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Will the real David Shearer please stand up?

Written By: - Date published: 7:30 am, December 28th, 2012 - 104 comments
Categories: assets, david shearer, housing, human rights, leadership, Privatisation, Public Private Partnerships, war - Tags: , ,

Some of us have been asking what David Shearer actually stands for, as was seen in some of the comments below Mike Smith’s Amidst th’ encircling gloom post.  For many of us a substantial new political direction is needed to tackle many urgent problems.  Democratic collective action is a key element in left wing politics, and is in need of revival to counter our destructive, individualistic celebrity culture.

Selective Back-story

David Shearer was launched as Labour caucus leader with a compelling back-story. As in this Dec 2011 NZ Herald article he was characterised as a humanitarian who could act well under pressure:  a successful negotiator, team-builder, consensus-finder, and diplomat, when working on the ground for the UN and in in war zones.

Since then there have been questions about his leadership and his apparent refusal to ditch the neoliberal consensus that has existed since 1984.  This week, Chris Trotter’s post presents him in a different light from that of the December 2011 article.  Trotter outlines how Shearer was parachuted in to Labour candidacies more than once; his pragmatic rejection of the left-right divide; his lack of explicit objections to the neoliberal shift begun under the 1984 Labour government; his fascination with militarism in his roles for the UN and jobs researching for intelligence operations; his favouring of private military options as a pragmatic solution in some crucial conflict zones.

Shearer on Private Military Companies: 1990s-2001

As I commented a couple of days ago, Shearer argues in his 2001 article, ‘Privatising Protection‘*,  for the limited use of private armies in a small number of conflicts: ones where there was a moral need to protect civilians from genocide, rape, violence and looting; where the government is weak and its army inadequate; and where the UN has difficulty accessing suitable peace-keeping forces.

According to Shearer, private military companies are cheaper than national armies, as was seen in Sierra Leone.  Furthermore, he argues that such companies aim to protect their reputation and ensure getting paid, by working hard to fulfill the objectives set out in their contracts.  For Shearer “economic gain” is a motivating factor that has resulted in companies protecting the control of diamonds, gold or minerals.  They thereby prevent them from being stolen by rebels and then traded illegally to finance their wars.

As I commented on another Shearer article, his arguments favour a regulated market over a “free-market” of private armies, as argued in his earlier 1998 article, ‘Outsourcing war’*.  In this article Shearer argues that contemporary private armies are legitimate corporate entities, operating professionally and within the law.

Shearer gives examples of governments that have successfully worked with military companies:  a British company that works with British Army officers to train Omani government forces; a company of high-tech military-industrial suppliers that has contributed to the upgrade and training of Saudi armed forces, using mainly US weapons; and MPRI working first for the US Department of Defense then taking up major contracts with the 1994 Croatian government, and for the Croatian offensive, Operation Storm, in 1995.

However, Shearer doesn’t acknowledge the fact that such corporate entities are a central part of the military-industrial complex. Furthermore, he argues in favour of the way economic liberalism of the late 20th century has been advantageous for the growth in this private industry.

Private Military Coercion to Settle Deadlocks

In his articles, Shearer often presents an disturbingly positive attitude to the use of “coercion” by military companies.  In this 1998 article he argues that, such companies are particularly suited to using coercion to resolve deadlocked conflicts for weak governments, with inadequate military forces. Shearer argues against the preferred academic approach to conflict resolution, of impartially bringing the two sides together to negotiate.

Shearer argues that goal-oriented private military companies like EO, can successfully use coercion to end a stalemate in a conflict, especially where one side is clearly at fault.  He claims that most domestic conflicts in the 20th century have ended as the result of outright victories.  In places like Angola, Bosnia and Sierra Leone, breakthrough and settlement were only achieved after coercion was used.

Does this contradict the recommendation of Shearer as a consensus builder, praised for his negotiating skills?  Could he be trusted to negotiate the TPP to the benefit of NZ, or revive social security, or protect state assets, or reduce poverty and inequalities, or enable sustainable living? Or to negotiate democratically with the Labour Party membership?

Neoliberalism, Private Military, & Interventionist, Privatised State Provisions

Neoliberalism has been constantly evolving since the 1980s, and it has been strongly linked to the rise of private military companies, as argued by Aaron Ettinger [in ‘Neoliberalism and the Rise of the Private Military‘*.  “Neoliberalization” involves two, sometimes sequential, but often intertwined moves: rollback (the state) and roll out (interventionist state involvement in private endeavours – PPPs etc).  As such, the military was in a unique position pre-1980s, because it already involved interaction between the state and business, via the military-industrial complex.

So-called “neoliberalism” changes to adapt to failures and opposition. As a result there has been an increase in government intervention, which has resulted in private enterprises becoming more central to state provisions.

Shearer’s Politics Now?

Shearer doesn’t seem to have written or said anything about private armies since 2001.  Since then President Bush Jrn oversaw the increase in the use of private armies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nevertheless, Trotter ends his article saying this:

… Mr Shearer remains sympathetic towards private armies and paid mercenaries. [citation needed, Mr Trotter?]

The Labour Leader’s on-going support for these private-sector problem-solvers speaks volumes – and very little to his credit.

Certainly, in his Kiwibuild policy, Shearer does favour increasing affordable housing through  government enlisting and/or enabling private builders/contractors.

In Shearer’s favour, however, he is explicitly against asset sales, and he has said that NZ troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan.  His argument for the use of private military options was always based on using them sparingly, in devastating situations, and when other measures fail or can’t be accessed.

However, Shearer’s back-story does raise some unsettling questions, especially as there is little other evidence of Shearer’s long and strongly held political views.  It would be helpful if David Shearer stated his politics and vision for a Labour-led government more clearly.

