David Shearer has called an emergency caucus meeting for 4 pm tomorrow to try and shore up his wounded leadership.
There seems little doubt he will win the vote tomorrow. David Cunliffe has even said he will vote for him. I imagine the vote will be unanimous.
The real action will be after the vote. How far down the order will Cunliffe be demoted. I understand he is definitely off the front bench. Less certain is if he keeps his portfolio at all. Some MPs are understood to be urging to push Cunliffe as low as possible so that he quits politics all together.
Also of interest is will Shearer do his wider reshuffle. The talk is that some of Cunliffe’s supporters may be punished also.
Senior Whip Chris Hipkins has slammed Cunliffe:
Hipkins today hit out at Cunliffe’s ambitions and said his undermining of Labour’s collective team effort “makes it very difficult for him to continue in a senior role within [our] team”.
“At a time when we should be focused on getting out there holding the National Government to account and selling our policies and our message, David Cunliffe has been working in the shadows to undermine the current leader and prepare for a leadership challenge. That’s unacceptable.”
“If David Cunliffe wants to challenge for the leadership he should come out of the shadows and get on with it….. it is totally unacceptable to say I’ll support David Shearer for now while I work over the summer break to destabilise the leadership and get the numbers to move against him in February.
Labour MP and senior whip Chris Hipkins said Mr Cunliffe had “openly undermined the current leadership” and should either openly challenge Mr Shearer or leave.
“He’s made it clear he intends to challenge for the leadership. I think saying he’s not going to do so until February is dishonest and disingenous. He needs to bring it on.”
He said Mr Cunliffe should be open and upfront about his intentions.
“Weasel words about supporting the leader for now simply don’t cut it.”
He said Mr Cunliffe had actively undermined two leaders in a row – Mr Goff and now Mr Shearer.
“That has made it impossible for him to continue in a senior role within the Labour team.”
That is a telling comment. Hipkins is saying Cunliffe undermined Goff as well as Shearer. It’s good Labour MPs are now saying openly what they think of Cunliffe, rather than speaking off the record to Duncan Garner about him!