Labour pessimism versus optimism

There’s been contrasting columns at the herald over the past two days.

On Tuesday there was Phil Quin: Labour’s pessimism ploy. (Quin resigned from Labour when the Chinese surname data was promoted).

Despite a considerable souring of economic sentiment, Labour, under Andrew Little, has barely moved in the polls since last year’s historic drubbing. His personal popularity lags behind predecessors David Cunliffe and David Shearer – and Little is more than 20 points adrift of where John Key stood at a comparable juncture in Helen Clark’s third term.

Little is no ideologue; nor does he play one for the cameras like Cunliffe. Instead, his animating worldview is one of pessimism. He is gambling that voters are change-averse, grumpy and fearful of the future.

Quin detailed:

  • The CGT reversal was just the first of numerous maneuvers that reflect this downbeat assessment of the public mood.
  • On the TPPA, Little’s Labour has adopted an unapologetically protectionist stance. It is no small matter for Labour to abandon decades of enthusiastic support for trade liberalisation, long seen by politicians across the spectrum as a key to New Zealand’s current and future prosperity.
  • Labour’s release of leaked Auckland housing data in order to highlight the prevalence of Chinese-sounding surnames is perhaps the singular event of Andrew Little’s tenure to date (full disclosure: I resigned from the party over the issue). It was an audacious and high-risk gambit. Little himself conceded he knew it would attract accusations of racism – but public polls suggest it has fallen well short of being the game-changer Labour had hoped.
  • Perhaps nothing showcases Labour’s defensive crouch better than its decision to oppose the referendum on the New Zealand flag. Labour’s historic mission is to forge a proudly independent national identity for New Zealand. It’s depressing to see Labour cede this turf to John Key for negligible political gain.
  • Labour is mining economic anxiety for the prospect of electoral gain and, in the process, usurping National’s historic role of defending, by any means necessary, what constitutes the status quo.
  • By playing up fears about the perils of globalisation or an impending Chinese invasion, Labour will encounter furious and vocal agreement. This shouldn’t be mistaken for a groundswell. Voters don’t reward parties who merely echo and reinforce feelings of despondency without offering real solutions.

Quin concludes:

Labour, in particular, thrives when it approaches the future with gusto, not trepidation. Merchants of doom and gloom might fill the airwaves, but they rarely win elections.

Yesterday Rob Salmond promoted an alternate view in Rob Salmond: The true state of Labour.  Salmond is stated as a communications and analytics consultant, whose clients include Andrew Little.

Is the Labour Party pessimistic, or optimistic? Does it oppose change or embrace it? Is the movement marching forward or standing still? Answering these questions is important, because it helps us understand the engine room of the next government.

It depends on whether you see things from where Labour is trying to present itself from it’s communications team or how the puiblic generally sees Labour. The Standard has hardly looked optimistic about Labour’s chances for a long time, it doesn’t represent all of Labour’s emotions but it’s a significant view on the thoughts of the activist Labour left.

Take home ownership, the political hot-topic of the year. Labour leader Andrew Little thinks home ownership rates really can go up again in Auckland, and across New Zealand. I’d call that optimism rather than pessimism. To get there, Labour’s proposing big changes, for example a large-scale, government-led programme of house building, or big changes to our investment rules.

Labour have succeeded in highlighting Auckland’s housing issues but this has drawn attention to the problems with escalating values rather than promoting a difference under a future Labour Government.

The plight of regional New Zealand’s another example. Little reckons our heartland towns really can get out of their current funk, and become potent economic forces again. For me, that sounds like more optimism. Labour’s ideas for achieving that include major capital expenditure on rail links and ports. Doing that might also help New Zealand’s economy diversify, becoming less dependent on dairy as new industries grow.

Except that many regions aren’t in a ‘current funk’. Tourism, apples, wine, avocados, meat etc are doing better than ever. There are labour shortages in some areas.

This is where Labour is failing – they have been talking down the regions, talking down the economy, talking down the TPP. Tacking an ‘optimistic hope Labour can do better’ doesn’t negate the negativeness.

Once you look at real examples of Labour’s contribution to the public debate, it’s hard to see where the pessimism argument is coming from.

