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Shearer to put it to the vote

Written By: - Date published: 10:49 am, January 19th, 2013 - 70 comments
Categories: david shearer, labour - Tags:

Word around the traps is that David Shearer is going to use his state of the nation speech next weekend to announce that he will put his leadership to full membership vote in February. If it’s true, and it’s a big if, it’s a ballsy but smart move politically and a welcome sign that Labour’s leadership is embracing democracy.

It’s no secret that Labour’s membership is pretty pissed off with the way that the old guard launched a decapitation strike on Cunliffe the moment that the membership decided on a democratic leadership election process.

Honouring the membership’s desire to have a genuine say will go a long way to bringing Labour and its base back together. Refusing to have a vote could only be taken as a tacit acknowledgement that the old guard thinks Shearer would lose a race, and the legitimacy question of a leader who appears afraid of his own members would remain. Taking the initiative would put that to rest and earn praise from even his staunchest critics.

In fact, by taking the front foot, Shearer will probably ensure that he wins the race, possibly even without serious opposition. Winning that vote would put to rest the murmurings that would otherwise follow him indefinitely.

When Shearer has taken the bulls by the horn, he has looked good. Fronting up and showing the membership that he respects them and their right to choose their leader should be another such moment.

70 comments on “Shearer to put it to the vote”

  1. the sprout 1

    Awesome if it happens. Shearer’s first act of real leadership.

  2. One Tāne Huna 2

    If true this is great news.

    Edit: whatever the outcome: a returned Shearer would have held his ground; a new leader will have galvanised the party.

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    Any Labour Leader who has put themselves out there, winning the support of the wider party, is a Labour Leader I will back 110%.

  4. just saying 4

    It would be a brilliant strategic move, and I’d say that even if I thought Shearer was the right person for the job.

    Which makes me wonder if it is true. I’ve been so used to strategic incompetence and reactive blundering that such a forthright, intelligent, political move seems….unlikely…

    I agree that front-footing would give Shearer a large comptetive advantage. (The big challenge would be to keep him away from public view between the announcement and the vote. A show of his usual incoherence could undo such an advantage pretty quickly.) Again hard to believe that the ABC and its advisors could be capable of this kind of procativity and smarts.

    I want to say nah – it would go against everything the team has shown itself to be. But then, it could be a brilliant game-changer for them, not just in sorting the membership, but in selling the current leadership to the general public.. The question is would they be dumb enough not to?

    Gonna be interesting.

    • I would be careful with the suggestion. If from Shearer’s office do you think they would use the Standard to say this? The cynic in me wonders if a bit of disinformation may be going on.

      The only reason that Shearer would risk this is if he does not have the numbers for the February vote and it is too early in the year to say for sure. If he will lose the vote then he may as well front foot it. If not why would he risk it?

      • IrishBill 4.1.1

        I’ve heard similar rumours but I’ll believe it when I see it. That said there have been quite a few feelers put out among the membership by the old guard lately.

        • Pascal's bookie 4.1.1.1

          Shearer has been talking to Armstrong :

          http://t.co/7G1qw0KA

          Looks like more of the same to me:

          Shearer’s desire to stir things up will see him bucking convention elsewhere in coming weeks. Still handicapped by a charisma deficiency and a lingering difficulty in delivering a crisp-sounding soundbite, he has to find other ways of stapling his presence onto the nation’s consciousness.

          He won’t give details. But he is likely to take positions on issues which will capture public attention and with it widespread approval. He may take positions on some things Key may well wish he had adopted.

          It does not mean Shearer is about to become a raging populist, though no doubt some Labour activists will not feel comfortable about what he is doing. But they are not the priority.

          The voters are. Shearer’s job is to jolt them so they start taking heed of Labour’s wider message, particularly the fresh direction the party is taking on economic policy. There is also a feeling that there is now a more receptive audience for that message among the middle classes who are struggling to get ahead, along with the hundreds and thousands of owner-operators of small businesses.

