Robertson’s endorsement crucial

by Jake Quinn

Grant Robertson’s endorsement of David Shearer is a strong one. Grant is much more experienced in political terms than his three years as an MP would suggest. Previous roles as a senior advisor to Ministers and Prime Minister Clark have afforded him high level exposure to the reins of power.

For a time Grant was known as “H3” after Helen and Heather. That is, as the most senior advisor in the Prime Minister’s Office, after Helen’s redoubtable Chief of Staff Heather Simpson, Grant was as (or more) influential as many Ministers around the Cabinet table.

Grant is not green, in terms of experience. On the contrary – I’d describe him as a sort of moral leader within the caucus; meaning new ideas are canvassed with him to get a read, in terms of how something might play out politically. Robertson is Labour’s Joyce. Given Grant’s obvious political skills and his position as caucus ‘wise council’ I’d go as far as describing him as an ideal deputy leader. So obviously, his endorsement is crucial. But did he have to give it before the public debates were over?

In my previous post I’ve ‘on balance’ put myself in camp Cunliffe. I’ve done this not out of any loyalty to anyone in particular, I simply thought to myself: What would I do if I had a vote? Who is most likely to be strong enough to weather the next three years? Who will rebuild and rebrand the party most effectively? Who has the x-factor required to get people off the couch and out to vote? So, in short, who would I put my money behind to actually win against Key in 2014?

I concluded the safest bet was probably good ol’ Cunners, due to his clear advantage in experience and stage presence terms. I’m not fussed who’s most popular in caucus, I’m only concerned with which dog has the strongest bite.

As I’ve articulated below, Shearer has some fine qualities as a politician – I’ve just not been exposed to enough evidence yet to suggest he’d be the better PM than DC. That said, I am a fan of Grant’s judgement so I hope he’s used it here in the interests of a Labour victory in 2014, as opposed to self-preservation. Naturally, being Deputy PM would be pretty cool, so picking the winner at this stage wouldn’t be foolish.

I suppose in the perfect world Robertson wouldn’t have jumped on a ticket, he would have just sat back and let the membership and potential membership absorb the fortnight of debates and newspaper articles and express their views to their local Labour MPs. The MPs would have got together, taken heed of these views, and made the crucial decision. Then they would have done the same for the deputy post.

That way the Labour party would end up with the best leader and the best deputy. But that’s not really how it works, is it. And in any case, Cunliffe picked a deputy from the get go, so I suppose Shearer’s entitled to one too.