Eddie at The Standard blogged:
It’s well known that 10 or 11 members of caucus did not give confidence to David Shearer as leader. He might be tempted to punish them in the upcoming reshuffle.
Shearer should go with his instinct and do the opposite. …
To win, Labour must unify. To win Labour must use the best talent caucus has. Shearer should promote some of those capable members even if they have been part of the group pushing for change. Even if that means dislodging some of his own lieutenants. Because that is real leadership.
A couple of hours later chief Cunliffe lieutenant Charles Chauvel resigned from Parliament, with reports emerging he had been told he had no role in a future Labour Government.
But I agree that the smart strategy for Shearer is to unify the caucus. I blogged on 5 February:
I think that Shearer should give Cunliffe a meaningful portfolio in the reshuffle, and offer him a path back the front bench.
So what other changes should Shearer be looking at. Some thoughts:
- Shane Jones – clear he will be promoted back on front bench. Jones is one of Labour’s best communicators and has charisma. Also business smart. However is notoriously lazy, and often lacks judgement. A risk, but one Shearer needs to take. The only one who can attack the Maori Party with credibility.
- Nanaia Mahuta – no doubt she will lose Education. The issue is whether Shearer keeps her on the front bench. If he demotes her it looks bad to sack someone who is on pregnancy leave. Also sacking both Mahuta and Sio could mean no brown faces on front bench which would upset many in Labour. Hence promoting Jones is needed to demote Mahuta. At end of the day I don’t think Mahuta has done enough to deserve to stay. She should get a respectable second row portfolio.
- Maryan Street – a competent Minister who struggles in opposition. Being up against Ryall makes it harder. Hard to see a place remaining on front bench on merit, but sacking two women would be difficult for Shearer.
- Su’a William Sio – the easiest decision to make. Not effective at all. Something wrong if he stays.
- Chris Hipkins – a no brainer to promote him. A good performer in the House and with the media. Knows education well but Labour may find that a young MP whose only experience is student associations and working in Parliament is not going to be seen as a credible future Education Minister. Hughes had the same challenge (and background). But Chippie will do well holding the Government to account – his challenge will be articulating an alternate vision to parents.
- Lianne Dalziel – could be in line for a promotion – especially if Mahuta or Street is dropped. The departure of Chauvel sees her legal background as a plus.
- Andrew Little – no doubt he gets promoted. Only issue is whether to the front bench. For my 2c I’d promote him there – he will obviously be a senior Minister when Labour get into government.
It will be interesting to see what Shearer does.