Annette King has reacted staunchly to media speculation that Jacinda Ardern may (some say should) replace her as deputy leader.
Claire Trevett @ZH: Annette King lashes out at ‘ageist’ idea of stepping to one side
Ardern’s win in Mt Albert prompted fresh speculation Little should replace his steady pacemaker King with the crowd-pleasing sprinter Ardern as deputy for the home straight to the election.
There is sense in that.
I don’t see the sense to that. Ardern can try to please the crowd without being deputy. Having a strong deputy who can keep the Labour caucus under control is important, and King is far bettter qualified to do that.
But King can not see it. King’s response was a quite astonishing and vociferous defence of her turf.
I’m not astonished. I’m astonished that media and pundits think they can organise deputy leadership changes.
She claimed the talk around Ardern was ageist. She even went a little bit Trump, accusing media of having a vendetta against her.
I don’t think it is a vendetta against King. It is the media thinking that they are political players rather than reporters.
Speaking to the Herald she questioned what Ardern could offer that she did not, other than relative youth.
When it was suggested Ardern’s Auckland base was one, King replied “does it really matter these days?” and said she could travel the country as a list-only candidate.
Ardern’s Auckland base, her ability to communicate well from children to Auckland business leaders, her popularity and her deft touch with ‘soft’ media make her an asset Little could better utilise by having her as his deputy.
It is an asset he cannot afford to ignore.
Little can use his Ardern ‘asset’ in better ways than tying her down as deputy. She has just taken on substantial added responsibility as a new electorate MP in Auckland, giving her much greater responsibilities in Wellington at the same time makes no sense.
King’s value to Little is indisputable but largely for internal reasons – she is in Wellington to run the ship while he travels the country and can control caucus with one pinky finger.
That sounds like a job description for a deputy.
The trouble is he cannot risk replacing her now King has publicly stated her wish to remain in the job.
Little could take the risk of upsetting the likes of MP Poto Williams and Maryan Street over his decision to recruit Willie Jackson to Labour, but he can not afford to get offside with King.
King has great loyalty in Labour and Little will not be able to replace her unless she recognises it is a necessary idea herself.
He somehow has to make it seem like it was her idea all along.
It’s fairly obviously not King’s idea at all.
Some of the media are trying to manipulate Labour Party leadership. This is way outside their job description.
Little and King call the shots when it comes to deputy leadership of Labour.
Trevett and others in the media are dirty rascals trying to intervene and influence what is a party matter.