[*Articles accessed through Auckland Libraries, Digital Library]

104 comments on “Will the real David Shearer please stand up? ”

  1. “Shearer’s Politics Now?”

    Like all politicians, what ever they think we want to hear, but I fear it’s already too late for this one.

    As far as public perception goes, the die has been cast.
    A bumbling, stumbling, mind numbing, who?

  2. Socialist Paddy 2

    I have seen no evidence of Shearer’s supposed coalition and consensus building skills. Instead I get the impression that he is out of his depth and is unable to unite the caucus the way it needs to be.

    A better leader would work with Cunliffe and his crew. But Shearer appears to me to be a puppet leader, doing unquestioningly that which he is told to do.

    The only solution IMHO is for Shearer to put his leadership to the test in February. Let the members and affiliates decide. It is the only way.

    • Quasimodo 2.1

      +1

    • karol 2.2

      For me it’s not so much the leadership issue as the policies. Whoever leads the parliamentary wing of Labour next year, I will be looking closely at their policies and general political direction. I will continue to be critical if there is no change from the current neoliberal, comfortable middle-class appeasement.

      And if there is no change from the Labour caucus leadership, I will be looking for that new direction from the Greens and/Mana – and I would like to see it stated strongly by them.

      • David H 2.2.1

        I agree, at the present time there is no way I can see me voting Labour in 2014, so I too am looking closely at the Greens and yes Mana too. I think that the Financial transaction Tax is a great idea as is a Capital Gains Tax, with these in place, and a Universal/livable wage, so that Poverty can be dealt with in a proper way. Give people the opportunity to earn enough money to live on.) Then the economy will pick up. If people have enough money they will spend it . And that will start the whole pick up. We also need to place our National Assets in some sort of Trust so that the thieving NActs can’t have another go at stealing them in the Future. We also need to spend on Research and Development, and we definitely need to clean up our waterways and get our 100% Clean Green image back. And if the Farmers Bitch? Screw em, they have had it far too good, for far too long, and they are one of the leading polluters of our waterways.

      • asd 2.2.2

        I’m with Karol (as always). If Labour doesn’t stop AND reverse its neo-liberal trajectory, I’m shifting my vote(s) to the Greens permanently.

        • McFliper 2.2.2.1

          Do it. Or Mana or the Alliance.
          Why stick with a party that doesn’t reflect your beliefs? It’s the only way they learn.

    • QoTViper 2.3

      Hey now, he’s just an innovatorin the consensus-building area. Because if you bully all detractors into silence, voila! Consensus!

  3. One Tāne Viper 3

    Anyone who still believed neo-liberal dogma in 2001 (coincidently the year Blackwater Security Consulting was formed) has to have something seriously wrong with them.

    …such companies aim to protect their reputation and ensure getting paid, by working hard to fulfill the objectives set out in their contracts.

    Yeah right.

  4. Raymond a Francis 4

    Can I commend you on your postings Karol, you are certainly doing the hard yards

    • One Tāne Viper 4.1

      +1

    • Jim Nald 4.2

      +1
      Yup. Thank you, Karol.

      • karol 4.2.1

        Thanks everyone. I think Chris Trotter is doing some hard and very interesting yards on this. The comments below his post on the issue make interesting reading.

        • veutoviper 4.2.1.1

          And my thanks too, Karol, for your excellent posts including this one. Don’t you even think of leaving TS!

          I read Trotter’s blog with interest and have been mulling over it for a few days, but have now gone to the comments via your link. I highly recommend others do likewise for the further background provided by an Anonymous commenter.

          If I have read Trotter’s response to commenters correctly, it also seems that Trotter will be following up with a further blog in the near future along the lines of

          “Thus the question is not who is Shearer backing but rather who is backing Shearer? “

      • Jenny 4.2.2

        Thank you, Karol. +1

  5. Tim 5

    The confusion of state and private/corporate responsibilities is sometimes also known as fascism. I’m not sure why there is a reluctance to call a spade a spade. There’s certainly evidence of it elsewhere in the world.

    • muzza 5.1

      Tim, as you asked the question, I suspect you are aware of some likely answers.

      Fasc*sm now goes by such terms as *democracy, free market, free trade, globalism, capitalism, liberalisation, new right, new labour, *, and so on. One can even include such entities as *UN, NGO, WHO, IMF, WB, NATO, WTO*, and the alphabet agencies which make up the enforcing arms of the terms I mention prior. The entities are *supported* more deeply by *think tanks*, which in turn, are the policy creators/shapers for nations, or engineers if you will, of the world that we *get to see*, and the media industry with its ties into the military/intelligence/entertainment business, sells the world the propaganda, and distracts, confuses and conflates the minds of people, so that even the more able thinking will struggle to decifer what is real, and what is not!

      All the above are supplied/controlled/owned by the monetary (banking/finance) systems, not to mention the drug trade/war on drugs which not only controls major supplies, but also launders the illicit gains, while filling private prisons, owned by the finance industry, with slave labour, building munitions and the like for the *corporate face* of the *military industrial complex*

      To further mask the involvement, such *honours* as Kinighthoods, MBE’s, ONZ, Nobel Peace Prize winners, etc are distributed to *pillars of the societies* from whence they originate, or for *excellence* in fields, where mortals are then expected to believe that these people are the opposite what they are paraded as (not exclusively)*.

      They come from/go to such *lofty establishments* as Boston International, IISS, ML, FED, WTO, WB, UN, Mont Pelerin Society

      The parliamentary, legal and judicial frameworks are the local interfaces, with the police the local enforcers.

