David Shearer announces at Parliament yesterday his
decision to stand down as leader of the Labour Party. Photo
by NZ Herald.
The Labour Party caucus may have to swallow its
collective pride and support David Cunliffe as the next party
leader as the MPs consider how to save their jobs at the 2014
University of Otago political scientist Bryce Edwards is
convinced David Cunliffe will be the next leader, with
current deputy leader Grant Robertson retaining that role.
David Shearer announced yesterday he was resigning as Labour
leader after 20 months in the job.
''There was no letter, there was no ultimatum, there was no
vote. But from the soundings I have taken from colleagues, I
realise I no longer enjoy the confidence of a number of my
''It has been a challenging time off the back of the 2011
"We have rebuilt and reformed the party and, under my
leadership, we have released a number of significant policies
to improve peoples' lives,'' he said in a statement.
Messrs Shearer and Cunliffe challenged for the leadership
after Phil Goff announced his resignation in November, 2011.
Mr Shearer was unanimously endorsed as leader and Mr Cunliffe
was eventually pushed to the backbenches after being seen as
disloyal to him.
The decision on leader needs to be made swiftly - preferably
before its national conference, which starts on November 1 -
with Labour continuing to languish in the polls.
During the last leadership selection, Mr Cunliffe had the
support of the party and unions but failed to gain that of
his colleagues. New rules mean caucus, party membership and
union support counts in the leadership selection.
Mr Cunliffe was understood to be consulting widely with
family and colleagues as he weighs up his options.
He preferred people to come to him with an offer so he could
dictate the terms of taking on the job, the Otago Daily
Times was told.
Shane Jones and Andrew Little will also be consulting various
factions of the party, but are unlikely to get enough
Mr Jones spent some time in the wilderness after using his
ministerial credit card to watch porn in a motel and Mr
Little came into Parliament at the last election, too soon to
be leader if Mr Shearer's example is anything to go by.
There is an ABC (Anybody But Cunliffe) faction in Labour, but
Dr Edwards believes his time has come.
A Cunliffe-Robertson ticket would bring two major factions of
the party together in a show of unity before the next
''Cunliffe has a strong profile and has proved himself as an
"One big lesson to be learnt from Shearer's appointment is
you don't put someone in who is a newbie in Parliament. They
need to be in there for a few years.''
That would rule out Mr Robertson, who, despite being around
politics for a long time, was relatively new to Parliament,
Dr Edwards said.
In the past, former prime minister Mike Moore was elected at
the last minute before the 1990 election to try to stem the
bleeding of Labour's support.
In Australia, Labor recently re-elected Kevin Rudd as prime
minister to try to save seats.
Dr Edwards said those in the Labour caucus who did not like
Mr Cunliffe, and there were many, would need to weigh up
their options and would find the experienced MP was the best
Mr Cunliffe was a strong campaigner with a solid platform of
policy and experience.
Having Mr Cunliffe lead Labour to the next election would
suit Mr Robertson, who wanted to be leader and prime minister
but was not yet ready, he said.
Mr Cunliffe needed to take his chance now. If he left it
until the next election, there was a chance Labour and the
Greens could win and he would lose his opportunity to lead
''Grant Robertson has the ability to play the longer game. He
wins either way.
"He is the person best placed to be either takeover leader if
Labour loses at the next election or be deputy prime
Labour MPs contacted by the ODT yesterday would not
speak on the record, but said Mr Shearer's decision came as a
Staff were not told until just before the announcement and
would now face an uncertain future.
It was the prerogative of the leader to choose his or her