Andrew Little will probably have been greatly encouraged by the euphoric response to his Labour Conference speech in the weekend. But beyond the party faithful and hopeful, reality has set in with some brutal assessments.
I thought Little’s speech showed some hope and promise. It contrasted with his unimpressive interviews in The Nation and Q & A. But one speech does not a leader make.
It was an important speech for the party. but going by media reaction it will have done little to lift Little’s credibility as a potential Prime Minister, or lift Labour’s credibility as a Government in waiting.
Audrey Young gave a positive report in Little smashed it – literally.
Andrew Little smashed it.
He has two years to win over the public before the next election.
His speech to the Labour conference this year needed to win over the members, who afterall, did not support him in the leadership contest a year ago.
Job done, as they say.
It was one of the best speeches by a Labour leader in recent years, in both content, delivery and production.
It succeeded in showing a fuller picture of Andrew Little the person and give a clearer idea of what sort of Prime Minister he would be.
Andrea Vance had a mixed report in Dreams are free – but the electorate knows ambitious policies aren’t:
Little’s first duty was to announce the grounds on which Labour will oppose the TPP.
The deal is a touch-paper for the left and Little is walking a tightrope between the pro-free trade and the anti-corporate elements in his party.
His position is confused – and he’s probably going to spend the next week defending it.
And the reality:
The past year clearly hasn’t been wasted. Little’s team have been learning from past mistakes. But one factor remains a constant – for Labour to win they must persuade the electorate they won’t be profligate.
Little’s asking for patience over spending plans and won’t say if he’ll raise taxes. Dreams are free – but the electorate knows ambitious policies aren’t.
That’s a future challenge for Little. Labour’s conference talked about health, education and jobs, jobs, jobs, to be created by a Labour Government. It’s easy to take spending, spending, spending out of that with little sign of hiow that will be paid for.
But Little’s Sunday euphoria has been crashed to reality in today’s Dominion editorial – Andrew Little is not the man to lead Labour out of the wilderness.
Little had moved long before last weekend’s annual party conference to kill off the remnants of the Leftish policy Labour touted last year.
Little now stands on a bare platform with no significant policy. The fact that nobody much cared when he threw out the old policies might be taken as a sign of a newly unified Labour Party. Or it might be a sign that Labour is a corpse. It doesn’t have the strength to fight or even to disagree with itself. So the attempt to hide everything behind closed doors wasn’t even needed.
Having no policy to sell, Little tried to sell himself. His “impassioned” speech was in fact awkward and unconvincing.
Bellowing about the Kiwi dream and promising “Jobs. Jobs. Jobs” is empty posturing and oddly out of kilter with the national mood. So is the pledge to “turn the page” on the last seven years.
We’ve yet to see whether the country (or polls refeklecting the mood of the country) sees it like this – or even say anything of Little’s speech.
Little will claim that it’s too early in the electoral cycle for policy details, and he’s right. But it’s never too early to create a buzz or the impression that the old party is coming back to life.
Labour can’t even take the step of injecting new blood into its leadership with the fresh face of Jacinda Ardern.
Her qualities are modest, but she is a sign of life. Labour has few other such signs.
‘Same old’ Labour without any policies is going to be a hard perception top turn around.
Neither as a union politician nor as a parliamentarian has Little been a bold or lively reformer. He has little charisma and a lack of new ideas.
It’s hard to believe he will lead Labour out of the wilderness.
But it’s a dose of reality. Little should get some confidence from the party reception of his speech but he needs to appear strong and positive regularly, without the double speak he has resorted to over the flag change and the TPPA.
The Otago Daily Times editorial today is also on Little and Labour – Little needs voter momentum.
By all accounts, Labour Party leader Andrew Little made a strong showing at the party’s annual conference held in Palmerston North at the weekend.
Snippets of his speech shown on television news reports, and comment pieces published in this newspaper, indicated Mr Little has managed to crack through the veneer surrounding him since his narrow election as leader.
Reading through the speech at leisure, there are hints of a man with deeper thoughts than previously indicated.
Mr Little gives a sense of direction, something lacking in Labour since the defeat of the Helen Clark-led government which brought in former financial trader John Key as prime minister.
National have managed to win three elections with sparse policy platforms, but they have had John Key who was immediately popular when he took over leadershiop of National and he remains popular.
Labour have lost three elections and turned over four leaders. They have been busy u-turning on a number of policies so now have very little.
Mr Little is seen as humourless, dour and part of the fun police of the Labour Party while Mr Key is shown schmoozing with All Blacks, royalty and crowds of his supporters.
What Mr Little needs to do now is get out into the electorates in which Labour lost the party vote and start securing voter support.
It will not be an easy task.
Many voters have been turned off by Labour’s list of recent leadership changes and a lack of change in MPs.
Even now, there is an ongoing back-of-the-mind thought Mr Little will not lead Labour into the next election.
What is disappointing is Labour feeling the need to hold all but a few high-profile speeches at its conference behind closed doors.
It will not be easy for Mr Little to convince even the party faithful in places such as Dunedin he is the one to take Labour back into power.
He languishes in the polls, gaining little traction with voters.
And, despite a front bench reshuffle, Labour MPs are still seen as too far out of touch with real New Zealand.
Little has failed to excite the polls.
National-lite with a charisma deficit and limited and aged line-up is going to be a hard sell, especially when Labour are also going to need Greens and probably NZ First.
Little lifted his game in his conference speech. But he will need to lift his and Labour’s game consistently and substantially to build on that.