With friends like these Lee needs no enemies

by Jake Quinn

Melissa Lee has been hung out to dry by John Key and the National Party. Duncan Garner, Linda Clark and John Campbell discussed this at length on Saturday evening following David Shearer’s landslide victory in the Mt Albert by-election. Lee was called a “goose” whose “political career was over” and who will likely now be list placed out of selection for the 2011 election. Ouch.

Meanwhile John Key is on a “pre-arranged holiday”. Excuse me? John Key picked the election date and he picked his holiday date. Therefore, both events were planned so that he was unavailable to comment or be photographed with his hand picked, fast tracked into parliament, unsuccessful candidate. This was not a coincidence.

To make matters worse Jonathan Coleman, the Minister of Who Knows What, was the only cabinet minister at Lee’s function. I know victory has many friends and all that but this was simply cruel and a terrible look for National, something which the public won’t have been missed.

Meanwhile, David Shearer started on a positive note saying in his acceptance speech: “Labour needs fresh ideas and needs to reconnect with the people. As you stay in government there’s a tendency to lock down and not take risks as you go on,” Shearer said. “I think what you’ve got to be constantly doing is refreshing and taking time to get new ideas and continuing to listen. I think otherwise you end up hunkering down and fighting battles, and then people get tired. “Some of the policies we were pushing in our third term we probably would have had no problem with in our first term, but by the third term came around people were just growing a bit tired of it.”

This is precisely what Labour supporters (not to mention the media) want to hear and a great tone to set upon his entry into Parliament. I discussed earlier about how Shearer will be a heavy hitter for the opposition and suggested he may be in line for something foreign affairs related. I would also point out that I initially favoured Meg Bates for Labour’s candidacy suggesting that Shearer was too old. However given the result (and how bloody decent an individual Shearer seems to be) I would be a fool to suggest that Labour did not make the right decision in selecting him.