      Articles/analysis such as that from Trotter, and Karols (hat tip Trotter/Karol), are key to highlight the spin which accompanies the operation which has been in full swing in NZ for decades, and the *importing* of the *politicians*, such as Key and Shearer, complete with the backstory to sell a product, to an ever less capable of questioning public.

      These people are not here as Kiwis, they are not here for NZ, they are not here for the people of NZ, and 4 decades of decline tell that story! So while people want to pick over the irrelevant details, and argue the *improvements* made by policy/govt along the way, the trend lines continue to speak truth about whose interests are being served!

      How many more examples it will take until people are able to divorce their minds from such simple associations, before the penny finally drops!

    • marsman 5.2

      “Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”
      Benito Mussolini

  6. Bite.the.Bullet 6

    A leadership spill, ASAP. Get it over and done with cleanly and give the new person two years in which to build. Otherwise it’s every person for themselves, which is increasingly the case.

    The Washington fiscal cliff is three days away as I write, its consequences for us unclear.

    • Alinsky 6.1

      A democratic selection, irrespective if that is fast or slow.

      I will accept the decision of the majority, even if I disagree with them.

      The people decide. DEMOCRATIC socialism.

  7. Nick K 7

    Why didn’t you ask the same question when Helen Clark was PM? She was Deputy Prime Minister for a year prior to the Telecom sale and voted for the sale in Cabinet and in caucus.

    • karol 7.1

      I wasn’t an author for TS during the Clark government years. I stopped party voting Labour during the period of the Clark government due to dissatisfaction on their policies and approach on various issues.

      I gave some lee-way to the Clark government as I understood how much pressure was coming from the right, the neoliberal-dominated MSM, the US government etc. I felt there was some compensation that Clark limited the worst impacts of neoliberalism and didn’t take it further.

      However, things have changed since then, especially since the GFC. Also, we have now seen that holding neoliberalism at bay, does not work in the long term. Once back in office National continue with their ruthless slash and burn.

      I also didn’t overly criticise Goff while he was leader, hoping for some miracle at the ballot box. But the Shearer led caucus has now shifted even further rightwards and Shearer is less competent as a leader than was Goff. Once in government Team Shearer wouldn’t do much more than hold that line. Consequently we are seeing over the long term a gradual dragging of the parliamentary Labour Party rightwards.

      In contrast, the membership are clearly asking for a new direction – one needed in the face of the problems we face in the future. Now is not the time for appeasing the neoliberal MSM or centre right, comfortable middle-class voters.

    • QoTViper 7.2

      *error … pathetic attempt at derail detected … error*

  8. Curran's Viper 8

    I am waiting with interest to hear Shearer state his case, in this forum or elsewhere, but am not holding my breath. Natural justice demands no less.

    It is nevertheless interesting to read of his fascination for private military and security companies – especially ‘Executive Outcomes’ – given its role in the ‘Sandline affair’ in Bougainville

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandline_affair

    and its reception in Australia and NZ at the time

    “Sandline had subcontracted most of its crew for the Bougainville mission through Executive Outcomes, a South African mercenary provider. The first mercenaries arrived on an Air Niugini flight from Singapore on 7 February 1997. After a week, a total of 44 had arrived, 8 from the UK, 5 from Australia and the rest from South Africa.
    In the meantime, a series of meetings were undertaken between Deputy Prime Minister Haiveta, Tim Spicer, and several other figures, with regard to buying out CRA’s stake in Bougainville Copper Limited, the owner of the Panguna mine, which was at the heart of the Bougainville conflict. On 19 February 1997, Prime Minister Chan mentioned to Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer that Papua New Guinea was bringing in mercenaries for “training purposes”. Downer condemned the move, and was particularly opposed to their use on Bougainville. On 10 February, the move was leaked to The Australian newspaper.”

    “The immediate public stir in Australia was larger than Chan had expected. While it briefly moved the Papua New Guinean people behind the idea, the international furore also hardened the dislike that Jerry Singirok had for the Sandline deal. By the time he returned from a visit to the Philippines on 27 February, his mind was made up. He condemned the government for leaving him, as head of the PNGDF, out of the loop, and condemned Spicer for having more access to the government than he did. Over the next week, he made plans for Operation Rausim Kwik (pidgin for ‘get rid of them quickly’). On 8 March, he asked Major Enuma to command the operation. Enuma agreed.
    Over the next few days, the Australian government tried in vain to persuade the Papua New Guinean government not to proceed with the mercenary deal. On the night of 16 March 1997, the revolt began. By the time the night was over, the entire band of Sandline mercenaries had been disarmed and arrested, except for the mission communications specialist, Australian National, Steven Rowland. Prime Minister Chan did not find out until the next morning. That morning, Singirok accused Prime Minister Chan, Defence Minister Ijape, and Deputy Prime Minister Haiveta of corruption, and gave them 48 hours to resign. He also fiercely denied allegations that he was aiming to take power himself. Chan refused to resign, and the same day, sacked Singirok as Commander of the PNGDF, replacing him with controversial Colonel Alfred Aikung.
    The weapons, including military small arms, piston engined light aircraft and helicopter gunships were taken to Australia[1] [2] until the government of PNG arranged for the material to be returned to Sandline.[3]”

  9. Curran's Viper 10

    Ah, a good old-fashioned bar-room brawl. Great to clear the air ..

  10. Colonial Viper 11

    Karol, good on you. Remember, the sound from Mike Smith and others ain’t nothin’ but the rain.

    Labour should ask itself a very simple question every morning, as it sets out to do the days work: does it deserve to survive.

    It’s pretty clear that they don’t like us ordinary plebs on the left asking that simple question either. And I’m guessing it’s because the answer is much less than clear.

    • karol 11.1

      Thanks, CV.

      For some reason your first sentence reminds me of Blade Runner:

      All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain

      Glad to see you’re still around.