          • Rhinoviper 4.1.1.1.1

            God I wish Armstrong would learn to fucking write. I know he’s a pathetic parasite comparable to a male angler fish, but the man can’t even construct a fucking sentence, let alone a paragraph. I actually use in him my classes as an example of what incompetent writing looks like for 100-level students.

          • QoT 4.1.1.1.2

            But he is likely to take positions on issues which will capture public attention and with it widespread approval. He may take positions on some things Key may well wish he had adopted.

            Holy shit, what a revolutionary concept. I wish a whole bunch of us had thought to blog about this kind of strategy for, oh, only the last five years.

            • Akldnut 4.1.1.1.2.1

              Fuck if he takes positions key might want it means he’s going to lean even further to the right.

              • Peter

                As Key has proven you need to be prepared to lean which ever which way is required to get elected. Promote the impossible dream and Kiwis will fall for it every time.

          • karol 4.1.1.1.3

            Well, I hope Armstrong is misrepresenting what Shearer aims to focus on (apart from the Napier-Gisborne rail line which is a great thing to support).

            Armstrong’s hints at Shearer’s “new direction” sounds just like Team Shearer’s last “new direction”, which was no real change from “neoliberal” appeasement, via targeting the middle classes.

            Once again we get :hands off” as in the conference speech. But merely being interventionist is no change from what Nact does (Auckland Council, ACC, WINZ, CERA, etc, etc). A new direction would be making a significant attack on income and wealth inequalities, and providing urgent changes to benefit the least well off.

            This from Armstrong:

            There is also a feeling that there is now a more receptive audience for that message among the middle classes who are struggling to get ahead, along with the hundreds and thousands of owner-operators of small businesses.

            Small business do definitely need some assistance to break the dominance of the big corporates. But we get a mention of the struggling middle classes and no mention of the classes that are really struggling?

            However, I’ll wait and see where Shearer’s speech goes as it’s the economic policy that’s going to be the main target. Nevertheless, the language and stgyle continue to suggest Team Shearer’s core values are middle class focused.

  5. Te Reo Putake 5

    Ha, brilliant if it happens! However, I don’t think Shearer has the ability to put it to a wider vote. Remember, it only goes to the party and affiliates* if he loses a confidence vote. There is no Leader trigger for a wider vote that I’m aware of, so he doesn’t actually have the option, short of voting no confidence in himself.

    Plus it needs somebody to stand against him. I doubt if Cunliffe feels like being duffed up again, so who would it be?

    * it’s not a membership vote, people. It’s caucus, membership and affiliates. It would be nice if Eddie could amend the post to reflect that fact.

    • Olwyn 5.1

      He could ask members of the caucus to abstain in the interests of party/caucus unity, in the same way as he insisted on their voting for him in advance back in November.

    • Another Viper 5.2

      TRP: the gift that keeps on giving!
      10 out if 10 for remaining on message.
      Zero for putting forward any structured augment other than: Shearer is leader and we may as well stick with him!! It would have some merit if his manipulators had not gone and divided the party.

      Good on you for showing up at least: that is a lot more than most of the Labour strategy crowd, who have a hell of a lot of questions to answer

      • The Al1en 5.2.1

        I can understand wanting to put on a united front, especially when there isn’t much unity, but it’s folly to deny an obvious failing in progress.

        When does it become acceptable to bemoan Shearer as leader?
        Six months or a year from now? A month or two out from a likely election loss or a month or two after it’s happened?

    • Colonial Weka 5.3

      “However, I don’t think Shearer has the ability to put it to a wider vote. ”

      Surely one of the Labour party members here could confirm how the process is meant to work? Didn’t it get written up in the new rule changes? It surprises me to see so much speculation about the Feb vote without having such basic facts to hand.

      • mickysavage 5.3.1

        There needs to be a 40%+ vote against Shearer being confirmed as leader. This will happen either by a huge majority at his request so that the membership vote can occur or because sufficient MPs are concerned at how things are going.

        I don’t think the first option is likely given what happened last November. The contrast is too jarring.

