There’s a lot of criticism around about Labour leader Andrew Little, after what’s been a pretty awful week and a pretty lousy couple of months. And there are, presumably, whispers in the party about maybe replacing him, maybe bringing back David Shearer? Or Bringing Jacinda Ardern forward? Because there always are, although Little will be harder to get rid of than the other leaders because of his support in the union movement and that movement’s kingmaker role within the modern Labour party.
But maybe being Opposition leader – widely observed as being ‘the worst job in politics’ – is just a really hard job and it typically takes a long time to get good at it and build up credibility with the public? Here’s a bar chart of how long our recentish opposition leaders were in the job until they were elected or deposed. The dataset is small so definitive conclusions are tricky, and we transferred from FPP to MMP during this period. But maybe Key’s quick rise was atypical and the best way to change the government is to pick a leader – like Clark or Bolger – and let them build up their competence and credibility over time?