Labour leadership contest – Andrew Little

(nominated by Poto Williams and Iain Lees-Galloway)

Q & A Summary – Andrew Little at The Standard

From campaign website:

I’m Andrew Little and I want to be the next leader of the New Zealand Labour Party.

Our party – and our movement – needs to rebuild after the 2014 general election.

I’ve got the experience, the skills, and the will to get Labour fighting fit for 2017. But I need your support.

You can follow my campaign on Facebook or Twitter; make a donationto help me and my team get our message out to the Party and the whole of New Zealand; or put your hand up to help directly.

Over the next few days my team will be uploading resources you can use to show your support online.

Supported by:

  • Geoff (The Standard): Why I’m voting for Andrew Little
    Little’s a bit of a dark horse, but if he gets Labour into the fighting fit state he got the EPMU into, and I think he will, then he’s exactly what we need.
  • Union backs Andrew Little for Labour leadership
    EPMU National Secretary Bill Newson confirmed the National Executive unanimously endorsed Little as a candidate and would recommend that conference delegates give him first preference on their ballot.

Mahuta adds colour to gaggle of greys

It’s unclear whether Nanaia Mahuta is seriously gunning for Labour’s top position but her inclusion in the leadership contest has certainly added colour amongst a gaggle of greys.

Her initial intent through her last minute announcement seems to be promote interests that weren’t well represented by Grant Robertson, Andrew Little or David Parker, as NZ Herald reports in Mahuta cites Maori vote in leadership bid.

“This decision has been made with the knowledge that as the party reviews the election outcome, we can learn from the base of support that was demonstrated across Maori electorates, in South Auckland and among Pacific and ethnic communities.”

Her late and surprise inclusion makes it too soon to tell whether Mahuta’s aim is to fill a gap in the debate or more.

It’s quite possible she is primarily positioning herself for a prominent secondary role such as deputy leader – she must be considered a good candidate for that at least.

Regardless of her current intent she must harbour some leadership ambition joining the contest may stir up her own ambitions and those of her supporters.

I don’t think she should be underestimated. Two weeks ago Andrew Little was widely regarded as a long shot at best, but he quickly shot up to a favoured candidate status.

Mahuta may struggle with the affiliate 20% but the caucus 40% is likely to be spread for various reasons, and so is the members 40%.

A lot will depend on how she measures up in the spotlight as she is an unknown quantity to many. If she comes across as astute, eloquent, sensible and honest she could rise quickly in the ratings.

Yesterday she depended too much on poliwaffle, that is only liked by those that agree with what she is saying. She will need to sound like she’s speaking her own words, not overused phrases.

And most importantly she will need to sound and look like she can bring a caucus gaggle of greys into line behind her.

Labour’s leadership is up for grabs. All contestants are untried at party leadership level. Whoever shapes up may win on merit and hope.

Perhaps Mahuta can rise above the others – if she aspires to that level of leadership and can step up.

Cunliffe’s belated withdrawal

David Cunliffe has belatedly withdrawn from Labour’s leadership contest, over three weeks after a demoralising election defeat. This enables a more forward focussed contest and probably saves Cunliffe from significant embarrassment.

Choosing to endorse Andrew Little’s bid to lead Labour looks like a parting shot at Grant Robertson and ensures Cunliffe won’t be an unbiased bystander.

It has been reported that Cunliffe made the decision to withdraw last week so it’s curious why he waited until yesterday to make his announcement. He made himself off limits to media over the weekend due to “a family illness” – again showing his unsuitability to lead the party let alone the country.

He has been hiding away for most of the three weeks since the election with various reasons being given. It looks like bereavement leave. Most people who have career setbacks don’t have this sort of luxury, they have to continue earning their wage or resign.

Electorate associate and some time lawyer Greg Presland posted Some thoughts on David Cunliffe’s withdrawal:

And to David Cunliffe can I suggest a short holiday to get yourself ready for the next three years.

