Tagged: david shearer

Why the February vote could be very bad for Labour

[Warning: post may contain “political pessimism” from “the outside left“.]

In February, if my understanding is correct, and gods know I hate this kind of complex constitutional fluff, there will be a vote in the Labour caucus on Shearer’s leadership of the parliamentary Labour Party.  If 40% or so don’t support him, it triggers a leadership vote among the party, with various weights of votes assigned to caucus, affiliates and members.

The obvious comparison is the Green Party, which has a – yes, probably pretty ceremonial – vote every year to re-endorse their parliamentary leaders.  If you’re not a hardcore Green supporter, you probably don’t know it even happens, because it is a non-event and because the Greens just aren’t a rich target for Patrick Gower to badger a non-story out of.

Oh, fine, and also because there don’t appear to be horrific infighting factions within the Greens who are quite happy to use the media to screw each other over at a moment’s notice.

What you also don’t see, therefore, is a lot of Green Party members running around prior to their vote, insisting that if Metiria and Russel are re-endorsed, everyone who doesn’t like them has to go away and shut up and never say a bad thing about the party ever ever again.

David Shearer in a BBQ apron, captioned "After February, only I may host barbeques"

Which is what’s happening a lot at the moment, most noticeable to me through comments (and the odd post) at The Standard. Sometimes it’s worded a little more gently – “oh, hopefully after the February vote we can act like a unified party and get behind the leader” aka “shut the fuck up”, or “focus on the real issues” aka “shut the fuck up unless you’re bagging John Key.”

Sometimes it’s as blatant as

Unity is strength. Undermining the leadership is fatal.

Now where did I leave my V for Vendetta DVD?

Unfortunately for David Shearer and his fans, I just don’t see it happening, for two simple reasons:

1.  If endorsed by caucus, Shearer still won’t magically evolve, Pokemon-like, from Captain Mumblefuck into the reincarnation of Winston Churchill

David Shearer in a BBQ apron, captioned "This isn't even my final form"

2.  The membership may have very good reason to be fucked off about how some members of caucus have voted.

James Henderson summed it up nicely:

The problem with Labour’s reforms isn’t that they are too democratic, it’s that they’re not democratic enough. They’ve gone with a model where caucus is a gatekeeper and then over-powered in the actual vote. This will be used by the old guard to shield Shearer and themselves from the views of their own party. The Green co-leaders have no such protection, and it means they can never turn their backs on their members.

So no, actually, there is no moral imperative on Labour people (much less on us scary non-Labour-members with OPINIONS!!!!) to sit down and shut the fuck up between caucus leadership votes.  If caucus [some might say, “if caucus once again“] goes against the will of the membership, the membership have every fucking right to “destabilise” the party, to “white-ant” the leader, because they’re the fucking membership.

If caucus [once again] makes a decision which is blatantly not in the best interests of the New Zealand leftwing, [once again] makes a decision which serves the interests of a self-centred faction within the Party, [once again] chooses a leader based on their own career security instead of providing a clear, strong left voice in NZ politics and forming the basis for a strong leftwing government which knows what it’s there to do, and if Shearer’s faction in caucus [once again] bully dissenters into silence with the threat of instant demotion …

Well, you can fuck right off if you think I’m going to shut up about that For The Sake Of The Party.

Labour does not deserve our respectful withdrawal of criticism if it’s going to shit on beneficiaries, if it’s going to refuse again and again to pose a clear alternative opposition to NACT, if it’s going to sacrifice its own heritage principles in order to keep safe-electorate seat-warmers occupied.

David Shearer does not deserve unity-at-gunpoint if he continues to mumblefuck around, continues to let National get away with murder, continues to act like 30% in the polls is something to celebrate, continues to squander one of his most talented MPs while letting Chris fucking Hipkins buy straight into National’s asset sales narrative.

