Standard questions: Andrew Little

Written By: - Date published: 10:50 am, November 13th, 2014 - 63 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, labour, leadership - Tags: , , , , ,

A couple of weeks ago we asked readers to suggest questions for written answers from the candidates. We chose / edited six questions, and sent them to the four campaigns. Here’s Andrew Little’s answers.

(1) Can you outline your strategy for winning the next election.

I want to rebuild not just our Party but our movement. That means building strong connections to our communities, to the unions, and to Kiwis who don’t really feel like politics has much impact on their lives. When more people can see what Labour stands for and why we’re the best party to lead a government, we’ll win.

My plan for rebuilding Labour is specific and practical: http://andrew-little.org.nz/my-plan-for-labour/

 

(2) How prepared are you to work with the wider left, with the other parties of the left? Would you form a coalition with the Greens, before the next election – why or why not?

We have to work closely with the Greens, because they’ll almost certainly be part of any government we form.

But I think it’s a mistake to look at “the wider left” only in terms of other parties. Like I’ve said above, we need to be working as a movement, with the Labour Party in Parliament being just one part of the picture. That means connecting with unions and other organisations which support our values. That means working with our supporters where they are – in their neighbourhoods and in their communities – even the ones online!

In terms of a formal coalition with the Greens before the next election, I don’t have a yes or no answer. New Zealanders do expect that before an election we’ll clearly signal who our likely coalition partners will be, and I will do that.

My obligation as Party leader is to make sure Labour maximises its party vote.

 

(3) How will you combat the attacks that will most certainly come from National and their fronts such as the “Taxpayers’ Union” and blogs? How do you shift the narrative so that “middle New Zealand” stop believing propaganda and start engaging with the real issues going on in New Zealand?

The left absolutely has to recognise that the National Party has a well-organised, heavily-resourced attack machine which has a lot of experience at getting their messages into the public consciousness and even allegedly harassing and intimidating people who stand in their way.

The answer to that kind of hate speech is more speech. We have to have a strategy which is much broader than a set of campaigns on separate issues, or a series of press releases. We have to create our own positive messages and build the networks I’ve talked about to get those messages to every New Zealander. We have to be united and focused, with everyone from MPs to activists to commentators working together to amplify our messages.

And we must push back against the so-called “independent” think-tanks and commentators who push rightwing ideas. We have to call out their agendas and refuse to accept their framing of events, because as soon as we do we lose the argument.

We have to back ourselves to carve out our own message to our own constituency.

 

(4) Rural communities and towns have been declining for many years. What’s your plan to stop urban drift and the loss of vital services to these areas?

Right now Air New Zealand is planning to abandon some of its regional routes, and New Zealand Post has closed regional mail centres and is looking at replacing PostShops with self-service kiosks. When our vital public services are being run just for profit, the regions miss out, and that’s not good enough.

The government has a huge role to play in supporting regional development. We must invest in the infrastructure, like rail or broadband, which makes it easier for businesses to thrive outside the big cities. The state can use its massive purchasing power to buy Kiwi made and create skilled, well-paid jobs in manufacturing. And we can look at what state services could be moved out of the big cities and into the regions.

Doing this also helps our big cities by relieving pressure on infrastructure and house prices. It’s a win for everyone.

 

(5) Do you intend for Labour to develop policy specific to Work and Income beneficiaries? (as opposed to policy directed towards low income people in general). Do you recognise that many WINZ beneficiaries have vulnerabilities not being addressed by other Labour policy?

There’s a really sad irony that when workers lose their jobs – as far too many have under this government – they get sympathy. But as soon as they start receiving the unemployment benefit, they’re vilified.

New Zealanders are better than that. We know that when other members of our communities are having a rough time, we have a responsibility to help them get through. But we’ve got a nasty, narrow-minded government which keeps whipping up antipathy towards people who, for whatever reason, are relying on government support.

I care about every member of my community, whether they’re in work or not. And a government must be there for every person in its jurisdiction, whether they’re in work or not.

