The Taranaki Daily News reports:
Labour Party top-dog Andrew Little could step forward for a tilt at the New Plymouth electorate seat in next year’s national elections.
Mr Little, the party’s president and touted by many as a future Labour leader and prime minister, has refused to rule out the possibility.
“It’s certainly no secret I want to get into Parliament next year,” he told the Taranaki Daily News yesterday.
“As to how I do that, or where, I’ve made no decisions.”
He said he hopes to have made a decision within the next two or three months and wouldn’t rule out running in New Plymouth.
This is no surprise. The fact that Labour did not open nominations for New Plymouth at the same time as the other seats they lost, was obviously to keep options open for their President.
Andrew can of course just place himself at No 3 on the list, and be assured of entering Parliament that way. However a seat is almost a pre-requisite to becoming leader.
The city electorate is often viewed as a swing seat come election time and in 2008 National candidate Jonathan Young squeaked in past Labour’s 15-year encumbent MP Harry Duynhoven, with the tightest margin in the country – just 105 votes.
Mr Little has strong personal and family links to New Plymouth, having grown up here.
It was a very tight contest between Young and Duynhoven, but that is not the same thing as being a marginal seat between National and Labour.
While the electorate vote margin was only 0.2%, the party vote margin was a whopping 19.1%. Now nationwide the party vote margin was 11%, so 19% is a huge amount.
Harry Duynhoven had 13% of National voters, voting for him as the candidate. Will Andrew Little attract 13% of National voters?
It is a difficult decision for Andrew. His four main options are:
- Stand for Rongotai, with Annette King going list only, allowing Annette to retire easily if Labour lose in 2011.
- Stand for Hutt South if Trevor decides to retire in 2011 to become a full time blogger
- Stand for New Plymouth.
- Stand list only
No 1 is what I would go for if I was Andrew. There are rumours that Darren Hughes may seek that nomination though, and Annette is very good mates with Darren and would probably support him. It is also possible Annette will want to keep her seat, as many would see her going lost only as an indication she is not confident they will win the election.
No 2 depends on whether and when Trevor makes a judgement call that Labour are unlikely to win in 2011. He has said he doesn’t want another term of opposition. But I think Trevor still thinks the Government is on the verge of collapsing and is looking pretty comfortable where he is.
No 3 is Andrew’s for the taking. But the big negative is that he may lose, and lose big – which would not help him with his leadership aspirations.
No 4 is the default fall back option. As President, he would receive a massively high rating. But no one has yet become Prime Minister without not just a seat, but in fact a safe seat,