Edwards twists the knife

My new mate Brian Edwards twists the knife in Shearer by posting an open letter:

Dear Mr Shearer

It will come as no surprise to you that it was my view when you were first elected that, though you were a considerable asset to the Labour Party, you were the wrong person to be its leader. That is still my view and I have expressed it in numerous posts on this site.

But nowhere in those posts will you find any criticism of your moral compass. I have never suggested and, more importantly, never believed that you were dishonest.  I now find it difficult to sustain that view.

Your decision to call for a caucus vote of confidence in your leadership later today is without political or moral justification.

Ouch, that is a strong start.

It is, in the first instance, totally unnecessary:

You have just received a standing ovation at your party’s annual conference;

You already know that you have the numbers to defeat David Cunliffe in the now utterly improbable event that he would mount a challenge against you. You are not in any danger;

Cunliffe has publicly pledged to support you until the mandatory confidence spill in February. He cannot possibly go back on that pledge without losing all credibility.

Yes it is silly this call for a vote of confidence. Surely the time for that is the mandated day in February that the membership voted on?

Next, the reasons you have advanced for seeking this vote of confidence are patently spurious. You say you want to end once and for all damaging speculation about your hold on the leadership – caucus endorsement this afternoon will give you that.

But that endorsement, almost certainly unanimous, will be as fake as your reasoning. Can anyone really believe that a caucus, at least a third of whose members appear not to want you as leader, could be genuinely unanimous in endorsing you as leader? To advance this argument as incontrovertible evidence of unqualified caucus support will make you a laughing stock.

Finally, you will use this fake unanimity as justification to severely punish David Cunliffe for challenging your leadership. But nowhere can I find any credible evidence of such a challenge. And nor, my reading suggests, can anyone else. There has been no challenge.

What Cunliffe has done is refuse to say whether or not he will endorse your leadership at the mandatory vote in February. His refusal is absolutely proper.

David Cunliffe is being thrown under a bus for no other reason than petulance.

On the other hand, as I argued yesterday, asking him to give such an assurance three months in advance of a secret ballot is entirely improper. It could be justified only by asking every member of caucus to give the same assurance now. And that without the benefit of a crystal ball.

Such arrangements are common in totalitarian regimes. Here we subscribe to the concept of guilt beyond reasonable doubt. That standard has yet to be met in Cunliffe’s case. Far from it.

These are just some of my reasons for saying that your decision to call for a caucus vote of confidence in your leadership later today is without political or moral justification.

It’s the lack of moral justification that really bothers me, Mr Shearer. I thought you an honest man. But an honest man will take no comfort from fake support given under duress. And an honest man will not invent or exaggerate an opponent’s crimes for his own advantage.

Both are signs of weakness, not strength.

Very hard hitting from Dr Edwards, and as is usual from Brian you can’t fault his logic.


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  • In Vino Veritas

    Yup, can’t fault his logic. But what is Shearer to do? Nothing? Or die a lingering death by a thousand cuts?

  • notrotters

    Edwards is Clarke’s creature. Interesting that she is putting the knife into Shearer in this manner.

    • Cunliffe is Clark’s protege too, so join the dots and you see where the impetus behind Brian Edwards’ “open letter” is coming from.

  • Travis Poulson

    Someone needs to tell steady Eddie that Shearer doesn’t read blogs, least of all his. A waste of effort that serves nothing more than feeling good about himself, and having other people see him do it.

    That aside, what if Shearer has done a sneaky and pulled the wool over all of our eyes and orchestrated the whole thing to do what Helen Clarke did: eliminate anyone that is a threat to his power.

    • Troy

      It’s the modus operandii of most politicial parties (perhaps excepting the toxic Greens who think that leadership can be split into two). Muldoon never put up with any shit and neither did Bolger or Shipley in later years, especially with the Peters fiasco. I thought it disingenuous of Shearer to state that it’s not all about individual ambition – that’s just rubbish. Effective and successful leaders have to be ambitious, it’s what drives them – if Shearer can’t work that one out he’ll be trounced at the next election.

      • blazer

        Muldoon,Bolger and Shipley…3 total flops as leaders….but still got there.

  • Pete George

    I have faulted his claim…

    “Finally, you will use this fake unanimity as justification to severely
    punish David Cunliffe for challenging your leadership. But nowhere can I
    find any credible evidence of such a challenge. And nor, my reading
    suggests, can anyone else. There has been no challenge.”

