Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Rumours of office rift rile Shearer

David Shearer’s leadership of the Labour Party appears to be doomed. Photo / David White
David Shearer’s leadership of the Labour Party appears to be doomed. Photo / David White

Labour leader David Shearer reacted angrily yesterday to reports that his office was in turmoil, that two key advisers were leaving, and that his deputy Grant Robertson could be preparing for a challenge.

Suggestions that his chief press secretary Fran Mold and political adviser John Pagani were leaving were wrong, he told the Weekend Herald. That was backed up by both advisers.

Suggestions that his new chief of staff, Alistair Cameron, was Mr Robertson's man were also wrong.

And suggestions that Ms Mold had fallen out with his former chief of staff, Stuart Nash, over his leadership style were wrong.

It did not bear any resemblance to fact or truth.

"Do we have debates within the Labour Party? Damned right we do but it doesn't lead to the sort of thing that everybody seems to be reporting on at the moment," he said.

"There's been debate across the board. We talk about my leadership, we talk about policy, we talk about speeches. We talk about everything. If we didn't you'd be surprised."

Mr Shearer was elected leader in December by the caucus after a primary-style contest throughout the country against New Lynn MP David Cunliffe.

Mr Nash, a former list MP, has returned to Napier where he wants to contest the 2014 election.

His resignation as chief of staff led to speculation about differences in the office by right-wing blogs such as Whale Oil and Kiwiblog and left wing blogs such as The Standard.

Left wing commentator Chris Trotter yesterday suggested in his Bowalley Road blog that he had changed his mind about Mr Shearer and that "the caucus had picked the wrong guy".

"It's time for the Labour caucus to put an end to the 'unfortunate experiment'," he wrote.

Mr Shearer said he was surprised that speculation from blogs was also appearing in mainstream media.

He appeared most irritated at suggestions [on The Standard] that Mr Cameron had been installed in advance of a leadership takeover by Mr Robertson.

"I speak to Grant three or four times a day on the phone. We're in and out of each other's offices when we are in Parliament together, all day."

- NZ Herald

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