Media coup of Labour leadership

It looks like media driven ‘Celebrity Leader’ is on to episode two.

Having just at least helped engineer the dumping of Annette King and promotion of Jacinda Ardern to deputy leadership of Labour media have quickly moved on – to a total leadership coup.

Claire Trevett: Labour leader Andrew Little weeks of cunning plans

Bringing Ardern in was a gutsy move because there is a risk she will overtake Little as preferred Prime Minister.

That does not appear to have spooked him or put him off advancing Ardern, which is to his credit. He cannot afford to let his own ego get in the way.

But it will inevitably spark attempts to paint Ardern as a potential threat to Little.

That will not come from Ardern herself. Ardern has repeatedly insisted her ambitions do not lie in that direction.

She also said her ambitions didn’t lie in deputy leadership, until Little paraded her on Annette King’s political grave.

Ardern may well want to actually have a life that is not politics. She might want a family. She will want to wait to see what else life might have in store for her before deciding on her ultimate ambition.

Alas, poor Jacinda – within a week she has found herself with an electorate she never expected to have which was held by two former leaders as well as a deputy leadership role she didn’t put her hand up for. She may find the fates are conspiring against her.

Or for her, if ‘fates’ is rerplaced with ‘media’.

Duncan Garner: Little makes a bold move – but Ardern is the new leader in waiting

What she is known for is flashing a big smile, DJing at dance parties and being active on social media (she has 61,400 followers on Twitter, Andrew Little has a mere 12,500).

Ardern’s greatest asset is she’s fresh, at 36 she’s young, she’s cool and she’s Auckland. And she’s about to officially become Labour’s new deputy leader after a caucus vote on Tuesday.

She doesn’t bring baggage. She’s hardly fatigued by climbing Labour’s toxic totem pole.

Ardern’s been handed a safe electorate in a non-contested, non-event of a by-election; now she’s been passed the deputy’s role as a result. All without breaking a sweat. The reality is that it’s an indictment on Labour that this ascent was so easy and unchallenged.

It’s certainly a dream run, but politics is all about timing. And she’s aced it.

Ardern’s pleasant, cheery, likeable, largely positive, she smiles and she’s attractive.

Little wants to give Labour the best possible chance of winning.

He got his way and showed ruthlessness to get it. It was well-managed and King went gracefully. She’s a truly decent person. I hope she is looked after with a future appointment. She’s proved to be a rare politician who put her party’s interests before her own.

But here’s a little hurdle Little might face: What happens if Ardern goes past him in the preferred prime minister rankings? It’s entirely possible. She’s a brand, he’s not.

Cross that bridge later. Little is taking this party into the election. And it’s clear he’s serious about winning.

But here’s the sobering news for Little – deputies don’t win elections, leaders and parties do. They don’t have televised deputy leader debates. Andrew Little, this is still your fight. You’ll only get one shot at this.

Should he fail, he just picked his successor. Ardern is Labour’s leader in waiting.

This was exactly predictable, and just what Labour doesn’t want, unless their real intent is to change leader before the election.

Because if voters buy the media meme that Ardern is ‘leader in waiting’ they are likely to wait until she is leader.

Leave a comment


  1. Corky

     /  4th March 2017

    Simply delicious. Lets vote them in and enjoy more drama.

  2. PDB

     /  4th March 2017

    Jacinda knows her limitations………..aspires to muck around with children as its minister and leave that economy & financial stuff to the adults.

    I wonder how her close mate Grant is taking her jumping on the Andrew Little train? I don’t think she would have if Little was still up against Key.

  3. duperez

     /  4th March 2017

    What was exactly predictable was that oracles like Duncan Garner and Mike Hosking would come out to play.

    • Yes. The line between journalist or presenter and political activist is becoming increasingly bent and broken.

      • Pete Kane

         /  4th March 2017

        A very serious (and understated) matter leading into the election.

        • When I look at the contrived situation in the US with the Democratic led fight to repudiate Trump’s election, and the extent to which our MSM have jumped on the same bandwagon, I start to wonder if our culture is being manipulated to the benefit of the MSM Party. It has a lot of the characteristics of a hardline Union, mores the pity.

      • NOEL

         /  4th March 2017

        Leave the room when anything with Hosking is played on the box.
        I believe he is in an Air NZ safety add. Not sure how I’m going to deal with that on the next flight. Rip the box out of the seat? Any better suggestions.

  4. I suspect that once Ms Ardern is put on the spot by some hard questioning from unsyncopantic interviewers (has she ever been on Kim Hill’s show?) her limitations will become glaringly obvious. As many others have pointed out – she has been in parliament for 8 years and what has she really achieved? Compare her to Louisa Wall who is in a similar position, gets a lot less press but actually does things.

    • Blazer

       /  4th March 2017

      Hard to “do” things in.. opposition.

      • David

         /  4th March 2017

        She has produced no policy, even your beloved Labourites need to give people a reason to vote for them. Simon Power and Tony Ryall said they both spent the opposition years honing policy and hit the ground running on day one as an example of “do”.

  5. Its good that she will be the leader of Labour after the election. Then she will lose the 2020 election, then what. Bill is around for long time . Winston need to pick a successor now,

  6. Kevin

     /  5th March 2017

    Bold move? Hardly. It was the most sensible move to try and eliminate a threat. A bold move involves considerable risk but massive reward. A bold move would have been to step down, let Arden takeover, watch as Labour loses badly, and then come back as the knight in shining armour to rescue the Party.


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