No it’s not hard to see pessimism.

Quin does, correctly, that Little’s decision not to pursue a Capital Gains Tax was motivated by electoral pragmatism. He also notes, also correctly, that Labour’s position on the TPPA is a skeptical “wait and see” at the moment, not a definitive yes or no.

These are certainly shades-of-grey positions, the signpost of a party cognizant of both its principled starting point and the limits of what the public actually wants. Serious political parties always care about both these things. But those premises don’t lead to Quin’s pessimistic, fearful conclusion.

These premises are meaningless waffle to most people.

Many commentators have noted Labour’s caucus is more united, more disciplined, than it has been since Helen Clark. For the first time in around six years, the leadership murmors have disappeared

“Many commentators”?

Recent Labour related news has featured:

On polls:

Quin says Labour “has barely moved in the polls since last year’s historic drubbing.” Labour got 25 per cent in last year’s election. Less than a year later, four of the five latest polls have Labour above 30 per cent. An increase of more than five points inside a year, with the Greens’ vote steady or slowly increasing as well, isn’t “barely moved.” It’s “solid early progress.”

It’s more like tenuous recovery from an embarrassingly low election result. It was thought that Salmond’s Chinese surname data waw an attempt to get a populist poll boost but it barely had any affect ap;art from annoying a lot of people on the left.

It’s a communication consultant’s job to talk up optimism.

That doesn’t mean the public see optimism or are optimistic about Labour’s next election chances.

Labour are still requiring the support of both the Greens and NZ Fiirst to look like they are able to form a Government.

Can Salmond sound optimistic about that?

Winston Peters looks more optimisitic about his chances of being the next Prime Minister than Andrew Little.

To actually look optimistic (rather than say you are optimisitic) voters need to see a Government in waiting that they think is viable and manageable.

I think Mr Salmond has a bit more work to do yet.

“Flags will be waved, and kisses freely exchanged”

Chris Trotter seems very optimistic about what a Jeremy Corbyn win the the UK Labour leadership will mean for the world, going by his patest post Leaving Babylon: The Effect Of A Jeremy Corbyn Victory

ON 12 SEPTEMBER, the world will learn if the British Labour Party has opted to move sharply to the left. If that is the result, and, as the polls suggest, Jeremy Corbyn is decisively elected Leader of the Opposition, then the impact of the Labour membership’s decision will reverberate around the English-speaking world.

The reverberations of a Corbyn win will be especially loud here, in New Zealand.

Really? That seems to be overestimating Kiwi interest in a lurch to the left in the UK.

It is, however, a common feature of both the British and the New Zealand labour parties that, for the duration of their Babylonian captivity, by the waters of Neoliberalism, neither of their respective memberships ever forgot, or gave up hope of returning to, the Zion of democratic socialism, from which they’d been so ruthlessly uprooted.

If Corbyn wins on 12 September, many political commentators are convinced that the reaction of left-wing voters, across the English-speaking world, will mirror the reaction of the French to their liberation by the Allies in 1944. Flags will be waved, and kisses freely exchanged, as the people welcome themselves back home.

Perhaps in the inner circles of Auckland Labour left dreamers there might be a bit of joy and hope, but I’m more tha a bit dubious about how widesprad the waving and kissing will be.

The Socialists’ last hope of Nivana?

Will Hipkins revise charter school ‘failed experiment’ stance?

ERO: “a good start providing education for young Maori”

Peeni Henare: “I’ve seen the outcomes they’ve achieved ”

Chris Hipkins: “The whole charter school concept is deeply flawed”.

Who is right?

Two weeks agop Chris Hiopkins, Labour’s Education spokesperson, posted GOOD MONEY AFTER BAD FOR FAILED EXPERIMENT:

The whole charter school concept is deeply flawed.

“Labour has been very clear. We will direct any additional funding towards programmes that address underachievement in our existing public school system. Throwing money at low quality, hurriedly established, experimental charter schools has to stop,” Chris Hipkins says.

However puts him at odds with two Labour MPs with education backgrounds, Kelvin Davis and Peeni Henare.

