Labour leadership battle: Goff quits

David Cunliffe walks out of the Labour caucus for morning tea.
1 of 2ANDREW GORRIE/Fairfax NZ
David Cunliffe walks out of the Labour caucus for morning tea.
David Cunliffe (left) walks into the Labour caucus.
2 of 2ANDREW GORRIE/Fairfax NZ
David Cunliffe (left) walks into the Labour caucus.

Phil Goff and Annette King have announced they are resigning as the leader and deputy leader of the Labour Party.

Their resignations are effective as of December 13, but both will stay on as MPs.

Candidates to replace Goff include David Cunliffe, David Parker, David  Shearer, Nanaia Mahuta and Grant Robertson, the MP for Wellington Cental.

He said he thought about two seconds before standing down after the election.

Ms King, the MP for Rongotai, said she did not think of staying as deputy. "I will not seek to be on the front bench."

The Labour caucus emerged from a five hour meeting at about 3pm.

He said discussions at today's caucus were positive but MPs "feel the hurt."

The caucus analysed the loss but the focus was forward looking.

At least two Labour MPs  - Mr Shearer and Shane Jones - have broken ranks since the election to acknowledge the party got it wrong and that it needed a period of soul searching to understand how it had got so out of touch with its traditional supporters.

But  others - including Mr Parker and Mr Robertson - have defended the party's strategy. Mr Robertson was the chief strategist for the campaign.

The party also used the caucus meeting to farewell MPs it lost in Saturday's election when Labour's numbers were reduced from 43 to 34.

HOW IT UNFOLDED:

3.34pm:
Phil Goff said the new leader should be chosen on merit. He he had no problem with the candidates promoting in public why they should be leader.

3.27pm:
Hutt South MP Trevor Mallard put on post on Labour's blog about the resignations.

He said he had a view on who should take over, but did not reveal names.

3.24pm:
Phil Goff said discussions were positive but MPs felt "hurt" from Saturday's loss.

3.20pm:
Rongotai MP Annette King said she did not think of staying as deputy. " I will not seek to be on the front bench."

3.18pm:
Phil Goff said candidates to take over the leadership include David Cunliffe, David Parker, David Shearer and Grant Robertson. He said more names may be put forward.

3.14pm: Phil Goff has quit and will step down on Dec 13. Annette King is standing down too.

3.09pm: Labour MPs remain cloistered behind closed doors five hours after heading into their first meeting since Saturday as a bruising leadership battle gets under way.

A timetable for the departure of leader Phil Goff was expected to be decided at today's meeting but  the election post mortem has now dragged on more than hour over time

Mr Goff was initially expected to emerge from the meeting between midday and 2pm to confirm his resignation.

10.32am: Prime Minister John Key has said he will never underestimate a leader of the opposition as Labour did him.

Mr Key wished Goff all the best and said he wouldn't underestimate whoever took his place.

"I remember when I came into my job as leader of the opposition, they had no respect at all for me. Helen Clark pretty much dismissed me overnight and that didn't work out so well for them."

He said he was smart enough not to make the same mistake.

Goff had a long career and had been a good minister, Key said.

He did not rule out offering Goff an overseas posting but said there had not been any discussions.

10.17am: Senior Labour MP Shane Jones confirmed before the meeting that Mr Goff was making an announcement at the meeting about his future.

He and deputy leader Annette King are expected to resign.

The party would also use the meeting to farewell MPs it lost in Saturday's election when Labour's numbers were reduced from 43 to 34.

Mr Jones said he didn't expect to hear from those vying to be Labour's next leader at today's meeting.

"I think this is a time to welcome the new people, farewell the people we lost.

The meeting would also be used to reflect on Saturday's losses, he said.

Mr Jones said he wasn't putting his hand up for Labour's leadership because "I know how to count".

"Look at the six or seven people who are no longer back, they were all friends of mine."

9.50am: New Lynn MP David Cunliffe, who has been linked on a ticket with Nanaia Mahuta, entered early and said no decision about Mr Goff's replacement would be made today.

In an unusual move the party have excluded media from the Labour caucus corridor.

The contenders are David Parker,  Mr Cunliffe, Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson and Mt Albert MP David Shearer.

Labour MPs face a quandary selecting a replacement for Mr Goff, with no clear contender emerging over the last term because of doubts over all the likely options; one of the reasons they did not move against Mr Goff despite his low popularity rankings.

Labour MPs were due to pick new Whips today, to replace Rick Barker and Steve Chadwick who lost their seats on Saturday. That may give an early sign of the candidates' support, with sources naming Charles Chauvel and Moana Mackey as potential Cunliffe-aligned candidates.

Related stories:

Profiles of the contenders to lead Labour

Comment: Policies with vision needed by Labour

The Dominion Post