We blogged last week about the tensions that are gathering around the leadership of the Labour Party. We noted that if The Standard was openly talking about dissatisfaction within the party, then there was a better than even chance that the rumours we were hearing from a variety of sources were well-founded.
Claire Trevett is a political journalist with the Herald. And she's been doing some digging which joins quite a number of the dots. And tucked away in the middle of her story is a very interesting angle; check this out:
But insiders said his departure was hastened by conflict within Mr Shearer's office.Mr Nash and, to a lesser extent, John Pagani - another of Mr Shearer's advisers - are understood to have disagreed with his chief press secretary, Fran Mold, about the extent to which Mr Shearer should lead attacks on the Government rather than refuse to be drawn into oppositional politics.Mr Nash is believed to have been keen for Mr Shearer to focus on building up his "non-politician" image, focusing on being optimistic rather than engaging with National.But Mold and others in Mr Shearer's leadership team believed that was being taken too far and starving Mr Shearer of the media coverage he needed.Mr Shearer last week led the charge on the Crafar farms sale, but the previous strategy of keeping him away from subjects on which Labour had a negative line gave rise to speculation about the leadership after his deputy, Mr Robertson, was left to lead Labour's reaction on major issues such as Nick Smith's resignation as minister over troubles in ACC.Mr Shearer said he did lead reaction on many issues but also recognised that his other MPs were "very able" and should be allowed to contribute.
We reckon that this is a fascinating insight into the thought processes of those with influence in the Labour Party. David Shearer, it was decided by Messrs Pagani and Nash, should be kept at arms-length from the nasty stuff. Labour wasn't deciding to drop the nasty stuff altogether, which is one of the messages the party ought to have taken from its 2008 and 2011 election defeats; rather, it would just pretend that Mr Shearer was above all that.
Perhaps we should thank Francesca Mold for suggesting in a back-handed way that David Shearer needed to front the attack stuff. It may not have been the direct intention of her strategy which was to get Mr Shearer in front of the cameras more often, but at least her strategy wasn't going to present a falsehood.
Let's face it; whether we like it or not, politics is a robust environment which attracts a certain type of individual. We would never put ourselves up for public office, simply because there are too many skeletons in our closet from days when we were younger and less wise than we now are!
But for Labour to pretend that Mr Shearer was a new breed of politician who didn't get involved with attack politics was blatantly dishonest. Stuart Nash and John Pagani should hang their heads in shame for concoting such a strategy.