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Lack of Camp Shearer shows Labour's problems

Tuesday 29 Nov 2011 12:26 p.m.

David Shearer

David Shearer

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By Patrick Gower

So Labour has divided into two Camp Davids - Cunliffe and Parker, but it doesn't have a Camp David Shearer.

This shows Labour's problem: Its caucus cannot think outside the square.

I'm not saying Shearer should be leader, just the fact that he's not deemed an option shows Labour has the blinkers on. The only people in Camp Shearer seem to be outside of Parliament.

That's the issue. The caucus are too focussed on the egos and the power brokers and the factions and the personal history to see through the mist. So the powerful Cunliffe is one option up against Parker who has the influential Grant Robertson running as deputy.

Flick a coin as the two sides of the caucus collide on this one. Not a lot happens without Robertson's say-so, so the smart money may be on Parker.

But in accepting there can be just two Davids (Cunliffe and Parker) they are forgetting one crucial question - who can actually win over the public?

Labour needs a circuit breaker.

You don't have to be Blind Freddy to realise that Shearer could make the break. Everyone knows he has the back story - saving lives all around the world. He is also a normal guy - not that common in politics believe you me.

He holds an Auckland seat - that's crucial.

People say he is too inexperienced - so was a guy they call John Key and don't forget Shearer won a by-election - a tough job. He also has balls, the guy used to live in the red Zone in Baghdad.

He nailed it on election night when he said Labour needs to get back to basics. Nobody else said that.

Shearer can get cross-over top the private sector too. He's the kind of guy that could get rid of a few of Labour's sacred cows: say for instance its ingrained opposition to private prisons. The Unions wouldn't like ideas like that though - their message is essentially - "sorry Shearer, you don't fit in".

Many say of Shearer: "too inexperienced". But if Labour wanted him, they'd get in and work with him over the coming three years - they would help build and mould him.

Labour's problem is it needs someone who can handle the political wildebeest that is the Labour Party. Handling the Labour Party is the main job - winning the country comes second.

Just take a look the way David Parker and David Cunliffe are on separate tickets - if you were going to go down this road surely they should be on the same ticket.

I believe Labour should go for a longer American-style "primary" type campaign over the Summer.

It would give a chance for candidates to strut their stuff and get traction with the public.

It would help blow waves of fresh air through the party.

It would also help the party get some attention with the public early in the New Year.

Instead Labour has already embarked on bare knuckle politics. There is obviously nobody in the party with the mana to say "lets stop and have a cup of tea and work out what's best for 2014".

Instead they will bang the winner up against John Key from the outset. Good luck with that.

It will be interesting to see if the winner can last the next three years. Labour may instead have started a round of fighting it cannot stop.

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