13 Oct 2014

Shearer decides against bid for leadership

10:38 pm on 13 October 2014

It seems certain now that the contest for the Labour Party leadership will be a three-horse race.

David Shearer.

David Shearer. Photo: SUPPLIED

David Cunliffe today withdrew from the contest, and another former leader, David Shearer, has just announced he will not be standing.

With nominations closing at 5pm tomorrow, the declared contenders are Andrew Little, David Parker and Grant Robertson.

Mr Shearer said he had been considering another go at the top job, but confirmed to tonight that he has decided against it.

"I've made that decision after talking to a number of people, obviously my family, but also some colleagues as well. So I'm leaving it open to the other three who are in the race."

Cunliffe backs Little

Former leader David Cunliffe earlier today announced that he would also pull out of the contest and instead threw his support behind Andrew Little.

Mr Cunliffe made the announcement at a hastily-called news conference at his New Lynn electorate office. He said he would remain in Parliament as an MP.

Mr Cunliffe said he made the decision last week after Mr Little announced he would contest the leadership, but family commitments prevented him from withdrawing until now. He said he believes Mr Little was the right man for the job.

"I believe Andrew will achieve greater cohesion across the caucus, and get the process of listening to New Zealanders underway quickly - both with voters and those hundreds of thousands who chose not to vote in the September election."

Andrew Little

Andrew Little. Photo: RNZ / Demelza Leslie

David Cunliffe said he had not struck any deal with Andrew Little over a possible senior position, including deputy leader, if Mr Little became leader.

Mr Little said he accepted the backing of Mr Cunliffe, but still had a lot of hard work ahead to win the party's confidence.

"I've been talking to affiliate unions, I've been talking to a lot of party members and they've certainly been communicating with me so I'm reasonable confident that I have a healthy degree of support across those parts of the electoral college."

It was Mr Cunliffe who sparked the leadership race less than three weeks ago, after he resigned following Labour's poor election result.

David Parker

Labour leadership hopeful David Parker. Photo: RNZ / Demelza Leslie

He said he had not been under pressure to pull out of the race and members of the party had instead put pressure on him to remain in.

He also denied that the pressure on his family had anything to do with his decision. His wife, Karen Price, who was with him during previous announcements, was not at today's news conference.

However, Labour MPs Su'a William Sio and Nanaia Mahuta, a long-time Cunliffe supporter, were both by his side.

About a dozen Labour supporters and electorate staff were also present.

The deadline for nominations for the leadership is 5pm tomorrow.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs