David Shearer goes ... who next for Labour?

The five key points to consider when choosing the next Labour leader

So, David Shearer has pulled the pin on his leadership of the Labour party and killed off his own ambition because, he says, the party's ambition is more important. A decent sentiment from a decent man; it's cliche to say he's a good and likeable man, but he is. However he lacked what New Zealand is looking for here and now.

Shearer's leadership stood in the shadow of John Key's, and that remains the greatest challenge for whoever can win the election to take the mantle. What Labour is looking for now, more than anything, is someone who can find a path to beating an immensely popular Prime Minister, who nevertheless is now leading a government with public trust and coalition issues.

The hope was that Shearer would be an intelligent everyman, a surfer bloke who connected with middle New Zealand. His policies showed moments of that, but his communication skills proved insufficient for the 21st century bear pit of politics.

The surprise is not that he's gone, as I've written before, but that he's gone today.

He could make a very good education minister one day and it seems he plans to stick around.

One question is what role he'll play in the coming election. Will he endorse anyone, for example?

Labour now has to ask itself who is the man for the times; and the new leader is certain to be a man. Robertson, Cunliffe, Jones and Little - they are the only ones with a chance. Little is the longest shot.

The new leader has to try to rattle Key, has to be able to take him on as a communicator, debater and economic leader. Have no doubt, times are tough enough and 2014 will be an economic election. Who knows the numbers? Who has the charisma?

And this leader has to be able to feel safe. They need a loyal deputy who isn't looking for the chance to take over and the backing of both party and caucus, which Shearer lacked for too long.

If I was trying to figure out who to put in charge, these are the bullet points I'd have on my white board:

John Key - who can beat him?

Turnout - who can get south Auckland out to vote and who can excite middle Auckland?

Winston - who gets on well with coalition king-makers?

Economics - who can offer a vision of a growing and prosperous New Zealand, balancing the needs of the Greens and the workers? Social reform policies will not win the next election.

Five percent - for years now the numbers have always meant Labour need to get about five percent, mostly off National, to get back in the game. Who can swing those numbers?

To start to answer my own questions, they surely point to Cunliffe or Jones, don't they? Neither especially popular within caucus, but maybe New Zealand Labour needs to hold its nose just like Australia Labour did.

Let the debate begin below. Over to you...