After spending a week after the election “soul searching” Cunliffe took a few days off “for a long planned holiday” and seems to have been largely out of circulation for two weeks since. Another holiday now? He has to get over it.

It’s often been said that if you fall off a horse you should get straight back and ride again. Cunliffe is no jockey.

Presland also made an interesting comment in his Standard post:

And you only need to read the overwhelming majority of comments on this blog to see what progressives think about him.

I think he is wrong claiming an “overwhelming majority of comments” supportive of Cunliffe, there have been very mixed feelings expressed. What Presland may be expressing is his own perspective as and integral part of the Standard machine and that those most involved in the running of The Standard have been overwhelming supportive of Cunliffe. That’s been evident going way back to how they tried to drive the so-called Cunliffe coup attempt.

There was a sign of a significant Standard shift in the weekend when they promoted and ran a Q & A for Andrew Little, who happens to now be endorsed by Cunliffe. The Q & A seemed oddly timed, until things became clear yesterday. Presland seems to be in synch with Cunliffe:

And who should the new leader be?  Someone who oversees rejuvenation in the party and ensures that caucus discipline is maintained.  And who is true to the principles of the party.  And who has the support of a majority of members.  Cunliffe has endorsed Andrew Little whose prospects now must be very good.  Andrew has been careful to hold himself apart from the factions and is someone who clearly will work to unite the party and I cannot emphasise how critical this is.

If Little fails to win the leadership what then from Cunliffe and The Standard?

(And while ‘The Standard’ appears to have swung from Cunliffe to Little it’s clear amongst the comments that Little isn’t a universally or anywhere overwhelmingly supported leadership candidate).

If Cunliffe finally finishes licking his wounds he could play a significant part in rebuilding Labour, if he visibly supports and works with the new leader and the revamped caucus.

There will be keen watchers amongst the media and opponents looking for any signs of dissent or disloyalty in Labour ranks, especially from Cunliffe, and if any is perceived it will be highlighted and amplified.

This could depend on what responsibilities Cunliffe is given by the new leader. He is potentially one of Labour’s most potent MPs but his attitude and application have to measure up. His endorsement of Little has a hint of utu.

He – and a number of other Labour MPS – have to put animosities behind them and work for the good of the Labour Party, and earn the generous wages and benefits bestowed on them by the taxpayers.

They have to do more than earn that. Unlike their wages credibility and respect aren’t  provided in their job packages and they will have to work very hard to build them back to the required level for elected representatives.

Unfortunately this will probably mostly be on hold while the Labour leadership is decided.

It may be six months into Labour’s third term in opposition before we finally start to see if Cunliffe has gotten over his double loss plus the dashing of a burning ambition to be Prime Minister, and before we see if Labour is on the mend with the combined efforts of all it’s diminishing group of MPs.

Presland said of Cunliffe’s decision:

Clearly he is prepared to put party interests ahead of his own.

That hasn’t been clear at all in the past and especially over the last three and a half weeks.

Labour desperately needs all it’s MPs to put party interests ahead of their own – including and especially all it’s ex-leaders who now include Phil Goff, David Shearer and David Cunliffe (and possibly David Parker will be added to that list).

Cunliffe has belatedly withdrawn from Labour’s leadership.

Can Labour very belatedly begin their repair and rebuild after their defeat in 2008? It will be 2015 before their next leader can crank up their caucus and begin to seriously try.

Andrew Little adds value to leadership contest

Andrew Little announced yesterday that he would join Labour’s leadership contest. No matter what his chances of success are this is a welcome injection into a potentially acrimonious battle between Grant Robertson and David Cunliffe.

Little comes across as thoughtful and informed, with clear ideas on what is necessary to start to turn around Labour’s six year disaster.

Focussing more on what needs to be addressed rather than competing personal ambitions will help diffuse the acrimony between Labour leadership factions as Little is more neutral.

