Shearer onto third chief of staff

July 24th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

I blogged on 14 June:

Have heard from two separate sources that two very senior staff in ’s office are departing.

Have been wrong once before on this issue so not naming staff, but as I said have heard from two different people. No doubt will be confirmed one way or another this afternoon.

Labour denied that any of their staff were departing. However I had heard from (by the end of the day) three sources that Chief of Staff Alastair Cameron had agreed to depart, and Labour were searching for a successor. They denied that also.

Yesterday we learnt:

There are further changes in Labour leader David Shearer’s office after his chief of staff Alastair Cameron resigned to be replaced by his former chief press secretary Francesca Mold.

The change is effective immediately, Labour confirmed.

So it was correct.

What is interesting is that David Shearer has been leader for just 18 months and he is onto his third chief of staff. As a contrast John Key has been Leader of National for six and a half years and has had the same Chief of Staff throughout. In fact many of his office have been with him the whole time.

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Cameron gets the job

April 26th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Claire Trevett at NZ Herald reports:

Labour leader David Shearer has appointed lawyer and NZ Aids Foundation chairman Alastair Cameron as his new chief of staff after the resignation of Stuart Nash.

Alastair Cameron is a long-term Labour activist, and generally regarded by Labour people as a good operator. He was on the NZ Council when he was a student, as the party’s youth vice-president around 2002.

Mr Shearer last week led the charge on the Crafar farms sale, but the previous strategy of keeping him away from subjects on which Labour had a negative line gave rise to speculation about the leadership after his deputy, Mr Robertson, was left to lead Labour’s reaction on major issues such as Nick Smith’s resignation as minister over troubles in ACC.

Mr Shearer said he did lead reaction on many issues but also recognised that his other MPs were “very able” and should be allowed to contribute.

The changes are a disruption Mr Shearer could do without as he tries to make an impact in the polls. Although it is not yet serious, he is already having to contend with speculation about his leadership and the ambition of his deputy. …

Mr Robertson has dismissed the speculation, but it has spread to others, including the left-wing blog the Standard.

Contributor Irish Bill observed that it was no secret Mr Robertson wanted the job and, although he hoped he was wrong, “it’s starting to feel like a leadership challenge is inevitable”.

Interesting that the Herald quotes an alias in a news story.

Mr Shearer said it was a long process to get Labour back to being “match fit” and there was an acceptance of that. He said he was not aware of tension within his office.

Really? If David is not aware of the tension within his office, he is the only person in Wellington who isn’t aware of it.

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Small on Shearer

April 20th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Vernon Small reports at Stuff:

Rather than slam the Government over paid parental leave, he talked compromise. Labour would look at phasing it in or lowering the costs in “a sincere effort to move something forward”.

Consensus, he said, was his first instinct.

It is a style Mr Shearer is making his brand; a reasonable man talking in a measured tone that rejects the politics of charisma.

This is one reason I like Shearer. I do think he is a reasonable man.

To the political media present – and in a warning to Labour, only three reporters made the short hop from Wellington – it was about as dull as a leader’s speech can get.

With the Government on the ropes over issues from the pokies deal with SkyCity to Crafar farm sales and asset sales, the soft-shoe approach is not without its critics.

There is no crisis yet, but there has been some internal arm-wrestling.

Chief of staff Stuart Nash has quit after just a few months in the pivotal role, mostly for personal reasons – a new baby and the commute from Napier. But insiders say he was ill-suited and clashed with chief press secretary Fran Mold over strategy. She pushed for a (relatively) higher profile, arguing the Greens and NZ First leader Winston Peters would fill the vacuum if Mr Shearer left one.

Finding the right replacement for Mr Nash is crucial, especially with the key party secretary job expected to be vacant soon when Chris Flatt leaves.

There is no clear favourite for either job, although policy guru Jordan Carter is tipped as secretary, while the Wellington rumour mill favours Wellington lawyer Alastair Cameron as chief of staff.

Both are closer to deputy leader Grant Robertson than Mr Shearer.

And arguably also closer to Cunliife.

It is too early to say Shearer will be rolled, but it is obvious from reading around the left-wing blogs that there  is significant discontent amongst the activist base – especially in Auckland.

What is interesting is that the Auckland activists are trying to lump Robertson in with Shearer, so that if Shearer falls, Cunliffe will be able to win a leadership battle against Robertson.

Cunliffe has come back from his leadership loss revitalised and has been impressing many in Labour. I think Robertson would still beat Cunliffe in a contest, but the “Anyone but Cunliffe” faction has diminished in recent months.

If there is any change, I would expect it to occur either late 2012 or at the latest February 2013. If Shearer makes it past that, then I think it would be too late for a change.

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