I wasn’t at the first of the hustings meetings – I’m waiting for the show to come down south – but after talking with members who were there it sounds like Andrew Little made the biggest splash despite being on Grant Robertson’s home turf.
I’m on the record as favouring him but, like others, I was concerned he could be wooden sometimes. Turns out that last night he showed he’s both passionate and funny. With Paddy Gower making it clear he thought Little owned it.
And Tracey Watkins noted:
My thoughts are that Andrew Little gave the strongest speech, because he spoke the language that party faithful wanted to hear. His anger about the party “faffing and flailing” clearly struck a chord with the delegates in the hall. But Robertson was also strong. The big question for delegates to answer I guess is whether Little’s obvious appeal to the faithful will translate into broader support across the electorate. Or would Robertson do that job better? It’s a big call.
And Radio Live’s Jessica Williams described him as charismatic. That’ll surprise some people but I saw him speak to a mass rally in Christchurch in 2008 and it’s exactly what I walked away thinking.
I’ve never doubted that Little is the man to rebuild the Labour party into a campaigning and winning organisation and his claim he’s the one to “fix the machine” is spot on (and I’m sure there’s an engineers’ union joke in that somewhere), but it’s good to know he’s also got what it takes to front with the members and with the media.
It’s also worth taking a look at his email to members. There’s plenty in there I think should be taken on board by whoever wins:
Labour is the party that was built by working Kiwis for working Kiwis. We are still that party.
But we have to get our house in order. Because if we don’t then all we have is a bunch of good intentions gone to waste.
We need to fix the machine. We need to bring the pieces of the Labour movement back together and focus them on winning government and making changes we need to to build a fair society.
It’s a big task but it’s one we need to address one step at a time. First we need a caucus that communicates effectively within itself and with focus. Getting to that point will be the first job for the new Leader. Then the Leader and caucus need to reach out to the party and ensure they work well within themselves. Then we need to work alongside our affiliates.
We must find a common cause, within the movement, and with the many, many New Zealanders who want something better for themselves and for their families.
If we don’t find common cause as a movement we will never earn the trust of New Zealanders.
I can do this. I have done this before.
When I became the leader of the EPMU, one of New Zealand’s largest and most powerful unions, it was a house divided. I led the project to bring it together, to modernise it, to bring through new talent. I built a union which took our member’s issues out to the public, to the media, and won the argument again and again. We covered a lot of ground and during that time I dealt with organisations from small business to New Zealand’s biggest corporates on many different issues.
The one unifying thing, across all of these issues, was fairness. We got fair outcomes for our members and for New Zealand workers across the board because we worked together.
We are a party of immensely talented people. But right now we’re working as individuals, not as a collective movement.
We must fix this. We can.
We need to regain New Zealanders’ trust. We need them to know that when we make a promise, we can deliver. We need them to know we stand for them and their ambitions. Not just against what’s wrong but for what is right.
As part of that we must acknowledge the trust Māori put in Labour in delivering us six of the the seven Māori seats. They are our voters and we must make good on their return to us. We must ensure that Māori are represented well within Labour and that advancing their aspirations is a cornerstone of our Party. That’s what being representative is about.
People have asked me why I’m standing. I’m standing because I believe in Labour’s values. I believe in fairness and justice for workers, for families, for all New Zealanders. People aren’t getting a fair go right now, and I won’t tolerate a society in which the very few at the top gain at the expense of the many.
I won’t tolerate a society in which good jobs are destroyed and replaced with insecure work, in which people in the middle are squeezed tighter and tighter by the cost of living and have no way to get ahead. A society in which those at the bottom fall off the edge of the cliff.
These are the principles I have stood for throughout my life and they have been at the core of how I have led. They are the principles that the Labour Party embodies.
But to stand up for those principles we must be a united Party with new ideas and a real plan to win back the trust of New Zealanders.
I can bring the party together. I have the track record to prove it.
I’m asking you to vote for me as number 1 on your ballot so we can rebuild and win together.