Questions are being asked about who David Cunliffe is, what he stands for, if he is authentic or not. Duncan Garner asked Is David Cunliffe a fake?
I’m starting to wonder just who Cunliffe is. What does he stand for? Is he anti-business or pro-business? Does he care about the poor? Or hang out with the rich? My big question really is this: Who is the real David Cunliffe?
Is he a fake?
Cunliffe was interviewed on the first TVNZ Q+A of the year yesterday: David Cunliffe goes on the Defence (13:32)
He was defensive, he was contradictory, he was apologetic, and he tried some practiced lines.It was difficult to judge what he was.
It was always going to be hard to look good after an awful week. Cunliffe has a lot of work to do (much of it repair work) to appear confident and capable.
Q+A also interviewed Education Minister Hekia Parata: Boost for at-risk students (11:47)
This was an interesting comparison. When Parata took on the education portfolio she struggled. She had some very poor interviews and struggled with question from the opposition in Parliament. Her responses were at times baffling.
National always battles with Labour leading education groups, and Parata had serious problems with class size policy, Christchurch schools and Novopay. John Key took the responsibility for Novopay off her but persevered with Parata in the portfolio.
In yesterday’s interview Parata looked on top of her portfolio. She sounded assured and showed she had a good grasp of education issues and proposals. She somes adeptly avoided answering questions, but gave good clear responses to others.
Parata looked good. Cunliffe looked like he was struggling.
There are two significant differences. One is complexity, Parata has one portfolio to deal with, Cunliffe has to try and be on top of all the major policy areas.
The other is time. Parata has had two years to learn and improve. She has shown she can do that. Cunliffe has been Labour leader for six months.
Cunliffe’s problem is he doesn’t have time. The election will be in about six months. Labour is struggling in the polls now. They should be building towards the campaign and instead they look dysfunctional. Cunliffe is responsible for that – he seems to be not getting the support he should have from all his caucus colleagues, but Labour’s fortunes rest with him.
Cunliffe could look at how much Parata has improved and hope he achieves the same sort of improvement. But he has to do a lot more in a short time.
What he has to achieve would be challenging for the best politician and for the best leader. So far Cunliffe has not proven he is either. It currently looks like he is not up to it.
Ironically Cunliffe has to make a massive transformation so he doesn’t look fake and fumbling.