      • Colonial Viper 11.1.1

        Here’s a little SF trivia: Edward James Olmos was also in Blade Runner.

        • J'Accuse 11.1.1.1

          Gaff, a mysterious character in the film, presents his compulsory invitation to Deckard in a street lingo called Cityspeak, a mixture of Spanish, French, Chinese, German, Hungarian, and Japanese.[1] He is played by Edward James Olmos. As a fellow cop, he is quickly identified as being very different from Deckard through the ways he dresses and behaves. He tends to make little Origami figures. The last words heard in the film are spoken by him: “It’s too bad she won’t live. But then again, who does?”

          Gaff walks with a cane and a noticeable limp.

          The sequel by K.W. Jeter mentions that Gaff is killed in the line of duty. At the beginning of the novel, Bryant has just returned from the funeral and expresses his distaste for the Cityspeak written on Gaff’s headstone.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Characters_in_Blade_Runner#Gaff

          I did not realise, until now, that Blade Runner had a sequel.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blade_Runner_2:_The_Edge_of_Human

          Shearer as Deckard, perhaps ?

          • Rhinoviper 11.1.1.1.1

            More trivia:

            Edie Olmos sometimes quips at conventions that Blade Runner is a direct sequel to Battlestar Galactica, with Gaff, a direct descendent of Bill Adama, once again hunting Cylons/Replicants.

            The term “skin job” was borrowed from that film, while “Six” is a reference to The Prisoner. The term “Blade Runner” itself is from a William S. Burroughs story/script about smugglers of medical supplies and has nothing to do with the film as it eventually appeared.

            And there’s an little hint somewhere on the Blu-Ray for Prometheus that Peter Weyland knew Eldon Tyrell. Heh.

        • karol 11.1.1.2

          As a BSG fan I am interested in this discussion, but it’s getting off topic for this thread. I have tried to move Rhinoviper’s comment @6.52pm & J’Accuse @2.03pm to Open Mike, but it didn’t work.

          But I’d appreciate if any further BSG discussion, that doesn’t address the topic of this thread, continued on Open Mike…. Otherwise it will get moved eventually, by someone better at it than me, hopefully.

      • Jim Viperald - Once was colonised 11.1.2

        An historian some day might find that a useful phrase to characterise the current Labour years in opposition: “Like tears in the rain – lost in time” ?

      • Jenny 11.1.3

        “Glad to see you’re still around.”

        +1

    • AmaKiwi 11.2

      Great to see you back, CV.

      A sharp strike at the heart of the issue. That’s Colonial Viper.

    • Rhinoviper 11.3

      “nothin’ but the rain”

      Grab your gun and bring in the cat.

    • Hami Shearlie 11.4

      Glad to see you back with us CV!

    • just saying 11.5

      Dunno how long you’ve been back CV, I’m just back from away myself. But good to see you !

      And Bravo Karol. Again

      Just wanted to say that before getting back to reading the backlog. So much interesting stuff 🙂

  11. J'Accuse 12

    Welcome back, CV. You must have shaken off the fatwā placed on you by Curran .. and whoever else

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      Just passing through mate, not back on regular duty yet. But thank you 🙂

      • Curran's Viper 12.1.1

        We’ll be looking forward to it. Have a refreshing break ..

      • Pete 12.1.2

        Just don’t pile on the pounds like Lee Adama while we’re sitting here on New Caprica.

      • AmaKiwi 12.1.3

        CV, I suspected you were here in camouflage. Or maybe others are becoming more succinct.

      • Colonial Viper 12.1.4

        Respect to you all. ColonialPete, gawd you made me crack up. Good hunting mate 😀

      • veutoviper 12.1.5

        I too am so pleased to see you back if just passing through. ‘They’ did not know what a Pandora’s box they were opening when they tried to silence you. Being a (part) optimist, perhaps the last few weeks will be a turning point – but I am not holding my breath.

  12. Treetop 13

    An attribute which is required of a political leader is to have conviction for the cause. What I want to see from the Labour caucus early in 2013 is their manifesto for the calendar year and for Shearer to sell this to potential voters. About 10 main issues promoting one each month. Any major issues/errors by the government could be delegated to caucus ministers who have the portfolio regarding the issue which would lift their personal profile.

    A clear position and voice with conviction is required to be taken seriously.

  13. Molly Polly 14

    I wrote this today for Mike Smith’s “Mud-Slinging” Post , but it could fit in here too if that’s OK Karol…

    You see Mike, many Labour Party members and potential supporters are currently despairing of Labour.

    Take my family gathering at Christmas for instance.

    My extended whanau are on the whole favourable to Labour. I myself am a long serving LP member. Even had a crack as a candidate in a National stronghold many years back. There was no hope of winning but at least Labour supporters had someone to vote for! My kids (now adults) were brought up delivering LP pamphlets, helping at fundraising events and taking turns working on LP stalls at the markets.

    At Christmas lunch the talk turned to politics. There has been a noticeable shift in my once staunch LP family members. Those under 40 are now Green Party members or supporters. Some voted that way at the last election or split their vote. My adult kids stood behind Labour, but they were faltering until Phil Goff lifted his game in the last few weeks and his heroic push at the end persuaded them to give both their votes to Labour.

    Without exception, their support for Labour has now waned. They feel more in tune with the Greens and particularly their Leaders, Turei and Norman. They like their policies, they like what the Greens stand for. I doubt they will ever come back to Labour. Just like many of the friends.

    Those over 40 at our family gathering said they were increasingly despondent with Labour. One of them over dinner said, “It feels like Labour is a train wreck about to happen, albeit in slow motion, and there is nothing we can do to stop it!”

