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Andrew Little eyes New Plymouth

Written By: - Date published: 4:42 pm, March 15th, 2010 - 19 comments
Categories: labour - Tags: , , , ,

I didn’t actually realise that the fact Andrew Little is considering standing for Labour in New Plymouth in 2011 was news to anyone. He hasn’t announced any definite intention yet and Labour hasn’t asked for nominations but Little has been open about his hopes to enter Parliament in 2011 and I would think that New Plymouth is a natural seat for him.*

Little was born and raised in New Plymouth before moving for study and work as so many from the provinces do (indeed the sitting MP, National’s Jonathan Young, only returned to New Plymouth in 2008 having spent 25 years away), and his values and image as the tough but reasonable face of the union movement will appeal to New Plymouth.

It is a sensible place for him to stand and he would always be the favourite to win against the drab incumbent whose political career is going nowhere (who himself only just managed to beat another drab incumbent whose career was going nowhere).

I see David Farrar is making his old mistake of looking at the party votes instead of the candidate votes. He has announced that any candidate other than Duynhoven would have a 19% gap to close. Well, David that was wrong when you convinced the Nats to run Melissa Lee in Mt Albert on the basis of poor polling analysis and it’s wrong now. There’s no reason to think that Young automatically gains all the National Party/Duynhoven voters if Little replaces Duynhoven as Labour’s candidate.

Remember that in Mt Albert polls showed National close or even ahead on party support but Shearer romped home because he was the better candidate by a country mile and the people wanted a Labour local MP. The same scenario could well play out in New Plymouth with a high-profile candidate like Little for Labour. I actually see Farrar’s comments that Little won’t want to “risk losing and losing badly” as a bit of a desperate attempt to scare Little off.

With a good campaign behind him, National past the peak of its support, and going up against a backbench one-term MP who has failed to make the slightest impression my money is on Little should he run.

[*The other would be Rongotai, where he lives and where his office is based, but that would depend on Annette King stepping down. But I actually wouldn’t be surprised if Little chose to enter Parliament as a List MP. Typically MPs want an electorate so that they have some support base of their own to avoid being dependent on the goodwill of the party leadership. Little already has a strong power base in the union affiliates so he might find he has plenty of pull already without an electorate seat.]

19 comments on “Andrew Little eyes New Plymouth”

  1. pete 1

    Although Young has been away for 25 years, apparently people still remember him, which should be an advantage for Little.

  2. SHG 2

    Editorial suggestion: when making comments about David Farrar, speak in the third person. When you slip down the slope from talking about polling, to talking about David Farrar, to bitching about David Farrar, to bitching TO David Farrar, as if he was the only person you intended to read the article… you come off as kinda crazy.

  3. Jenny 3

    Does this mean that Andrew will stand down as the head of the Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union?

    If so, who are the likely candidates to replace him?

    If Andrew decides to maintain his post at the EPMU, are there precedents for this from Labour’s history?

  4. gingercrush 4

    Farrar doesn’t assume all National voters will vote Young. All he does is question whether the National voters that voted for Dunyhoven which was about 13% would vote Little.

    Also no poll that I’ve seen showed National winning the party vote in Mt. Albert . Did any poll show it close either? You love to use Mt. Albert as an example. But doing so is poor since there were unique factors in that by-election. 1. It was a by-election. 2. Melissa Lee was a poor candidate. 3. The party vote for National was always behind Labour. 4. Waterview. 5. Labour ran a much better campaign.

    As for electorate MPs whose political careers are going no where. What does that have to do with anything? Doesn’t stop the likes of Sandra Goudie, Paul Hutchinson, Winnie Laban, Ross Robertson, George Hawkins, Shane Ardern, Lindsay Tisch from getting elected every time.

    Clearly Little has a chance in New Plymouth. Farrar says as much. But there is also a risk in choosing that as your electorate. The risk is he loses. You criticise Farrar on several fronts and for wrong assumptions. But at least he doesn’t bring up bullshit as you do.

    As for your suggestion he should just stand on the list. Any leader with real leadership aspiration wants an electorate seat. Of course its possible for someone to lead one of the major parties and only being a List MP. But there is more credibility given to those MPs who hold an electorate. Hence, why Little will want an electorate to stand for.

    • Come on GC. With the love in that the polls are showing for Key/National Mt Albert ought to have been a breeze. There should be very few seats that Labour would win, Mangere, Manukau East and bugger all else.

      The result shows that kiwis are not nodding automatons lining up in the booth for one party or the other.

      It also shows that on the ground activity is really, really, really important. The nats did none of this because their activist base is depleted. Labour did heaps of this because they have a dedicated group of people who want to get engaged in political activity.

      The nats were nowhere to be seen, even after 8 months of their rule.

      Things can change really quickly …

    • lprent 4.2

      Any leader with real leadership aspiration wants an electorate seat. Of course its possible for someone to lead one of the major parties and only being a List MP. But there is more credibility given to those MPs who hold an electorate. Hence, why Little will want an electorate to stand for.

      Is that a requiem for Don Brash, leader of the National party?

