There has been unrestrained glee from Andrew Little and the Labour camp at the resignation of John Key, but they need to be careful.
Labour have long seen Key as the thing stopping them from having their turn in Government again. They have persisted in trying to batter Brand key, without much success.
Labour came away from last weekend’s Mt Roskill successful by-election with confidence, and Key leaving looks like the icing on their general election campaign cake.
But they should be wary of becoming overconfident and thinking that they can now cruise to ‘their turn’ in Government.
A change of Prime Minister doesn’t fix Labour’s problems.
Little has shown glimpses of confidence and less impersonal parrot approach over the last week but he has a way to go to look like a possible Prime Minister.
Labour ranks still don’t look strong. Their most prominent MP over the past year, Phil Twyford, has raised a few eyebrows over his behaviour. He publicly attacked journalists (who aren’t likely to return the favour with favourable coverage) and has done some odd things on Twitter.
Twyford is heading Labour’s campaign team.
Labour have to earn the trust of voters. One of their weaknesses for years is their sense of ownership of votes, their assumption that when National has done their dash Labour will automatically benefit.
I don’t think Labour is seen yet as deserving of ‘their turn’.
Little has to improve his public performances. He has to appear as better informed about issues and he has to appear has himself more, not as a reciter of political platitudes and PR.
And it would help if a few other Labour MPs stepped up markedly. While signs of friction have diminished there are few signs of a team working together that is capable and confident.
Winning an election is not just a matter of people warming to Little when they see he looks like a decent well meaning guy.
Labour still have to portray themselves as worthy of running a government and managing the economy – so Grant Robertson has a lot to do if he wants to contribute.
Labour as a party has to look capable, but they also have to appear able to be the real deal alongside Greens, who they have become co-dependant on.
And they also have to convince voters they could manage a coalition with both Greens and Winston Peters.
The prospects have improved for Labour, a little bit.
But ‘their turn’ won’t fall into their laps next year. Whenever the general election is it will be as much a challenge for Labour as it is for National with a new leader.
I’d currently rate Little 6/10 at the moment, and Labour 5/10. They have to get closer to 8/10 to earn a victory.