    He went on to say, ” We had Goff slowly inching his way to disaster in the last election…and now it feels like history is repeating itself. For Goff it was going to be a hard task to win as Key was still basking in undeserved public glory. But today the general public are beginning to see through Mr Nice Guy, and the Government, is in fact, a fucking train wreck. A perfect opportunity for Labour. But what do we have? A boring, uninspiring, insipid, bumbling Leader, who so far, is unable to display much confidence in Labour winning in 2014.”

    For the first time in over 40 years as a Labour supporter I am questioning my political allegiance. The trouble is, I and my older family members, just as the younger ones already have, are warming towards the Greens. We like the way they vote for their leaders, we like the fact they have a man and woman co-sharing the leadership, we like the fact they speak up clearly about the economy, the environment, child poverty, health and education. We know what they stand for.

    It’s hard for a Labourite like me. Loyalty runs deep. The hours and hours and hours of stuffing envelopes, walking the streets delivering pamphlets, phone canvassing 1,000′s of people and baking for fundraisers…all for the Labour cause. Deep in my heart I believe in the ethos that has always been Labour – fairness for all, social justice, equal rights, a living wage, etc.

    But Labour has become unstuck. There was some light at the end of tunnel after the election with the leadership candidate meetings. What an inspiring process. We all knew which one was the winner. But the caucus knew better. We hoped to hell they were right. But it has become increasingly obvious they got it wrong Big Time despite the memberships’ gut feeling about who should have won the leadership.

    Despite a good speech at Conference, it really was too little too late. And who believes that Shearer will run rings around Key in the election debates come 2014, or that he will even come close? And it’s not that we don’t want him to, it’s just that we can’t imagine he will as there has been, so far, no stirring off-the-cuff statements or passionate interviews that can convince us otherwise. And he has been Leader for over a year now.

    So as you can see Mike, many of my whanau have lost faith in Labour. The younger ones of course have already departed, but for those of us who remain, we are struggling. We feel so dispirited that we can’t even face going to LEC meetings. When we do it feels like a charade…everyone pretending to be positive about Labour and the direction it is taking, but never a mention of the elephant in the room. We know we should attend more and speak our minds, but that is difficult to do when one’s MP is close to the Leader and is part of the ABC group.

    For many of us it has got to the stage that even that person is not likely to get our vote at the next election, let alone the Party.

    (I can’t believe I have actually written that last sentence…)

    But back to our whanau Christmas gathering.

    After the younger family members had gone skinny dipping in the sea (following one of the hottest Christmas Days on record)…us oldies came to the conclusion over the last dregs of wine, that unless a miracle happens (perhaps a full membership vote in February?) and/or Labour finds it’s mojo again, the chances of ditching Red for Green is now very much on the cards.

    • mike 14.1

      Allow me to ease your anxiety – Green is the new Red.

    • karol 14.2

      I read your comment on Mike’s thread, Molly. It sounds very dispiriting after you’ve given so much to the LP.

      Like Redlogix, on the other thread, I was starting to warm to Goff as leader by the time of the election. He also gave some heartfelt and rousing speeches in the House in his term as leader. But, for me, Shearer just has not fired as the leader, so far. I wouldn’t mind his mumbling, etc, if he clearly stood for strong left/labour values and policies.

      I too am more for the Greens right now.

    • Craig Glen viper 14.3

      Great comment molly polly my family is the same I to am a previous Labour candidate, I dont want to but at this point the party that best represents my values is the greens. Oh and for what its worth I dont even like Russel Norman but I can’t stand to see this current arrogant useless Labour caucus continue.

    • xtasy 14.4

      Molly Polly: You so clearly – and by using your family as a prime example – speak out the distress of so many disillusioned Labour supporters and prospective, or rather PAST voters.

      Yes, it is so grim, when looking at what is going on.

      And tonight I watched the television news on TVNZ, seeing Labour’s junior whip Hipkins now supporting the Treasury on their cautious approach to not rush with too many partial energy company share sales within a too short time.

      Oh my god, he was standing up for the NZ “mum and dad investors”, who might face a too low asset sales price, and losing out to more financial corporate investors at the same time.

      Hipkins wants the government to take a bit more time, to not “flood” the market with valuable share offers that could drive prices down. He wants the government to get the best deal, for the taxpayer’s interest!?

      Now, I thought that Labour resolutely opposed the partial sale of MRP, Genesis, Meridian and Solid Energy. What did I and others bother to sign the petitions for???

      This is exactly what pisses people off, they change their course and tunes conveniently, depending on where the wind may blow from.

      Hipkins now supporting Key and Nats to get the best price for partial asset sales. Is this for bloody real????

      • karol 14.4.1

        Hmmm. Thnks for the tip, xtasy. It looks like Hipkins is saying both:

        Labour opposes the sales completely, but says Treasury’s made a good call.

        “The Government would flood the market if they introduced three companies all in the same industry into the market in one year, it would mean the taxpayer wouldn’t get the best possible price for them,” says Labour MP Chris Hipkins.

        ….
        “I’m not surprised that the Government are running away from this issue, they know the New Zealand public don’t want these assets to be sold,” says Hipkins.

        But Hipkins is giving mixed messages. He should have just stuck to the line that asset sales is a bad idea, and it shows in National’s shoddy handling of it, because they are trying to rush things before people can do a referendum – or something like that.

    • Alinsky 14.5

      Dear Molly Polly,

      May I suggest some tactics and strategies:

      1. Attend another electorate’s meetings, one where you expect a warmer welcome. Have a friend from that electorate bring you along and introduce you. It is not uncommon. My partner did it for years. A well-known retired Labour MP worked the last election in my MP’s office, not in his/her own electorate. I would invite you to my LEC but can’t do it on-line. (Auckland area.) You will be welcomed and put to work!

