The Dom Post editorial:
Labour ditched former leader David Shearer because he struggled to string two sentences together on a good day. So surely it couldn’t have got any worse, right? Wrong.
It’s a train wreck under David Cunliffe and Labour’s MPs are grumpy, nervous and wondering what they may be doing for a crust after September 20. The prospect of losing your job and the $150,000 salary always focuses the mind.
And by bad timing, the Labour Party list gets released this weekend. On the latest Fairfax poll, Labour would get only six List MPs. So anyone outside the top six of the effective list, may be toast.
Cunliffe has taken the party backwards when he promised to take it forward. Could Labour be on track to record its worst-ever election defeat? Yes.
When Cunliffe utters a word or two these days the collective intake of breath among his MPs is simply frightening.
He’s had a host of gaffes this year – and the best he’s looked was when he shut up and stood in the background while his wife, Karen Price, talked about the birds (chickens) and the bees in an interview at their home.
That was the high point.
Cunliffe was parachuted into the job of leader, not because his MPs really wanted him – most dislike him – but because Labour Party members and union affiliates were desperate for someone to articulate their values.
To say he’s been a disappointment is an understatement. After this week’s horrors he looks unelectable as the next prime minister. He’s genuinely gone from bad to worse.
My God, that is a harsh editorial.
Look at these basic mistakes. He started the year not knowing the crucial details of his baby bonus speech, he then foolishly accused Prime Minister John Key of living in a flash pad while he slummed it in a downmarket $2.5 million mansion in Herne Bay.
He set up a secret trust for his leadership bid and was caught out. He claimed his grandfather won a war medal when it was his great uncle. His CV had mistakes in it. He used Grant Robertson’s leadership statement as his own and this week – the howler – denied he knew Donghua Liu or had ever advocated for him – before a letter emerged to prove otherwise.
It isn’t the one or two mistakes. It is that they are so regular.
Former Labour Party president Mike Williams admitted to me this week that Labour’s MPs will all be discussing the possibility of replacing Cunliffe. They now have 48 hours to prepare to roll him.
They can ditch him on Tuesday – but they won’t.
I expect Robertson has the numbers if he wanted to press the issue. But he doesn’t want the job – just yet. Hence his support for Cunliffe this week and his rather cheeky throwaway line that Cunliffe will serve three of four terms as prime minister, before he takes his chance. You just know he didn’t mean that.
There is no doubt Grant has the numbers. It isn’t even close. But he doesn’t want to be Mike Moore. so he will sit back.
UPDATE: According to people who have read the print edition this is not an editorial but a column by Duncan Garner. No wonder it was quite blunt!