Shearer finally hits his stride

by Jake Quinn

It’s been a big day for David Shearer who this morning delivered his first scene setting “vision” speech since being elected leader in December. “Finally” the crowds remarked. After all, we’ve waited for three long months for this.

(I will admit I was starting to get worried, especially after reading this strange rambling interview earlier in the week).

But it worked. It was a strong speech that began to paint a portrait of what Shearer would look like as Prime Minister. Moderate, down-to-earth, growth-focused yet compassionate, not afraid of tacking left or right when the moment called, ideological agile you might say.

Excellent developments, from my similarly agile, generally left-leaning, centrist point of view.

There’s been much analysis of the speech already today, so I wont bother with much more. Do read Kaine Thompson’s, lengthy thoughts. Thompson, who was #campCunliffe during the leadership battle, gives it a solid pass mark. Also, as usual, I agree with most of Danyl Mclauchlan’s initial thoughts.

Kudos, it would seem, is due to David Shearer’s staff who had briefed John Armstrong good and early (Armstrong wrote some weeks back about the speech, signalling much of what arrived today). In turn, this led to the senior most journalist in the Press Gallery concluding his opinion shaping column today with this gem:

“A new leader has to start somewhere. Shearer delayed doing so until he felt that he had got things right. The wait was worth it. Today’s speech is the perfect antidote to last year’s electoral disaster. It marks a new beginning for Labour. It’s game-on from here on.”

An achievement by anyone’s measure, surely. I suppose this is what good briefing does – it takes someone with you. You let them in, tell them what they want to hear, manage their expectations correctly and then deliver on those expectations.

While doling out praise to (I assume) his staffers, I think this pearler is also worthy of acclaim. Shearer, when responding to Key’s announcement of a 10 point list of goals for government over the next (oddly) five years, said:

All Key has given the country is another list, Labour leader David Shearer said. “After three-and-a-half years New Zealanders should expect John Key to be delivering some results, yet today he is just setting targets,” said Shearer. “Rather than another ‘to-do’ list I want to see a ‘done’ list.”

This is not the kind of pithy rebuttal we have become accustomed to hearing from this man. I like it and look forward to more of it. Keep up the good work.