So the February vote?  Roll out your numbers again, David, but do not think that a token gesture of support, after you’ve clearly demonstrated how brutally you will treat even imaginary challengers, is going to keep you safe from nasty blog posts.  The only fix for that – Clare Curran’s alleged lady-boner for outing critics notwithstanding – is to do your fucking job.  With, like, at least a semblance of competence.

Related reading:  Chris Trotter’s The Lazarus Option.  I’m as surprised as you are, Comrade.

A bit of nitpicking/clarification on KiwiBuild

I’ve been working over in my head just what it is about Labour’s KiwiBuild policy that bugs me so much.  As many of its defenders and supporters say, Labour does have time to iron out any issues of costing, it’s not meant to be the panacea to all housing ills, there is more they can do to focus on the needs of non-middle-class families.

Of course, all that requires you to believe that David Shearer and his team didn’t think it was important to get all that stuff sorted before  the Speech That Will Prove Shearer Is Our New Left God Emperor, but that’s not something that would really surprise me.

My lightbulb moment struck while listening to The Egonomist, wherein rather nice things were said about me.  It’s about this bit in the information sheet put out to explain KiwiBuild:

No household type will receive preference over any other household type. Nor will there be any income restrictions. On the whole, people will ‘self-select’, with those who can afford to move up the property ladder excluding themselves

I’ve already had a wee rant about how obnoxious it is for a supposedly left-wing party to talk big about “affordable” housing and “hardworking Kiwis” and then not actually bother to ensure that hardworking Kiwis who are on, say, the median wage will actually be able to afford those homes.

But that’s not actually the biggest problem.

The biggest problem is that KiwiBuild supporters are sitting there saying “we have time to tie off the loose ends, this isn’t the complete policy” … but it’s complete enough that senior people in the Labour Party have already had the conversation about income levels.  They’ve already designed a key message to explain why there are no barriers to very, very well-off people getting into these houses.

They’ve happily left a gigantic hole in the policy about how long you’ll have to own the house before you can flip it – because I guess it was too hard to pluck a number out of the air – but they’ve explicitly decided, and tried to excuse, not excluding the wealthy from KiwiBuild.

That’s a fucking worry.

If there were just no mention of income levels, you could say “hey, they haven’t said how they’ll make sure this doesn’t get exploited by wealthy people!  Silly Labour, work that shit out before pinning your leader’s career to it!”

But in a policy where the numbers are clearly wonky (because no one could even be bothered figuring out how much land costs in Auckland) and important conditions haven’t be determined (5 years?  10?) and right after trying to sell the whole thing as a return to the great public building projects of old, Shearer’s had to explain that actually the whole thing is dependent on the private sector … they still had the time to spell out that wealthy people can just be trusted not to rort the system.  They still prioritised that as something that needed to be explained in their literature.  

So it’s not just that the policy is open to exploitation by the wealthy.  It’s that this has already been signed off as not being a problem.  Not being something that needs to be addressed.

So who the fuck are these houses being built for again?

After the firefight

To paraphrase a great man of the Labour Party, Shearer won, Cunliffe lost, eat that.

Whatever Cunliffe did or didn’t do, he’s been demoted.  Shearer has arranged a convenient vote of confidence in his leadership which I have to hope even his supporters can see is a complete paper tiger.

There’s still going to be a vote in February.  So there’s still going to be media focus on fun inter-faction crap instead of Actual Issues.

The point I’m stuck on is this:  now there are calls for “unity” – which does kinda bug me because there’s a big difference between genuine unity (punctuated by hopefully constructive arguments) and everyone pretending to get along for the cameras and not calling out bad shit because It Will Look Bad.

And a lot of these calls for unity seem to imply that basically, it’s the anti-Shearer people who need to put up or shut up, who need to stop pointing out his perceived errors.

But even today, while David Cunliffe takes his lumps and doesn’t comment to the media, as instructed, as agreed by caucus … well looky here, someone’s been talking to Claire Trevett about what went down in the caucus room.

I’m all for unity – genuine unity punctuated by constructive arguments, that is – and I’m all for waiting until February, looking at Shearer’s performance, letting the democratic wheels of the Labour Party turn.