      2. For me, the February caucus vote is about getting the best candidate to beat National in 2014. It is a primary election to discover who is the most effective campaigner. Shearer placed second to Cunliffe in the Dec. 2011 primary. Now he has a chance to prove he’s lifted his game. If he wins the primary, I will back him. If he dodges having a primary, I will quit Labour because winning the Treasury benches is the name of the game.

      3. We can say these things in letters, emails, and petitions. We need to make our voices heard to all the undecided and non-ABC MPs. (We can leave out Shearer, Roberston, Ardern, Parker, Goff, King, Mallard, and one or two others.)

      All the other MPs need to know we demand the best candidate for 2014. We believe the only way to get that person is to have an open, nationwide primary election.

      I am prepared to help write the petitions and letters, divide up the electorates to target, etc.

      P.S. I use the name Alinksy because Saul Alinsky was the creator of modern community organizing. I studied under and organized with his disciples (as did Obama). It works . . . and it’s fun!

      • Molly Polly 14.5.1

        Thanks Alinksy.

        I am about to do exactly what you suggested. It dawned on me recently that there is only one electorate that I would feel really welcome…and that is the one where the MP is not associated with the ABC (not Auckland). All the other electorate MPs are.

        But like you I will quit Labour if Shearer dodges the primary. I have written to Shearer, my electorate MP and the President with my views about the current situation. My MP’s secretary emailed me back to say she/he was sorry to hear that I wouldnt support the MP anymore.

        You are right…we need some organisation around lobbying members.

        I can do it discretely. Unfortunately my work these days hampers political activism.

        MP

        P.S. I’ll look up Saul Alinsky…sounds very interesting.

        • Alinsky 14.5.1.1

          Will David Shearer accept the challenge to prove he is the best vote getter in the Labour Party?

          “No politician can sit on a hot issue if you make it hot enough.” Saul Alinksy (1907-1972)

          If you and I turn up the heat, we will get a primary in February.

          • Crimson Nile 14.5.1.1.1

            Witholding funds, fees and donations on the condition of a “primary” in February will certainly get you noticed.

            • Ordinary Bloke 14.5.1.1.1.1

              Let me get this right.

              A person who supports privatised militaries is standing as the leader of the Labour Party. Can no-one see the contradiction ?

              Where is the tradition of the Chartists – some transported to the penal colony of Sydney, of Waihi, of Blackball, of the WW1 debate about conscription, the Great Depression, Michael Savage and state housing, of Ratana, of John A. Lee , of 1951, of Norman Kirk, and the discovery by Lange of an unexpected fiscal crisis (Miller, 2005) ?

              Many of these issues are still relevant. Has Shearer anything to add ?

              Miller, Raymond (2005). Party Politics in New Zealand. Australia: Oxford University Press. pp. 32–33

    • veutoviper 14.6

      Thank you MollyPolly. You have expressed what I believe from my own experience and that of others, what many longer-term Labour supporters are currently feeling.

  14. tc 15

    the real David shearer will stand up if the mallarfia says he can he’s as much a puppet as shonkey is.

    Mollys right the labour party is a train wreck in slo mo, it’s fixable but the games rigged towards those pulling the strings.

    • karol 15.1

      Shearer is a puzzle, and seems a bit contradictory. I might have agreed with you about Shearer being a puppet a few days ago, tc. But having read Trotter’s post and a couple of Shearer’s war articles, I’m thinking he might not be such a soft touch.

      If you look at his CV, Shearer actually had some pretty high powered jobs, fairly high up the food chain, and in some desperate war zones.

      I’m wondering if he’s tougher than I first thought. Certainly, during his time as caucus leader, there’s been some pretty focused, ruthless kind of behaviour from the caucus, that I don’t recall seeing before – those attempts to suppress, or see off any potential opposition. However, maybe all the contradictions are because he’s trying to follow someone else’s advice?

      In contrast to his bumbling interviews on TV and radio, his written work is extremely well expressed, and his views stated absolutely clearly – no waffling. So I guess he’s just better at writing when he’s got time to get his thoughts together… ?

      I still find it puzzling, that after a first term in the House being Mr invisible, suddenly Shearer put himself forward for leader. He’d have to be pretty confident and assertive to do that.

      • Napkins 15.1.1

        Maybe the electorally useful Mr Nice Guy persona, including the mumbling and the guitar playing, is deliberately unrevealing. But look at his face. It is the weary face of someone who has led a hard life, seen far too much, done far too much and needs respite. He can’t speak at all well, but as Trotter points out, his writing from years ago is excellent; well set out and persuasive. In summation, too much seems incongruous about Shearer. And thus, worthy of more questions being raised.

        • Ordinary Bloke 15.1.1.1

          Give Shearer a break. He probably needs time to decompress and re-connect emotionally with the party and the people to recharge his batteries, rather than be thrown into the crucible of parliament and broad hopes for electoral recovery from Goff’s disastrous campaign.

          Hoots and the village drums are – already – spreading the beat that it would be the most left-wing government since .. well, since time began. Clearly, they are trying to push him, and any other potential leader, to the right.

          The election is two years away, but can NZ Labour as an organisation really afford to reward failure ?

      • ColonialPete 15.1.2

        I have some sympathy for that. I tend to be a more concise and better communicator in writing. Saying things off the cuff gives me some trouble and I do trip over my tongue sometimes – although I am far less nervous when talking to groups than I used to be. I used to be fairly active in a union for a couple of years, which required presentations to members. I think I got over my shyness mainly because I knew what I was going to say. I have no idea what message David Shearer is trying to send, I fear he doesn’t either, except he likes being leader of the caucus thank-you-very-much.

