Herald on Shearer

The Herald editorial:

Labour leader must be wishing he had never mentioned a recording of a remark the Prime Minister is said to have made to staff of the Government Communications Security Bureau in February about the Dotcom investigation. If any recording was made of John Key’s visit to the agency that day, Mr Shearer does not have a copy of it, nor it seems does anybody else.

As I said, the smart thing is to ask if such a recording exists. The dumb thing is to state it does, and then accuse the of deleting it when they say it doesn’t.

Labour needs him to make a public impact. He has tried the high road, getting out around the country to talk about real issues, but that made little impression on the polls. Now he is resorting to parliamentary point-scoring, which seldom moves the public but can lift his MPs’ morale if done well.

They cannot be impressed by his miscue on the GCSB. But even if his tactics had been more adroit, it is doubtful that the issue would have given him a lift in the polls. Mr Shearer does not seem at ease in this sort of politics. It appears to be an effort for him to take an interest in the intricacies of the Dotcom saga and attack it with conviction.

He would be well advised to leave this sort of work to others in his team who are more naturally tenacious than he is. Leaders have to be true to themselves to command the respect of others.

Mr Shearer looked best last week at centre stage in an economic policy “summit” with fellow Opposition party leaders flanking him. Unfortunately for him, that effort was overwhelmed by the missing GCSB recording. If he has to fight on this level, he will not win.

I’m hoping this episode is a rare departure from Shearer’s normal behaviour.

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