How ‘electable’ is Jacinda Ardern?

There have been many claims and assertions by media about how Jacinda Ardern will enhance Labour’s election chances.

Media either:

  • precipitated the retirement announcement of Annette King and the promotion of Jacinda Ardern as King’s replacement as Labour’s deputy leader
  • executed the promotion of Ardern (and demotion of King) as tools of either camp Ardern or camp Labour.

Either way (some) media were willing political activists rather than journalists. This isn’t good for democracy in New Zealand.

And this quickly escalated into promoting Ardern as leader of Labour – see Media coup of Labour leadership.

Tim Murphy is “Reporter, Editor – . ‘If you chase two rabbits, you will catch neither’ – Russian proverb”. Yesterday he tweeted, and I responded:

I presume Murphy had his opinion hat on when he tweeted that, and not his reporter or editor hats.I note that ‘facile’ means “ignoring the true complexities of an issue; superficial”.

How ‘electable’ is Ardern? The future is unknown, but the past doesn’t back up Murphy’s facile assertion.

  • She lost the safe National electorate, Waikato, by about 13,000 votes but got into Parliament via a remarkably high list placement (20) for a new candidate.
  • She moved to Auckland Central in 2011 and lost what had been a long time Labour seat up until 2008 to Nikki Kay by 717 votes, despite what looks like thousands of Green party votes shifting to her in the electorate vote.
  • In 2014 she lost in Auckland Central again to Kaye, this time by 600 votes. She was also helped substantially by Green tactical voting.
  • She stood as Grant Robertson’s deputy in Labour’s leadership contest in October 2014. They lost.
  • She moved to Mt Albert, one of Labour’s safest seats, for the 2017 by-election and won easily but with no National opponent and with favourable media coverage, and she got about half the voles David Shearer had got in the 2014 election and several thousand fewer than Shearer got in the 2009 by-election.

So apart from being gifted high list placings and being gifted a safe Labour electorate last month Ardern doesn’t have a record of electability.

Ardern is likely to win again easily in Mt Albert in this year’s general election but that is not due to her particular electability – Andrew Little could also probably win a safe Labour seat like that easily if he chose to stand.

But Ardern is now being promoted as enhancing the electability of Labour. Under MMP the party vote is all important.

How has she helped Labour in the past? Not a lot by the look of party voting in Auckland Central:

  • 2008 – Labour 34.55%, Greens 15.47%
  • 2011 – Labour 25.11%, Greens 22.79%
  • 2014 – Labour 21.67%, Greens 22.17%

Greens had the same candidate in all three of those elections, Denise Roche.

Look at the number of party votes for Labour in Auckland Central:

  • 2008 (Tizard) 12,166
  • 2011 (Ardern) 8,590
  • 2014 (Ardern) 6,101

So Labour’s party vote has halved since Ardern stood in Auckland Central.

Her history of enhancing Labour’s electability doesn’t look good.

Of course things are different now. Ardern is in her ninth year in Parliament, under her fifth leader. She has worked on her public profile. Perhaps she can enhance Andrew Little’s electability. That appears to be the plan, and what media have taken to promoting.

One thing that Ardern has succeeded at is getting media on her side. They (quite a few journalists) are giving her a lot of help. Like Murphy.

As many have pointed out, this promotion of Ardern without any history of electoral success to support it, has risks for Labour.

The voters may not share the same enthusiasm as some journalists for Ardern’s as yet unfulfilled potential (although the media promotion of Ardern as a celebrity politician is likely to have some effect).

Deputy leaders are generally virtually ignored in elections – all the attention is given to the leaders. Of course the media are indicating that this may change with Ardern because they seem to have given up on Little already.

Another problem is also apparent – if Ardern continues to be promoted as Labour’s next leader this could get chaotic in an election campaign.

Would Labour bow to media pressure and dump Little before the election? That is more likely to be disastrous rather than strategic genius.

If Ardern is made more popular than Little this could get very awkward for Labour and  could reduce the party’s electability. Voters may choose to wait until Little’s Labour loses, expecting that that will result in his dumping in favour of Ardern.

Of course the media may not care about how unelectable Labour might become.

Their obsession with personalities and with celebrity politics, and their drive to put news website clicks ahead of fair and sensible democratic processes may dominate their coverage of Ardern and Labour this election.

There were already signs last year that some media and pundits were writing off Labour’s chances under Little’s leadership.

This seems to be a factor in the media moves towards celebrity politics. Ardern may benefit, but democracy will suffer – especially if the end result is Labour crashing this election.

Ardern may remain ‘electable’ in the safe Mt Albert electorate, but Labour are at real risk here.

Politics and government dominated by one party is not good for democracy, nor is it good for the country – and it won’t be good for political media either, because the likely result is further loss of public interest in politics.

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62 Comments

  1. PDB

     /  5th March 2017

    As I’ve mentioned before Ardern as deputy is a lose/lose situation for Labour with two possibilities;

    *She does nothing and Labour continue as they are;
    *She does well but this only further highlights deficiencies in Andrew Little as PM and thus becomes a promo for a possible Ardern tilt for PM the following election.

    Reply
    • Conspiratoor

       /  5th March 2017

      I agree there are only two plausible outcomes pants but please allow me to correct the second possibility…
      She does well smiles and waves but this only further highlights deficiencies in Andrew Little

      Reply
    • Blazer

       /  5th March 2017

      Len is gone,but you have found a new…obsession.