But not when “unity” means “Cunliffe fans shut up, Shearer fans do whatever the hell they like”.  Not when “unity” means refraining from pointing out that it’s leaky bullshit like this which makes the Labour Party look unstable.  Not when “unity” means pretending that David Shearer’s faction aren’t acting like insecure Mean Girls who just got told someone else is wearing white gold hoops to prom.

Let’s have proper debate if we need to.  Let’s smack down the media narrative that people disagreeing within a party = SCANDALOUS INFIGHTING.  Let’s all grow the fuck up.  Starting with David Shearer and Trevor Mallard.

Shearer’s conference speech: was that all?

Events have obviously overtaken this post, but I’m keeping it anyway because it’s nice to be able to come back to these things five years down the track and remind myself that I was right all along. /hubris

Disclaimer:  Yes, I’m a Shearer-hater.  Yes, I was probably never going to be completely impressed by what he said, because it would have required a complete personality transplant and 180-degree turnaround of the entire party’s approach since Clark left.

So if that discredits my opinion, by all means go read other posts on the subject.  Plenty of other people think Shearer’s speech was the second coming of “I have a dream to fight them on the beaches”.

This is an Ideologically-Impure only post because after the weekend I’m well out of energy to have pointless circular arguments against people who oppose actually arguing with what I actually say.  Bitchy but true.

Here’s the first three-quarters or so of David Shearer’s speech in bullet points:

  • National bad
  • Labour != National
  • New direction needed

It’s thrilling stuff, really.  And a few faux-policy announcements:

  • Manufacturers good, controlling exchange rates good (unspecific)
  • R&D good (unspecific)
  • Capital gains tax (dear God, an actual concrete policy!  But details unspecified)
  • Compulsory KiwiSaver good, primarily for stock market (concrete policy to support the stock market!  Yay!)
  • Productivity good, minimum wage going up good (unspecified)
  • Local procurement good (where it’s good)
  • New approach to education (unspecified)
  • Helping Christchurch good (unspecified)

So, yeah.  Nice headlines (except for compulsory KiwiSaver, but that’s something for another post) but very little concrete policy.  Which is probably OK, because all of that was building to

~KIWIBUILD~

A policy apparently largely designed around someone coming up with a cool name.

The bullet points here are superficially awesome:

  • Put 100,000 families into their first home!
  • Building programme to grow economy!
  • Kiwi dream!

(Oh, and a Healthy Homes policy copy-pasted from the previous Green Party election manifesto.)

Unfortunately, KIWIBUILD looks a hell of  a lot less impressive when you examine the details.

Cost

From the much-vaunted factsheet:  “Estimates of the cost of a modest entry-level home suggest they can be built for less than $300,000, especially when building is undertaken on a large scale”

The price of the homes will be set at a rate sufficient to fully cover the Crown’s costs, including land, construction and finance costs.

A small 1% margin on top of the Crown’s cost of borrowing is sufficient to ensure the programme is self-funding over the long term, while still keeping the homes as affordable as possible.

So, that’s $300,000 just in construction, plus the cost of land, plus cost of financing, plus 1%.  Let’s call it around $350,000 all up for the 1/3 of the houses which aren’t being built in Auckland, and you’re looking at a 10% deposit of $35,000, 5% deposit of $17,500.

That looks totally affordable for someone on the median wage of $29k.  Why, in a double-income household on the median wage, that 5% deposit is only 30% of your pay before tax!

Eligibility

This is the big one for me, especially since you would think Labour had learnt something from the lack of top-end limits on Working for Families.

Factsheet again:

No household type will receive preference over any other household type. Nor will there be any income restrictions. On the whole, people will ‘self-select’, with those who can afford to move up the property ladder excluding themselves

Yep, you read that right.  There is no income limitation on this scheme.  This programme to change our nation’s direction and help hard-working, struggling Kiwis realise the dream of home ownership … and there’s nothing to stop those houses going to rich pricks.  Nothing to stop the 1% subsidising their kids into first homes care of the taxpayer.

