Rodney Hide: List shambles hurts Andrew Little

Labour leader Andrew Little's call to parachute in broadcaster Willie Jackson was declared by one pundit a "deft strategic move". It's proved anything but.

Instead of singing hosannas, the party erupted in outrage. MP Poto Williams employed a PR company to publicise her "concern" at Jackson becoming a member of the party, let alone an MP.

I understand the tensions and differences of opinion in a party but they are not to be vented publicly. The All Blacks don't air their differences by press release. That's because they are a team.

Williams demonstrated Labour lacks discipline and is not a team. Whatever good was achieved by parachuting in Jackson was undone.

We then had Jackson's list ranking to look forward to. The local bridge club would realise it would require some management. Not so the Labour Party, apparently.

The interest and upset appeared to take them by surprise.

The announcement was delayed, reportedly to settle ruffled feathers. Jackson was flying to Wellington but his pleas were to no avail. He was placed number 21. No other list story cut through the noise.

It was atrocious handling of what should have been a good news story for Labour. There were new candidates to showcase but that story was overwhelmed. Comment instead settled on whether Jackson, at 21, was assured a place in Parliament and whether his mana was bruised. None of this was good for Labour.

The real news is leader Little's powerlessness within his own party and Jackson - having swapped the airwaves for the megaphone of Parliament - ending up with a tin whistle.

Little publicly promised Jackson a high list place. The party gave him 21. That's a put-down of Little. His future ability to pull high profile candidates with the promise of his backing is now zero.

His own party won't follow his lead. No matter their apprehension of Jackson, those deciding the final list should have backed their leader to show a party united behind him.

The man who wants to command the country can't command his own party is the impression left.

The news for Jackson is equally bad. He's an ex-MP from the Alliance and so not tribal Labour. His big shot with the leader's backing only landed him 21 - and that's as good as it's going to get.

There's no prospect of a place for him in Cabinet. His future is the backbenches watching others make the play. He will only make the news if he cuts up rough on the party.

I profess no love of Labour but such omnishambles leaves me feeling sorry for Little, Jackson and the party. If they do make it to government, it's to be hoped that the Greens bring some much-needed stability and leadership to the table.

- Herald on Sunday

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Rodney Hide

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