Willie Jackson: Little time

24/11/2014

Andrew Little has to do a lot if he is to make Labour a formidable opposition, giving them any hope of toppling National in three years' time. Little was, on Tuesday, voted as the man to lead Labour into a new era of politics - this was on the back of major support he got from his union mates.

It might seem a bit archaic, but this is how Labour vote in their new leader. Caucus members have 40 percent of the final decision, party members 40 percent and affiliates (unions) 20 percent. So while Little’s fellow MPs may not want him, they can always be outvoted by the party faithful and the unions.

VIDEO: Andrew Little, brand new Labour Party leader, joins Willie & Ali

Before Little can even attempt to make his own mark on Labour and the New Zealand political arena, he will have to mend and negotiate relationships with his caucus and those who don’t like him. He can’t afford to be arrogant. His first major dilemma is how to bring those MPs who lobbied against him around to his way of thinking.

Little’s new to politics – having spent only three years on the backbenches - though his union background makes him ready for the rigours of the debating chamber. But leading a political party is not like taking a gang to a backyard brawl. It’s far too early for Little to be making brash statements on how he will bring down National in 2017. He needs to pull his head in, surround himself with good political strategists and hunker down, until early next year before he starts releasing battle plans. His focus now is to bring together the many factions of Labour.

One bonus he should focus on is the strong showing by Maori. The resounding swing of Maori back to Labour at the election showed our people had had enough of Mana and the Maori Party. That message was clear and Little needs to show faith in the team that won six-of-the-seven Maori seats.

Nanaia Mahuta, who looked like she was going to be the deputy at one stage, must be promoted and Kelvin Davis is another who Little should consider for front-line duties. Kelvin is a good speaker and is not prone to putting his foot in his mouth. He makes sure he researches a subject before commenting and doing your homework is a must in politics. Plus Tamaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare is another up-and-comer within Labour and should in this term be nurtured because there’s no doubt his time will come.

At 49, Little has enough life experience to know the demands needed from now, on himself and his family. I’d advise him to have a quiet family Christmas then get set for the fireworks in 2015.

Willie Jackson and Alison Mau - weekdays from 12pm on RadioLIVE

source: data archive