Is David Cunliffe about to spit the dummy? And if so, how far will it be spat?

Mrs Grumble wanted Alf to have a beer or two with Labour’s David Cunliffe, on learning that he might be thinking about leaving Parliament and politics.

She thought he could do with some comforting and might benefit from Alf’s experience as an MP who is still languishing on the furthest-flung of the Nats’ back benches despite his huge popularity in Eketahuna North and his decades of electoral victories there.

Tell him how you would be chuffed to make it on to the front bench, even if it is in sixth, seventh or eighth spot, she urged her favourite MP.

The story that triggered her concern says –

An embittered David Cunliffe is refusing to rule out quitting Parliament altogether as leader David Shearer moves to finalise his front bench.

It is understood Mr Cunliffe has been offered a front bench seat and a senior portfolio but has balked at his proposed ranking.

A spokeswoman confirmed the two had talked on the phone and it is understood Mr Shearer, who plans to announce his team early next week, was late yesterday still waiting for a response.

Oh dear.

Is this a case of spitting the dummy?

Alf has strong recollections of another Labour feller, Chris Carter, being a dab hand at dummy spitting in the past year or so.

Let’s see if Cunliffe can spit it harder and over a greater distance.

Stuff reminds us that Cunliffe pledged his unconditional support to Shearer after Tuesday’s leadership vote.

But yesterday he said he was “weighing up all my options” and would not say when he was likely to make his call.

“I have not made any decision yet.”

Second thoughts, obviously.

When a bloke is born to lead (we may suppose), Cunliffe thinks he should lead from the front and not lower himself by accepting a demeaning ranking.

Labour has been allocated eight front bench seats in the new Parliament and it is likely Mr Cunliffe has been offered either the sixth, seventh or eighth slot.

The top places are likely to be taken by Mr Shearer, deputy Grant Robertson, Jacinda Ardern, finance spokesman David Parker, Shane Jones and Clayton Cosgrove with the remaining two slots open to Mr Cunliffe and his running mate, Nanaia Mahuta, or possibly Ruth Dyson or Maryan Street.

So there we have it.

Sitting at six, seven or eight in the Labour line-up isn’t as attractive to Cunliffe as sitting in the equivalent place on the National benches would be to Alf.

The difference is that the oft-overlooked Alf is willing to do his thing and go out to bat from the back benches for the constituents who elected him.

He sees this as an enormous privilege and a big responsibility.

And his batting is better than that of many of the Black Caps.

That’s what Mrs Grumble wants him to tell Cunliffe.

But bugger it. Let him be advised by lefties.

Alf sees no point in advising or comforting the enemy.

If Cunliffe were to hang on in there and help his team win the next election – unlikely, but let’s not rule it out – Alf’s ministerial ambitions would suffer a severe setback.

And a Labour Government would drag the country backwards.

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