We also have to acknowledge that many people aren’t able to be in “normal” full-time, paid work, whether because of illness or injury or other important responsibilities like parenting. They shouldn’t be harassed and treated like second-class citizens just because they need a little extra support.

In the future world of work, people are going to move in and out of work a lot more, and we have to make sure that the income support system helps them do that as smoothly as possible. That will mean reviewing many of the systems we currently have. We really need to look at a universal basic income and stop stigmatizing those who find themselves out of work against their wishes and for reasons beyond their control.

 

(6) Do you have the courage to acknowledge the predicament presented by Anthropogenic Global Warming and take the bull by the horns? Do you agree with the statement: “Coal mining is an unacceptably dangerous and ecologically unsustainable industry in the 21st Century”, and if so what are the implications for NZ?

Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing humankind, and we need to take serious action on it. New Zealand has a long and proud history of spearheading progressive change internationally, and this is another area we can do it.

Using coal for power generation should no longer be accepted in New Zealand. We’ve proved that we can significantly increase our use of renewable power sources. But there are realities we have to accept. Most of the coal mined in New Zealand is high-grade coking coal. That’s used to make steel. If we’re going to keep using steel, we need to keep mining coal – and it’s not a solution to say we should just stop mining it here and let other countries do the dirty work for us.

Using lignite coal for transport energy, as this government has proposed, is not acceptable to me.

We must continue to focus investment on clean tech and new industries which will help us replace fossil fuels. New Zealand can and should be a leader in this. It would help rebuild our clean green brand and reputation as an innovative, forward-thinking nation.

Let’s also remember that a lot of workers and their families and communities are currently reliant on industries like coal mining. We can’t just throw those people aside. We have to find alternatives, build up those industries, create secure, well-paid jobs in the regions, and move into the future and away from fossil fuels together.

63 comments on “Standard questions: Andrew Little”

  1. Karen 1

    Very good, clear answers. No waffle and political speak kept to a minimum.

    I particularly liked the reference to challenging the credibility of rightwing think tanks and countering hate speech. This is essential, no matter who becomes the leader.

  2. karol 2

    This is the most impressive written info I’ve seen from Little: covers Nats 2 track dirty politics, beneficiaries, anti-fossil fuel measures, etc. And not just non-committal types of replies.

  3. Karen 3

    I also liked Andrew’s answer on welfare. At last a politician acknowledging that work is not the answer for all beneficiaries, and that there are good reasons for this, including ill health and parenting.

    His reference to the appalling trend to vilify beneficiaries indicates we will be safe from “beneficiary painting the roof” stories if Andrew is leader.

    • weka 3.1

      +1 Easily the most progressive thing I’ve seen any of them say on welfare. Thanks for speaking out on this Andrew.

      I really like that the UBI is mentioned. If a Labour leader is willing to name that, we’re now talking about this being something that can be actively worked on.

      • Tracey 3.1.1

        Hold your breath for the rw repeatniks to appear and tell us that if we are all pleased then he wont appeal to nz middle.

        I still hope the right is underestimating average kiwis sense of fair play and compassion.

      • Keir 3.1.2

        Erm, Roger Douglas was talking about a UBI back in the bad old days. It would be interesting to see if Little can get further with it than Mr Flat Tax did 🙂

  4. Manuka AOR 4

    Really clear and strong.

    I especially liked this: “And we must push back against the so-called “independent” think-tanks and commentators who push rightwing ideas. We have to call out their agendas and refuse to accept their framing of events”

    • Once Was Tim 4.3

      Must say I like the answer too – just as I do most other of his answers. It leads me to ask (WONDER rather than ask) though, what Andrew thinks of various of those ‘staunch’ trade unionists (Once Were). There’s a few of them these days – usually justifying their existence on how they’ve ‘matured’ (usually code for accumulating wealth just as any other tory has).

      I mean to say, Toby Hill would be rolling in his grave if he ever had to witness what’s transpired in his 2nd and 3rd degree of separation. Actually …. maybe that could be where all that sense of entitlement began amongst some of the ‘neo-LABOUR’ movers and shakers. (Movers and Shakers btw shouldn’t form any part of a Labour ‘broad spectrum drench umbrella – but you can be bloody sure that ilk is still busy fighting hard)

      They all have their various attributes though. Let’s just hurry up and get on with it before I get death!!!! I’m running out of life.

