Nash blames caucus and Mold for Shearer’s downfall

August 25th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

From The Nation today:

Rachel           Alright Mike we’ll come back to you a little later in the programme.  We’re going to go back now to Hastings where I think we have , and I think he can hear us now?  You can I think.  Excellent.  Thank you for joining us there.  Can I put that to you actually as ’s former Chief of Staff.  Was it who failed or did the team around him, the immediate team around him?  Did that team fail him?

 Stuart Nash – Former Labour MP

 Well I would say two things Rachel.  There were two things that went wrong.  First of all, you know your political history as well as I do, I cannot think of a party that won an election either in government or in opposition that had an openly dysunified caucus, and the second thing I think went wrong is the strategy was wrong in the Leader’s office.

Rachel           Okay so let’s start with the caucus.  What did the Labour caucus think of Shearer?

Stuart             Well they elected him.  When you elect a leader you stand behind that leader, you work very hard for that leader, and you make sure you give that leader the best possible opportunity to win an election.  Politics is about winning elections.  I personally think David would have been a very good Prime Minister, he’s a smart guy.  Look I don’t buy into the argument that he was too nice.  This was a bloke who lived in Mogadishu.  This was a bloke that led the UN in Iraq.  Mr Nice does not do those sorts of jobs.  This was a hard man.  He was a very good bloke, and like I said I think he would have been a very good Prime Minister given the opportunity.

Rachel           What was going on in the Leader’s office then?

Stuart             Well I firmly believe that if you want to be Prime Minister  you’ve gotta give every New Zealander the opportunity to have met you.  Now if you think about if you want to be President of the United States that person has to travel up and down the country and speak in nearly every little hamlet, town, city, right across America.  And it’s the same in New Zealand.  Helen Clark between 1996 and 1999 spent all her time just travelling up and down and right across New Zealand, speaking to every little Rotary Club, Lions Club, Workingmen’s Club, you know you name it Helen talked to it.  You’ve gotta have meetings with town halls that contain 10 people and contain a 100 people.  You’ve gotta give 10 speeches a week, and then you’ve gotta get up and you’ve gotta give another 10 the next week.  Every single year when you are in Opposition is election year.  There is now sort of hiatus, there’s no holiday, you’ve gotta start campaigning the day after the election.

Rachel           So they had the wrong strategy for him then do you think?

Stuart             They did.  I firmly believe that what David needed to do was – well do what Helen did.  Tuesday and Wednesday in parliament, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, up and down the country speaking to New Zealanders.  Like I said if New Zealanders feel they’ve had the opportunity to meet you it doesn’t mean they’ve necessarily taken up that opportunity, but if they feel as if they have had that opportunity then they’re much more likely to vote for you.  And keep in mind if you come to a place like Hastings, or like Napier, the Leader of the Opposition turning up is still big news, you’re still gonna get your photo in the community daily, or the community weekly.

Rachel           So who do you blame for this failure?  Who do you blame for this failure in strategy?

Stuart             Well David had some staff around him that he listened to, that he took advice from.  The bottom line is, David has resigned as Leader of the Opposition because he felt as if he didn’t have the confidence of his caucus colleagues, and that basically is because the polls weren’t rising in a way that the caucus felt he should have.  So you know I think his chief strategists have actually got to put up their hand and say hey we got it wrong.

Rachel           Who?  Exactly who?

Stuart             Well I actually think needs to put up here hand and say look, maybe I didn’t do things as well as I could have in terms of media relations.  Alistair Cameron perhaps has to as Chief of Staff.  But Alistair’s a very good man and I’ve had a couple of conversations with Alistair, but you know the bottom line is David is the Leader, but I just think if he had spent all his time up and down the country, cos he is a good man, he’s a man of absolute integrity, he’s a man of fantastic values, and he could have been a good Prime Minister.  But what I’m talking about, this isn’t rocket science Rachel, this isn’t the first time this has been said.  This is what every leader in New Zealand and across the western world does if they want to be Prime Minister, President, you name it.  They get out and they meet the people, and they find out what the real issues are.

It will be very interesting to see what happens to both the caucus and the leader’s office if Robertson or Cunliffe wins. Robertson is close to most of the leader’s office staff so I suspect little change there if he wins. Cunliffe however could well bring in new people.

Likewise in the caucus, I see little change in the shadow cabinet except a promotion for Ardern is Robertson wins. Cunliffe however could well dispense with some of the old guard who have spent years briefing against him.

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10 Responses to “Nash blames caucus and Mold for Shearer’s downfall”

  1. OneTrack (1,974 comments) says:

    “They get out and they meet the people, and they find out what the real issues are.”

    Hmm. Did he just say that Labour don’t know what the real issues are? Sounds like it to me. And he is right.

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  2. Keeping Stock (9,791 comments) says:

    I somehow think that Clayton Cosgrove, founder president of ABC might have a pretty limited political future should David Cunliffe win the battle for Labour’s leadership :D

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  3. NK (918 comments) says:

    Yip. You back the leader or you Foxtrot Oscar. Certain people in ACT a few years ago should have done just that and perhaps that party wouldn’t be where it is now.

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  4. bhudson (4,720 comments) says:

    What about the Chief of Staff before Alistair Cameron? What responsibility should he be taking? Shearer was making no impact then either.

    Typical bloody Leftie – it’s always someone else’s fault.

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  5. Ian McK (237 comments) says:

    Mold, Vance, Espiner, Campbell, Laidlaw, Soper, all tarred with same brush . . . dangerous left-wing treasonous losers.

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  6. Paulus (2,298 comments) says:

    But didn’t Fran get “elbowed out” of Shearer’s Office as Media Person (you mean a stupid ex reporter) by Grant Robertson ?
    And to get up Robertson’s nose Shearer took her back on – he must have known he was really toast.
    But Fran is hetero so will be worrying over the next couple of weeks to see if her Nemesis gets the job.

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  7. BlairM (2,266 comments) says:

    Politics is a different profession. The skills required are unlike any other calling in life. You can be ridiculously successful in any other profession, but none of those skills will help you when you have to get yourself elected, or deal with the House of Cards.

    So many people make the mistake of seeing succesful businesspeople, or even rugby players, and thinking they will make great politicians. When precisely the opposite is true.

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  8. radvad (620 comments) says:

    Nash is wrong. Shearer chose to try and sell policies he did not believe in, partly to head off the Greens. He should have stamped his foot and put his own brand on Labour policy. That is true leadership.

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  9. mavxp (490 comments) says:

    radvad nailed it.

    Shearer was not authentic to who he was and what he believed, he was uncomfortable trying to be the politician his minders wanted him to be, and we, the people of New Zealand saw through it.

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  10. kiwi in america (2,336 comments) says:

    Nash repeats the “Shearer would’ve made a great Prime Minister” mantra. Part of what makes a great Prime Minister is the journey they took to even assume the office. The understanding of their own party’s unique internal politics and succeeding in appealing to enough people to rise to a position where a caucus would vote you as their leader and then to persuade NZers to vote your party into office. Shearer couldn’t even do the very first of these tasks of political greatness. He seemed to want to be above the sordid messiness of politics. If you want to be above the sordidness of modern politics then don’t enter the fray. Having spent time inside that vortex it is horribly corrosive to things like normal family life so you enter at your own risk. There is no free pass enabling one to vault to the top without going through the mud.

    The second fatal lefty mistake Nash makes is assuming that the message was fine all along, it just needed to be packaged better. Voters are rejecting the message no matter how fancy it is packaged. If Cunliffe prevails as I predict he will (barring Robertson snaffling the union vote), he will be nothing more than a new and better presenter of a flawed message.

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