4 mins to read

The good news for David Shearer

A chance airport lounge meeting ...

Cathy Odgers
Tue, 13 Nov 2012

David Shearer has already had a terrible week.  The bad news for him is that it will not get better.  He faces an entire conference of Labour supporters, many whom are now screaming to replace him with the bloke last year that he beat.

Imagine lining up for a 0930 Monday flight to Wellington heading off to another week of speculation about your competence of leadership?  In business it would be completely unsustainable going into an AGM.  The tidal wave has been building all year.  It is familiar also to ACT supporters.  The chipping away, the timing and the kill. 

Shearer is on the same flight I am on and the Koru Lounge I am in.  Grant Robertson is there as well casual and fresh.  There's a poignant meeting of the two men.  They seemed surprised to see each other.  The heir apparent who is not ready but is the only answer to the bloke no one wants - David Cunliffe.

Robertson and Shearer at the Koru Lounge in Auckland yesterday.

The only other people acknowledging Shearer are an elderly lady carrying a bag with UN embossed on it and her friends no doubt in town for the incredibly important 10th World Conference of the International Ombudsman Institute.  Their motto ironically is "Fairness for All".  I see little for David Shearer this week.

I am in seat 2A.  Shearer is still so invisible I never see him getting on the plane, only off it to his driver.  It seems even as Leader of the Opposition you cannot get a decent seat at the front of the bus.

David Shearer went from being pumped with a backstory of allegedly saving 50 million Africans with mango skins, to the frontstory that after just a year as Labour leader he seems incapable of saving even himself.

Just a few hundred metres from my sunny balcony he will now be turning to staff for advice.  All those staff want Grant Robertson as Leader in their future.  We know that as Robertson employed them all.    If Cunliffe gets the job they will be out of one.

Your right hand woman has already set you up with a story about a tape that doesn't exist.  Your former right hand man fed you a story about a man who is not on the roof.

You read blogs and columnists all calling for you to go.

The best you come up with apart from dismissing it as bloggers talking to other bloggers is:

"That's basically people who are sitting in front of their computers giving their opinions and it's continuing to drive discussion of it up."

In other words the Press Gallery whom are now insulted.  To dismiss the entire Beltway and the noise coming from it through blogs shows a sweet naivety that only a politician with signs of Aspergers could possess.

The usual folk but now even the lowly Tapu Misa is sick to bloody death of you. Anonymous authors at The Standard are now deciding your future.  You have to politely listen to everyone, not lose your cool and all the time not scream the obvious - "I can still win the fucking election". 

This is though the Labour Party and that is precisely why they want you to go.  Now is the time to be Leader because there is a self-belief eventually the election cycle will end and like musical chairs you will be the winner.  Cunliffe is agile, lively and has a social media team behind him.  Robertson has a knife, staff and a fair amount of rat cunning.

If there is a challenge from Cunliffe or Robertson there will be casualties both in terms of staff, members and MP's.  It is a battle Labour should not want but inevitably will have.

Journalists and amateurs alike all have their own opinion of your performance.  All of it is just that, opinion.  But what is fact? Collectively it holds sway with members which eventually has to flow through to your MP's.  That is how coups are mounted in 2012.  Not in the backroom but online.

At the weekend his former Chief of Staff and old mate is getting married, Shearer will not be there, he will be at a Labour Party conference.  I wonder if any current Labour MP's will be attending?  It will be telling to see the MP's not at the Labour conference.  Attendance should be compulsory to support their Leader.  We know it will not be.

Helen Clark is in the country rallying up support for herself in Labour electorates and is speaking in Clare Curran's electorate tomorrow.  Shearer faces a dilemma with her ghost the same every ACT Leader had with Sir Roger Douglas. 

If Clark goes to the pivotal conference Shearer is toasted as the media will be asking her about Leadership, if she does not go then questions will be asked by media as to if she was asked to keep away as to not overshadow an already invisible man. 

Douglas never held back about his opinion of the current Leader.  If Clark even hesitates in her response it will be the lead story from the conference.  Every journalist will want that quote or moment.

Like Don Brash, Shearer will shortly realise he has made the worst mistake in his long career. He is now completely unemployable and from living a nice life in a major organization will have to integrate back into life.

I do have some good news for David Shearer when this happens.

He will actually not have to give a sh*t about what Irish Bill thinks. 

Cathy Odgers is a Hong Kong lawyer. She blogs as Cactus Kate.

Cathy Odgers
Tue, 13 Nov 2012
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The good news for David Shearer