  5. Tracey 5

    thank you mr little. For actually answering what we all asked rather than using our questions as a platform to say what you wanted.

    VERY impressed about the use of the word union. I note that ms mahuta didnt mention unions in her letter outlining the groups to work with.

    I know i am pleased to see a reframing of beneficiaries. If you succeed i hope you will use the line about sympathy when job is lost but vilified when seek help.

  6. Dont worry. Be happy 6

    Straight answers to straight questions….Time to give this man a fair go.

  7. Whateva next? 7

    Very reassured, thank you Andrew

  8. trendy lefty 8

    Great to hear a leadership candidate talking about treating beneficiaries better, acknowledging that not everyone is in a position to do “paid work”, and that there is a need for a universal basic income. Plus acknowledging climate change, and the need to help people whose livelihoods will be affected by the changes needed to deal with it.
    It will be a real shame if Andrew Little isn’t elected as leader, he’s the only one talking about real labour movement values.

  9. paddy 9

    No wonder David Cunliffe anointed him when he realized that he would have to hand over the baton. I hope he wins on the first ballot. If there is any dissent he must crush it swiftly.
    Why is he only 71% chance on ipredict? I’m going to take a punt on that and hopefully get winnings and a great PM for 2017.

  10. Michael 10

    Wow, I am very impressed by his answers.

    He seems to be truly committed to everyone – those in work, those out of work, and ‘middle NZ’. I think that with Little as Labour leader, Labour would have policy that works for all Kiwis, and would make a huge difference for vulnerable NZers.

  11. Clemgeopin 11

    Very impressive.

  12. Chooky 12

    I am impressed with most of Andrew Little’s answers …however i would like him to say unequivocally that he would work with other Parties on the Left ….like Mana/Int!

    A Labour Party secure in itself and a Labour Leader secure enough in his/ her mandate and principles will be BIG ENOUGH to work for the BIG PICTURE…ie all the Left in coalition

    ….I dont want again to see a Labour Party …inwards driven, insular and competitive with other Left Parties….this is crucial under MMP for a Left win!

    (…there will be people watching this on the Left….and resigning from Labour if it can not work cooperatively and strategically with other Left Parties )

    • Olwyn 12.1

      I could see reason for Labour’s quietly distancing themselves from IMP in the last election, but not for setting out to sink them, nor for blaming them for the election loss. That it was a new party, even with old hands on deck, was reason enough to insist that they prove themselves. But it is bewildering and disheartening when Labour turns the sort of force it should be reserving for National onto a small left wing party.

      Such quibbles aside, I am heartened by Andrew’s clear, forthright answers.

    • tinfoilhat 12.2

      Why on earth would they need or want to work with Mana/Int when they are neither represented in parliament not likely to be around in any significant sense at the next election ?

      • felix 12.2.1

        I think you have your cause and effect the wrong way around.

        Why did Labour follow a strategy that ensured that Mana/Int wouldn’t be around in any significant sense?

        • tinfoilhat 12.2.1.1

          🙄

          Mana/Int very successfully ensured that Mana/int wouldn’t be around in any significant sense by forming Mana/Int.

          Not only that they significantly hurt the left movement in NZ through their continued sideshows and egofest.

          • felix 12.2.1.1.1

            That may or may not be true. We’ll never know, because Labour decided to knock them out of the race.

            If you genuinely believe that Mana joining up with the Internet Party was the source of their demise, then you should probably have a think about what alternate strategies might have led to better outcomes.

            Don’t you think that Mana and Labour working together would have been infinitely preferable to Mana and IP working together and Labour working to knock them out?

            • tinfoilhat 12.2.1.1.1.1

              I think Mana and the IP were a sideshow and the strategic mistake that was made was not having a pre election agreement between the Green party and Labour.

              • felix

                Quite possibly.

