Tapu Misa on Shearer again

November 26th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

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!

Edwards joins the chorus calling for Shearer to resign

November 12th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

My understanding of the strategy in play, is that those in Labour wanting a change do not want an actual leadership challenge to Shearer. They are deliberately piling pressure on to force him to quit, so no one has blood on their hands.

I find it baffling that Labour gave Phil Goff three years as Leader, when it was obvious he could never be elected (not due to any personal qualities, but the fact he had been in Parliament since Muldoon was PM). Goff saw Labour consistently poll under the result he inherited in 2008.

Shearer has not even been leader for one year. Labour is polling on average 4% higher than at the 2011 election. Yet people are determined not to give him a fair chance. Why the unseemly rush to kneecap him before he even gets to to his first conference as leader?

Brian Edwards has blogged:

A quite remarkable thing happened this morning. Herald columnist Tapu Misa gave it as her view that David Shearer should stand down as leader of the Labour Party.

Misa is the finest columnist in the country – intelligent, informed, rational, considered in her judgements. More importantly, she is never cruel or unkind. Unlike most other columnists, including myself from time to time, she never sets out to wound. In keeping perhaps with her strong religious beliefs, she is ever a charitable critic.

Her politics are to the liberal left.

For these reasons I believe she will have thought long and hard before sending this morning’s column to theHerald for publication. It will not have been an easy decision. I can only assume that, after long deliberation, she concluded that this was something that, in the interests of the Labour Party and the country, just had to be said.

So why now?

Misa’s message is by no means new. The opinion that Shearer, however decent, however nice, is the wrong man for the job, is now regularly expressed by both right and left-wing commentators. Shearer claims not to be bothered by this groundswell of disfavour, but he is either in denial or putting on a brave front. It must be a dismal experience to be subjected day in, day out, to such relentless public humiliation.

And I think the strategy is to force him to quit, because he is a decent man.

What is both new and remarkable is that Misa, albeit reluctantly, has joined the chorus of opinion that Shearer is harming rather than helping Labour’s cause and that he cannot continue to lead the party. The writing on the wall could not now be clearer.   

It has been my view, expressed in numerous posts on this site, that the Labour caucus made a serious mistake in selecting Shearer as leader in preference to David Cunliffe. They are now paying the price for the infantile thinking of the ‘Anyone but Cunliffe’ brigade.

But if Shearer goes, will it be Cunliffe who succeeds him?

As an advisor to Helen Clark during the 2008 election I learnt to my cost the danger of underestimating Key as a debater. My view and the view of Helen’s other advisors was that Key would be no match for the Prime Minister. He was a new boy and she was a seasoned practitioner. She was ’Minister for Everything’ and had an encyclopaedic knowledge of every portfolio. She would make mincemeat of this upstart. Key, it turned out, had been hiding his light under a bushel. He was aggressive, interruptive and in his element. Helen lost the first debate and we had to regroup.

Why is this relevant? Because David Shearer could not hold a candle to Helen Clark as a debater. That is why I say Key will crucify him in any face to face debate. It’s already happening in Parliament.

So here’s what I think should happen: Shearer should announce at the Labour Party Conference that he has told caucus he wishes to step down as leader and will do so as soon as a replacement has been chosen.  To avoid the inevitable chaos (and possible collapse of the Labour Party) which will  result from the implementation of their proposed new rules for choosing a leader (which could be tested as early as February of next year), caucus should quickly select David Cunliffe to take them through the next election. Cunliffe is the only person for the job. There is no-one else.

I’d be interested to know why Brian thinks it couldn’t be Grant Robertson or even Andrew Little?

UPDATE: Lynn Prentice has also called for Shearer to go.

I should clarify something relating to my earlier post. I never suggested The Standard has a group view on Shearer. I know each author is independent. What I focused on is the fact that two (now three) of the most longest serving and prolific authors have all called for Shearer to go – BEFORE he even gets to the first party conference. The fact a couple of other authors have disagreed does not change the significance of this.

My statement that this was no coincidence was not referring to a co-ordinated effort between The Standard authors as a bloc. I meant that it was being co-ordinated by one or more MPs who have chosen to try and force the issue before conference.


October 26th, 2010 at 7:26 am by David Farrar

Tapu Misa writes in the Herald:

So multiculturalism has “failed, absolutely failed”, according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. It is dead, declared another German politician. Did I hear “I told you so” from the xenophobes who claimed all along that multiculturalism was doomed to failure?

The crowing may be a little premature. The trouble with multiculturalism is that it seems to mean different things to different people.

In many parts of Europe, it has failed. In some countries it has been a disaster. Yet in other countries it has worked well – the US is an excellent example of that. As is NZ.

For Merkel, “multikulti” is the idea that “we are living side by side, and are happy about it”. (Which implies, I think, that multicultural nirvana was meant to happen naturally.)

For others, multiculturalism is that ill-defined policy which holds that a single country can accommodate new and disparate cultures peacefully and equitably, even when certain aspects of those cultures clash fundamentally with its own cherished traditions and values.

The former seems an increasingly distant liberal fantasy, and the latter a recipe for resentment and discord.

I agree with Tapu Misa. I think a blending or integration of cultures is a good thing, but if the cultures fundamentally clash on core values, then you get the problem – resentment and discord.

Disenchantment with multiculturalism isn’t new. In 2006, the then British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, told immigrants they should “conform … or don’t come here”.

Conform isn’t the word I would use. But there does have to be a general acceptance of the way of life of the country you move to. For example, if the sight of females in bikinis terribly upsets you, then don’t move to Bondi Beach – or Australia generally.

