Edwards dis-endorses Shearer

December 7th, 2011 at 1:28 pm by David Farrar

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Praising Shearer’s freshness and dismissing his lack of experience in the bear pit of the Debating Chamber as irrelevant has almost become the norm in comparing him with Cunliffe. I was on that side of the argument myself when Shearer first threw his hat in the ring. But I’ve changed my mind.  

Shearer has had nearly three years to demonstrate his skill as a debater and about a fortnight to provide some evidence of competence in handling the media. He has done neither. His television appearances have bordered on the embarrassing. He lacks fluency and fails to project confidence or authority. Watching him makes you feel nervous and uncomfortable – a fatal flaw.

My problem is that I just can’t imagine him on his feet in the House footing it with the Prime Minister or any of his hugely experienced lieutenants. And a Leader of the Opposition must have a mastery not just of his own portfolios but of every portfolio. Clark had just such a mastery, but it was the product of 18 years experience in the Debating Chamber before she became Prime Minister.

I think Brian makes some good points, but I would point out the next election is in three years times, not three months time. Shearer’s decision to stand for the leadership is a recent one, so he hasn’t done the stuff aspiring leaders normally do such as media training and debating. He will never be a Michael Cullen in the House, but Michael would have never been elected PM.

And then there’s Cunliffe. We’re told there’s a group in the Labour caucus whose ABC mantra is ‘anyone but Cunliffe’. It’s hard to imagine a more childish or stupid approach. Your job, ladies and gentlemen,  is to choose someone who can win the next election, not someone who makes you feel warm and fuzzy. And when you’re making that choice you might like to consider this fact: above almost everything else, Kiwis like leaders who project strength. Kirk, Muldoon, Clark are prime examples. None of them was particularly ‘nice’. Rowling, Lange and Goff were ‘nice’. QED.

Cunliffe may or may not be nice, but he is hugely experienced, has an in-depth understanding of policy, conveys confidence and authority, handles the media superbly and can make mincemeat of anyone on the other side of the House. His ambition should be seen as an advantage not a disadvantage.

My instinct is that the Labour Party is about to make a huge mistake. Their logic, I suspect, is that they must replace an unpopular leader with a popular leader. But it is shallow thinking. What the next Leader of the Opposition must be able to do is best and bring down John Key. That really isn’t a job for ‘a nice guy’.

I am definitely not an ABC person, but of course I am not a member of the Labour caucus. I have considerable respect for , having worked with him on some of the telco reforms. And on a personal level I’ve never seen the stuff that some people go on about. Yes David has ambition, but what MP doesn’t? Ambition is not a bad thing, if there is talent to back it up, and Cunliffe has that.

On balance I think Shearer has a greater chance of leading Labour to victory, for reasons I have written about previously. But I will say that Shearer is a somewhat risker option. There is greater potential to wins over the hearts and minds of New Zealanders and get Labour’s party vote back into the mid 30s or highers. But there is also a greater risk that Shearer just can’t hack it, and Labour stays weak or gets weaker.

However Labour has dire problems being in the mid 20s. If Labour had got say 30%+, then you might go for the safer option of Cunliffe to lift you that few per cent more. But to win enough party vote to form Government in 2014 from 27% in 2011, you need to take some risks. Otherwise the best you can hope for is a Labour/Green/Maori/Mana Government propped up by NZ First. Sure that will get you into Government, but it won’t be a very good one.

As I have said previously, both contenders should do better for Labour than Phil Goff. Labour are fortunate to have a healthy and competitive choice between two good options rather than choosing the least worst candidate.

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28 Responses to “Edwards dis-endorses Shearer”

  1. RightNow (7,014 comments) says:

    Awesome, the kids are getting new bikes this year if Cunners gets the leadership (when iPredict pays out).

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  2. kunst5 (51 comments) says:

    In the current worldwide situation what the country foremost needs is a leader, who has ethic and moral standards to be a role model and reform the nation’s spirit and culture. I think Shearer is the right person to do the job.

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  3. Nookin (3,556 comments) says:

    “What the next Leader of the Opposition must be able to do is best and bring down John Key. That really isn’t a job for ‘a nice guy’.”

    I think he has got this wrong. We got sick of Muldoon. He turned nasty and has not really left much of a legacy. Kirk wasn’t around as PM long enough. The cracks were starting to show with him anyway. Clark was thrown out because NZ was sick of “nasty”. Goff was not seen to be “nice”. He was seen to be nasty. He lost. Key is seen to be nice. He has won — twice. NZ is sick of smarmy, sarcastic pollies who revel in ad hom and Cunners is way down there with the worst of them. He needs to do a deal with his ego – like tell it to bugger off and let some humility and dignity in.

