In making David Shearer the new leader, the Labour caucus has taken a fairly bold step. Shearer is not well known by the public, largely unproven, and didn't perform well in the media and candidate meetings. Shearer’s main quality has been that he’s a fresh face and ‘not David Cunliffe’. Even those MPs who preferred Cunliffe may have had doubts about his ability to unite the caucus given the antipathies of many colleagues. It’s Shearer who now faces a mammoth task of reinventing and reinvigorating Labour. But first he will need to heal the wounds, and if Patrick Gower’s TV3 report is anything to go by, the caucus has become openly divided during the leadership contest – see: 'Vicious' scrap over Labour leadership.
The election of Grant Robertson as Shearer’s deputy may end up being more significant in the long-term. Although relatively new to Parliament like Shearer, Robertson has been vaunted as leadership material and with fewer weaknesses than his new leader. Commentators are already speculating on how long it will take for Robertson to replace Shearer. It’s notable that already on iPredict, the stock for Grant Robertson becoming Prime Minister by 2015 has shot up dramatically today from 8% to 44%. Shearer probably has until 2013 to revive Labour’s fortunes. If he fails, by that time Robertson will be ready to seize his chance. Certainly, whenever Shearer falters and stumbles as leader, Robertson will be discussed as a potential coup leader.
There will be now be a rush to figure out exactly what David Shearer stands for, and Labour will be working hard to promote his ‘story’ to the wider public. Until his leadership bid there’s been little examination of the rising star, but there’s now a number of profiles published– including Vernon Small’s Who is David Shearer? and NZN’s Shearer's past is his biggest asset. Another insight into Shearer might be found in the filmed ‘Vote Chat’ interview that I did with David Shearer here at the University of Otago last month, which can be viewed in four parts on YouTube: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.
What are the political commentators and bloggers saying? Vernon Small voices some reservations about Shearer – see: What we haven't yet seen from Shearer. David Farrar says ‘I think this is a good decision for Labour. Shearer gives them an opportunity to make a clean break from their past. The challenge will be for that break to be substantive, not just symbolic’ (And the winner is David ……. Shearer), Cameron Slater argues that Shearer represents a rightwing takeover of Labour (Labour elects Manchurian candidate). On the Labour side, blogger Robert Winter expresses concern today that the Labour caucus has not listened to the membership (who are said to have favoured Cunliffe) – see: If Mr Shearer wins today....... On The Standard, an interesting parallel is drawn between the Shearer and the inexperienced David Lange becoming leader and losing control of his own Government - The lesson of Lange.
Labour is not the only political party in the midst of renewal this week – National’s Cabinet reshuffle is a major part of it’s own attempt to modernise and refresh itself – see Audrey Young’s Front bench 'freshened up'. Yesterday’s re-ordering was mostly predictable – as pointed out in Vernon Small’s opinion piece, A rapier, not a cudgel and today’s Dominion Post editorial Cautious revamp not a game changer. Compare this reshuffle with the last time that National was re-elected for a second term in government – 1993 – when Prime Minister Jim Bolger sacked the Minister of Finance, Ruth Richardson, and others were heavily demoted. Nothing so radical has occurred this time, and there won't be any seriously ruffled feathers in the Cabinet.
The reshuffle appears highly successful. It's managed to make the Government look refreshed and more interesting. In fact it's surprising that Key didn't implement these changes prior to the election – National might have done better last month with this line up.
The promotion of a number of women, and in particular Maori women show how much National is attempting to challenge its image as a party of ‘middle aged white guys’. The party really does appear to be changing and incorporating women and Maori. For more on this, see Audrey Young’s Women move up the Govt ranks and Amelia Romanos’ Boost for women in new Cabinet.
There are five main winners from the reshuffle: Hekia Parata, Paula Bennett, Judith Collins, Amy Adams, and Steven Joyce. The ‘ones to watch’ are Parata and Joyce. Both have made huge leaps up the peaking order, and both will increasingly be talked about as possible successors to John Key. For more on Parata and her promotion, see Claire Trevett’s Parata stands firm on National Standards.
