Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Clark had no role in Shearer exit: Labour

Top brass says meeting with former Prime Minister coincidental to ex-leader's resignation

Helen Clark former Prime Minister of New Zealand. Photo / Jane Ussher
Helen Clark former Prime Minister of New Zealand. Photo / Jane Ussher

Rumours are circulating again about the role Helen Clark had in moves to roll David Shearer as Labour's leader just before he resigned to pre-empt a motion of no confidence.

Helen Clark was in New Zealand the week before Mr Shearer resigned on August 22 and there was speculation she had discussed the need to change the leader with some MPs during that visit.

Yesterday it was also revealed party president Moira Coatsworth and general secretary Tim Barnett had travelled to Waihi to meet her at her father's house in the week before Mr Shearer stepped down.

Mr Barnett, who was a Labour MP when Helen Clark was PM, confirmed the trip but said it was usual to meet when she was in town.

"It would be a regular thing to do. She asked for an update on what was happening in the party. Nothing more than that."

Asked if they discussed Mr Shearer, he said it was "incidental to everything else really".

"She just wanted to get an update on what was going on ... ."

He said he had not known there were moves afoot to unseat Mr Shearer.

Helen Clark does get to vote on the leadership but has not publicly endorsed any of the three contestants, although David Cunliffe has said he was optimistic he had her vote.

As the MPs firm up behind their choices, Grant Robertson appears to have the edge in support in Labour's caucus with at least 12 MPs firmly pegged down and another four likely to vote for him. Mr Cunliffe has nine MPs confirmed in his camp, and one likely to opt for him.

Mr Jones has five possible votes in the caucus and could also pick up Meka Whaitiri, who is undecided but whose local electorate members are urging her to back Mr Jones. He is the only Maori candidate and was very close to her predecessor, the late Parekura Horomia.

David Parker and Andrew Little are yet to give a commitment to any of the contenders. The Labour Party's Maori branch has endorsed Mr Jones for the role.

It is understood the Dairy Workers' Union has issued a non-binding recommendation to its delegates in favour of Mr Cunliffe.

Labour's candidates were last night in Tauranga and will be in Hamilton tonight before the rest day tomorrow.


Who's backing who

The numbers at the mid-point of Labour's leadership campaign:

Grant Robertson
Jacinda Ardern, Maryan Street, Phil Twyford, Trevor Mallard, Megan Woods, Kris Faafoi, Darien Fenton, Clare Curran, Chris Hipkins, Annette King, Phil Goff. Likely: Ruth Dyson, Clayton Cosgrove, David Clark, Raymond Huo, David Parker

David Cunliffe
Moana Mackey, Lianne Dalziel, Nanaia Mahuta, Louisa Wall, Iain Lees-Galloway, Sue Moroney, Carol Beaumont, Su'a William Sio, Likely: Rajen Prasad.

Shane Jones
Rino Tirikatene. Likely: Damien O'Connor, Ross Robertson, David Shearer.

Unknown/undecided
Andrew Little, Meka Whaitiri.

- NZ Herald

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