    • Anne 15.2

      the real David Shearer will stand up if the mallarfia says he can he’s as much a puppet as Shonkey is.

      That is what I think. Key is the Global Finance mafia’s man in the South Pacific. So, whose man is Shearer? The mallarfia are just the local yokels.

      • karol 15.2.1

        A comment from Trotter underneath his post on Shearer’s militarism.

        Anonymous said…

        Thus the question is not who is Shearer backing but rather who is backing Shearer?

        Trotter replied:

        That is, indeed, the question – and one I’m preparing to post on very shortly.

        Intriguing.

  15. Alinsky 16

    “It does not matter what you know about anything if you cannot communicate to your people. In that event you are not even a failure. You’re just not there.” Saul Alinsky (1909-1972)

  16. Bill 17

    Been holding back on commenting on this UN versus private peacekeeping waiting for the wider context to be mentioned.

    Guess I have to mention it myself.

    The US is the biggest contributor to UN coffers. From the 1980’s onwards they have employed a number of mechanisms deliberately intended to build up arrears. It now owes way north of $1 billion. Essentially the UN is underfunded and affected accordingly. Small nations really do need payment for missions they participate in. If they have doubt on that front, then they won’t participate.

    If the deliberate underfunding of the UN is compared to similar underfunding a national public body (eg, a health service) while a push is made to increase the invovlement of private interests… well, you get the picture.

    Further undermining is evident if you look at the likes of Afghanistan. The UN never passed a resolution for the US and UK invasion. The resolution that was passed post invasion and that focussed on reconstruction was for a UN headed mission…but that promptly became a NATO headed mission because (if my memory serves me right) it was argued that NATO better equipped and able than the UN.

    And that NATO force has outsourced to private companies.

    So we get a ‘money-go-round’ that takes public monies and dispenses them to private hands. And that US debt gives the US a lot of leverage in determining UN operations as well opening the way for spurious arguments, the type made by Shearer, to come to the fore and sound pragmatic.

    The real problem with the UN is the funding – more specifically the massive debt owed by the US. Get that debt repaid and keep payments up to date and the private versus UN peacekeeping argument evaporates. Problem is, that would end the syphoning of public money to private interests, diminish US leverage of the UN and be ‘not in the best interests’ of certain ideologues.

    • Draco T Bastard 17.1

      +1

    • veutoviper 17.2

      Thanks Bill for raising this aspect. I am currently in and out of TS ‘on the run’ as I have a lot of other things going on.

      But the funding – or rather the holding back of funding by the US and others – for many years has meant IMO that the role of the UN, and its loss of direction from its original purpose etc, have been undermined and politicised in a way that was never intended. I am by no means an expert in this area but have been close enough for many years to question the whole raison d’etre and the role of the UN for many decades.

    • Puddleglum 17.3

      Very good point, Bill.

      It’s a bit disturbing that Shearer (in the FP piece) seems to have swallowed the neo-liberal framing of the issue. This leads to him advocating a ‘regulated’ private sector ‘solution’ (like charter schools in education) without looking at the underlying causes of the problem.

      Advocating private sector solutions to supposed public sector failures, and then trying to reassure others by claiming that the risks of private sector involvement can be managed through transparent KPIs is almost textbook, neo-liberal policy rhetoric.

      Shearer seems either unable or unwilling to think outside of that neo-liberal frame on this issue. Perhaps he wanted to impress the foreign policy establishment as represented by the IISS, who would have been donkey deep in neo-liberal ideology at that point, of either Thatcherite or Blairite flavours. He may have thought it would have helped his career.

      I’ve heard that kind of rhetoric so much over the past thirty years that I can smell it a mile off. I presume that any left-wing politician would be similarly attuned.

      (There are also other rather odd, contradictory and incoherent aspects to his analysis of the issue which is why I don’t think it’s quite the standout piece of analysis that everyone seems to claim it is. It is, however, quite clearly written.)

  17. xtasy 18

    My personal summary of what Karol wrote here, what she linked to (sorry, I do not know what to do with those restricted access links), and how she has tried to show a past side to David Shearer is: The man has expressed past ideas and views that do not make him a more “favourable” guy in my eyes.

    Yet I must also say, what Shearer did during his involvement with the UN and some other international organisations, that is only partly relevant to Shearer as the Labour leader now.

    Running UN aid projects, with the strong support of that organisation, with the support of the more powerful powers that really have the clout within the UN, and being forced to remain focused just on implementing programs and ensure a make rather than break that way, is profoundly different a task, than leading a party that claims to be a wide kind of church.

    Politics is a constantly evolving environment, and working with colleagues, members and trying to gain supporters requires quite different skills than to use certain forces to one’s avail to bring warring parties to the table, to enforce some kind of peaceful environment, to enable the feeding, housing and caring for poor in crisis regions. Democracy within Labour and society as a whole is a very different game, when compared with sitting down with corrupt war-lords or whatever.

    Of course some skills are always “transferable”, but I see a clear limit as to what “transferable” skills Shearer may have been able to bring into his present role.

    What is a concern though, and what Karol has touched on, is the fact, that Shearer sees coercion as a very acceptable and possibly even desirable, useful means to achieve goals. With even considering private fighting forces, run by enterprises, to achieve “peace” and stability, he is walking a dangerous tight rope walk.

    Since Blackwater, or what that company employed by the US defence department was called, stuffing up big in Iraq, one can see, that Shearer may have been, and possibly still is poorly advised on some matters. Looking at what goes in within Labour’s caucus, I feel proved with that assumption or rather conclusion.

    • karol 18.1

      Thanks, xtasy. That’s an interesting point about Shearer’s skills not being suited to parliament.

