The Dominion-Post was extremely unkind to David Shearer yesterday. Vernon Small began his story about the Fairfax/Ipsos poll thus:
David Shearer is the invisible man of New Zealand politics.
Seven months after he took up the reins, voters say they still do not know the man who would be prime minister, raising questions about his effectiveness as Labour leader.
And the Dom-Post's editorial kept the meme going; under the headline Shearer 'invisible' as gloss wears off Key, the leader writer noted:
Therein lies the problem for Mr Shearer. Only one-third think he has a clear vision for New Zealand, and just one in five believe he is a strong and effective leader.The reason for such abysmally low ratings is likely to be tied to the impression voters have of Mr Shearer. When asked to describe him in a few words, nearly a quarter could not think of any at all. A significant number of those who could said he does not stand out or is invisible.In other words, Mr Shearer is missing in action. Mr Key may be slowly falling out of favour with voters, but at least they know who he is.
And just to be extra cruel, the editorial continues:
Mr Shearer has now had more than seven months to stamp his mark on Labour and present it as a credible alternative government that has a clear and carefully thought-out plan for New Zealand. He has singularly failed to do so.What voters have been presented with instead is a leader, and a party, which do not seem to have a coherent idea of what they stand for. On the one hand, they espouse sound policies that would be good for New Zealand, such as a capital gains tax to encourage investment away from boom and bust housing cycles and into productive enterprises, and raising the retirement age to 67 to ease the burden of borrowing on future generations.On the other hand, they have yet to say whether they are still committed to policies that undermined their economic credibility at the last election, such as extending the in- work tax credit to beneficiaries.Mr Shearer appears to believe he has the luxury of time, and that he has till 2014 to set out his stall. But it is wrong to assume that voters go shopping only in election years.They are browsing now, and making it clear that as far as Labour is concerned, they are not impressed with what they see.
With press and polling like this, and with his party organisation now stacked with supporters of his deputy leader Grant Robertson, Mr Shearer must wonder why he gets up every day. We wonder whether he'd be happier just going surfing, or chilling out to some classic rock music such as this: