Monday, November 19, 2012

Labour Leadership tussle: Worse than a lion is an injured one – what we call in Hindi “Zakhmi Sher” (An injured lion)


Labour Leadership tussle: Worse than a lion is an injured one – what we call in Hindi “Zakhmi Sher” (An injured lion)

As the sail of Labour leadership scuffle collects air, there is an anti-climax as the attacker David Cunliffe takes the air out of sails by saying he supports Labour Leader David Shearer (for time being). Hurray, Shearer wins the battle by default. However, as I mentioned, the WAR IS FAR FROM OVER. Come February, there will be similar story, and war will be over by election of a new leader- David Cunliffe.

Wellington political scientist, Ryan Malone has predicted that come 2014 election, Labour Party will have a new leader. I concur with him. We have problem today because some 18 months ago, David Cunliffe committed the error of not rolling over Phil Goff. After Goof stepped down, we saw the wrong David elected as the party leader and subsequent constitutional change which gives more power to the people and local electorate councils (LECs). This was after LECs felt that their MPs overrode their wishes in choice of a new leader.

However, some (yours truly included) feel that the right wing media, leaning towards National Party, has an agenda in this leadership conflict. Whosoever wins the leadership battle, National party will be a winner. As a process of agenda-setting, right wing media created an imminent scenario of a coup and created a news frenzy of leadership battle in Labour conference when one did not exist. TV cameras were placed in such angles that they always reported news from a leadership battle perspectives and fanned the smouldering ashes.

In fact one reader put a comment on a NZ Herald story on leadership change and said: “I wish the media would butt out and stop trying to influence the politics of this country, they are there to report the news, not to analyse it, and try to influence voters. If some reporters feel so strongly about things let them put their money where their mouth is and stand for election themselves.”  One hopes the First World media of NZ would stop muckraking and agenda-setting and stop destabilising Labour party.

I fully agree with John Armstrong, NZ Herald columnist who said: The last thing Shearer needs is to make a martyr out of Cunliffe among the wider party membership. But those sanctions always remain an option. The Shearer camp is instead seeking to crush Cunliffe as a political force by destroying what is left of his credibility.

I hope that David Shearer and his supporters in the Labour caucus heed this warning on the afternoon of 20th November, 2012, when a leadership battle will fizzle out because the ambitious leader will not put up his hand – not for now. You ask hunters who go out on Safari. It is dangerous game to kill a lion. But it is MORE DANGEROUS to injure a lion and leave it lurking in the forest. It will pounce unexpectedly when it have had its rest and mustered its energy. I hope the Labour Party does not commit this cardinal error of punishing or banishing David Cunliffe for displaying some antics of democracy which a civilised New Zealand stands for.