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Mea culpa

Written By: - Date published: 12:48 pm, August 2nd, 2020 - 33 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, election 2020, greens, jacinda ardern, labour, national, Politics, Simon Bridges, todd muller, uncategorized - Tags:

Three years ago I wrote a post “Ok, I’m pissed off with the Labour caucus again. Time to switch“. While I am still totally surprised at just how successful Jacinda Ardern has been at pulling both the country and the Labour caucus together, I am absolutely delighted by it.

At the time I pretty convinced that it was something more like what recently happened in National caucus when they rolled Simon Bridges just before the election. A vain desperate attempt by caucus MPs to stop the polls dropping to zero and losing them their jobs. I said…

I think that Andrew Little standing down was a mistake. I can’t think of anyone in the Labour caucus capable of doing anything much between now and the election.

The Standard: “Ok, I’m pissed off with the Labour caucus again. Time to switch

I really wasn’t that far off. The only thing that allowed the formation of a government was the disintegration of possible electoral partners for National as this seating arrangement makes absolutely clear. There was a two seat majority with a coalition between Labour and NZ First and with a confidence support agreement with the Greens.

National must deeply regret their leaking (however it happened) of Winston Peter’s superannuation details in 2017 in a repeat of their 1997 and 2008 vendettas. It didn’t dent the NZ First vote and it did mean that neither the leader nor the most of the NZ First party could realistically tolerate working with National.

Wikipedia: “Results of the 2017 New Zealand general election

In my post I was deeply suspicious of of the leadership change happening just before the election when the caucus could elect a leader of the caucus without any input from members or unions. That had been a hard fought battle inside Labour to get more of a party that represented its members and supporters rather than those who were ambitious to get a set in parliament.

On the other hand I hadn’t realised that Andrew Little was planning on actually stepping down from the caucus leadership voluntarily and was actually nominating Jacinda as his choice of a successor.

Andrew Little is someone who I have a lot of respect for as a politician. The evidence is in the way he has continued the work of recent ministers in fixing the mess left in Justice and the Courts by previous ministers (like Judith Collins) who’d pursued idiotic short-term objectives rather than required work. Just the long overdue increase in the number of places for full-time judges in the district and family courts would have to be the top of my list. Trying to run a court system with temporary judges and increasing judicial delays would have to be just about most stupid thing I could conceive of.

If I’d realised that he’d stood down voluntarily in favour of Arden, my attitude would have been different. Little would know the seasoning of his then largely untested caucus colleagues better than I did. What was even more interesting was the way the vote went

As Ardern was the only officially nominated candidate, she was universally elected as party leader and took over Little’s role as Leader of the Opposition as well. Kelvin Davis was then elected unopposed as deputy leader filling the vacancy caused by Ardern’s elevation.[3] At 37, Ardern became the youngest leader of the Labour Party. She is also the second woman to lead the party after Helen Clark. Ardern’s tenure as leader began just eight weeks before the 2017 general election, and at a press conference following her election as leader, she said that the forthcoming election campaign would be one of “relentless positivity”.[4]

Wikipedia: “2017 New Zealand Labour Party leadership election

As Todd Muller found out, being an opposition spokesperson is several orders of magnitude less difficult than being the caucus leader – opposition or government. He’d have also found it even as a government minister was way harder.

Mickey was clearer about the process a day later.

Clearly Andrew stood aside because he thought it was the best thing to do for the Labour movement.  He is an exceptional person who gave the leadership his all and decided yesterday to be substituted because he thought the team needed fresh legs.  He will be an outstanding Minister of Labour in a future Labour Government and we need him to strengthen the Labour movement.

And now we need to stand behind Jacinda Ardern and make sure she is the next Prime Minister of New Zealand.  She has the potential of being an exceptional one.

The Standard: “Solidarity Forever”

My biggest issue wasn’t with Ardern, her potential was obvious and had been for year. My issue was that I thought she was being shoved into the higher levels of the political process when she may not be ready for it. Clearly I was wrong. I’m still delighted.