Divisions in Labour over charter schools policy

Labour MP for Tāmaki-Makaurau Peeni Henare and his colleague, Kelvin Davis, attended a fundraiser for the He Puna Marama Trust, which has set up a charter school in Whangarei.

Mr Davis told 3News at the fundraiser that his leader, Andrew Little, did not want the Labour MPs to attend the event.

Mr Henare told Radio New Zealand that he knew all the people involved in both the trust and the kura itself, including the students.

“I support that particular charter school, and the reason I do that is that I’ve seen kaupapa grow from the fetal stages all the way to what they have today and I’ve seen the outcomes they’ve achieved and that’s I why I support that particular kaupapa.”

This is also backed by an official review:

The Education Review Office’s report on the kura, released in February, found it had made a good start providing education for young Maori, and that senior students were making pleasing progress.

So the whole partnership school concept appears to not be deeply flawed.

Will Hipkins review his stance on charter schools?

Henare on his support for Whangarei partnership school

Peeni Henare, Labour MP for Tāmaki-Makaurau, broke ranks with his party when, along with Kelvin Davis, he attended a fundraiser for Whangarei partnership (charter) school run by the Puna Marama Trust.

Radio NZ reports Divisions in Labour over charter schools policy.

The Education Review Office’s report on the kura, released in February, found it had made a good start providing education for young Maori, and that senior students were making pleasing progress.

Mr Henare told Radio New Zealand that he knew all the people involved in both the trust and the kura itself, including the students.

“I support that particular charter school, and the reason I do that is that I’ve seen kaupapa grow from the fetal stages all the way to what they have today and I’ve seen the outcomes they’ve achieved and that’s I why I support that particular kaupapa.”

Supporting something that’s working successfuly is sensible politics.

All Labour’s policies had been under review since the last election, but its policy on charter schools was unequivocal: scrap them.

Mr Henare said how the policy played out now remained to be seen.

“We are all mature adults, I’d like to think and if we can get the opportunity to sit down and debate the merits for and of these kinds of kaupapa – and I’d expect the same for all policies and kaupapa that the Labour Party has – that the opportunity be given to sit down, to debate the merits on a fair playing field if you like, and I’m sure that’ll take place in due course.”

This puts the Laboujr party in a difficult position. They  have been committed to backing their education group allies and staunchly opposing partnership schools.

Success is going to be difficult to oppose, especially whe some of their own MPs recognise and applaud the benefits.

Two Labour MPs break ranks on Charter Schools

Labour, along with close allies the teachers’ unions, has always strongly opposed Charter Schools.

SO it’s notable that two Maori Labour MPs have openly supported a charter school.

3 News reported: Kelvin Davis defies Labour policy in charter school support

Labour MP Kelvin Davis has rebelled against his leader, Andrew Little, by giving his support to a charter school – a policy Labour strongly opposes.

Mr Davis was present at a fundraiser for a charter school.

Charter schools use taxpayers’ money, but are privately run – an ACT Party policy adopted by the Government.

The fundraiser was for a school run by the He Puna Marama Trust in Whangarei.

Mr Davis is Labour’s associate education spokesman, so it’s a bad look for him to show support.

Another Labour MP, Peeni Henare, also attended.

Davis is MP for Maori electorate Te Tai Tokerau, Henare is MP for Tāmaki Makaurau. Some Maori see benefits in Charter Schools, and Davisd and Henare have put more priority of the interests of their Maori constituencies rather the political interests of their party.

Labour sources have told 3 News Mr Little did not want them to go.

It does look a bit awkward for Little and Labour.

A spokeswoman for Mr Little said he left the decision to go up to the MPs, and their attendance does not reflect any change in Labour’s policy on charter schools.

But it’s obvious the blanket policy opposing charter schools is not universally accepted within the party.

It suggests a clash of special interests within Labour – their education constituency versus their Maori constituency.
 

Sports and politics

Why was the All Black squad announcement done from Parliament yesterday? That seemed quite unneccesary and inappropriate.

The whole thing was terribly overhyped as it was without a need for politicians to jump on the bullshit bandwagon.

