Andrew Little's mum faces big election challenge

JO MOIR
Last updated 05:00 23/11/2011
Andrew Little
ANDY JACKSON/FAIRFAX NZ

SPLIT VOTE: New Plymouth Labour Party candidate Andrew Little and his mother, Cicely, who has been a National Party supporter for 30 years.

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Andrew Little has his work cut out when it comes to winning his mum's vote on Saturday.

By day Mr Little battles to win New Zealand's most marginal seat off MP Jonathan Young; by night he lives under the same roof as his mother, Cicely, a National Party member of 30 years.

When Mr Little announced he would contest New Plymouth's seat as the Labour Party candidate, Mrs Little said she wrote a letter to Mr Young saying her political beliefs would fall on neutral ground this election.

But with only four days until New Zealanders head to the polling booths, Mrs Little said she still hasn't decided whether she will vote.

"What am I to do? Obviously my loyalties lie with my son but my husband and I were always National Party supporters," she said.

It was Mr Young who brought up Mrs Little's dilemma at a National Party meet-the-candidates meeting in Okato yesterday.

"I was speaking with Mrs Little recently – she's a National Party member you know – and I said to her that I understand her loyalties lie with her son but I'll be rather peeved if I lose by one vote," Mr Young said.

Mrs Little said she wasn't surprised when her son told her he was standing for the New Plymouth seat.

"He has always been tied up with the union and workers' rights so he's always supported the underdog," she said.

Asked whether there had been many political debates over the dinner table in recent months, Mrs Little said she would have to see him for that to happen.

"He's very busy and just sort of dashes in, eats something, goes to his room and plays on his computer."

But Andrew Little said when they did find time to sit down for dinner, politics was often discussed. "We certainly talk about issues and you find stuff you agree and disagree on," Mr Little said.

The main issue they disagreed on was welfare policy but the political conversations never turned sour, he said.

"We're certainly very good at focusing on the issues and we don't take it personally."

He and his four siblings were never pressured by their parents to support the National Party, he said.

Mr Little's parents had always been fully supportive of his achievements and political stance.

"Both my parents always expressed pride and support in my life and the direction I've taken."

Mrs Little said although she hasn't decided whether to vote or not, she is sure some of her friends will be voting for her son as they have known him since he was a boy.

"Well, he grew up here, so he knows people and I think some people will probably vote for him for the seat and then perhaps give their party vote to National."

If she does decide to go to the polling booth on Saturday, Mrs Little says she won't be revealing what box she ticked.

"I wouldn't dream of telling him but I certainly won't be disappointed if he wins," she said.

"I only want the best for my son."

Perhaps that is why she displays an Andrew Little placard on the fence of her New Plymouth home.

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