Matthew Hooton writes at NBR about the continued civil war within Labour’s activist base.
For some time, blogs have ceased to merely report grass-roots political activity: they are now where much grass-roots political activity actually occurs, with hundreds of different perspectives being put forward on various topics.
A generation ago, political reporters hung around dire regional conferences to get a sense of what the grassroots were feeling.
With little happening at todayâ€™s stage-managed conferences, it makes sense that they now observe the postings and comments on blogs such as Whaleoil, Kiwiblog and The Standard to get a sense of grass-roots opinion (noting, as always, that conference delegates and blog writers tend to be further to the extremes of the parties to which they purport allegiance).
Even with that proviso, the extreme language at The Standard about Mr Shearer is unprecedented, and it is again being ramped up.
A nickname for Mr Shearer has emerged: Captain Mumblefuck. His intelligence and admittedly poor diction are derided.Â
We are told he is a bully and coward for demoting Mr Cunliffe, and a puppet of Trevor Mallard and Annette King. He is accused of appeasing the middle class, his 100,000-house KiwiBuild policy is criticised as a veneer for public private partnerships and he is widely suspected of having a secret neoliberal agenda.
Elsewhere, based on research by Mr Trotter, some even hint he may be some sort of agent for foreign intelligence services.
Since the November conference, writers at The Standard have demanded that despite Mr Shearer having the overwhelming support of caucus â€“ and well above the 60% threshold required for him to automatically keep his job â€“ he should put his leadership to a vote of party members and union affiliates this February.
To pressure him, a false rumour was spread in recent days that Mr Shearer planned to announce this weekend a membership and union vote. The motivation is because most Standardistas are confident he would lose.
In anticipation, people are being encouraged to join the party for the very purpose of voting against its leader and for the candidate, Mr Cunliffe, bizarrely seen as far left.