It used to be said that sports and politics shouldn’t get mixed up. Now the political and sports PR machines spin off each other as much as they can.

Green rhetoric versus reality

Greens have yet another Parliamentary inquiry under way, this one into selected special needs education. ODT reports: Limited scope of special needs inquiry criticised.

The inquiry, announced earlier this month, will focus on improving the learning experience of children with dyslexia, dyspraxia and autism spectrum disorders.

Green Party education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said, ”So many students are missing out on education because their learning differences are not identified early enough and help is not made available. We want to change the system so every child has a fair go.”

However Raewyn Alexander, principal of Dunedin special needs school Sara Cohen, said she did not understand why other ”challenges” such as Down syndrome and cerebral palsy were not included in the inquiry.

”If they want a fair go for every child, why have they only focused on those three specific challenges? If they want a fair go for every child, then they should be asking for an inquiry for all kids with needs, not just those three aspects of special needs.”

Alexander points out a basic problem with the Green approach. Selecting three disorders only for their inquiry is odd anyway, but it’s at odds with their “We want to change the system so every child has a fair go” rheotric.

Dunedin Green Party MP and co-leader Metiria Turei said the inquiry needed to be ”fairly clear in its scope” and restricting the investigation to three disorders would keep the focus on understanding what was lacking and what further resources needed to be provided so every child in New Zealand had a ”fair go” at school.

Turei re-emphasises the contradiction. It’s typical Green marketing practice to package things into soundbites of three, in this case choosing just three disorders to investigate. But that clashes with a general Green theme of giving every child a “fair go”.

”We want to hear from families and schools about what they need and what is clearly lacking, we want to hear about all those experiences so we can get a handle on the scale of the problem,” she said.

Except they only want to get a handle on only some experiences, ignoring the overall scale of any problem.

Ms Turei had been invited to Sara Cohen school events on numerous occasions, Mrs Alexander said, and had failed to ever respond.

”We find that pretty disappointing because of her party and also because she is a local,” Mrs Alexander said.

Ouch. Do Greens only want to hear from families and schools who fit the scope of their packaged inquiries?

Turei is a Dunedin based MP although stands in Dunedin North and Sara Cohen School is in Caversham which is in Dunedin South.

Maybe Greens should have an inquiry into why their rhetoric doesn’t seem to match reality.

Jacinda Ardern, career politician

Jacinda Ardern appears to be a politician with ambitions, but what drives her? Is she in the right party? She’s long been associated with the Labour Party but her website profile wouldn’t look out of place in the Green Party.

Personal Statement

Jacinda Ardern

A bit about Jacinda ardern

Politics is not an easy place to be – but I believe New Zealand has the potential to be even better than it is, and Parliament is one place where I can help make that happen

When I was pretty young I lived in a small town called Murupara, a place that was forgotten during the economic reforms of the 1980s, and which lost its main source of employment when the forestry industry was privatised. I saw then the level of poverty that exists in some parts of our country; I saw the impact of a lack of work and hope, and what happens when we don’t invest in our kids.

That’s why I’m in politics.

I believe in an Auckland and a New Zealand that owns its future, and its assets, that is smart and grows the economy by investing in Research and Development and clean technology, has a world class public transport system that we can be proud of, invests in children, and is genuinely a world leader on environmental issues.

And why do I want to strive for all of this on behalf of Auckland Central? That’s easy – because it’s my home; one I know we can make even better than it already is.

To me that’s vague waffle and immensely underwhelming.

Her background (according to her):

My experience

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is “what did you do before this?”

Like many Kiwis, I was getting experience overseas. I worked as an Assistant Director in the Department for Business and Enterprise in London, trying to improve the way they regulated small businesses. I also worked on a review of Policing in England and Wales.

I lived in New York, making meatballs at a soup kitchen, and before that, I was at home in New Zealand, working for Helen Clark.

For many years I was also the President of an international political organisation with consultative status with the United Nations – it took me around the world from Beirut to Geneva, but also taught me how to manage an international Board – and that home was where I wanted to be.

International political experience and working for Helen Clark. Outside of politics there seems to be little or nothing.

Wikipedia has more details:

Born 26 July 1980 so she is now 35.

