The news that David Shearer is to ‘get media training’ from Ian Fraser in order to make him more visible to the electorate has tended to reinforce the notion that ‘getting media training’ is rather like getting a new suit from Hallenstein’s. All you have to do is put the new suit on and you’ll immediately not merely look better but be a whole new person. Unfortunately media training doesn’t fit this prêt-à-porter model. It’s a bespoke art. Everyone’s needs are different, no two people’s measurements are exactly the same, and there are some people who will never look good in anything.
David Shearer is the invisible man of New Zealand politics.
Seven months after he took up the reins, voters say they still do not know the man who would be prime minister, raising questions about his effectiveness as Labour leader.
The first Fairfax Media/Ipsos political poll of 1000 voters showed nearly one in four voters couldn’t think of two words to describe Mr Shearer when pressed, while nearly the same number again thought he was either invisible, or inexperienced.
Gordon Fenwick, 64, a Wellington National Party supporter, said Mr Shearer seemed to have “a bit more sense” than his colleagues but was inexperienced.
“He is just a drip. He just comes across as totally wet. He doesn’t really inspire any confidence, he hasn’t got any charisma.”
Tracey, 48, of Auckland said: “I must admit I have no views on him. He’s sort of a nondescript sort of man, I think.”
Some Labour voters thought the same: “Untried, nice but unsure, invisible, maybe more honest, and don’t know anything about him”, were the first words that sprang to mind for the first five we surveyed.
A change in tone is one thing (possibly not the wisest course against this National government, but that’s an argument for another day); abdication is another. But hey, if Shearer doesn’t actually want to lead the left in NZ, there’s another party eager to take his job. And if he keeps on staying silent, he’ll have no-one to blame but himself.
The lap-blogs at The Standard aren;t playing nicely either:
Google news has 1.5 pages of articles mentioning David Shearer to John Key’s 13 in the past week. The only ones directly about Shearer or Labour are saying ‘where’s Shearer? He’s wasting his honeymoon’.
Since that honeymoon is with the press, when they start saying it’s being wasted, it’s already over.
So Shearer doesn’t have to ‘play gotcha’, but he does have to do something, because while he’s doing well compared to Goff, he’s in a really terrible position historically.
I watched the news last night, and the Labour MP fronting on the two main political stories of the day was Phil Goff. That’s because they were both foreign affairs based stories and he’s their spokesman on that issue – but Shearer isn’t chopped liver when it comes to foreign affairs, and he did make a big deal about how he was going to change the Labour Party. He could start by getting Goff – who just led them to an historic defeat – off the damn TV and getting himself on it. And, like I always said during Goff’s tenure, he should carry on by firing all his staffers who didn’t point this out to him.
If your friends aren’t best pleased then things aren’t going well. With T2 stacking the leader’s office with his own people Shearer is going to need to develop a pair of eyes int eh back of his head.