I’ve been told that this isn’t a problem because rich people only want to live in mansions.  Which I can only assume means there are no problems with rich people using public healthcare when they can afford private, no problems with rich people sending their kids to public schools when they can afford private, and no problems at all with rich people hiding their income in trusts because hey, why would they when they can afford to pay higher taxes?

Oh, and there’s a currently-undefined (because why would you nail down the details of your cornerstone policy before announcing it at the biggest event your party has all year?) time limit for people to stay in those houses or suffer some currently-undefined penalty.  That’ll weed out the people looking for a government-subsidised investment for sure!

Language

There’s also the problem of rhetoric:  as much as this is about ~the Kiwi dream~ it’s satured with phrases like “entry-level home” and “housing ladder”.  What’s wrong with just owning a house?  Why is it automatically a stepping-stone to Robert Kiyosaki fantasies of massive wealth?  Isn’t that approach to property kind of a big part of the problem?

Finding a consistent message amongst the soundbites

Someone find me the speechwriter responsible for this, please, I’d just like five minutes alone with them in a room.  And maybe a pin.

We’ve always been a creative, innovative people with a ‘can do’ attitude.

Respected and admired across the globe.

Down to earth. Willing to give it a go.

We need that new direction now more than ever.

So … the “new direction” is the same as the “old direction”?  We need a new direction which is the same as the direction we used to go in but now don’t even though our reputation has remained relatively constant?

The upshot

Labour’s big sexy policy which has apparently instantly rejuvenated Shearer’s leadership is  full of rightwing rhetoric about property.  It’s not going to help people who are actually on low incomes and it’s hugely vulnerable to exploitation by the people who don’t need it.  Meanwhile, we’re meant to just take it on Shearer’s word that there’s some exciting policies about education, research and development, manufacturing, fiscal policy, coming any day now (drink!)

Sure, he managed to speak well, by all accounts.  But am I on fire for Labour – am I inspired by this speech?  Compared to other things coming out of conference, like an increased voice for the membership, some strong policy remits on schools and civics and marriage equality (though that one could get a little problematic)?  Nup.

Because come on, people.  The biggest policy smackdown they could come up with involves wealthy people excluding themselves from a handout.  Awesome.

Related reading:  Danyl’s view of the speech, with this fantastically brilliant point:

Although it occurs to me that developing left-wing policies is pretty easy in 21st century New Zealand. You just look about for the top dozen-or-so catastrophic market failures, pick one, think of the most blindingly obvious solution, and there’s your policy.

An apology to David Cunliffe

I want to apologise.  I was one of the flood of lefties who posted anti-Shearer statements in the week ahead of the conference.  I advocated for David Cunliffe as a prospective leader – indeed, the only leader with the potential for success in 2014, by my own assessment.

And now it looks like my post, among others, has shafted David Cunliffe.  We stirred the pot.  We shook the tree.  We rocked the boat, which knocked over the pot the tree was standing in.  And this convinced otherwise well-meaning, open-minded members of the Labour caucus that a dangerous plot was underway to undermine the very foundations of the Party by mounting an attack under cover of pseudonyms and Birnam wood.

So I’m sorry, David C.  Sorry that I played a part in what’s happening to you.

Hang on.

What the fuck am I saying?

The mainstream media constantly come down on this site, and bloggers in general, for being pseudonymous anonymous cowards with axes to grind.  You couldn’t move last week for Labour MPs declaring they don’t give a damn about blogs.

And yet suddenly the word of a handful of bloggers, and some awful shillery by Patrick Gower, is enough to bring Cunliffe to the brink of expulsion?

I mean, he hasn’t done anything.  Besides deliver good speeches and be generally charismatic and kind of dashing with the whole beard thing happening, Waitakere Woman likes a bit of scruff, yes she does.

