Editorial: Shearer's departure inevitable

By Andrew Austin

2 comments
I suppose from Labour's point of view, rather make the change now than during election year next year, says Austin. Photo / Mark Mitchell
I suppose from Labour's point of view, rather make the change now than during election year next year, says Austin. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The Labour Party certainly seems to have dug itself into a hole that it may struggle to get out of quickly.

After months of speculation that he had lost the support of his caucus, party leader David Shearer announced yesterday that he was stepping down as leader.

Mr Shearer has had a difficult time since he took the reins 20 months ago and there has always been an undercurrent of disunity in the caucus. Although he tried to say that there had been no ultimatum, Mr Shearer admitted that he realised that he did "no longer enjoy the confidence of a number of my caucus colleagues".

You have to have some sympathy for Mr Shearer, because he was on a hiding to nothing from the beginning. He had to manage some difficult people, like David Cunliffe, who clearly felt they could do a better job than him. It will be interesting to see if Mr Cunliffe puts his hand up and if he is selected, whether he can, in fact, do a better job.

Politics can be a dirty business. The irony is that even though Mr Shearer and the Labour Party were polling low, he did seem to be gaining in confidence and was a far cry from the hesitant politician who used to stumble over his words when he first came into office.

I suppose from Labour's point of view, rather make the change now than during election year next year.

Labour's misfortune comes at a time when John Key's National Government is flying quite high despite increasing pressure over the GCSB (spy) legislation. Mr Shearer's demise will only make Mr Key feel more comfortable. This is rather unfortunate because the cornerstone of any democracy is a strong opposition to keep the government of the day accountable.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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