Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Base

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  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    Totally. I’d go with the charitable reading – economic development is a plenty ambitious enough portfolio for Cunliffe’s talent, and it’s not like Shearer has said his mind is made up on everything and there’s no room for any of his colleagues to have opinions.

    Quite. And I think it's entirely valid to read Cunliffe's words as an indication of his thinking -- as well as an approach to the activists. My view remains that an opportunity was missed to put him up as the across-government foil to Steven Joyce. He'd have been great at that, not least because he's much more able than Joyce, who runs the country as what he is: a former commercial radio proprietor.

    Cunliffe is so sharp in these speeches -- and yet seems to have alienated so many in his own caucus. That's what he needs to work on.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    and yet seems to have alienated so many in his own caucus

    I still haven't seen anyone explain exactly how. Bit of a waste, really.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Sacha,

    I still haven’t seen anyone explain exactly how. Bit of a waste, really.

    People have said he's aloof and arrogant, but that's still too simplistic an explanation.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4431 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Cunliffe is so sharp in these speeches

    He is sharp in the House too. Very easy to listen to him rip strips off National.Although I missed question time, I think Shearer held his own on the Casino after question time. They are finding their boots as a new Party. The front bench is shaping up well.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6357 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to DeepRed,

    That's what I thought. Must be something that doesn't show in public.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    I missed question time

    So did the acting Speaker today. What a woeful performance.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to DeepRed,

    I still haven’t seen anyone explain exactly how. Bit of a waste, really.

    People have said he’s aloof and arrogant, but that’s still too simplistic an explanation.

    Overweening ambition, I gather. He is said to rate himself quite highly. I'm sure there is in fact something in it, and he may yet have a bit to learn about personal interactions.

    My mum thinks he's arrogant and smarmy. So there's that to work on too.

    But as I said in describing the Foo session that unfortunately had way too much read into it by some people, Cunliffe was very impressive talking about economic policy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Sacha,

    So did the acting Speaker today. What a woeful performance.

    Just watching it now, he is struggling a bit but,
    I like him. The guy never gets a chance in Smiths seat. He is getting on a bit…{ ;)
    He seems genuinely interested in being fair. It’s giving everyone a chance. I reckon.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6357 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Overweening ambition, I gather. He is said to rate himself quite highly. I'm sure there is in fact something in it, and he may yet have a bit to learn about personal interactions.

    He does rate himself highly but, to be fair, he has every right to. He is a very capable politician and was one of the better ministers of the Clark government. And I think you're spot on with the personal relationships issue.

    My mum thinks he's arrogant and smarmy. So there's that to work on too.

    Arrogant? Maybe but with some cause. Smarmy? I don't think so, but that's a perception thing so if some get him that way it is something he has to work on.

    But as I said in describing the Foo session that unfortunately had way too much read into it by some people, Cunliffe was very impressive talking about economic policy.

    Cunliffe knows his stuff, no doubt. He can actually be very personable and agreeable. But his fool-tolerance level is very low and it's noticeable when exceeded. I think too many people (me included) said "there goes a future PM" when he was getting stuck into splitting Telecom and he's come to believe that it's his by right.

    I really liked the speech. I'm with Ben, I don't see it as a leadership challenge - that's Farrar's fantasy only - but as a positive party speech.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2208 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Ok he's a dick too. The question Hone asked had a diabolical answer and Roy responded terribly.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6357 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to nzlemming,

    Farrar’s fantasy

    But don't they work eh? I haven't seen proof of any gossip about the Labour Party. It's just gossip.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6357 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    +1 on what nzlemming wrote but why need to work on his manner? He is what he is and truly capable of doing a good job. Nobody is perfect. Start working on changing, then where does he stop being himself ? He is what he is. Not perfect.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6357 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    Start working on changing, then where does he stop being himself ?

    I don't mean he needs to change himself - I don't actually think he is smarmy - but he may need to make an effort to counter the perception that he is. As you say, Farrar's little gossip pieces work very well at altering perception without any truth to them.