… Sorry, got distracted there.  Cunliffe has done nothing, at least publicly.  Not spoken against Shearer.  Not made increasingly more leader-ish statements to the media (when he can talk to the media).  The only “source” for Cunliffe “threatening” the leadership is blogs, and Patrick Gower’s “but WHY, daddy?” interrogation methods.

Is it just me or does that make no fucking sense?

This situation is all the proof we need that there is, indeed, an anti-Cunliffe faction in the Labour Party.  People who perceive his very presence, the very thought that he might like the look of the leadership some day, as an active, viable threat to David Shearer.  (Because ambition is such a terrible attribute in a politician.)

Especially now the membership get more say, some might note.

So, because our media in their wisdom would really much rather report on a beat-up leadership challenge than actual policy, the ABCs are pretending to believe there’s a real problem here, that Cunliffe is up in the rafters in a mask about to drop a chandelier on Shearer’s head, so they can justify punishing and humiliating one of the most talented MPs on the front bench.

Because their first and only instinct, apparently, is self-preservation.

Wow, David C.  I am sorry.

Good luck for tomorrow, mate.

Queen of Thorns makes a move for Labour leadership

It’s like this, people.

Last night Patrick Gower emailed me about how the Labour Party Conference was going.  See, I’d criticised TV3’s coverage on Twitter, where an embarrassing clip of Paddy badgering David Cunliffe to predict the future was spun into “DAVID CUNLIFFE MAKING A MOVE FOR LABOUR LEADERSHIP.”

Then I, in a fit of girlish flirtation, emailed back, “Sorry, Paddy.  I can’t confirm I won’t run against Shearer in February either!”

And thus my secret is out.  By refusing to predict the state of the party in three months’ time, by refusing to make assumptions about whether David Shearer can pull the cat out of the bag or will continue to muddle along with his guitar getting nowhere in the polls … well, I’ve clearly thrown my hat in the ring.

You should also be aware that I can’t rule out moving to Thailand at some point in the future, maybe after the February Labour leadership vote.  That’s going to be Paddy’s headline tomorrow night:  “NZ BLOGGER TO ABANDON COUNTRY IF SHEARER REMAINS LEADER”.

And I also couldn’t rule out having steak for dinner tonight.  On Monday, Paddy’s got Campbell Live locked down for exclusive coverage of RADICAL FEMINIST BLOGGER PLANS SUNDAY FEAST TO CELEBRATE CUNLIFFE’S IMPENDING LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE.

Seriously, people.  There can be news stories in what people are happy or unhappy to confirm or deny.  There are interesting implications for the future leadership of Labour in the changes that have been voted at conference.

But whining “David, David, show your loyalty David, rule out running against Shearer David, come on David, why won’t you prove your loyalty David” and then reporting that as ground-breaking leadership challenge rumblings is just sad.

Mind you, we’re talking about the journo who added up the number of job ads on TradeMe and Seek and then declared that there wasn’t an unemployment crisis.

Meanwhile, John Armstrong is clearly so upset at the prospect of more democracy in the Labour Party he’s been moved to tweet 4 times today already.  Normally such flurries of activity are reserved for the super-cool fun times he’s having on overseas junkets, which you’ll recall he’d like us to note are really hard work, guys.  All I can think?  Is some senior journos are really worried that more democracy in the Labour Party means less juicy gossip for their pet MPs to leak to them.

Speaking of pet MPs, can someone find Trevor Mallard and duct-tape his mouth shut?

Labour Conference 2012: fantasy Shearer speech … and drinking game

There have been arguments made that we nasty, shadow-agenda critics of Shearer should wait to hear his speech, to be delivered on Sunday at Labour’s annual conference and probably robotically “Live Tweeted” by his social media team.

I’m personally of the opinion that while anyone can be given a good speech – and I’ve yet to see an example of that from Shearer’s team – good speeches also need to be delivered by good speakers.  Sam Seaborn can’t just make anyone sound inspirational and charismatic, it helps to have a Martin Sheen on the delivery end of the process.

