Who could replace Shearer?

It should come as no surprise that I agree with the other posters on The Standard who think Shearer needs to go as Labour leader.  But weka, in the comments of Eddie’s post, asked:

If Shearer is to go, then who replaces him? Who else is there in addition to Cunliffe? A serious exploration of the options would be a good next step.

Obviously I’m a Cunliffe fangirl but it’s a good question – no hierarchy-based structure has good long-term prospects when there’s only one person – or no clear person – with the ability to lead (see also:  how Goff got to be leader, or for the more historically inclined, the fallout after the death of Alexander the Great.)

So, what are our prospects?  Let’s assume we want to avoid the obvious pitfalls of pushing a 2-year n00b to the top.  Let’s assume we want someone with experience, with a bit of a profile, with some pizzazz.

So, profile.  While I’m far too lazy on a Sunday morning to reproduce something like this handy chart from Dim Post, let’s assume that if you’re a current MP sitting in the front two rows of Parliament, you’ve probably got a bit of a profile, giving us (alphabetically):

Ardern J; Chauvel; Cosgrove; Cunliffe; Dalziel; Fenton; Goff; Hipkins; King A; Mahuta; Mallard; Parker D; Robertson G; Sio; Street; Twyford

Let’s note that Labour has been absolutely pathetic at fielding attacks based on the actions of the fourth Labour Government – although we might allow that this was largely due to Goff, as previous leader, not having the will/spine to fully refute his actions at the time.  So, remove anyone who was an MP under Lange/Palmer.

(I can already hear the objections on this one being a bit ageist, but I’ll just say this: find someone under the age of 30.  Tell them Phil Goff was an MP before they were born.  Ask just how much they think he can relate to them.  Consider how much Obama just got re-elected thanks to a mobilised youth vote.)

Ardern J; Chauvel; Cosgrove; Cunliffe; Fenton; Hipkins; Mahuta; Parker D; Robertson G; Sio; Street; Twyford

Let’s take out Sio because, well, hahahahaha.  Let’s take out David Parker on the oft-commented assumption that he was the first choice of the anti-Cunliffe club but was deemed unadvisable even by them.  This handily gives us a top 10 of:

Ardern J; Chauvel; Cosgrove; Cunliffe; Fenton; Hipkins; Mahuta; Robertson G; Street; Twyford

Now it’s the truly subjective things:  who on that list delivers a damn good speech?  Who’s going to provide policy grunt and the debating skills needed in our usually pathetically-shallow election coverage to cut through the John Key waffle?  Who can throw down against the Nats with “real-life” experience and business cred?  Who’s got a solid electorate seat, which yes, shouldn’t really matter in an MMP system but still does to a lot of people?

I’m still picking Cunliffe.

I’d like to see more of Ardern, Robertson, Chauvel, even Twyford for all his wankery around the marriage equality bill, but I don’t see any of them being able to pick up the ball at short notice and make something of it.  It’d be awesome to see them at work under a leader who can articulate real values and policies and actually fight for them instead of expecting “heartland” NZ to change sides just because he goes to Nelson and wears an “I ❤ farming” shirt.  Unfortunately, the “diversity at the top” argument totally nukes Twyford for deputy,

Cosgrove, Fenton, Hipkins, Mahuta and Street … well, they don’t do anything for me, to be honest.  (A note on Mahuta, specifically: she’s been criticised recently for having no profile and objected strenuously to that, yet Parata is absolutely fucking up schools in Christchurch, Campbell Live’s been running non-stop stories on it and I have not heard a single thing from her on it.  This could very well be down to the Shearer office fucking up, but nevertheless, she’s missing in action.)

So it’s Cunliffe for me.  Cunliffe to take Labour into 2014 and win enough to form a solid, grown-up coalition with the Greens, to rebuild the party into something I can give a toss about, develop talent like Ardern and Robertson, and provide an actual legacy for the NZ left.


Of course, anyone out there can disagree with my assumptions – maybe you want to plug for young MP blood like Faafoi or Little, maybe you think some of the old guard still have it in them, maybe you’re one of those bizarre Shane Jones fans.  Let’s have this debate – comments are open now!


    • Ben

      Which can hopefully be got around due to the party/affiliated unions having a vote now, if leadership comes up for contention. iirc, Cunliffe has fairly strong support in the party.

      The only problem I can see is the ABC’s making a fuss and not playing nice after a possible Cunliffe win. Which would hopefully be solved by back bench assignments and/or low placings on the list.

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  3. Kate

    Phil Twyford as leader with Grant Robertson keeping the deputy job and Cunliffe as finance minister. Sadly, the combined forces of the right wing media and the ABC crowd in the caucus have managed to destroy any chance of Cunliffe becoming leader, even with the new voting system.

    • QoT

      Twyford showed a complete lack of vision and spine with his waffling over the Marriage Equality vote, so he’s out as far as I’m concerned.

      • Kate

        Yeah, he made a mistake, but if the worst thing he has done as a MP is to want to consult with his electorate before committing himself to a conscience vote then that isn’t so bad. I am assuming he was always intending to vote for the bill unless there was huge opposition, and he probably always knew that wouldn’t be the case. I like the fact that he refused to say how he would vote in February because it is a secret ballot.

        • QoT

          Kate, making this about “if that’s the worst thing he’s done” is a derail. The point is that Twyford either – in your own view – chose to mislead his electorate about his actual feelings on an important human rights topic, or – my personal take – is so fucking gutless he couldn’t take a stand on an important human rights topic without checking no one was going to be mean to him. In an electorate which previously elected an openly gay MP with stonkingly high majorities. That’s why I rule him out as a potential leader. Because leaders have to have visions and guts. And he doesn’t.

  4. Kate

    Twyford fucked up but so has every MP (including Cunliffe). Cunliffe is smart, and has a better grasp of economics than any MP in living memory so should be finance minister, and should have been chosen as leader last November. Actually he should have been chosen as leader 3 years ago. Unfortunately he hasn’t got the backing of the caucus and even with the change in voting rules I don’t think he can win a leadership vote. So who else? My real preference is Helen Kelly, but as she issn’t currently an MP that won’t happen. Twyford is the best of the rest …. unless he really is homophobic.

    • QoT

      Again, Kate, you’re frankly dodging the issue. This isn’t about “well everyone’s fucked up at some point!” It’s about a specific fuck-up, a fuck-up which rules Twyford out of some basic leadership qualities. As I have already explained a few times now.