Vernon Small puts David Shearer’s future on the line at the Labour conference.
Just short of his first anniversary as leader, David Shearer delivers his first speech to a Labour Party conference next week.
But as storm clouds gather over his leadership, it is shaping as possibly his last.
Members, activists and unionists contacted for this article said over and over that the speech at the Ellerslie racecourse conference centre next Sunday was crucial to Shearer’s grip on the leadership.
His first priority is to convince the party rank and file that “he has what it takes” – and those grassroots members will be looking for a hard-hitting address taking the fight to the Government while outlining a clear and personal view of where he intends to take Labour
Unless he can carry that off, the groundswell in the party is set to break into the open with a push for a leadership challenge, most likely when the caucus meets in February – or even sooner, according to one business lobbyist in close contact with the party.
And Duncan Garner and Colin James have just discussed the same on The Nation.
The Labour conference will be a high pressure occasion for Shearer, perhaps make or break. That doesn’t make it easy for him to come across naturally and express an open and honest self.