I concluded my post with that I’d vote Greens – which I did. However I also voted for Jacinda Ardern because I’m at the very edge of Mt Albert electorate. But even if I wasn’t so lucky to actually be in my preferred home electorate and preferred MP, I tend to view a electorate vote for minor parties as being just way to waste a valuable vote.

I concluded with words that are just true today as they were then.

However I would urge people to just vote to get National out of government. Their economic and social management over the last 9 years has been appallingly short-term. It is storing problems for the future for our countries kids and grandkids. Time to get rid of them.

The Standard: “Ok, I’m pissed off with the Labour caucus again. Time to switch

Michael Cullen wrote a very good op-ed piece on the NZ Herald yesterday which is unfortunately hidden behind a paywall – “National’s plan for roads shows it’s trapped on a highway to the past“. It discusses their roading wish list of roading that doesn’t make sense, that would take a decades to even start, and their pretence of funding these completely uncosted projects using funny money processes that would only fool technical illiterates like Damien Grant.

I still haven’t decided who I’ll be sending my party vote to this election. As much as I’d like to vote Labour, I suspect that my best support for Labour could be to vote Green. But I’ll decide closer to the election.

By my electorate vote will be for Jacinda Ardern. Great communicator and it appears appears that she has been growing into he role as the conductor of the caucus and the audience faster than the job has been expanding in these troubled times.

33 comments on “Mea culpa ”

  1. georgecom 1

    I remember when I heard that Andrew was gone and I am fairly certain the news release said he had stepped down as he saw the writing on the wall. He has been a very capable minister in this government and could easily take over from Ian Lees Galloway I believe.

  2. Yup, electorate vote for Duncan Webb in ChCh Central, but party vote to the Greens.

  3. Just Is 3

    No election is a forgone conclusion.

    I watched a TV interview with Ardern in 2008/9, in regard to the changes Key had made to the pay and working conditions for Film Set Workers for the Hobbit movies.

    It was first time I had seen her.

    I was extremely impressed with the way she put forward her argument, there was No agression, just simply arguing facts and fairness while smiling as opposed to Keys resposne of aggression and arrogance.

    My immediate thoughts were:

    This the next Leader of the Labour Party.

    I new nothing about her, her qualifications, veiws or exactly where she sat Politically, but her demeanor and intelligent responses revealed a person with Leadership qualities I hadn't seen in political circles, ever, at least, in NZ.

    I was living overseas at the time of the election in 2017, there had been a few news slots in the local media covering the late change in Leadership of NZs opposition party 8 weeks before an election, the commentary questioned how a party could win an election by changing the Leader with the election so close, most had written her off.

    The rest is history.

    During the last 3 years we've seen those qualities, the refreshing change to the way politics was pursued, and how this has now rubbed off onto many other members of the party.

    The Corona Virus response has been the measure of that Leadership, along with the previous disaters of the CHCH Mosk attacks and White Island.

    It has also given the Govt an opportunity to change the whole Style of Politics, negativity is negative, "you catch more flies with honey than you do with lemon juice", and that may be the winning element.

    Not to mention the catastrophic implosion of National.

  4. JanM 4

    Andrew Little is an outstanding example of a politician and leader who is there 'for the greater good' not for the satisfaction of his own ego, He deserves the massive respect of all of us.

    • Mika 4.1

      After Ardern, I'd say that Little is an outstanding performer of this government. He has shown that "leadership" can come in many forms, and is not all about self glory. He has shown the leadership that stays and supports, doesn't walk away, that works with the team for the collective good rather thanfor personal glory, the leadership that sees the skill, talent and potential of others, and promotes them, yet remains to support.

  5. Ad 5

    Good on you LP.

    I could probably go back and do a few on some of my old posts.

  6. Reality 6

    Andrew Little is exactly what we need to see more of in Parliament. His intelligent foresight in knowing Jacinda should be leader, his straightforward manner, his getting on with the job of working for New Zealand etc.