  5. I believe Little has already confirmed that he would quit if elected, Jenny. He certainly couldn’t do both jobs, though if you were to check the history books, there’d probably be Labour MPs back in the thirties who held union posts as well. His Labour party presidency is part-time, but I reckon pretty time consuming for all that.

    As for candidates for the Union job, most recent EPMU (and EU before that) leaders have come from within the organisation.

    • Jenny 5.1

      Thanks for that VOR.

      You say that Andrew Little has “already confirmed that he would quit if elected”.

      I imagine Andrew Little would be put pretty high up the Labour list, so that even if he lost the New Plymouth seat, his position in parliament is guaranteed, ergo his resignation from the union leadership is guaranteed too.

      Why, if it was acceptable for union leaders to be MPs in the 30’s, it is not acceptable now?

      Is it against parliamentary rules or Labour Party rules, or what?

      Is it really a matter of workload, or are union leaders no longer PC in the modern Labour Party?

      Personally I would have thought, that for the 50,000 EPMU members to have their leader representing them in Parliament would be a good thing?

      • Most union leaders in the thirties were still waged workers, not the fulltime professionals of today. The workloads of modern MP’s and union officials are completely incompatible. Also true, for the most part, of businesses MP’s might run prior to election.

        I reckon he’ll make a great MP, certainly compared to the one termer currently in situ.

        • Jenny

          Hi VOR, your comment that, “Most union leaders in the thirties were still waged workers, not the fulltime professionals of today.” hides a contradiction.

          That these past union leaders were able to lead unions while continuing in full time jobs wasn’t any problem for them.

          On being elected; that they were then able to continue their union role as an MP would have been a doddle by comparison.

          I, probably like a lot of other people, are not convinced that MP’s workloads are as hard as, or as time consuming as the average low paid labourer, cleaner, factory hand or office worker, in fact compared to most people in work, they get a good deal, as well as long holidays they get to set their own hours and choose their days to go into the office, and even receive exemptions from parliamentary debates if they request them.

          However going on past records of ex union officials that have become MPs (except for a very few notable exceptions), I am inclined to agree with your second statement that, “The workloads of modern MP’s and union officials are completely incompatible.” In that on becoming MPs and abandoning their posts, they quickly forgot their union roots.

          Maybe if instead of just using the union movement as a stepping stone into parliament, and abandoning their posts on becoming elected. That instead they had maintained their positions, maybe it would have kept them more grounded.

          • But don’t the members of the EPMU deserve a fulltime secretary? And how could any MP fully do justice to that job and hold down another position fulltime? Both jobs have changed out of all recognition from the thirties. The point I was making is that there is no real comparison between then and now. And I believe all but the worst of MP’s do actually work hard and anti-socially long hours too. It really is a prick of a job, despite the benefits.

            • Jenny

              The point I was making is that it would be a real poke in the eye of the right if he announced that he would maintain his post at the head of the EPMU. Such a move would really nail his colours to the mast as standing for working people.

              It would certainly be a point of difference between Andrew and every other MP in the house as being for working people.

              I would just love to see the contortions of the right trying to claim that there is a conflict of interest between being a Labour MP and a union leader. when so many of them hold interests in business.

              After all promoting the special interests of working people in parliament is what the Labour Party was founded to do.

              In practical terms it would mean that he would have to give up his union salary and probably a some if not most of of his day to day union responsibilities would have to be delegated, but this would not stop him giving a lead in union campaigns of the day, using the pulpit of parliament to do it, would make his leadership of the union more effective.

              And, if for nothing else except bringing prestige and acceptability of the EPMU to a wider audience, maybe it is nott too far fetched, a concept to explore.

              An intriguing possibility at very least.

  6. Ms X 6

    It’s not a given that he would run – and if Duynhoven were to stand again, there is a good chance he could get back in, as there have been similar glitches before. I do hate newspapers peddling “news” that is only speculation and what if’s.

  7. randal 7

    I think Andrew Little would be a great parliamentary representative for the people of New Plymouth.
    He is honest and forthright and knows how to deal with all the myriad problems that beset people in all walks of life.
    In fact he would be a wonderful mp for any electorate.

  8. Zaphod Beeblebrox 8

    I disagree about leaders having to have electorates. Out here in west Auckland, Key is the member and has hardly been seen since the election. Living in Parnell, I guess its not on the way to the airport. I’m really struggling to think of anything he has done for Helensville. Similarly English should have gone on the list years ago- he doesn’t live in Southland, hasn’t for years and has other priorities. It would be much more honest of them to admit they can’t be an effective member (and they don’t want to live there) and let someone else have a go. Cullen never had an electorate, never stopped him doing his job.

    • lprent 8.1

      Cullen did have an electorate – one of the Dunedin ones. But as he had less and less time available to be in Dunedin, so he shifted to the list…

      • Zaphod Beeblebrox 8.1.1

        My apologies for the omission. Perhaps the current Finance Minister could accept the inevitable and follow Cullen’s example. He could have saved himself a lot of grief had he done so previously.

        • Jenny

          Yeah ZB, but then he wouldn’t be able to plunder the parliamentary accommodation grant.

      • Bright Red 8.1.2

        St Kilda.

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