Brian Edwards Media

Despite the danger of becoming a right charlie, I offer some free advice to David Shearer.

 (Update: David Shearer and Helen Clark met in his office on Tuesday night.  They discussed, inter alia, the difficulties faced by a Leader of the Opposition.)

Welcoming wrongdoers to hell, Rowen Atkinson’s ‘The Devil’ turns his attention to the large assembly of atheists present and says, ‘You must feel a right lot of charlies!’ It occurred to me that, if David Shearer becomes Prime Minister in 2014, he will be well within his rights to address the same comment to the Shearer non-believers, myself included,  who wrote him off two years earlier.

So what does Shearer have to do to ensure that he has that moment to savour? For starters, he would do well to take note of the fate of his predecessor, Phil Goff.

Here’s what I know from first-hand experience of knowing and working with Phil. He is highly intelligent, extremely hard-working, hugely politically experienced, a tough debater, morally scrupulous, a decent human being. His reputation as a minister in Helen Clark’s government was second to none, most notably in the Justice and Foreign Affairs portfolios. As a candidate for the highest office in the land his credentials would seem to have been impeccable.

So why isn’t he Prime Minister?  

There are no doubt several reasons. But the major reason is that for the greater part of his term as Leader of the Opposition, he languished  at under 10% in the ‘Preferred Prime Minister’ polls, while the gap between his party and National remained a chasm. This looks like an effect rather than a cause but it is in fact both.

The cause of his low rating was primarily his inability to master what Ian Fraser has defined as ‘the art of acting yourself’ on television. And it was compounded by the unique ability of his opponent to be himself seemingly everywhere.

The effect of Goff’s sustained single-figure rating in the Preferred Prime Minister polls, when combined with his party’s mediocre ratings, was to increase voters’ doubts about his fitness to run the country. No-one wants to back a loser. The self-fulfilling nature of political polls has long been denied by the people who make money from producing them, but it really is as obvious as the nose on your face: People prefer to back favourites.

Evidence of this, contained in recent British research on the effect of ‘the worm’ in televised political debates, has shown conclusively that audiences are strongly influenced in favour of a leader whom the worm ‘likes’. The research involved artificially manipulating the worm to heavily favour one leader in a political debate regardless of the quality of that leader’s performance. The debate was shown to separate audiences in different venues with the worm favouring a different leader in each. The audiences were then asked which leader they thought had won the debate. In both venues  the leader favoured  by the worm was declared the winner of the debate. Repetitions of the experiment produced the same result.

Voters, it seems, are less confident in their own judgement if they  perceive that judgement to be heavily at odds with majority opinion. So a leader who languishes for months at the bottom of the polls faces enormous difficulty in overcoming voter perception that he or she has little or no chance of winning the election and is consequently not worth voting for. That difficulty is exacerbated by the political and social truism that the rungs of the ladder to success are wider apart at the bottom than they are further up.

It’s traditional for low-polling party leaders to say they don’t care about the polls, ‘the only poll that matters is the poll on election day’. Shearer would be wise to care about the polls and to recognise the corrosive influence on voter perception of sustained low polling for himself or the Labour Party. He must get his poll ratings up and he cannot wait much longer to do it.

But can it be done? Well, he might look to Helen Clark for inspiration. In June 1996, not long after an abortive attempt to persuade her to step down as leader, Helen’s rating as preferred prime minister was around 3%. Her party’s support was around 14%. In November of that year she came close to winning the election and would have done so had it not been for the treachery of Winston Peters – a blessing in disguise as it turned out. She went on to win three terms as Prime Minister.

So if he can ignore the nonsense from the right that Helen is the Machiavellian force behind left-wing criticisms of his leadership, my advice to the present Member for Mount Albert is that he could probably do no better than to consult the former Member for Mount Albert for a little advice. And that at the risk of my looking ‘a right charlie’ if the advice works.

