Did Cunliffe challenge?

There have been claims that David Cunliffe didn’t launch a challenge to the Labour leadership over the last week and a half, and that he’s done nothing wrong. Chris Trotter was one to do this on Firstline this morning.

Many commenters at The Standard are claiming Cunliffe is innocent of any wrongdoing and is being unfairly attacked.

Brian Edwards has just blogged An Open Letter to David Shearer

Finally, you will use this fake unanimity as justification to severely punish David Cunliffe for challenging your leadership. But nowhere can I find any credible evidence of such a challenge. And nor, my reading suggests, can anyone else. There has been no challenge.

But there have also been claims that Cunliffe had been positioning himself for a leadership challenge leading up to the party conference.

Mike Smith wrote at The Standard yesterday in Keystone Coups:

I recommended it recently to David Cunliffe over lunch, and he told me soon after he had got all four out of the Parliamentary Library. But he obviously hasn’t read it yet. His supporters clumsy attempt to make the Party leadership the focus of last weekend’s Conference has  backfired on him and on others involved.

My first indication that something was up was the rising temperature of comments on the Standard, culminating with posts written under pseudonym days before the conference calling for Shearer to stand down. I don’t know if the posters are Labour members or not, but it now looks like an attempt to destabilise Shearer days before his first conference speech.

As a Standard trustee Smith knows the indentities of the authors at The Standard. The other Standard trustee who knows the identities of their authors, Lynn Prentice, commented last week:

I sit on the editors board of The Standard trust which makes occasional decisions about strategy and direction of the site mostly via e-mail and phone. Mike Smith and I are the trustees tasked to carry out the operations. Which I do in conformance with the policy. Basically the policies haven’t really changed since late 2010 when a series of decisions we made about how to bring new authors in.

And on The Standard today:

So Smith must know the indentity of who he is accusing of attempts to destablise Shearer, and obviously sees a connection with David Cunliffe.

The one thing that this doesn’t prove is if Cunliffe himself had anything to do with it. It would be remarkable if his supporters would launch a leadership bid without him knowing anything about it.


  1. Tim G.

     /  November 21, 2012

    Glad to see that 1 + 1 still equals 3 on Planet Pete George. You quoted Mike Smith yourself when you said “I don’t know if the posters are Labour members or not… yet you still come to the conclusion that he must have known who the posters were.

    Comments on the Standard (and their temperature) are neither controlled by the posters or commenters, who are some of the most dispirate left-wing souls you will meet. Some of them (for example, Colonial Viper) are Cunliffe supporters, many (possibly a majority) are Greens/Mana/minor party voters. You know this yourself having made forays commenting there.

    You are being disingenuous in suggesting this was some vast Cunliffe conspiracy. I promise I will try harder to avoid this blog in future (your self-promotion on Brian Edwards’ blog was the hook if you’re interested).

    • Tim, you’re wrong on several counts.

      Yes, Mike said “I don’t know if the posters are Labour members or not…” – but I also showed that he is one of two trustees who indeed does know who all the authors at The Standard are, and he will know who some of the regular commenters are too.

      I didn’t promote at Brian Edwards’ blog. By putting a link to his blog post (as I should nhave when I quoted him) his blog automatically inserted that reference, I had no control over that. It’s what some blogs do – The Standard does that too in a different way.

      I haven’t suggested this was some vast Cunliffe conspiracy. Some Cunliffe supporters have obviously promoted anti-Shearer sentiments and suggested strongly he should step down. Many other Cunliffe supporters have jumped on the bashwagon and agreed.

      Due to anonymity it’s impossible to say how many Standard authors and commenters have direct links to a Cunliffe campaign, but there are obviously some – there wouldn’t have to be many to seed discontent.

      You are correct on one thing, I’m very well aware of the spread and mix of posters and commenters at The Standard. The blog itself cannot control the tone of comments completely, but by content andf method it tries hard at times. I’ll be posting today on things The Standard has been doing to try and shut down Shearer support.

      This comment is from R0b, aka Standard author Anthony Robins:
      “I respect Cunliffe supporters and what they want to accomplish. But for heaven’s sake, you need to be honest about what went down here. Cunliffe decided to escalate his ongoing leadership challenge at the worst possible time, and is the instrument of his own misfortune.”

      Anthony is a dedicated Labour supporter and has been defending and promoting Shearer at The Standard. I suggest you read his whole comment:

      And also check this out from Jane Clifton at The Listener: “Who, me?” On Cunliffe and Coups 101

      I don’t think the anti-Cunliffe camp are blameless in this debacle either, far from it, but trying to claim Cunliffe is innocent of any wrongdoing, as many at The Standard (and Brian Edwards) are trying to do, is blind stupidity or deliberate attempts at false denial.

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