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Cunliffe suffers ‘messiah syndrome’

David Cunliffe Labour leadership

By Duncan Garner, RadioLIVE Drive host  

Heavens above.

Jesus is back.

Did you see David Cunliffe’s launch for the Labour leadership yesterday?

I reckon he suffers from a messiah syndrome or complex.

What’s that?

It’s a ‘state of mind in which the individual holds a belief that they are, or are destined to become, a saviour.’

And you saw all those traits on offer yesterday.

It was an astonishingly colourful performance. What did he say? Here’s a sample:

"Our time is now.

I have taken this decision carefully after talking to colleagues, supporters and family. I have been very humbled by the response.

Their view is that I can bring together a party and a government that provides a strong, clear voice for fairness, inclusion and prosperity to be shared by all.

I believe that now is the right time to answer that call.

The Prime Minister should book a long holiday to Hawaii.

I am sick and tired of watching hope die in the eyes of our young."

In short – this launch wasn’t the Kiwi way. It was the American way.

It lacked humility, judgement and the tone was over the top. But, it’s a clear sign that Cunliffe intends doing things differently – and he intends doing it with full noise.

He even had a dig at Helen Clark by saying the painting of himself on the wall wasn’t painted by him, nor signed by him. I’m not sure he realised he stepped on that landmine!

But lights, camera, action - this is Cunliffe’s way – imagine if he becomes Labour’s Leader and wins the 2014 election.

How much fist-pumping will we see then?

The question is – will this approach harm him in this race?

Not amongst his supporters.

They loved it. They believe in him. They chanted along with him. They answered questions he posed.

Winston Peters used to do that – he still does – although fewer of his sycophantic admirers can hear him these days.

For those that don’t like Cunliffe inside and outside the caucus and party, and think he’s an arrogant, smarmy tosser - they would simply have had their earlier beliefs confirmed.

A number of people text and emailed me yesterday saying 'who the hell does he think he is?'

Martin Luther Cunliffe?

But I still don’t reckon it can harm him too much, he’ll just need to be careful with his tone. He needs to be careful he doesn’t grab a defeat from the jaws of victory.

His one-on-one media interviews after his ‘New Lynn antics’ were much more sober, calm, reflective and assured. He knows his stuff – and he knows the economy.

He says he want to change employment laws – that’s a huge, but cynical, nod to the unions that he wants their support and he probably has their support.

That may well get him over the line, because he can’t count on getting the caucus behind him.

Caucus is still divided. Many in there genuinely can’t stand the sight of him.

Grant Robertson will pick up the Cunliffe-haters and his own supporters obviously.

Shane Jones will pick up a couple of anti-gay, anti-Cunliffe red-blooded blokes like Clayton Cosgrove and Damien O’Connor – both Catholics.

But don’t discount or write off Robertson.

He’s a polished operator – he is popular amongst the wider party and his caucus.

Make no mistake - Robertson is talented and is as equally as ambitious as Cunliffe without the hysterics, hype and hyperbole.

Cunliffe is popular in the wider party, and he has the unions, I believe, and that is crucial.

That makes Cunliffe the favourite.

But favourites can sometimes be pipped at the post if they run a poor race.

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