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50 Comments:

  1. it’s too late for david shearer, irregardless of his capability to do the job..as they say in the movies “the fix is in “.
    perception is now 9/10th’s of the law and the media teeth etc are already biting his neck like a lion taking down an antelope…wouldn’t matter what he promised ..he’s done.
    it must be great to be john key when he abashedly has always stuck with the mantra that “what you see is the everyday me and i ain’t going to change”

    if you tell lies;you have to remember them…if you be yourself and it works then you’re free.

    i don’t feel sorry for david shearer..he should’ve never allowed himself to sucked in the vortex in the first place at such a ” green” stage of his political life!

    i just hope grant robertson never gets a run as that would really sink the whole agenda..that rainbow thing is half the problem with the past public perceptions?

    i recall when Shearer first came up, they spurned any advice from you as being part of the “old guard” of media advisers…i’ve often wondered and i’d be very interested in your relaxed comment on how different things may be for him now if they had eschewed that stance and come to you back then..hark, is that light i see under yon bushel ?
    :-)

    BE: well, I can’t really take the position that Shearer is untrainable in a media sense and suggest at the same time that Judy and I could have trained him. So it’s not false modesty when I say I doubt that we would have made any great difference. What Shearer needs now is political strategy advice not media training. Hence my suggestion that he talk to Helen.

  2. Phil Goff was not helped by bloggers like Danyl Mclauchlan at Dimpost.

    That blog ran a consistent campaign against Goff, at the same time (hypocritically, in my view) claiming to be Labour Party supporters.

    How does one support a party by denigrating its leader.

    Mclauchlan claims to be a scientist, he also claims to be a teacher.

    If either of those claims are true this country has serious problems.

    If both claims are true this country is in deep doo doo. Gordon Gecko wins. John Key wins. Wall Street wins. The banks win. Science is banned.

    New Zealand is stuffed.

  3. Brian, are you suggesting a media manipulation of the ‘polls’ to boost Shearers ratings!? aka a leftie David Farrar type worm? That is very interesting if that is the case.

    My suggestion at this point is if the activist left want a Labour led govt in 2014 then the best place to start in ‘raising’ the polls is to back Shearer now and show some unity. His caucus backs him and the majority of the Labour MP’s have come out and backed him. So what else is there!?

    We have in Shearer, at last, a man who is decent, honest, intelligent, unencumbered with political baggage and prepared to give his all to lead his country, and all in it.

    And he plays a mean guitar :)

    BE: I can find nothing in my post to suggest ‘a media manipulation of the polls.”

  4. Whether you like it or not in politics you must have x-factor.

    Competency, honesty, experience, etc, as in the case of Phil Goff was not not enough. He did not have x-factor and he sounded like what he was, a lecturer.

    Shearer does not have x-factor. In addition he has little experience, zero political nous and can’t string two cohesive sentences together.

    Get rid of him. Life’s too short.

  5. The only advice I would give David Shearer is to stop listening to everybody’s advice (except mine, of course).

    If he knows why he wanted to be Labour leader – and Prime Minister – then he should tell us. So far, we’re none the wiser.

    If he doesn’t know, he should resign.

    If he keeps listening to all these advisers telling him to appear more “left” or more “right”, or even what colour tie he should be wearing for the cameras, then he just keeps looking like he has for the past year … confused, and confusing.

    Some politicians (like Hone Harawira or Don Brash) get low poll ratings because they are perceived as too extreme. Shearer has low poll ratings because he isn’t perceived as anything at all.

    His speech this weekend is probably his last chance to change that. I just hope he’s writing it himself.

    BE: “The only advice I would give David Shearer is to stop listening to everybody’s advice.” I have some sympathy for that advice. I recall Helen at a pre-election-debate discussion where there was a cacophony of voices offering their opinion, saying in a somewhat despairing tone, “Be quiet.” Phil Goff was deafened by conflicting advice. The result is confusion and indecision.

  6. “His reputation as a minister in Helen Clark’s government was second to none, most notably in the Justice and Foreign Affairs portfolios.”

    Nonsense, Goff was a lousy Minister of Justice. When it was obvious that he needed to establish a Commission of Inquiry into the Peter Ellis case, he opted for a ministerial inquiry because it would be, to quote him, “speedier and much less of a burden on the taxpayer” than a wide-ranging inquiry. So, Goff’s idea of delivering justice was all about speed and cost, too bad if this resulted in an injustice. I have read letters addressed to Goff – previously supporters of his – condemning him for his weak and cowardly response to Ellis’s plight. Some of these letter writers said they would never vote Labour while he remained as Minister. I suspect they felt the same way towards him as leader.

