Unanimous support for Shearer | The Jackal

20 Nov 2012

Unanimous support for Shearer

Today, TVNZ reported:

Speculation of a leadership challenge within the Labour Party has been laid to rest as MPs gave David Shearer unanimous support at a caucus meeting in Wellington today.

Shearer easily won the ballot at Parliament this afternoon after what has effectively been a failed leadership bid from David Cunliffe.


Shearer said he would demote Cunliffe because Labour would not be able to win the 2014 election without unity.

"David Cunliffe has not been able to show that loyalty. His actions at the weekend were disappointing, not only to me but to many party members.

"His repeated failure to quell speculation about my leadership means I no longer have confidence in him.

"He has lost my trust."

Shearer said Cunliffe had been demoted from the front bench and stripped his economic development portfolio from him.

So the media apparatchiks have got their pound of flesh.

What people might find surprising about all this is that there was no real leadership challenge within the Labour party. There was however a lot of noise from David Cunliffe supporters in the blogosphere that then transferred into media manipulations concerning David Shearer's ability to effectively lead Labour.

The ability of Labour to close the problem down was hindered by the scope of coverage that was mainly focused on attacking Shearer to make Labour look divided.

Unfortunately Cunliffe didn't do himself any favours surrounding that initial speculation and in my opinion should have worked harder to close it down earlier. That media spectacle caused Shearer to appear weak, and gave him little choice but to demote Cunliffe in order to stamp his authority on the leadership.

Stupidly Cunliffe's supporters are again vehemently complaining and failing to understand that they are largely responsible for the demotion. Thankfully their attacks on Shearer because they didn't get their way won't be able to undermine Labour as effectively next time round though. You can only cry wolf so many times.

The real silly thing is that the speculation is continuing at all, even though there was a unanimous vote for Shearer as leader including a vote from Cunliffe. So the problem of people making shit up hasn't gone away because of the demotion, however it's effectiveness has been greatly reduced.

The main problem is that the media and some bloggers took what Cunliffe said and manipulated it to create controversy where there was none. Labour has done well to turn that negative controversy into more media coverage than John Key's trip to Cambodia. They have in fact used it to boost Shearer's profile in an effective strategy that makes Labour look more cohesive going forward.

It's my belief that Cunliffe fully supports Shearer as leader, and he will soon gain the front benches again because he's an invaluable, talented and hard working politician.

His "no comment" is designed to close down further speculation and manipulation of what he says. It's also a clever move to remove the right wings ability to undermine Labour closer to the next election with more baseless claims about a leadership coup, which is their favourite play.

Labour will now be entirely focused on winning in 2014, with Shearer obviously having the nous to go up against John Key in what will likely be a presidential style race based on personality politics. Let's Hope Labour's excellent policy also gets a look in.