Shearer confident knives won't come out

DANYA LEVY
Last updated 08:22 13/11/2012
David Shearer
SCOTT HAMMOND/Fairfax NZ
NOT EXPECTING TROUBLE: Labour leader David Shearer.

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Labour leader David Shearer says he doesn't expect a "whispering" campaign against his leadership to be raised at the party's caucus meeting today.

Labour MPs will this morning hold their last meeting before this weekend's annual conference where there will be pressure on the Mount Albert MP to give a rousing speech to convince the party he can lead them to victory in 2014.

In recent weeks political commentators have questioned Shearer's performance after opinion polls put support for Labour about 32 per cent against National’s 47 per cent, despite a difficult year for the Government which has fought fires around education, asset sales and the ongoing Kim Dotcom saga.

Yesterday left-wing blogs joined the chorus and a post on the Standard that called for Shearer to go attracted hundreds of comments.

The author, identified only as Eddie, said Shearer had been given a chance since being elected leader last December but had shown "time and again that he is not up for the job".

"He can't handle the stress, he can't think on his feet, and he doesn't have a solid set of beliefs to give him a firm footing when he stands up on issues."

However, former Labour Party general secretary Mike Smith cautioned the party against a messy leadership coup.

"Calling for David Shearer's head now, in the week before the Labour party conference, is a sign of panic. Panic doesn't make for good decisions."

Shearer today said his leadership was not on today's caucus agenda and he didn't expect the issue to be raised.

"Because the facts speak for themselves. The gap between National and Labour is closer than it has been in the last four years."

MPs were not paying attention to the "whispering" that was going on, he said.

"That's basically people who are sitting in front of their computers giving their opinions and it's continuing to drive discussion of it up."

Asked if questions about his leadership were damaging for Labour, Shearer replied: "It would be much better if we just got on and focused on what people were really concerned about which is basically jobs, jobs and jobs."

Those tipped for a future leadership challenge include deputy leader Grant Robertson, economic development spokesman David Cunliffe and former union boss Andrew Little.

All have said they had no plans at a tilt for the leadership and have pledged their loyalty to Shearer.

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- The Dominion Post

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