Who is chosen as leader is up to the Labour caucus, affiliates and party members.

Despite a premature call of an easy Little victory by political scientist/media junky Bryce Edwards (even before Little confirmed he would contest the leadership) it’s far too soon to call.

There may yet be more contenders, and it’s obviously unknown how Little will shape up against the others.

But Little’s inclusion adds value to the contest. Labour needs to do something different to turn around it’s fortunes so they need different candidates to consider.

There is plenty of media coverage:

Claire Trevett: Little banking on a clean break and Andrew Little could be Labour’s first List leader

Isaac Davison: Who is Andrew Little? Union chief, lawyer and Gangnam Style dancer
– little is someone different, that’s something Labour needs to consider.

Vernon Small and Tracey Watkins: Little to ditch unpopular policies

Vernon Small: Andrew Little signals change

Tracey Watkins: Wild card could trump favourites

A Little chance of bridging the divides

One of Labour’s biggest problems is disunity, and in particular a growing gap between the activist/union leaning left of the party versus the centre-left. At times it looks like a gulf, especially tight now.

David Cunliffe tried to shift to the left and he partly succeeded, he got majority union (affiliate) support in last year’s leadership contest and he still has the support of the labour left leaning Standard blog. But Cunliffe also tried to lean back to the centre at times and with his authenticity problems, the dire election result and his poor handling of the aftermath he is going to have trouble getting the leadership back.

The other confirmed contender Grant Robertson may be able to work across the divide in caucus but there’s substantial doubt he could do it across the party. He doesn’t seem popular in Auckland, and he would have to win over the union left and that would be very difficult. The left of the party are far more entrenched in their views than the more impressionable centre.

Labour’s best chance of bridging the divide is someone who already has some union support but who is able to reach across to the center.

Andrew Little is an obvious option here. He has a union background but seems pragmatic and conciliatory enough to connect with employers and with Labour’s centre left and just as importantly, the swing voters in the centre that Labour has to win win back if they want to regain major party status.

On bridging the divide Little said yesterday:

I think the issue is crucial which is why my main contribution to Labour’s IR policy this year was to back off major change to the present framework pending an audit of the labour market. We need to get a decent picture of how people are engaged for work and exactly what is happening work wise before we think about how we might improve job security and lift wages more fairly. It means engaging with employers too since they have more influence over more workers than ever before.

He says he wouldn’t have delayed the scrapping of the 90 day trial law “because it would have been accompanied by clarification of probationary law” but would have “wanted a more moderate pace on minimum wage increase”.

Stuff reports that Andrew Little considers Labour leadership bid.

Little faced the prospect of losing his place as an MP as Parliament waited for special votes to be counted.

Shortly after the result was confirmed, Little said that he would now mull whether to throw his hat in the ring.

“It’s not something I’ve considered, because  I’ve been waiting to see whether I would be confirmed in Parliament, it’s something that I may well now consider, but I will also be considering how realistic my prospects are, and that’s where it’s at,” Little said.

Little has little to lose by joining the leadership contest, and potentially a lot to gain. He is only an outside chance but if he can promote himself as union sympathetic but pragmatic and conciliatory towards the centre he would improve his credentials in the desperately needed Labour rebuild.

And there’s a small chance the leadership contest could swing his way as an alternative to the failed Cunliffe and a potentially to unpalatable Grant Robertson.

Little is one Labour MP who looks like he has learnt from initial mistakes and has grown into his job as an MP.

Labour would also benefit if Little joined the contest. His presence would diffuse the tension that’s obvious between Cunliffe and Robertson. He could highlight the need to join the factions in a common purpose.

There seems little downside as long as Little is prepared to expose himself to a higher level of scrutiny and inevitable attack.

Another prospect for bridging the divide is Louisa Wall. She would would add an up and coming Maori presence and reward South Auckland support for Labour, she has a good tertiary qualifications plus a high profile sporting background, and she proved her political worth working successfully cross party to be a driving force behind the passing of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill last year.
Both Little and Wall are relative rookies in politics but Labour desperately needs new blood to rebuild – with strong support from the old hands.

