But Little has made things difficult for himself as the next big test approaches.
The public debacle over Jackson’s candidacy and list ranking was one thing.
But the internal damage is where it must have dented Little’s confidence.
His decision to recruit Jackson was met with resistance in February, his advocacy for Jackson to be given a high list place was denied by the list ranking committee (effectively the party’s New Zealand Council) and then moves by Little to get the council to reconsider the ranking were abandoned when it became clear that Little was going to lose.
Party activists will defend their actions against Little’s project by claiming it was democracy at work and that the leader is just a member.
Little’s people say no one will remember come election time in September.
But every small blip makes it that much harder to make up ground.
The shemozzle over Jackson has undermined Little’s authority within the party as well as outside.
It seems it was Little who advised WIllie Jackson to appeal his place!
It would help Little’s cause if he had a refresher course on how to answer simple media questions with a simple answer.
Ninety per cent of the time he handles media perfectly well. But once in a while he swerves into a cul-de-sac and drives round and round in circles and frustration boils over.
Inexplicably on Tuesday, in interviews on RNZ and in pre-caucus standup with political reporters, he could not give a simple answer about what happens to the existing charter schools under a Labour Government.
And we still don’t know.
The party organisation is in much better shape than it was at the 2011 election and at the 2014 election, although its polling is stubbornly hovering about the 30 per cent mark (Colmar Brunton).
But a better comparison would be how it compares to Labour in 1999, after three terms of a National-led Government, and to National in 2008, after three terms of a Labour-led Government. And the comparisons are not favourable.
In 1999 Labour and the Alliance combined were almost 49 per cent to National in the low 30s a couple of months before tipping National out of office (DigiPoll).
In May 2008, National was over 50 per cent and Labour and the Greens combined were in the low 40s before National took office.
Labour have said that their ambition is to get 34% of the vote only. They have no plan to win with the Greens, just to give the balance of power to Winston.