Shane Phillips (Shane Te Pou)

A Crisis of Leadership

It is hugely ironic that Labour is making leadership an issue in the lead up to the budget on Thursday.

I say ironic because Labour appears bereft of leadership.

With the Bill Liu/Shane Jones cash for citizenship affair making its way through court and the political beltway it can;t have been a surprise to labour that this was going to cause problems.

Phil Goff certainly has known about it for all the time he was a minister, and leader of the opposition. He would have been hoping and praying it didn;t come to court while he was leader.

Shane Jones has certainly known about it, he was even called to give evidence on Monday. So it is somewhat bemusing to watch Labour, Shearer and Jones claim that they know nothing except what Shane Jones has told us and he has told us he can’t remember much as it was 4 years ago.

Let’s hope he was more forthcoming with evidence in the court room than he has been so far with the general public.

Given that this case can have been no surprise to labour, after all it involves Shane Jones and David Cunliffe but also other Labour names including their fundraisers, you have to wonder why David Shearer has been caught flat-footed and stumble mouthed over the whole issue.

It just shows how politically out of touch Labour’s leadership has been for some time.

Bryce Edwards though sums up Shearer’s¬†dilemma¬†he created for himself:

Quickly accumulating unwanted baggage is a reality for most travellers. On his journey towards the Beehive’s 9th floor David Shearer, the “non-politician” elected with no political baggage, is quickly getting weighed down.

Shearer’s office, along with Government politicians, are no doubt poring over the Labour Leader’s previous statements about political corruption in light of the daily revelations about Shane Jones’ involvement with William Yan (aka Bill Liu), currently on trial in Auckland. Revelations in court yesterday show the link goes further than just Jones, as Shane Phillips (also known as Shane Te Pou), a professional Labour Party fundraiser, had close links with Mr Yan, taking Yan on a trip to Hawke’s Bay which included a visit with then Labour Internal Affairs minister Rick Barker. His brother also worked in Shane Jones’ office.

David Shearer unwisely tied his leadership to a now meaningless statement about avoiding “gotcha” politics. No sooner had he uttered those fateful words, he was jumping in boots and all playing “gotcha” politics like a pro. That lack of political nous and leadership displayed right there will see David Shearer forever marginlised and mumble-mouthed when it comes to ethics. But if you are going to call others to account then you must also hold your own to account.

David Shearer has painted himself into a corner and bizarrely he chose the paint and the brush. He must live with that and start to show some of the reputed leadership skills he was supposed to bring to the job.

If he fails in this most basic of tasks, then he is dog tucker and labour crisi of leadership will continue.