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Little confirms Labour leadership bid

"If he isn't a serious contender, he should be," says NBR's politics editor.

Thu, 09 Oct 2014

UPDATE / Oct 9: Andrew Little confirms he will stand for Labour leader.

"There are three immediate issues," the former union boss said in a statement.

"Creating greater cohesion across the caucus, rebuilding the relationship between caucus and the party and, most importantly, getting the process under way to listen to the voters who have abandoned us.

"I have demonstrated skills from my time as a union secretary and former party president in challenging the status quo and lifting organisational performance."

Mr Little joins two other confirmed contenders: David Cunliffe and Grant Robertson.

Stuart Nash ruled himself out of the weekend.

Mr Nash had earlier indicated he would not run if Mr Little joined the race.

It has now emerged that the Napier MP faced another complication: leaked emails that revealed an approach from National Party backroom operative Simon Lusk. 


Little considers leadership bid

Oct 4: Labour is close to three vying for its leadership.

Andrew Little was last drop on Labour's list, and awaiting the final count before he announced whether he would join the party's leadership primary.

Almost as soon as today's result came through, and his place was confirmed, the former EPMU boss said, "It's something that I may well now consider, but I will also be considering how realistic my prospects are, and that's where it's at."

"I start from a long way back, I've had two failed campaigns in New Plymouth, I'm only in my second term, so these are things that I have to weigh up."

So far there are two declared contenders: David Cunliffe and Grant Robertson. A fourth, upset Napier winner Stuart Nash, is still weighing whether to run — but has also said his decision will turn, in part, on whether Mr Little jumps in [UPDATE: Mr Nash has now ruled himself out].

"If Little isn’t a serious contender, he should be," NBR politics editor Rob Hosking says. "A Cunliffe/Robertson stand-off is only going to perpetuate the divisions, especially if one of them actually wins."

Labour's primary system gives 40% of the vote to caucus, 40% to members and 20% to affiliated unions.

Mr Little can be expected to have a running start with the latter group. Even more so given that last week, the EPMU (the largest private sector union, and the largest affiliated to Labour), withdrew its guarantee of support for Mr Cunliffe. The union backed Mr Cunliffe in Labour's leadership contest last year.

He told TV3's The Nation that one of the reasons Labour lost was because it had proposed raising the retirement age to 67. He signalled he would scrap that policy, which has proved unpopular with blue collar workers.

When he quit as EPMU boss to stand for Labour, Mr Little — a gruff but focussed communicator, usually seen trying to win over middle NZ rather than alienate it with a confrontational stance —was regarded as a future leadership contender. 

But compared to his EPMU days, when  he was a TV regular, Mr Little has kept his head down since entering Parliament in 2011. An exception was his legal stoush with then Justice Minister Judith Collins in 2012 over alleged email leaks in the ACC/Bronwyn Pullar affair.

Labour's ruling council has yet to set a timetable for the leadership contest.

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Little confirms Labour leadership bid