Bryce Edwards has an interesting piece on the Herald online. Bryce suggests it is a bold move to elect Shearer in the hopes he can go head-to-head with Key. Bold to the degree that Bryce suggests Shearer needs to perform within the next two years or he is gone; rolled by Robertson. I give Shearer eighteen months.
My learned Labour contacts suggested to me before the vote even took place that it didn’t really matter all that much who was elected Leader of Labour. Their view was that the victor would never be the next Labour Prime Minister. We are seeing Labour lurch from Phil ‘fill-in’ Goff to another fill-in guy. Shearer’s going to find it tough. He’s backed more by Labour’s old guard but without the real depth of relationships (or indeed institutional knowledge of the Party) while needing to reach out to the more progressive members of the Party. Shearer has a timeline worse than English ever had. Shearer may not even see an election.
And, despite the lauding of his CV and comparisons to Key, Shearer is no Key. Key had the opportunity to develop from the more helpful part of the electoral cycle, and proved himself head-to-head with Cullen first. Shearer has been rather clumsy in his debates to date, and that was against Cunliffe.
Let’s also take a look at Grant’s stellar record. Well, does he really have one? This is a guy that everyone likes. I do too. BUT has he really performed. He’s held two very substantial portfolios in the last term, Tertiary Education and also Health. He didn’t make any real public inroads into either portfolio area and certainly didn’t execute any great hits on Ministers, particularly Ryall in Health. Indeed, Health is usually relished by opposition parties because constituents come to opposition MPs with stories of hardship and difficulty within the health system. Usually, opposition MPs can pummel the Government with these stories of poor performance, waiting lists and more. Where was Grant on those stories? Biding his time, flying below the radar awaiting that moment where the “nice guy” can take over.
I suspect Grant will be a competent Deputy. He is good at organising people, taking on a role very much like a deputy Principal while Shearer shines in the public sphere. But why choose a guy like Grant to be your Deputy? He’s a likely contender to your own leadership who as the Deputy can stoke the fires at home (in the Leader’s corridor and in the House) while you take a nice road trip around the countryside letting the voting public get to know you.
And then there is Cunliffe. He can wait, watch and receive. Wait for it to turn to custard. Watch the Shearer lack of political experience while Robertson undermines. And, receive the “we should have chosen you” and “come to my office for a chat” conversations that will inevitably occur.
Tags: Cunliffe, jadis, Labour, Leader, Robertson, Shearer