… not what most New Zealanders want.

They want leaders to focus on the future. They want us to set out a vision of where New Zealand should go, how we work together, how we strengthen our communities – and above all: how we make people’s lives better.

And how we plan to make a difference.

He also said that Labour intends to join GreyPower in a campaign against National’s asset sales, again something most New Zealanders do not want. It is really good to see Labour getting into campaign mode, even better when they are doing it in conjunction with a nationwide community organisation like Greypower.

The full speech is here. A very good start in my view – I think he will make a difference.

46 comments on “Shearer makes a difference ”

  1. The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 1

    He wants a new style of politics, focussed on the future, planning to make a difference.

    Why hasn’t anyone thought of that before?

  2. just saying 2

    To quote an ad I don’t particularly like:
    Mate, you’re dreaming!

  3. Wayne 3

    Just rhetoric abounding with cliches and platitudes. Nothign specific in there at all.

    This is a piece of idiocy:

    “and their hope that foreign buyers will somehow act in our interests instead of their own.

    All buyers of any stripe will act in their own interests. It is incumbent on the seller to consider his own interests and the buyer to consider his, in any transaction.

    “They want us to set out a vision of where New Zealand should go, how we work together, how we strengthen our communities – and above all: how we make people’s lives better.”

    What a load of meaningless drivel.

    “He wants a new style of politics, which is not about rival tribes playing “gotcha”, scoring the game, giving points for the best smart remark in parliament”

    You mean emulate that useless windbag Obama?

    • newsense 3.1

      Is the style me-too with Key? If you include this interview with Hewitson this morning:


      “He seems absolutely, resolutely, normal; straight as a die; neither too far Right nor too far Left (although time will tell); amiable without being effusive; confident without being cocky; a bit blokey without being macho; clever without being one of those alienating intellectuals.”

      Someone perhaps who can do a good job at a task, but hasn’t shown that he has a strong philosophy of what a government should do, or of what NZ should be, given our history of looking after our weakest, and the recent history of bagging them and increasing inequality.

      “But I don’t want to be kind of … looking like a politician … slick or anything.”

      Anti-politician schtick on it’s own doesn’t work. Key also has the unflappable and we’ll get it done, I’m not too worried by it all thing- the manager has got this one.

      I don’t want a new kind of politics from Labour- I want an old kind of politics. I want New Zealand to lead the way on moral debates that are important for a small nation. I want us to play our diplomacy and trade hand well, get a premium for what we can and do our best to make sure no one goes hungry, has nowhere to live and or is prevented from working by ‘labour market conditions’ if they are able to work.

      I don’t want us to sell ourselves out, under the guise of the modern or the new kind of things. The left has allowed the right to build up this ‘alienating intellectuals’ bullshit. I want things properly thought through and analysed, not policy for political marketing.

      I want a passionate leader who would be prepared to die in a ditch for our country to shake the malaise and expose the Nats 90s again bullshit. At the moment I’m still not convinced. In my view there is no substitute for saying the same thing passionately in public that you say in private, and this is what makes people convinced you are worth voting for. I don’t think a New Zealand Labour leader should try to imitate the style of the man from Merryl Lynch.

      Also, is there an acknowledgement that any new ‘knowledge-wavey, smart-sciency’ industry would need some government direction to grow? Let’s not pretend the government can stand aside and magic will make us silicon valley, or the centre of green-tech or whatever other wave we are going to catch.



  4. Chris Oden 4

    Great stuff!Being in the Grey Power age bracket myself (and not dying as key would have it) bring it on! I’m happy to wheel out my turbo charged zimmer frame and get on the campaign.Wayne, you sound like Eeyore. Anyway I’m sure key will have some suitably absolutely underwhelming “hilarious” comment on Labour needing the oldies.Just like he needs the Act Party(two for the price of one)Dunne nothing and the bob each way maori party.

  5. DJL 5

    Maybe gormless,jsay and wayne could enlighten us with some words quoted from smiley from this year. Or blinky maybe.

    • just saying 5.1

      Except that isn’t what this post is actually about DJL.

    • ianmac 5.2

      You’re right DJL. The Rightist are set on denigrating whatever Mr Shearer says as though Mr Key’s words are full of detail and promise. Wayne and his negative mates are pretty short of sincerity.

  6. Peter 6

    Well at least Shearer gives people and communties a mention. In comparison Key’s opening speech last month was focused on money http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/6317599/Govt-plans-for-return-to-surplus-on-a-knife-edge

    • infused 6.1

      Uhh you realise what you just said? So key is actually talking realism, while Shearer is talking drivel?

      • Peter 6.1.1

        Real leaders make real speeches – listen to Obama!

