Andrew Little – a good guy who failed

Many people have said that Andrew Little was a good guy, a decent bloke. That’s how i saw him. But he failed as Labour leader.

He failed to inspire the people of New Zealand. Part of the reason for this is he failed to inspire the media, who play a big role in the rise or fall or politicians.

But, while he seemed to manage to unite the Labour caucus and stop their feuding, he failed to inspire them too. It wasn’t just Little who was limping into the election campaign, the Labour MPs were limp in support, going through the motions at best.

I think it is significant that Labour’s Maori MPs decided to virtually go it alone, to not stand on the party list and to virtually run a separate Maori campaign.

It is impossible to know how well or how poorly a new leader will do. There is no way of knowing until they step up and try.

Helen Clark ended up being a very good Prime Minister for nine years, but it took her a long time to get there. She first became an MP in 1981. She was Labour’s deputy leader from 1990 to 1993, then took over the Labour leadership just after they lost the election in 1993. She led Labour to a loss in 1996 and it wasn’t until 1999 that she became Prime Minister. She had to work very hard and turn around abysmal approval ratings.

John Key’s rise was quicker, but it still took six years for him to rise to the top of the National Party, and another three to become Prime Minister.

Both Clark and Key campaigned and won electorates.

Little became Labour leader just over three years after becoming an MP so he rose to the top quickly. But he had failed to win two electorate contests. He only just made it back into Parliament on the list in 2014.

And he only just scraped in as Labour’s fourth leader since Clark bowed out – he had scant support from the Labour caucus, but member’s votes and the support of the 20% vote of the unions just got him past Grant Robertson.

As leader he simply failed to fire, failed to inspire. It was obvious he was struggling a year ago.

To try to bolster his and Labour’s chances he started to campaign in tandem with Jacinda Ardern after she was promoted to deputy earlier this year. That further highlighted his inability to interest audiences, and the media, and the people.

He meant well, he was by most accounts a decent bloke, but wasn’t up to it. Three bad polls and his poor handling of the publicity around them meant he was rolled in just two days.

Many say that it wasn’t just his fault. Labour have struggled in the 9 years since Clark left a huge vacuum. Labour’s party vote has decreased in every election this century.

Labour’s MPs have largely looked like seat warmers, career politicians unwilling to step up. That Little won the leadership in 2014, after failures by Phil Goff, David Shearer and David Cunliffe, shows the lack of talent available.

Little did worse than Labour’s previous three failed leaders, but so do the Labour Party and the Labour MPs. It was a joint failure. But as the leader Little took responsibility and stepped down.

What now for Little? He is likely to be shattered and may or may not want to continue as an MP. Whether he gets the chance is largely out of his hands, being a list candidate only he is relying on Jacinda Ardern turning around Labour’s slide in the polls.

Leave a comment

21 Comments

  1. I don’t think Andrew was a nice guy. He made nasty comments about people who hadn’t attacked him, then wouldn’t back down. It wasn’t just as a leader that he failed to fire. He managed to turn a Labour electorate seat into a National stronghold, which is some achievement. He didn’t inspire anyone as an MP either. The fact that basically none of the dead wood and has-beens that comprise Labour’s MPs nowadays didn’t support him says volumes.

    Reply
  2. Gezza

     /  August 2, 2017

    Andrew should just go & do something else & forget about a political career. He will never be allowed to forget leading the Labour Party to this debacle – THIS desperately sad, bad choice of a female child to lead them to disaster.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  August 2, 2017

      The media only has to protect her for two months. Can they do it?

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  August 2, 2017

        Nah it’s hopeless ! Even THEY can’t pull this off !

        If they show her on the teev, its either gonna be ‘here I am pretending to be tuff, or angry’ or it’s gonna be al, happy happy joy joy all together now we all live in a yellow submarine Al.

        They’re doomed!

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  August 2, 2017

          On the other hand, 24% were still prepared to vote for Andy, G. Can she make those grumpies happy?

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  August 2, 2017

            Probably! They’d obviously have voted for a cucumber sandwich if it was elected leader.

            Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  August 2, 2017

            We need to ask Lurch. Can she make him put flowers in his hair and dance around his bird bath?

            Reply
        • Blazer

           /  August 2, 2017

          Nice of you to give her a chance. Enjoying wagging your tail. ..running with the . ..pack. ..eh.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  August 2, 2017

            Just watching the asylum from above, B.

            Reply
          • Gezza

             /  August 2, 2017

            Blazer, I don’t think she’s up to this job.

            This party is a shambles. It’s been through four bloody leaders since Helen Clark. Every one of them since Shearer has been touted as a game changer. They even had some grunt in their backgrounds before Parliament. Every one has had NFI.

            Now they’ve picked someone to lead who has nothing. Zip. Nada. Who wants to be there for the children or something. I am sorry to tell you even if they bounce in the polls & score a few more seats than they would’ve under Little, it is my considered opinion that this overgrown college girl has no show whatsoever of rescuing this party. She is a cheerleader at best.

            I may be wrong, but I very much doubt it.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  August 2, 2017

              I notice Key made the transformation from forex gambler to P. M quite easily and believe she has more than superficial. .appeal.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  August 2, 2017

              We are all waiting for her to get her teeth into it, B.

            • Gezza

               /  August 2, 2017

              @ Blazer. Then that is fine! Vote for her Party.
              I simply happen to think you’re completely wrong.

  3. Ray

     /  August 2, 2017

    Little is a union apparatchik and that is all we saw, I am told he is a pleasant and decent man one on one but till he made his resignation speech he kept that side of his persona well hidden.
    The blame for the poor results have been heaped on him but it was interesting that the caucus that crowded behind Miss Ardern have been missing in action for the last three years, they are going to have lift their game if they want to win.

    Reply
  4. David

     /  August 2, 2017

    “Many people have said that Andrew Little was a good guy, a decent bloke”

    This is just a default statement about a non-entity.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  August 2, 2017

      Oops – sorry see comment about the captain below.

      Reply
    • duperez

       /  August 2, 2017

      We want leaders whose main attribute is ‘character.’ Cue Donald Trump.

      Reply
  5. Gezza

     /  August 2, 2017

    Yip they said the same thing about Captain Mumblefuck Shearer!

    Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  August 2, 2017

      I liked Shearer – he came across as a very genuine bloke and had some good ideas. He also wasn’t beholden to rape-culture, PC bullshit, metrosexual rainbow diversity or needless pandering. In other words he never remotely looked sorry to be a man or felt the need to shout “cut the crap”. And if he did we wouldn’t have understood him anyway…
      He did have some issues with the mumbling but I thought he was getting better there.
      His main issue was being completely kneecapped from within by the vicious Labour infighting and Game of Thrones-esque power struggles over their ever diminishing empire.
      The fact that Jacinda, whatever her long term promise may be, could take leadership now simply shows how far they have fallen.
      In hindsight talk of Shearer seems to hark back to a long forgotten golden era of polling in the mid-30’s!

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  August 2, 2017

        That’s very faint praise. ..Duckman.

        Reply
        • High Flying Duck

           /  August 2, 2017

          With Key gone, if Shearer had managed to take the party on his policy direction I would have strongly considered voting for him. With the current policy direction and every leader since…not a chance.

          Reply

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