  7. Dennis Frank 7

    Big Norm: "there are four things that matter to people: they have to have somewhere to live, they have to have food to eat, they have to have clothing to wear, and they have to have something to hope for.” https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/01-08-2020/the-famous-words-that-norman-kirk-did-not-say/

    George Andrews, to whom he said that, corrects the PM!

    I know because Norm said them to me when I interviewed him when leader of the opposition in 1969 for the NZBC. The misquote is pale beside the original.

    I got close to Norm in 1969 when I was working for Checkpoint and TV’s Gallery. My wife, Ann, was seven months’ pregnant when she came with me to the Labour Party conference at the Wellington Town Hall in May. Norm noticed us as we were leaving, and came over to ask when the baby was due. We said July. Norm replied that he was expecting a grandchild around the same time. We should get in touch to wet the babies’ heads.

    Our son Julian was born on July 19. The following week Norm took leave from the House to come to our Thorndon flat. Somewhere I have my photo of Norm in front of our fireplace, cradling Julian in his big arms.

    He even provides an audio clip of Big Norm saying it on the Spinoff, to prove his memory is correct.

    When he died in August 1974, I was a reporter on the documentary series Inquiry. Joe Cote and I made a tribute programme for Norm – returning to the rural communities that had helped elect him. I remembered Norm’s remarks about what mattered to people and retrieved the tape.

    I chose those words and laid them over footage from his visit to Taranaki in the Inquiry episode The Late Mr Norman Kirk. the first time those words were broadcast was on that programme, two weeks after Norm died. I deployed them a second time to open the Big Norm LP that I produced later that year for the Labour Party.

    Not directly relevant to your post but does provide interesting historical context in a tangential sense! 😊

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      there are four things that matter to people: they have to have somewhere to live, they have to have food to eat, they have to have clothing to wear, and they have to have something to hope for.

      A good government will ensure that the first three are there without question and then encourage people to create their own hope, to build their dreams.

  8. mosa 8

    " I still haven’t decided who I’ll be sending my party vote to this election. As much as I’d like to vote Labour, I suspect that my best support for Labour could be to vote Green. But I’ll decide closer to the election "

    To get a truly progressive transformative government after September 19th is to ensure the Greens make it back to form a coalition government and have a place in cabinet including the deputy PMs position.

    Most of the centre vote has been captured by Jacinda's warm loving embrace so it is beholden on those of us who care about wanting to ensure a Green agenda is on the table in any negotiations which means Winston is absent and Labour does not form a majority government with no need for a environmental programme for the next three years.

    In Christchurch east it will be Labour ( Poto Williams ) for the electorate and a party vote for the Greens.

    • lprent 8.1

      To get a truly progressive transformative government after September 19th is to ensure the Greens make it back to form a coalition government and have a place in cabinet including the deputy PMs position.

      It'd be nice for them to get experience – something that they are very limited on right now. But as much as anything else it will be more of the same, probably without NZF to blame for their failures. It'd be a new experience for the party and especially for their members – and I suspect that they will be useless at it in their first term in cabinet.

      I want to keep the Greens in play for the reasons that you allude to. After all my first vote back in 1978 was a Hail Mary for the Values party. But my votes in 1981 and 1984 after the 1981 tour were for Labour because we needed to get the dead weight of Muldoon's National off our backs.

      Any actual change was better than none. The reason that cabinet has been eluding the Greens is simply because they are perceived by most politicians as being a pain to deal with. They tend towards idealism to a degree that makes compromises on core parts of the political process difficult. Try envisaging a Green MP in charge of the Courts and the Justice system and you can probably see what I mean.

      But I have a current selfish motivations for possibly voting Green as well.

      The Greens need to be kept in play because politics is too important to be be left to just two monolithic parties. If not in this election, then in the next election, Labour is going to need coalition partners.

