Andrew Little quits as Labour leader

Publish Date
Tuesday, 1 August 2017, 10:13AM

Andrew Little has stood down as Labour leader – leaving the way clear for his deputy Jacinda Ardern to take up the role.

Speculation was mounting Labour would have a new leadership team of current deputy Jacinda Ardern and Kelvin Davis by the end of the day, after talks between Little and MPs late into the night.

Little said he made the decision after a series of poor poll results.

Sources told the Herald late last night Davis, the Maori Development spokesman, was offered the deputy position on a ticket with Ardern.

Speaking to the Herald this morning, Little said he was expecting a caucus meeting "as usual".

He said he was not making any comment about potential challenges before the caucus meeting, but was not expecting to face a confidence vote.

He denied his trip to Auckland last night was for "crisis talks", saying he had flown up to attend an event in the Chinese community and the campaign launch of Labour candidate Naisi Chen with Raymond Huo.

Little told the Herald last night he did not intend to put up a confidence vote on his leadership, but admitted some MPs were concerned he had publicly stated that he raised the topic of stepping down.

Ardern is yet to comment today, but last night was still backing Little.

Little's future as Labour leader has been on the line following disastrous poll results and he himself raising the prospect of his future.

Little heads to a caucus meeting at 10.30am to face his colleagues, with Labour's party-vote support as low as 23 per cent in some polls.

Little pulled out of all media appointments this morning - minutes before he was due to appear on national television.

He pulled out of appearances on TV3, TVNZ and Radio New Zealand so he could focus on the caucus meeting.

Newstalk ZB political editor Barry Soper said the question of leadership remained firmly in Little's hands. "It's entirely over to Andrew Little, when he goes into caucus today, he's got to decide on that," he told ZB's Mike Hosking Breakfast.

Soper said if one of the Labour caucus put up their hand for the leadership it was likely others would follow. "It'll be all over the place, it'll be a dog's breakfast if they decide to change the leader."

But despite the party's consistently low polls Soper said there seemed to be no strong alternative to Little.

He said Ardern's lack of appetite for the job ruled her out, and housing spokesman Phil Twyford would be "reasonably effective" but not a strong option.

Napier MP Stuart Nash was another name touted around. "He's a centrist politician, much more centre than Andrew would in any way resemble. If he could get support, he would certainly put up his hand."

Meanwhile, Soper said Grant Robertson, considered to be one of the more popular members of the Labour Party, was unlikely to win over any more voters than Little.

 

This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission.