David Shearer: Labour’s future

FritterThe latest column from master political strategist and pundit Dick Fritter.

And so the three Labour leadership candidates stroll around the country, pressing the flesh, and flashing their wares to aroused members like a fatman streaker at an NRL game.

David Cunliffe, Grant Robertson and Shane Jones may seem like capable and talented politicians. But can any of them really hope to beat John Key? Do they have enough sausage to make a real sizzle? This constant pressure-cooker that is the Labour leadership contest might be hardening the candidates up, but will they be able to give it to John Key when it really matters?

I’ve been crunching the numbers and talking to some of the contenders and their supporters. I have taken that data and fed it into the most advanced random punditry generator available on the market today.

The results of that scientific analysis may surprise you, because they show that none of the three leadership candidates would come close to beating John Key.

That data shows that only one person in the Labour camp can win. He’s a quietly spoken man, and you may not have ever heard of him. His name is David Shearer.

Shearer is in many ways the dream candidate for the leadership  job. Let’s consider his many attributes.

Leadership experience

David Shearer has proven leadership experience. He has led UN missions in war-torn countries and has done an outstanding job in difficult circumstances.

But that’s not all. Most recently he led the Labour Party, from late 2011 until just a few days ago. He knows what it’s like to lead a political party.

An anti-politician

Shearer is the perfect man to go up against John Key, because he comes from outside politics. He’s not a beltway creature, and he has had a successful career outside of politics. He’s different.

One need only listen to Shearer speak for a few minutes to appreciate that this is a man who doesn’t talk like any successful politician we know.

Caucus unity

Labour suffers from a divided caucus, and a successful leader will need to bring that group together, making it speak with one voice. David Shearer is the only Labour MP who can bring unity to a divided caucus.

Look at his track record. When Shearer was last leader he managed eventually to unite almost the entire caucus against him.

Even his enemies love him

How powerful is David Shearer as a political force? You just need to see how his enemies reacted when he stepped down as leader of Labour last time.

On that occasion the people saddest to see him go were his National Party opponents. They may fear him, but they also admire and respect him. I’m sure that must be why they were so sad to see him go. What other reason could there be?

But no doubt Labour will ignore my advice and elect someone utterly unsuited for the job. Someone who is articulate, has sound political judgement, and can explain what Labour stands for. Let me assure you that this would be a disaster. Not necessarily for Labour, but certainly for the people who tell me what to write and who pay me so handsomely to do so.

So, David Shearer, how about it? It may be too late now to throw your hat into the ring, but there’s still the deputy leadership to be decided. And there’s always 2014.