  6. BM 6

    Hmm, are you trying to start something.
    You know Cunliffe won’t get the numbers to force a membership vote so the only way you can see Shearer getting turfed out if if you kick off this sort of rumour and hope it gets picked up by the MSM, who some how pressure Shearer to go along with it

    A plan so cunning you could stick a tail on it and call it a weasel.

  7. QoT 7

    As an obviously-avowed Shearer critic, I disagree that this is fantastic, real-commitment-to-democratic-principles news.

    It would’ve been great if he’d said this right out of conference – “we have a new system, I’m enthusiastic about the membership having a greater role, let’s get back to business and we’ll talk about the leadership in February.”

    But instead, he’s played the school bully who gives all the kids who might challenge him a bloody nose behind the bike sheds and then says so magnanimously, “let’s have a real vote, yaaaaaaaay.”

  8. millsy 8

    I think Shearer should bring Cunliffe back into the fold (like Clark did with Cullen, et al), offer DC a deal. Renounce any and all claims on the leadership, and he gets a place on the front bench, a senior portfolio, and a free hand in policy.

    As for the speech. DS needs to do what Don Brash did at Orewa. Seize the initiative and set the political agenda. Brash did that in 04 and came within a few percentage points of government the following year, laying the ground work for Key to win in 08. Divisive and nasty, yes, but politically and stratgeically, a work of genius. It would have worked even more had Hooton successfully convinced him to make his welfare speech instead (as I understand it). DS needs to do a Brash. I dont mean Maori bash, but remind New Zealanders what Labour is there for.

    • Chris 8.1

      I also think that would be a good move. Wouldn’t be surprised if he did do it.

    • tc 8.2

      +1
      He has to bring DC back, not doing so plays into the hollowmens hands and DC can be deployed anywhere effectively so he gets traction against the govt and DS gets to craft a credible alternative to Shonkeys sell off.

      Plenty of material for a speech, many not the few, socialise losses privatise profits, asset sales, ECAN, neutering local gov’t etc etc.

      It’s now or never he must seize the day, put DC where he can hurt the NACT which displays unity then get on with it as they’re just desperate enough if he makes ground to call a snap election, especially as their dodgy deals and economic mismanagement comes home to roost.

      • The Al1en 8.2.1

        So DC will be asked to win the election for DS instead of for himself.
        He will have to truly love the Labour party above and beyond to do that, and instantly show again, why he is the future of the Labour party (if it’s to have one after 2014).

        What a carry on.

        • The Al1en 8.2.1.1

          And just in case you’re looking in DC, if you don’t play someone’s patsy, you know you’d win New Lynn as an independant, right?
          Reckon you’d get 5% nationally in a year and a half if you kick off the new left.
          Just a thought, bruv. 😉

    • McFlock 8.3

      “Renounce any and all claims on the leadership”

      Which is all he had to do through 2012.
      oh, but it’s a secret ballot, yadda yadda

    • karol 8.4

      As I recall, Brash’s speech had an impact because it set the talk-back lines buzzing. then the MSM journos jumped on board saying they hadn’t realised there was such strong feelings out among the masses.

      And the equivalent for a strong left wing policy speech?

      • Pascal's bookie 8.4.1

        That’s pretty much my memory too.

        But it has become a myth, so memories can be deceptive.

        Much of the myth is BS though for sure. e.g. the idea that the speech was abreakthrough message that grabbed the electorate by the (red)neck. English had been banging the same drum when he was leader. Here’s a report of one of his speeches, see if you can spot any diffs between what he was saying and the Orewa speech:

        http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=3512357

        • karol 8.4.1.1

          Interesting, Pb. This is a reason why the left needs to find a way to mobilise their traditional voters, while not relying on the (unreliable) MSM.