Ardern grew up in Morrinsville and Murupara, where her father, Ross Ardern, worked as a policeman. She attended Waikato University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications. She joined the Labour Party at a young age, and became a senior figure in the Young Labour Party.

After graduating from Waikato University, she spent time working in the offices of Phil Goff and of Helen Clark as a researcher.

She didn’t mention Phil Goff in ‘My Experience’.

She later spent time in London, working as a senior policy advisor. In early 2008 she won election as the President of the International Union of Socialist Youth.

Her Labour party profile has more detail on her UK experience:

Before entering Parliament Jacinda worked for two and a half years for the Better Regulation Executive in the UK Cabinet Office. Her role as an Associate Director was to improve the way that local authorities, in particular, interfaced with business. She was also seconded to the Home Office to assist with a review of policing in England and Wales.

That means she must have gone to the UK at about the start of 2006. She would have left school about 1997-98, so that gives her about eight years to get her University degree and work for Goff and Clark.

Wikipedia:

After a high placement on Labour’s party list for the 2008 election (her ranking at number 20 virtually guaranteed a seat in Parliament) Ardern returned from London to campaign full-time. She also became the Party’s candidate for the Waikato electorate. Ardern was unsuccessful in the electorate vote, but was elected as a List MP.

That’s a high list placement for someone who has been overseas, but she obviously had good contacts back in New Zealand. It looks like it could be a planned career path.

She came a distant second in Waikato in a strongly National leaning electorate, getting about 23% for her personal and Labour’s party vote – in 2011 the Labour candidate got a lower personal (18.4%) and party (16.44%) vote.

Soon after the 2008 election defeat Phil Goff replaced Helen Clark as leader and he appointed Ardern as Labour’s spokesperson for Youth Affairs and as associate spokesperson for Justice (Youth Affairs), outside the 28 top ranked MPs (along with Grant Robertson, Chris Hipkins, Kelvin Davis, Iain Lees-Galloway, Carmel Sepuloni and Phil Twyford).

Ardern was elevated to 13 on Labour’s 2011 list, the head of the newbies. Here are those MPs still in Parliament:

13. Jacinda Ardern
14. Grant Robertson
15. Andrew Little
16. Shane Jones
17. Su’a William Sio
23. Kelvin Davis
24. Carmel Sepuloni
27. Stuart Nash
28. Clare Curran
30. Chris Hipkins
31. David Shearer
33. Phil Twyford
37. Iain Lees-Galloway
41. Kris Faafoi
45. Rino Tirikatene
47. Megan Woods
49. David Clark

Ardern had moved to Auckland Central, which was held by Labour’s Judith Tizard comfortably until she lost to Nicki Kay in 2008. In a close contest Ardern lost to Nicki  Kaye in 2011 but she retained her place in Parliament via the list.

Phil Goff resigned after the 2011 loss and David Shearer was elevated into the Labour leadership. And he elevated Ardern to Labour’s front bench at number four, spokesperson for Social Development, Children, Associate Arts Culture and Heritage.

Then in September 2013 Shearer resigned and David Cunliffe became Labour’s leader. His reshuffle dropped Ardern back to six, spokesperson for Children, Police, Corrections, Arts, Culture and Heritage.

Ardern was placed at five on Labour’s 2011 list due to Shane Jones dropping out of contention. She had another close tussle with Kaye in Auckland Central, losing by 600 votes – but that was likely to be more to do with strategic Green voting. In the all important party vote Labour got just 21.67%

So how has that trended in Auckland Central?

  • 1996 – 37.14% (party vote, Judith Tizard MP)
  • 1999 – 41.50%
  • 2002 – 44.1%
  • 2005 – 45.24%
  • 2008 – 34.55% (Kaye won the seat off her with National getting 40.08%
  • 2011 – 25.11%
  • 2014 – 21.67%

Auckland has been also strongly contested by Greens, Nandor Tanczos since 1999 followed by Denise Roche since 2008.

But the declining Labour Party vote doesn’t look pretty.

