Parliament reconvenes this week and David Shearer announces his front bench today. Fran O'Sullivan's must-read Front bench will set tone for Shearer leadership outlines the supposed back-story to how the 'surprise' Shearer leadership victory came about. She suggests the strategy was set in train many months ago, and involved briefing 'Influential members of the "commentariat" - particularly those of the right-of-centre persuasion'. O'Sullivan also points out that the claim by Shearer's camp that his leadership campaign owes no favours to anyone is not credible, especially when you have Trevor Mallard running the numbers. A leading Labour Party activist responds to the 'disturbing' column with the blog post, Is New Zealand Politics being taken over by the Commentariat?. Cameron Slater also highlights some debate on The Standard that indicates possible heavy-handed tactics by Trevor Mallard in the Labour leadership contest.
Phil Goff is now speaking publicly about his replacement, giving strong support to Shearer - see John Hartevelt and Andrea Vance's article, Shearer is the 'right man' for top job. The same journalists profile him in The world according to David Shearer as does Derek Cheng, who concentrates on his aid work career. Cheng also reports on the personal political stances of the new leader in Shearer wants fern on flag. Tracy Watkins and John Hartevelt's Shearer to chart new direction for Labour stresses just how much Shearer will reconfigure Labour, saying that 'New Labour leader David Shearer will use his first major speech to Parliament this week to chart a new direction - including an acknowledgement of where Labour got it wrong'.
Adam Bennett discusses the options for Labour's new front bench, identifying possible roles for David 'Cunliffe, his running mate Nanaia Mahuta, Jacinda Ardern, Shane Jones, Maryan Street, Sue Moroney and Clayton Cosgrove' - see Labour readies new front bench.
The big interest, or course, is in Cunliffe's role. There is no doubt that there is quite a bit of tension between Shearer and Cunliffe, and Gordon Campbell suggests that Cunliffe's best use would be to go head-to-head with National heavyweight Steven Joyce. He also warns Labour against indulging in petty revenge against those on the wrong side of the leadership vote.
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The big political news of the weekend was Paula Bennett winning Waitakere following a judicial recount. Further questions are now being asked about irregular electoral practices in the electorate - see Kathryn Powley's Questions over Waitakere vote.
Other must-read items today include John Armstrong's Politician of the year has his work cut out, David Farrar's Winning a third term for National - Part I, and Tracy Watkins' two items The political breakdown of 2011 and Tax cuts no longer a National priority.