Trotter on Shearer

Dominion Post

The forces are now marshaling for the Labour party civil war. Chris Trotter has been drafted:

Confession, they say, is good for the soul, so I have a confession to make. I was wrong about David Shearer. I made the mistake of believing that a politician with a brilliant back-story couldn’t fail to give us an equally brilliant front-story.

Well, as Sportin’ Life tells the true believers in Porgy & Bess: “It ain’t necessarily so.”

And, now I (and I suspect you) know it ain’t so. David Shearer is a thoroughly likeable, decent bloke, and his record at the United Nations is truly inspirational but, come on, let’s face it: he ain’t anybody’s kind of leader.

David Shearer, like David Lange, is a creature of the factional and personal animosities dividing the Labour caucus.

Bluntly: he was put there by an unholy alliance of Right and Left-wing MPs to prevent the Labour Party’s choice, David Cunliffe, from taking the top job.

David Lange, however, had one thing going for him that David Shearer does not – a gift for oratory.

When David Lange opened his mouth the words flowed out in gorgeous, highly ornamented and persuasive profusion. His soaring rhetoric had the power to transport entire audiences to the vivid world of the Langean imagination. “I see a country”, he would say, and within a few inspirational sentences, we could see it too.

David Shearer, by contrast, can barely string 10 words together. And, when he says “I see a country”, he means Finland.

Chris Trotter then gives us a rose tinted view of the Lange years and then returns to the present:

If the first David story was a tragedy, the second is pure farce, and everybody can see it. In certain Labour circles his elevation to the leadership was hailed as “the experiment”. In those same circles, it is now being described as “the unfortunate experiment”.

That kind of vicious, stiletto thrust might have been avoided if David Shearer had made up for what he lacked as a speaker, with what he offered as a thinker. If only, in his two, much ballyhooed, “direction-setting” speeches he had given the country some juicy, red, ideological meat to chew on.

If only he had been able to plainly set forth an overarching philosophical framework from which later, more specific, Labour policies could be hung, then none of the muttering and stuttering would have mattered.

But those two speeches showed not the slightest trace of “big picture” thinking. On the contrary, they showed every sign of having been inspired by an Auckland-based focus-group, and composed by a Wellington-based committee.

The only picture they painted was one that revealed Labour’s deficiencies. That not only did the party lack leadership, but it also lacked ideas. Oh, that Labour possessed speechwriters like The West Wing‘s Toby Ziegler and Sam Seaborne.

Then the summary, making it clear that though he has been drafted to help knife David Shearer, he isn’t yet in Team Grant:

So, what have we learned from this debacle? What has Labour learned?

If by “Labour” you mean its caucus, I would say absolutely nothing. If you’re talking about the party itself, nothing it didn’t know already: that caucus picked the wrong guy.

It’s time for the Labour caucus to put an end to “the unfortunate experiment” and begin a new one. They could call it “democracy” – and stop taking their party for Grant-ed.


THANK YOU for being a subscriber. Because of you Whaleoil is going from strength to strength. It is a little known fact that Whaleoil subscribers are better in bed, good looking and highly intelligent. Sometimes all at once! Please Click Here Now to subscribe to an ad-free Whaleoil.

  • Michael

    National have positively gifted Shearer a free run. The fact he is making zero impact should mesn Shearer may become the party leader with the shortest Parliamentary career – even less than Brash.

  • Grandstream

    funny game this politics !  It wasnt that long ago Trott-ski et al were claiming the imminent downfall of National post the ACC/Pullar/Boag incident.  In this case with Shearer was doomed from theminute he “won” the top job.  He probably believed that the labour party could actually stand for something that would deliver growth to NZ…..he must be feeling like a right plonker now that he has seen the true nasty party in action. 

  • excuse me

    Fascinating to watch from the sidelines as the internecine warfare unfolds.

    I’m searching, though, for any hint that the national interest has any role in the Labour Party’s reflections or expectations. To the extent that there is any public discussion, it’s all about style, personality and sometimes even sexual orientation.

    Where is the leader-in-waiting with a capacity to:
    – set out and document a practical vision for the country’s future that Labour could deliver;
    – sell that vision to Labour’s caucus and the wider membership; and
    – lead his / her Party through a 5-year implementation plan that they develop as a unified team?

    The interests of New Zealand are being seriously short-changed by the present vacuum of true leadership in the official Opposition.

    • Blokeintakapuna

      Yep – long may they dwell in a festering ideas vaccuum! 

      If they weren’t already the flip side the Union coin – i’d say they deserve each other! Sweet poetic justice! 

    • AngryTory

      – set out and document a practical vision for the country’s future that Labour could deliver; 

      It is of course impossible for Labour to ever produce such a document.

      What needs to be done, as a matter of urgency?
       * terminate WFF
       * terminate invest free student loans
       * divest from all state liabilities (including KiwiBank, KiwiRail, TVNZ, power companies, RNZ etc)
       * terminate “unfunded broadband” boondoggle
       * terminate “roads of National electorate significance” boondoggle 
       * terminate benefits
       * terminate super 
       * termiante “free” state schooling
       * terminate “free” state hospitals
       * terminate unions & unionism
       * terminate ACC, EQC, etc
       * arm the police

      Is Labour ever going to do any of this?  Never! 