So the problems are twofold, for me:  first off, will Shearer’s speech be a good one; second, will he deliver it with any gusto?  The second is obviously out of my control.  The first … well, a girl can dream.

Maybe he could start by saying

National and Act are leading this country in the wrong direction, and we all know it.  We know poverty is getting worse, there aren’t jobs out there, our public services are being cut to the point they can’t serve anyone.

I don’t need to list every single way in which John Key’s government has shafted this country.  I’m the leader of the Labour Party, and I need to tell you how we are going to fix it.

He might list some big, juicy policies.  Adopt Gareth Morgan’s universal income thingy.  Free doctor/dentist visits for under-18s.  Minimum wage to $15 in the first year of government at to $20 by the end of it.  Paid parental leave to Scandinavian levels.  Decriminalising low-end drugs and treating addicts like addicts instead of criminals.  Paid for by capital gains tax, a new top tax bracket, a financial transactions tax, demanding actual substantial royalties from the mining and drilling industries.

I don’t expect any of these policies.  I completely lack the skill to cost these things.  I just want something I, as a New Zealand lefty, can hang my hat on and say “this is what we fuckin’ stand for, dudes.”

Then he could spork the incredibly-predictable objections from the right:

National and Act are going to say that these policies are ridiculous, are too expensive, won’t fix the problems in our country.  We know what they think fixes everything:  tax cuts for the wealthy.

Tax cuts don’t feed hungry children.  Tax cuts don’t treat preventable illnesses.  Tax cuts don’t even create jobs, and isn’t that always the excuse?  But after four years of unsustainable tax cuts pushing our country further into debt, poverty is worse, unemployment is worse, emigration to Australia is up.

Let’s say Labour want to try repeating the success of the pledge card (though I’m going to say it:  still pissed off about that “affordable tertiary education” bullshit, people.)  So define the 5 big policies and the 5 big facts that Labour wants to take to the election debate table. I could personally go for:

  1. The cost of doing business in NZ is stupidly low compared to anywhere else you want to do business.
  2. The rich in NZ pay a pathetic amount of tax for the privilege of living here
  3. New Zealander workers are hugely productive compared to anywhere else.
  4. Our public service is a vital support system which keeps our economy and society healthy.  Cutting the “back office” functions just makes the front office’s job harder.
  5. When we treat all people with dignity and fairness, everyone benefits.

… and back all that up in the campaign with handy factsheets which your MPs have already memorised.

Then, talk about a united front.  A caucus which will not tolerate petty infighting, a caucus which will have open, upfront discussions about leadership if they need to happen, a caucus which will fucking exile anyone who sows dissent in the ranks/Duncan Garner’s earpiece.  As an early indicator of this, get Shane Jones off the front page of the fucking “People” page on the website.

It’d be a great start.  It might rekindle the tiniest flicker of hope in my heart for a Shearer-led Labour Party.  But it’d be a tiny flicker, a flicker wondering where the fuck this strong, clear direction and decisive leadership has been for the past year – and wondering when it’s next going to be extinguished by some godawful response to a predictable journo query.

The only problem:  I just don’t know if Shearer / the current party leadership have concrete-enough principles to believe any of the above.  You can’t get inspirational prose out of a core of “we really want to be re-elected” and “we definitely know that the one thing we are is not-National.  Specifically … by not being National.”

Things Shearer’s speech seriously does not need (aka the David Shearer Speech Drinking Game, one drink per mention):

  • anecdotes about how he was the White Messiah to starving brown children
  • anecdotes about super-yachts or roofpainters
  • anecdotes about Good Hardworking Kiwis with names like Bill and Joe who work in Real Jobs like plumbing
  • the phrases “going forward”, “bringing the fight to National”, “middle New Zealand”, “ordinary Kiwis”, “our children’s children”, “heartland”, “make the hard decisions”, “new new Zealand”, “pull their weight”
  • promises to announce actual policy in the near future
  • any mention of Excalibur

ETA:  Toby Manhire has also made a helpful list of pointers for Shearer.  Probably more helpful, to be honest.

