Garner’s post seems to have sparked off a furious backlash against the Labour MPs thought to be behind it.
Scott Yorke at Imperator Fish blogs:
It’s a bit of a problem, though, when Cunliffe appears more closely ideologically aligned to the party’s activist base than the rest of caucus. How exactly do those bright sparks in caucus with their knives out for Cunliffe think the party’s base will treat such a brazen attack?
And what about those soft Labour voters who might conclude from all of this that their party is a dead loss?
Or maybe being in opposition is such fun that some within Labour’s caucus are keen to do it for another five years.
Irish Bill at The Standard said it is a step too far:
It looks like someone from within Labour’s top team* has decided to have a real nasty go at David Cunliffe via Duncan Garner. …
I don’t know whether this is an attempt to blame someone else for the recent bad polling (and total strategic failure that’s generated it) or whether it’s an attempt to smear a potential competitor in a lead-up to a leadership challange, but it makes Labour look like a bunch of childish clowns.
My advice? Pull you’re f*cking head in and focus on providing Shearer with some decent strategy and support or we’ll see another three years of National because nobody wants to vote for people who behave like this.
*I think we can all guess who
I have no idea which senior Labour MPs were involved, but commenters at The Standard keep naming two MPs as likely suspects.
Chris Trotter says the caucus rivalries have turned toxic. He backgrounds:
The cynical calculation that persuaded Mr Cunliffe’s enemies to unite behind Mr Shearer in December 2011 has delivered a very paltry harvest. The public was prepared to give Labour’s new boss a fair go at growing into a credible Opposition leader, but their patience isn’t endless. Above all other things, a political leader must be a communicator – and Mr Shearer isn’t. Not surprisingly, the major public opinion polls are all now registering declining levels of public support for both Mr Shearer and his party.
The timing of the attack on Cunliffe just after the bad polls may be coincidence, or may not be.
If the polls continue to register the electorate’s dissatisfaction with the Shearer-led Labour Opposition, Mr Cunliffe’s enemies will do everything within their power to ensure that he is not elected as Mr Shearer’s replacement. They are terrified that the advent of Labour’s new Electoral College will encourage the party’s rank-and-file to not only assert their preference for a new leader, but also, by availing themselves of the new procedures for selecting candidates, for a wholesale sacking of the non-performers and time-servers who long ago ceased to advance Labour’s cause. It is to the cautious Grant Robertson that Mr Shearer’s erstwhile backers will turn, and the price of their support will be that the Opposition’s front-benchers (with the obvious exception of Mr Cunliffe and his allies) stay exactly where they are.Mr Robertson would be most unwise to have any part in such a Faustian bargain. Labour must change or it will die. Not quickly and dramatically, but slowly and ignominiously, as the best among its ranks depart, and the worst cling on – for reasons of personal vanity, or from fear of a community they have given no reason to welcome them back – until, at last, the navigation lights of the good shipLabour are swallowed up in “the running straits of history”.
If Labour is to be saved, then its younger MPs must not resist but make common cause with Mr Cunliffe. This is the only alliance that holds out the slightest hope for a renewal of the party’s purpose and the rebirth of its fighting spirit. Mr Robertson and his friends have time on their side: they, unlike the political movement to which they have devoted their lives, can afford to wait.The Labour Caucus has nothing to lose but Trevor Mallard.It has an election to win.Cunliffe and Robertson unite!