Watkins on Little


It is said that one bad day in government is worth 100 good days in Opposition.

But leader Andrew Little can’t afford to be too proud at the moment; he would probably gladly settle for 100 good days in Opposition.

Labour badly needs to end the year on a high and not just for the sake of party morale at the upcoming annual conference. Barbecue season is just weeks away, and the only talk at the moment will be about National winning a fourth term. If  Labour wants to change that story, the time is now.

I always enjoy barbecue season.

But if there’s anyone on a high at the moment it’s John Key, not Andrew Little.

The last few weeks must seem all too familiar to Little’s team.

The wins have all been National’s.

Voters might be wearied by the on-again off-again nature of Bill English’s much promised surplus but it no doubt registered that he finally got there this week.

That’s all that counts in the countdown to Christmas when voters will increasingly start to tune out of politics, especially with the Rugby World Cup reaching fever pitch.

John Key’s time on the international stage, meanwhile, has sucked the oxygen out of domestic politics, particularly his headline grabbing trip to Iraq.

It helps too that the mood seems to have lifted on the economy, pushed along by record low interest rates.

Tracy forgot to mention the TPP. Not that it was a great victory for the Government, but Labour’s handling has been shambolic for them.

Annette King is doing a great job. So is Phil Goff. But they are the face of the last Labour government not the future. Little is said to be in a dilemma over his looming reshuffle and whether or not to remove King as his deputy and appoint Jacinda Ardern in her place. This shouldn’t even be a thing.

King would be a popular choice with the party but Little’s got their votes. If he wants to broaden Labour’s appeal he needs to promote Ardern. Or Kelvin Davis. Or anyone really who looks like the face of Labour’s future, not its past.

Actually they were the faces of the 4th Labour Government in the 1980s.

2.29 million New Zealanders have been born since Phil Goff became an MP.

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