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David Cunliffe resigns as Labour leader, but says will contest wider leadership vote by party members, caucus and unions

David Cunliffe resigns as Labour leader, but says will contest wider leadership vote by party members, caucus and unions

By Bernard Hickey

Labour's bitter internal fight for the leadership looks set to drag on for months after David Cunliffe refused an attempt by caucus colleagues to get him to step aside and let Grant Robertson become leader.

David Cunliffe has announced he will resign as leader from the end of Labour's Parliamentary Caucus meeting on Tuesday, but he said he planned to stand again for the leadership in a wider vote by party members, the caucus and affiliated unions.

"The party has suffered an historic election loss and in resigning as leader I take responsibility for that," Cunliffe said to reporters in Auckland on Saturday afternoon.

Cunliffe said he supported a full review of the defeat.

"Labour’s values are New Zealand’s values.  But the election result has reinforced that the Labour Party must change in order to uphold and communicate those values. I was elected one year ago with a mandate to lead change," he said, adding he tried to pull the party and caucus together over that time.

"Clearly there is much more to do, and the party’s direction must be respected. There is no room for division or airing differences through the media despite agreement to the contrary," he said.

"The recent election confirms that Labour needs a more comprehensive overhaul. We need to renew and rebuild our culture, accountabilities, how we do things and present to the world," he said.

Cunliffe said that would require experienced and determined leadership with a broad mandate.

"The Party’s interests must come before any personal interests. I have thought carefully before responding to the calls to re-offer myself for the leadership of the party. Consultation with colleagues, members and affiliates has affirmed that the whole party must participate in this choice, and not just one part of it," he said.

"Therefore I am announcing today that I will nominate for a primary contest, which will be held across the caucus, the party membership and the affiliates as the party constitution requires."

Cunliffe's decision to stand again removes the prospect of an orderly transition to Grant Robertson-Jacinda Ardern ticket that many in the caucus are thought to want.

Labour's constitution specifies a vote on the leadership be decided 40% by members, 40% by caucus members and 20% by affiliated unions.

Cunliffe said he expected Deputy Leader David Parker would become interim leader between next Tuesday and the leadership vote, but that would be a decision for caucus. He said he now planned to go on a family holiday and would not comment again until next Tuesday.

Reporters at the news conference tweeted that Cunliffe believed he could effectively lead the Labour caucus if voted in by the wider party.

He denied that his supporters inside the Labour caucus had abandoned him. He also denied that Labour had lurched to the left before the election.

"I'm sure I retain the bulk of the support of the people who supported me in the past," he said.

He said he believed Labour was not out of touch with New Zealand, but that it needed a refresh and better marketing.

Members and unions supported Cunliffe in 2013

Robertson may face a tough fight against Cunliffe in a full vote before party members and the unions.

Data from Labour's leadership vote last year was leaked to Hamish Rutherford at Fairfax on Friday . The data showed Cunliffe won votes from 3,243 party members, while Robertson won 1,440 and Shane Jones won 709. Cunliffe was even more popular among the union delegates, winning 113 votes, while Robertson won just 12 votes.

(Updated with more detail, background, quotes from news conference.)

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Updated with more detail, background, quotes from news conference.

typo: Cunliffe's decision to stand again removes the prospect of an orderly transition to Grant Robertson-Jacinda Ardern ticket that many in the caucus are though to want.

Thanks. Fixed now.

Only in the minds of property gamblers such as yourself, who wouldnt vote labour anyway.

... Bob Jones sums it up nicely in his Tuesday opinion piece in the NZ Herald , Labour are still hanging onto the past , where taxing the productive sector ever more , and doling out the " free " goodies to an indolent poor , secures election wins ...
He also has a rip at DC ..... seriously mauls Cunny ... and rightfully so ...

Yes, nzcoolie, As Muldoon wisely predicted many years ago, any government flirting with a CGT would commit electoral suicide.
Apparently new "Gay" Labour plan to make homosexuality compulsory - doubt that will prove anymore popular!

.. " there is no room for division " David says ... as the former leader ... but he was incredibly divisive , destabilizing each of his predecessors Phil Goof and David Shearer respectively ... to suit his own political ends ...
But on another tack , why is it assumed that a gay academic is any improvement on an egotistical rich pr*ck in leading the Labour Party ... is there no one they can choose who actually comes from ground roots New Zealand ? ... a worker ... a self made person ... someone who understands private enterprise , rugby , and a BBQ ... someone who doesn't feel upset that they're born the sex they happen to be ...
... someone NORMAL !!!!!!!