    Mike Smith at The Standard has confirmed that Cunliffe supporters initiated the anti-Shearer campaign there – http://yournz.org/2012/11/20/did-cunliffe-challenge/

    • Bunswalla

      Hardly meets the “standard” of proof beyond reasonable doubt, and in any case Smith did no such thing.

      • Pete George

        He has indirectly confirmed it. He says “His supporters clumsy attempt” and “culminating with posts written under pseudonym days before the conference calling for Shearer to stand down” and he knows the identities of those who posted.

        That confirms a logical conclusion many have made. And as far as I’m aware it hasn’t been disputed – and that’s on a blog where every defense and excuse under the sun for Cunliffe are being suggested.

        • Bunswalla

          Perhaps, but indirectly confirming (surely an oxymoron?) something is nowhere near meeting the burden of proof. If you’re going to condemn someone to the back-benches and have your Chief Whip loudly accuse him of dishonesty at your national conference, you need something better than that.

          • Pete George

            I’m not the Labour caucus, I presume they have accumukated a bit of evidence and paranoia over time.

            I was countering Brian Edwards’ claim: “But nowhere can I
            find any credible evidence of such a challenge. And nor, my reading
            suggests, can anyone else. There has been no challenge.”

            I think there’s credible evidence of some sort of attempt at a challenge.

          • Bunswalla

            We all know what’s going on, but we’ll have to agree to disagree – I definitely don’t believe the vague assertions made by Mike Smith (well he would say that, wouldn’t he?) amount to anything approaching the standards of “credible” and “evidence”.

  • Petal

    If Shearer is to leave any legacy it’s to ensure he takes the rotten wood out of the Caucus before he too is finally removed. He really doesn’t have much else to achieve between now and February.

  • Thakur Ranjit Singh

    Hi Cameron, I have started an amateur blogsite, Fiji Pundit. You can catch similar postings from me there. I blamed the right wing media for dictating what Shearer is doing. Brian is right-there was NO CHALLENGE.. MY SITE IS : http://www.fijipundit.blogspot.co.nz/ Some headings are : Labour Leadership tussle: Worse than a lion is an injured one – what we call in Hindi “Zakhmi Sher” (An injured lion) and :
    When Chris Carter hinted a leadership change, the wrong David got elected.

  • Positan

    The politics of Labour are akin to wallowing in filth. Clark’s presence and involvement was a disgrace. Her manipulations behind the scenes, although denied by those like King, was never any sort of secret. She oversaw and helped construct a shambles.

    Labour followers are never noted for any practical inclinations. By and large they’re emotive, irrational people, united only by shared belief in the twin absurdities that Labour is capable of administering anything, and that National is behind their record of failings. As a species, they’re horribly disposed to almost everything manifested by their associates – all their worst enemies are on their own side.

    Typically and consistently, on Friday they were baying for Shearer’s head – whereas after a single clever speech, loaded with dubious points and scaly rhetoric, suddenly it’s Cunliffe who is their devil incarnate.

    It’d be truly sad if it wasn’t so funny. A half-baked crowd of obsessive, party-line-parroting self-deluders – so up themselves with absurd ideas as to the importance of their lot and their pronouncement of nonsense viewpoints – insisting the non-existent merits of the poorest performing parliamentary Opposition in our history, and seeking to convey that Labour stood ready to provide government. Truly, if ever collective wankerism was definitively expressed …

    Could any of that mob actually show they could run a bath?

  • JC

    What gets to me is how two contenders can try to outflank each other on the left.. with policies like little tin soldiers that the Nats can flick over with a marble and which then can be supported by only 30-40% of the average left leaning voter.

    One thing I learned from the US election (yes Cam, I tried half a dozen times to congratulate you and eat crow, but Disqus wouldn’t let me in) is that NZ MMP has already split off the strands that hate/fear the right and which have little choice but vote Democrat in the US. Those NZ strands are already in the Greens and Mana.

    Once Labours more wild eyed policies get knocked over there’s little left for the average bloke(ess) to vote for.


  • Richard McGrath

    Clark wouldn’t have hesitated to do the same as Shearer – shore up support, or at least give a perception of party unity. And she would have demoted any challenger such as Silent T, and probably dug up some filth on him as well just to hold in reserve for the Febnruary challenge.