Andrew Little, helped by the Media party, is claiming triumph on his blitzkrieg tour of Iraq…in the shadow of Gerry Brownlee.
Claire Trevett explains why he’s been done like a dinner by those dastardly Nats.
At first blush, the Government’s invitation to Labour leader Andrew Little to visit the troops in Iraq appeared to be a trick.
The question is not so much why Little took up the invitation to go along with Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee. Despite having criticised Prime Minister John Key’s own visit to Iraq as a photo op, Little had no qualms about brandishing photos of himself striding manfully around Taji in his flak jacket.
The bigger question is why the invitation was issued in the first place.
A superficial interpretation of the Government’s motivations is that it put Little in an awkward situation. Politically, it was a risky move for Little. Labour vehemently opposed sending the troops to Iraq last year, yet there Little was, meeting those very same troops.
It is not unheard of for Opposition leaders to visit troops on deployment. Last year, Australian Labor leader Bill Shorten visited the troops at Taji.
The difference between him and Little was Shorten was able to stand before the troops and assure them they had Labor’s bipartisan support.
Little’s message to the troops was somewhat more complex. It appeared to consist of telling those troops he thought they were doing a good job while sticking to his line that the job they were doing was futile.
Should Little oppose future deployments, he has handed his rivals an encyclopedia of photos and gushing comments with which to lambast him.
The prospect of watching Little squirm in front of those whose deployment he had opposed may well have been the cherry on the top for National.