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!

Make your own “Shearer Says”!

Ever wanted to talk like the esteemed leader of New Zealand’s biggest leftwing party?  Of course you haven’t.  But I’m going to show you the secrets of his success anyway, because I think you’ll be surprised just how completely flaccid you can make yourself sound with just a few tiny tweaks to normal, innocent English.

This week I’ve been in [ insert location].  The people there are [hard-working/real] New Zealanders with a great sense of [fairness/justice/community/family].  But they’re [having a hard time/losing their jobs/worried] because of [insert recent National policy implementation].

This isn’t [good/just/fair/helpful].  This is [bad/stressful/unjust/unconstructive].  Labour will stand by the people of [insert location] and help them through the tough times ahead.

National was elected on a promise to [insert promise here].  Instead they’ve [insert policy here].  This isn’t [the way forward/the right thing for New Zealand/what they promised].  As the Leader of the Labour Party, I will do something to fix this [optional:  and will shortly be announcing our policy in this area].

Labour knows that [jobs/children/the environment/the economy/the heartland/our communities] are important to New Zealanders.  Under National, [insert previous] is [suffering/in decline/living below the breadline/spiralling out of control/neglected] while they [insert policy implementation].  As Leader of the Labour Party I’m committed to fixing this [optional:  and will shortly be announcing our policy in this area].

Warm regards,
David Shearer
Leader of the Labour Party

For more staggering examples of punchy, convincing prose in action, I refer you to The Standard’s reprints of Shearer’s weekly e-newsletter, sure to be driving the voters to the polls in Election ’99.  Tune in tomorrow to learn about the John Key approach to revealing when you’ve been coached on what to say!

H/T for the inspiration: Rhinocrates

[Repost] Roofpainter II: Son of the bride of the monster roof painter

David Shearer was on The Nation on Sunday, continuing to emphasise for us all that he sees absolutely no problem in psychically diagnosing people’s health based on their neighbour’s greedy, judgemental envy.

Per the transcript:

And he rejected criticism from his party’s left over his references to a sickness beneficiary who had been well enough to paint a roof.

“You know you work, you pay your taxes, and then when you need it you lose your job, you have an accident, the State looks after you.

“As soon as you’re able to get back onto your feet again, the expectation is that you go back and you start paying your way again.”

He elaborates:

the speech that I made is about fairness, and it is about a social contract, and it is about paying your way, and then living up to your responsibilities at the other end.  That’s all it was, and New Zealanders are very very attuned to somebody doing the right thing, whether it be paying their taxes, or not taking advantage of the welfare system.

Now sure, there’s nothing wrong with fairness, and there’s nothing wrong with talking about “doing the right thing” – what is wrong is the Leader of the Labour Party claiming he gives a crap about fairness while continuing to defend that anecdote.

Because if he wasn’t calling the guy painting his roof an evil bludger, if he wasn’t taking it upon himself to judge another person’s right to a benefit, if he wasn’t in favour of believing everything a grudge-holding stranger tells him … he wouldn’t still be saying “as soon as you’re able to get back onto your feet again”.  He wouldn’t be saying “New Zealanders are very attuned to somebody doing the right thing.”

Because all that says is “clearly, this guy was back on his feet, and clearly his neighbour was “attuned” enough to make medical judgements about him.”

David Shearer, plainly, still thinks it’s okay to make assumptions about other people based on gossip.  David Shearer still thinks it’s okay to label people he’s never met as bludgers just to make some point about “fairness” – and per my previous post, it’s a very nasty kind of “fairness” that involves throwing sick people into the gutter just because it’ll win a vote from their petty, mean-spirited neighbours.

David Shearer, Leader of the Labour Party, literally uses the phrase paying your way to describe how people should behave.

Meanwhile, somewhere else, another David was delivering an interesting speech about economics and supporting the vulnerable.  Lucky for him Labour’s a “broad church”, right, David S?