David Shearer’s days are numbered. Two Fairfax journalists have started sounding the death knell.
Vernon Small considers that the coup attempt is imminent:
Just short of his first anniversary as leader, David Shearer delivers his first speech to a Labour Party conference next week.
But as storm clouds gather over his leadership, it is shaping as possibly his last.
Members, activists and unionists contacted for this article said over and over that the speech at the Ellerslie racecourse conference centre next Sunday was crucial to Shearer’s grip on the leadership.
His first priority is to convince the party rank and file that “he has what it takes” – and those grassroots members will be looking for a hard-hitting address taking the fight to the Government while outlining a clear and personal view of where he intends to take Labour
Unless he can carry that off, the groundswell in the party is set to break into the open with a push for a leadership challenge, most likely when the caucus meets in February – or even sooner, according to one business lobbyist in close contact with the party.
While no heir apparent has emerged – the same issue that kept his predecessor Phil Goff safe through Labour’s dark days from 2008 to 2011 – the party would look again at David Cunliffe, deputy Grant Robertson and potentially others if Shearer continued to disappoint.
There is a problem in Labour. The member activists want David Cunliffe as leader…while caucus hates David Cunliffe.
Andrea Vance contends time is running out too;
Here’s not what’s going to happen at Labour’s annual conference later this week. David Cunliffe is not going to rugby tackle David Shearer to the ground while Grant Robertson sits on his head, with Andrew Little shouting “bags be leader”.
Irritatingly, leadership spills don’t happen that way. If only.
Labour is especially good at the nasty, tortured coups – so if the party is going to roll Shearer, expect it to be beastly. But don’t anticipate blood on the floor of the Ellerslie Racecourse come next Sunday night.
It might not be Sunday night but it can’t be far off. My Labour sources tell me that a delegation visited Shearer last week…while Grant Robertson was conveniently offshore.
Unless Shearer can miraculously cure his stuttering then he is dog meat, stutters and repetition are deadly on the campaign trail where there are more impromptu standups than set pieces. Media tire very quickly of being asked to constantly retake interviews. It can’t be long before Duncan Garner puts together a little farewell present of Shearer at stand ups requesting retakes after he screwed up his statements…5 minutes of stuttering and flummoxed looks would fell him faster than Mallard’s knife.