      • bbfloyd 6.1.2

        as it’s only coming from you infused, we can safely assume the opposite is true…. you make a good yardstick old chap…..whether you like it or not…for the left….

      • felix 6.1.3

        Nice one infused, money is more “real” than people and communities.

        At least you have guts to say it out loud.

      • Jack 6.1.4

        Key never talks realism in speeches. He’s leveraging himself to get us deeper in debt so he can make all his mates more money. After all, he spent 8 billion more than Labour with less income.. and you call that realism.. Key always blows it out his ass. Shearer is talking innovation, Key is talking “derivatives.” which don’t amount to anything. Photo opps with beer drinking “mates” and you supporters are sold.. shallow..

      • Draco T Bastard 6.1.5

        Money is nothing, community is everything.

  7. Olwyn 7

    I wish this speech reassured me, but it does not. It is roughly what politicians have been saying, prior to gaining office, since time immemorial. So it does not ameliorate the the unease brought about by this comment from Vernon Small: “He freely admits he is not ideological Labour. Like Mr Blair he is keen to set aside the road blocks to a return to power. His guiding mantra “whatever works” flatters John Key with imitation.”

    Small, of course, may be misquoting him, but if David Shearer freely admits to not being ideologically Labour, then what is he doing leading the Labour Party? Key might falsely describe himself as a “moderate” but not would certainly not describe himself as “not ideologically National.” Members of and voters for the Labour Party are not the equivalent of football fans – they expect some sort of common philosophical ground between themselves and those who purport to represent them. And practical action on the part of their representatives that is consistent with that ground.

    If a Labour Government is elected it is going to inherit a shit-load of debt, and I would need to see a far clearer commitment to core Labour values on the part of Mr Shearer to even begin to feel reassured.

    • tc 7.1

      Whoever follows NACT has a massive task to rectify blind ideology driven recklessness

      • Colonial Viper 7.1.1

        NACTs can do more damage in 6 years than Labour can repair in 9.

        The Left will always lose ground over time following current paradigms.

  8. lou 59 8

    I did not see any mention of this on the news tonight. are we grasping at straws here? I’m sorry I have been a labour voter all my life until the last election, but these people are not offering any hope to people like me. Shearer might of made a speech to grey power but for f***’s sake he is not giving me, a single working Mum anything to think that life is going to get any better. All I want is to put food on the table, pay my rent on time and get my car road worthy. I work 2 job’s to keep my kids clothed and fed. When is this labour party going to come back to its roots and support the working man or woman?

  9. TEA 9

    Shearer will be Prime Minister by default.
    Due to National asset sales.
    At the moment the Parties are like :
    National : See no evil.
    Labour : Speak no evil.
    Green : Hear no evil.

    • seeker 9.1

      Brilliant TEA. Your comment sums it up almost perfectly…….help!! Althought to be fair I think National sees and hear nothing but speaks and facilitates much evil.

  10. I still don’t see clearly what Shearer’s understanding is of how to get where he thinks we all agree we need to go:

    “I want a new kind of politics, pragmatic and attentive to what works, not tied up in the squabbles of the past.
    We should be prepared to accept ideas according to whether they work or not, not where they come from.

    Our future policies have to pass this test: “does this idea help us achieve the New Zealand we want to create ten years from now?”

    I’m sorry, but this emphasis on ‘pragmatism’ is either extraordinarily naive or an attempt to fudge the approach to be taken (and allow a real liquorice all-sorts kind of policy mix). 
    How is this pragmatic approach to be evaluated? How do ‘we’ know when an idea ‘works’? How do ‘we’ know if “this idea” will help us get where ‘we’ want to go?

    I realise that many New Zealanders seem to think that a good dose of non-political ‘common sense’ and ‘pragmatism’ is what we need. But the big problem with that is the obvious one – ‘we’ disagree on what is a pragmatic solution. ‘We’ even disagree on when something has ‘worked’.

    In fact, if David Shearer had simply said that there needs to be more ‘common sense’, the parallels with Peter Dunne’s worm moment would be obvious.

    I think Shearer was better (in the speech) on asset sales. At least, there, he seemed to know – in specific terms – why he was opposed to them.

    Sadly, David Shearer is revealing that he has the apolitical mind of a bureaucrat and an administrator. Such people think they know that it is all about doing the ‘best’, ‘most efficient’, ‘most effective’ solution and only ‘politics’ gets in the way.  They are often quite derisive of politicians and ‘political’ approaches, without realising that their own approach is dripping with political assumptions.

    The problem is that the technocratic approach (which is what this resembles most) is always ideological, but in a way that its adherents seem unaware of. 

