Labour leader David Shearer is poised to deliver a rolling series of speeches setting out his vision for the country – and has made it clear he won't be pressured into changing his leadership style.
"I'm not the kind of leader who believes in rival tribes playing 'gotcha', where bickering and partisanship are prized. Of course that's what a lot of people look for. They want to score the game, give points for the best smart remark in Parliament. But that's not what most New Zealanders want," Mr Shearer told an Auckland Grey Power meeting yesterday.
Mr Shearer was noticeable by his absence from the House last week. Quite where he was is a mystery, but he got his head shaved on Monday, and made a media appearance on The Farming Show on Wednesday, so he can't have been too far away. Perhaps he was aware that his master strategist and others were planning a personality attack, and didn't want to be a part of it.
That last sentence however now seems to be wishful thinking. He has come out in support of Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little, and endorsed their attack-dog tactics; Scoop reports:
“Labour will continue to ask questions about the massive privacy breach at ACC We will also continue to hold the Government to account in terms of allegations of cronyism.
“There is currently a perception out there that if you know someone from National, you’ll get special treatment. That goes against New Zealanders’ belief in everyone getting equal treatment and a fair go.”
We would suggest that the "perception" that Mr Shearer refers to is nowhere near as widespread as he had hoped. If anything, we reckon that the public has had a gutsful of politicians who play the man (or woman) rather than the ball as with Winston Peters' obscure references to sex with the Nick Smith issues, and Mallard and Little's attack on Judith Collins.
And we reckon that there is a strong body of people who are delighted that Judith Collins is suing Trevor Mallard in particular, given his track record of unsubstantiated allegations and smears. That Ms Collins is paying her own way, and that the defendants will have to do likewise is an added bonus.
So there most certainly seems to be a disconnect between the David Shearer who addressed Grey Power on 24 February, and the David Shearer who sent out a media release to Scoop and other media organisations yesterday at 2.05pm. Would the real David Shearer please stand up?