The post under the ‘Eddie’ pseudonym yesterday on David Shearer’s leadership was an obvious play by some interests within the Labour Party. It is a repeat of a previous attempt to get rumours swirling around Labour leadership.
On the Saturday a week before the Labour conference and a major speech by David Shearer a post under ‘Eddie’ started a frenetic week of leadership speculation at The Standard.
On David Shearer’s Leadership
For the Left to win in 2014, David Shearer has to resign as Labour Leader. This is a big call to make and one that I have agonised over, but the reality has become increasingly clear: under Shearer, Labour is all too likely to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in 2014. He isn’t a credible Prime Minister, and the New Zealand public won’t vote to make him one.
National is having a nightmare year. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. Their strongest suit, the economy, is rapidly becoming the millstone around their neck as they fail to create and save jobs. John Key seems increasingly disinterested and spends more and more time with his head on Planet Key – where he’s never accountable, he doesn’t have to remember anything, and he can say whatever childish garbage he likes.
And, yet, National alone is neck and neck, or ahead of a Labour-Green coalition in the polls. Labour is still languishing in the range that it languished in for most of Phil Goff’s tenure. Right now, a National-New Zealand First government is likely after 2014, and even if Labour-Green could establish a solid lead over National in the next two years, no-one would bet against Shearer pulling a Brash and blowing it in the campaign.
David Shearer has simply shown time and again that he is not up for the job. He can’t handle the stress, he can’t think on his feet, and he doesn’t have a solid set of beliefs to give him a firm footing when he stands up on issues. His attempts at gotcha politics have been discrediting failures. If at least two thirds of Labour supporters don’t think he’s the best person to be PM, what hope has he got of retaining and attracting swing votes in a contest for the top job?
The hard-working, faithful activists of the Left deserve better; New Zealand deserves better. We need a credible alternative so that we can vote this crappy, failed government out. If we don’t, it will be three more years of the poor and middle class of this country being ground down, and our country falling into foreign ownership, while the rich get rich.
David Shearer got the leadership because enough of the caucus didn’t like the other guy and he was the only alternative choice. He got a fair chance from everyone once he got the job, but it just hasn’t worked out – he has fluffed it. Making him leader was a childish decision at the time and it has proven to be a disastrous one for Labour and the Left. Again, we deserve better and so does the wider country.
In 2014, Labour needs to be led by a Prime Minister in waiting, and they need to put that person in place as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the person for the job is not David Shearer.
The conference saw intense speculation about a David Cunliffe challenge, and in the following few days Cunliffe was dumped from Labour’s front bench by Shearer. There has been a lot of grumpiness about Shearer and the leadership at The Standard since then.
On the Saturday a week before a scheduled major speech by David Shearer there has been another post under ‘Eddie’.
Shearer to put it to the vote
Word around the traps is that David Shearer is going to use his state of the nation speech next weekend to announce that he will put his leadership to full membership vote in February. If it’s true, and it’s a big if, it’s a ballsy but smart move politically and a welcome sign that Labour’s leadership is embracing democracy.
It’s no secret that Labour’s membership is pretty pissed off with the way that the old guard launched a decapitation strike on Cunliffe the moment that the membership decided on a democratic leadership election process.
Honouring the membership’s desire to have a genuine say will go a long way to bringing Labour and its base back together. Refusing to have a vote could only be taken as a tacit acknowledgement that the old guard thinks Shearer would lose a race, and the legitimacy question of a leader who appears afraid of his own members would remain. Taking the initiative would put that to rest and earn praise from even his staunchest critics.
In fact, by taking the front foot, Shearer will probably ensure that he wins the race, possibly even without serious opposition. Winning that vote would put to rest the murmurings that would otherwise follow him indefinitely.
When Shearer has taken the bulls by the horn, he has looked good. Fronting up and showing the membership that he respects them and their right to choose their leader should be another such moment.
Soon after Shearer’s speech there will be much focus on Labour’s “democratic leadership election process”. Yesterday’s post is a fairly obvious attempt to try and force Shearer’s hand and to influence the “democratic leadership election process” in a not very open nor democratic way.
‘Eddie’ is widely believed to be a pseudonym used by Labour Party interests and has not been limited to use by one person. This is not unusual at The Standard as pseudonyms being used by authors – and pseudonyms that authors use – are known to change.
And I know for a fact that one regular at The Standard has commented under a separate pseudonym to the one they normally use to try and disguise their identity. This person has significant connections with the Labour party at an aspiration for leadership level.
If you follow The Standard you get to discover that a number of commenters are not open and honest about their political connections and their motives (sometimes they are downright dishonest).
The recent Clare Curran versus Colonial Viper incident raised a few eyebrows (via blog comments) about how close to the party some actually were, despte their previous attempts to mask it.
The blog manager lprent goes to extraordinary lengths to try and prevent identities of Standard authors even being discussed, it is a banning offence. And lprent has recently been commenting about (bragging about) taking measures to further protect identities.
So The Standard is synonymous with secrecy and subterfuge, where identities, names and pseudonyms often cannot be trusted.
‘Eddie’ is a part of this.
It’s rather ironic that, again, ‘Eddie’ is being used to try and influence the upcoming leader’s speech, and also the upcoming ‘democratic’ leadership decisionmaking process.
At their recent conference Labour’s membership voiced and voted strong support for a more democratic process in the party and for the membership to have more say in the party.
The way both Labour’s caucus and Labour’s main social media tool The Standard operate is at odds with what party membership are asking for, and at odds with open and honest democratic processes. And there is no sign of any of this changing in practice.
Some at The Standard openly yearn for the blog to be seen as a serious political player.
When there are so many eddies in such murky water that’s a futile hope.
Which is a shame. Imagine what an open and honest social media political collective the size of The Standard could achieve.