In the wake of David Shearer's resignation, political
commentator and Otago University lecturer Bryce Edwards
believes a Labour Party leadership team of David Cunliffe and
Shane Jones could be likely.
Mr Shearer stood down as party leader this afternoon, citing
discontent amongst his caucus and poor party polling results.
Dr Edwards said David Cunliffe and Grant Robertson were
likely to be the two front-runners for the party top spot.
"In that case, I think, Cunliffe probably has the edge, He's
the assured performer and he has been a minister before and
has a fair degree of public profile and respect already,'' Dr
Mr Cunliffe unsuccessfully challenged the party leadership in
November. Following the unsuccessful bid, he was stripped of
his portfolios and relegated to the back benches.
Ensuring the party presented a united front for the upcoming
election was likely to pull more support for the Cunliffe
camp, Dr Edwards said.
"The main thing holding Cunliffe back of course is that he's
not particularly well liked by his colleagues.''
However, a number of "wavering voters'' in the Labour caucus
would probably shift their support to Mr Cunliffe if he tried
for the top position, Dr Edwards predicted.
"I wouldn't be surprised to see something like a Cunliffe -
Shane Jones partnership.
"In the last leadership contest, David Cunliffe lined himself
up with Nanaia Mahuta and I can't see that happening again.''
A leadership team of Mr Jones, who was present at David
Shearer's resignation press conference, and Mr Cunliffe would
probably be a "natural fit", Dr Edwards said.
Current deputy leader Grant Robertson would also be a strong
contender for leadership.
Andrew Little, who holds the justice and tourism portfolios
for Labour, could also be a possible dark horse should he
stand, he said.