Fellow MPs were mixed in their reaction to David Shearer's decision to quit the Labour leadership, suggesting he was too nice and not up to it.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said the moment Shearer mentioned his confidential meeting with Prime Minister John Key yesterday in the House, as he tried to point out that Key had not reached out to any of the other parties to support his GCSB bill, his demise was certain.
"He did if for reasons that he understood, but it was the defining moment in his time. It was such bad politics that he was going to be punished for it."
He said he knew why Shearer did it - pointing out that Key had not reached out to other parties for support, in spite of his claims otherwise.
"But Mr Key turned it around and broke the confidentiality and everything else and crapped all over it. Well, that's OK but next time Mr Key goes to talk to anybody they'll be wanting it in writing."
Peters said you could see divisions in Labour were "widening and that was bad for the party and he did the honourable thing".
Shearer was always up against it, he said.
"It's very difficult because in a time of reconstruction it is really hard to get points on the board, but that's the difficulty he faced. It was never going to be easy and the Labour Party has got to be knocked into line to realise that their supporters are suffering and that cohesion and unity are a good idea right now."
Labour's Iain Lees-Galloway said it was time for Shearer to step aside.
"I think David has put in a lot of effort over the last couple of years, he's worked really, really hard for the Labour Party, he can step away with his head held high, but it probably was time for us to look at other opportunities."
He looked forward to seeing who put their name up for the leadership, saying the process would energise the party.
Auckland Labour list MP Rajen Prasad would not comment on whether he thought David Shearer had to go, saying "you can draw your own conclusions".
"He has decided that he did not have the confidence of the caucus and therefore has made what is a decision for him and we wish him well."
Canterbury Labour list MP Clayton Cosgrove, who served on David Shearer's front bench, said the former leader was rare for putting the cause ahead of his own interests.
"The guy is the full quid," Cosgrove said.
"He has spent a life in public service and being the leader of the Opposition is a bit different from being mortared in the Middle East, but it comes with its own difficulties.
"It's a tough job, the toughest job in Parliament. But he's given it his best shot, he worked his guts out and I was proud to serve in his front bench.
"The old saying, you come into politics for what you can do, not what you can be, and I think he's been one of the guys who has lived by that."
Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell praised Shearer as a person and said he was "shocked" but the downfall was inevitable as opinion had moved against Shearer.
"Today is not necessarily about making a statement about him or what he has or hasn't done, I just feel sorry for the guy, bearing in mind that most people that come in here come in with the very best intentions and he obviously came back in the belief that he could give something to the Labour Party and to the Parliament and he did his best and that's all you can ever ask of a person in here."
Mana Party leader Hone Harawira said Shearer was too nice.
"I always found him to be very friendly, very open and that's probably his downfall. Nice guys don't last long in this game," he said.
Justice Minister Judith Collins said it was obvious Shearer did not enjoy the support of his caucus and said he was obviously not up the leadership saying it was a "tough job".
"I think the fish thing was the last straw, frankly."
She did not expect to see a stronger Labour emerge under new leadership saying: "No, not from what I'm looking at over there."
Social Development minister Paula Bennett said Shearer had not impressed as Labour leader though it was a shame to see a career end in such a way.
"I found him to be quite ineffective but that's easy for me to say from this side of the House..."
She said it was not that he was too nice, "but I don't think he really ever hit his stride".
"You've either got it or you haven't and he proved not to."
She would not guess at who would be the next leader, but said: "I don't think it's [David] Cunliffe".
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said Shearer was a "very decent human being" but the party had internal issues.
"We always thought he was the best Labour leader they could have had, so I presume they'll have to go a bit further down the list now."
Attorney General Chris Finlayson said Shearer was a "good man" who he liked very much, who had great experience in dealing with civil wars and humanitarian crisis. But that was not enough to prepare him for the Labour leadership.
"Nothing could have prepared him for dealing with this lot," Finlayson told reporters.
"The Labour Party caucus is probably the most feral and unpleasant group of people you could ever have to deal with."
- © Fairfax NZ News
Are you for or against the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement?Related story: TPP talks fail to reach agreement