Does Grant Robertson’s ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’ Deputy style deserve Leadership?



Weekend at Bernie’s is the 1989 cult comedy hit that portrayed two hapless goofs carrying around a corpse for a weekend in the pretense that the corpse, Bernie, was actually alive. Hilarity ensued. I call it a cult comedy as in you would have had to have been in a cult to find it comedic.

Grant Robertson’s role as Deputy to David Shearer was like Weekend at Bernie’s but differed in one regard, instead of a weekend, Grant was propping up a dead guy for 20 months.

How does blocking Cunliffe to put in power a leader like Shearer for 20 months when it was apparent 19 months ago that Shearer had all the communicative skills of North Korean broadcasters justify a shot to be the actual leader?

I like Grant, I think he will one day become the Leader of the Labour Party and will eventually be NZs first Gay Prime Minister, but his cautious style blundered with Shearer’s selection. To place all the hopes and dreams on the very inexperienced shoulders of Shearer was naive and ultimately futile. In the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, NZ doesn’t need cautious political management, it needs visionary economic solutions. Robertson’s safe choice with Shearer says he can’t make those radical leaps yet.


  1. Explain again how you’re not endorsing any one candidate?

    And how the timeframe in question is Grant’s fault (and presumably the rest of his ABC pals), rather than a consequence of the Mexican stand-off created by the leadership election changes made at the last conference?

    Or perhaps you’re saying Grant should have supported Cunliffe’s abortive challenge at that conference? Or knifed Shearer himself before that?

    Or what?

    Perhaps you’re trying to claim he’s responsible for Shearer’s election, rather than …I don’t know… a clear majority of the caucus?

    What are you actually saying Grant did wrong here other than stand to be the deputy to the candidate the caucus elected (iirc they didn’t stand as a ticket)?

    This is another wafer-thin premise for your NBC campaign.

    • They did stand as a ticket, just as DC and Nanaia Mahuta did.

      See the 6th of December 2011 Red Alert posts – this one is Grant’s bid for deputy: (comment section is quite good, too)

      Grant was originally challenging for leadership but in order to unite the ABCers and block Cunliffe, he offered himself up as Shearer’s deputy.

      It will be interesting to see (with Shane Jones leading Grant Robertson in the highly-unscientific leadership polls) whether Grant will end up encouraging his caucus supporters to vote for Shane Jones to block Cunliffe again. Of course, we party members will never be any the wiser.

      Unlike Cunliffe, Grant Robertson did not vote for the democratization of the leadership selection at the annual conference (he just stood by and watched Shearer die a slow death assuming he’d be able to rely on caucus and the party hierarchy to install him as leader).

  2. Martyn, in this case, I fear you may be a bit unfair and harsh, as it was others who suggested Shearer be flown in from overseas to take over the leader role. Grant of course has a fair few things to answer to, but I have the impression that at least for the first 6 to 12 months of Shearer as leader, he and others wanted to give him a fair go, and let him try, hoping also he may shape up to the role.

    Admittedly since late last year, certainly earlier this year, it all became farcical, and it was overdue for Shearer to see the light and step down. He did though cling to the job himself, and seemed to believe he had the numbers behind him.

    What finally caused him to step down was the painful realisation that he no longer had the support, as he was simply not shaping up to perform as expected. That is just “normal” brutal politics, that confidence and support get pulled, like a mat from beyond a person’s feet. Shearer was perhaps also too nice a guy to survive in the bulldog political environment that exists.

    Not being a bulldog gives any politician a great disadvantage, no matter how genuine and otherwise qualified a person may be.

    Shearer would make a reasonably good enducation minister or so, but not a leader, and many saw it early, others too lately.

    It was more the bulk of caucus being self-serving and clinging to their own seats, fearing they may have to perform more, that also was the cause for Shearer being held up for so long. Some know that if Cunliffe wins and becomes leader, they will have to shape up or ship out. But then that is what some of us see as necessary, so let it happen. Labour needs rejuvenation.

    Grant will have a leading role to play, in any case, love him or hate him.

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