    BE: You’ve taken a single case to make your point. You need rather more than that. And, by the way, I try to avoid writing ‘nonsense’.

  7. “How does one support a party by denigrating its leader.”

    By being honest, perhaps?

  8. The impediments that are crippling David Shearer, aren’t that he came from the U.N, he’s a novice MP and hasn’t achieved anything in his first term, devoid of charm as well as authority and conviction, lacking in appeal and charisma, seems not to register, he’s hesitant and timorous and he stutters; it’s none of those things, really. It’s all about self-projection and public perception.

    All the pics of him in the print media and being interviewed on TV, show him as someone who is perpetually dazed or concussed. Someone, not quite the full quid. How does he overcome that?

  9. There is one thing people forget when they talk about Helen Clarks low ratings in 1996 is that Labour’s base felt betrayed iby the introduction of Rogernomucs. It took years for voters to trust Labour again. It was Helen Clark who won back that trust. The LP should be polling ahead of National at the moment with high unemployment, incompetent ministers etc. Why isn’t it? It does not have the baggage of the eighties. The only conclusion I can make is poor leadership of the leader and the front bench. David Shearer is not the only one who is not performing and voters will not elect them unless they get their act together.

  10. The upcoming party conference will probably be Sydney or the bush for Shearer. And you’re right that he rated higher than Helen Clark after the same length of experience as opposition leader.

    And no one’s given a solid reason for why David Cunliffe – one of the more obvious leadership contenders – is hated within his own caucus, despite being one of the most able of the Labour front bench. Is he perceived to think there’s an ‘I’ in ‘team’?

  11. Shearer may well be denied the prize because of the treachery of Winston Peters.

    As for HC winning in 1999 she happened to be in the right place at the right time. National’s time was up and Labour would have won if Kermit the Frog had been leader. She did of course grow into the job and her achievement of winning two further elections cannot be underestimated.

    By the same token in 2008 Labour’s goose was cooked. Key happened to be the lucky recipient. Which all goes to demonstrate the truth of the cliche that Governments lose elections rather than oppositions winning them.

    Shearer may well become PM in two years but if it happens it is more likey to be due to the vagaries of MMP combined with the voters’boredom threshold having been breached by John Key than anything he does or does not do.

  12. So that’s it, is it Brian? 786 words and the best you can come up with is ‘ask Helen’? Oh, and ‘be yourself’. Genius.

    BE: Congratulations on your counting ability, Tom. Now count the number of posts I have written on the Shearer topic to judge whether this one post is ‘the best I can come up with’. And is scoffing at the idea that consulting a much more experienced person who has been through and overcome exactly the same problem that you are experiencing an indication of your ‘genius’ or your arrogant presumption?

  13. One of the big mistakes HC made in 2008 was not debating or allowing one of her Ministers to debate Key in a town hall in places like Whangarei, Manukau, Tauranga, Nelson or Invercargill — consequently she got ambushed because of assumption rather than a feel for his style.
    Shearer needs to take the fight (debate) to those places and challenge Key to front him.

  14. That, the Labour Party is failing to gain any traction in countering John Key and the Government, has less to do with its leader, rather, it’s because the caucus is such an homogenous group. Made up of ex-civil servants and bureaucrats, teachers and lecturers, policy advisers and consultants, urban-beat reporters and journos, pro bono lawyers, career committee and tribunal members, thinkers and social theorists etc.

    Who, amongst them, have started or run any non consulting-type of kind of business, been an entrepreneur or involved in a start-up business, an employer in manufacturing or industry, shown any commercial nous; actually, treaded the hard terrain in the real business environment?

    Where are the genuine wealth-creators amongst that lot, having contributed — tangibly — to raising NZ’s GDP?

    Reflecting back on three terms of Helen Clark’s governance, gives many the cold shivers.

