Armstrong on Little

John is so fed up with all the go-nowhere Labour leaders over the last few years, he’s altogether too excited about the fact that Andrew Little appears to have made no mistakes yet in the first 48 hours.

Can Andrew Little pull Labour out of the mire in which it is stuck so deeply – and from which it is going to find it immensely difficult to extricate itself?

Little has been in his party’s top job for all of four days and has hardly got his feet under his new desk. Yet anyone who has been watching him since his victory in the party-wide leadership ballot would have found it hard not to conclude that if someone can succeed where his immediate predecessors failed in such spectacular fashion, then Little is that someone.

Why? Gut feeling as much as anything. Because when it comes to leadership of a major political party, you either have the goods or you don’t.

Observing Little’s handling of questions at two press conferences this week, it was apparent he had made the transition from the relative obscurity of Labour’s middle-bench to the harsh spotlight of leadership with absolute ease. He was assured, relaxed and unflappable. He gave straight and simply-worded answers to questions which demanded them.

Little’s hardly been under pressure yet.  Let’s see how he handles parliament.  Let’s see how he handles a scandal among his ranks.  

Little has to modernise the party’s thinking. Labour loves to fight old battles. It needs to identify the future ones – and then position itself ahead of the play so it can squeeze National out – much in the way Key gets in first and ensures National is sitting right where the most voters are.

Little may not have given much away about his plans for revamping the party and its policies. But he has repeatedly made one point of critical importance, which has been largely ignored.

Little insists Labour’s policies must address “New Zealanders’ priorities”. In other words, not what Labour thinks ought to be New Zealanders’ priorities.

He also says those policies must be explained properly and understood by voters – a dig at the previous leadership for failing to clear up confusion about the party’s capital gains tax policy and its intention to raise the age of eligibility for national super to 67.

The talk of “New Zealanders’ priorities” echoes Key’s election campaign chatter about “focusing on the things that matter”.

Is Little flagging a shift of Labour to the political centre? Or will Little try to move the centre leftwards as Clark succeeded in doing, but which Cunliffe tried and failed to do?

Whatever, National will be making a huge mistake if it fails to take Little seriously.

Yeah, let’s talk Little up why don’t we.  The bottom line is that unless he can sort the internal problems out, the fact he is less inept than Cunliffe isn’t going to make much difference to the Labour Party.

But, you know John, like you, I’d like to see someone actually make a fist of it.

Let’s just not get too excited yet.


– NZ Herald

Do you want:

  • Ad-free access?
  • Access to our very popular daily crossword?
  • Access to daily sudoku?
  • Access to Incite Politics magazine articles?
  • Access to podcasts?
  • Access to political polls?

Our subscribers’ financial support is the reason why we have been able to offer our latest service; Audio blogs. 

Click Here  to support us and watch the number of services grow.

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.