Chris Trotter recants, wants Shearer to go

Chris Trotter has changed his mind and now thinks David Shearer should go as leader of Labour.

New Zealanders are not natural radicals, but once persuaded that radical change is necessary and can no longer be avoided they can be very radical indeed. Roger Douglas and Richard Prebble understood this – and transformed their nation. Shearer showed a glimmer of understanding it when he held up the example of the Finnish prime minister, Esko Aho. Big change is better than little change, was what Shearer seemed to be saying. The problem was, none of those responsible for getting him the Leader’s job agreed.

Douglas and Prebble had the likes of Graham Scott and Bryce Wilkinson to rely on, Shearer had John Pagani, Fran Mold, Julian Robbins and Mike Smith. That wouldn’t have mattered if Shearer possessed the leadership qualities necessary to attract the sort of advisers he needed to succeed. But Shearer has never been that sort of man. He has always gone where he was sent, and worked with what he found there. Fine qualities in a UN troubleshooter. Massive drawbacks in a political leader. 

That’s why he’s got to go. That’s why I’m un-surrendering.

Labour’s purpose is to make a difference for all those who lack the personal and/or communal resources to make a difference on their own. Doing that successfully has always demanded radicalism – allied to an intellectual and emotional leadership capable of convincing enough New Zealanders that only radicalism will do.

It takes time to win that argument. Inevitably, there will be losses along the way. But when that sort of Labour leader does eventually win power, radical change happens.

The very worst thing a Labour leader can be is a winner who changes nothing.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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