Fran O’Sullivan on Shearer and Labour

Fran O’Sullivan discusses Shearer’s demise and Labour’s mis-step in opposing the GCSB Bill.

When the Wellington cocktail party set starts chattering openly about Labour’s leadership, using slogans about how a “fish stinks from its head”, it is obvious something is up.

So it was on Wednesday night as even the MPs at Wellington public relations and lobbying firm SenateSJH’s annual bash talked freely about who was likely to replace David Shearer.

The symbolism was obvious.

Shearer’s “dead fish” stunt – where he waved a couple of dead snapper in Parliament to make a point about Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy’s botched attempt to lower the snapper catch limit – had backfired.

In reality, the only dead fish was Labour – a leading Opposition party still floundering in the polls and led by a politician who this week again proved he lacked the leadership skills to capitalise on opposition to the Government Communications Security Bureau legislation.

I am now convinced that the “dead fish” stunt was a set up, supposedly to be the final nail in the coffin so that caucus could present the letter of no confidence at tuesday’s caucus. 

What the plotters couldn’t know was that John Key prepared to throw Shearer under the bus and out his secret meeting over the GCSB Bill. That meeting showed that Shearer wasn’t keen on what is increasingly looking like Robertson’s game over the GCSB.

[H]e simply wasn’t up to open duelling with Prime Minister John Key and second (and more important), because his heart wasn’t really in it and he knew in his bones that Labour should have forged an accommodation with Key to change the bill, not simply sniped from the sidelines.

Unlike many of his colleagues, Shearer is a man of the world. He has operated in international troublespots. He knows about terrorism. It should be no surprise that he seriously entertained cutting a support deal with Key on the legislation. That is what a responsible political leader should seek to do.

But he did not put realism first.

That is why his speeches lacked vitality…he simply wasn’t convinced of the position that Robertson’s advisors, Including Fran Mold, place him at. His body language told, and his words and demeanour showed.

Unfortunately, today’s Labour Party is so hooked into opposition for opposition’s sake that it would rather end up publicly shackled to the personage and rhetoric of the dubious Kim Dotcom and tugged every which way by the Green Party than take the hard steps to position itself as the real leader of the opposition parties and forge a compromise with the Government when needed.

By Wednesday evening, speculation on Shearer’s longevity as Labour’s leader was down to a matter of when he would go, not if.

The Labour party and David Shearer haplessly kneeling in supplication before Kim Dotcom has been embarrassing.

I suspect David Shearer, when he recovers from the brutality of his knifing, by the very people who put him there in the first place [Goff, King and Mallard] he will be very relieved. I don’t believe he will hang around, why would you?

 [J]udging by Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly’s comments, whoever wins the leadership will be hostage to the unions. That is because Kelly has made it clear that the unions will block-vote their 20 per cent for one contestant only, rather than split the percentages in line with what individual union members want.

Kelly’s gerrymander needs to be scotched.

Moira Coatsworth has declared there will be no bloc voting, I suspect the unions will ignore her. If they do she should go too. A president who is ignored by the party and others is no president at all.


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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.  And 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 that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

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

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