Small on Little rejecting the centre

Vernon Small writes:

Even if things should fall apart, it seems the centre cannot hold Labour leader Andrew Little’s interest.

In a strangely intense rejection of Helen Clark’s suggestion that parties on the left must “command the centre ground” to win elections, Little dismissed the idea as “meaningless” and “a pretty hollow view”.

Strange, because it is truism. Winning power requires 50 per cent plus one of the voters – and Mr 50 and Mrs 51 are by definition in the centre.

No NCEA achieved grade for Little.

He may even have been worried his own insiders would take “centrism” as an abandonment of his mandate.

As he explains it, he is constructing a “coalition of constituencies” ahead of next year’s election. It is one that transcends simplistic Left and Right, but is focused on some salient issues, such as health, housing, inequality and the needs of small business.

But whatever the explanation, it seems odd that Little would allow himself to be seen as offside, or peeved, with Clark’s view.

Publicly slapping down her advice was stupid. What he should have said is “Yes I agree which is why we are targeting the aspiring home owners who have been locked out of the housing market and families who have been locked out of the education system etc etc”

Beyond the altruistic reasons for seeking a top slot for a Kiwi on the world stage, it is unlikely Key will be blind to the domestic advantages for him.

Clark was, after all, popular with many a centrist and women voter in her time and still commands respect. Showing magnanimity towards her can hardly harm his prospects of a fourth term – and might well improve it.

Which underscores just how odd it was that Little would distance himself from her comments – especially when the UN secretary-general vote is coming to a head.

Was basically just bizarre.

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