Cunliffe shaves the beard – should Shearer be worried?
Tuesday 14 Aug 2012 5:10 p.m.
By Tova O'Brien
Labour leader David Shearer has warned his MPs to shut up and keep their bickering to themselves.
He gave them the message at a caucus meeting where he reminded them that he's the boss.
Mr Shearer was on the warpath this morning, his own MPs in his sights.
"What I will be telling my caucus today is to keep those opinions to themselves," said Mr Shearer.
"They will be left with absolutely no doubt… I will be giving them a very unequivocal clear steer… they're going to get a rev up today."
He is furious about the distraction two senior Labour MPs caused when they told 3 News how much they hate David Cunliffe, going so far as to say they want a travel fund set up to keep Mr Cunliffe – who has been on holiday – out of the country.
Their attempts were unsuccessful; Camp Cunliffe is united and as strong as ever.
"Well, I'm back and I'm refreshed," said Mr Cunliffe, who is clean-shaven for the first time since he lost the leadership battle.
It's an ominous sign, according to past warnings from Prime Minister John Key.
"Let me give some free advice to David Shearer," Mr Key said in Parliament. "When David Cunliffe has a shave, be worried, because he's coming after you."
But the ructions go beyond the two Davids thanks to Su'a William Sio. He spoke out against his colleague's bill to legalise same-sex marriage, saying it would lose labour the election.
"He's apologised," said Mr Shearer.
And team ABC – "Anyone But Cunliffe" – has shut up shop.
When asked if he trusted Mr Cunliffe, Trevor Mallard said, "No comment."
When asked why they hated Mr Cunliffe, David Parker said, "We don't."
Labour's deputy leader Grant Robertson also said, "We don't... don't be silly."
The honeymoon is well and truly over for Mr Shearer, and both of the Camp Davids are stirring. Mr Shearer's new tough-talking tactic may publicly cool the bickering for now, but privately the in-fighting appears so entrenched, it's likely to continue to fester.