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  4. Nookin (3,556 comments) says:

    Kunst5
    Agree entirely. And Labour knows this completely. That is why is is constantly trying to besmirch Key (without any success).

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  5. kunst5 (51 comments) says:

    ..and in case you think otherwise you don’t have a clue about finance and economy – just watch what’s happening in front of your eyes.

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  6. trout (953 comments) says:

    Grant Robertson has got it sussed. He has placed himself to take over the top job when Shearer proves to be ineffective in the run up to the next election.

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  7. davidp (3,585 comments) says:

    >Shearer’s decision to stand for the leadership is a recent one, so he hasn’t done the stuff aspiring leaders normally do such as media training and debating.

    So Shearer is the Sarah Palin of the Labour Party… Unprepared because he has suddenly been thrust in to the big time?

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  8. AnnaL (4 comments) says:

    Thanks to Brian for finally introducing rational commentary to the Shearer novelty. I saw him speak at the first gig in Hamilton on Monday night. Shearer performed worse that he did on Q&A. He can not hack it he is very much put of his depth. Cunliffe and Mahuta were excellent: the very hall of people loved them. Shearer’s sponsors should be ashamed that they pushed him out there, so obviously without the skills or the most rudimentary of preparation. I have a second hand report that he did not impress in Palmetston Nth either.

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  9. Manolo (14,161 comments) says:

    I do predict a convincing victory for Silent T.
    The old guard will have to admit defeat, and the socialists will veer even more to the left.

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  10. Dick (80 comments) says:

    Brownlee may or may not be nice, but he is hugely experienced, has an in-depth understanding of policy, conveys confidence and authority, handles the media superbly and can make mincemeat of anyone on the other side of the House. His ambition should be seen as an advantage not a disadvantage.

    My instinct is that the National Party is about to make a huge mistake. Their logic, I suspect, is that they must replace an unpopular leader with a popular leader. But it is shallow thinking. What the next Leader of the Opposition must be able to do is best and bring down Helen Clark. That really isn’t a job for ‘a nice guy’.

    I think Brian makes some good points, but I would point out the next election is in three years times, not three months time. Shearer’s decision to stand for the leadership is a recent one, so he hasn’t done the stuff aspiring leaders normally do such as media training and debating. He will never be a Michael Cullen in the House, but Michael would have never been elected PM.

    I am definitely not an ABD person, but of course I am not a member of the National caucus. I have considerable respect for Gerry Brownlee, having worked with him on some of the telco reforms. And on a personal level I’ve never seen the stuff that some people go on about. Yes Brownlee has ambition, but what MP doesn’t? Ambition is not a bad thing, if there is talent to back it up, and Brownlee has that.

    On balance I think Brash has a greater chance of leading Labour to victory, for reasons I have written about previously. But I will say that Brash is a somewhat risker option. There is greater potential to wins over the hearts and minds of New Zealanders and get National’s party vote back into the mid 30s or highers. But there is also a greater risk that Brash just can’t hack it, and National stays weak or gets weaker.

    However National has dire problems being in the low 20s. If National had got say 30%+, then you might go for the safer option of Brownlee to lift you that few per cent more. But to win enough party vote to form Government in 2005 from 27% in 2011, you need to take some risks. Otherwise the best you can hope for is a National/ACT/United Government propped up by NZ First. Sure that will get you into Government, but it won’t be a very good one.

    As I have said previously, both contenders should do better for National than Bill English. National are fortunate to have a healthy and competitive choice between two good options rather than choosing the least worst candidate.

    (Sorry guys, but due to National’s weak-ass pile of shit talentless line-up I honestly couldn’t think of anyone else who could have challenged Brash to their leadership against English at the time other than Brownlee, who of course is an obese bumbling fatty who could never be elected PM.)

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  11. RightNow (7,014 comments) says:

    Dick

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  12. ross (1,414 comments) says:

    Edwards says that Opposition leader “requires relentless negativity and negativity does not seem to be part of Shearer’s genetic make-up.”

    Relentless negativity? Hmmm that might explain why Labour did so poorly at the last election. I don’t know why being Opposition leader should involve being negative.

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  13. backster (2,194 comments) says:

    DICK………an appropriate pseudonym.

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  14. UpandComer (537 comments) says:

    Dick is an excellent name for you.

