Is there a path back for Cunliffe?

At the time of the leadership election in late 2011, a couple of people in Labour both said they hoped that the result of the election would see Cunliffe not just fail to gain the leadership, but also out of Parliament. Since then we saw the backbiting to Duncan Garner about him, and finally he has been been sacked from the shadow cabinet.

So the question is, is there a path back for him?

Let’s look very carefully at what David Shearer said:

is a talented MP and it is possible there is a road back for him. But I would like him to take the time to reflect on his ability to play a part in our team. 

The phrasing is significant, I believe. It does not refer to Cunliffe’s desire to be part of the team, but his ability. That clearly suggests that Shearer, and the old guard, do not believe he is capable of being a team player.

Hence my conclusion is that Cunliffe has no realistic chance of rehabilitation under the current leadership.

The comments by his supporters on his Facebook page may not help his case. A few examples:

  • Dont worry we want your actions in the future. Lets see where the polls take David Shearer for what he has done today.
  • He will be the electorate MP for life but Shearer might try for a UN post after he loses the next election.
  • Stick with it. If Shearer was an intelligent and competent leader he would not have reacted in the manner that he has.
  • I told you, your time was 12 months prior to the last election to make your move. You needed to do it then. Because this has played out in the media it is unhelpful and it maybe too hard to recover. I agree that you are the better choice. I wish you the best of luck.
  • Alas but jealousy has no cure my good friend. You are smarter, brighter, more popular and are by far more suited to both the leadership position and the front bench. Labour’s problem is that it lets a bunch of insecure, out of touch, incompetent puppets run itself, thus not realising what’s good for it even when told by the grass roots. Shearer is an embarrassment and each time he is heard or seen I cringe. How the freak is he expected to lead us to a 2014 victory?
  • Helen was a good public speaker. She was a dominant and capable figure. She listened to the electorate, the public and so on. Ratings aside, does Shearer have any of that? I think not.
  • Labour just lost their best bet for a win at the next election
  • it seems that Labour still has to learn that this whole loyalty and ambition thing runs both ways. the naked ambition and disloyalty by the ABC crowd to keep their own jobs, while not doing them, must have blinded them to the reality that only they seem unable to see.
  • Labour has now degenerated itself as a gaggle of gays, lesbians and unionists. They appear to be in self-destructive mode.
  • I can’t see Party supporters raising funds for Shearer. Costs a lot to run an election, to spread the word and to get people to transport voters to the polling booths.
  • The Labour caucus for the most part are a bunch of muppets. Shearer looks pathetic & weaker than ever now.
  • Patience is a virtue David, bide your time, DS will never be PM
  • While I thought Shearer was going to be the better option a year ago, I’ve lost all sympathy for him following his beneficiary-bashing speech
  • The entire caucus is then a bunch of sheep out of touch with what NZ needs, David Shearer will never be Prime Minister because he is not the right leader for NEW ZEALAND.
  • I have been a Labour Party member since 1984, I have not paid my membership this year, mostly because I don’t quite like where the leadership of the Labour Party is going.
  • A demotion to the backbenches??…..that’s got to be coming from a pretty spiteful, insecure place Mr Shearer!
  • As I see it, if we want a democratic, left-wing, Labour Party to fight for the future of New Zealand, then between now and February, those members who care need to make sure that the decision in Febuary is the right one.

These are all comments on the Facebook page of the Labour MP for New Lynn. The comments at The Standard are even more heated. Some highlights:

  • Having voted Labour for my whole adult life I have just moved my support to the Greens.
  • On TVOne just now Shearer came across as the sort of bully who terrorises his family in the home but is all smiles and nice guy on the outside. Acts tough with his kids (caucus) but is an utter wimp with powerful adults. I’ve voted Labour all my life. No more.
  • Shearer has just made a mortal enemy of many of the members and supporters.
  • Shearer’s arrogance takes one’s breath away. I voted Labour for well over 50 years. Never again! I am now with the Greens all the way.
  • So much for unity the Dunedin youth chairman has quit the party and more have told me they will follow.
  • It’s absolutely imperative that people thinking of leaving remain in Labour, and support Cunliffe for February, as well as working on any waivering support. Otherwise Labour will wither and die, under the current strategy and leadership.
  • Shearer looks like exactly what he is, a puppet that is being manipulated by Mallard and the media. The sooner he is gone along with Mallard and co the better!

The activists seem split between two strategies. Half say they are quitting Labour, and half are saying they want to rejoin to vote against Shearer next year if they get the chance.


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