John Armstrong 's Opinion

John Armstrong is the Herald's chief political commentator

John Armstrong: Shearer needs to act fast to secure his role as leader

37 comments
If Cunliffe gets the numbers to force a vote, Shearer's position as leader will become untenable and he will have little choice but to resign. Photo / Hagen Hopkins
If Cunliffe gets the numbers to force a vote, Shearer's position as leader will become untenable and he will have little choice but to resign. Photo / Hagen Hopkins

David Shearer's future as Labour leader is now in serious question after he was effectively shafted by delegates at his party's weekend conference.

Shearer was already under huge pressure to deliver a blockbuster speech when he addresses the conference today. That speech is now almost the least of his worries. Yesterday's conference proceedings were an unmitigated disaster for the already-struggling leader.

Delegates were so blinded and so intoxicated by the prospect of securing a say in the election of future leaders that they did not think through the consequences and have ended up undermining the current one - quite possibly fatally.

So keen were delegates to get the new rules to apply as soon as possible, they have handed David Cunliffe a golden opportunity to mount a challenge to Shearer. Cunliffe is not likely to waste that chance.

Cunliffe now needs the backing of only 13 other MPs in the 34-strong Labour caucus to trigger the first party-wide leadership election when Shearer's continued tenure comes up for the standard mid-term re-endorsement in February.

If Cunliffe gets the numbers to force a vote, Shearer's position as leader will become untenable and he will have little choice but to resign.

His only option is to convene an emergency caucus meeting and secure a motion bringing forward the vote on his re-endorsement, which, if held now, he would win.

He instead risks becoming a victim of his own passiveness.

- Herald on Sunday

John Armstrong

John Armstrong is the Herald's chief political commentator

Herald political correspondent John Armstrong has been covering politics at a national level for nearly 30 years. Based in the Press Gallery at Parliament in Wellington, John has worked for the Herald since 1987. John was named Best Columnist at the 2013 Canon Media Awards and was a previous winner of Qantas media awards as best political columnist. Prior to joining the Herald, John worked at Parliament for the New Zealand Press Association. A graduate of Canterbury University's journalism school, John began his career in journalism in 1981 on the Christchurch Star. John has a Masters of Arts degree in political science from Canterbury.

Read more by John Armstrong

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n6 at 01 Aug 2014 04:30:53 Processing Time: 922ms