Were there two Labour leadership meetings in Wellington?
An alternative view on the contendersBy Anthony Dreaver
(Local historian and Labour Party member)
I attended with an inclination to support David Shearer — and was feeling some irritation at the David Cunliffe manner.
However, I was not impressed by the performance of David Shearer.
A nice man, with a great back-story, but he was entirely unable to convey any vision of how he would lead Labour Party.
His statements were vague, even waffley, harking back continually to his overseas experience, which was admirable. But we know about that now and score it up to his eternal credit.
But he offered absolutely no clarity about ‘What Is To Be Done’ (to quote Lenin).
The task is to rally the party after a bad experience and get the country behind us to be rid of this Key-Banks-Dunne cabal in 2014. It will take more than being Mr Nice Guy.
Who, then? David Cunliffe and Grant Robertson both spoke forcefully and to the point. Nanaia Mahuta spoke sensibly and directly, but less strongly.
At question time all three showed that they understood the point of a question and addressed it.
David Shearer didn’t. He is not ready to take on the role of party leader, and may never be.
David Cunliffe is certainly ready and able. He would fight hard for the party in the House and work the electorate at large with vigour. He shows a great grasp of political realities.
But Grant Robertson was the surprise package for us. Concise, focussed, witty and knowledgeable, he had Nanaia’s down to earth approach combined with the political experience of David Cunliffe.
In some ways, he is reminiscent of Lange, but without the eccentricity and likely to be much more of a team player.
Grant’s a young man: But, if you’re ready to take a risk on that, he has the attributes of a leader. Though it’s probable David Cunliffe would find it hard to take direction from him!
However, if you go with Cunliffe, choose either Mahuta (as a Maori woman she fills necessary gaps) or Robertson as deputy. Or both.
As someone near us interjected, if the Greens and Maori Party can have two leaders, surely Labour could manage two deputies! They would complement each other.
I must say, though, that we warmed to all four people. What a great core in caucus, backed by many other good people. We could have a great Administration in 2014.
But for goodness sake, although a splendid spokesman/minister, as party leader David Shearer would remind us all of dear Bill Rowling: Intelligent, honourable, compassionate … but lacking teeth.
Sitting in Wesley Church, I remembered a verse in Corinthians I:xiii: ‘If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?’
Let’s have a confident trumpeter.