                We could quibble over hypotheticals all day, but it seems we agree that Labour’s unwillingness to work with others on the left is an issue.

              • Clemgeopin

                Such an agreement would have increased Greens vote to about 12 to 15% and hurt Labour’s vote some more.

                The difficulty is that Greens primarily canvas for their party vote. There is no point in Labour helping Greens achieve that at a cost to their own party votes.

                One way to solve this major problem is for the Greens to contest a few, (say 3 to 5) electorate seats and Labour not to contest those seats and similar weighted reciprocal arrangements for greens not to field candidates in 5 to 8 crucial Labour seats….while each party still fights for party votes.

                Solution is not easy.

                Or, the the only pre-election arrangements should be in a few marginal seats such as TTT (for Mana), Epsom (for National) and Ohariu (for Labour) so that candidate votes are not unnecessarily split, wasted and thus end up helping Nats.

                • b waghorn

                  Sounds like a good plan just be prepared for nats to dig up every anti Epsom/ohariu comment said buy any left poli and and use it as ammo.

                • Manuka AOR

                  “Such an agreement would have increased Greens vote to about 12 to 15% and hurt Labour’s vote some more.”

                  Not necessarily, Clem. Unity, cohesiveness and inclusiveness, within a positive context, tend to draw people in, while division, separation and hesitation cause people to back off and move away. A united and inclusive front by the Left could have motivated more people overall to become involved and to vote.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    +1

                  • Clemgeopin

                    Actually, Cunliffe and Labour were more than inclusive with the Greens, going so far as to state that they would be happy to have them in the coalition with cabinet posts.

                    It was the Greens that were putting spokes during the campaign scaring away potential middle voters from the prospect of a left government, with the Greens wanting new carbon taxes and a larger income tax than that of Labour, trumpeting blanket opposition to mining and wanting blanket ban on deep sea drilling without consideration of the modern safety features of such operations. They then went on to state that they would be cool with working with National! So, don’t blame Labour. Place the blame where it really belongs.

                    But I do think that Labour erred in shunning Internet-Mana. Labour should have given a higher place for Davies on the list if they considered him indispensable and helped Hone win TTT. Not doing so was a big mistake.

                    • Manuka AOR

                      But I do think that Labour erred in shunning Internet-Mana. Labour should have given a higher place for Davies on the list if they considered him indispensable and helped Hone win TTT. Not doing so was a big mistake.”

                      Thank you so much for saying that. Too few Labourites have done so, which makes it difficult to move on from there or to change the right wing framework that spawned the demonising of IMP. And that particular framework is one that needs to be changed if a significant section of NZ voters are to be reclaimed. At the moment many IMP voters and sympathisers are out in the cold, feeling alienated and abandoned by all other parties.

  13. felix 13

    “And we must push back against the so-called “independent” think-tanks and commentators who push rightwing ideas. We have to call out their agendas and refuse to accept their framing of events, because as soon as we do we lose the argument.”

    This, a million times, this.

    The acceptance of right-wing framing is why 99% of Labour comms have failed to have any impact over the last 6 years.

    It’s why having the likes of Josie Pagani speaking “from the left” in the media is so destructive to the left.

    With even the best will in the world, we lose their game as soon as we play their game.

  14. Arandar 14

    This is Andrew Little. You gave him straight questions. He answered them straight. For at least a couple of years, I’ve heard him say these things. And what he’s said, above, is why I’ve given him my #1 Vote. He’s a serious, smart man with a good heart.

  15. Anne 15

    No disrespect to the other 3 contenders each of whom have a major future role to play, but I hope like hell Andrew Little wins. We don’t need an orator who can beat Key in the House, we don’t need a jokey clown who can foot it with Key on the campaign trail, we don’t need anyone who is remotely National-lite.

    We need someone who is the opposite to Key, yet is quietly impressive and has appeal across a wide range of people. We need a forceful, no nonsense expert manager/organiser who understands [exactly] what has to be done and [exactly] how to do it. Someone who can act as a magnet to the entire party from the caucus to the affiliates to the members and to sympathetic outsiders who are our potential supporters and voters.

