Quin says Little should run in Mt Albert

Phil Quin writes at Stuff:

Let’s be honest: few outside his notoriously bolshy inner circle could contend with a straight face that the Andrew Little is a naturally gifted politician.

The Labour leader is a grafter, whose talents fail to match his ambitions by some considerable margin. 

The “Angry Andy” thing has stuck, as tends to happen when alliterative nicknames align so neatly with public perception.

Little approaches media interviews as hand to hand combat; his tone veering between defensive and pugilistic.

It’s as if he considers questions from journalists impertinent by their very nature.

What’s more, Little often seems woefully underprepared for what should be considered straightforward lines of inquiry.

It’s hard to tell dreads the Labour leader’s TV appearances the most: Little himself, the interviewer, or the viewing public, all of whom cringe to varying degrees through the awkward encounters.

I understand there is an unofficial competition between some journalists as to whom can get Little to turn into Angry Andy the quickest in an interview!

John Key’s unexpected gives Andrew Little the rarest of opportunities, namely the chance to reintroduce himself to the New Zealand public. He won’t get another one. …

Andrew Little should be Labour’s candidate in the by-election to replace Shearer.

The Greens should stand aside to help the Labour romp home, just as Michael Wood did in Mt Roskill. 

The notoriously risk averse Little should hold no fear for Mt Albert. The other electorate for which he is touted, the Wellington-based seat of Rongotai, is a harder lift.

For one thing, he will face a general election turnout in Rongotai, whereas the Mt Albert by-election, like the neighbouring Mt Roskill, will likely see a drastic drop off in voters.

This will help them to the kind of thumping victory he is unlikely to achieve in a general election context, especially when you consider the demands on him to run to spearhead Labour’s nationwide effort. 

All in all, a storming victory in Mt Albert will give Little the elusive aura of a winner, something even his closest friends would have to concede he does not currently possess.

It would also mean that Little got four to six weeks of publicity, which would normally be a god send for an opposition leader.

Imagine the precious air time a Little candidacy in Mt Albert will give the Labour leader: several weeks to showcase Little as a retail campaigner; to give voters a sustained look at the alternative PM just as they are formulating their perceptions of English in the top job.

Why on earth would you squander such serendipity by nominating some generic Labour candidate whose victory in Mt. Albert will be forgotten long before the real campaign starts? 

It’s more than just that Little should run in Mt Albert. It’s that he would be mad not to. 

A couple of days ago I heard a rumour that Little was considering standing in Mt Albert, so I tweeted it. Within almost seconds Little responded in full Angry Andy mode saying that I was part of a Dirty Politics campaign against him etc etc and that he was definitely not standing. Labour now regards anything they don’t like as Dirty Politics!

As Quin points out, there would be considerable advantages in Little standing in Mt Albert. That is all based on an assumption that Little would win though.  If Little was the candidate every National activist in Auckland would turn out to campaign for the National candidate, and a Little victory might not be assured. So perhaps that is why not is the smarter thing – he can’t risk losing another electorate contest.

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