The return of Shearer

July 18th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour would get an immediate lift in the polls if it dumped leader , a new poll suggests.

The stuff.co.nz/Ipsos poll reveals that Cunliffe may have become Labour’s biggest liability, with a significant number of voters saying they would be more likely to vote for Labour if someone else were leader.

Click here for full poll results in graphics.

The effect is sizeable, making a 13.5 percentage point difference to Labour’s vote.

Although a similar effect is seen on National when asked the same question about John Key, it is much smaller.

The finding will plunge Labour further into crisis after yesterday’s poll result cementing Labour’s support in the mid-20s.

Privately, Labour and the Greens now acknowledge that it would take an unprecedented swing against National to force a change of government on September 20.

Some Labour MPs were yesterday privately canvassing leadership options, even at this late stage.

But they believe Labour would be even more severely punished by such an outward sign of panic.

Labour’s focus now has shifted to protecting its vote from further erosion, and preserving the seats of some of its up-and-coming stars, including Andrew Little, seen as a future leadership contender, and former teacher Kelvin Davis.

I think a change of leader 64 days before the election is unlikely, but it is correct Labour MPs are talking. They had their annual conference and their big education announcement, which should have given them a boost, and they’re still polling below what they got in 2011. The problem for them is that the phone is off the hook for many voters.

The major focus of Labour MPs is in fact on the leadership after the election. As I’ve reported previously they are terrified that Cunliffe won’t resign if Labour loses. has the numbers to roll Cunliffe in caucus. He has had it for some time. But if Cunliffe doesn’t resign, and contests the leadership again despite being rolled by caucus, can Robertson win the vote of activists and unions? Cunliffe could well argue that he was never loyally supported by his caucus, and ask to be re-elected to have a mandate to do a purge.

Robertson’s fear is that he would lose again to Cunliffe, and this his chances of ever becoming Leader will be extinguished. And Grant is a cautious man. So the signal he has sent out is he will not stand.

So my understanding, from highly reliable sources, is that the decision has been made that instead will stand again. His argument will be that he was never given a fair go, and that Labour would have done better if he had stayed on as Leader, than under Cunliffe. This will be difficult to argue against. Also Shearer is the one candidate whom Cunliffe can’t campaign against and accuse of disloyalty – because of course it was in fact Cunliffe who undermined Shearer. By contrast, Shearer has been publicly loyal.

Also Shearer has gained in confidence and performance since being dumped, as many have remarked. And crucially, he does not have such a high level of dislike.

So one can’t rule out a change in the next 64 days, but the more likely option is to try and minimise the loss, and then have Shearer challenge Cunliffe for the leadership in December.

However if the polls get much worse for them, then they may move. It will depend on if List MPs such as Andrew Little and Jacindaa Ardern look likely to lose their seats in Parliament. At the moment they are just back in on the average of public polls, and Labour picks up the electorate seats iPredict says they will.

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55 Responses to “The return of Shearer”

  1. Pongo (374 comments) says:

    And Cunliffe seems to think a weeks skiing is a great idea while the volunteers door knock, put up hordings etc. which just shows the supreme arrogance of the man. At 25% shouldn’t he be campaigning 18 hours a day.
    it goes to show the stupidity of allowing your average nutbar Labour party member having a leadership vote.

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  2. tedbear (153 comments) says:

    “Labour’s Andrew Little is an up-and-coming star”
    What turkey at Stuff made this up?

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  3. mjw (401 comments) says:

    “Highly reliable sources” You mean Murray McCully?

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  4. burt (7,428 comments) says:

    Pongo

    At 25% shouldn’t he be campaigning 18 hours a day.

    He’s the leader – it’s the minions who campaign. He’s in a $2m house and his target audience are on benefits – Isn’t socialism beautiful !

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  5. slightlyrighty (2,098 comments) says:

    I do think that Shearer is a fundamentally good man, and may not be as politically driven as some within Labour. Either that, or he is damn good at hiding it.