  15. Kat writes, “We have in Shearer, at last, a man who is decent, honest, intelligent, unencumbered with political baggage and prepared to give his all to lead his country, and all in it.”
    I agree.
    How many of these qualities describe his, very successful, opponent?
    Very few, I would say.
    As the song title goes, “Nice Guys Finish Last”.

  16. Politics shouldn’t be a TV talent show. But that’s what it has become. Next!

  17. “In June 1996, not long after an abortive attempt to persuade her to step down as leader, Helen’s rating as preferred prime minister was around 3%. Her party’s support was around 14%. In November of that year she came close to winning the election and would have done so had it not been for the treachery of Winston Peters – a blessing in disguise as it turned out.”

    No, Brian, she didn’t come close to winning at all.

    In 1996 the combined vote of the centre-left parties, Labour and the Alliance, fell dramatically from 52.89% in 1993 to just 38.29% in 1996. Labour alone fell from 34.68% in ’93 to just 28.19% in ’96.

    Looking at the results, which showed 47.22% of the electorate favouring parties of the centre-right (53.32% if you throw in Act’s 6.10%) Winston Peters made the very predictable (and democratic) decision to join with Jim Bolger’s National Party.

    No “treachery” involved.

  18. I suspect the main thing Shearer is missing is a team which is probably what Helen Clark successfully constructed.

    Above all else Shearer obviously needs his own tough and trustworthy H2 – otherwise he will soon be saying “Et tu, Brute”

  19. “BE: You’ve taken a single case to make your point. You need rather more than that.”

    Really? I suggest you need to make your case because you’ve merely asserted that Goff was a fine Justice Minister, with no supporting evidence. Peter Ellis remains an egregious miscarriage of justice, an injustice that Goff suggested he would rectify when he was in a position to do so. It is difficult to understand how he could bungle this case so badly. Official documents show that he rubber-stamped whatever advice he received from the Justice Ministry. Is that your definition of a fine Minister, one that is a yes-man?

    In 2004, political commentator Chris Trotter commented on other issues which reflected poorly on Goff (and Helen Clark). At least there is one left-wing commentator who is prepared to criticise Helen and Phil for their failings.

    http://www.peterellis.org.nz/2004/2004-1210_DailyNews_LaboursEthical.htm

  20. Dear Brian

    Advising David Shearer to call on Helen Clark for advice, would be the same as the Nats holding a seance to conjure up the spirit of Rob Muldoon.
    You would like to think, both have recessed into the dark corridors of history.

    Mind you, knowing this Labour lot (as I do), Helen Clark would have been invited along to address this weekend’s Labour Party Conference. At which point, the conference will then assume a saccharine revivalist messianic flavour, with much starry-eyed ecstasy and ‘Praise Hosanna’ clapping and singing.

    Can anyone confirm if David Shearer got an invite to Tuesday night’s “Welcome Home” dinner in honour of Helen Clark, attended by approx. 20 Labour MPs? If not, you’d be right in guessing Niccolò Machiavelli received his.

    BE: “Advising David Shearer to call on Helen Clark for advice, would be the same as the Nats holding a seance to conjure up the spirit of Rob Muldoon.
    You would like to think, both have recessed into the dark corridors of history. Mind you, knowing this Labour lot (as I do), Helen Clark would have been invited along to address this weekend’s Labour Party Conference. At which point, the conference will then assume a saccharine revivalist messianic flavour, with much starry-eyed ecstasy and ‘Praise Hosanna’ clapping and singing.”

    BE: Do you read what you write, Mitchell? Conspiracy theory run riot. And as for Helen ‘having recessed into the dark corridors of history’ she’s currently Number 3 in the United Nations and may well be Secretary General some time soon. Hardly ‘the dark corridors of history.’

  21. BE: I can find nothing in my post to suggest ‘a media manipulation of the polls.”

    Well that was my point, you seem to be saying that the polls matter and ratings are a significant factor in a leader gaining support from the voters. I say Key achieved that with considerable input from Crosby Textor, the mainstream media TV1, TV3, Heralds John Armstrong, Fran O’Sullivan, Matthew Hooten,David Farrar, your new friend Cameron Slater to name a few. They all contributed to manipulate the majority opinion.

    BE: So where are we in disagreement, Kat? I haven’t said anywhere that low polling was the only factor in Goff’s demise.

  22. The closure of the core part of Dunedin’s Hillside railway workshops with the loss of 90 jobs (reported today) is one issue that presents an opportunity for David Shearer to demonstrate commitment to Labour’s core values. His ability to express what the employees are feeling now, and provide some effective response will be more important than his upcoming speech.

    The TV3 item shows an articulate worker who is visibly pissed at the decision (naturally). The item mentions how the Kiwirail board have kowtowed to National’s faith in market forces, and disregarded local production in favour of offshore contracts.

  23. Shaun, how many more billions do you think taxpayers should throw at Kiwirail?

  24. Dear Brian

    BE: “Do you read what you write, Mitchell?”

    With the greatest respect, I did read what I wrote. And I also read this, as well:
    http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/un-needs-greater-global-economic-role-clark-says-bd-132290

    Overwhelmingly, the majority of comments support what I wrote, especially, #9 and #17.

    I’m no promulgator of conspiracy nor am I a white-anter, but did David Shearer know about that Helen Clark dinner or not? The grapevine says he was left out in the cold.

  25. Alan,

    Are the billions ‘thrown’ at Kiwirail a greater cost than the effects on the lives of workers with the flow-on effects for local communities?

    For example, a NZ Herald article from last year describes the decision to outsource manufacturing jobs so the company could save $6 million($29 compared with $35 million locally.

    The question really is, after all the years the redundant workers have put in, what is the saving worth by comparison, if the work could have been distributed locally?

  26. Shaun, every business has to live within its income otherwise ALL its employees lose their jobs. New Zealand’s future depends on being efficient, not on keeping on keeping on. People need to be helped to change when necessary, not kept in a museum.

  27. Alan, what you have written is inconsistent with the decision to send the manufacture of (approx 100) rail wagons overseas when efficient, quality work could have been performed in New Zealand. This is not just ‘keeping on keeping on’.

    And it’s you saying it’s a necessary change. That doesn’t make it so. The TV3 item mentions the expertise and motivation of the affected employees to work, plus the heritage value of the workshops. It’s lip service to claim that the money saved by sending work overseas is more valuable than the value that could be preserved by keeping the work in New Zealand.

    The museum comment suggests these workers have to move with the times, yet the item’s last comment trumps that no problem. It’s the National Party trust in market forces that is out of touch.

    Who says this had to happen? David Shearer can express leadership material by honing in on National’s willingness to influence the Kiwirail board to trust the market over the community effects of the Kiwirail redundancies.

    The difference in savings spread over the combined years of service demonstrate how out of touch with grass roots New Zealand Mssrs Key and Joyce are. The sending of these jobs overseas was far from a ‘necessary’ move.

  28. Brian, you said Key had the ability to be himself seemingly everywhere. In my opinion Key ‘being himself’ was/is not enough. That seems to be borne out now as the media honeymoon is well over and his ratings along with the National govt are slowly dropping. I believe if David Shearer suddenly had the manipulated uplift Key had through the media he would currently be enjoying higher ratings.

    The current anti- Shearer chorus from certain Labour activists only serves to increase voters’ doubts about his fitness to run the country and is a negative that Key didn’t ever have to endure. So perhaps you have a point in respect to advice from certain quarters, Helen cosseted the media and it certainly assisted her winning three terms.

  29. Kat, I suspect the “chorus” undermining Shearer also includes plenty of Greenies, who really burn to be seen as the Opposition party and see bashing Shearer as their way through. Dirty game, politics. Which is why a fundamentally honest man like Shearer is struggling. I detect that he finds it difficult to ‘lie to camera’ like the others.

  30. I see from this morning’s Herald that David Shearer will not be taking your advice, Brian. He did not go to Helen’s lecture or attend a Labour caucus dinner in her honour. Earlier this year I thought he may just need more time and he would get better in the house and at engaging with the media. He has improved a little but not enough to be convincing. However, that isn’t the main reason I have lost all faith in hi leadership. The beneficiary on the roof story and his tacit acceptance of the Shane Jones attacks on the Green Party make me believe his vision for Labour Party is not one I could ever support.

