The Rudd experience should show Shearer how a leader can suddenly be poll-axed

Labour Party HQ in Eketahuna ...  the sounds of knife-sharpening could be heard there last night.

Labour Party HQ in Eketahuna … the sounds of knife-sharpening could be heard there last night.

It all sounds a bit pathetic.

Labour Party leader David Shearer is insisting he has the full support of his party.

How he can be sure of this is a good question.

But according to a Herald report here, he appeared on TVNZ’s Q+A this morning following Labour’s successful Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election result.

And sure enough, he was quizzed about rumours and reports of a possible party leadership challenge.

Patrick Gower, at TV3, told his audience about these rumours a few days ago and reported the gist of a chat he had had with an unnamed Labour MP who reckons the knives are being sharpened.

Indeed they are.

And not only within the caucus. From the comfort of the Eketahuna Club last night, Alf could hear the sounds of knives being sharpened down the road a bit at the Labour Party’s local electorate office.

But Shearer seems blissfully oblivious to any goings-on of that sort.

“I’d like to know who the MP is,” Mr Shearer said in reference to reports some MPs had told media their could be a challenge to his leadership within two months due to poor polling results.

Is he for real?

Across the ditch, the Gillard woman seemed to think she was safe, too, after fending off a few challenges from the persistent Rudd.

When push came to shove and the polls showed many Labour MPs would lose their jobs, the buggers changed their minds about Rudd and put him back in charge again.

Alf would put his money on similar considerations coming into play here after support for Shearer slumped in the latest Herald-DigiPoll survey.

The party has lost 5.5 percentage points since March, and Mr Shearer is down 6.1 points as preferred Prime Minister.

National’s support has barely moved and it is still polling high at 48.8 per cent of decided voters.

Prime Minister John Key is preferred Prime Minister for 65.2 per cent, up 2.6 points on his last rating.

The NZ Herald reported at the time that the poll could put added pressure on Shearer’s leadership, which has been attracting stronger criticism lately from the remnants of Cunliffe’s support on the left than from the right.

Shearer was stubborn.

He denied it was time to rethink Labour’s strategy or policy and said he had no intention of stepping down as the party’s leader.

“We’re getting way ahead of ourselves, it’s one poll one and a half years out from an election,” he said.

Shearer also appeared on a special edition of TV3’s The Nation.

Again, the leadership matter was raised.

He said:

“I’ve asked my colleagues and they haven’t heard anything about it [leadership challenge]”.

“I can’t comment any further when I don’t know who this person is.”

Perhaps he can’t.

But not knowing does not make his job any more secure.

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