You know, I’m no major-political-party bigshot or anything, but I can’t help but feel that it’s a little detrimental to the cause for an MP best known to the electorate for jacking off on taxpayer money to make a big deal out of his own personal change of heart on one of the biggest policy announcements of the year.
I look back and think, Christ, when David Cunliffe wouldn’t state how he was going to vote in a future anonymous ballot, the Labour Party management was all over this – Chris Hipkins, as whip, declared:
people have “had enough”.
“He’s been undermining the leader, he’s been undermining the whole team’s effort – I think people are frustrated,” says Mr Hipkins.
“Weasel words about supporting the leader for now simply don’t cut it.”
Whatever side of that [nonexistent] leadership challenge you were on, it’s a pretty clear situation: threatening (or being perceived to threaten) the unity of the Party gets you fucking gone, mate. This ain’t a leadership team who underreact to situations.
But where is this same sense of outrage when Shane Jones is openly undermining a massive, game-changing policy? Where is Chris Hipkins yelling into Paddy Gower’s microphone about how Shane Jones is undermining the whole team’s effort and weasel words about supporting [the policy] for now simply don’t cut it and now is the time to put up or shut up?
I mean, sure, we could easily be in a situation where Shane Jones is so up himself that he actually thinks that his turnaround support for the policy gives it extra credence – but that is simply not how the story reads, and simply not how the Labour Party – if it really is about unity and really does aspire to be in a position to cite collective Cabinet responsibility on its decisions – should let things run.
I mean, the whole point of “we have open, vigorous debate amongst ourselves but present a united front once the decision’s made” is that you present a united bloody front once the decision’s made. You don’t tell your children, “Look, Daddy and I have agreed you need to be grounded, but I did argue vigorously for letting you off scot-free” unless you intend to make it very clear that Daddy is the villain here and the decision isn’t your fault.
And let’s all just sit back and imagine that David Cunliffe, back at conference, with Gower’s microphone permanently fixed a foot from his face, had been asked to rate Shearer as a leader from 1 to 10, and replied:
“very close to eight, nine, ten, somewhere up there.”
Just imagine the screams of outrage, the smug Kiwiblog posts, the Standard commenting flamewars. One side screaming “hey, 7 is still a good number!” and another asserting “anything less than 11 is a coup attempt!” and another declaring “the average is nine and no one should claim to be perfect so it’s clearly part of a larger strategy!” and the usual suspects arguing “give them more time!” and it would have gone on for days. Weeks.