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An open letter to David Shearer

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.

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 improbably 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.  

Next, the reasons you have advanced for seeking this vote of confidence are patently spurious. You say 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.

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 of strength.

Media trainer and commentator Dr Brian Edwards blogs at Brian Edwards Media

More by Brian Edwards

Comments and questions

and who cares what you think brian?

I care what Brian thinks.

mr edwards is 100% correct

Who cares about the Labore Party??

I agree. All Brian is showing is that he's opinionated and meddling.

Totally agree Brian, this cabal that Shearer has surrounded himself with has not locked itself in a citadel and isolated itself from its grassroots. This is no longer the Labour party, it is no longer a broader church, instead it has become a representation of the worst extremes of socialism and the ilk of Hipkins, Mallard, Fa'afoi and others are all responsible. Labour supporters will now leave in droves, thoroughly disllusioned by this mob and their heavy handedness.
Least you're man enough to front this unseemly disgrace.

One can only hope they leave the Labour Party in droves... I mean I really didn't think NZ Inc had 27% of the population so utterly clueless... but then again, I guess that's why we're over-taxed so much to pay for Labour's bribes...I mean voter base hand outs.

Imploding in a heap of corrupt, factional in-fighting couldn't happen to a nastier party in all of Parliament.... well deserved too!

This guy is an Idiot for thinking politicians have any Moral Fibre at all. They don't for they are the type of people who crave power and control. They are corrupt and corrupted from the day they start in politics. They lie or learn to lie and learn tricks of deception; they always blame the other party and never take full responsibility for their actions.

hates it when they dont do what they are told...

Dear Mr Shearer,

May I suggest that you listen to your intuition and cull Cunliffe.

Any company director, sports coach military leader, ship captain etc. can tell you that dissent must be culled before it spreads. Act quickly and decisively; set the standard of what you will or will not tolerate. Any inaction or paralysis that demonstrates you cant make the hard decisions will result in you paying the price in Feb.

Totally agree...up till now i had always thought of Shearer as a limp biscuit.The man has got starch in his pants.I have been proven wrong.

Can't sort out their own internal party leadership fighting which seems to go on & on & on and want your vote to run a country - hahahaaa Yeah Right

is that the smell of sour grapes - didn't Shearer give you the job of media trainer Brian?

I have never shown any interest in that job and have never make any approach to David Shearer or anyone else to get it. I can scarcely train someone whom I have repeatedly described as untrainable. What a nasty anonymous little mind you have.

Brian is showing once again that the left of the Labour Party really do have the monopoly on nasty comment. Trouble is that they have been trying to convert David Shearer to the view that he too must be nasty to succeed but it does not really suit him.

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

Good grief, there's nothing like a sore loser, is there? We all know that Cunliffe is your man, Brian, and not Shearer. Perhaps if you had a better understanding of substance over style (instead of the other way around) you would understand why Cunliffe will never cut it with the voters of this country.

What an old out of touch windbag. It seems that Edwards is the only one who cannot see Cunliffe for the smarmy, two faced lier that he is..

As a Labour Party member who is more concerned with The impact on NZ of John Key's ego than either if the David's, I have not seen any cogent reasons for concern about David C' s behaviour,although there are alot of spiteful, rather petty accusations.So whilst trying make sense of what is happening, I have found Brian's stance makes the most sense.Whilst I have no doubt about David S's red entails as a worthy, honourable person, it would be good to get the wider members views about who might lead Labour to victory in next election, rather than who the caucus like best.Thankyou Brian