Sunday, September 15, 2013

Another David

So, David Cunliffe has been elected Labour Party leader on the first round. As expected, he won the vote outright in the wider party, but did not carry the caucus. I expect journalists will have a field day over this "disunity", but as Tim Barnett pointed out when announcing the results, its a preferential vote, and giving your first preference to one candidate doesn't mean you necessarily oppose the other.

As for how he'll work out, well, he'll be better than Shearer, though that's setting the bar awfully low. More importantly, he seems to have a vision for what Labour should do in power, which is more than can be said for his predecessors. The key failure of Labour's last two leaders (and even Clark to some degree) was a reluctance to articulate such a vision and a preference for empty managerialism (to be fair, Goff tried in 2011, but given his past support for NeoLiberalism and general managerial style, it just came across as fake). But that doesn't get the voters out, let alone get them to care. If his campaign rhetoric was honest, Cunliffe at least will present an alternative, and give voters a decent choice.

And that said: looking back, Labour leaders have inevitably disappointed me, even with my low expectations of them. People who looked like a safe pair of hands weren't (and Shearer was even worse). Cunliffe probably will probably disappoint me too. But as always, I'd love to be proved wrong.