O’Sullivan on Shearer

July 14th, 2012 at 1:01 pm by David Farrar

Fran O’Sullivan writes:

I found myself wondering this week whether Shearer – who notoriously hates wearing a suit and tie – really only gets supercharged when he is wearing a flak jacket. He fluffed his way through a punchy interview on NewstalkZB when host Sean Plunket tried to pin him down on Labour’s position on the Maori Council’s controversial water rights claim.

The Shearer argument went something like this: Yes, John Key is inflaming things by rarking up the Maori Council and saying his Government won’t be bound by any Waitangi Tribunal ruling on the push to stop the Mighty River Power share float until a deal is done in this area. But, no, Maori don’t have a valid water claim. Nobody owns water. We pay for water rights to use water, whether it be for irrigation or hydro-electricity or whatever.

In other words, Key is right but I don’t want to say so because my party expects me to go into opposition mode at every opportunity.

There are plenty of other examples.

Shearer’s opposition to foreign investment in New Zealand farmland was also rather contrived. When Labour’s private polling indicated widespread public unease over the Shanghai Pengxin acquisition of 16 dairy farms, he chose to lift the scab off this running sore rather than pour on salving balm. Though privately he is not that fazed. Same too with partial privatisation of state-owned power companies.

Shearer held up Norway as a shining exemplar of what’s possible when it comes to developing a small nation economy. Yet many Norwegian SOEs are partially listed; the country has also built its fortune on oil.

Shearer should not have backed himself into these ideological corners.

Norway seems to be the new Finland.

Shearer needs to get out of this poll-driven mode. He is fundamentally an intelligent man who is at heart an internationalist. There is no shame in agreeing with the Prime Minister on some basic fundamentals. Both men are trying to capture the centre, after all.

His caucus seem to be pushing him towards the left.

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12 Responses to “O’Sullivan on Shearer”

  1. Mark (497 comments) says:

    If David Shearer was smart who would resign from the Labour party and cross the floor of the House.

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  2. David Garrett (6,953 comments) says:

    The man hasn’t got a clue…I sure hope they don’t change leader before the next election! Noone else could be this bad..

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  3. Richard29 (377 comments) says:

    Part of the problem is how the leader was selected. Shearer was the compromise candidate. Half the caucus who voted for him were initially supporting Parker or Robertson and accepted Shearer as their party leader.

    The old leadership of the party (Goff, King, Mallard etc) backed Shearer at least in part because Cunliffe made it very clear that he wanted reform and planned to turf out some of the ‘dead wood’.

    Shearer is remarkably similar to other famous compromise candidates like John Kerry and Mitt Romney. Appealing to the strategists in the upper echelons of the party because they won’t scare off the critical middle ground – but unable to electrify the base or put forward a compelling platform based on clearly articulated values.

    Shearer seems like a lovely guy and pragmatism and compromise is a great characteristic in managers and administrators but doesn’t make for a particularly interesting opposition leader.

    Shearer will either win in 2014 because people are sick of Key and are encouraged by Shearer’s defining characteristic – that he’s ‘the other guy’. Or his inability to take a firm stand on anything or articulate any values or vision will see an increase in disengagement from politics and a rerun of 2011 – record low voter turnout and National winning with the same core voter base they had in 2008.

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  4. tvb (4,316 comments) says:

    Norway has massive oil wealth from off short rigs. This is something the Labour Party opposes

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  5. jims_whare (403 comments) says:

    I’m guessing Shearer is dancing on the head of a pin because he knows his support as leader is soft.

    One wrong word or policy backfire and Mr Cunliffe is waiting in the shadows with a rather large knife.

    His party is slowly drifting up in public support but his own support to be Prime minister isn’t exactly spectacular.

    If he does stay as leader until 2014, does he have the ability to get down and dirty through an election campaign or is he going to be the Labour equivalent of Don Brash (2005)

    Possibly this is why he is pushing to change Labour’s leader election method to reduce the ability of the Labour caucus to steam roll over him.

    However that may not work as he did not really have a lot of grass roots support when he got elected last year.

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  6. Chuck Bird (4,826 comments) says:

    Fran O’Sullivan is the best political journalist the Herald has after they let Collin James go. I beleive their attack on ACT when Key was riding high in the polls was an attack on National.

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  7. Tookinator (221 comments) says:

    Wouldn’t be surprised if Don Brash made a play for the leadership. He’s tried everywhere else…

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  8. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    And then John Banks?

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  9. pq (728 comments) says:

    John Key keeps telling us that no one owns the air or the water, but that is clouds in the sky, drivel .
    We do own the water and we do own the rivers , but not Maori, New Zealanders, all of us, the crown if you will.
    And because John Key will not understand our ownership and sells out what we do own, he is shagging himself and the NZ Nat Govt.
    Next election there will be a massive vote for NZ First from older people, and those of us who refuse sale of assets,
    John Key can get a new job with Meryll Lynch maybe,

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  10. BeaB (2,104 comments) says:

    And the rain will fall, pq, and there will be more rain.

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  11. KH (694 comments) says:

    Norway built it’s fortune on oil. Well yes.
    The UK had about as much of the same north sea oil.
    And blew the lot.
    Which is what our labour party would do.
    And sadly, possibly what our national party would do too.

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  12. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Norway seems to be the new Finland Ireland.

    Remember JK’s love affair with Ireland?

    There is no shame in agreeing with the Prime Minister on some basic fundamentals

    Unless the PM has got it wrong?

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