Sometimes in politics, stories take on a life and a momentum of their own. And the vexed question of David Shearer's leadership of the Labour Party is an example of that.
Since IrishBill blogged his concerns at The Standard ten days ago, it's been the politcal question on everyone's lips; how long has David Shearer got? Political journalists are openly posing questions now, and Tracy Watkins writes again on the subject this morning:
The left is divided over whether Labour's "unfortunate experiment" with David Shearer needs to end.Some say Shearer has no leadership qualities, others that he is like Helen Clark early in her tenure.Commentator Chris Trotter has labelled Shearer "the unfortunate experiment", saying he was wrong to support him. "He ain't anybody's kind of leader."Academic Bryce Edwards agrees. "It's dragged on so long now that the honeymoon is over and there's nothing to show for it."Speculation about Shearer's future was sparked by the departure of chief of staff Stuart Nash, known to have clashed with press secretary Fran Mold over the leader's low profile.Nash's replacement is seen as an ally of deputy leader Grant Robertson, who is the leading contender to replace Shearer. Others touted are David Cunliffe, and former union boss Andrew Little.
And although there are denials from within Labour, most of us who follow politics have been around long enough to be sceptical; read on:
Robertson yesterday reiterated he backed Shearer. "There is no truth to any rumour I am challenging him."Cunliffe said he was "pissed off" at some of the speculation. "David is a good and decent leader who deserves a chance."But Edwards said the speculation was "destabilising" and it was hard to imagine Shearer fighting to retain his role. "He's the sort of person who will quickly accept his fate."Changing horses now risks reinforcing the view Labour is not ready to govern.
This is indeed unfortunate for Labour. Parliament resumes on Tuesday, and the opposition should have the government on the run. But instead Mr Shearer will quite literally be looking to his right (Grant Robertson) and to his left (David Cunliffe) instead of across the foor of the House.