  31. David Shearer and the Labour Party are fully deserving of each other. Check out the Herald and see the candidates he’s placed on his Front Bench. If you thought that Hekia Parata was hopeless, look at the horror that is Labour’s shadow minister of education. I wouldn’t be sending my kids to private schools if she ever took charge of the education portfolio, I’d be sending them abroad.

    I heard Shearer on NewstalkZB. Latest impressions? He speaks like a tired UN bureaucrat (droning), thinks like a tired UN bureaucrat, has all the mental agility of a tired UN bureaucrat, shows all the zest of a tired UN bureaucrat, as imaginative as a tired UN bureaucrat, as credible as a tired UN bureaucrat, the charisma of a tired UN bureaucrat — and offers about as much promise as a tired UN bureaucrat can possibly muster.

    The guy is so singularly grey and one-dimensional, he’s walking-blandness. All that’s missing, is his wearing a hand-knitted ‘gramps’ grey cardigan with sewn-on mock leather elbow pads.

  32. Somethings have to die before something new can be born.
    I don’t think it is just Shearer , the whole Labour party is yet to go through the messy blood splattered process of re birth.
    They may just stagger into some form of power in coalition with Greens and maybe NZ First and only if they have the survival skills to know they cannot govern alone.

  33. Shaun: “The sending of these jobs overseas was far from a ‘necessary’ move.”

    Only the company management are in a position to make that call. They may be wrong but if so we are in no position to know. Neither is Shearer or any other politician.

  34. Brian, poor old Shearer needs a lot of media training. His replies to TV journalists appear to be too rehearsed and therefore does not come across as natural and sincere. Why doesn’t Labour ” just shoot the old dog” and move on to the next possible labour leader. Labour could well use another David Lange along with a more precise moral compass. Anyone less would result canon fodder for the likes of PM Key during public debates and question time in the House.

  35. The trouble for David Shearer, as I see it, is Labour. It still has neo-liberal, Friedmanite credentials and, as such, fails to differentiate itself from National to overcome the “better-the-devil-we-know” factor. Shearer, himself, even hinted at this in a Q+A programme when he talked about “matching” Mr Key. The poor voter turnout at the last election proved to everybody who takes an interest that too many of us feel disenfranchised. Many of these include the growing body of unemployed and those who are increasingly shut out of the housing market, particularly in Auckland. Too much “tweedle dee and tweedle dum”. If the current government wins again in 2014, it would be by default and due to the absence of a viable opposition that has successfully articulated a credible alternative to get us out of the mess we are in.

  36. “Labour could well use another David Lange . . .”
    Really johan, Lange was one of the the most ineffectual PMs ever. Great orator, quick wit, authoritarian voice and absolutely no leadership ability whatsoever. Witness the way Douglas et al. ran things while he made impressive speeches. By the time Lange stopped them “for a cup of tea” it was too late.
    Never again!

  37. Alan, you state “Only the company management are in a position to make that call. They may be wrong but if so we are in no position to know”.

    Yet if you read the following article, the workers are not placing the blame on the board, but with the National government.

    The third comment below it alludes to Labour involvement by implementing free trade deals that impact in this manner, but this argument still does not address the fact that contrary to your stance, there was government influence in turning down Kiwirail applications for work in favour of overseas contracts. Re: this thread, my argument is that this is something David Shearer can take the government to task on.

    Once again, did this decision account for the negative flow-on effects for the local community? Plus the savings could easily have been spread over the period of combined employee service. This is after all, 90 jobs lost.

    See what response you get if you post your stance on the ODT website below the article:

    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/235102/body-blow-its-been-tough

  38. As Nationals Jackboots slither away from the centre, Labour must shuffle a little further left.Shearer has to show the way for them to become rejuvenated.

  39. Shaun, the only influence the Government has on the decision is how much taxpayer income it is prepared to divert to Kiwirail.

    Obviously, in the present economic climate that is limited and rightly so. Kiwirail is a huge economic burden on the taxpayer. There is no case for making it greater.

