Rodney Hide: Powerless Little left on fringes

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But what can Little do? He can promise better and he can throw rocks. There's not much else for the Leader of the Opposition. Photo / Mark Mitchell
But what can Little do? He can promise better and he can throw rocks. There's not much else for the Leader of the Opposition. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Every time I think of Labour Leader Andrew Little - which I must confess is getting less and less - I can't help but feel sorry for him. Nothing ever goes his way.

Prime Minister John Key sails on and on, seemingly effortlessly. Little fumbles and falls. And if he doesn't trip up, one of his team does it for him.

Now Helen Clark has teamed up with Key for her tilt at the UN's top job.

That must rankle.

It's not just Key endorsing Clark. It's Clark endorsing Key. They are now a team who talk and strategise. They are Richie McCaw and Dan Carter after the top prize.

It's impossible for Little to present Key as arrogant and incompetent when Clark calls on his help and he agrees. It looks good for Key. In 2008 voters were forced to choose between the two but now they are a team. It makes Key middle-of-the-road and attractive to the former Labour voters he won in 2008.

And while Key is helping Clark scale the Mt Everest of politics, Little is left aimlessly throwing rocks. It's not a good look, not when Key and Clark are arm-in-arm winning the vote of the world.

But what can Little do? He can promise better and he can throw rocks. There's not much else for the Leader of the Opposition.

Clark's current profile also reminds us of what she achieved and the comparison is not flattering.

Labour under Clark was disciplined, cohesive and competent. Labour under Clark won three elections and the trust of middle voters. Little is the fourth Labour leader since her departure and the party still lacks the drive and traction she provided. Labour appears unfit for Opposition, let alone Government.

Clark had New Zealand's top job, has gone even higher on the world stage and is now after the UN's top job. Her political fortunes have risen higher and higher since she departed Parliament; those of her party have sunk lower and lower.

Key has already spoken to his mates Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron. We are reminded he has built personal relationships with world leaders that no other New Zealand Prime Minister has enjoyed.

He and his family had a weekend at Balmoral Castle. He plays golf with the President of the United States. He chats to the British Prime Minister.

Little has no power and little influence. Sadly for him the polls have him and his party stuck resolutely in Opposition.

Clark didn't ask Little for help. He can't provide her with any. Or if she did, no one noticed. In politics you must not only be good, you must also be lucky. Key has proved he's lucky. Little has yet to do so.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- Herald on Sunday

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Rodney Hide

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