Ex-Labour leader rejects notion he still wants top job and says he’s unsure of whether to stand at next election
Labour's former leader David Cunliffe says he will never run to be leader again and has not decided whether he will stand for Parliament in 2017.
Mr Cunliffe told the Herald that speculation he had not completely given up on his leadership ambitions despite pulling out of the leadership contest was misplaced. "I'm out. Otherwise I would still be running. I'm not running, I have no intention of ever being leader again. I'm out."
While he intended to stay in Parliament this term, he was yet to decide whether to stand again in 2017.
Mr Cunliffe believed he could have won back the leadership had he stood but denied that meant he might have another tilt at the job.
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"I was not the person who could bring that caucus together, so whether I could win the primary was not the issue. I am not intending to run for the leadership again."
Mr Cunliffe also returned fire against former party leader David Shearer, who had called on him to leave politics altogether because of the risk he would undermine the next leader. Mr Shearer has accused Mr Cunliffe of undermining both himself and Phil Goff when he was leader, which Mr Cunliffe rejected.
"There was no truth to the allegations Mr Shearer made. They were unfortunate and a breach of caucus discipline. I wish him well in whatever he decides to do, but I have never undermined David Shearer and had nothing to do with his demise [as leader]."
Mr Shearer said he stood by everything he had said about Mr Cunliffe "but I'm not going to engage in any more comments, as we agreed at the last caucus".
Asked about former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's comment that failed leaders should leave politics, Mr Cunliffe said if people were calling for that from him "perhaps they ought to do that in order of succession ... there are two others ahead of me".