      The same applies to NZ First and maybe Act as well – despite how much I don't like them (especially the latter). They represent parts of the political thought in NZ that is distant enough from the two central parties that it could never get itself effectively represented inside of one of them.

      MMP as we have the settings set is really hard on growing new parties to get the diversity required in parliament. It is even hard on the main parties. Just look at how the National parties liberals are slowly but surely dying inside their party.

      • Sacha 8.1.1

        Suggest a better Minister of Transport after the election than Genter will make.

      • Scott 8.1.2

        Yes and no for me

        The Green vote grew when they adopted economic policies that were left of Labour.

        But they have not succeeded in pulling Labour left – the left is now outside the party and stops Labour heading in that direction.

        And they haven't pulled the electorate left either.

        The Ardern/Robertson ministry has not blown me away with transformative economic restructuring and so much of the covid borrowing is going towards keeping businesses afloat to employ, rather than giving households purchasing power and businesses the opportunity to meet that increase in purchasing power.

        I don't want to see a majority Labour Govt and would prefer to see them in coalition with the Greens, but I don't see Labour shifting left economically in response to a minor party so would be interested if the Greens were put under some electorate pressure that could destabilise the economic radical wing within the party, leaving room for it to reemerge within Labour

        I know what people might say – Labour would never let such a wing take hold in the party. Well, neither are they going to let the Greens get hold of anything. And I'm looking for something that will shift the moderates left, which the Greens haven't done.

      • weka 8.1.3

        The reason that cabinet has been eluding the Greens is simply because they are perceived by most politicians as being a pain to deal with. They tend towards idealism to a degree that makes compromises on core parts of the political process difficult. Try envisaging a Green MP in charge of the Courts and the Justice system and you can probably see what I mean.

        How do you rate Shaw in his portfolios? Or Sage? Do you think the perception is about the party as a whole rather than the individual MPs? (Shaw and Sage both look good on holding the balance between the party values and the need to work as part of a wider political culture that has different values).

        • lprent 8.1.3.1

          I rate him and Sage for exactly that reason. With Shaw in particular because of his nuanced way of drawing blood. He has done a really good job of making himself look like the adult compared to NZF (apart from Tracy Martin and maybe Ron Mark?).

          The problem is that the Green party members often don’t value political operators who persist in getting slow shifts. They prefer the spectaculars. Despite what it looks like right now with the quite evident rot National, politics is a long game.

  9. When Andrew and Jacinda appeared at a Labour Rally in Rotorua together, it quickly became obvious she was special. She introduced herself and praised the work Andrew had done in getting the Party going in a common direction. At the end of that she received a standing ovation.

    I wrote here once that we had not seen the depth and abilities of Jacinda Ardern yet, and we would all be surprised at her genuine skills. Words to that effect.

    Someone asked "Did I know her?" I replied I had the good fortune to meet her on 3 occasions and as a person who has worked with some good leaders and motivators over the years, I quickly rated her as exceptional.

    I keep saying "We don't know how lucky we are".

    I wrote to Andrew and said although on a personal level it was hard to move aside, we would always thank him for that decision.

    He has given us a different future, with a great team and Leadership.

    "Let's keep moving" Go Labour and the Greens.

  10. Chris T 10

    "I wrote to Andrew and said although on a personal level it was hard to move aside, we would always thank him for that decision."

    Am a bit skeptical it was all his decision tbf

    • lprent 10.1

      It wasn't in that he would have been talking to others, both MPs, his staff, and for that matter activists and supporters. However from what I have heard since it was completely his decision.

      It was also viewed inside the caucus in 2017 as being a forlorn hope to get traction before the election.

      I'm not going to comment particularly on National's 4 leaders this term. But Bill English and Todd Muller's decisions appeared to be their own as well. I suspect that the latter was just shock as what the role entailed.

    • mac1 10.2

      Chris T, I have in my political career stood aside for some one who I thought could achieve easier and better what I wanted to achieve, at the electorate level. Voluntarily, willingly and with no regrets.

