Eddie’s kite flying at The Standard appears to have failed. Eddie wrote that the whispers were that David Shearer was going to put his leadership to the membership regardless of caucus.
Vernon Small however has scotched that pipe dream with his tweet this morning:
Stand easy Labour. Shearer says he will put leadership to caucus vote not straight to full electoral college.
— Vernon Small (@VernonSmall) January 22, 2013
Shearer was never going to fall for the kite flying of the disaffected, and his advisors…to a man are all Robertson loyalists and that certainly wouldn’t have helped their cause.
Chris Trotter noted the basic error of the kite flying in attempting to deliver up the preferred result for Cunliffe loyalists…the maths and the permutations of a very public leadership contest.
The most obvious risk is that once an Electoral College vote is arranged the likelihood of the contest being limited to just two candidates is extremely remote. Once the process is set in motion, Mr Shearer’s supporters have no way of preventing Grant Robertson or Andrew Little from adding their names to the ballot paper. Should that happen the political calculations immediately become much more complex.
Labour’s new Electoral College is required to tally the votes cast by the Parliamentary Caucus, Ordinary Members and Trade Union Affiliates and then re-calculate the results so that the votes of the Caucus account for 40 percent of the total, Ordinary Members 40 percent, and Affiliates 20 percent. Whether the contest will be decided on the basis of a simple plurality of the votes cast, or according to some form of preferential voting system, is not yet clear.
If it’s the former, then the margin separating Mr Shearer and Mr Cunliffe is likely to be very narrow. But if some form of preferential system is employed, then neither Mr Shearer nor Mr Cunliffe is assured of victory. Supporters of the principal contenders are most unlikely to put their candidate’s rival anywhere but last on their list of preferences. Mr Shearer and Mr Cunliffe could thus face early elimination, leaving the field to Mr Robertson and Mr Little. The smart money in that fight would be on Mr Robertson.
Demanding the leadership question be decided by the Electoral College in February 2013 is, therefore, the worst possible move Mr Cunliffe’s supporters could make. Because even if he emerged victorious from the calculations of the Electoral College, Mr Cunliffe’s problems would be far from over.
Cunliffe’s agitators and the grumpy left will now unhinge as Labour’s caucus thumbs their nose at what they saw as their divine right to dictate to parliamentarians regarding the leadership of their party.
There won;t be a leadership challenge now. Shearer is safe for at least a year. If things look like they can squeak in he will remain safe but if poll rating heads south then Robertson will shaft him.