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Shearer wins vote, Cunliffe demoted

Published: 5:41AM Tuesday November 20, 2012 Source: ONE News

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.

The leader thanked members of the party for their support.

"I wanted to end any speculation and doubt about my leadership, and that has now happened," he told reporters after the meeting.

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.

After the meeting, Cunliffe said he would like to make comments about the demotion but that he was "not at liberty to say".

Time to move on

Several Labour MPs said it was time to move on with Labour's new direction following the party's annual conference over the weekend.

Deputy leader Grant Robertson said David Shearer had his full endorsement as leader.

"He is the person who is going to take us into the 2014 election."

Labour Chief Whip Chris Hipkins said it was time to move on from the challenge.

"It's time to come together, unite behind the leader, end all of the speculation and get on with the job."

Several of the Labour MPs ONE News spoke to earlier today were angry at Cunliffe's distracting behaviour.

On his way into Parliament this morning , Labour MP and former party leader Phil Goff, said: "I think it's incumbent on every member of the caucus to know that they're part of a team, to back the team, to focus on what's good for New Zealand and what's good for making sure that Labour becomes government to put those policies into place."
Saga boosts Shearer

ONE News political editor Corin Dann said the vote had given Shearer's position a boost.

"Shearer has strengthened his grip on the Labour Party with this 100% endorsement of his leadership while David Cunliffe has been severely weakened by this affair. Cunliffe will find it hard to come back, although it will not be impossible for him," he said.

"The pressure is on Shearer now to continue to do well, and if he doesn't then the question of his leadership is sure to surface again."

Meanwhile, Raymond Miller, Associate Professor of Political Studies at Auckland University, said Cunliffe's leadership challenge during Labour's annual conference last weekend came at the wrong place and the wrong time.

Miller told TV ONE's Breakfast he believed the challenge "really damages" Cunliffe's prospects.

He said he thought there was "every likelihood" Shearer would also survive in a scheduled vote on the party's leadership to be held in February.

"I mean there is going to be a summer hiatus. There's not an awful lot he can do wrong between now and then. So I do think that Cunliffe has problems, certainly into next year," Miller said.

Miller said there were several things Shearer needed to do.

"One of the problems is he hasn't been properly introduced to the New Zealand public. People don't know him very well."

He said Shearer also needed to be concerned about public image, particularly his ability to handle impromptu interviews.

"He's not very good at that."

Shearer also needed to differentiate Labour from National, Miller said.