If they want to be a party of the minorities then they will be a minor party.

Yes they should just change the name to represent who they really are Gay Labour.
I had this awful vision going into the election. Labour makes all these promises about minimum wage, CGT etc then when elected there first act is gay adopions or something like that.
Mind you National are no better. They get elected and their first big deal is to have a referendum on the flag.
What a hopless lot to choose from.
We support the war on terror. Our enemy al-Qaeda. Then our enemy becomes al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Now our enemy is al-Qaeda, the Taliban and ISIS.
How mwny enemies will we have in a few more years from now?

I'm perfectly Normal GBH,  you think I should tell Labour where to go?

... yes !
They desperately need some direction .... you tell them where to go , Mr Normal cowboy , with my blessing ....

Of course they can, it is just that that person is not in the current lot of MP's.
Next time perhaps, there is always hope even for Labour.
But really GBH would a self made person who understands private enterprise seriously entertain the thought of being a Labour party member let alone stand for them in an election?
And increasingly so we not only need someone as a leader, no matter which party, who  appeals to NZ'ers, that person will also have to be able to talk sensibly on the world stage.
Rugby and bbq's are only matters of regional concern though. 

No word on David Shearers position on the leadership.
I would not be surprised if Murray McCully is trying to hijack him away from Labour into a job in with the United Nations as per Shane Jones.  If so, a shrewd move as he will have removed the two potential leaders who have reasonable cred with the average member of the public.

Stuart Nash, Leader,   And Jacinda as Deputy 

the other brother Miliband

... they're both young and vibrant , well spoken and with fresh ideas ...
I'd vote for them in 2017 ...
... but I very much doubt that the stoopid unions will give their 20 % to them in 2014 !

Conliffe is apologising for losing the Election now?  Says he's going to "take responsibility"... just how is he going to do that?  Just what _respsonsibiltiy_ is he personally taking??  If I crash into someone elses car, the court holds me responsible for the damage, I pay for it.   Is Culinffe going to personally pay back the taxpayer money his loss has caused???
 Or is he talking more plitical nonsense - resigning isn't "taking responsibility", you don't pay your IRD bill, you can't just "resign from the debt"  - that would be running away and _irresponsible_, the entire opposite of taking responsibility

"There is no room for division or airing differences through the media despite agreement to the contrary," "
- So it's a sycophant party?  Tow the line no matter what it is.?

And Labour are thinking of putting up another two headed beast?  After the 3 Davids failed to fell the goliath last time?  Are they incapable of learning?   This is what they need to lear - NZ as a whole wants a _government_ to do the jobs NZ needs done.  The majority of NZ do not want a bunch of people who keep putting their own agendas, and their minority, and their democratic philosophies ahead of NZ's needs.    Again Labour are trying to fulfil their ideology, not NZ's Future, and in doing so they will lose everytime. Helen won, because she would steal whatever looked good for NZ and run with it.

So mild disagreement with advertisers and contributors will get pulled up by the moderators on flimsy pretexts and disappeared, but blatant homophobia and misogyny get a free ride?  So much hypocrisy.

... one ponders the future of NZ First , if Winnie stepped aside and Shane Jones joined as leader .... perhaps with Ron Mark as deputy ...
How many elections would pass before they overtook the Greens as NZ's third most successful political party , and the Labour Party itself as number 2 ...
... I'd guess 1 and 2 respectively ...

Winnie has to step aside soon, age will see to that.  SJ as NZ First leader….  I’d guess that NZ First would be the main opposition party by the end of the year.

Cunliffe or Robertson will be fine caretaker leaders while Nash and Davis gain expereince to lead the party to victory at the 2020 election.

Cunny’s apology for being a man comment really sums up how disconnected Labour has become from real Kiwi’s.  How many men do you know that apologize for being a man or would even think like that?  Cunny claims to have won the debates but all I witnessed was an arrogant and egotistical career politician tell me first what I want, then what I should think.  Contrast that with JK who tells a story and ASKS me to consider his ideas.  JK’s approach gives voters status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness and fairness all key ways to influence people.  Cunny’s preacher, I know best, approach removes or diminishes all these factors and immediately triggers an negative emotional response from his audience.  Anyone who has spent time in senior management in the private sector would know these things but of course Cunny’s a career politician.

Days to the General Election: 25
See Party Policies here. Party Lists here.