The Soap Box: No enthusiasm to take over Labour leadership

Author
Barry Soper,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 1 August 2017, 5:13AM
(Getty Images).
(Getty Images).

Andrew Little has got one thing right as he wallows in the political wilderness: No one wants his job.

He's discussed it with a few who might otherwise jump at the opportunity but there's no enthusiasm for leading a party which is polling at 24 percent just under eight weeks out from the election.

So as he heads into face his caucus colleagues today, chances of him again emerging as Leader of the Opposition,  frequently described as the worst job in politics, are likely to have better than average odds.

Labour's cumbersome leadership rules, where every man and his card carrying dog, decide on the leader don't apply within a three month window out from an election.   A change in leader now rests only with the caucus, so if they want to get rid of Little, and a number of them do, now is there opportunity without a party signoff.

But the leadership Andrew Little won by a whisker from Grant Robertson almost three years ago is likely to be with him at least until the election but not long after it.

Much has been made about Mike Moore taking over the Labour leadership about the same time out from the 1990 election, but his prize was much bigger, The Prime Minister's job. So Little's stuck with it for the time being.

While all this Labour bickering is going on the woman who some would say has kicked the party right where it hurts, will be preparing to meet a fraud investigator at the Social Development Ministry. It seems crime does pay when it comes to politics because since Metiria Turei admitted ripping off the system for a number of years as a solo mum, The Greens have seen their poll rating surge to 15 percent at Labour's expense.

A miffed Little was moved to say that the debate should be about how people on a benefit are forced to live, not about a person or one MP who was on a benefit 20 years ago.

Yeah well he clearly misread the left's sympathy vote on that one, just as he's no doubt misread the electorate by admitting that he had offered to resign which sends a pretty clear signal that he's not up to the job.

But while Labour's down in the dumps it'd do well to remember that National, which continues to hang ten on the crest of the popularity wave, bombed out badly in 2002, picking up a meagre 20 percent of the vote and just 27 of the 120 parliamentary seats. There was plenty of talk then that the party was about to disintegrate until Don Brash came to the rescue and almost pipped Helen Clark at the post three years later.

The leader who led National to its biggest ever defeat was of course, Bill English.

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