David Parker is one of Labour’s best bets for a steadying hand at deputy level and with Little as leader and Wall high on the bench pecking order Labour might finally start to look like a party intent on putting failures and animosities behind them with the  capability to build a party that can seriously contest the next two elections.

Two of the worst outcomes of Labour’s leadership contest:

  • Cunliffe to get back in despite a major loss of confidence from the Labour caucus and the electorate.
  • Robertson to win and appear to favour cronies over rebuild capability.

If Robertson wins the leadership contest then Parker, Little and Wall should be a prominent part of his rebuild plans.

If someone like Little sneaks through and he gets the caucus support that should be a given then Labour will lack in experience but will gain substantially in future prospects.

If Labour comes out of the leadership contest with their divides entrenched they may struggle to survive as a major party.

Whoever can step up and look most capable of bridging Labour’s divides will be their best chance of recovery.

Labour really needs to look like a virtually new party that can bridge it’s own divides, widen it’s appeal from the union and activist left across to the centre, and then they might get into a position where they can pose a serious threat to National – and present a credible next government to the voters.

Labour accuse Government of interference in prosecutions

Labour list MP Andrew Little has accused the Government of pressuring the police to reduce the number of prosecutions. This has been strong denied by the police and Government. Stuff reports Pressure to lower stats – MP:

Police were under government orders to “minimise” the number of domestic violence charges they lay to make crime statistics look good, Labour MP Andrew Little claimed yesterday.

But the claim has been strongly denied by both police bosses and the Government.

Family violence figures released yesterday by the University of Auckland’s Family Violence Clearinghouse show police charges for domestic violence offences dropped by up to 29 per cent from 2009/10 to last year.

And for the same period, the number of offences recorded by police fell by nearly 10,000.

But the number of investigations into family violence grew from 86,800 in 2010 to 95,100 incidents last year.

Little, a list MP and New Plymouth’s Labour Party candidate, said he believed the drop in family violence charges was due to the Government putting direct pressure on police to lower the crime statistics.

“What I have been told authoritatively is that front line police have been told to minimise the number of charges they lay.

“That is not just family violence but across the board. I’m told it’s not just domestic violence, it’s all forms of offending.

“I think that a combination of that and using police safety orders is what is showing up in the reduced number of charges in relation to domestic violence,” Little said.

Little has said similar in a media release:

Police are being instructed to charge fewer people in order to meet National’s crime reduction targets, Labour says.

“Front line police and others in the criminal justice system are telling us police have had pressure put on by senior officers to reduce the number of charges they lay to meet the Government’s targets,” Justice spokesperson Andrew Little says.

On Firstline this morning David Cunliffe support these claims. He said that no evidence was available to support the claims but that they had been told of the issue.

Cunliffe said he had no “solid proof” but it had been heard on the street.

Government says the claims are unfounded and outrageous.

Some scepticism is justified, especially leading into an election campaign.

This is a serious accusation. Labour should back up their claims with evidence or they risk being seen as indulging in ‘cry wolf’ politics.

In a speech in the weekend David Cunliffe promised a clean campaign with no smear politics.

That’s what I believe in.

That’s what Labour believes in.

That’s what we’re all fighting for.

And that’s why on September 20 we will win.

This election campaign should not be about dirty tricks or dodgy deals; smear campaigns or a personality cult.

We’re going to run a positive campaign because people matter most.

It’s not long ago Labour were complaining bitterly (with some justification) about a lack of evidence in claims about Donghua Liu donations. They were saying it was a smear campaign.

There’s still a need for the Opposition to hold Government to account, but unless they can provide a solid case that Government have been interfering in prosecutions this may look like a dodgy dirty smear attempt.

