That was a pretty great interview.
Yes, this is the real dilemma. There are two directions they can strike. Left is where they probably have the richest pickings if the want to be a bigger party. But if it comes entirely at the cost of their coalition partners, it's not going to win an election. Right is a direction in which their support will probably stay the same size, but each vote that they take from National counts towards their chances.
I think that framing overstates the wonkishness of most voters. The majority of National voters I know in real life don't know a thing about policies, but they know that John Key is a good bloke (insert "straight white male" here if you like) who doesn't seem to take his job too seriously, and who seems to be running the country right. Voters like that aren't won over by "a lurch to the right", they're convinced by whether or not they like the leader of the party.
Lest you think I'm exaggerating, last week I was forced to remain silent while four of my (twentyish) colleagues discussed the "Gay red shirt" furore. Amongst the comments were, "But didn't John Key make gay marriage legal last year?" and "Gay people like John Key, it's just the angry feminists who don't".
At a time when National is going from bad-to-worse, they really need a more energetic and competent line up.
Amen. How many times have National dropped the ball in the last year, only to have the current Labour front row all step back and wait for the Greens to swoop in? (Ed Note: I have no idea why I'm using sporting metaphors so often recently.)
Expecting to win an election because you're the default choice when people are tired of National is a terrible strategy, yet that's been the impression most outsiders have of Labour under the current leadership. If I was a Labour voter (which I no longer am) I would be asking myself how well this strategy will work in a hard fought campaign.
I suspect the attempt to portray the disagreement as non-ideological was a result of Cunliffe thinking he could have a bob each way. If he lost, he would still be able to do his job as a member of the party, because hey, we're all friends here, right?
And Shearer's camp wouldn't want anyone thinking there were people inside the party who were unhappy with its direction, so they went along with it.
Commentators never lose by framing leadership battles as horse-races, so no pressure there, either.
But for all I know, the challenge could genuinely have been as personality-driven and non-ideological as it appeared. If that's the case, I'm surprised the challenge garnered as much attention as it did.
Having said that, there are lots of people claiming Cuncliffe as a man of left, who’ll will wipe away any traces of neo liberal orthodoxy.
Have I missed the evidence for these claims?
You haven't missed it, it's been practically nonexistent. Which isn't to say it's not true, just that it's never been laid out in public as an actual disagreement on the politics of the two men, which you could read as deliberate on the part of both participants, or as a failing on the part of commentators, or both.
I think Gio's point on Twitter about the lack of analysis of the political differences between Shearer and Cunliffe was spot on, unfortunately. (At least I think it was Gio?) I've yet to read very much portraying Shearer vs Cunliffe as anything but a stoush between two bureaucrats with identical policies. If that's the case, it doesn't say much about the depth of Labour's bench (to misuse the old analogy.)
I realise now I've probably moved in to some transitional phase of leftihood with no way back, but I've spent most of the last year aghast at Shearer and Co's deliberate positioning as uninspiring-to-cynical-to-downright-reactionary on many core social issues, particularly the beneficiary bashing, but also Shearer's own simply unnecessary equivocation on marriage equality (prior to Wall's excellent management of that issue, anyway.) I was expecting, or at least hoping, to hear some kind of olive branch in the direction of others like myself, who had felt let down by the thuggish populism that has undermined many of Labour's policy discussions in the media recently. What did we get instead? More stuff about beneficiaries needing to work hard and play by the rules. If that's not a dog whistle for agreeing with National's tougher line on beneficiaries, it's a pretty fair imitation.
PAS is the only forum where I feel like I need to think my opinion through before I post (although I'm sure that'll come as a surprise to anyone who's ever read what I post...)
So cheers, Russell! It's been a hell of a ride, and I'm glad to have that "Nov 2006" beside my name.
Exciting American Presidential elections where it's not clear what's going to happen come election day is a recent phenomena.
Perhaps not coincidentally, this has coincided with reduced voter participation and a consequent need from campaigns (and pundits) to frame every race as close to encourage people to vote. People are less likely to think their own vote is meaningless in a race that is already decided.
Randa's one of those shockingly young, talented people that make you wonder what you're doing with your own life. I heard an interview with her on bFM a month or so ago and started listening to her soon afterwards. She's the newest generation of musos making quality music out of their bedrooms, in her case literally.
“Dont worry dear – one of these days you’ll meet Mr Right.”
“Um, dont you think I know myself rather well by now? I mean, I’ll be 66 next birthday?”
That's even worse than my lesbian aunt, who gets the same from her 80 year old mother every time she breaks up with a girlfriend. "Oh, now you can meet a nice man and settle down..."
Understanding other people is hard work for most of us a lot of the time, but it seems as though some people don't want to understand others at all.