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Friday, 10 February 2017

This is why Labour cant have nice things: Andrew Little, Willie Jackson and Poto Williams

You had one job Andrew, just one job!

When I first heard that Andrew Little was putting Willie Jackson forward as a Labour candidate last week I was a bit surprised (as all I knew of him at the time was that he was the guy who did not take the whole roastbuster thing serious) but I read the article, looked at the analysis (ie Jackson's popularity with urban Maori) and went on with my life figuring a low news week so the media were trying to pick up on anything going to make copy.

Seems I was wrong.

Over the working week its unfolded in spectacular fashion that Andrew Little appointing Willie Jackson as a Labour candidate was about a sound a move as appointing Hitler as a Labour candidate (for those who read my last post - see how ridiculous that is?).

But I am not going to go into the mechanics of the situation, its been well covered in the media where the analysis has ranged from outright scorn from Andrea Vance over Poto Williams being the one to have to back down, into fury at Labours activist wing (whatever that is) by Martyn Bradbury at the Daily Blog for stuffing it up for Labour (an unusual mood for Martyn I think but as always he has a point), through prosaic disappointment from Chris Trotter (again siding against Poto but being less nasty about it) and Vernon Small (not backing either but probably siding more on the side of Williams) before coming to rest in probably the best analysis of the situation from David Farrer (no friend of the Left) over on Kiwiblog.

Farrer's analysis stands up best because like Small he sums up the factors and because he appears to be less invested in Labours fortunes (perhaps if only in the negative) where the others seem to have something riding on the outcome.

I did read Bryce Edwards piece in the Herald also but his carefully crafted take on the situation seemed to be more explaining the obvious than going into depth as well as trying just a fraction too hard to try and link it into conventional Pol Sci definitions which felt more shoe-horned in than actually having a place in the discussion (picturing this as an ideological struggle seems to ignore the out and out power dynamics which lie behind that struggle and the fact that Little is a man in an isolated faction trying to fend of those who want to take the party over, not really for any ideological bent but simply for the sake of power), still a good piece but like most of the others I feel he has something invested in Labour having a good outcome in the election so he favors damage control rather than really pulling it apart to see what is going on.

Now I don't buy the opinion that this has stuffed it for Labour in the coming election, its too far out for that kind of thinking but this has, once again, shown that Labour is not a happy house.

Andrew Little (now sans glasses) seems to have made a decision which has done more damage than good and given all other parties (including the Greens) easy runs on the board.

Because there can only have been two option in his mind when he decided to take Jackson on. They were:

     a) He knew that the appointment of Jackson was going to have a backlash and went ahead and did it      anyway; or
     b) He did not know what was coming and got blindsided by the response.

Which do you think it would have been and which would have been the better one?

The answer is neither. Either Little figured that the gain would be greater than the losses (and so far that gain seems to be Jackson's popularity with Urban Maori) or he was simply implementing what seemed like a good idea at the time without having any idea of who Jackson was and what he potentially represented to many sections of Labour.

Either way it was a bone headed move.

Now I am kind of tired of bashing Andrew Little.

Mostly because he is an easy target and because there are so many other matters in the coming election that could provide much better fodder (such as whatever is going on in National which has gone quiet and seems to be trying to fight the various small fires in the media (think Jonathan Coleman unable to admit that mental health in NZ is in crisis) and because I have a genuine wish to see Labour get its act together this time round but I cant excuse the stupidity of the play.

Little has not only fumbled the ball, he has fumbled the ball AGAIN and I find myself starting to wonder again how likely it will be that this may be just the excuse people need to try and roll him.

Heck, I am probably wrong but no matter what, Little, by bringing Jackson into the fold, has once again exposed Labour as a bunch of competing interests and feuding factions.

It appears that Jackson will go into the Tamaki Makurau seat which means that if he wins the seat that's the maximum extent of his effect (the payoff so to speak) on Labour in any practical terms, one single seat.

I am hearing that its a potential block on the Maori/Mana alliance and that may be so but that particular dynamic had yet to coalesce into a significant threat to Labours hold on most Maori seats so it may have been a prudent preemptive strike but still for what cost?

Because in the larger political space Labour is now, once again exposed, as a fractured in-fighting entity and for what?. So that Labour could nip a minor threat (great band by the way) in the bud while the main problem (National) sails along quietly.

And while Little and Jackson are the main idiots in this little drama Poto Williams comes in for some questions for the simple fact that she hired a PR firm to write up her opposition to Jackson for her FaceBook. Not only does that smack of duplicity on Williams part but it also begs further questions around why?