      The links, just give details about the publications that the articles are in. As I stated at the bottom of the post, I accessed the full texts on Auckland Libraries Digital Library – but it requires a membership log in. Other people may have access to the articles via their own public or uni library.

      One article, the neoliberal one, I think – is available without a login online somewhere on a PDF – But the first page says it’s not to be cited without the author’s permission – the library version doesn’t say that.

      • Jenny 18.1.1

        Not to be cited without the author’s permission.
        Someone a little sensitive about letting their genuinely held views becoming more widely known perhaps?

        Could this reluctance to let his real thoughts out, be behind David Shearer’s stumble bum public performances?

        I think maybe yes, and have said so;

        Open mike 26/12/2012

        • karol 18.1.1.1

          The neoliberal article with the author’s permission caveat, was not written by David Shearer – someone overseas with no connection to NZ. The article is about neoliberalism and private military companies.

          • Jenny 18.1.1.1.1

            Strangely illogical though. Who is the author? I take it the author is David Shearer, and not the overseas someone who owns the rights.

            Why didn’t they use the usual caveat, “All rights reserved”?

            If they were really concerned about their copyright being infringed, why would they leave it up to Shearer to give it away?

            • McFliper 18.1.1.1.1.1

              Probably because it was being circulated before it was actually published. I.e. final copy, but maybe useful to get some timely feedback while it’s on the editors’ shelf waiting to be considered. Journals etc tend to be a bit finicky about publishing something that someone else has already distributed for free. Or it could just be some dude who wants to know when his stuff gets cited, but hasn’t yet mastered google scholar. Or maybe google picked up someone’s little dropbox.

              And “author” is commonly considered to mean “person who wrote it”. So Shearer wasn’t responsible for it anyway (the exception being ghost writers).

  18. Rogue Trooper 19

    committee man-open the door and embrace the “prodigal one” and all will be well, including Mana
    (well, the Greens are a given necessity)

    night all, from the Ghost Writer

  19. great work karol, thanks

  20. ColonialPete 21

    Have a look at the Google Trends data for David Shearer over the past twelve months. It flatlines from mid June to the end of August and it only really peaks for him in the lead up to the conference, when doubts over his leadership were being voiced.

    Compare him with Winston Peters, who is far far more consistent and earns a higher search score than Mr Shearer.

    And here’s a comparison between searches for David Shearer and searches for The Standard.

  21. Karol,

    You wonderful woman you. Thanks you for your excellent post on David Schearer. You have given me inspiration and a few great links to what David was up to before he came back (just like John Key) to help New Zealand become greater!

  22. peterlepaysan 23

    Shearer’s silence probably has something to do with the fact that the Labour Party has no policies that distinguish them from the National Party.

    Yeah ok, capital gains tax on properties.

    Affordable housing, at $400,000?

    What about the voters who could not bother turning up at the last two Elections?

    That is the elephant in the room that both LP caucus members and bloggers keep ignoring.

    What ever happened to employment with a reasonable wage/salary to allow a reasonable life style?

    Does anyone remember when Shon Key promised parity with Australia?

    LP caucusians need to ignore their cosy chatty barbecues and get out into the electorate who did not vote for them. They might discover some reality, rather than neo liberal prejudice.

  23. Jenny 24

    Some of us have been asking what David Shearer actually stands for, as was seen in some of the comments below Mike Smith’s Amidst th’ encircling gloom post. For many of us a substantial new political direction is needed to tackle many urgent problems

    KAROL

    At a time when the “many urgent problems” facing the country and the world need what the Americans call a “Roosevelt-inspired muscular liberalism” and what we might call, a “Savage-inspired muscular socialism”.

    To know what David Shearer actually stands for…..

    The second term Obama presidency might give us a clue.

    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/12/25

    Race doesn’t matter. Looks don’t matter. Age doesn’t matter. Style doesn’t matter. Only one thing matters when you’re electing a politician: policy. And the willingness and ability to carry it out…..

    So what policy track is Obama pursuing?

    …. Not only did he offer House Speaker John Boehner to protect the spectacularly wealthy taxpayers who earn up to $400,000 from a tax hike, he quietly sold out senior citizens by gutting the current system that calculates cost-of-living increases for Social Security and other federal entitlement programs.

    What does this translate into in the New Zealand context?

    When it comes to policy Shearer is committed to raising the age of entitlement to the pension. He has also spoken of reversing Phil Goff’s decision to remove the tax on fresh fruit and vegetables, and is committed to keeping the Nat’s GST increase to 15%.

    These are all regressive policies that help the rich and punish the poor. They give a clue to other, unspoken policy, hidden behind the mumbling, the clumsy public delivery, the phoney but populist man of the people persona.

    Liberals who worried that Obama would sell them out need worry no more. Not so deep down, they knew this would happen. Now they can settle down for four more years of depressing Republican-lite kowtowing to corporations and the one percent.

    So this quote might read, when translated into the New Zealand context:

    Socialists who worried that Shearer would sell them out need worry no more. Not so deep down, they knew this would happen. Now they can settle down to accepting 3 years of depressing National-lite kowtowing to corporations and the one percent.

    There is your answer KAROL.

    Let all of us on the left, hope that come February the grass roots and hard working selfless activists in Labour can depose this “parachutist”.

    • Jenny 24.1

      Obama and Shearer have this in common….
      They were both outsiders parachuted into the highest position in their respective parties.

      This tells us something.

      That things couldn’t go on as they were.

      That even the conservative BAU politicians in the Democratic Party and the Labour Party realise that change is needed. However hey want to appear to have satisfied that need without actually having to enact any of the required concrete policy.

  24. Takere 25

    Great stuff that Cunliffe’s been put to the sword …. just another 3 or 4 to go!

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