Labour leader Andrew Little's admission that he discussed standing down as leader could actually improve his popularity, a former Labour president says.

Mike Williams, who was Labour president for nine years, questioned whether it was politically wise for Little to publicly reveal his discussions with caucus colleagues last week.

But he said "perverse things" could happen when leaders made uncomfortable disclosures, as shown by the Greens' rise in the polls after co-leader Metiria Turei admitted to possible benefit fraud.

The same could possibly apply to Little, Williams said.


"He's an honest man. He gets some points for that. It's quite conceivable that he could go up in the polls."

Little said yesterday that he discussed standing down as leader with senior members of his caucus last week, and that they told him to stay in the job.

That meeting came ahead of a new One News Colmar Brunton poll which showed Labour had fallen to a historically-low 24 per cent - a result which matched Labour's internal polling.

Williams said leaders always offered to stand down after a bad poll, noting that former Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark did the same when she dropped to 2 per cent in the preferred Prime Minister polls in the 1990s.

It was "not in the party's interests" for Little to step down two months before an election because there was not enough time for a new leader to get any traction, he said.

He predicted that Labour's vote would rise as Little got more profile in the leaders' debates, and he expected the party to poll closer to 30 per cent in September.

Political commentator Bryce Edwards, on the other hand, said he believed Little should stand down as leader. While there was a chance this could dent Labour's popularity further and destabilise the party, it was a chance worth taking, he said.

Promoting deputy leader Jacinda Ardern would be "a circuit breaker" for the party.


"She has proven that as deputy leader she is a very good salesperson for the party," Edwards said.

"She's a very strong communicator, and has the ability to resonate with New Zealanders in a way that Little has been unable.

"As leader she would be a significant different look to Bill English, which voters would pick up on. She would really shine over the next two months of the campaign."