Audrey Young suggests that Labour’s treatment of Willie Jackson has become a confidence issue for leader Andrew Little
Rating the start to the political year, Bill English scores 8 out of 10; Andrew Little 2.
Little started higher, after his state of the nation speech, held jointly with the Greens.
He spruced himself up, and delivered a good speech at an event that went off flawlessly as a piece of political theatre to show a sense of cohesion on the centre-left.
But the rebellion over Willie Jackson has damaged Little and Labour in a way that won’t blow over in a week.
Little’s greatest accomplishment as leader – successfully instilling the need for party discipline – counted for nothing, and the chips weren’t even down.
The rebellion has three consequences: after all that hard work, Labour again looks like a party divided, Little looks like a leader who cannot lead his own party – which is all the more damaging when his attack line against English this year is that he is a prime minister but not a leader…
That was always going to be a risk attack line by Little.
Little and his advisers were shocked by the rebellion. They knew some people would be unhappy. But they expected it to be dealt with in private.
It shouldn’t have been a surprise there would be publicly expressed unhappiness, but MP Poto Williams triggering the furore shows that potentially the Labour caucus is a disaster waiting to happen without strong leadership, not the strong-arm leadership Little tried with his promotion of Jackson.
This has rocked confidence in Little’s ability to up his and Labour’s game this year.