Shearer routs Cunliffe for Labour leadership
Tuesday 13 Dec 2011 4:49 p.m.
By Duncan Garner
It was a clear win for David Shearer.
Sources have told 3 News that he received almost twice as many votes as the other David - Cunliffe - when Labour MPs held a secret ballot on who should lead the party.
Mr Shearer says his goal now is to rebuild the party, and with the race for the leadership over, Mr Cunliffe is calling on the factions to unite.
Whoever left the caucus room first was always going to be the winner, and that Mr Shearer opened the door was no surprise.
With his deputy Grant Robertson in tow, they are Labour's new leadership team.
Both men only entered Parliament last term - now Mr Shearer, with his shy wave, holds the hopes of Labour supporters across the country.
"My priority is to get out and meet New Zealanders and listen, in the beach pubs, clubs and on the marae, and listen to what they want."
It was a secret vote - his opponent Mr Cunliffe arrived claiming it was still anyone's.
"It's very, very, very, very close," he said, but it wasn't.
3 News has been told by the Shearer camp that he got around 22 votes and Mr Cunliffe, just 12.
"There's only person who knows and she's not telling," says Mr Shearer.
Mr Shearer and his new deputy walked two flights of stairs after the vote to accept that after being thumped in the election, the rebuild begins now.
"Today is a new start and we begin by working towards a victory in 2014."
So Mr Shearer must now mould the factions. Will he give Mr Cunliffe a senior role - perhaps as finance spokesman?
"I need to sit down and talk to him, and I see him in a senior position," says Mr Shearer. "I recognise his talent."
"I am pledging all my support to the new leader," says Mr Cunliffe. "I have no leadership ambitions at this point."
Asked if he trusted Mr Cunliffe, Mr Shearer said: "Absolutely. He's a Labour man."
So now Mr Shearer must rebuild a party he admits has some problems.
"I'd like to be the party of ideas - it's got old-fashioned in its outlook."
Mr Shearer is an ordinary man - not a natural politician - and Labour needs to reconnect to real people.