The Herald tried to find Mr Invisible

Claire Trevett seems to have left her pink tinted glasses behind somewhere and gets into Labour’s missing in action leader:

The rumblings over the Australian Labor Party leadership involving Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her predecessor Kevin Rudd bear little resemblance to the earnest affair in New Zealand last year.

Among the many differences is that neither Gillard nor Rudd have so far promised such tantalising things as tents.

The nation is still waiting to see the tent Labour leader David Shearer promised back in December as part of his pitch for the leadership in which he said “I want Labour to be a big tent”.

It was enough of a promise to get him the leadership, and in February he continued with the theme when – perhaps with some envy – he revealed National already had its tent, describing John Key as “the pole that holds the rest of the National Party tent up”. It is about the only theme he has expanded on so far.

Some have begun scratching their heads about Labour’s new leader as the “few weeks” in which Shearer promised he would play show and tell stretches into almost two months.

Perhaps he is still “hooking up in bars, clubs and marae”…but apparently no tents.

His short tenure in politics means few have any idea of his political compass or even if he has one. People know he had an epiphany when watching starving children fight over mango skins he had thrown from the back of a truck in Sudan. What is not so clear is how exactly this translates to New Zealand.

Next week Labour will announce the first steps of the organisational review of the party. It will include outside consultants – among them Bryan Gould, a former British Labour MP. It has taken so long that Young Labour gave up waiting and launched its own submission process.

Next month Shearer will deliver keynote speeches – one aimed at sharing that political compass with the public and another giving the long-promised “broad brushstrokes” on policy direction. He is likely to signal where he will go on some existing Labour policies rather than set out new policies.

Those speeches had better be good.

For the beginning of the year should have been a veritable mardi gras for any Opposition leader, let alone a new one nestled into the honeymoon suite.

Every pinata had a treasure trove in it and was just begging to be hit with a big stick.

But, but, but the polls are moving I tell you:

It is astonishing then that Labour can see any kind of solace in the first few polls of the year, Roy Morgan and last week’s 3 News Reid Research poll, which showed National’s support has slipped only slightly and Shearer’s debut as preferred PM only just nudged double digits. If anything, it was vindication for Phil Goff that it was not his leadership that doomed Labour.

The biggest shifts were among Labour’s fellow Opposition parties – support increased for both the Greens and NZ First.

Shearer has been busy building relations with them. He had a dinner with Peters last week and Labour has given him some of its allocated parliamentary questions to Peters – the political equivalent of gifts of courting. And he publicly mended bridges with Mana leader Hone Harawira.

But Shearer needs to spend some time getting his own yurt in order before he goes looking for others to pitch their pup tents alongside.


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  • Cactus Kate

    I stopped at Bryan Gould and needed to compose myself.
    You’re having a laugh if that’s their go to guy!!

  • Petal

    I liked Hooton’s analysis on Radio Live yesterday afternoon.  He basically proposes that Shearer has a long time to go until the election, he is “the most popular leader since Helen Clark” already, and he can afford to spend time building the Labour Party from within as opposed to providing a sound bite for the 6 O’clock news every day.

    • Hooton would say that wouldn’t he, it was at his BBQ that the plotting began.

      • Petal

        Yes.  But what makes this so much fun is that it sounds like a credible strategy.

    • In Vino Veritas

      I thought that the TVNZ had dictated that the leader of the opposition was not newsworthy. Since Shearer therefore can’t get on TV, the only choice he has is to build from within I would have thought


      Keeping your mouth shut is a good policy as a Labour leader.

  • Dr Wang

    You’ll be laughing on the other side of your face when the Somali warlords arrive in town brandishing their AK47s – David Shearer will be the only politician with the requisite skills who will be able to save our skins then.

    Then all the doubting Thomases will be silenced…you just wait and see!

    • Hakim of phut

      Well we did wonderful having a financial genius at the helm when Warners Bros came calling. 

      Was it $40 mill that one cost us when Hollywood  said Boo. About the same amount when the Government decided to invest taxpayers money in the local radio/TV business inspite of having their own radio and Tv networks. 

      Pure genius

      • In Vino Veritas

        Hakim, you are clearly one of the reasons National Standards are being implemented. The failure of students and the acceptance of mediocrity results in risible economic and financial sense, and lack of ability to complete rudimentary research as evidenced in your post. It’s demoralising really.

    • Chris

      I like the idea of greating Somali Warlords with a hail of bullets rather than sending Shearer out to negotiate with them….but considering Labour would rather Kiwis were unarmed and the military more like a surf rescue club for missing fishermen David Shearer probably would have to strut over and negotiate aka* bend over and take a stiff one.

      • jay cee

        and the so called weakening of the miltary is being continued under this government,so much for all the sabre rattling under labour.

    • What a hoot

      What game is Matthew Hooton playing. He seems to be Shearer’s foremost apologist hese days. He used to be intoduced on radio as “from the right”, surely it should now be ” on behalf of David Shearer”.

  • Cas

    Apparently he was in Opotiki yesterday . So was I but I didn’t see him – he must have found an inside tent. Opotiki was quite crowded but then again it was court day..

  • AnonWgtn

    Why pick Gould – he was a pathetic Labour Party loser in UK, which is why, with his tail between his legs he came back to New Zealand, at Helen Clark and Margaret Wilson’s behest, to take charge of New Zealand’s poorest University – Waikato.He gave them no leadership and left them no better off, poorer after his large pay package.
    Now he is being dumped on Shearer – isn’t he poorly off enough – he has go Grunty and Ducky, now Gould.
    However the Herald like Gould as a regular writer now.

  • Crusader Col

    Boy who take girl camping have one intent