An extraordinary morning in the Labour Party's wing of Parliament Buildings. There were only two words to describe things - absolute mayhem.

And that was even before Labour MPs had even begun their crucial post-election caucus meeting, at which there was expected to be some very blunt language during a preliminary post-mortem on last Saturday s crushing defeat.

David Cunliffe is fighting tooth and nail to hang on as leader. His chances of doing so would seem to deteriorate further with every wrong tactic and mistaken ploy he uses to shore up his crumbling position.

Time is Cunliffe's enemy. He needs an early party-wide vote to refresh his mandate as party leader before the true awfulness of Labour's thrashing really sinks in and his support among the mass membership and trade unions affiliated to the party which backed him in last September's leadership ballot rapidly erodes.


Other senior figures like former leader David Shearer are arguing vociferously that the leadership question be left in abeyance until a proper and fundamental review of the party's failings and the reasons for its dreadful showing in last week's general election are thoroughly examined. The results of such a review are unlikely to reflect well on Cunliffe.

- Steve Maharey: Journey to the centre of real world
- Bob Jones: Cunliffe should man up and quit
- Labour MPs: Leadership vote should wait
- David Cunliffe's letter to supporters
- Pressure on Cunliffe to release secret polls
- Labour MPs: Leadership vote should wait

Prior to this morning's caucus meeting, Cunliffe pleaded for an end to caucus leaks, the infighting, and MPs speaking out, saying the uncertainty about the leadership was deeply damaging to the party. His colleagues were not listening.

Under party rules, Labour's leader must be subject to a caucus re-endorsement motion within three months of an election. If he or she fails to get at least 60 per cent of the vote plus one MP, the matter goes to a party-wide ballot of MPs, party members and union affiliates.

To secure a party-wide vote on the leadership, Cunliffe thus needs to force a re-endorsement motion and lose it.

But losing such a no-confidence motion would destroy Cunliffe's credibility with the public as he would be seen as not being able to work with his colleagues. It would define him as a weak and compromised leader.

So far Cunliffe's handling of how Labour gets itself onto a path to recovery is only proof for his colleagues that it is all only about saving his own neck.

It will leave the public reaching one conclusion and one conclusion only. Barely three days have passed since the election and Labour is already even making a mess of how it handles the mess it made of the election.


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