Camp Cunliffe has done well at the Labour Party Conference.
Most of the caucus and hierarchy were arguing for a high threshold to trigger a leadership ballot.
The NZ Council in July proposed that you need a two thirds petition of caucus to trigger a leadership ballot. This met a backlash so they watered it down to 55%.
But the party delegates went further and reduced it to 50% for unscheduled votes. However here is the real big news. They lowered it to 40% for scheduled votes which are the ones held just after each general election (which will only be an issue if Labour loses) AND the vote scheduled for February 2013!
Vernon Small tweeted:
Labour votes to give 40pc pf MPs the trigger for a vote on the leadership by 264 to 237. Big win for Cunliffe.
It seems that the move to 40% was lost on the hand vote, but the unions used their bulk voting power to win the card vote.
This means that come February 2013, David Shearer needs to have at least 61% of caucus vote for him to remain leader – or a ballot is triggered.
The fact the unions have backed this, suggests that Cunliffe could win both the 40% members votes and the 20% union votes and be forced into the leadership no matter what the caucus votes.
Shearer will face immense pressure to perform tomorrow. It has already been reported that only a quarter rose to give him a standing ovation at the beginning of his speech, compared to 100% standing ovation for Goff and King as they were thanked. Shearer did get a full ovation at the end of the speech – but that is near compulsory.
UPDATE: Just calculated that just 14 Labour MPs can trigger a leadership ballot, under their new rules. Game on.
UPDATE 2: According to Vernon Small (who gets the best Labour intelligence) the following MPs voted for Cunliffe in 2011:
1. David Cunliffe
2. Nanaia Mahuta
3. Charles Chauvel
4. Moana Mackey
5. Lianne Dalziel
6. Louisa Wall
7. Rino Tirikatene
8. Sua William Sio
9. Sue Moroney
10. Rajen Prasad.
So he needs just four more votes to get a leadership ballot. Who were the unknowns:
1. Parekura Horomia
2. Shane Jones
3. Megan Woods
4. Ross Robertson
5. Andrew Little.
I’d say he’d get Parekura easily with Nanaia behind him. Shane Jones is known to have turned on Shearer after Shearer asked the Auditor-General to investigate him. So Ross Robertson could be crucial!
More likely is Andrew Little is the power broken and can deliver four or five votes, plus the likely endorsement of the unions if a ballot is called for.
Political commentator David Farrar runs Kiwiblog.