Caucus to vote on Shearer's leadership

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Last updated 12:19 18/11/2012
David Shearer
MICHAEL BRADLEY/Fairfax NZ
GAME CHANGE: Labour Leader David Shearer at the Labour Party conference in Auckland.

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Labour leader David Shearer is moving to put his leadership to a caucus vote as early as next week in an attempt to end speculation about his position and draw out challenger David Cunliffe.

Shearer was closeted away this morning preparing for his keynote speech this afternoon.

But his lieutenants were meeting to consider ways a vote could be taken early under caucus rules.

That would likely not replace the scheduled vote in February at which only 40 per cent of the caucus could trigger a run-off according to new uses approved by the Labour conference yesterday.

But if the caucus gave him a strong endorsement, possibly in a vote that was made public, that could make the February vote more of a formality. No caucus meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, but an urgent one may be called.

There are also rules that require at last a week's notice of a leadership ballot, but that may not be needed to simply endorse Shearer.

It is understood if Shearer wins the backing of caucus he will move quickly to demote Cunliffe.

One of his allies said Shearer had had "a guts full" of being undermined and he was planning to challenge Cunliffe to "either put up or shut up".

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