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David Parker handed Cunliffe's portfolio

Published: 11:02AM Wednesday November 21, 2012 Source: ONE News

David Parker has been handed Labour's economic development portfolio following the demotion of David Cunliffe over a leadership spat within the party.

Leader David Shearer announced today that Parker would be in charge of the portfolio. He will be assisted by Clayton Cosgrove and David Clark.

The party is trying to shut down all talk about its leadership after a messy public struggle that ended with Shearer getting full endorsement from the party caucus to stay in the role yesterday afternoon.

The caucus unanimously supported him, ending weeks of speculation that rival Cunliffe was making a bid for the top job.

Today, Shearer did not apologise for banning his MPs from speaking out on the leadership issue.

"Right at the moment&on this particular issue, there will only be me speaking on behalf of what's just happened," he said.

ONE News Political Editor Corin Dann said that Labour needs to shut down the issue now.

"The public generally do not like it when they see parties like this fighting.

"Shearer needs to be solid, needs to be no fumbles, no stumbles and get some clear air and get things going again. So I'm not surprised they're trying to shut it down," he said.

Dann added that Shearer will reshuffle his front bench in the next few weeks.

Tempers frayed

In response to the restructure, former Labour Party President Mike Williams said that Labour MPs need to "settle down".

"There is a bit of water to go under bridge. And what I noticed at the conference is that tempers were fairly frayed on both sides of the divide and I think they need a summer holiday to settle down," he said.

While in Cunliffe's New Lynn electorate residents expressed sympathy for their MP.

"I feel very sorry for him, I think he was treated unfairly, in my experience he's been a good MP," said one local.

Corin Dann also said that Shearer now had a divided caucus "because he has still got the Cunliffe supporters who will be sort of grumpy, and there are a few of them".

It seems unlikely Cunliffe could mount another challenge in February when a leadership vote will be held, Dann said.

"It's not out of the question but I think it would be pretty hard. Maybe if Shearer was to not perform you could even see someone else come through the middle," he said.