There is a key difference between integration and assimilation. The former is about adopting or not resisting the core values of a country. The latter implies to me abandoning your previous culture entirely.

Blair said that the July 2005 suicide bombings in London, carried out by British Muslims, had thrown the concept of a multicultural Britain into “sharp relief”. While multiculturalism should be celebrated, it had to be accompanied by a duty to share “essential values – belief in democracy, the rule of law, tolerance, equal treatment for all, respect for this country and its shared heritage”. “Our tolerance is part of what makes Britain Britain,” Blair said.

“So conform to it, or don’t come here. We don’t want the hate-mongers, whatever their race, religion or creed. The right to be different. The duty to integrate. That is what being British means.”

Tolerance is almost the most important aspect. And that includes tolerance of those who do not share your religious beliefs – and in fact even criticise them.

I was chatting at the rally yesterday to a Jewish friend (who gently scolded me for the joke I blogged a couple of days ago, before admitting it was very funny) and talked about Sarah Silverman. Silverman is a Jewish comedian, probably best known for her hilarious “I f**ked Matt Damon” video to her boyfriend. In her TV series she has offended almost all religions by not just having sex with God, but dumping him afterwards. A reporter asked her if she would ever play a part where she had sex with Mohammed. Her reply was no she would not, as she did not wish to be killed. A very sad reflection on the world we live in.

Anyone who wants to kill someone because they are disrespectful to your religion fails my tolerance test. In fact even wanting to change the law, so it is illegal to disrespect your religion, fails my tolerance test.

Where does that leave us? I’d like to think our version of the multicultural society is just as respectful of difference, and inclusive, without being overweeningly deferential.

What does being a New Zealander mean? We’re still working it out. But if a shared sense of identity and citizenship is a sign of multicultural health, then we can take heart.

NZ I think has managed the challenge pretty damn well. But this may have been by as much good luck as good management. I do think our immigration system needs a “tolerance” test and also we need to make sure prospective immigrants are well informed on what are the “essential values” of New Zealanders, and that as aspiring NZers, they share them.

Tapu Misa on Haden

May 31st, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

So far the best analysis around what Andy Haden said comes from Tapu Misa, in my opinion:

My eldest son wanted me to leap to Andy Haden’s defence this week because he thinks there may have been some truth to what he said; that he was just being cynical when he uttered the nasty “darkies” word; and that Haden has a point about the physicality of players dictating their style of play.

“If you’re strong, maybe you are more likely to go through the wall than around,” he says.

Her son is quite perceptive, in my opinion.

It sounds reasonable. My son is a smart 17-year-old, a history and politics buff who has never played rugby. He’s doing his best to resist the stereotypes, but he slips too easily into the generalisations being peddled by Haden and others in the rugby fraternity – that New Zealand rugby is being ruined by the dominance of Pacific Island players: big, dim-witted oafs who aren’t capable of playing intelligently.

As with any race-based theory, there’s always a grain of truth. Everybody knows, don’t they, that the island boys are explosive, physical and instinctive, rather than tactical and strategic like the white players.

Almost all stereotypes are based on an element of truth. Otherwise they don’t become stereotypes.

Ergo, the browning of New Zealand rugby is bad. Thanks to Pacific Island players we will never be great again.

Or so the thesis goes. The problem is it lumps Pacific Islanders into a one-size-fits-all problem, as if all players of Pacific descent are cast in the same mould. It ignores the enormous differences between Pacific people, and the range of talents, strengths and weaknesses each individual brings to the game. And that’s short-sighted as well as racist.

And this is the key point. Stereotypes and generalisations can have a place in discussing trends and issues, but it is offensive when you use it to define a group of people in a way which ignores their individuality.

Who exactly is the quintessential Pacific Island player, anyway?

Is it the religious, never-on-a-Sunday Michael Jones, who in his heyday was ranked the best flanker in the world?

Or Sione Lauaki, who seems to get into trouble every time he goes out?

What about Bryan Williams, Joe Stanley, Olo Brown, Jonah Lomu, Tana Umaga, Rodney So’oialo, Mils Muliaina, Keven Mealamu, or George Smith in Australia? Where do they fit on the continuum?

The idea that these players share some kind of inherent mental inadequacy based on their Pacific heritage is ridiculous and wrong. It’s as ridiculous and wrong as the corollary that every Pakeha rugby player is an intellectual giant.

Heh, far far from it.Just think about some of those who are now rugby commentators 🙂

It goes without saying that rugby requires different kinds of physical and mental abilities.

Let’s by all means talk about the need for balance in our rugby sides. But if players are being picked for the wrong skills, whose fault is that?

For my 2c, good rugby teams need both instinctive and tactical players. A team of 15 instinctive players will never follow any sort of game strategy while a team of 15 tactical players might never score a try 🙂

And one can recognise that players from different races tend to be more one sort, than another, but that is as far as it goes. The merits and skills of the individual is what decisions should always be based on.

And if New Zealand rugby hasn’t worked out how to get the best out of the Pacific players it selects, then maybe it needs to spend more time finding out what makes its players tick and how it can take advantage of the diverse talents on offer in this country. …

Canterbury seems to be on to something – and if we’re to believe the denials, it’s not what Haden and others seem to believe.

The franchise seems to pick the best individuals based on nothing more mysterious than the skills and qualities its selectors think they’ll bring to the game and the team.

And then it puts time and effort into making them better.

That’s what works – not some real or imagined racist quota.