  40. Kiwirail is a wasted opportunity to use an economy of scale to benefit New Zealand overall.Richard Prebble’s catchcrie to save rail was only a harbinger of impending doom.Rail needed to be saved from a lack of investment, and mismanagement then and now.It should be the Government who leads this but sadly they lack the vision to consider it.

  41. pjr, if NZ rail was economic, private investors would be queuing up for it.

  42. Recent trips to Northland convinced me that Kiwirail is doomed. As logs are transported by a fleet of largely owner operated modern trucks to Marsden Point, the inefficiencies of rail are exposed.

    1/. Rail requires long distances to make economies. Rare in NZ.

    2/. The tracks don’t go to the forest so you need trucks to take logs to the train. Once you have loaded the trucks they may as well continue on to the destination.

    3/. The infrastructure is so dilapidated many trains are restricted to about 20 km/hour on poorly maintained rail lines.

    4/. Fonterra dairy deliveries offer similar truck over train advantages.

    The biggest problem with the trucks is speed. A poor woman motorist was killed just ahead of us by a rolling logging truck. However if you are looking at economies of scale rail doesn’t stand a chance.

  43. Once Rail looks like its been rescued (much like the BNZ)Im sure they will race to invest.The area where I live a delapidated Rail runs directly through a forest.They are looking at spending 4 million dollars putting in passing lanes to allow cars to overtake trucks rather than reinstate the rail line.Its like public transport,its more efficient if it were run properly but we continue to cling to our individual vehicles.
    The safety aspects of trucking are a joke,perhaps a few lives are cheaper than reinstating rail.

  44. The future of rail will come down to the most effective lobby group. Nothing to do with economics that benefit everyone. At present federated farmers and the deregulated transport industry are it.

  45. Cunliffe has already made his move against Shearer.

    Go, David!

  46. 46

    Judging from the Stuff website today, Shearer and his acolytes are plotting to demote David Cunliffe for disloyalty before he’s had a chance to be disloyal – which is rich considering the way Shearer and co have treated party members. David Cunliffe should vote for Shearer if a vote is taken now, then he can’t be accused of disloyalty. Then in February, take Shearer OUT. If anybody is disloyal it’s Shearer and the ABC brigade, they are showing complete disloyalty to the party members and thinking only of themselves. I don’t think they want to win in 2014, most are still being paid the same money in opposition, and Grant Robertson wants Shearer to stay for a bit longer till he himself takes him out early in 2014. They are desperate to make things so unpleasant for David Cunliffe that he will leave – but I bet half the membership will leave too if that happens. Shearer is showing he’s not as nice as people thought. To not rule out disciplining Cunliffe for disloyalty when all he did was vote for change is petty and small. I’ve voted Labour since I started voting over 30 years ago, but I will NOT vote Labour with Shearer as leader. He’s by far the worst leader they’ve had in decades! I don’t think South Auckland would warm to a gay leader either! Labour can’t win without South Auckland. So Grant Robertson will have to bow out. If David Cunliffe did leave, he should start another party – I’d be the first to join!

  47. @ Jennifer
    “Judging from the Stuff website today,…….”

    What nonsense. I suggest you get the facts, and definitely from more reliable sources than the msm before making such comments.

    Reading what mainstream commentators have uttered so far on the Labour conference is pure media manipulation in action.

  48. From what I saw on TV last night and tonight, those attending the Labour Party conference are exactly the sort that you would see in any Winz office — dowdy, untidily-dressed and overweight, And you want thst disparate bunch of wastrels and tinkers running the country?

  49. Seems Cunliffe’s friends have done him no favour by pushing his case so hard.

  50. Ross. “So, Goff’s idea of delivering justice was all about speed and cost, too bad if this resulted in an injustice. I have read letters addressed to Goff – previously supporters of his – condemning him for his weak and cowardly response to Ellis’s plight. Some of these letter writers said they would never vote Labour while he remained as Minister. I suspect they felt the same way towards him as leader.”
    I could have written your post of 12.21 (wish I had :) )
    This is but one of many reasons why I and many people I know have not voted labour for 25 yrs now. The grass-roots lost control of the party and for some reason lacked the gumption to take it back. At last there seems to be some chance that the peasants have seen the light and may be about to storm the Bastille. I look forward to the day…