Barry Soper is Newstalk ZB's Political Editor

Barry Soper: Labour's next steps after Annette King

Annette King. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Annette King. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Annette King was widely seen in the inner circle of the Labour Party as the glue that kept the caucus together, particularly under the Andrew Little leadership. Under the other three leaders since Helen Clark the party was forever fraying at the edges and spectacularly came unstuck on a number of occasions.

Now the woman, who was a pre schooler when King first came into Parliament following Muldoon's schnapps election, Jacinda Ardern has got to show the same sort of stickability. It won't be hard this side of the election, essentially because Labour has no choice but to present a united front.

But if Little can't pull it off there'll be no glue strong enough to hold it together. And if he does manage to knock the Nats off their privileged perch then Ardern's deputy leadership will mean diddly squat. Chances of her being the deputy Prime Minister would be much less than Winston Peters once again sliding into the seat, providing he can fight off The Greens who've been coveting it for yonks.

On nominating Ardern for the deputy leader's job, Little proudly declared that it's about setting them up for Government, putting the team in place. In reality winning the Treasury benches is about connecting with the electorate and that's specifically the job of the leader, the deputy is neither here nor there.

Labour Leader Andrew Little and Jacinda Ardern talk to the media in relation to deputy leader Annette King stepping down. Photo / Dean Purcell
Labour Leader Andrew Little and Jacinda Ardern talk to the media in relation to deputy leader Annette King stepping down. Photo / Dean Purcell

Just a couple of days before announcing her intention to quit, and just after the Mt Albert by election, King was saying talk about her making way for Ardern was ageist and questioned what the new constituent MP could offer that she couldn't, other than relative youth.

That's a fair question and the answer is not a lot when it comes to pointing the glue gun at her colleagues and having them take notice of it.

King is younger than Donald Trump who is just beginning his political career, although that's probably not a fair comparison, other than to observe age shouldn't be a barrier to political participation, particularly when the population is aging and is more engaged with actually turning out to the ballot box.

This sudden change at the top has Andrew Little's fingerprints all over it. He seems to have taken heart out of the Mt Albert win, with a miserable 30 percent turnout of the vote and with no opposition, which is misplaced - a drover's dog wearing a red rosette could have pulled it off - and that's no reflection on Ardern.

- NZ Herald

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