An apology to David Shearer

I figured it was his turn.

David, I am sorry.  I don’t really think you’re an awful person.  I don’t think you’re the worst thing to happen to New Zealand leftwing politics in a generation.

I don’t even think most of the stuff I rant about in your name is actually your fault.

I mean, you have advisors.  A number of them have backgrounds in the media, or in communications.  Some of them are there to do research for you, to produce key messages which state your policies and beliefs clearly and memorably, to write your speeches, and make sure you’ve got the information you need to put the Labour Party’s case to the electorate.

Some of them are strategists, big-picture thinkers, people with long histories in the left, in the Party, people with an understanding of the longer-term narratives of NZ politics.

And yet.

They let you Define The Future Of Your Leadership with a conference speech the cornerstone of which is a housing policy which doesn’t help the truly struggling and assumes rich people will “self-select” out of government handouts.

They’ve sold you a communications strategy based around a soulless, madlibbed e-newsletter.

They (I do sincerely hope this is not your own writing) give you clunky, boring stodge to read out to audiences.  They tell you to use the phrase “shadow yacht“.

They almost certainly make your social media presence look like it’s run by a robot.  They set the scene for your whole leadership with a (naff as fuck) New New Zealand tagline.  What happened to that, by the way?

They’ve created a situation where you occasionally announce a really good policy … and smaller opposition parties steal the show because their soundbites are a heck of a lot better.

And I’m not even touching the specific caucus-management aspects of the job, or the fact you’ve got thirty-odd fulltime Members of Parliament who are kind of meant to be pulling a bit of the weight in terms of getting Labour’s message out there for you.

David, even your defenders are having to work hard to come up with explanations for the continued failures of your leadership team.  Seriously, you’ve got sympathetic commenters on The Standard arguing that that whole roof-painter analogy – which you used multiple times and explicitly defended – was just “not thought through” properly.

Repeated grimace-inducing moments like these cannot be the work of one man, David.  So I don’t actually hold you solely responsible for the trainwreck your leadership of the parliamentary Labour Party has been to date.

The sad fact, however, is you’re the leader.  The buck does stop with you.  It’s your Excalibur-like vision which is meant to be the guiding light of the party.  And either you have not noticed how poorly your advisors are serving you, or you don’t care.

(Even I will not be extreme enough to imply this is some kind of bizarre, deliberately-executed plot.)

That, quite simply, is my major issue with your leadership.  Everything else is a symptom of it:  the poor delivery, the lack of delivery of even basic slightly-leftist ideas, the dogwhistles to bigotry, the uninspiring Major Policy Announcements … you’re getting – and accepting – shoddy advice somewhere along the line.

Now, of course, the obvious question is why you should take advice instead from a horrid, sweary pseudonymous blogger?  You don’t have to, by any means.  But it’s not like taking a look at the groundswell of critique from the Outside Left could make you do any worse, is it?


  1. just saying

    Poor wee petal.

    Still you are quite right – others in the leadership team are also culpable.
    That is, however, no excuse.

  2. peterlepaysan

    Off topic I know, but I had to grin at “Naff as Fuck”, I Know it has entered the language via the English aristocracy as equivalent to “stupid or useless).
    Actually “naff” was male homosexual slang pre 1960 to indicate that a particular person of interest was “not available for fucking”.

    It actually parallels “sex,drugs and rock and roll “.

    “Rock and roll was american negro slang for fucking. The negroes must have grinned as “whitey” took up “fucking, drugs and fucking”. Whatever happened to the music?

    Whatever happened to the Labour Party?

  3. Pingback: David Shearer isn't Jesus? No sh*t, Sherlock - The Standard