          I was looking for responsesto Brash’s first Orewa speech, but only came up with responses to his later speeches in the series. This is sobering (Orewa 2). Clearly Paula Bennett has been studying it, and is well on the way to implementing Brash’s policies. And as reported on by Armstrong at the time:

          On first reading, Don Brash’s prescription for remedying New Zealand’s “entrenched welfare culture” sounds tough. But how tough is it really?…

          His intention is to drive a wedge between two key Labour constituencies – the low-paid and beneficiaries – and force Labour to come to the defence of beneficiaries.

          His weapon is a full-scale onslaught on the domestic purposes benefit, a clever tactic given that Labour’s reluctance to be drawn into responding to Dr Brash’s agenda must bow to its natural instinct to protect women suffering financial and other pressures.

          Dr Brash’s speech was crafted in such a way to ensure this happens….

          What is radically new is the suggestion that women on the DPB who continue to have children should not be compensated with additional support payments. Perhaps most provocatively of all, he floats the possibility of DPB children being adopted out, particularly the babies of teenage girls.

          Yet, when it comes to the exact detail of what he is proposing, Dr Brash is far more circumspect.

          His requirement that those on DPB with primary school-aged children be available for part-time work resurrects previous policy.

          But that wedge between beneficiaries and other low paid workers, is one that Team Shearer tried to adopt. So they already have tried to do a “Brash Orewa” in a way!

          • Olwyn 8.4.1.1.1

            Except, there is absolutely no reason for National to jump to the beneficiaries’ defence; they have never been the beneficiaries’ defenders. That is part of the problem Labour have bought themselves by trying to do what National did to unseat Clark. Key didn’t attack Labour’s policies, and said he would keep a number of them, like interest-free student loans. But he came directly after Brash, and was able to build a campaign around the idea that “You don’t have to be scared to vote National, we are actually quite nice.” But the thing is, no one was scared of Labour to begin with, so “I’m a bit like Key only more….decent” falls on deaf ears. The same memes do not work when the contexts are completely different.

            • karol 8.4.1.1.1.1

              Exactly, Team Shearer has jumped to National/”neoliberal” appeasement mode, without having clearly embraced labour movement/left values: e.g. standing up strongly for those on low incomes especially beneficiaries, he need to reverse punitive social security measures, the need for a big increase in state housing, and an urgent need to reverse the growing increase in income/wealth inequalities.

      • McFlock 8.4.2

        the talk-back punters will call them commies and MSM will report that talk-back hates Labour, and ignore what the leader actually said.

        • karol 8.4.2.1

          Which is why the Labour Caucus and its leadership need to build their presence and support in communities directly, not via the MSM. And a major step in that direction would be to engage in a democratic way with the membership, listening to them. Each member is part of several networks where they can extend the Labour engagement with communities.

          Appeasing the “neoliberal” dominated MSM will never result in a true left wing government, in definitely not one that will last more than one term.

          • GeoffC 8.4.2.1.1

            Yes action is afoot in my local LEC group. Thrash out an long term action plan inc non tradAtional comms channels. Also starting the campaign for feb and 2014 now.

    • Fortran 8.5

      Sir Michael Cullen was never in Helen Clark’s class.
      He was only a good puppet.

  9. hush minx 9

    I saw the comment from chippy this week that his low point in the year was post conference (http://m.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10859583).

    As senior whip he’s in a fine position to tackle the root cause of that low – the gulf between members and caucus. If he told mps that the best way for Labour to start the year on the front foot, with fresh energy was to vote for the membership (et al) to have their say, then it would be a very unwise mp who went against his advice.

    I’d applaud shearer if he announced he wanted a vote and he would go up in my estimation. Might even make me consider a return to the Labour fold!

    • Fortran 9.1

      Chippy appears to not be very competant senior whip – he does not have the mature gravitas a senior whip should have.
      Simply he is too young to garner mature support which is needed.
      It has to be recognised that there appears to be two Labour parties the real Party and the Political wing, and they are getting further apart.
      I would expect a senior whip to tyr and create a pathway to bring these together

  10. GeoffC 10

    Interstimg points…
    Compare DC and Parker, both capable but polar opposites on economic dogma, DC all about hand on and supportive of the bold New Direction signalled early and Parker has stated that he favours little govt intervention or directives regarding reserve bank policy, QE, etc.

