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The leadership has lost its rudder

Updated on July 4, 2013
Country overboard
Country overboard | Source

There is a leadership crisis in New Zealand politics. So what’s new, I hear you say? Well I think this one is a little different from any we have seen before.

In the past, parties have stumbled and had their individual leadership crises, but at present we have what appears like a virus that has infected practically every party in the House causing leaders to fall or at the very least falter.

Take the Maori Party – PLEASE! (to borrow an old music hall gag). They have bumbled along in their uncomfortable relationship with the Natsis, all the while sending out the subtext to anyone who wants to notice that they will literally shag anyone to be a part of the ruling Government. The ‘logic’ if you can call it that, has been that they can achieve more in coalition with Beelzebub than on the cross benches trying to stake him through the heart.

This has proven to be flawed logic as their poll ratings showed at the last election. At that stage any leader worth his salt (why don’t we still pay these buggers in salt) would have manned the lifeboats and paddled away to the other side of the house like their life depended on it – which it might well have. (I’ve just realised why we don’t pay them in salt. It is because that is how centurions were once paid and they were worth it.)

Anyway Pita Principle Sharples (and what better example could there be of this principle) showed what sort of a leader he was by not only failing to grasp that particular fact but also by holding on like grim death to his boss hat when any sensible septuagenarian would realise his time was over. I never rated his co-leader Tariana Toobad much, but at least she had the sense to realise new blood needed to be brought to the party rather than a spilt.

Now after suffering a humiliating down-trou in Ikaroa Rawhiti Sharples finally has to accept the inevitable. Methinks his change of heart is probably too late to stop his party bleeding out at the next election.

United Featureless is no better. Peter Dung is no longer its leader and in fact it doesn’t even exist as a party although Dung still seems to inhabit a little world of make-believe where he is still leader and the party still exists. However the fact is United Featureless is even worse off than the Maori Party as it has only ever been a one trick pony despite pulling in a few no-hopers on Dung’s coat-tails a couple of elections ago.

As for the ACTors, they of course have had some pretty ghastly leadership kerfuffles and the present incumbent is their third leader since 2011. Rodney Hide who was elected leader in 2004 had a rocky tenure from the start and after a couple of challenges was eventually dumped in 2011 and replaced by NZ’s equivalent of Ronald Reagan at his dorkiest (Dong Brash).

Dong was an embarrassment to ACT almost from day one and when the party failed to get anyone into Parliament apart from Banksia (and even then by a lot of jiggery-pokery) he was dumped and Banksia got the job by virtue of the fact he was their only MP.

If Graham McCready’s private prosecution is successful the Banksia will be chopped down and the ACTors will have their fourth leader in three years and also lose their only parliamentary seat before the next election.

The Labouring Party has also had their share of leadership chaos ever since Phil OhMyGoshIsThatTheTime was dumped for ‘losing’ the last election. Rather foolishly they decided to choose an ex diplomat to replace him. Duhhh! These people are trained to please everyone, which means they end up paying lip service to everyone and actually pleasing nobody.

Politics is a rough old game the way it is played these days. The meek and the conciliatory get stomped on by the stormtroopers. To lead the Labouring Party out of its present policy desert and to make it a credible alternative to the Natsis they need somebody with gonads the size of wrecking balls. A polite, mild mannered man like ‘Sheepish’ Shearer doesn’t fit that profile nor has he the strength, stamina or nous for the job. Challenges to his leadership have been around ever since he was elected.

But how he got the job is an indication of how deep Labouring’s leadership woes lie. The party was quite bitterly split over two candidates and some ‘genius’ thought the answer was to bring in a third candidate; one who didn’t give rise to such strong feelings among the rank and file. Of course what they failed to apprehend was that such a person is what we doctors call a wimp and as such is about as useful as tits on a bull. Actually scrub that; some in the dairy industry might actually find a use for a bull with tits.

If Labouring wants any chance at all at the next election they will have to dump Shearer and do it soon. But they will also have to see if they can actually come up with some policy too. Their latest effort on that front shows even less understanding of leadership than their decision to elect Shearer. Now some bozo wants to artificially tinker with the party’s democratic process and stop men from standing in some electorates to ensure they have an even split of men and women in caucus.

Since when has quantity been better than quality, eh? Quite clearly such a plan is discriminatory under the Human Rights Act and if it was an employment situation it would be illegal under the Employment Relations Act as well. Even the Green Party who have a form of ‘control’ over ‘gender balance’ haven’t gone that far. This is clearly what happens when the PC brigade drop acid.

So what does Labouring’s Sheepish leader have to say about this policy? Well publicly this ‘leader’ won’t comment. Some say that privately he is uncomfortable with the proposal. So why doesn’t he ‘man up’ and say publicly what he thinks? A real leader would do that and show their party some direction. However as I said earlier Shearer ain’t no real leader and so his silence is no surprise.

So what of the other leaders in our Parliament? Well the Natsis have little Jianqi of course; he of the piggy little eyes, dumb dog expression and failing memory. However his time could well be up once Kim Dotcom has delivered up proof he lied to the nation and Parliament about not knowing of the big man prior to the illegal terrorist attack on the Dotcom mansion. If Kimbo can deliver up the goodies on this, Jianqi will be better stuffed than all those turkeys being consumed in the USA this week. The shadowy figures driving the Natsi Party will have to chuck him back in the toy cupboard and build another wooden horse to trundle out in 2014 as there are no heirs apparent. (A case of leadership alopecia?)

So the only parties left with actual leaders would have to be Mana, Winston First and the Greens. Hone is a one trick pony and far too unpredictable and too much of a loose cannon to ever get a lot of traction although he is likely to do better in 2014 mainly because of the void left by the Maori Party. His leadership will be secure though because he would simply fold up his tent and reinvent another party if it became threatened. He has made it quite clear he wants to be a leader no matter what it takes. It’s a bit like that old Tim Shadbolt mantra; I don’t care where as long as I’m Mayor (Leader).

Winston First is another party that could have a rather limited shelf life as its patriarch is getting on. Whinny is 68 now and you have to ask yourself how much longer he will be able to carry on for. His leadership would appear to be safe until he decides otherwise which is hardly surprising in a party he created in his own image. However I can see no obvious line of succession emerging and would have to think the party will follow United Featureless into the void once Whinny is gone.

As for the Greens, they have very good leadership. They got all their messy stuff sorted out a long time ago and they have taken a step forward particularly during this term by coming out on the front foot and showing some mongrel at question time. How much that will translate into votes, only time will tell, but at least they have solid and capable leadership. Their biggest difficulty next year will be finding another party that is as solid to form a coalition with.

So basically Kiwis I think it is time for us to realise that we are on our own. And in any case how can that be such a bad thing? We don’t really need leaders except in a very limited sense. The ones we have elected haven’t done us much good and furthermore some of them like the present Government seem to have run away with the idea they employ us and therefore can call the shots regardless of public opinion. If we have to keep relying on our current leaders to steer the ship of state we had better learn how to breathe under water.

We have a ‘constitution conversation’ doing the rounds at the moment but how much notice will be taken of anything we say in that? No doubt a round of window dressing will follow and it will all be as useless as the current measures where we are ‘allowed’ to have a referendum as long as the Government of the day doesn’t have to follow what we vote for.

It’s time for a clean sweep, but I fear we have a broom wide enough or a cess pit deep enough to dispose of all the crap leaders we have. Learn to swim classes could be in high demand.


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