Salient among the things to emerge from Labour's internal organisational review is the level of resentment felt by the Party's rank and file at the centralised nature of decision making.

Whether a matter of policy formation, candidate and List selection, or the Party leadership, the role of Party hierarchs, and the Parliamentary wing in particular, is seen as disproportionate as it is opaque.

Labour's membership has no particular monopoly on that complaint.  Regardless of stripe, political activists will almost inevitably feel divorced from the business of setting their party's strategic direction.  And that removal will be felt no more than when the party is struggling with its political identity - or when it is in Government.  Rightly or wrongly the Parliamentary wing and those closest to it will always feel that they, and not the membership, are best placed to chart the political and policy strategy of the day.

In Labour's case though, frustration at the perceived lack of political agility in the run up to the 2011 election, along with misgivings about the Party's 2011 List selection, has given rise to concrete proposals for change.

Among them are the need for a clear expression of values, an open and democratic culture and, most notably, greater party participation in selection of the Party leader.

Under the existing rules, leadership selection is a matter exclusively for caucus.  Individual MPs' constituencies of interest will have an indirect say, but fundamentally caucus decides. 

This has an upside: when needed, change can be both surgical and swift.  But the downside can be a weeping sore of factional in-fighting, tactical leaks and serial self-wounding that cost a party any sense of cohesion or political focus.

It's the likelihood of the latter that seems to loom large in Labour's proposals for change.  And significant among them is the rejigging of the leadership selection rules. 

Under the proposed rules, Labour's Parliamentary caucus will find itself a bit player with only a 40% say in the leadership, instead of its presently exclusive role.  Party members will get an equivalent voice and its six affiliates - all trade unions - will carry the balance.

The rules precipitating a change will also be tightened, requiring either a vacancy at the top, or two thirds caucus support for a petition to the Party President.

Among the ironies of this is the very incumbency protection that occasioned so much criticism of Labour's List selection last year.  When decision making is so much a hostage to internal factions, the likelihood of swinging two thirds support behind change of any sort is remote at best, and even less so if control of the outcome lies outside Parliament.

This of course is good news for Shearer, whose less than wholesale caucus backing and lacklustre polling would otherwise make him the target for a coup.  But incumbency protection and the unpalatability with middle New Zealand of direct union involvement in leadership selection are potential collateral damage that may also cost Labour dearly come 2014.  Add to the fact that Party activists are still disquieted by the fact that the caucus still has a disproportionate say in things and the scene is set for a potentially damaging debate in November - whether it's in closed session or not.