    From what I hear it the same old power play between the orthodox labour right wing and the New Directionalist hand on left wing but being labour power plays rifts and ego are in play.
    Centralist shearer vs old guard vs Robertson and co.

    Who is promoting open govt, greater transparent democracy and reconnection methodology within the party. Who is doing the hard yards of bring the message and policy to the electorate.
    If the rumours are true that shearer and Robertson are bring the leadership vote to the wider membership then I say expand it…
    A roadshow promoting the new direction policy platform.
    Concentric methodology re engagement reconnection of supporters and left identifiers.
    Shuffle the line up to include DC on finance and let the show begin.

    A win in 2014 starts in feb 2013

    • tc 10.1

      Parker seems to have lost his mojo, once we’re warriors now part of the cosy circle.

      Maybe he identifies with what he witnessed in his Epsom campaign, he certainly looked pretty comfortable witnessing the cup of tea in 2011. This theme seems to be tagged on too many of the current caucus.

  11. bad12 11

    While it would seem that the only way that Labour can ‘move forward’ is for the Leadership question to be settled by a Party wide vote i am less than convinced that Shearer would be the ‘trigger’ for such a vote,

    Having said that, it would be as others have noted a true act of Leadership for Him to do so, what i see Labour as ‘needing’ is a roadshow type contest hitting all the provincial town-halls and culminating in Auckland with selected media dragged along on the bus for a ride,

    The focus as i see it need focus not on the negative of what a f**king mess Slippery’s National Government are doing but a comprehensive focus by the candidates on what they see a Labour Government offering via the economy,education,housing and welfare,

    In effect a Leadership campaign that also doubles as a membership drive which also doubles as a trashing out of election policy and election strategy,

    PS, i linked to a speech from the other David, Cunliffe that is, over on Open Mike a week or so ago that i was less than impressed with considering the audience in South Auckland,

    The other David yelling at the crowd via mega-phone form off of the back of a flat-bed truck spent the entire time,(or i perceived it as such), yelling raa raa raa National did this and National did that and if National are the next Government National will do the other,

    The message to such an audience that will be found in the likes of South Auckland and Porirua need be not what National did or will do but what Labour will do,

    Simply put, Labour need to have the policy that leads the people of South Auckland to the belief that Labour will build ‘them’ houses they can afford to rent, that Labour will change the economy to provide ‘them’ with employment and if Labour cannot provide that employment they (Labour) will provide security of welfare benefits that ‘they’ can survive upon,

    It’s simple enough policy to craft and elucidate…

  12. If Shearer puts it to the vote Shearer could win easy and good on him but what about Trevor Annette and Phil they are going to have to go as Members want them out. Shearer needs to bring DC and give him Finance. My Frontbench would be Shearer Robertson Cunliffe Wall O Connor Twyford Ardern Parker. Demotion looms for Street King Goff Mahuta Mallard Fenton Dalziel Dyson Horomia all out of top 20. Yes some of the List M.Ps Such as Street Fenton Moroney Prasad Jones can all resign as Mps and next five on list Carmel from Waitakere Beaumont Davis Nash Deborah Mahuta Coyle all come into Parliament. Yes there can be a Couple By Elections in 2013 in Rongotai Mt Roskill and Hutt South. Shearer will have a lot of new talent to play with.

  13. Rhinoviper 13

    To paraphrase Churchill, the Labour caucus will do the right thing… when they have exhausted every other option.

    To twist the paraphrase, the caucus troughers will try to twist doing the right thing to make sure it protects their meal tickets at Bellamy’s. God, that must be the best restaurant on earth, considering what people will do to keep dining there. What do they serve? Fried heroin?

    • David H 13.1

      May it be something to do with the 2 to 2.5k a week in the pay packet, would have a lot to do with the twisting in the wind.

  14. Saarbo 14

    If this is true, GREAT!!!

