David Cunliffe. Photo by Getty
Labour MP David Cunliffe has been stripped of his front
bench position and his portfolios.
Labour leader David Shearer announced the demotion after he
secured a unanimous endorsement from his caucus at an urgent
meeting this afternoon.
Mr Shearer said Mr Cunliffe was unable to show loyalty.
"His actions at the weekend were disappointing not only to me
but to many party members. That, along with his repeated
failure to quell speculation about the leadership, means that
I no longer have confidence in him.''
He said there was a "robust discussion'' in caucus and it was
possible Mr Cunliffe could return to the front bench if he
proved his loyalty.
"I regret having to take the action I have today but he has
left me with no alternative.''
The meeting followed the party's annual conference over the
weekend at which Mr Cunliffe repeatedly refused to rule out a
challenge to Mr Shearer.
Mr Cunliffe later said he would endorse Mr Shearer but would
not commit to that when Mr Shearer faces a formal confidence
vote in February.
That vote will be held under new party rules which allow 40
per cent of caucus to force a leadership contest by refusing
to endorse him.
Mr Cunliffe avoided waiting media when he arrived at
Parliament but waved quickly as he entered the caucus room.
Several MPs have been openly angry about Mr Cunliffe's
behaviour at the conference, saying he had openly undermined
both Mr Shearer and former leader Phil Goff.
However, his allies have argued that no leadership challenge
Mr Cunliffe's wife Karen answered his phone after the meeting
and said he would not be commenting.
"He has said that caucus has resolved that the only person
able to speak on this is the leader, so David Cunliffe is not
at liberty to comment.'
Mana MP Kris Faafoi said he was pleased Mr Shearer had been
fully endorsed by caucus.
"It's time to get on with it, and I think people want us to
get on with it -we should get on with it and it's been dealt
He said he did not have any advice for Mr Cunliffe.
Fellow MP Sue Moroney would not comment.
Mr Cunliffe posted an online message this evening which read:
"Thank you to the hundreds of social media friends who have
messaged in friendship and support in recent days.
"I wish I could express my gratitude for your kindness and my
wish that we all might work together for a better New
Zealand. Unfortunately I am not at liberty to comment further
at this time."
- By Claire Trevett