Why English is well ahead of Little

23 February 2017

One major trait voters look for in their leaders is likeability. John Key had this because he seemed like a normal bloke. Obviously a leader needs more than this, but it’s a fundamental requirement for anyone aspiring to win an Election.

Both Bill English and Andrew Little have been accused over recent years of being ‘boring’. But since he became PM, English has done wonders for his likeability, while Little has done nothing to improve his popularity.

How has English done it?

When talking to the media, he has become more animated, gesturing more and appearing more passionate about what he’s talking about. As Finance Minister, this can be harder to do, but he really has grown his skill level in this area.

English has also shown us more of his lighter side. Whoever organised the sheep shearing deserves a medal. It showed us Bill English the farmer, and even compared him to a far less practical John Key. Who could forget the former PM trying to hammer a nail into an election billboard a few years ago.

English has also fared well while talking to hosts on radio stations that aren’t totally news-focused. He’s shown his sense of humour well on music stations and radio sport.

In a nutshell, he’s not John Key, but the more people see of “the real Bill”, the more they like him. It’s not surprising that he fared so well in the recent preferred prime minister stakes.

What about Andrew Little?

Unfortunately for Labour, it’s also not surprising that Little hasn’t improved his popularity. It’s always harder for an opposition leader because they don’t get as much media attention as a PM does. But they still have an opportunity to improve their likeability.

Pardon the pun, but Little has done Little to show us the real man behind the role. His major problem is that he always comes across as so angry and never smiles or seems relaxed. Anger has it’s place in politics, but not all the time and not in the tone that Little uses it.

It’s like he loses all control and is angry with everyone, including those who don’t vote Labour. The latest example of this were the insults he threw at the Maori Party. He’s also been known to lose his cool with reporters and that’s never a good idea (unless you have an established brand like Donald Trump.)

Who is Andrew Little and what makes him tick? He needs to show us if he has any chance of leading his party to the ninth floor of the Beehive in September.

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Written by

Pete is a leading New Zealand media trainer and regular blogger for his company, Media Training NZ . He has helped leaders from all sectors of society communicate with the media and other stakeholders. Pete is a former daily newspaper reporter and press secretary in the New Zealand government. From these roles, he understands the media process from both sides of the camera.

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