    Time for the Labour members to have their say.

  15. Te Reo Putake 15

    Kiwiblog has linked to this post. DF reckons Cunliffe has nothing to lose.

    Shearer/Cunliffe? Democracy/Confidence? Plenty to talk about there.

    As ever, one poster gets to the heart of the matter, showing a terrific sense of perspective:

    “Use of ‘Eddie’ is as dishonest as, for example, the Exclusive Bretheren attempt to influence an election.”

    Anybody wanna take a guess who the writer is?

  16. Treetop 16

    What is the next move of the fogie brigade going to be?

  17. Anne 17

    My thoughts too Treetop. One thing you can be sure, Mallard will be donkey deep in “strategic thinking” if indeed the rumour is true.

  18. Absolutely excellent news Eddie, thank you. This move would be the best thing to do in my opinion and heartening to hear that it may occur. Bravo to Mr Shearer if he does.

  19. karol 19

    A vote for leader by the membership would be a step in the right direction, IMO. But it shouldn’t be the last step in engaging the flax roots. There should be on-going engagement with members over policy direction, strategic approaches and campaigning – taking up conference remits, etc.

  20. Tanz 20

    Yet another chardonnay socialist leader, such hypocrisy. Shearer admires Key, no doubt.

  21. peterlepaysan 21

    Hm, maybe DC has enough numbers to make the Shearer cabal twitchy.

    If Shearer wins well and good. If Shearer loses he did it honourably.

    The leadership issue is a boil long overdue for lancing, this vote, if it happens,would go a long way to setting the future course for what is left of the LP.

  22. Rob 22

    But the public is sick of hearing Labour talk about Labour, we want to hear Labour talk about what their gonna do.

  23. xtasy 23

    This enthusiasm of some above does NOT catch me. I have been around too long to get excited about such inofficial comments and signals.

    Shearer is desperate, so the best defence is the attack.

    It will earn him respect, as I see, but it will not improve his skills and political competency. I doubt very much that his talk about clarity and so will result in much. He has been keeping us all in suspense for over a year now, is there suddenly going to be a political innovation and charm offensive backed by solid policy?

    I believe it when I see it. Wake up, fools you are taken for a ride yet again.

    Shearer has had a holiday, feels he needs to present something, so it is talk, talk and talk, and not much behind it.

  24. KhandallaViper 24

    Reality Check:

    Trevor, Annette, Phil and bag carrier Chippie are beavering away like billio trying to avoid a challenge to their meal-ticket.
    So what will they be doing?
    They will try to break/confuse the process with some populist noise that makes their meal-ticket look strong. Suggestion of a one-candidate membership selection is the idea being floated here.

    They are offering safe seats to those MPs who are seen as the swinging voters. Ross Robertson’s seat is being auctioned from under his feet. Future vacancies in Phil’s, Annette’s And Trevor’s fiefdoms are being used as bait. That is is about the once off 40/60 Caucus vote.

    They are pushing Meal-ticket to make his speech at the Summer School one that locks-in all of this Caucus promise/bribe stuff. Shearer will say that if he gets a unanimous endorsement (i.e. bought off sufficient swingers) that he will still go on the county-wide tour and make well rehearsed speeches to the revolving peasants. They will then claim this as a full endorsement by the members, and claim that the party is united.
    QED

    • Olwyn 24.1

      It would be absolutely jaw-dropping if they did that, and far more damaging than if they had no vote at all.

    • Another Viper 24.2

      Surely you meant Revolting Peasants? That is the attitude the strategists have towards the members, particularly those delegates and unionists who voted at the November hui.
      The Pagani advice was always to “market” directly to the middle and to ignore the lefty members.

      • GeoffC 24.2.1

        Yes yes but the activist membership is by definition extremely marginalised within the community. In my LEC group plan is too extend the membership beyond traditional core supporters identifyiers. The broad tent is just that broad and need fresh blood So as labour can present a broad face and reconnect.

  25. Santi 25

    Mr Shearer, please do it!

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