So if you have not read Kiwiblogs list of why this is a disaster go and read it now and see if Willie Jackson was a smart move and realize that at best this is a Phyricc victory for Andrew Little but possibly its a badly planned, ill thought out blunder which will simply add further tarnish to the Labour brand.

The reality is that with John Key gone and Winston potentially neutralized by Gareth Morgan and TOP there is a genuine chance for Labour to make it into government but that's not going to happen if things like this keep occurring.

Its just another blunder by Andrew Little, who was grinning in the initial photos from Waitangi like a man who had just bought a very expensive sports car and could not wait to take it for a drive only to leave it parked in the driveway while he went inside for a moment to come back to find the car crashed halfway through the wall and defaced with various slogans by unruly family members who were upset that he had spent all the families money on such a luxury when there were other things that needed attention (like the roof, walls or foundations) in the house of Labour.

And this is why Labour cant have nice things (like a cohesive party, or become a government, or have a robust leadership etc etc).

I can only say Jackson had better be worth it.

*-For those wondering if I am going over to the Right in the tone of my post, never fear, I have a few bones to pick with National and will do so soon enough.


  1. As previous. The combination of Willie, Hone, Mana, Maori, Green, and Mad mouth Morgan will bring so many voters back to a "conservative" base of the 5th National Government.
    Many of us who refuse Race based privilege will work for NZ First which is where the real action will be. You are witnessing the slow extinctio [ more or less ] of the NZ Labour party.

  2. If you are basing your analysis of Labour off "Farrer"'s (sic), then I dont really know what to tell you.

    Although I am a bit amazed that anybody doesn't know who Willie Jackson is. Did you just start following New Zealand politics last year?

  3. Hi Toby

    I am not basing my analysis on just Farrer but I do think he was able to have a clearer analysis of the damages wrought by this situation than those closer, and more invested in the source.

    In my analysis of the other sources they had plenty to say about the situation that was correct but many seem willing to give Labour and Little a free pass on the situation when really this does nothing to help the Labour brand get out of its current (and ongoing) doldrums.

    I am interested to hear what your take on this would be. Was Poto wrong to do what she did, or was this hubris on Little's part?

    I will admit my ignorance of Willie Jackson though, I knew who he was but my knowledge of him in politics (and Maori politics in general) was a blind spot that I am seeking to rectify.

  4. "I am interested to hear what your take on this would be"

    My take on this is that it is a micro-scandal of little significance that will be totally forgotten within three months, let alone by the election.

  5. It's worth noting that Farrar (the correct spelling) is a paid employee of the National party. He is far from disinterested. His default position on pretty much everything Labour does is that it's terrible for them. He's occasionally correct, but so is a stopped clock.

  6. Farrar is the major propagandist for 5th National Government . Nothing less and certainly no more. His columns are smokescreens.

  7. Hi Toby

    Thanks for the feedback.

    When I say Farrar is disinterred I mean that he has no wish to see Labour succeed so he can be a bit less biased (I say a bit less), in the event that he was discussing a National party issue he would be in the shoes of those defending Labour now and probably a lot less unable to see the forest for the trees.

    I agree that this particular issue will blow over but the deeper issues it has exposed may not and sometime either before or after the election they need to be stopped, healed or cauterized.

    Finally, I am aware of Farrar's background but I take my info from across the board and simply do my best to verify it or see if it holds up to examination. In this case I think Farrar was the better analysis, previously I have said the same for Chris Trotter or other left wing bloggers like Martyn Bradbury.

    Hi Paul:

    Your probably right about Farrar but most people are smoke-screening for someone these days. Chris Trotter is doing so for Labour but he can still deliver a good analysis and so can Farrar at times.

  8. "I agree that this particular issue will blow over but the deeper issues it has exposed may not"

    Do you remember when Labour's servers got illicitly accessed, back in 2010, and right wing bloggers claimed that this was a sign of deeper incompetence inside the Labour Party that had national political implications, rather than being a minor internal administrative matter?

    No, of course you don't, because it was inconsequential twaddle picked up by bored political reporters and relentlessly hyped by partisan right wing bloggers claiming to be disinterested commentators.

    Sound familiar?

  9. Wow, their servers got hacked? Nope did not remember that, did they find out who did it?

    I agree that the media can spin things out of proportion at times but the doldrums Labour seems to live in do seem to indicate things that are deeper than just a negative media focus.

    I am guessing that you favor Labour over the Nats, which is fair enough but media focus on issues with Labour has been consistent for far too long just to be right-wing spin don't you think? Open letters from Young Labour, Poto Williams and other members of Labour itself have taken issue with Jackson, that seems very left wing to me.