    • Clemgeopin 15.1

      I agree with your views, but in my opinion, he needs to try and improve on a couple of attributes. If he wins the leadership vote, I will email him directly regarding those.

      • Anne 15.1.1

        Yes, he needs to improve his TV interviewing technique. But that shouldn’t be a major for him. Prior to their TV training both Helen Clark and John Key were underwhelming. Key came across as a hopeless dork and Clark was too serious and never smiled.

  16. JanM 16

    I have a strong gut feeling that this is the one person who can ‘lead us out of the wilderness’, so to speak. I hope like hell the people who are able to vote see this too and that he chooses Nanaia as his 2IC. I think they will have real impact between them – they are both visionaries.
    With respect to the other two, it is otherwise just more of the same 🙁

  17. Manuka AOR 17

    And if you happen to read this Andrew, would just like to give a shout out to your PR assistant, the Budmiceter 🙂

  18. Andrea 18

    “The answer to that kind of hate speech is more speech”

    I think I’d be happier if there was a strong commitment to walking the talk and rising above the vitriol.

    I am not a Green supporter, yet I like their ability to generally avoid bad-mouthing and responding to petty snipes and barbs.

    Many have said they are fed up with Labour’s very unhealthy fractured house and zapping their zits in public.

    Make it ‘Do as we both do and say.’ It’s more effective as a message.

  19. Atiawa 19

    Great answers.

    At last a Labour leader who understands the true values of the party and who it represents. Heaps of work ahead of him but he has the beliefs and abilities to take the people with him.

    Good luck Andrew. Our communities and work places look forward to your leadership.

  20. fisiani 20

    Hopefully Mr Little will win next week, but who will be the leader in 2017? Robertson’s ambitions for the job will never pale. Mahuta is clearly the best speaker. Parker is the cleverest. Unity will be challenging.
    Fine words from Andrew Little but it’s the 21st century and Labour is so 20th century. Will the phone ever get back on the hook? With wages rising, employment growing and NZ flourishing it may be a very long time. Don’t forget 50,000 new National voters arrive each year.That’s 400,000 over the next 8 years of Honest John’s reign.

    • felix 20.1

      Reign.

      Says it all.

    • Atiawa 20.2

      The US has all the symptoms of a nasty cold, watch us catch ebola.
      The 20th century was only 15 years ago. The 21st still has 985 to run.
      The leader in 2017 will be the same leader Labour elects in a weeks time.

    • Clemgeopin 20.3

      Are you a devil’s advocate or the devil?…..and you presume too much.

    • Manuka AOR 20.4

      “Don’t forget 50,000 new National voters arrive each year.”

      💡 There’s a kernel of truth in there. Nats are literally importing their own new-membership new-voter base. Might take it to the Mike..

    • leftie 20.5

      @fisiani

      Why do you persist in calling corrupt John key honest? because he is not, he is a lying despot. Thus far, Key has lied his way through 2 terms in office, and his last term will be no different.

  21. weka 21

    I like what Little has said here, and take heart from it in a year when there have few moments for optimism. I think it’s useful to be cautious too. If there is one overriding factor about Labour’s leadership issues it’s that they don’t have a saviour when everyone is expecting one. I think this was a factor with Cunliffe (not as much as his being undermined within his own party though), and it made him more vulnerable than he was, esp with the MSM able to pick up every little misstep.

    Little needs to be competent, not brilliant. Pressure to solve all problems will lead to the Cunliffe syndrome. If Little is selected, it’s then up to the rest of Labour to solve Labour’s problems with Little leading but not having to be the silver bullet. Ditto the left. If Little proves a competent leader and Labour starts to turn its shit around, the rest of the left still need to sort out the wider pan-left issues collectively.

  22. Jepenseque 22

    If an Andrew Little led Labour party proposes a comprehensive simple UBI and does away with the plethora of other transfer payments and the parts of the WINZ/IRD/MSD multi billion dollar behemouth that runs them then he will get this Nat supporters’ vote come election day in 2017.

    Cheers

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