By Peter Wilson
Labour MPs have been called to an urgent caucus meeting at 4pm tomorrow as party leader David Shearer moves to avert a challenge from David Cunliffe.
"I will be seeking the endorsement of my colleagues for the Labour leadership," he said today.
"I'm holding this vote to demonstrate that I have the support of my caucus and to put recent speculation to bed."
Mr Shearer wants an overwhelming vote of confidence from his MPs and he will almost certainly get it, but that might not be enough for Mr Cunliffe to give up a challenge at the formal leadership review in February.
"The endorsement I'm seeking will be in line with the decision made by Labour Party members at this weekend's conference that I must have at least 60 percent support of the caucus," he said.
"A formal endorsement vote will also still be held in February in accordance with the new rules approved by party members."
Those rules say unless the leader has the support of 60 percent of the caucus there will be a vote which party members and unions taking part.
Mr Cunliffe today pledged his support for Mr Shearer but said that didn't necessarily extend to the February review.
But he is believed to have overplayed his hand, and his supporters are understood to have dwindled to only eight or nine in the 34-member caucus.
Mr Shearer's supporters don't want the issue to drag on through the summer.
"He wants time to get the numbers together to destabilise the current leadership over the summer break so he can mount a challenge in February," senior whip Chris Hipkins said.
"I say to him if he thinks he can be the leader, if he thinks he has the support, bring it on."