    I don’t think anybody politically ambitious would take on the poisoned chalice that is the NZ Labour Party leadership, and while there may be the possibility of a ‘dead cat bounce’ by a timely change of the guard, the Cunliffe leadership has exposed a deep division within wider Labour, which will remain regardless of who the figurehead actually is.

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  6. s.russell (1,650 comments) says:

    Once the election has been lost Cunliffe is toast. Even the most feral can see he has been a disaster. Cunliffe would have no chance in a fresh party election.

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  7. Keeping Stock (9,381 comments) says:

    @ Pongo – when Parliament resumes on Tuesday they have two weeks in the House, then it’s onto the campaign trail for six and a half weeks. I have no problem with either Cunliffe or Key getting away for a few days during the Parliamentary recess to freshen up for what is going to be a torrid two months. In Cunliffe’s case, it’s the school holidays, and I don’t begrudge him having family time. Families suffer a helluva a lot for the ambitions of the MP in the household.

    But there’s little doubt which of the leaders is going to return to work more refreshed, and Key won’t have knives hanging out of his back either :D

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  8. David Farrar (1,437 comments) says:

    mjw – no. I describe Murray as “a senior government insider” if he is the source.

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  9. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    tedbear: Stuff are under direct orders from EPMU, hence the support for a deadbeat loser such as Little. New Plymouth have already shown this charlatan his popularity.
    Mr Ed Ardern: What a shame if it gets the heave ho!

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  10. Pete George (23,831 comments) says:

    Not surprisingly Vernon Small’s article hasn’t gone down well with the Cunliffe/union faction of Labour. They use the “Zetetic’ handle at The Standard, posting Vernon Small jumps the shark.

    Basically Vernon Small is making the call that the Leader of the opposition should go just weeks before a general election while refusing to show the numbers he’s basing that call on. It’s almost like he knows they wouldn’t stack up if he made them public.

    It turns out though that poll findings that were in the print version were omitted from the online article. This has now been appended.

    POLL FINDINGS

    * Over our last two polls we asked voters to consider the effect of a change in leader on their vote. When we asked the question about Cunliffe, Labour lost 1.7 per cent but gained 15.2 per cent from other parties and undecideds – a net gain of 13.6 per cent.

    On our July poll survey that would see Labour’s support rise from 24.9 per cent to 38.5 per cent.

    * When we asked the same question about John Key National lost 5.3 per cent but gained 12.4 per cent from other parties and undecideds – a net gain of 7.1 per cent.

    In both cases, alternate leaders were not provided, and we have assumed the new leader is no less supported than the current leader.

    ‘Zetetic’ has updated:

    UPDATE: They must have had a mild panic attack, the methodology has now been described at the bottom of the article. As you can imagine it’s not particularly sound.

    Zetetic has a fair point – a speculative poll like this is not very sound. If Labour switched to an unknown leader it’s impossible to know what circumstances this would occur in and what the actual public response would be.

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  11. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    I have to agree with that Poll, if Shearer returned labour would get my vote, but they will never get it as long as Cunliffe is at the helm. Not because I don’t like some of their policies, (and dislike others) but because I believe he is not leader material and has some very shady ethics. Shearer is someone many Kiwis can associate with – they can’t find any similarities with Cunliffe.

    Cunliffe has to be thick if he thinks the way he toppled Shearer wasn’t going to rebound on him – all he had to do was look at Shipley’s example. Kiwis don’t like that sort of crap.

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  12. Positan (396 comments) says:

    As political parties, Labour/Greens couldn’t run a tap, let alone perform any of the necessary measures required to govern responsibly. In the main, Labour MPs are trough-hogging crawlers whose stint as “MPs” is the best they’ll ever get to experience in their working lifetimes.

    Clark’s self-interest left Labour with none who might have developed as future leaders which is Labour’s central problem. It’s an attitudinal one – every squirmy Labour MP can’t stand the thought of any of their “mates” getting a bigger slice of the pie than they can grab for themselves – thus leadership is something that will always be ruinous for contenders unless they remain aloof and threateningly detached like Clark.

    The problem, for Labour, is patently insoluble.

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  13. Pongo (374 comments) says:

    @keeping stock I don’t begrudge anyone a holiday either but he has one shot at this in his lifetime, his numbers are appalling and he needs to motivate and lead from the front not jet off and have a ski. If you ran a business like that you wouldn’t last long.

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  14. Pete George (23,831 comments) says:

    I don’t think Shearer would help Labour’s cause. One reason is that the leader is only the tip of a crumbling iceberg.

    Also Shearer admitted not being good at being leader and said he found being the leader “a bit below me” on Q & A:

    CORIN Talking about disappointment – what were the bits that were disappointing? What frustrated you in that role?

    DAVID The thing I found most difficult really was the pettiness of politics, and being in Opposition. A lot of it was petty. A lot of it was venal.

    CORIN Is this from within your party?

    DAVID (laughs) No, the general political frame. You come in to— And I think politicians from all sides come in to make a difference, to actually get something done, and what you get caught up with, particularly as the leader, is, you know, point-scoring and that sort of pettiness.

    And I just found it boring, I found it beneath me, and I wasn’t very good at it because of that. Other people thrive on it. They love it. I mean, that’s the thing they love about— the arena of politics. For me, I found it a bit below me.

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1309/S00081/q-and-a-corin-dann-interviews-david-shearer.htm

    I don’t think politics has risen to any better level since then. It’s probably worse.

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  15. dime (10,215 comments) says:

    Igm – it would be hilarious if adern didn’t make it back in. It would make my year. But then I’d get angry when she took some sweet overseas leftist job for 2 1/2 years before returning to bug us.

    Andrew little is competing with cunliffe and cosgrove as the most unlikeable prick in parliament.

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  16. peterwn (3,335 comments) says:

    If David Shearer’s snapper have been thrown out, I am sure Paula Bennet would only too happy to provide him with replacements.

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  17. wreck1080 (3,999 comments) says:

    my goodness , labour just can’t get it together at all. Shearer has no charisma back then and none now. Maybe a nice guy but that is irrelevant.

    Labour need a serious refresh.

    The problem for labour is that they cannot refresh with quality people while their ‘type’ quotas are in place.

    Meanwhile, national will continue to refresh themselves with quality people and labour are going to continue to go the way of the moa.

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  18. jp_1983 (237 comments) says:

    Nikki Kaye lose Auckland Central,,,

    Not likely…

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  19. David Garrett (7,701 comments) says:

    wreck: spot on…as Brian Edwards said while the poor bastard was struggling along, some people have what it takes, and some don’t, and no amount of media training is going to change that…In fact IIRC Edwards opined that training made Shearer WORSE..

    I would suggest anyone who seriously thinks he can make a comeback should take a look at some clips which led to him being labelled “Captain Mumblefuck” in the first place…And whether one likes it or not, effective public speaking and dealing with the media are two absolute essentials of a successful political career…

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  20. Redbaiter (10,443 comments) says:

    “Meanwhile, national will continue to refresh themselves with quality people”

    Yeah, like Claudette.

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  21. Pete George (23,831 comments) says:

    In fact IIRC Edwards opined that training made Shearer WORSE..

    Media training seems to have made Cunliffe worse too. Perhaps there was conflict over what side of his face to train.

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  22. Igotta Numbum (467 comments) says:

    Shearer hasn’t grown in confidence, he just knows how to speak well when he has had time to prep.

    Put him on the spot, and he’s “Mr UmUm Mumbles” again.

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  23. BeaB (2,164 comments) says:

    Shearer burbled, twitched and rambled on TV the other morning. Still a dead fish and looking tired too.

