Jacinda Ardern says Labour is about to “run the campaign of our lives” in her first media conference as the new leader of the Labour Party.
Ardern was voted in as leader after Andrew Little’s sudden resignation on Tuesday morning. Kelvin Davis was the party’s new deputy leader.
She said she was looking forward to the challenge of the election campaign, talking to reporters shortly after midday.
CAMERON BURNELL/FAIRFAX NZ.
Ardern said she and the party would take 72 hours to take stock of where Labour was at.
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“I will bring a different stamp to this campaign,” Ardern said, and highlighted “relentless positivity” and a clear vision for New Zealand.
She said there was no Plan B – they were focussed on the election.
Ardern laughed, saying that she had just accepted the “worst job in politics” at very short notice.
She paid tribute to Little, saying he was first and foremost loyal to Labour.
She thanked him for his “incredible” work over the last few years.
DAVIS’ FLIGHT DASH
Labour’s new deputy leader had the quickest shower of his life this morning when he got a call at 4.30am saying he needed to be on a flight in Kerikeri in two hours’ time.
Davis had planned to be up north on Tuesday morning but got told he needed to be in Wellington.
He was unsure about what would happen with the fact he’s not on Labour’s party list in the election. All of the Labour MPs in Maori seats took themselves off the list earlier this year.
But it could be awkward if Mana Party leader Hone Harawira won the Te Tai Tokerau seat off Davis and he didn’t have the list as a back-up.
Little resigned at a caucus meeting of Labour MPs in Wellington on Tuesday morning.
The move followed revelations Little had consulted his colleagues on whether to step aside over new polling showing the party sinking to a record low result.
Andrew Little spent the last 3yrs standing up for all New Zealanders, working to close the gap btw rich & poor. I thank him for that.
— Metiria Turei (@metiria) July 31, 2017
Little said as leader you had to take responsibility and he did. The polls were showing a declining trend.
“I do take responsibility and believe that Labour must have an opportunity to perform better under new leadership through to the election.”
Sources said it had become clear on Tuesday morning that Little did not have the majority support.
After announcing his resignation Little said Ardern had his full backing, ahead of the vote which confirmed her as the new leader.
Little said the campaign ahead would be tough – “it will be a big fight” – and he was determined to be in it.
He said he would stay on at least until the election and would have to talk to the party about what slot he would have on the list.
Earlier on Tuesday Little pulled out of all planned media engagements ahead of the meeting, in which it was reported he would face a no-confidence vote.
There had been a report MP Kris Faafoi was running the numbers for a new leadership team of Ardern and Davis, and Labour’s former party president Mike Williams had earlier told media he expected Little would stand down on Tuesday.
GREENS: PARTY AGREEMENT ENDURES
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei paid tribute to Little, while congratulating Ardern.
“Our relationship will continue to be sound now that Jacinda Ardern has assumed leadership of the Labour Party, and our congratulations goes out to her and new deputy leader, Kelvin Davis.
“Our goal remains the same – to change the government this September, and we’re looking forward to working together to achieve this.
“Andrew Little has spent the last two and a half years standing up for all New Zealanders, working to bridge the gap between rich and poor, and to call out the National Government’s many failures. We thank him for that.
“What’s important now is that we show New Zealanders we have answers to the problems we face as a nation; homelessness, families struggling to get by, climate change, and dirty rivers and lakes. These are problems National has failed to address or solve – it’s time to change the government.”
LABOUR ‘IN DISARRAY’
National leader Prime Minister Bill English was on his way into caucus just as Little announced he was stepping down.
“We respect any leader of the Opposition, they’ll replace him with someone else,” he said.
“They’re in disarray, the basic problem isn’t really the leadership, it’s they just don’t have a positive view of what New Zealand can achieve”.
English said National had a lot of hard work to do, “because they’ll select a new leader.”
He cautioned that his party would not become complacent as on the latest poll numbers they still could not form a government with its current support parties.
Asked for his overall opinion of Little as an opponent, English said: “He actually brought the Labour Party together to some extent, or it looked like he had, I’m not so sure now.
“Whoever is leader of the Labour Party we respect them as the leader of the Opposition.”
The 1 News-Colmar Brunton poll showing Labour on 24 per cent also showed the Green Party soaring to their highest result ever in poll series, at 15 per cent.
NZ First was steady at 11 per cent and Gareth Morgan’s Opportunities Party was on 2 per cent.
The poll put National on 47 per cent, holding steady on its 2014 result though the poor polling of its potential coalition allies meant it would probably be reliant on NZ First to form a government.
Labour had been hit by a series of hammer blows with polls showing its popularity taking a dive – even from its own pollster.
A UMR Research poll provided to Labour, the pollster’s corporate clients and some other parties last week, and leaked to Stuff on Monday, showed Labour on 23 per cent – down six points from a similar poll in June.
That was worse even than Sunday’s 1 News-Colmar Brunton poll.
But there was no better news for Labour in a Newshub-Reid Research poll on Monday that also had Labour diving to 24 per cent.