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.]