Following my earlier post, in which I argued that the ability to communicate effectively on television is a sine qua non for any politician hoping to occupy the highest office in the land, I thought it might be worthwhile to rate the current pretenders to the Labour leadership with particular – but not exclusive – reference to how they perform on the box. To assist in this exercise I’m using the Television Compatibility Matrix or TVCM (My own invention!) to place the prospective leaders on a scale of 1 to 10, one being ‘totally hopeless’ and ten being ‘makes Bill Clinton look like an amateur’. So here goes:
David Cunliffe – See previous post.
David Parker – Current Labour Party Deputy Leader, Finance spokesman and shadow Attorney General. Deceptively ambitious, quietly spoken policy wonk, passingly reminiscent of MJ Savage. Hugely intelligent with boyish appeal concealing steely determination. Ran for the Party Leadership in 2011, but withdrew early in the contest to be replaced by David Shearer. Comes across well on the box. Says he’s not standing for the Leadership, but just in case…
Annette King – Hugely experienced MP and former Deputy Leader, Labour Minister of Health and Minister of Labour. Generally regarded as one of the nicest Members of Parliament. Comes across extremely well on the box. Unlikely to be Labour Party Leader, since she has never wanted and still does not want the job. A pity!
Grant Robertson – Shadow Leader of the House holding several portfolios. He is perhaps Labour’s strongest debater in Parliament and possibly the only Labour MP with the capacity to best Key in that environment. Highly intelligent, he previously worked as a diplomat at the United Nations in New York. Quietly effective, if somewhat drab, low-key television performer.
Jacinda Ardern – Widely touted as a potential Leader or Deputy Leader of the Party. Performed exceptionally well as Labour candidate for Auckland Central, coming close to ousting popular incumbent and National Party Minister, Nikki Kaye. Highly intelligent. Stylish and attractive. Perhaps too young for the Leadership but Deputy Leader a distinct possibility.
Stuart Nash – Held the Labour, Revenue and Forestry portfolios under Phil Goff. Later David Shearer’s Chief of Staff. MP for Napier. Great-grandson of Walter Nash. Highly ambitious. Stylish and good looking, he is also one of the Party’s most articulate and effective speakers. All of this may well cause resentment among his fellow MPs. A possible contender for the Deputy Leader position.
Chris Hipkins – MP for Rimutaka and Labour Party Chief Whip. Former senior advisor to Helen Clark. Previously worked as a training consultant in the oil and gas industry and in the health sector in the UK. Forceful and sometimes acerbic personality, capable of being divisive. Highly intelligent and articulate. An excellent performer in television interviews.
David Shearer – MP for Mount Albert and Former Leader of the Labour Party. Currently Foreign Affairs spokesperson. Nearly 20 years working for the United Nations, managing the provision of aid to countries including Somalia, Rwanda, Liberia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Iraq. Widely admired for his previous work and as an honest broker. Undermined by his inability to speak fluently on television, though there have been recent signs of improvement.
[Note: The Television Compatibility Matrix has no scientific validity whatsoever and should not be used as a voting guide.]