Gutted like a….snapper

You know things are dire for David Shearer when Jane Clifton suddenly bursts forth about just how tits David Shearer is. I’d say one of his main protectors has now quietly slipped off the Titanic after drilling holes in Shearer’s lifeboat.

Ever since Don Brash, visiting a boatyard during an election campaign, was filmed “walking the plank”, politicians have been extra careful about avoiding unfortunate symbolism.

Unaccountably, the Opposition leader’s office forgot this wise precaution yesterday.

Either that, or no-one could manage to dissuade David Shearer, seeking to illustrate a point about snapper quota, from producing two of the fish in Parliament yesterday.

The Government did not know which piscine wisecrack to go with first. They were, of course, dead fish. Necessarily, they were fish out of water – though at the same time, they were as good for target practice as fish in a barrel. Depending on how long they had now been out of water, they could also end up as cat food.

Mr Shearer’s senior benchmates reinforced this point by indicating playfully, but rather unhelpfully, that the fish were getting a bit whiffy.

Poignantly, though Mr Shearer’s staff had failed to protect him from the inevitable fish-related farce, he had come equipped with a paper towel roll to wipe his hands – though journalists at a subsequent press conference reported he still smelt fishy.

Prime Minister John Key sought leave for Mr Shearer to table the fish so he could get them cooked for his dinner. He had already made a meal of Mr Shearer. 

Since Jane mentions it:

Clifton covers the previous prat-fall by Shearer:

In an earlier own-goal, Mr Key had been gifted the opportunity to portray National-Labour discussions about a consensus on the new spying legislation as being akin to Monty Python’s fish-slapping dance.

Mr Shearer had asked Mr Key to confirm whether he or his office had held any meetings with Labour in the run-up to the bill. “I can’t believe he is asking that question,” Mr Key boggled, indicating that he would answer it, but it would not be fun for Mr Shearer if he did.

Mr Shearer said to bring it on – so falling into another question time heffalump pit. For one thing, cross-party talks are supposed to be high-trust affairs, used sparingly and with the utmost discretion. For another, question time is the clumsiest of forums in which to break that trust.

Mr Shearer clearly had a version of events unflattering to the Government, which he wanted to get across – but all he was allowed to do was ask questions. Mr Key had an alternative version unflattering to Labour, and was able to give a full account.

And a full and embarrassing account it was too.

And so that most delicate and rare, but most essential of political customs, the tactful cross-party negotiation by which Parliament can save itself so much aggro, was left . . . gutted.


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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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