Labour seething over Jackson

Andrew Little has been credited with unifying the Labour caucus for a common cause, but his actions and reactions over the recruitment of Willie Jackson seems to be exposing the fragility of that absence of dissent.

Andrea Vance at 1 News: Opinion: Wait. What? How is Poto Williams the one apologising?

The handling of this little skirmish was cloddish. Firstly, Little misled journalists on Thursday by claiming Jackson hadn’t made up his mind and this was all a rumour started by the Maori party.

Behind the scenes, Labour MPs and members were seething with rage – both over the unfair leap-frogging and the casual abandonment of the party’s gender quota. The obfuscation further enraged them.

Right from the beginning, Andrew Little should have brushed off the Williams-Jackson spat. Labour is a broad church, after all. And outside of the Beltway, no one was paying that much attention.

The over-sensitive reaction has blown the story out of all proportion – and into the news bulletins for another day.

But worst of all, Labour is now the party that gagged one of its promising female MPs to spare the pride of a man who victim-shamed a teenager, live on air.

Bryce Edwards has a look at the blow up in detail in Political Roundup: The liberal vs left divide over Willie Jackson. At the core of the problem:

At the heart of the liberal campaign against Jackson are very real concerns about achieving Labour’s constitutionally mandated gender-balanced caucus. The problem is that generally Labour men have safer and more electable seats than women do, hence the party list needs to be heavily weighted with women at the top of the list. This is, according to Vernon Small, “why Little’s recruitment of Jackson with a promise of a winnable slot… has created an unpleasant undercurrent inside the party that goes beyond any personal issues some MPs have with Jackson” – see: Labour’s gender-balanced caucus target is listing distinctly out of kilter.

There could be a substantial cost.

According to the NBR’s Rob Hosking the Labour leadership was naïve in thinking that Jackson could be brought in, given the likely hostility from the more liberal elements:

“To put it another way, he is intensely disliked by Labour women, Rainbow Labour, and the teacher unions. If you take those three groups out, you haven’t got much of a Labour Party left, these days. In what world, exactly, is that a political coup for any Labour leader? It absolutely beggars belief Mr Little did not foresee the intense opposition from these groups within his own party, and/or do something to prepare the ground for Mr Jackson’s proposed elevation above many aspiring candidates – and, let’s be straightforward here – some of those candidates coming from those three groups within Labour”

– see: Parliament opens with PM on rebound and Labour on back foot (paywalled).

Little has a lot of damage to try and repair, and there may be no easy options. It may be all for nothing, Jackson may struggle to get a high enough list placing to get into Parliament anyway, especially after this debacle.


  1. Gezza

     /  February 10, 2017

  2. Kevin

     /  February 10, 2017

    Little should have seen that Jackson wasn’t worth it. Andy is simply not fit of leadership.

  3. “Liberal” and “Progressive” are words that Messrs Little and McCarten have removed themselves from with this quite appalling appointment. Although dissenters in Labour are saying that there’s a process to be upheld as far as selection goes, we’ve seen that the new machine is weighted to favour the Union/trad left faction that the two aforementioned are flagbearers for.

    Labour already has the urban Māori vote, so parachuting a man of the character of WJ, not even a supporter of nor a member of Labour makes no sense to me.

    People in NZ have not forgotten Roast Busters. This is not twitching a ponytail of a cheeky waitress when your wife is present. This is literally about the blatant and openly expressed support of an insidious rape culture. It’s about direct victim blaming. It’s about Jackson’s direct and continued abuse of one girl in particular, his being an apologist for the schools, police and authorities in general who ignored many children’s complaints over a period of years. Jackson’s actions showed he thought this nothing more than normal teen antics. He victim-blamed and taunted the child being interviewed. He exemplified what many saw, and still see, as a deeply ingrained societal misogyny and an inherent disregard of women’s rights in this country. His behaviour speaks to a character that exemplifies the thriving male-centred culture where women and girls are told they should lighten up, get over themselves and let the boys have fun.

