September 21, 2015
Little needs to be careful
Little needs to be careful
Labour leader Andrew Little still has a way to go to show astute leadership and that he’s more than capable of running the country following the fallout over two of his Maori MPs attending a charter school function in Whangarei.
The Labour Party has been making big gains with its relentless campaigns by Phil Tywford on Housing and Kelvin Davis – an Associate Education spokesperson, on Corrections.
But for the Labour leader to become involved and offer comment for newspapers when two of his Maori MPs – Davis and Peeni Henare – attend a function for a chartered school, shows a lack of political nous and inexperience.
Sure Chartered Schools are not part of the Labour Party policy. But you can’t expect Davis, who won the Te Tai Tokerau electorate over Hone Harawira, and that was no mean feat, and Henare, who comes from an education background, to ignore the whanau or these types of events.
Little needs to realise that his Maori MPs won the seats back for Labour and that can easily turn again if the Maori nation see their MPs either being neglected, not listening to the electorate or becoming lap dogs for the Labour Party.
All Little needed to say was, while the Chartered Schools are not on Labour’s agenda, I expect my MPs to be working within and as part of their electorates and communities.
I remember when I interviewed Shane Jones – remember him – when he first entered politics as a bright new hope with a big vision for this country. He told me he was a Labour MP first and Maori second.
Well we all know where that left Jones and in fact when he challenged for the Labour Party leadership he couldn’t even count on the Maori MPs support. Then of course there is my old mate John Tamihere, who was forced to tow the party line on the Foreshore and Sea Bed debate, and go against the people who voted him in.
In the end, the whanau voted with their feet and walked away from John and Labour and they allowed the Maori Party to establish a following and kaupapa built on social discontent.
Anyway, that’s something Little should realise before making statements like “I hauled them into my office for a please explain.”
He has to be very careful with his management of the Maori MPs. Obviously he has to balance their interests against his party’s policies and particularly the unionists in the party who refuse to accept charter schools as a viable option. However he should know that Maori won’t put up with their MPs being undermined and publically chastised.
This was no career ending move from the Labour leader but he cannot afford to repeat the mistake the last thing he would want is for his Maori MPs to rebel or revolt as Tariana Turia did in 2004 when she set up the Maori Party, so he must exercise caution if the problem reoccurs.
While Chartered Schools – publically funded but privately run – are not part of Labour’s vision, they are here and can’t be avoided.
Headlines like ‘Davis and Henare defy Labour leader’ can.
Tune in every Monday from 10am to Paakiwaha current affairs from a Maori perspective with Willie Jackson
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