  • Trotter’s really put a cat amongst the pigeons this morning. Not only has he plunged the knife into Shearer’s back, right up to the hilt, but he’s fired a warning shot at Team Grant. There seems to be a huge gulf between the Labour Party caucus now, and rank and file party members whose views were given no weight during the leadership spill in December. One can’t help but wonder if the whole party is about to self-destruct; all those competing factions…

  • Positan

    Notwithstanding the old saw that governments lose elections, that opposition parties do not win them – a political party can only succeed if it can sell itself to the electorate.  

    However, from its earliest, Labour’s elemental problem has been that the character of so many of its followers and MPs is hardly representative of the best in human qualities.  On the contrary, Labour’s crowd constantly show themselves to be small-minded, mean-spirited and jealous of their own compatriot’s talents – so much so, that unless they’re individually benefiting from their caucus structure, they’re working to enhance their own lot by undermining that of those above them. Hence Shearer’s lot today.  Labourites know that even when their colleagues are being supportive, their own position is very much at risk.

    Unlike National, whose MPs spring largely from business-related and competence-proven backgrounds, a parliamentary seat is usually the highest point (pay, perks and benefits-wise) to which a Labourite might aspire from union-based/education-based nurseries.

    As an occupation, politics brings out the most snivelling aspects of human nature – never more evident from Labour, when in opposition.  It has less reason to display such “qualities” in government, yet it does – largely during attempts to cover up its elemental  lack of competence to handle, let alone deliver on, all that it has taken on.

    • Blokeintakapuna

      This has got to be in the running for comment of the day…

      • thor42

        Labour stands for stealing from the workers to give to the beneficiaries. For the expansion of welfare as fast as possible, to as many people as possible – even the undeserving and those who don’t need it (Working for Families).
        For the unbridled power of unions.
        Against any change, even when said change has been shown to work well elsewhere. 
        Labour (in fact, all left-wing parties) are the ball-and-chain of politics, holding New Zealand back.

  • Agent BallSack

    Great. Until they knife the haters, the troughers and the unionists, no one will be able to lead Labour. Kosh can you say 2020? That’s gotta be bad for Labour.

    • AngryTory

      Labour should never again hold political power in NZ!

      Time for the unionists, terrorists, labourists & all the rest to be removed from NZ forever

      • Groans

        The unfortunate experiment may turn out to be the Labour Party itself.  I’m with you Tory it would be nice to see a document showing us how nanny state is going to be shut down.

  • Phar Lap

    If Shearer is so bad in the eyes of Robertsons” gaggle of gays ” to quote Damian O’Connors famous words regarding the whole Lie-bour Party.Who is the person in that party that had him parachuted into the Mount Albert safe seat.Maybe Clark,.or probably Goff.If Shearer gets dumped by the the now known, gaggle of gays surrounding Robertson which he is employing holus bolus.CAN THAT HAPPEN OR WILL PEOPLE LIKE GOFF DEMAND A SECRET BALLOT TO DUMP OR KEEP SHEARER.

  • Guest

    The nastiness in Labour is reaching a crescendo of hate, if words like “Unfortunate Experiment” is being used.

    For those too young to remember, “The Unfortunate Experiment” was the name of a book written by Sandra Coney exposing the risk that women had in unreported cervical cancer tests in the 1970s-1980s. It sparked off a huge inquiry into women’s health.

    That Labour MPs are now being equated with cancerous c*nts is amusing, if not somewhat alarming.

    • Blokeintakapuna

      exceptionally apt though…

    • Grandstream

      Quote of the YEAR so far !!!!

    • David Garrett

       By Gad sir, you have  fine way with the written word and no mistake!

  • Cullen’s Sidekick

    If Sheep Shearer is replaced, National’s chance of winning 2014 election diminishes. So let us all pray that the dumb Labourers don’t do anything smart like replacing Shearer.

    • johnbronkhorst

      How so???..With their mickey mouse circus act called a caucus. Who is leader? Is an irrelevant question!!!

  • ConwayCaptain

    Now Labour have a problem that most of their MPs now have no or little affinity with the working class they are meant to represent.

    Lawyers, troughers and over paid unionists that can only get in on a list seat.

    How will it go down in the Labour heartland of S Akl, Hutt Valley etc with a high percentage of Church Going Polynesians in their ranks, when in walks the Leader of the Party with his Chief of Staff and other MPs in tow who are all homosexual and to some extent flaunt it.  They are Homosexuals who are MPs not MPs who just happen to be homosexual.

    At the next election the Greens and Labour will be VERY close in mumbers.

    • Blokeintakapuna

      Agree Captain… and by extention, Labour’s downfall will actually give “some political credibility” to the likes of Bradford, Minto, Hone….

      Ohh Lord give us strength!

    • AngryTory

      Labour heartland of S Akl, Hutt Valley etc with a high percentage of Church Going Polynesians

      who are now either voting for National, or the Conservatives, or in a few cases Mana.

  • BJ

    I see on Bryce Edwards Political Roundup David Farrar and WO are being almost solely attributed with talking Shearer up so much, as the reason he won the Labour leadership role.

  • Chris

    About time we get to read some more Texts from New York from Helen..