After the 2014 defeat David Cunliffe sort of resigned, triggering another leadership contest. Grant Robertson promoted a joint ticket with Ardern as his deputy. Two centre city career politician candidates. They lost out to the inexperienced union backed Andrew Little. Robertson had also lost to Cunliffe.

While Little has placed Robertson at number three on the front bench and given him the challenging Finance responsibility Ardern has slid down to nine, with Twyford, Hipkins, Sepuloni and Davis all leapfrogging her.

Her current party profile:

Jacinda Ardern

Labour List MP in Auckland Central

Spokesperson for Justice, Children, Small Business and Arts, Culture & Heritage

Jacinda’a passion for social justice led her to the Labour Party at just 17 years old. She was elected to Parliament in 2008. Jacinda ran in the 2011 election as Labour’s candidate for Auckland Central, halving the incumbents’ majority down to approximately 700 votes.

Press releases from Ardern on Labour’s website show a fairly low level of activity.

Posts on her own website also show a low level of activity too.

She’s more active on her Facebook page, perhaps that suits her target constituency more.

If Andrew Little decided to step down what would Ardern’s chances be if she stood for the leadership?

She would presumably have mixed support from Labour’s caucus.

She doesn’t seem to have much support at The Standard where she doesn’t often rate a mention. After this weeks Herald promo of her leadership chances –  Labour’s support recovers to 30s – got no similar promotion.

Colonial Viper:

Jacinda is a run of the mill MP. Parliamentary staffer to Labour MP; been one of the 2% for a long time now, Grant faction and seen successive Labour defeats while in caucus.

Jenny Kirk:

I, too, have been wondering re the promotion of Jacinda Ardern – a very sneaky move to use her to undermine Andrew Little.

They are both active in Labour.

And it’s hard to see strong support from the unions for Ardern or Ardern/Robertson.

If she did succeed due to ‘last remaining cab on the rank’ and become Labour leader will voters see past her lightweight feel-good look-good self promotions and wonder where the substance is?

Ardern is a career politician. I see little sign of her being any more than that yet.

Perhaps she is targetting a leadership bid should Labour lose again in 2017, and has her sights set on the 2020 election. She’ll still only be forty then.

If she wants something other tha polituics in her CV she has time to take a break from Parliament for a couple of terms and get some real life experience, not political position by friendly appointment but proving she can get an understanding about real life and real people outside the bubble vacuum left by Helen Clark.

That would allow her to return via Labouir’s list in 2023 and perhaps contest the 2026 election leading Labour with something of substance behind her.

Otherwise it looks like her career is destined to be an ineffectual career in New Zealand followed by an appointment to the UN.

“Pretty little thing”

Graham Lowe has been criticised for referring to Jacinda Ardern as a “pretty little thing”. People seem to get immediate negative impressions from just that phrase.

It’s certainly not a way I would describe any politician (or anyone) – but I did’t say it, Lowe did. Regardless of what I or anyone else things of the phrase shouldn’t Low be able to think and speak in his own way? We can criticise him if we like, but Lowe has a right to speak as himself.

But predictably Lowe was condemned. NZ Herald reported:

National Council of Women New Zealand chief executive Sue McCabe said the description of MP Jacinda Ardern as “a pretty little thing” was dismissive and condescending.

“Within the context, a woman’s appearance is irrelevant; rather the focus should be on her abilities as a politician and potential Prime Minister.

“By focusing on her appearance and describing a grown woman as ‘little’, the panellist showed a lack of respect for Jacinda.

“This comment is sexist. Often when people highlight sexism, the concern is dismissed. More often than not, it’s seen as a one-off comment and the person apologises.

“However, these comments are symbolic of the sexism that is entrenched in our culture.

“We call on New Zealanders to think about the language they use and make sure it reflects the equality of genders.”

Should everyone be forced to speak with much greater care? or should they be able to speak as they think, as old fashioned as it may sometimes be – it’s unlikely Lowe will change his nature significantly at his age.

And it’s worth looking at all of what Lowe said.

Paul Henry on his show this morning asked Lowe what he thought about the Labour MP’s surge as preferred Prime Minister in the Herald’s latest DigiPoll.

He asked him if he thought, in the future, “we would be talking about” Ardern as Prime Minister.

