Opinion: David Shearer has failed
Thursday 1 Nov 2012 12:16 p.m.
Duncan says one reason Shearer remains in the job is because there is a serious block of MPs who simply dislike Cunliffe - with a passion
Labour promised an exciting back story that would impress and a new front man to rival the Prime Minister.
Sadly for Labour - they're still looking for that person. David Shearer has failed. Labour's lucky it's not getting done under the law for false advertising.
Let's be honest, Labour leader David Shearer doesn't have it. He's a nice, mild mannered, likeable, warm but a stuttering, incoherent mess that is the opposite of what an alternative Prime Minister should look like.
And before you say ‘give him some time’, he's had a year and I think he's gone backwards - not forwards.
He has no presence and his television performances are a disaster. That's where voters make up their minds.
The reason Shearer remains safe is disingenuous and it's time to call it.
Labour MPs believe Grant Robertson is perhaps the next leader, but they don't believe he's quite ready - nor do they want to install a gay leader just yet. It shouldn't be an issue - but it always is.
That's why he remains the deputy. He knows politics is all about timing. Shearer has become the fall guy. Like Phil Goff was. It's dishonest.
The other reason Shearer remains in the job is - and I repeat this from an earlier piece I wrote - there is a serious block of MPs who simply dislike Cunliffe - with a passion.
They will block any attempts to make him leader.
I tried to get a Labour face on TV this week to talk about capital gains taxes. I approached Shearer who was in Hokitika and too far away, David Parker in Dunedin and Cunliffe in Auckland.
Cunliffe was the easiest to get hold of. But, without naming names, the hoopla I was put through before he was 'allowed' on TV was fascinating. Even Cunliffe was nervous - but keen.
It took six hours of negotiating to get him on. It was quite simply, outrageous. It took me one text to get Russel Norman on the telly. It took two phone calls to get the Prime Minister to agree to a one-on-one interview.
Labour needs to look at itself. If reporters want to interview Cunliffe - they should be allowed to. I believe Labour is blocking his appearances or at least trying to limit them. Certainly on TV anyway. Although I notice Guyon Espiner exposed Cunliffe in the Listener like few others could do.
But back to Shearer. He was promoted too soon. He went from backbencher to leader. In the Mt Albert by-election he was protected. Melissa Lee was the media darling - so awful - no one else got a look in. But Shearer has been promoted above what he's capable of in my view.
I'm sure he's entirely capable behind the scenes - you don't do what he's done by being stupid - but I'm just saying he's not cut out for the hurly-burly, think-on-your-feet world of opposition politics. Robertson and Cunliffe are.
Shearer was handed the benefit of the doubt as pointed out by Gordon Campbell in a column this week and he's failed to deliver on any of it. The Prime Minister has had an awful year and his opponent should be knocking him out.
Instead, Key remains in the high 40s and is largely untouchable when he should be floundering. His unbelievable lack of knowledge and handling of the Dotcom affair and his refusal to move on John Banks were scandals made in heaven for a competent opposition leader.
Instead, Key has largely got away with it.
Put simply, Shearer does not look, act or sound like a man ready to take over the Treasury benches and drive New Zealand out of this recession. The voters see it.
They see a Labour Party unconvinced and confused by their own choice. Until that changes, Labour will stay in opposition.