    • I agree the speech looks like something that Pagani would write.

      Can I say this clearly.  Labour’s problem is that it has not got it’s  base to vote.  Se LPrent’s post today for conclusive proof of this.

      To vote we need them to have a reason.

      We need leadership that will talk clearly and passionate about the problems and about what they will do if they have power.

      Refining focus group approved slogans will not do this. 

      • lprent 10.1.1

        Oh most of the base probably voted. The problem was the occasional no voters who couldn’t find a reason to exert themselves to go to the polls.

      • Puddleglum 10.1.2

        I agree. The ‘base’, as you define it, for the left is – as ever – very large.

        The vast majority of people are primarily concerned with perennial matters like living decently, raising families, getting what joy they can from life, helping those they come across in their lives when possible, passing the world on – in reasonable shape – to those who come next.

        Any left-leaning political party should be highlighting how the right’s focus on the economic dimension, especially on behalf of those who devote their lives to it, is so often to the detriment of those endeavours. Yes, we need to exist materially and we need to be sensible about what we can materially expect. But we don’t – and shouldn’t – organise our world to maximise material expansion.

        I’ve always thought that the difference between the left and right is that, in essence, the left privileges reproduction over production – while the right does the reverse.

        The reproduction of the individual each day, the family, the community, ultimately the society. That is the point of ‘production’. If production (the economy) fails – or becomes inefficient – at that task then we owe it no loyalty. If the way it is organised ends up destroying large numbers of individuals, makes running families harder, makes maintaining communities more and more difficult and, finally, jeopardises our society then it’s time to alter it, perhaps radically. 

        These are the kinds of messages that I would like a political leader on the left to begin to express. 

    • Blue 10.2

      Ah, Shearer’s always been a waffler. Full of nice, meaningless statements that pop like soap bubbles after a moment and leave you with nothing to hold onto. The proof will be in the policy, but I suspect we will have to wait until 2014 to see any of that.

      Still, just not being John Key might be enough for now.

      • Puddleglum 10.2.1

        John Key is neither here nor there. His star is waning – and he knows it is.

        Not being National will inevitably be more and more important as time ticks by.

        It would be nice for Labour to be more than that, though. 

        It would be even nicer for people in Labour (and outside it) to be more than the Labour Party. The party – like all others – is a vehicle, a means to an end. It would be good for it to be led by someone who was clear in their minds about what it means to have chosen to be ‘left’ and to articulate that to New Zealanders.

        If that happened, we would have a government that transcended the party machinery but remained, truly, a party of labour – of the ordinary struggles that the vast majority face each day when they depend only on the recurring effort to go out and work – or to try to find work – to ensure the future of themselves and their families.

        • Lanthanide

          Key’s star would wane all the faster if there was someone else there to outshine him.

  11. Ad 11

    At some point someone has to tell Mr Shearer that this isn’t Uganda, and comparing New Zealand to that scale of poverty or lawlessness is a cold insult. This idea that we should somehow be compared to the starving running for fruit-skins is simply objectionably crass. Move on, Mr Shearer.

    And just to link it with the other Shearer article today, because the speech didn’t register in the main media, the speech is a spectacular failure. A tree fell in the forest today – and no one noticed.

    A speech is not going to be compelling if it consists of a series of abstract nouns about the future, or, when he’s ready, for peace, hope, glory or the nation.

    Can anyone remember they were really lifted by a speech from Labour? Seriously we need to raise our sights in what we should expect strong political performance. We all know what a set of words that sets the national ablaze looks like. Unfortunately the powerful ones have generally come from the hard right.

    If this is one of his great set-pieces, it shows he just doesn’t have the cut-through to lead.

  12. Oh dear…..we’ve waited so long for this. The best bits on asset sales were clearly not written by David Shearer.

    Did he have help or has Grant Robertson been too busy interviewing with Guyon Espiner in the latest Listener? Didn’t Annette tell Grant that he mustn’t do pieces on being the next PM when you are the loyal deputy? Or maybe its only the duck that has Grant’s ear now?

    Was Mike Smith’s post really a sycophant hooray for David Shearer, or was he trying to deep six him with irony?

  13. mikesh 13

    I don’t think Mike Smith’s post does justice to the actual speech. It makes it look as if it was largely platitudes. However I think the speech had more substance than he credits it with.

  14. Colonial Viper 14

    Hewitson interview with David Shearer

    Labour’s leader hints at what’s beneath his calm exterior: ‘You don’t wear your guns on the outside’


  15. Salsy 15

    Id like to say im quite fascinated with Shearer – he’s starting as means to go on – the grass roots ground work and the narrative he has started driving, he has clearly chosing a new fork in the road and its fresh:

    I’m not the kind of leader who believes in rival tribes playing ‘gotcha’, where bickering and partisanship are prized. 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,” Mr Shearer told an Auckland Grey Power meeting yesterday…

    He has spent recent weeks travelling the country talking to Labour’s grassroots, and has refused to overhaul the party’s election policy platform till he is ready.

