A little bird (not David Cunliffe) has told me that in the run-up to today’s emergency caucus meeting a number of Labour MPs, probably a majority, were rung by David Shearer or one of his apparatchiks seeking a cast-iron guarantee that they would be supporting Shearer today and in the constitutionally mandatory confidence vote in February. This is both unethical and against Labour’s constitution. It makes nonsense of today’s ‘unanimous’ vote. And it makes nonsense of the February vote. If a majority of Labour MPs have yielded to this monstrous piece of bullying, that vote has in effect already been taken. Should Shearer prove a disaster over the next three months those MPs who assured him of their support in February will have no choice but to stand by him, regardless of the damage this might do to the Party.
And finally it makes nonsense of the most essential feature of any caucus vote on the leadership, that it is a secret ballot. Shearer now knows with reasonable certainty how each of his MPs intends to vote in the ‘secret’ February ballot. And there can be little doubt that there will be a witch-hunt if the vote is not heavily in his favour. Meanwhile, Cunliffe has been banned from talking to the media about what actually happened at today’s emergency meeting. No-one in fact other than Shearer himself can say anything about what went on. Cunliffe has been charged, found guilty and silenced. So much for fairness. So much for openness and transparency. So much for Labour.