Shearer in a sticky po­si­tion

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

Given that a few months ago there was ev­ery sign that David Shearer may have been gone by Christ­mas, he can count his sur­vival into the new year as a mi­nor achieve­ment in it­self.

The re­cent dis­patch of his only ri­val – David Cun­liffe – to the back benches has also bought Shearer more time to es­tab­lish his cre­den­tials as an alternative Prime Min­is­ter. Cer­tainly, time is on his side. Two years re­main for the in­evitable dis­en­chant­ment with the coun­try’s cur­rent lead­er­ship to fester, be­fore the vot­ers need to make a choice.

By then, the ben­e­fi­ciary of the Any­one But Cun­liffe fac­tion within his own party might get lucky again – if and when an Any­one But Key mood spreads fur­ther among the na­tion at large.

Shearer re­mains a mys­tery to most New Zealan­ders.

What they’ve seen so far has been a seem­ingly de­cent, inar­tic­u­late fel­low who be­lieves in a fair go, that hard work should be re­warded and that all New Zea- land fam­i­lies should live in warm, dry houses.

Noth­ing scary about that, or mem­o­rable, but not ex­actly prime min­is­te­rial ma­te­rial just yet.

So far, Shearer’s main ac­com­plish­ment has been to pun­ish a phan­tom chal­lenge – from Cun­liffe – so se­verely that it has de­prived Labour of its most tal­ented front bench per­former.

In di­rect com­bat, Shearer hasn’t yet laid a glove on the government, or its leader.

Dur­ing 2013 Labour will also have to com­pete with the Greens, the coali­tion part­ner they re­quire to form a fu­ture government.

On one hand, Labour and the Greens have to func­tion as al­lies against the com­mon foe, which is the Key government and its as­set sales pro­gramme.

On the other hand, Labour and the Greens are ri­vals for the same cen­tre-left vote.

If it is to keep the Greens rel­e­gated to a sub­servient role in any fu­ture ad­min­is­tra­tion, Labour some­how has to en­sure that the Greens don’t set­tle in sus­taina- bly above the 15 per cent bar­rier of sup­port.

One dif­fi­culty for Shearer is that on the econ­omy in par­tic­u­lar, Greens co-leader Rus­sel Norman is a far more ar­tic­u­late and quick-footed per­former. So much so that dur­ing 2012, Shearer’s min­ders tended to steer their man away from tele­vi­sion shows on which Norman was also booked to ap­pear.

Dur­ing Novem­ber, this un­der­ly­ing ten­sion was il­lus­trated when Norman made a bold claim for the fi­nance role in the next government – only to be slapped down by Shearer, who said David Parker would be get­ting that job.

That’s Shearer’s ba­sic dilemma. He needs the Greens to gov­ern, but the Labour po­si­tion is that the Greens must be a sub­servient and obe­di­ent part­ner, lest the duo should scare the cor­po­rate es­tab­lish­ment to whom Labour is try­ing to por­tray it­self as be­ing a safe bet.

Can Shearer si­mul­ta­ne­ously cred­i­bly present him­self to vot­ers as the leader of a boldly cen­tre-left party, and do busi­ness as a re­li­able stew­ard of the sta­tus quo?

For now, the fuzzy per­cep­tion of Shearer does cur­rently en­able him to be all things to ev­ery­one.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.