David Shearer is missing in action.
This week of all weeks he needed to be front and centre, leading debate on all things political.
In more than six years there has never been an opportunity like a meddlesome judge throwing foreign ownership back on the plate, asset sales and a Finance Minister with incredibly loose lips, and the appearance of political interference by political appointees…all in the same week.
Where was David Shearer?
Missing in Action. Sure he was in the house but Labour is intent on following National’s poorly thought out play book that they used for Don Brash. They are protecting Shearer in parliament and letting others smack up ministers…the only problem is they are bombing their opportunities.
Clare Curran has appalling delivery, she tried for three days straight to shoot a possum, startled in the headlights and missed every time. She would stand to ask questions and take the call despite having no idea what question it was that she was going to ask…she would uhhmm and ahhh and make up her question on the fly and bomb it. She should have spanked Craig Foss who isn’t living up to all his Gilmore-esque hype. She failed.
David Shearer ceded the asset sales and foreign ownership debate to Winston Peters, who is looking more and more like the leader of the opposition…or at the very least like a co-leader with Russel Norman.
By fronting Campbell Live together with Winston Peters he put Winston on the same level as him. And Winston Peters, in one of his more lucid moments pwnd David Shearer.
David Shearer should never have fronted with Winston Peters, but then again it may have been part of the deal he made at less than secret dinner at Trade Kitchen on Wednesday night. Another part of that dinner deal was the handing of an additional parliamentary question from labour to Winston Peters on the Crafar farm issue.
Winston was given the question ostensibly to land a hit on the Prime Minister. It failed, Winston bombed the question…leaving me questioning why Labour would even bother handing a platform to Winston Peters again. If they had taken just a moment of thought they would have withheld that question, the Prime Minister is never int he house on Thursday anyway, and neither was David Shearer.
The fact that Winston Peters bombed the question shows what a poorly thought out decision it was, and then when Clare Curran was left hanging just when she really needed another question to smash Craig Foss in the face it wasn’t there. This was a poor house strategy, one can only imagine that Trevor Mallard was distracted with his own problems to have thought that one through properly.
Which brings me to the Mallard Problem that David Shearer faces. Trevor Mallard destroyed any momentum Labour had this week. Totally and utterly destroyed…once again through ineptitude and political stupidity labour was left shaking their collective heads at their political strategist.
When the issue broke Labour’s leadership ordered Mallard to apologise, repay and shut up. He chose to ignore them all despite repeated attempts to silence him. He went on a one man rampage through the media trying to justify a position that could not ever be justified. He proved himself to be an embarrassment and he still has not used the hardest word.
Trevor Mallard thumbing his nose at the leadership is the very obvious signal to every one watching on from the beltway outwards that David Shearer is not control of his party. He needs to show some leadership and show it quickly. Trevor Mallard provides him with a perfect opportunity.
If I was David Shearer what I would do is immediately strip him of his Shadow Leader of the House position and find him a seat out of camera shot of the front bench. I would remove his spokesperson role for America’s Cup and give him something that requires zero travel…like Statistics or something equally demeaning. When he throws his toys, as he will as sure as the sun rises each morning, then I would invite him to resign his seat, he may as well anyway because I would be explaining to Trevor that with the loaded constitution of the party it is very unlikely he will get selected in Hutt South ever again. He may like to think that the residents of Hutt South love him but the political reality is that the rest of the country hates him.
Unless it is over politically for Trevor Mallard it will be over politically for David Shearer.