Little wins Labour leadership
UPDATE: Andrew Little has won Labour's leadership primary (see table of full results below).
As tipped, the former EPMU easily took the union vote in first preferences, but had a miserable fourth-place tally with his caucus colleagues – meaning that like David Cunliffe before him, he will be handicapped from the get-go by minority support among the MPs he leads.
The secret to Mr Little's success was getting a good whack of support from party members, and in being the second or third preference pick under the complicated primary system, which allocates 40% of the vote to caucus, 40% to party members and 20% to affiliated unions – with each faction listing its preferred candidates in order rather than choosing a single candidate.
For Grant Robertson it was all a little too complex. The caucus favourite won the most votes in the first round of counting, but after three rounds of preference counting it was Mr Little who tipped over the 50% mark.
His boosters say Mr Little is well organised and ambitious, as proved by his stints in the union movement and as Labour Party president. Most take it as read he will be able to rally the party's base. But it remains an open question whether he can rebuild the party's appeal to mainstream voters following its crushing defeat on September 20.
The new leader can be expected to quickly jettison policies he saw as contributing to Labour's defeat – including the blue collar-hostile pledge to raise the age of super, and the middle class-hostile capital gains tax policy.
Mr Little – who excercised some appealing wit during his NBR Ask Me Anything session – will also have to convince middle NZ he's more than a grim-faced former union boss. Endorsing Jacinda Ardern as for deputy leader would be a good start (Grant Robertson and David Parker have ruled out at a tilt at the deputy role, which will be elected by caucus. NBR politics editor Rob Hosking expects Nanaia Mahuta to have a tilt following her surprisingly strong showing. All of a sudden "she's got a bit of clout," Mr Hosking says).
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D-Day for Labour leadership: how MPs could vote
EARLIER: Labour's leadership vote will close at midday today. The new leaders will be named around 1.45pm ahead of a 2pm press conference.
In case you've been in a coma for the past month (arguably not a bad option for those suffering Labour leader woes overdose), the contenders are Andrew Little, Nanaia Mahuta, David Parker and Grant Robertson.
Under the party's primary system, MPs get 40% of the vote, party members 40% and affiliated unions 20%.
Only one candidate (Robertson) has named a preferred deputy (Jacinda Ardern).
There is life after death. National came back after leader Bill English and President Michelle Boag took it to a 20.93% drubbing at the 2002 election.
Having said that, Labour's winner today will become the party's fourth leader in six years, and will almost certainly suffer the same primary system-induced handicap as David Cunliffe: minority support in caucus from the get-go.
Lest the caucus/member/union weightings not be complicated enough, the leadership vote is preferential, and if things are tight it could well come down to who is the most popular second or third pick.
Who's backing who?
Little has the union vote sewn up. The two largest affiliated unions – the EPMU (which he used to head) and the Dairy Workers Union – have endorsed him.
Robertson is widely thought to have more votes than any other candidate in caucus (see David Farrar's head count below).
The 40% vote weighted to party members is the great unknown. Political reporters attending the series of public debates have been unable to name any popular favourite with the floor. This was Parker's chance to make his mark. But reading his seven-minute speech didn't help his low-key image. (Another hurdle: NBR's endorsement. You're welcome).
Along with the preferential voting element, the unknown member sentiment makes the race hard to pick — but most pundits think it comes down to Robertson vs Little.
Below is Farrar's take on how Labour MPs could vote (he does qualify that "this may not be reflected in the actual vote. With a Little victory highly likely, some Labour MPs may vote tactically and give Little their first preference to minimise any stories on him being elected with little caucus support").
The next question: who'll lead Labour after 2017: Jacinda Ardern, Kelvin Davis, Stuart Nash, or a contender yet to enter Parliament?