Dom Post on Shearer

The Dom Post editorial:

  thinks he is safe till the next election because his caucus has confirmed him as leader. It doesn’t necessarily follow. Mr Shearer is, in fact, on probation till the polls show a big lift for his party. If the polls don’t lift, the caucus could still panic and throw him out.

Mr Shearer has not yet convinced the voters that he is a plausible prime minister, even if his caucus has backed him. He is desperately inarticulate, unable to deliver a sound bite without a lot of rehearsal or an auto-cue. He can manage a good speech when his political life depends on it, as he did at last year’s party conference.

He can look tough and decisive when his back is to the wall, but mostly he still just blunders.

Trevor Mallard likens Mr Shearer to Norman Kirk, which is laughable. By 1972, Mr Kirk had become a poised and appealing politician. Unlike Mr Shearer, he was quick-witted and articulate, and thrived on hecklers.

I thought the comparison to Norman Kirk must have been based on some sort of internal competition for the most sycophantic remark!

The problem, of course, is that there is no obvious replacement, so the question is whether Mr Shearer can turn Labour into a plausible government even when doubts remain about him as leader. His big promises on housing have certainly helped Labour’s standing but serious questions have arisen about whether Labour could really build so many houses at the promised price. Many voters clearly think that the housing affordability problem needs bold action from the Government, but they also know that the Government is short of money.

Labour doesn’t have the luxury, as NZ First and arguably the Greens still do, of being niche parties that can make reckless promises. Labour has the burden of being taken seriously. Its policies matter because one day they might be implemented.

Minor parties can get away from promising pretty much anything, because they know they will never have to implement them. Personally I think there should be greater scrutiny of their policies. I’d like NZ to have an independent agency cost all parties’ policies.

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