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Monday, 31 July 2017

Going Down in Flames*: The end of Andrew Little

Ah, so the chickens have final come home to roost for Andrew Little.

I wake up this morning and what do I spy in the news but Labour slumping further in the polls and Andrew Little flip flopping about whether to leave the job now or take the beating and quit after the election.

Its classic Little, on one hand saying he has thought of falling on his sword and on the other saying he will stick to his guns.

Tracy Watkin's article on Stuff was the most amazing if only for its suggestion that the only thing keeping Little in the role is the cost of printing up new billboards (and that Labour doesn't have the money).

Not that we haven't seen it coming because for well over a year this outcome was always going to be.

My very first blog post over a year ago was about the issues inherent within Labour and Little and I was bemoaning his ineptitude just last month when the party intern scam was distracting form Tapegate.

Along the way I have noted that Little has never seemed up for the job to just simply saying its time to get rid of the man, no matter what.

But did anybody listen? No they did not. Not even National, who want Little in the role because of the damage he does to Labour as leader and how he keeps the more popular Ardern from perking their polls up.

So here we go, Labour is at a 20 year low in the polls, has an unpopular Leader and is facing not only the prospect of electoral annihilation in two months but also loosing its stake as the main opposition party.

But already the arguments about what should happen have started with some on the Left praising the Greens as Labour burns as Chris Trotter does in a recent post while others (Martyn Bradbury) still sees hope left for Labour in the next 60 days if only they can get their game on.

But with all due respect to those two gentlemen, the bleak reality is, and as I have said before I have no joy in pronouncing this, that Labour and Little are doomed this election, the outcome has been a year or more in the making and despite all the warning signs he and the party have continued on with the same old program that they always have.

The same old center left gibberish which is now dead and buried in the UK, where a vivaciously re-energized Left under Jeremy Corbyn has seized the agenda by steering the party out of the center and back to being a party of the people and the working class.

Meanwhile in NZ, Little and Labour have floundered time and time again and now are simply too far gone to save.

Bizarre hopes of a Labour/Greens/NZ First government remain a possibility only if Winston gets what he wants come polling day and that would be the PM role and all the political swag he can scoop.

And such an outcome is not due to people voting for an inherently unstable center/Left government or for any policy of Labours but simply to get rid of National which is not the most solid foundation for building a government on.

Could Labour stomach that? I don't think it could. The idea of Andrew grinning and bearing it have some comedic appeal but the reality of becoming a political catamite for Winston would probably break him forever and see him slink away to political obscurity.

Nor do I think this was an avoidable outcome as Labour's alliance with the Greens was always the marriage of convenience that Labour intended it to be and that both sides knew which way things would go if Labour got its act together which means that the recent poll jump by the Greens means very little overall.

The Greens making capital of Metiria Turei admitting benefit fraud was brilliance in that it benefited (no pun intended) the Greens as a party but disaster in every other way as it cannibalized that poll increase from Labour so that any net gain for the Greens came at the overall cost of beating National in September.

And with the "don't know's" and "refused to answer" at 19% on the Colmar Brunton results its clear that the political Left is in dissary and any gain for the Greens was simply undercutting Labour rather than bringing in new voters which means that the juicy pool of potential voters was unswayed by the Greens and still up for grabs.

But in the end its not Little's fault, we are the ones (actually you guys are since I kept on pointing this impending accident many many times) who perpetuated the illusion that Labour could keep on with its ineffective and useless leader and its out of date manifesto in an age of rampant populism, where the option of getting back to supporting the actual people and the working class was always on the table but individual greed and stupidity got in the way.

So as someone who is sickened at the prospect of another three years of National doing its evil deeds but not going to support dangerous stupidity as the antidote I find no fun in watching this outcome come about but at the same time, we were warned, the signs were always there and we (read you!) let this happen!

So we now have the option of watching this train wreck, with or without Little, going over the cliff and onto the rocks below.

The only good news is that there are some interesting options out there with the demise of Little and Labour.

The Greens might pick up the mantle of being the peoples party (they seem to with their recent changes to personnel and policy) or that NZ First and Winston will check National in their own inimitable way.

We will see in time.

*-Thanks to Chris Trotters post (linked above) for inspiring the title of this post.


  1. "supporting the actual people and the working class was always on the table"

    What would that actually mean in terms of policies?

  2. Hi Moxon:

    At the end of the day this has little to do with policies and all to do with atoning for the betrayal of 1984.

    For many many years I have been reading on blogs on the left about how 1984 was the downward turning point for the party and its fortunes.

    Those fortunes were partially arrested in 1999 when Helen got voted in after nine terrible years of National but she did that by creating a cult of personality which left Labour leadership neutered when she left (hence why there have been so many leadership contenders.

    What Labour in the last decade has been trying to do has been to restart that cult of personality around a new leader (certainly after JK did it so well) but the reality is that the root of its problems is the need to make amendments for 1984 and not try and restart said leadership cult.

    So at this time policy is not going to cut it, its the message that matters and Labour consistently fails on that.

    Corbyn went a long way to making a similar style apology (all be it in an offhand manner) by making it clear what Labour was about and what it was about was not pandering to the center any more, it was leveling out the playing filed and bringing the rich into line.

    Labour NZ has never done that and been desperately fixated on its leadership cult as the only viable idea it has had in 30 years.

    So, no policy Labour floats now will work, the distrust is far too great and the damage can only be healed by an honest appeal to public and a similar commitment to the egalitarian ideals that used to underpin Labour.

    And I don't see that happening, Labour is too far gone and too sick short of massive purges of the upper ranks to fix itself.

    Memmento Mori.

  3. So you think if Labour had apologised for the 80s reforms it would have reaped an electoral dividend?

  4. "a similar commitment to the egalitarian ideals that used to underpin Labour"

    A commitment... but not a policy commitment?

  5. No, not really a policy commitment alone.

    As per my other recent comment, its not policy per se thats the issue but the ideology that underpins it.

    The free market ideas that labour let in to run amok have to go or at least be reined back in severely.

    Once that's done the new policy will flow.

    But a great big apology I think would go a long way, if it was the start of something genuine as we got to this populist state and time due to people not making apologies for the past.