There has been a great deal of speculation lately about Davis Shearer’s effectiveness as leader of the Labour Party Parliamentary wing, or as ‘shadow Prime Minister.’ His critics have pointed at his low polling figures, conveniently forgetting that even Helen Clark did not figure highly as she progressed to the position she held for so long. Indeed, some would say she still casts a long shadow over the party.
Bloggers have had a field day with their (OK—mine too) constant crowing about David’s so called faults. They compare him to leaders of the past and say he lacks the charisma and appears almost clumsy at times. That he takes time to answer questions is not good enough for those wish ‘swishy, fast to the point answers.’
This weekend sees a conference where Davis has a chance answer those critics as he oversees some major changes about leadership challenges and some important policy announcements. Without a doubt, he is on show and must rise to the occasions, but the party should be very careful about creating an atmosphere where the public sees yet more factional squabbling. There are record number attending this conference and that should be seen as a base for policy development and coming up with a ‘leadership change protocol’ that makes sense and has the widest appeal. I am sure there will be back room deals made, just like in any party in every county in the world, be it democratic or autocratic. Deals are deals, the basis to any power brokering.
Those seeking an ‘alternative Government’ will also be watching. They want to see a ‘strong person’ leading the party that wants to replace the National Party and they need to know that this David is able to hold his colleagues together and put to rest the questions raised about his leadership. Phil Goff must be watching from the side, silently thanking the ‘political Gods’ that he does not have to partake in the sideshow. Perhaps he can bring some sanity and steadiness to the stage. If the Labour Party does not come through this conference united, it will have to face many more years in opposition and may even see the Green Party rise higher in the polls.