Labour will not negotiate on Dotcom’s extradition

Labour’s Justice spokesperson Andrew Little has stated that Labour Kim Dotcom’s extradition “will not be part of any negotiations on Labour’s part”.

Questions about the political  motives of Dotcom have and been and will keep being raised - see Internet Party faces questions on extradition.

I asked Andrew Little whether Labour would negotiate on the extradition and he has responded:

The Labour Party doesn’t have any position or policy on the extradition proceedings concerning Kim Dotcom.

It would be premature and constitutionally improper for any political party to express a view on how a ministerial discretion might be exercised in this regard before the courts have determined eligibility as to do so may give the appearance of trying to influence the court contrary to the principle of independence of the judiciary.

If the court decides Mr Dotcom is eligible for extradition then the incumbent Minister of Justice must exercise a statutory discretion under the Extradition Act 1999 and the exercise of that discretion must conform to the longstanding requirements for ministerial discretion which include that it must take into account relevant considerations and discount irrelevant considerations and otherwise be rational.

I do not think that the political requirements of assembling a new government constitute a relevant consideration in determining whether a person should be extradited.

Mr Dotcom’s extradition, regardless of the status of the court proceedings at the time, will not be part of any negotiations on Labour’s part.

That’s a clear no to the extradition being a part of negotiations.

Generally in politics stated positions are up for negotiation and compromise, it’s an essential part of working with other parties.

But when legal processes are involved the current laws and sound practices must be paramount.

Little, Kiwiblog on fascism

Andrew Little’s ““We’ve just heard the voice of the fascist National Party,”  comment has been reported and also posted about on Kiwiblog – Someone teach Mr Little what fascism really is.

Some comments were directed at Peter Dunne for voting against the bill – they were typical uninformed bashing. And they asked me why he voted against, so I’ve responded.

Andrew Little made a dickish comment. I think it reinforces an impression he is not future leadership material, but when you look at Cunliffe’s vapid and vitriolic style of criticism it can’t be ruled out in the current Labour party.

To the dopey Dunne bashers, I have no idea why he voted against it, but I can guess.

The defeat was not unexpected as a number of National ministers and employer groups have expressed disquiet about the bill being a step too far.

So his vote seems sensible to me. Coincidentally he may have done National a favour.

Moanolo’s cut and paste ” the perennial whore Dunne repositioning himself” is clearly wrong, especially when you look at what else was voted on and how he voted – Members’ Bills Shot Down.

Dunne also voted against Winston Peters’ Reserve Bank Amendment Bill presumably because it’s a dumb bill.

And he indicated (in the news) he will vote against Harawira’s Breakfast and Lunch Programmes in Schools Bill because he thinks it is “fundamentally flawed for a number of reason” and he thinks the current Government approach is cheaper and “a far more comprehensive and feasible approach”.

Perpetual Dunne bashers don’t bother to find out for themselves, they ask me to do it for them. It’s not difficult if you want actual facts to back your comments with. On the other hand facts prove them to be nothing more than pissy dissers so that probably explains it.

A hilarious response on Kiwiblog from ‘big bruv':

Jesus wept!….”dopey Dunne bashers”?………..And you wonder you cop so much abuse on this blog.

Your arrogance is outstanding, matched only by Redbaiters. What on earth gives you the idea that the 99.02% of people in NZ are wrong about the political whore Dunne and you are right?

Dunne is in it for himself, always has been. What you and the other 0.08 of idiots who support him forget is that Dunne is only there because the Nat’s let him, Dunne has no right to vote against the government, none at all.

big bruv illustrates what I said – why let facts or the actual topic get in the way of a raving redbaiteresque rant.

Practising the Kiwiblog motto is easy. DPF should start direct marketing Kiwiblog Screen Wipes.

Dunne has no right to vote against the government, none at all.

Hilarious. If he votes with National he’s called a poodle, if he votes against he’s a traitor. And if he didn’t vote he’d be abused for sitting on the fence.

