Shearer's speech: Style over substance

VERNON SMALL COMMENT
Last updated 05:00 28/01/2013

Relevant offers

Politics

Labour's David Parker calls for 'swimmable' test to reflect when and where you take a dip KiwiRail says 'Kaikoura effect' cuts surplus Bill English downplays high demand for emergency housing grants Chris Trotter: Labour's future has a single name National MP Paul Foster-Bell to stand down at election Jacinda Ardern: ambitious simply to be 'good at her job' Rules on 1080 poison drops taken out of regional local govt hands Greens co-leader James Shaw pitches to Government stability in speech Stacey Kirk: An expected steamroll - Mt Albert win gives Jacinda Ardern near unstoppable momentum Jonathan Milne: Is it time to take the keys from Police Commissioner Mike Bush?

Labour's David Shearer may not have been smooth, but he was genuine and a man of substance.

OPINION: So the spin went last year when he was struggling to sound fluent during speeches and impromptu press interviews. He was, if you like, substance over style. But his address to party faithful yesterday - not a "state of the nation" speech exactly, but a scene-setter for the year - was the exact reverse.

The delivery had the punch evident last year when he saw off the challenge from David Cunliffe and used the party's bold housing policy to woo party activists at Labour's annual conference.

The joke about Prime Minister John Key's "epiphany" over the need for more apprentices got a good laugh: "I thank the focus group that brought that to his attention."

These days Mr Shearer is taking no chances on the presentation front, even using an autocue when talking to about 170 party faithful in a Wainuiomata rugby clubroom.

But if there were new lines, there was also a swag of old ones, including Labour's theme du jour: The need for "hands-on government".

Nowhere was a new policy to be seen.

He did sow some seeds, telling a team of MPs to find ways to turn economic buzzwords such as smart growth into meaningful programmes ("not airy-fairy concepts") and setting up another to examine how to improve the transition from school to more training and high-skill jobs.

Perhaps Labour thinks that, while National is squirming, there is no point hiding its popular housing plan under a bushel of new policies.

So, for now, big new ideas are on hold, while Labour builds up its leader's confidence and credibility and tries to cash in on what it hopes is a growing mood against National.

Ad Feedback

- Wellington

Special offers
Opinion poll

Where do you stand on political coat-tail riding?

If it gets marginalised voices into Parliament, I'm for it.

I'm against it - if you don't get the votes, you shouldn't be there.

It's just part of the political game.

Vote Result

Related story: Voters reject riding on the coat-tails

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content