    As for holidays, you never take one in the middle of a crisis. Shows Cunliffe’s total lack of judgement and detachment from reality. His schoolboy debating skills cannot win him the PM’s job and it’s too late to do the hard yards.

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  24. Pete George (23,831 comments) says:

    Shearer looks fine when he’s speaking on a narrow topic he knows well enough, but he is hopeless at winging it on wide ranging subjects as a leader needs to do. His depth and breadth of knowledge was severely lacking. As was his political experience.

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  25. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    Mumblefuck is, was, and always will be, a loser; just like “Tojo” the apologist. What is on the apology list today, being appointed leader of the perverted party?

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  26. Manolo (14,173 comments) says:

    yes, the socialists need Captain Mumblefuck to become the leader again. Tui ad.

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  27. hubbers (147 comments) says:

    I’m not sure why they are going down, their facebook feed is full of electoral bribes :)

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  28. flipper (4,332 comments) says:

    Redbaiter (7,510 comments) says:

    July 18th, 2014 at 9:56 am

    “Meanwhile, national will continue to refresh themselves with quality people”

    Yeah, like Claudette.
    ***********

    Renewal comes in many forms….

    Hauiti will not draw many Maori/lesbian votes for National, ergo I doubt that she will be in an electable list spot.

    The spousal employment issue was not bad enough to warrant black balling, but the credit card was a step too far.

    There a some pretty hard nosed folks on the HO NP list selection committee (also on the regional list selection committees).
    They will all have seen and remembered that ALL MPs and other candidates were warned that they needed to be “risk averse”.

    Period.

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  29. mavxp (483 comments) says:

    They need someone completely fresh and dynamic, but also highly competent in front of a camera, and is genuine (most fail at this), not to mention politically savvy. Their last three leaders (incl. Cunliffe) failed at at least one of those criteria.

    The only Labourite that fits most of those to my mind is Kelvin Davis. They need to put him near the top of their list.

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  30. Redbaiter (10,443 comments) says:

    They will all have seen and remembered that ALL MPs and other candidates were warned that they needed to be “risk averse”.

    Who issued that edict?

    “risk averse” is no way to lead.

    National once again prove they’re a collection of grey socialist compromisers and surrender monkeys.

    Hauti’s placement shows what drives them, and it is not imagination and drive. It is the middle of the road pandering to cultural Marxism pragmatism that has killed off those principles that National was formed to promote.

    Of course they’re risk averse, because by failing to take any kind of leadership initiatives, they’ve given themselves no room for error.

    A useless party.

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  31. Nigel Kearney (1,097 comments) says:

    The top priority for the Labour leader is to be able to keep the caucus in line as Clark did. Otherwise it will all turn to shit. I don’t know if they have anyone who can do that, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t Shearer.

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  32. david (2,194 comments) says:

    Why hasn’t someone asked Rufus Paynter what his opinion is? It seems like everyone else has proffered an opinion but no-one has the inside running that Rufus has.

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  33. ShawnLH (6,693 comments) says:

    “National once again prove they’re a collection of grey socialist compromisers and surrender monkeys.”

    Red once again proves that he has no idea what “socialism” is, no strategy for defeating the real Left, and no comprehension of the reality of public opinion in a democracy.

    National can only push the boundaries of public opinion so far. They did so with the partial asset sales. But push too far beyond what most voters will tolerate and they would be out of power, and we get a Labour/Green/IMP government.

    Anyone else here dumb enough to think this is a viable strategy?

    Then again, I’m beginning to think Reddy is a Leftist plant who may be quite happy with a real socialist government. :)

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  34. ShawnLH (6,693 comments) says:

    Cunliffe or Shearer, it makes very little difference. Key would monster both of them in a debate.

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  35. Redbaiter (10,443 comments) says:

    Yes, the great Indian hunter and gator killer (he’s got a big knife you know) would have been busy undermining Reagan and Thatcher if he had been around back then. And he’s ignoring Nigel Farage and Tony Abbot because it doesn’t suit his simpleton backwoods fringed buckskin narrative.