    National’s line up is superior to Labours in practically every portfolio. I doubt Labour will be able to handle the process that National went through. I doubt very much Labour’s members will be able to come to gracious compromises for the good of their party. Brownlees good now, he has done a massive job on the earthquake. Your weak ass post doesn’t even make sense in a lot of places, pretty stupid given you are just copying DPF’s.

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  15. Cactus Kate (536 comments) says:

    AnnaL thanks for the comments from the meeting. I encourage other attendees at these candidate meetings to post comments. I did hear an account similar to yours from someone I know who slipped in under the radar.

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  16. Portia (175 comments) says:

    Sounds like David Shearer has found himself a new Media Training crew…

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  17. tvb (4,553 comments) says:

    Edwards was supposed to knock Shearer into shape not damn him in advance. This is damaging to Shearer. But the fact that the old guard are backing Shearer should give people pause to think. Whereas Cunliffe who has been around and knows a thing or two wants to get them to move on.

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  18. Cunningham (846 comments) says:

    I agree that Labour got their ass handed to them because of their constant negativity and that Shearer is a nice guy. However the secret to Key’s success is that he comes across (and by all accounts) is a really nice guy but is ALSO a strong speaker and debater. He is a very polished act. Being a nice guy won’t make a difference if Key tears Shearer to shreds in debates or if Shearer cannot remember basics facts and figures. I mean the guy couldn’t even remember the name of his own party’s environment spokesperson yet he wants to be PM?? The public won’t have confidence in a guy who performs so badly in these areas and I don’t know whether he could possibly improve in only 3 years. I liked the look of Shearer but after seeing him on TV I agree with Brian, it would be a mistake to pick him. However Cunliffe is an absolute wanker so Labour really has 2 flawed options to choose from. Poor them!

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  19. BeaB (2,164 comments) says:

    So who is going to come up through the middle?

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  20. unaha-closp (1,067 comments) says:

    You’re more of an ABL preson.

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  21. PaulL (5,446 comments) says:

    Hmm. Kevin Rudd anyone? That’s what happens when you pick someone the party can’t stand, but might get you elected.

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  22. Dick (80 comments) says:

    UpandComer (66) Says:
    December 7th, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Dick is an excellent name for you.

    National’s line up is superior to Labours in practically every portfolio. I doubt Labour will be able to handle the process that National went through. I doubt very much Labour’s members will be able to come to gracious compromises for the good of their party. Brownlees good now, he has done a massive job on the earthquake. Your weak ass post doesn’t even make sense in a lot of places, pretty stupid given you are just copying DPF’s.

    The point I was making in my copy and paste of DPF’s post was that many people said the same things they’re saying about Shearer about Brash, yet Brash took National to nearly 50% for being a ‘nice guy’ who wasn’t ‘politically savvy’.

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  23. Dick (80 comments) says:

    backster (1,347) Says:
    December 7th, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    DICK………an appropriate pseudonym.

    Named after my favourite ACT leader… Your pseudonym on the other hand implies you enjoy taking it up the ass. Good for you.

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  24. Jimbob (641 comments) says:

    You would have to say that it must be a doddle to get a job with the United Nations if David Shearer is anything to go by.

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  25. Pongo (374 comments) says:

    Edwards should just shut up and retire, he made Clark the most unpopular PM ever, he took Goff to Labours worst defeat. He is half the lefts problem with Gould being the other half, they are bitter twisted old men who infect the left and have nothing to offer except kneecap Key. well that worked out really well, perhaps someone who is under the age of 70 and isn’t a National Radio go to guy should be advising labour.

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  26. Peter Wilson (1 comment) says:

    It’s naive to think an opposition leader can win solely by being a nice guy. Key had the advantage of an electorate tiring of the incumbents.

    The public are very reluctant to change government unless there is a good reason. If Labour opt for a nice guy as leader then they may need to wait another term, at least, before the inevitable happens and Nationals loses it’s way.

    Cunliffe is a “tough” guy, and does have the potential to take Key on, now.

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  27. Pete George (23,793 comments) says:

    Just saw and heard the two Davids on Back Benches, I still think Shearer isn’t ready for it yet but Cunliffe, there’s something inherent with him that concerns me. But I don’t have to choose or care.

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  28. Francis J (1 comment) says:

    Could someone explain exactly what it is people find so distasteful about David Cunliffe? I haven’t perceived his supposed negative qualities I keep reading about at all. Do we sometimes misinterpret competence and confidence as arrogance?

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