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Speaker: David Shearer: The one that went away

20 Responses

  • Joshua Arbury,

    Excellent article. I got to know David not longer after he became an MP, probably through Waterview Connection stuff. He was always keen to listen and learn and I do think he would have been a terrific PM.

    He also said to me once (probably around 2010) that he found being an MP quite strange and seemed concerned he was not nearly doing enough to make the world better, like he had been previously.

    Auckland • Since May 2009 • 235 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    David Shearer spoke to a packed public meeting in Khandallah, Wellington, at the time of the Gaza crisis in September 2014. He was very impressive. He is obviously more at home resolving international conflicts than dealing with local politics.

    I remember many years ago when he first stood on the Labour list, at Helen Clark's request I think. He was overseas and came home only for some last minute campaigning. At that time people either had never heard of him, or wondered why someone with such an international reputation wanted to be a backbench MP in NZ.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3151 posts Report Reply

  • Barry -,

    I knew it wasn't going to work out when he made the speech criticising the ACC recipient working on his roof. I understand it is appealing to the centre and bene-bashing was working well for National, but it was a good way to alienate the left.

    So I hope his new job goes well, and I think it will work better because he won't have many friends. In the end it was his friends that were harder to work with than his enemies.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2015 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Konrad Kurta,

    I think you've hit the nail on the head. For the short time I produced his show at Planet FM, he always came across as a non-politician. He seemed real - in precisely the way David Cunliffe didn't when he appeared on the show. Nuanced, as you say. And he's a genuinely good bugger to boot. But he was also hesitant in front of the microphone, and I believe that's what ultimately did him in - he'd have made a great PM, but his inability to connect with the public via concise media soundbites was always going to hamstring him.

    South Korea • Since Dec 2012 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Actually, staying with movie stars, it’s tempting to think of Shearer not as Firth (way too buttoned up) or Willis, but as Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo. Confused about the true nature of the world he finds himself in but determined to help. Determined, moreover, that his own decency will save the day. And yet, fatally, besotted with something he doesn’t understand.

    I don't want to derail or anything, but Jimmy Stewart's character in Vertigo is a horrible person.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4637 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    I thought it was worth the risk.

    I agree. Because what we have been trying for the last decades has simply not been working.

    We've tried the politicians. The ones who bully and blackmail and buy their colleagues in order to achieve power and then can only imagine getting more power.

    We need statespeople. People who are doing the job of politician because it's the best way for them to contribute to society. People who make decisions based on the best evidence available for the greatest benefit to all of society. People who can make mistakes and admit it. People who take responsibility for their decisions and are willing to change their minds when they get it wrong.

    I don't know if Shearer was all those things. But I do know that what has replaced him was the worst kind of old white male political animal and frankly it's really hard to vote for that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4431 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Konrad Kurta,

    his inability to connect with the public via concise media soundbites

    The media's inability to present anything other than trite meaningless soundbites ...

    There I fixed that for you

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4431 posts Report Reply

  • Konrad Kurta, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    The media’s inability to present anything other than trite meaningless soundbites …

    There I fixed that for you

    Touché. An unfortunate reality of modern media and politics. He seemed at home as far as informed dialogue and discussion were concerned. Knowledge and understanding aren't the zeitgeist, unfortunately. See: US election.

    South Korea • Since Dec 2012 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Konrad Kurta,

    An unfortunate reality of modern media and politics.

    Agreed. Doesn't stop me hating it though.

    Also I have to say I think it has a lot to do with just how bad some political systems have become.

    But I have no idea how to fix it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4431 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    It's a fair and welcome tribute from Simon Wilson to Shearer the man, but I'm afraid Shearer the politician is far from blameless in his own leadership failure. When Goff stood down, Shearer allowed himself to be the creature of caucus, specifically of the old guard (King, Mallard, etc). That was 5 years ago, and only now is Labour starting to face a reality that was already staring them in the face back then. On blogs like Red Alert (now gone, not missed) Labour voters would say heretical things like "Rejuvenate! Talk to the Greens! Helen has gone!" and the response was usually "Don't worry, we know what we're doing." They didn't. They waited for Key to fail and a grateful nation to turn to the government-in-waiting. Still waiting, guys.

    Shearer was a new face, with a different style, and he could/should have been a new beginning. But he was a continuation of the old, and that sealed his fate.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1269 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Brown,

    Tom Hanks, surely. I think he was PM material and a shame they double-tapped him. Plays guitar too, as I recall.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2013 • 136 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Just another comment - as a scientist it really was neat to see a leader who took the science portfolio. I get the feeling that had he ever become PM it might have made a subtle difference to his priorities.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4431 posts Report Reply

  • Tinakori, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    You must have through it terrific when John Key appointed a Chief Scientific Advisor

    Wellington • Since Jul 2013 • 118 posts Report Reply

  • Tinakori,

    "thought"

    Wellington • Since Jul 2013 • 118 posts Report Reply

  • simon g, in reply to Tinakori,

    You must have through it terrific when John Key appointed a Chief Scientific Advisor

    I think many of us did. But that was in the innocent, hopeful time, before we learned how Keyism works.

    Announce appointment = get good headline. But when said appointment speaks up (on anything from climate change to sugar tax), ignore his recommendations, and talk about rugby instead.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1269 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Which is the more dangerous of the two right now, Syria or South Sudan?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5397 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    People being thoughtful is difficult to distinguish from people telling lies.

    It's that little pause. After they start speaking.

    Certainty, even of the nihilist kind where nothing matters, doesn't look at all like lies. It's what makes a talented liar, a certainty that they are not lying, at least for some interpretation of what they're saying.

    No use voting for a liar after all, never know what they're going to do.

    Since Nov 2006 • 600 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Wow! as a distant voter you never really know a person if they are only in the political sphere and that is all that is reported. I wish Mr Shearer bon chance in his travels, I wish I was able to do as much as he. Need any helpers?

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1715 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    Thank you for this post...I agree with it, and would have also been prepared to take that risk (of Shearer being a good PM).

    But I'm reminded of another Leader of the Opposition who had similar failings in public.

    He seemed thoughtful and able to see the grey between the black and white, and this didn't come over well in the media or with his peers, who rolled him.

    His name was Bill English.

    I don't subscribe to his political leanings, but he still might be able to show some of that thoughtfulness and consideration that we wanted to see in a Shearer PM?

    Or not... apparently he's learned a lot in the past 14 years... maybe the bits I liked in him are already gone?

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 885 posts Report Reply

  • Lynn Yum,

    One thing I want to point out is that not only is South Sudan dangerous, UN has a chequered history in South Sudan, with allegations that UN Peacekeepers either failed to stop abuses or perpetrated abuses themselves, see e.g. this. So David Shearer as the head of UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan will need to sort the Peacekeepers straight, in addition to keeping the peace. Therefore IMO it is a much much much tougher job than being in politics in NZ. Good luck to him, he needs it, for the sake of people in South Sudan, and the credibility of UN.

    Bill English had nothing nice to say about David Shearer when he was asked about his departure, instead trotting out the usual “Labour infighting” soundbite. To me it sounded narrow-minded when put in context.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2016 • 38 posts Report Reply

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