    Reconnecting with grass roots Labour, isn’t that what we asked him to do?

    Mr Shearer said he would start laying out his vision for New Zealand over the next five to 10 years in a series of speeches starting next month. He made it clear he would not be pushed into changing his timetable, or turn himself into the sort of politician he dislikes.

    “I want a new kind of politics, pragmatic and attentive to what works, not tied up in the squabbles of the past … our future policies have to pass this test: `Does this idea help us achieve the New Zealand we want to create 10 years from now

    This is bold – getting voters to commit to a 10 year plan… I for one like the direction he is taking and the pace – when you are the underdog, why pick fights you might not win?

    • Hanswurst 15.1

      Agreed, so long as your vision for the next ten years is something more clearly defined than “A New Zealand in which everybody can live together in an inclusive society where everybody gets a fair go.” Unfortunately, however, although I would dearly love to be proven wrong, I imagine that Shearer will be outlining just such an inanity over the next few months. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that this was part of the reason he was elected ahead of Cunliffe.

  16. AnnaLiviaPlurabella 16

    Shearer is right not to rush it. We had a bruising election and leadership contest in Nov & Dec. January was for Hols and February is for gentle limbering-up! “Festina Lente”: make haste carefully.
    Now is the time to review why we lost so badly in Wellington and Dunedin, why so many our our base won’t go into a polling booth, who so many of our members are elderly, why the Geens are the default party of students, what immigrants and ethnic groups are drifting away from us.

    The Campaign review and the organisational review is what is important. If it is not thorough and open to the activists we will allow the same people to make the same mistakes again. Then there will be real cause for concern and revolt.

    BTW: Let us not replay the leadersership debate. Like the election, it is in the past.

    • Colonial Viper 16.1

      Now is the time to review why we lost so badly in Wellington and Dunedin, why so many our our base won’t go into a polling booth, who so many of our members are elderly, why the Geens are the default party of students, what immigrants and ethnic groups are drifting away from us.

      Surely none of this is a mystery. I can’t speak on a nationwide basis but Anderton’s quip that he did not leave Labour; Labour left him, is applicable. Many traditional Labour supporters don’t see a lightly neoliberal, very socially liberal political movement as having much to offer them. Also there’s Trotter’s quip – that there are a few too many people around who would prefer to have their control of a losing Labour, rather than not have their control of a winning Labour.

      Then there is a generational issue. Outwardly young people can seemingly only get ahead in the party as long as they think like old guard inside. It is certainly not ‘cool’ to be supporting Labour in some circles.

      Further, there are Crosby Textor framings that Labour allowed itself to be trapped in. Eg. soft on slackers, the party of bludgers, the party which punishes hardwork not rewards it.

      Labour’s buy in to the neoliberal and conventional monetarist view of the world also stunts its ability to be forthright and offer real alternatives.

      I could go on further but this covers a few of the bases off.

  17. Excellent summary of the challenges Labour faces:
    “I can’t speak on a nationwide basis but Anderton’s quip that he did not leave Labour; Labour left him, is applicable. Many traditional Labour supporters don’t see a lightly neoliberal, very socially liberal political movement as having much to offer them. Also there’s Trotter’s quip – that there are a few too many people around who would prefer to have their control of a losing Labour, rather than not have their control of a winning Labour.”

    Also when do you think Labour grassroots members will have a direct (and complete) say in candidate selection and parliamentary leader selection? One person one vote seems like a pretty good principle. When will all votes at a conference be equal?

  18. Matt 18

    Ah what garbage. I like the majority of the articles on the standard, and I voted Labour last election in order to get National out.

    But David Shearer is hardly anything more than a show pony, and as much as I despise John Key, I wouldn’t want Shearer running the country either. He hasn’t got the solutions to deal to the most dire of our problems, and I can not see Labour winning the next election – Do you really want to support this man if it will only result in another term for National?

    We are stuck with limited choices…I preferred one of the other David’s, who would have been far more adequate for the position. However, the show pony of the three won.

    • Te Reo Putake 18.1

      Um, I get the feeling that you don’t know what a show pony is, Matt. The most regular criticism of Shearer is that he is too quiet, the very opposite of show pony behaviour. Key is probably the nearest polly to fit the bill. And that fellow that used to run ACT, (anyone remember his name?). That gold jacket was show pony couture at its finest.

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