      When Andrew Little did the same at the level of the leader of the party I was deeply respectful of what he had done, at so much a higher level.

      People can, and do, act beyond their personal interests and ambitions, without pressure and with the greater interests of party and public alike.

      We do it because what matters are people.

    • Andrew said it was, so it was.

  11. Chris T 11

    "There had been a report MP Kris Faafoi was running the numbers for a new leadership team of Ardern and Davis, and Labour's former party president Mike Williams had earlier told media he expected Little would stand down on Tuesday."

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/95305769/andrew-little-drops-out-of-media-engagements

    • lprent 11.1

      Sure. I love the selective quoting you used.
      /sarc
      Somehow you didn't look at the paragraphs before laying out a timeline. my bold.

      Little resigned at a caucus meeting of Labour MPs in Wellington on Tuesday morning.

      The move followed revelations Little had consulted his colleagues on whether to step aside over new polling showing the party sinking to a record low result.

      Little said as leader you had to take responsibility and he did. The polls were showing a declining trend.

      "I do take responsibility and believe that Labour must have an opportunity to perform better under new leadership through to the election."

      Sources said it had become clear on Tuesday morning that Little did not have the majority support.

      Then followed by your selective quote.

      In other words, Andrew Little was looking to see if he should responsibly step aside first.

      As soon as that happens then everyone will be talking around for their plan B. What there wasn't was any move to roll him before Andrew Little started looking himself.

      Could you please desist from stupidly lying by omission. It is a waste of my time pointing out the lines just above your very deliberate selective quote in the article you linked to.

      I really don't like having my time wasted by dickhead foolery.

  12. McFlock 12

    lol reading through the comments of that post, you weren't the only one a bit wrong – I wrote that I thought they might be lucky to get 20%. Just a slight underestimate, there 🙂

    It can be interesting reading old posts and comments, seeing where one was way off or actually pretty accurate. Thank goodness were were wrong on this'un.

  13. Stuart Munro 13

    Well, the gods of luck did us a good turn in Jacinda, and she has moved Labour somewhat towards what we were hoping for in the 80s, and were cheated of. Still a ways to go though, and rebuilding prosperity is a project that will require departures from the blithe assumptions that have misgoverned us for so long.

    And more power to you, LPrent, for owning it – too many of us, as Solzhenitsyn noted, claim never to make mistakes.

    • lprent 13.1

      It is a slow process doing the shift in direction. I prefer slow continuous flows. The alternative is to do a fast shift like 1984-1994 with all of the uncured dislocations and historical structural incoherence that it left in its wake. You can map the current extremes of inter-generational welfare dependency, the housing shortages, the deficits in infrastructure, and many other issues directly to that decade.

      I'm not a great believer in revolution. It is incredibly hard to find any case in history where it produced good results in the decades following. What you tend to find is the kind of structural baggage like the economic rigidity of the slave trade that got extreme after their revolution and the consequences of which are still plaguing the US today.

      That won't be the current focus for this year or next because of covid-19.

      What is being done right now is that the government is reducing the effects of a economic shock by effectively giving time for industries and businesses that have no future time to wind themselves up. Trying to do other structural changes on top of that is contraindicated.

      • Stuart Munro 13.1.1

        I agree that change, especially rapid change, can be damaging in and of itself. But governing consistently throws up injustices or health or environmental issues that need to be resolved expeditiously. It is not an easy matter.

  14. adam 14

    I tend to view a electorate vote for minor parties as being just way to waste a valuable vote

    I'd argue way differently, for Māori a vote for Kapa-Kingi in Te Tai Tokerau makes more sense. Get one more Māori in parliament as that Davis fella is number 2 on the labour list.

  15. left_forward 15

    Nga mihi LP,

    Andrew Little and Jacinda Adern display the very qualities in leadership that we need to continue to foster in the progressive movement. Compassion for people and acting in accordance with human values, in place of self-aggrandisement. The right cannot respond, other than by attempting to undermine.

  16. Lovely tweet from Andrew Little

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