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  36. David Garrett (7,701 comments) says:

    PG: “Uncertainty over which side of his face to train”…very good Pete…a rare uptick from me…

    But seriously, as the old joke goes, If Shearer is the answer it must have been a bloody silly question…It was obvious from the day the guy walked into the Chamber he was not comfortable there… and he has just said so on some TV programme…or to be more accurate, politics was “beneath him”…

    It’s a nasty brutal business, and as they say “Nice guys finish last”…

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  37. hj (7,167 comments) says:

    I see Shearer being bitten on the leg at Hot Topic Climate
    http://hot-topic.co.nz/labours-dodgy-drilling-policy-avoids-climate-reality

    Any impurity (“anti immigration feeling has no place in the green party” says Mr Locke) must be spat.

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  38. goldnkiwi (1,616 comments) says:

    I do not want Kelvin Davis at the top of any list, I want him to have to campaign hard to get in to Parliament beat Hone and succeed. If he is assured of a list place he might sit on his laurels.

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  39. burt (7,428 comments) says:

    Multi million dollar home owner to be replaced by man with off shore bank accounts – The socialists are just awesome aren’t they.

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  40. wf (483 comments) says:

    “beneath him” – if that doesn’t indicate a sense of superiority, I don’t know what does. I used to think that Shearer would fit into a Key-type cabinet if given the chance to become a specialist in an area of interest.
    Now I think not, he is obviously arrogant, regards himself as belonging to the intellectual elite, and not a real representative of the people.

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  41. Colville (2,318 comments) says:

    It says a lot about the state of Labour if Shearer is as good as they have, he might be able to rebuild them enough to save the party from extinction but he is never going to win against Key/Joyce/Collins.

    Wussell will soon be leader of the opposition me thinks.

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  42. stigie (1,453 comments) says:

    Again we ask you Reddy, what would you have done differently rather than being a one term government ?

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  43. alwyn (439 comments) says:

    Polls like this one, which do not identify the alternative candidate, are totally meaningless and are almost guaranteed to produce this result. The reason is that people being asked the question always answer on the assumption that it is their preferred person in the role.
    Someone who likes Shearer thinks of it as asking “Would I be more likely to vote Labour if Shearer was leader?”. Someone who likes Robertson mentally inserts Robertson, a Goff enthusiast inserts Goff and so on.
    The same thing happened in the US before the 2012 Presidential election. People were in favour of a generic Republican candidate but when real names were put in Obama instantly went back to the top of the heap.

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  44. ShawnLH (6,693 comments) says:

    “Yes, the great Indian hunter and gator killer”

    Not quite sure if you mean I’m Indian or that I hunt Indians Reddy. :)

    The first is more accurate, though strictly speaking I’m Métis.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Métis_people_(United_States)

    “he’s got a big knife you know”

    It was my uncles. I have my own collection.

    “would have been busy undermining Reagan and Thatcher if he had been around back then.”

    Actually they are two of my favorite politicians, and I supported both of them, from afar at least.

    It’s you Reddy who would have attacked them for being socialist traitors for not adopting your fantasy “hard line” bollocks.

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  45. ShawnLH (6,693 comments) says:

    “And he’s ignoring Nigel Farage and Tony Abbot because it doesn’t suit his simpleton backwoods fringed buckskin narrative.”

    Oooo, urban Liberal eltist snorting at “backwoods” people Reddy? Straight out of the Liberal play book! :)

    Abbot’s support has taken a nose dive, and after only one term he may hand the country over to Labour and the Greens again.

    Oh yeah, THAT’S a strategy for success! :)

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  46. ShawnLH (6,693 comments) says:

    The far Right in the US did attack Reagan for being too soft on this or that issue. It’s what led to the split between mainstream conservatives and the Paleo-cons.

    Anyone else think that Reddy would have been among them?

