Rating the start to the political year, Bill English scores 8 out of 10; Andrew Little 2.
Luckily it’s not like it is election year or anything for Little. Oh wait, …..
But the rebellion over Willie Jackson has damaged Little and Labour in a way that won’t blow over in a week.
Little’s greatest accomplishment as leader – successfully instilling the need for party discipline – counted for nothing, and the chips weren’t even down.
The rebellion has three consequences: after all that hard work, Labour again looks like a party divided, Little looks like a leader who cannot lead his own party – which is all the more damaging when his attack line against English this year is that he is a prime minister but not a leader – and it alienates voters who identity with Willie Jackson.
It says to them that if Willie Jackson doesn’t belong to Labour, nor do they.
New Zealand First and Winston Peters and Shane Jones will be the beneficiaries.
Little and his advisers were shocked by the rebellion. They knew some people would be unhappy. But they expected it to be dealt with in private.
They thought people would say nothing publicly over the leader bypassing the party’s democratic procedures to announce a hand picked candidate will get a high list ranking?
Jackson’s treatment by Labour has become a confidence issue for Little.
Little should have sacked Poto Williams from her portfolios the moment he learnt she had hired a PR firm to help her attack his decision. Honest dissent is one thing, but that is unforgiveable in an MP.
Whatever Labour decides to do with Jackson, it has already given the Government added ammunition with which to taunt Labour. Its tease is no longer just about cozying up to the Greens.
National can now say the party that has swung so far left, that the old comrades Matt McCarten, Laila Harre and Willie Jackson from the Alliance have come home.
Yep the Labour of 2017 is the Alliance of the 1990s!