While John Key has made a strong pitch for the support of the Ratana movement, it is clear that history does count for something. Not only is it history that is helping, but Shearer really does seem to have got his speech pitch perfect. From 3News:
“We would like to talk about how we go forward together, it can’t be achieved in one day once a year,” Mr Shearer told the gathering after being welcomed on the marae at the head of a delegation of his MPs.
His gesture was welcomed by members of the church’s executive committee.
Shearer isn’t just asking for the votes of the people, he wants to rebuild a strong and deep relationship. He has invited the church leaders to come and visit him in Wellington – a signal that he is genuine in making this a two-way relationship – and the offer seems to have gone down very well with the church leadership.
Contrast that with Key’s tone. Via TVNZ…
“Despite the long standing relationship between Ratana and Labour, I would argue with you that it’s in Government that the National Party has made many gains,” Key said.
Another interesting point to note is that the second largest population of Ratana faithful are in the far north. Given the northern Ratana people largely supported Hone Harawira, who managed to beat Labour’s Kelvin Davis by only just over a thousand votes, I’d say that their influence is not unsubstantial.
Finally, aside from the political success of the day for Labour, it must be noted that this is yet another performance that David Shearer did not stuff up. His delivery was good and the speech natural and well crafted. Those who doubted his ability to be a credible front person for Labour should be re-evaluating that position right about now.