The only thing saving him is the refusal of the Shearer-sceptics to coalesce around a single alternative.
The blokish, more conservative MPs can’t yet bring themselves to back deputy leader Grant Robertson.
The anti-Cunliffe group may have been expanded by his disloyalty at the time of last year’s annual conference although, to be fair, he has been keeping his head down and playing the team game in recent months.
Former union boss and party president Andrew Little has not set the world alight, nor gathered a salon of close supporters and he is seen as unready.
So the status quo remains.
But at times it feels as if the rival factions are in some macabre version of the movie Weekend at Bernie’s lugging around a political corpse because they are afraid to let go of one arm in case he falls over and the other side grabs power.
What a great analogy!
Unless Mr Shearer stepped aside and an heir was anointed – something the wider party would likely balk at – a spill that late in the year would trigger a primary runoff that would cascade into election year, further weakening Labour’s prospects.
Yes, Mr Shearer needs to lift his game, but he is not stupid. He surely gets the sense of urgency. Whether he can change is the open question.
The sceptics also have to play their part. They must either back him or back off. At the moment they are going around in circles. “It isn’t working, we need to move, he is not up to it, but I am not voting for . . .” And so nothing continues to happen and Mr Shearer’s confidence is sapped further.
Of course, events across the Tasman show that these things can never be finally put to bed until success silences the critics.
But if Labour wants to get back in the game, the leadership circus must be brought to a climax, the sooner the better.
The next TV polls will be in September probably. That may be the crucial month.Tags: David Shearer, Labour Leadership, Vernon Small