    If there's one person I'd like to smack around the chops*, it's whoever took the phrase "perception equals reality" and turned it into a prescription rather than a description. What spinmeisters do is try to manipulate your perception of an event, so that you will respond as if their perspective is factual, rather than the real facts of the matter. I think it was McLuhan who used the phrase to describe how our personal reality is formed by the perceptions we hold, rightly or wrongly. The Farrars of the world (IMHO, of course) try to get a particular view out so that people (being to lazy to do the research themselves) will accept it as gospel, rather than gossip. This is why it was so important to have Farrar's political ties acknowledged on the media pieces he writes for Stuff and his appearances on Mora's rather dire Panel. He was being perceived as an independent opinion former, whereas the reality is he's tied to the Nats very closely, pretty much hand in glove. If you don't know that, and read him accordingly, you can get a very skewed idea of what's actually happening in the Beehive.


    *The other person I'd like to clout is Roger Hall, for persuading 2 generations of New Zealanders that ALL public servants were like the exaggerated characters in Glide Tme et al. The result of that is the current cuts to the public service which are going well beyond fat and into the bone. But that's for another rant.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2208 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    why need to work on his manner?

    Communicating is a core part of the job description.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    Umm, I have a cold, so that may be altering my perception, but has someone changed the base font (like for the "First Older Page 1 2 Newer Last")? And is Typekit being really slow to respond for anyone else?

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2208 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    My mum thinks he's arrogant and smarmy. So there's that to work on too.

    Mine too. Exact same words were used. "Smarmy" became a drumbeat, I think. It's a lovely word for that purpose, because its meaning is not that clear, but it has a negative connotation. It's one of those ones people tend to remember only by exemplars rather than definitions. Taps us all right on the tall poppy, bringing back visceral associations of times we've been bested by people who were smoother than us. I think most successful lawyers would be considered smarmy by their enemies.

    I'm not entirely sure how Cunliffe could overcome this one. I guess the main thing is for enough people to feel that he's on their side, at which point smarm is exactly what you want.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8737 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand, in reply to nzlemming,

    Roger Hall? He epitomises middle brow culture in all its self-centred, smarmy view of the world,

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2345 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    David Cunliffe is very, very intelligent, and he doesn't downplay it, or pretend that he's not smart. I think that some plonkers in the Labour caucus can't cope with that. I think it's part of NZ's pervasive anti-intellectualism. We should get over it.

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1330 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Deborah,

    Good point.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2208 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Deborah,

    Pervasive anti-intellectualism?
    I think it goes waaay deeper than that -y’know, artists -musicians, sculptors, painters, dramatists, other writers, dont even mention poets-& such (who are not perceived as intellectuals, merely as irrelevancies) et al-
    Unless they are on TV-

    NB: A lot of people – including some of my own whanau – think intellectuals are academics only. Still.

    Just incidentally, I dont know of any of those ones who think of any politician as an academic - even if they have a degree. They will say, admiringly of, say, "Doctor Brash" - "Oh, he's a doctor" -but that's it...

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    Cunliffe smary no - it is competence - something that one doesn't see in politics - when it is present it stands out - he also communicates well and doesn't get flustered.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1210 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    The claims that Cunliffe is a victim of tall-poppy syndrome etc remind me of similar claims about Larry Summers. And fundamentally, the same problem applies.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1395 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Deborah,

    David Cunliffe is very, very intelligent, and he doesn’t downplay it, or pretend that he’s not smart. I think that some plonkers in the Labour caucus can’t cope with that. I think it’s part of NZ’s pervasive anti-intellectualism. We should get over it.

    Alternatively, the explanation -- and it seems much more likely -- is that he does indeed have a weakness in relationships with his colleagues. Pretty much the definition of leadership is to be able to take people with you, and if he can't do that it weakens his claim on a leadership role.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    I doubt Shearer is a plodder in the intellect department either. Where he struggles is in communicating that intellect in decisive and effective ways. In fairness, Cunliffe's had a lot more practice (as an MP since '99?).

    Also in the interests of fairness ... Key can do smarmy, and it doesn't seem to have hurt him in any way.

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    If we are talking smarm I have to insist that John Key and Steve Joyce combine to form the Laurel & Hardy of smarm .

    Te Ika A Maui - Waitakere… • Since Oct 2008 • 572 posts Report Reply

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