BusinessDesk: Pattrick Smellie looks at the challenges ahead for the new Labour Party leader

BusinessDesk: Pattrick Smellie looks at the challenges ahead for the new Labour Party leader
David Shearer, Labour Party leader

By Pattrick Smellie

Elected to the Labour leadership on the 13th of the month, unlucky for some, David Shearer has some big shoes to fill and probably not very long to do it.

He will need Grant Robertson, who will replace him if he flubs it, to be a loyal deputy who can bring some passion to Shearer’s so far amiable public palette.

He will need Shane Jones to ride shotgun on the front bench, like some crazed kuia coming up with the killer one-liners.

He’ll need Phil Goff, Annette King and Trevor Mallard to step out of the way, now that they’ve seen Shearer – a Goff protégé who missed election in 2002 because of it – into the position they always thought he could be suited for.

He may or may not have the services of David Cunliffe, who was rumoured to be close to quitting politics last year, and may consider it again now.

David Shearer is very clever, thoughtful and likable, and has led large humanitarian operations with billion dollar budgets in war zones. He was approached about a UN job in post-Gaddafi Libya before the election. There’s obviously something going on.

As a backbencher condemned to life in Opposition, with an ongoing fascination for the Middle East, Libya must have looked tempting for Shearer.

Now he’s suddenly Leader of the Opposition, ascending on the momentum of a quest for renewal and political relevance, but showing little so far of what he or the new-found Labour he strives for will be like.

o far, the David Shearer the public has met is a cypher, albeit a cypher with a great life story, which is a great platform to start from.

He needs now to lay out, on the big issues and beyond his foreign policy expertise, what he thinks about a number of the big questions.

What do we do about the banks? Is a Tobin tax a good idea? How should New Zealand think about climate change, its water and livestock, its need for a faster-growing economy?
What works in social policy – where is the balance between carrot and stick? What is your one big idea that will change New Zealand for the better?

And that’s not counting the immediate questions that media will pose: what about GST-free food, the capital gains tax, and the higher pension age – the three Labour policies that turned voters off and to New Zealand First at the polls.

Until we know some of that, Shearer has not yet actually “done” anything, other than win this contest.


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I suspect by the next election Labour will be sitting at #3 behind the Greens in size- and clearly irrelvant to New Zealand politics.

I think not in fact Labour in next time loks quite possible, Key only has a one seat majority....get the voting up to 75% and let the SOE sales go badly its not looking too good for JK's chances of a third term.


Wanna bet ? ....... pony up some dosh , pal ! ..... Gummy says that # 2 party ( Labour ) will easily form a government , heading off National ( still # 1 , on 40 % of the party vote ) ......

Labour 32 % + Greens 12 % = Victory

..... plus NZF 7 % = Baubles for gold-card holders ......

he /or she is a down on the farm type GBH so the wishfull bias completely understandable.

 Pony up....pal...? what kind of talk is that for such a refined gent as yourself...I mean do leave off n all.

..... been watching my old " Minder " tapes , .. Terry McCann & Arthur Daley .... happy days me old blind-date ......

Old Tell's singing career didn't really take off ......but the theme song was a goodie for sure.

 "I can be so good for you" ...I think.

 did luv Arfur  though. 

Well, I hope he keeps the CGT and increasing the age of eligibility for super.  Clearly many who post on this site are opposed to them, mainly from self-interest.  However, most economists point out that they are an essential part of restructuring our economy for efficiency.

However the GST-free food & other policies such as extending the boon doggle WFF to beneficiaries are left-wing brain farts that are best ditched, so it would be nice if he saw reason on them. 

The trouble is, the Greens are breathing down their neck on their left flank, so the pressure is on for populist policy to keep them at bay.  I think that Labour policy thru the election was more in fear of losing their role as official opposition to the Greens, rather than actually competing for the vote of middle NZ against the Nats.


Agree on one and two.

I dont agree on 3 becasue the populist & swing vote I think is on or about the centre.  The Green's are too left wing to win that. they have taken votes off Labour's left I suspect this time...and I think it will be very difficult to keep 11% Green vote in 2014...wouldnt be surprised if they are < 9% next time.


Maybe - but I suspect that thinking is because you're a Labour man Steven - and it's more like wishful hoping

The Greens have gone from completely mad to slightly mad within one electoral cycle - and if they can continue that trend then they'll attract more serious attention.

Combine that with the media poll demographics that showed the Greens reaching as high as 25% support with 18-25yo's and I think that the Green Party's future looks stronger than present. Currently YOUTH = GREEN

Of course I don't know whether that's a good thing - indeed I suspect that one cycle of Green politics will prove that it's not - but until then I expect the GREENS to grow - and it will be mainly at the expense of LABOUR.

Nope, your logic is as faulty in your second post as your first, you make assumptions and then make deductions based on falsehoods.  I have never voted Labour (party) but I certainly voted Labour in the seat because I want Dunne out. 

I actually think Green's have gone more mad ie raving left, but there you go....and Im a Green party member.......


but Im there for the green tinge, otherwise Im a natural National (ex-UK Tory) voter.....

