Shearer has the sizzle, now he needs the sausage
Vernon Small has a good line on Labour's new leader, Shearer flexes muscles but a work in progress
Let's be blunt, to date, David Shearer has been awful and painful. His unblinking, stumbling, possum in the headlights media performance, to date, has been the thing of nightmares.
I had always assumed that Labour would lock David in a room with Brian Edwards for a month until he learned to answer a question without the mix of confusion and panic crossing his face.
His missing in action status over industrial disputes like the Ports of Auckland and Tallys had many wondering if he had been renditioned by the CIA and rumors that the right wing of the Labour Party had his ear had many Labour activists scrambling for Green Party membership forms.
I'd written him off as the Labour Party's answer to Fozzy Bear.
But that all changed this month. On the final ever Auckland episode of Backbenches, David found his groove. His 'get off the grass' confidence sparkled and the bloke finally showed he's got the wear with all to take it to Key one on one come 2014.
Shearer's proven he's got the sizzle, but what he and Labour desperately need now is the sausage. Labour's traditional voter who looked to an active State for protection and economic direction got prissy over the so called 'political correctness' of the so called anti-smacking legislation and either walked away from the Free Market version Labour has become or have been seduced off to aspirational John Key and all his cheap candy words.
Luckily for Labour, there is a terrible recession shrouding the economic horizon caused by the exact same free market dogma the National Party are trying to slavishly impose here (again). It's great Shearer can dance the media jig, but now he needs an actual policy platform that can inspire old Labour voters back to the fold, this is where Cunliffe comes in.
I've made the point several times that Labour need to re-instate Cunliffe to Finance and allow him to articulate an alternative economic policy that takes power away from the corporations and the wealthy, and starts focusing on the poor and middle classes. Clark & Cullen were one of the most successful political partnerships in NZ history, Shearer & Cunliffe could be that again, sadly the current team of Shearer & Parker are like two wet blankets trying to start a fire.
If Cunliffe doesn't get Finance, it would confirm a suspicion that Shearer's inner circle of Labour right advisors have no interest in an alternative Keynesian economic model and are looking for mere economic management not restructuring. NZ had 9 years of that type of disappointment from Labour before, adopting National lite is not much of an inspiration.