And here if I say something about him I’m abused. And if I don’t say anything about him I’m abused (as per the Little thread yesterday and many others).

And you wonder you cop so much abuse on this blog.

Ah, no I don’t wonder. You just have to look at those who do the abusing. Them without mirrors.

Dunne got enough votes in Ohariu to have a right to vote however he sees fit in Parliament. Unlike a few SpitLittles on Kiwiblog – the perpetually impotent.

Andrew Little rules himself out

Andrew Little has wisely ruled himself out of contention for Labour’s leadership.

Little rules himself out of Labour leadership

Andrew Little says he has decided against contesting the Labour Party leadership.

Mr Little is in his first term as an MP and says he was always an outside chance.

“We need a leader who can immediately make an impact,” he says. “I expect there will be at least two contenders, both of whom have more experience than me and who will be able to achieve that.”

I think Little is being realistic and smart here.

First by saying he would consider standing thereby putting his name in the discussions and increasing his profile as a possible leader.

And second by acknowledging his lack of time in Parliament rules him out of contention – at this stage.

He and others may get a crack it after the next election if Labour fail to succeed in leading the next government.

Who should lead Labour?

Labour don’t have an abundance of riches in the leadership department. The main contenders as they have indicated today are:

Shane Jones

Strutted for the cameras at Shearer’s media conference today, but his recidivist underperforming, speaking with a paramu in his mouth, his lack of support in the party and his lack of obvious appeal to the wider public rule him out for me.

Andrew Little

Little has not been an MP for two years yet. Labour can’t risk another rookie, and shouldn’t risk Little anyway, his ambitions seem to be racing ahead of his credentials and ability.

They’d be nuts to choose Jones or Little.

Grant Robertson

Seems to have seen himself as not ready yet, hence he has been happy to prop up Shearer and bide his time. A Wellington party insider who would struggle to be accepted by the all important Auckland vote.

David Cunliffe

Apparently quite a few caucus colleagues don’t like him, but I don’t know if that’s personal dislike, jealousy, protection of their places or everything. But the dire position the party is in needs to take precedence. Labour needs the strongest leader possible, the person most capable of footing it toe to toe with opponents, and with political smarts – the latter is a question mark, he hasn’t made it to leader yet and he seems to have burnt a few bridges, but Cunliffe is the only strong option so must be the first choice.

I don’t see anyone else close to being worth of consideration.

It’s essential for Labour (and it would help the strength of Parliament too) that they put past animosities and personal ambitions aside and work together, something they haven’t done since Clark and Cullen were in control.

And who for deputy?

One option is to put a defeated leadership candidate at deputy to go for as strong a team as possible, but I have a problem with that. Leaving Robertson as deputy may seem logical but he has failed alongside Shearer and is tainted by being part of the same old.

Jones and Little don’t do it for me either, and would alongside Cunliffe it would look too much like a blokes club.

I think they should go for Jacinda Ardern.

Sure, she doesn’t look ready yet. But the party isn’t ready yet either, they desperately need to look like they are rebuilding. And they need to look more diverse than bloke 1 and bloke 2. It gives time Ardern to learn about rising to another level and proving herself.

Most of the voting public don’t know who deputies are, so if she doesn’t shape up it’s no big deal to flick over deputy in a reshuffle.

The biggest downside with Ardern is that she’s unlikely to stand up to the long established factions and boofs in caucus. But the caucus collectively has a responsibility to deal with the toxic morass that has got them into this situation.

Shearer hasn’t stepped up, but he has also been badly let down by his caucus. If they don’t put their own wee empires and egos aside and work for the good of the party, rallying behind the leadership, then Labour are stuffed for next year’s election. And that may be terminal.

Cunliffe + Ardern would look a very different Labour. That’s the first essential.

The second essential is for all 34 MPs to work together. That will be a lot harder to achieve than a strong balanced leadership.

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