Labour should not over-egg its victory in
There might be some National supporters who thought their party could win
By-elections are perverse critters. Voter apathy is the biggest problem, particularly when voters know their choice is not going to change a government. Just 47.5% of
A large squad of former cabinet ministers door-knocked their way round the electorate as if
National’s Melissa Lee stumbled on the starter’s block – and never really recovered. Her selection was clearly designed to stir things up in multi-ethnic Mount Albert – young solo mum, Korean-born, successful and stroppy, the new face of National. The first thing it stirred up was resentment in the Indian community who saw Ravi Masuku, their own National candidate for the previous two elections, pushed aside.
Lee’s next problem was the Waterview motorway. She was caught flat-footed by Transport Minister Joyce’s announcement of a compromise part tunnel-part surface alternative to Labour’s excessively expensive plan to underground the motorway extension through
Lee crammed both feet in her mouth with a suggestion that the motorway could keep the criminals from South Auckland off
She wilted under the media pressure, conceded defeat before polling day, then recanted, and finally committed the cardinal sin of comparing her hourly rate as a Parliamentarian with the hourly rate of a minimum wage worker. Melissa in Blunderland was the story of the by-election.
David Shearer is going to make an interesting addition to the Labour benches. He is more seasoned than most of the party’s new intake from 2008. His record of international humanitarian service is substantial.
Earlier this week, Shearer and I discussed his contentious article “Privatising Protection”, published in August 2001 during his term with Goff. The article discussed the proposition that properly regulated, private military companies could be used to protect the civilian population in failing states. I put it to him that he was at odds with Goff and Labour, who had passed the Mercenary Activities [Prohibition] Act in 2003, and that John Key had labeled him “Labour’s poster boy in Mount Albert who wants to privatise the army” during the campaign. He winced at the thought.
“I never said that.” And he is right. “Privatising Protection” was written at the time when the UN could not raise peacekeeping forces to intervene effectively in
Shearer told me it was his friend Phil Twyford, the Labour list MP, who convinced him to stand for selection in
He entered the race for selection, head down and running hard. He was up against strong local Labour rivals and short on local knowledge. He decided to listen and learn – a successful policy he continued through the election.
He was amazed to discover how many of the people he met during his campaign felt “disconnected and alienated” from political decision-making. The super-city plan, the motorway extension, public transport provision, local environmental concerns, resource management and broader local government reform are combining to create what Shearer calls “the perfect storm”. Injecting “listen and learn” community politics into central government may become his next mission.
Somehow, I do not think David Shearer will sit on the back-benches for long, just being happy to be the MP for