    He is a disgrace to himself, his culture and now to the Labour Party. Andrew Little’s unbelievable castigation of Poto Williams, his forcing her to apologise is the supreme act in the “men in charge here girlie” show. It was simply another example of where men dominate mouthy women. Ultimately though, he has been the public face of a party who actions have shown they have a cynical and thoughtless disregard for New Zealanders.

    I believe he should resign.

  4. artcroft

     /  February 10, 2017

    Strange that Vance sees Labour as a board church. That’s not a description often applied to them and Nick Leggat left after differences with Little complaining only National were a broad church party. Vance also believes that MP’s criticising the leader in public is a.o.k. I think I’ll go try that with my boss… No wait! She’s the idiot not me.

    • PDB

       /  February 10, 2017

      A ‘broad church’ of far-left wing groups, not of free thinkers.

      • Gezza

         /  February 10, 2017

        Over half of them are bloody atheists, I shouldn’t wonder. 😡

  5. PDB

     /  February 10, 2017

    Another political ‘master-stroke’ by Matt McCarten………….now back in 2014;

    Brian Rudman: “When David Cunliffe seized the leadership of the Labour Party last September, commentators predicted he would bring “a bit of mongrel” to a lacklustre Opposition. With the surprise appointment of former Alliance president Matt McCarten as his chief of staff, he has done just that”.

    Vernon Small: “But Mr McCarten is one of the most astute strategists around – and is a dab hand at some tactical strokes too”.

    Willie Jackson: “I probably know Matt’s skill as well as anyone he has been a very close friend and political colleague of mine for more than 30 years I was an MP in the Alliance with him when he was the party boss and strategist. While he has a tough guy image I have always found him to be a brilliant strategist and a person who will fight for the underdog”.

    Chris Trotter: “Given Matt McCarten’s brilliance as an organiser, a negotiator and an enforcer, it would have been lunacy on Cunliffe’s part not to appoint him Chief-of-Staff”.


    • Gezza

       /  February 10, 2017

      I really don’t get these descriptions of his prodigious talents either. Going by the results of his claimed apparent strategies he’s a slightly less agile version of Bomber.

      • PDB

         /  February 10, 2017

        I think we have seen a large disconnect with being able to run a union and run a political party – the same is true of Andrew Little who doesn’t seem to have the skills or appeal to be a successful leader in a national sense.

        Though McCarten’s running of the Unite union was always under a cloud: “Unite, one of New Zealand’s largest unions, owed IRD over $130,000 for the year ended March 2009 (its most recent filing), including more than $57,000 in unpaid GST. For the same financial year its liabilities outweighed its assets by more than $170,000.

        Unite head Matt McCarten confirmed yesterday that the union owed money to the IRD but said he had made choices to pay for union campaigns rather than clear the debt. “I don’t shy away from these decisions, I make the calls.”

  6. Zedd

     /  February 10, 2017

    Is it possible, that Jackson is part of a ‘fifth column’ (to try & bring down the party from inside, before 23/9) ??

    • Kevin

       /  February 10, 2017

      It is possible that Little may have bought in Jackson as bait to expose the liberal-left factions in the Labour party and then proceed to destroy those factions .

      Except Little isn’t that smart. And if even if he was he wouldn’t risk doing something so risky when it’s election year.

    • PDB

       /  February 10, 2017

      You’re overthinking it………….Jackson is a great friend of McCarten and Little needs friends as he doesn’t have many Labour MP’s on his side. Remember Little was meant to be the final sacrificial lamb for Key, then Labour could ditch Little post-election and appoint someone else with a much better chance of beating Key’s replacement – Key’s resignation changed all that.

      I’d suggest not many current Labour MP’s want Little to become PM either, the factions Little is fighting internally are the reason he is trying to promote people from outside the existing group.