The pressure on David Shearer to chuck in the towel is building. Grant Robertson’s ‘committee’ spoke with Shearer recently about his future as leader. Cunliffe’s loyal cadre have been spooked into an all of nothing tilt and pressure is being brought to bear via blogs, useful MSM columnists and now former spin doctors and media trainers.
Brian Edwards has spoken, which means that Helen Clark has spoken:
A quite remarkable thing happened this morning. Heraldcolumnist Tapu Misa gave it as her view that David Shearer should stand down as leader of the Labour Party.
Misa is the finest columnist in the country – intelligent, informed, rational, considered in her judgements. More importantly, she is never cruel or unkind. Unlike most other columnists, including myself from time to time, she never sets out to wound. In keeping perhaps with her strong religious beliefs, she is ever a charitable critic.
Her politics are to the liberal left.
For these reasons I believe she will have thought long and hard before sending this morning’s column to the Herald for publication. It will not have been an easy decision. I can only assume that, after long deliberation, she concluded that this was something that, in the interests of the Labour Party and the country, just had to be said.
The timing of all this pressure just ahead of the conference is deliberate. Shearer will be sitting there thinking that there are much better things to do rather than listen to carping apparatchiks:
Misa’s message is by no means new. The opinion that Shearer, however decent, however nice, is the wrong man for the job, is now regularly expressed by both right and left-wing commentators. Shearer claims not to be bothered by this groundswell of disfavour, but he is either in denial or putting on a brave front. It must be a dismal experience to be subjected day in, day out, to such relentless public humiliation.
What is both new and remarkable is that Misa, albeit reluctantly, has joined the chorus of opinion that Shearer is harming rather than helping Labour’s cause and that he cannot continue to lead the party. The writing on the wall could not now be clearer.
They don’t want to knife Shearer for a couple of reasons. First, that he has actually a good bloke. The other reason is that although he can barely string together a coherent sentence when doing a standup his brain is actually useful, just not leading the party.
One factor that is thus far unsaid is that Labour lacks courage for a blood and guts coup, preferring to smother themselves in cowardice and exert pressure.
So here’s what I think should happen: Shearer should announce at the Labour Party Conference that he has told caucus he wishes to step down as leader and will do so as soon as a replacement has been chosen. To avoid the inevitable chaos (and possible collapse of the Labour Party) which will result from the implementation of their proposed new rules for choosing a leader (which could be tested as early as February of next year), caucus should quickly select David Cunliffe to take them through the next election. Cunliffe is the only person for the job. There is no-one else.
Yes, I know, there’s a squadron of pigs flying over the Beehive as I write these words. But I really would prefer not to have to say ‘told you so’ again late some night in November 2014.
The heavy lifters of labour party opinion are being wheeled out ahead of the conference. Expect the full court press. Trotter can’t be far off with his musings.