Tapu Misa writes in the NZ Herald:
No independent observer of Shearer’s media performances could have failed to notice his potentially fatal deficiencies.
Whatever his strengths, however nice a human being he is, he hadn’t lived up to the hype. If National was losing some of its gloss in the polls, it was no thanks to Shearer’s stumbling leadership. …
If the criticism seemed harsh and overly impatient, it has to be seen in the context of the past four years.
The party had been conspicuously united behind Phil Goff despite widely held reservations almost from the moment he assumed the leadership.
Much good that show of unity did them.
Now they were being asked to extend that faith to a political neophyte who, if anything, had fewer weapons in his arsenal.
If politics is a contest of ideas, it needs well-armed champions. …
But the reality is that whatever Cunliffe’s credentials, his thwarted leadership ambitions would have been dead if Shearer had lived up to expectations. No one would have been hankering after Cunliffe’s superior grasp of finance or communication skills. Or wondering why Shearer didn’t follow the canny lead of Helen Clark and John Key and keep his talented rival close, giving him the deputy leadership and finance portfolio.
Would this have happened if Shearer had kept Cunliffe as Finance Spokesperson? Would people be saying Russel Norman is the MP of the Year if he had been competing against Cunliffe instead of Parker?
Did Shearer’s much-praised speech silence the doubters? Was it the speech to bind all of Labour?
Those at the conference were certainly excited. I watched it on YouTube and was less smitten. Maybe you had to be there to feel the rapture.
However good, it was asking a lot of one speech. Especially when Shearer’s subsequent TV appearances show him bumbling his way through straightforward questions on Labour’s new housing policy and Cunliffe’s summary execution.
It’s nonsense to say this doesn’t matter.
There is no “rightful leader” of the Labour Party. The position isn’t Shearer’s by right, nor Cunliffe’s for that matter. It ought to be threatened if enough people feel the incumbent hasn’t earned it.
71 days to go until the next vote!