In fact, what’s most interesting about this is that all of these newcomers are relatively inexperienced in Parliament and government – this is examined in today’s Herald editorial, Freshness and experience in Key's Cabinet. It now seems that – as with David Shearer and Grant Roberson’s spectacular rise to the leadership after only a few years – National clearly values ‘freshness’ above ‘political experience’. This is one of the key parliamentary political trends of our times. Whereas once political careers took many years and parliamentary terms before a politician could rise to the top, now the secret to the success of people like David Shearer, Steven Joyce, and Hekia Parata is their claim to ‘freshness’ and the fact that they don’t have a political career.[Continue reading below for a full list of the highlights of NZ Politics Daily]
Below are the internet links to all the NZ politics material from the last 24 hours that are either informative, insightful, interesting or influential. This list and the links are taken from a fuller document, NZ Politics Daily, which is emailed out, Monday to Friday, to various researchers, academics, journalists, MPs and so forth. The document is purely for research purposes only, and if you would like to be on the subscription list, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Vernon Small (Stuff): What we haven't yet seen from Shearer
Vernon Small (Dom Post): Who is David Shearer?
Patrick Leyland (Progress Report): Congratulations Labour
Jake Quinn (Life and politics): Shearer and Robertson a breath of fresh air
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): And the winner is David ……. Shearer
Whaleoil: Labour elects Manchurian candidate
Claire Trevett (NZH): Shearer tipped to take out leadership contest
Patrick Gower (TV3): 'Vicious' scrap over Labour leadership
Waikato Times: Editorial - Davids should do a deal
David and Winston (electionresults): David And Winston
Robert Winter (Idle thoughts): If Mr Shearer wins today......
The Standard: The lesson of Lange
The Standard: Nanaia Mahuta
Tracy Watkins (Stuff): Cabinet reshuffle a tricky business
Audrey Young (NZH): Front bench 'freshened up'
Vernon Small (Stuff): A rapier, not a cudgel
Barry Soper (Newstalk ZB): Political Report: December 13
Duncan Garner (TV3): The three stars of John Key’s Cabinet reshuffle
Audrey Young (NZH): Women move up the Govt ranks
Amelia Romanos (NZH): Boost for women in new Cabinet
Claire Trevett (NZH): Parata stands firm on National Standards
Amelia Romanos (NZH): Adams a big winner in new Cabinet
Andrea Vance and Danya Levy (Stuff): Economy heads Key's agenda
Adam Bennett (NZH): Growth on agenda for promoted Steven Joyce
Dene Mackenzie (ODT): Business-friendly front bench name
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): The Ministers of the 50th Parliament
Maori Party deal
Kate Chapman (Stuff): Harawira: Maori Party lured by baubles of office
No Right Turn: The Maori Party's deal
MMP review/voter turnout
Kate Chapman and John Hartevelt (Stuff): Key backs 'waka-jumping' amendment to MMP
Derek Cheng (NZH): Maori staunch on MMP but true-blue voters want change
Amelia Romanos (NZH): MMP feedback to start in February
No Right Turn: MMP: Against the threshold
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): The MMP Referendum
Grant Duncan (Policy Matters): The Referendum on the Electoral System
Grant Duncan (Policy Matters): Referendum facts and figures
Gareth Hughes (frogblog): Survey shows we can turn around low voter turnout
Adam Bennett (NZH): New media rules under proposals
Russell Brown (Hard News): News media meets new media: Privileges and accountabilities
Steven Price (Media Law Journal): Law Commission’s new media paper
Gareth Hughes (frogblog): New report on ‘New Media’
Timaru Herald: Editorial: Social media minefield
Chris Trotter (Bowalley Road): Sky Is Not The Limit: Restoring Public Media
Dave Armstrong (Dom Post): Let's talk about real choices
Danya Levy (Stuff): Greens: Dunne can stop asset sales
Patrick Leyland (Progress Report): In defence of Peter Dunne
Dom Post: Today in politics: Tuesday, December 13
NZ Parliament: New Standing Orders affect swearing-in of members
Felix Marwick (Newstalk ZB): Oath of allegiance rules don't sit well with Harawira
Susan Guthrie and Gareth Morgan (NZH): Inequality will lead us to a grim future