The extraordinary outbursts by Shearer last week highlights just how toxic that Caucus is.
Shearer was on every major media platform as the ABC attack dog tearing into Cunliffe in the hope of diminishing Cunliffe’s support of Little by tearing Cunliffe down. This is needless brutality, the same needless brutality Shearer showed Cunliffe when they demoted him after the membership demanded more democracy in 2012.
Shearer is talking over the heads of Labour supporters and he’s talking to National supporters. It’s that audience he is competing for because the more the right wing report what he says, the more middle NZ heads nod and the more influence that will have on Labour members voting in the primary.
It’s very deliberate and it’s very staged. Now, I certainly believe whatever leader comes out needs to be able to appeal to middle NZ while NOT alienating the current base, but Shearer is trying to get the leader elected by the right.
That the ABC faction aren’t showing any of the restraint that the other factions are showing is simply more evidence of how impossible they made Cunliffe’s life as leader.
What’s most ironic about Shearer’s claim Labour are too controlled by ‘special interests’ is that it is National who are the real ‘special interest’ party. SkyCity’s special interests, Warner Bros special interests, Federated Farmers special interests, and corporate special interests. Labour isn’t controlled by ‘special interests’ they represent the democratic majority which makes Shearer’s outbursts so much more stupid. he isn’t challenging the mainstream media narrative, he’s actually reinforcing it.
The nominations have closed and Labour has 4 safe technocratic hands to try and steer what is an obviously damaged and identity lost Caucus. Labour need to select a leader who can win in a political landscape that just electorally rewarded dirty politics and mass surveillance lies. How they do that is a difficult question, the media in NZ won’t allow a leader who will challenge their hegemony to become Prime Minister, Labour can expect the same type of character assassination Cunliffe faced, so the leader must appeal to middle NZ in a way that middle NZ respects, a leader comfortable in their own skin.
It’s the innate casual confidence of Key that attracts middle NZ, not his policies. NZers are so laid back in their anti-intellectualism, they would burn books on their BBQ.
It is the candidate who can look as comfortable in their skin as Key does who will win over middle NZ, not the person who can beat him at an argument. NZers don’t respect intelligence, they respect confidence.
Nanaia Mahuta – Staunch
Thank God she put her hat in the ring or this would be a very grey primary. Nanaia righteously points out that Maori were loyal to Labour last election and the sudden media meme to drive Labour to the centre probably had more to do with her decision to step up for Labour values than any personal ambitions for leadership. The strength of her move will be decided if she is able to get all 7 Maori caucus members to back her which then gives her a very strong case to be the deputy. I think her second preferences will probably decide the leader.
David Parker – The Brain
Terribly smart, but his economic platform was resoundingly rejected by the electorate. Unfortunately for Parker, most NZers illusions of wealth are determined from their inflated property prices, anyone coming along to attack that will be punished by the electorate. Rather than a ‘Capital Gains Tax’ – Labour need to sell this a a ‘Speculators Tax’ – people hate speculators because they are someone else, a ‘Capital Gains Tax’ sounds like it is something that will be imposed upon them. Parker will attract some Caucus vote, little Union vote and some membership vote.
Andrew Little – Leader
Cunliffe’s support of Little matters. The popular membership vote overwhelmingly went to Cunliffe and that vote are looking for another leader to back. Little has the quality of confidence in his own skin that could beat Key, it’s this x factor that I think will give him the edge. Little will take the union vote, he will have a strong Caucus support and if Nanaia throws her support behind Little, then he will take the Caucus vote as well. Depending on his performance over the debates, he could win over the membership. The smart money would be on Little deciding on a co-deputy arrangement with Nania and Stuart Nash as deputy leaders, that teaming up would create the image of unity Labour so desperately need.
Grant Robertson – Polished
I’ve known Grant since University days. He’s always been the smartest bloke in the room. His choice of Jacinda as Deputy makes sense, the problem Grant has always had is that he has no Auckland mates. He is the career politician who has all the GPS co-ordinates to where the skeletons are buried, so his threat to dump those caucus members who don’t toe the line is genuine if the ABCs turn into ABGs. The problem with selecting Jacinda however is that she is part of the same faction as he is, so the ability to unify the Caucus is less meaningful if the only faction going up is Grant’s.
I don’t think Grant has much membership support outside of Wellington and the numbers from the last primary seem to back that up, but thankfully he is a generational shift and that alone should be celebrated. I don’t think his sexual orientation is the big issue it’s been beaten up to be, Grant would be a leader who just happens to be gay, rather than a gay leader. Yes it would have an impact in the South Auckland electorates, but if he won, Grant only needs to go out on a tour of South Auckland churches and show them he upholds their values too. The South Auckland electorate are kind and generous voters, all he needs to do is reach out to them and they will embrace him.
If Grant doesn’t win this shot, he is still on track for a leadership bid in 2020.