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  47. ShawnLH (6,693 comments) says:

    In fact, Reagan’s success was due in part to the same strategy that Key is using, capture the center ground. That is why he appealed to the Reagan Democrats, the voters who would normally have supported a Dem but supported Reagan.

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  48. Liam Hehir (149 comments) says:

    ShawnLH – the same thing went for Margaret Thatcher, especially in the early years, who was judicious in her choosing of battlefields. For example, she never attempted any large scale reform of the NHS. Nor did she serious assail the welfare state.

    She advanced her agenda as far as the politics of time would allow. Coming in at a time when bodies were pilling up in the street, she was able to reform unions. When inflation was out of control, the people allowed her to tame it. She could privatise only because Britain’s state industries had failed so badly for so long.

    Neither Reagan nor Thatcher quoted Ludwig von Mises or The Fountainhead to people sceptical of their agendas. They didn’t ‘make the case’ for policies the people were otherwise dead set against. They judged the political moment and remained within the mainstream. That is how they were able to create lasting political change.

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  49. ShawnLH (6,693 comments) says:

    Liam,

    yes, I read an article about Thatcher a couple of years back that mentioned the attacks on her by hard liners.

    The fact is you don’t win more than one term in office by going far beyond what is politically achievable, a fact that Red cannot get his head around. Then again his understanding of politics and political history comes across as something found in a comic book written by pimple faced, mouth breathing 13 yr old.

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  50. Liam Hehir (149 comments) says:

    Politics is the art of the possible.

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  51. Paulus (2,711 comments) says:

    I hope that Grant Robertson gets the leadership with Jacinta.

    That will stuff the Labour Party for the foreseeable future, from which they will never recover in any sort of current form.

    Can only see support from predominantly female left wing bitter men haters, and homosexuals.

    Bring it on – The Green Taliban will laugh all the way to the bank as they will dominate the real left wing.

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  52. thedavincimode (6,890 comments) says:

    I don’t think that it can be helping his cause internally that just when Key buggars off to Hawaii and presents cunners with a golden opportunity to get some traction and a few headlines, cunners’ response is to relocate maison cunners to the ski slopes. The point was made over at w. oil that this would be a bit of a pissoff to the troops on the ground doing the hard yards.

    The party faithful appear to be prepared to forgive or overlook the ongoing embarrassment he causes them and the privileged Herne Bay lifestyle with the kids and dog in private schools, the Queen St lawyer wife etc, but true to cunner’s form, he’s rather slapped them in the kisser with it by stuffing off like this.

    I wonder whether they will reflect on this as they slump along in the fickle spring weather dropping cunner’s propaganda into letter boxes.

    With Xmas around the corner just after the election and with the state of the polls the way they are, it wouldn’t be entirely unreasonable for them to expect a better demonstration of commitment from Kommandant cunners.

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  53. Unity (643 comments) says:

    For me the big problem with Labour is the lack of candidates with any credibility. How many of them have lived and worked in the real world. I also don’t like their PC mix. They should appoint the best person for the job in a constituency, not whether he/she is male/female, homosexual/lesbian/straight, unions/teachers. National has at least got some good people even if their conscience is whatever John Key decrees and they can’t vote with their own one. Another problem for me. It is imperative the MPs have had real experience in the world and also that they can push their constituents’ points of view and not always the Party line. I often wonder if it would be better if we didn’t have any Parties at all but had Independents. That would then make up for the fact that referenda are not binding and the people would at least have a voice through their MP. It’s not happening at the moment.

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  54. Left Right and Centre (3,014 comments) says:

    Jacinda Adern – give her the leadership earlier in her career rather than later.

    Jacinda will beat John one day – being nineteen years younger she will very likely outlive him.

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  55. Mark (1,502 comments) says:

    Labour are heading for the same sort of result that National got slammed with under Bill English. Cunliff will be too arrogant to resign but will be given the flick at the compulsory leadership vote post the election. Roberston is the likely winner although with the shambolic process they have Little will be the Unions man

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