Lowe said: “I’ll tell you what, she’s a pretty little thing at the moment. And what she says, she speaks pretty smart I think. She just comes across as the right image. It wouldn’t surprise me in the future.”

He said John Key also had a good “television image”.

“If she was Prime Minister at some stage, she’d look good. You’d see her and you’d think ‘Wow, she’s our Prime Minister’.”

He was actually complimenting Ardern (in his own way) – “And what she says, she speaks pretty smart I think” doesn’t sound sexist.

He went on to promote Ardern’s chances of becoming Labour leader and Prime Minister.

And while Lowe didn’t balance things by calling John Key a pretty little think he referred to key’s “good television image”.

To possibly many voters ‘television image’ is one of their primary impressions of politicians. Sure it’s very superficial, but it’s how some people view politics and politicians.

They are not likely to spend more time analysing the leadership capabilities of politicians if they are criticised for speaking their own thoughts in their own words.

Of more interest to me is who is behind what appears to be an ongoing campaign to promote Ardern as someone who some people will perceive as a “pretty little thing”.

They may be quite happy to get the additional attention as a result of Lowe’s comment.

That cartoon is just a bonus to the campaign.

What appears to be a carefully groomed image of Ardern has been promoted via a number of media for several months, NZ Herald is just the latest to pick up and promote her PR.

Is Ardern acting on her own? She must have some support from somewhere.

An all out light bulb campaign?

Tracey Watkins seems to think that truth doesn’t matter, all that’s important is getting dirt to stick.

National’s health and safety legislation its lightbulb moment

National’s health and safety legislation has turned into a running gag and political liability on the scale of Labour’s fart tax, and lightbulb ban.

And frankly, after the worm farm debacle, people will believe the worst.

Labour was swept out of power in 2008 on the back of a backlash against measures perceived as “nanny state”, some of which were equal parts myth.

There are no signs in the latest polls of National being swept anywhere. But when the rot starts setting in it is often over the small things, like school playgrounds, rather than the big things.

The health and safety legislation was borne out of the best of intentions in the wake of the Pike River mining disaster.

But politics have intervened.

It has become a runnimg gag because media are running the gag for the Opposition.

The Opposition are hardly innocent of playing politics with the issue, of course – but they are just doing what Opposition parties do best, and making hay while the sun shines.

Time will tell whether the latest attempts to damage Key and National have been successful or not.

The gags keep coming.

School playgrounds – some people believe they the next victims of the health and safety legislation.

“Some people believe” meaning Labour MPs and their allies in the education  sector are doing their best to make people believe them.

It no longer matters whether it is true or not that school playgrounds will have to close thanks to the Government’s health and safety laws.

Or whether it is true that school camps will be banned, outdoor games are under threat, or that people will have to wear a harness while using a ladder.

It’s enough that people believe it.

That’s a terrible commentary on how our politics and media works.

As for the legislation banning bullrush or school play grounds as claimed on Wednesday? A Google search suggests this is hardly the first time the Bullrush shroud has been waved.

It seems to have been banned many times over the years in response to various laws or legal precedents.

As for school camps, they were already under scrutiny after the deaths of an instructor and two pupils who drowned off New Plymouth’s Paritutu Rock while taking part in an outdoor education centre programme.

The Outdoor Education Centre was found liable and ordered to pay almost $270,000 in reparations – enough to make any school nervous about their liability in the event of another tragedy.

But National will carry the can regardless. Because the legislation is now seen as so flawed, any claim will stick

The voting and polled public have been proved wrong time and time again during the seven years of the Key Government.

There are no signs in the latest polls of National being swept anywhere. But when the rot starts setting in it is often over the small things, like school playgrounds, rather than the big things.

Labour’s strategy seems to be based on finding and promoting the small thing that breaks National’s hold on power.

Buit there’s a major problem with this. National’s support keeps holding up despite many embarassments and hiccups = because the alternative is seen as a worse option.

Labour have quite a way to go to make national seem worse than Labour. Especially if they keep lowering the standard.

For every Natiomal light bulb moment Labour highlight they keep showing they don’t have any idea how to turn the power on their own.

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