...and yes 75%+ of Green's I meet seem to be <35...

Now if there was a Blue ~ green party aka Margret Thatcher mold (but not that much right wing) that would be where my vote would go.

I think this will prove a bit of a spike ie Green's will fall back in 2014, but yes they will grow slowly. 

Also Im not so sure on the at only Labour's expense....the young green's I meet are generally very well educated and good earners, which would be National support, so I suspect that they will take some from National as well.




I'd love to see a Blue / Green alliance - but it's not going to happen with the incumbant Green leadership (or should that be co-leadership?) which seems to make "business / money is evil" as one of their underlying tenets of most public policy statements.

Unless that changes as a result of groundswell internal party opinions voiced by these "educated good earners" that you have met - then these people will drift way from the Greens - leaving only the disaffected, disillissioned and dissatisfied ... all these DISses are usually prime Labour voting demographics. 

So (IMO) that makes the Greens a natural magnet for many young voters on the left ... leaving Labour holding onto a rapidly diminishing and aging trade union mandate.

Hence - GREENS up - LABOUR down. We will see in 2014 I guess.


Hmmm....  The Greens default philosophy is very socialist.  You scratch any Green member, & that's where they are - govt intervention, high taxes, heavy state supports. 

You may ask why that baggage should go hand-in-hand with environmentalism, & I couldn't answer that for the life of me.  But I understand that Green parties internationally have that orientation, & it won't change.

So that will probably condemn the Greens to being a fringe party, maxing out at about 15% if they hit a sweet spot.

Personally, I believe that Labour should stop focusing on the Greens nibbling on their left flank, since the Greens have limited growth prospects.  Labour should instead keep their attention firmly on middle NZ, which is where elections are won or lost. 

It is a matter of Labour keeping its nerve thru difficult times as they get squeezed by the Nats & Greens.  The Nats will inevitably sink under the stink of corruption as all incumbent govts eventually do, & the Greens will reach their growth limits.

A good debate, & nice to see one that hasn't got too ideologically hidebound


I dont agree, most of the Greens I talk to are fairly middle of the road and Green as default....sure there are some very socialist ones. Sue Bradford for instance, but she left because she couldnt get control of the Green party so moved on, look at how well Mana did.....not. From what I can see in my limited view I think that will the hard left ones will drift off as their traction will be limited...thats certianly what I hope for.

Govn intervention, not really, they are often "alternative"....that means they dont tend to want the Govn in their lives......and lets face it, the huge melt down we are now suffering can largely be explained by insufficient intervention in financial markets clearly there is a balance to be achieved.

"Baggage" well maybe because you are not green, it certainly explains your first para's.......

15% Is a very large fringe, that will make them the third largest party in NZ...on current polling about 20% of what ever the Govn is........and NZF are half that.......Now if you accept that a large part of NZ is central and the Green's will probably drift closer to the centre....well that could get interesting.....


Labour is now a true Rainbow party, what they need now is some swingers (voters)

See that bloody squint let him down again..!......if I were Cunliffe I'd start looking for employment  in the private sector.....

and the irony...? Phill got the swingers on tu tu.

First: Show me the NZpeople  – not show me the money..

 Congratulation for David Shearer.

 In today’s uncertain, greedy and corrupt world it is good to see the Labour party having a leader, who has a humanitarian background, helping the disadvantaged. I’m sure he represents the NZpublic the wider NZpopulation and not just the money like so many others. I’m sure he’s representing ethic and moral standards. I think he and his team are capable and convince the parliament for most needed culture changes and better adaption to the world situation. He will be an excellent challenge to PM Key. I think he and his team and others from the opposition can break current megalomaniac economic ambitions and return to responsible decisions making in order to provide the younger generation a decent future in beautiful New Zealand..


…and hopefully all these expectations are turning into reality, otherwise New Zealand - I don’t have hope for a better future.

Hello Walter ....hope the day went well.....One can always hope  for a better future .....but just in case a few practical changes can also help in that direction .

Come on matey ...we can look forward to another year of giving them hell eh..?

 I've got to say your comment is missed over at Olly's thread.

 Good to see you back Walter ....stay well.  

Second that !

..... be tolerant of Hickey and the editing crew here at ...... for they know not what they do .....

Educate them , Walter ...... Bernard is not beyond learning , have faith , he can evolve , adapt , change is underpants more than once a week ......

Hey I gotta go see that hiccup guy...20 odd years of continual hiccups ...we don't know how lucky we are......John Clarke.

I have a friend in Manila who let's rip an explosive burp every 30 seconds or so ... been doing it for months ..... someting to do with witch-doctors , " cold air " , superstitions & religion ...

.... we went to a sacred Catholic alter , on a volcanic mountain retreat ..... very peaceful , full of grace and glory ..... he knelt at the alter and issued the two biggest , loudest belches I've ever heard ....

..... totally pissed me gummy knickers !

Turns out he had a benign tumor on his brain stem picked up in an MRI....removed two thirds of it  and a few months later enjoying a Normal life..

alrighty then....Yay!