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Friday, April 27, 2012

The destabilization of David Shearer's leadership

Nash denies being frogmarched from office
The Labour leader's office appears to be in turmoil after David Shearer's chief of staff abruptly left Wellington.

Former Labour MP Stuart Nash, who has been in the job just a few months, was seen leaving Parliament yesterday after a meeting with Mr Shearer's incoming chief of staff Alistair Cameron. He later confirmed that he would be working on projects from his home in Napier for the next couple of weeks. He is due to finish on May 31.

Mr Nash rejected suggestions he had been "frogmarched" out of the building or given orders to clear his desk but his abrupt departure coincides with rising conflict in the Labour Party over Mr Shearer's continued poor polling and lack of a clear strategy.

Some of that conflict has been laid bare in leaks to a Right-wing blog that could only have come from either senior MPs or highly placed members of the leadership team.

As Tumeke was pointing out last week, David Shearer's leadership is in trouble.

The ubiquitous BBQ was what Phil Goff invited friends around to when he was considering a coup against Helen Clark, from that point on it has been the symbol of lefty plotting and the Labour Party BBQ has been doing double time of late.

Why the Labour Party Coven thought David Farrar's gift wrapped suggestion that Shearer should be their leader was anything more than a poisoned chalice has always struck me as the dumbest mistake they ever made. Cunliffe was by far the better candidate and out shone Shearer in every single media debate, what so many of the mainstream media did not understand (and still for some reason don't get) was that the right of the Party swung in behind Shearer, meaning Shearer owed his position to the right, hence Nash and the Pagani's getting his ear.

The drive to move to the right has been bitterly debated in the back ground of Shearer's leadership. One idea was an attempt to attack the 'whanau first' policy of CYFs, not because the stats show that children placed in their own families are more at risk (the stats don't show that they are), but because it included the word 'whanau'. Shearer's advisers were wanting an Orewa Speech in Ponsonby. Such tactics were far too unpalatable to the rest of the leadership and was quietly killed off, but in the vacuum that is Shearer's leadership, ambitions have been brewing.

Cunliffe has stated clearly that he always thought Shearer deserved a fair bite of the cherry to see what he could achieve before there was any chat about a coup. That timetable doesn't see a challenge until February after a long summer season of BBQ's, but the ambitions of the new blood of Robertson and Ardern are rising with Alastair Cameron's appointment.

This will create an interesting tension, if Cunliffe still wants the top job, Robertson must cut a deal with him. Cunliffe, who hasn't been part of any of the recent shenanigans, won't be happy that such audacity is being explored without anyone coming to get his permission.

While those tensions are sorted, there is a more immediate threat. The right aren't too happy about being kicked out of Shearer's office so expect some dirty leaks to come. Right wing bloggers gave Nash the information on Dairy Farmer subsidies he used before the last election, those same channels will now be open to blood letting.

As Nick Smith painfully found out, when factions use the blogs to fight, the mess can be terrible. Someone within Labour needs to start showing some actual leadership before it gets to that point.

The questions that need to be asked are, 'is the Shearer experiment working? Can it work? If it can't, who should replace him?'. The sooner those questions are answered, the sooner Labour can focus on removing this terrible Government in 2014.



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