- Grant Robertson 8
- Phil Twyford 8
- David Cunliffe 7
- Maryan Street 6
- David Parker 6
- Jacinda Ardern 6
- David Shearer 6
- Clayton Cosgrove 5
- Nanaia Mahuta 4
- Su’a William Sio 3
- Shane Jones – Hon Mention
When Labour Party members gather in Auckland tonight for the opening of their annual conference, the one topic on everyone’s lips will be the one topic that is not on the agenda paper: David Shearer’s leadership. …To say Mr Shearer’s first 11 months in the job have been underwhelming is an understatement. Confronted by television cameras and microphones, he is rendered incoherent unless he has previously learnt his lines, no one has got a clue what Labour stands for and his senior MPs are being allowed to idle away their days. It is no surprise, therefore, that supporters of defeated leadership candidate David Cunliffe continue to agitate on his behalf, or that Mr Cunliffe continues to make pronouncements that fuel speculation about his intentions. ….The choice for Labour is between a green leader who is struggling, a proven ministerial performer who is disliked by his colleagues and two unknown quantities.
In the circumstances, the best course is to do nothing, until Mr Cunliffe wins the trust of his colleagues or one or the other of Mr Shearer, Mr Robertson or Mr Little articulates a vision that voters can buy into.
I am sure vision statements are being worked on!
With that limited agenda, all Shearer can hope to achieve this weekend is to offer the party re-assurance that he can be a competent steward of (a) the internal democratization of the party (b) Labour’s core values and (c) his own parliamentary caucus.
That last one is going to be hardest. This Labour caucus deserves to hang together and not just its leader, separately. If Shearer has under-achieved, so has his team – not only vis-à-vis the government, but in comparison to the Greens. At the same time, the likes of Shane Jones have been allowed to run amuck across the portfolio areas of his own colleagues, in order to launch wild attacks on the one coalition partner that Labour desperately needs in order to govern.
If Shearer wants to convince the country that he has steel in his backbone, he could start by whipping his own caucus into line, and requiring them to lift their game. Right now…does anyone really think that the Labour front bench would be performing any better, and would be any more internally united, under a David Cunliffe or a Grant Robertson? Not really. Currently, Labour’s problems ran far deeper than the man at the top, and shuffling the leadership deck now would be cosmetic. The evaluation should come in May of next year. That will have given Shearer a further three months in Parliamentary battle to define himself and to get traction – while still leaving any new leader about 16 months before the next election.
I agree May 2013 is a fairer date to evaluate how things are going, rather than between now and the scheduled vote in February 2013.