Wednesday, March 13, 2013

David Shearer: Spineless chickenshit

Yesterday Winston Peters flung down the gauntlet on asset sales, declaring that NZ First would buy back stolen assets at no more than cost - and borrow if necessary to do it. Labour leader David Shearer's response? He "won't rule it out but we won't rule it in either". I'd ask him to tell us what he really thinks, but its clear that he doesn't really think anything. He's just a spineless chickenshit, saying nothing for fear of offending anyone.

This isn't good leadership, and it isn't good politics either. Back in the sixteenth century, Machiavelli noted that

A prince is also respected when he is either a true friend or a downright enemy, that is to say, when, without any reservation, he declares himself in favour of one party against the other; which course will always be more advantageous than standing neutral... Because he who conquers does not want doubtful friends who will not aid him in the time of trial; and he who loses will not harbour you because you did not willingly, sword in hand, court his fate.

Machiavelli was talking about wars between semi-feudal states, but his reasoning boils down to "nobody likes a fence-sitter". And that applies equally to democratic politics too. By offering nothing to either supporters or opponents of asset sales, Shearer (and Labour) earns the contempt of both and the support of neither.