      Reply
      • PDB

         /  5th March 2017

        Len Brown lives on as an example of the failure of far left-wing politics, spending other people’s money with little to show for it, and hypocrisy at its finest – least we forget.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  5th March 2017

          ‘spending other peoples money’ has long been the domain of the born to rule class.And if they happen to run out….just conjure some more….up.

          Reply
  2. chrism56

     /  5th March 2017

    I suspect all the Cabinet Ministers are hoping Jacinda gets their portfolio. Then they know they will be in for a very easy time. She may be very personable, but she is an intellectual lightweight who has not yet shown any skill or ability to master the complexity of government. She hasn’t even been able to put forward one meaningful Member’s bill that wasn’t just virtue signalling.
    Contrast this with the woman she replaced and it is a drafthorse being replaced by a show pony.

    Reply
    • PDB

       /  5th March 2017

      but………….but…………what about the children?

      Jacinda: “”I’m absolutely clear about my ambition to be Minister of Children”

      Reply
  3. Kevin

     /  5th March 2017

    Having Arden as deputy leader makes sense but only for Andy as a buffer till the election (plus it keeps the Jacinda faction happy for the meantime). As for Arden becoming more popular provided Andy plays things right it doesn’t really matter – it won’t be Little vs Arden but Team Andy and Jacinda. Who cares if one has more popularity than the other. They’re a team! I for one can’t wait for the billboards with Jacinda’s mug next to Andy’s.

    The people who won’t be happy are of course the media party who won’t happy with their candidate being stuck as deputy leader. You can bet that each poll that comes out showing Ardern ahead of Little the media will be rolling out the political experts, interviews, and opinions about how Little must, must I say, step aside and let Ardern take over the leadership.

    Reply
  4. Corky

     /  5th March 2017

    How electable is Jacinda Ardern? Lets do the maths.

    State education>> political apathy >> Sassy young thang >> PR campaign with Cindy doing
    the poi followed by a cuddle up with a cute animal >> picture of Bill English >> Cindy gets elected. Simple stuff for simple people. I fall for it everytime.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  5th March 2017

      She will need to be careful not to come across as too girly to be taken seriously.

      Reply
      • Nelly Smickers

         /  5th March 2017

        Maybe it would be an advantage if *Jacinda* looked more like this then do you think, Kitzy ❓

        just saying….

        Reply
  5. Colin

     /  5th March 2017

    So Ardern managed to half the votes Tizard got in the Auckland Central seat. That takes some beating. Imagine if the media had been pushing for Tizard to be PM.Ardern is an empty vessel. A tin of baked beans has more subsbtance.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  5th March 2017

      Natz losing Northland is what takes some…..beating.

      Reply
      • chrism56

         /  5th March 2017

        Almost as bad as Labour losing Auckland Central – repeatedly.

        Reply
      • PDB

         /  5th March 2017

        With Winston that isn’t much of a feat as a one-off popularity contest between him and some unknown National candidate outside the general election – what would be impressive if he holds it in September.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  5th March 2017

          by the reception he got at Northland Field days …a huge hope.

          Reply
  6. Alan Wilkinson

     /  5th March 2017

    Hide on Ardern. Hard to tell how much is tongue in cheek and how much is mischief-making. Time to hand over to the children:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11812116

    Reply
    • PDB

       /  5th March 2017

      “Ardern’s win last week in Mt Albert was reported as a landslide and proof of her vote-pulling power, despite David Shearer, the previous MP, pulling twice the votes.”

      Would that be the same David Shearer the far-left faction shafted as not being good enough as Labour leader even though he had the party polling in the 30%’s?

      Reply
    • Gezza

       /  5th March 2017

      My bet is he’s taking the Mickey, the ratbag. I stumbled across Jacinda speaking to a largely empty chamber one afternoon on some bill or other that wasn’t particularly noteworthy at the time, about a year ago, when checking which channels were what by number one day. Can’t remember what Bill it was, but I do remember pausing to watch her, seeing it was Jacinda, and that I didn’t know much about her.

      Blimey, it was sooo embarrassing. Lucky for her obviously no one from the media was there to report the debate. Honestly, given her media profile & length of tenure in The House, I was expecting at least a pedestrianly competent speech. But it was complete rubbish. She waffled on, she lost her way, she was all “um, um”, & blithering.The timer bell eventually came as a blessing to everybody, including her, & she gave up & sat down immediately, looking vacuous.

      I saw Kelvin Davis deliver a similar disastrous effort in a debate one day about 6 months ago. Some settlement bill I expect. It was painful. He was completely lost. He was trying to wing his way out of not having sny idea what point he was trying to make, while other Labour members were pleading with him with their eyes to sit down & shut up for the sake of his own dignity. 🙄

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  5th March 2017

        I can believe it about Davis but Ardern is quite articulate and can speak imo.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  5th March 2017

          Well, tbh, I was expecting that too, Blazer. I’ve heard her on radio, usually given an incredibly easy ride, though, never heard an interviewer xhallenge her, they usually seem to just let her excitedly tell happy happy stories.

          But believe me, in this debate she wasn’t remotely articulate or intelligent in what she burbled out. I was frankly stunned. This was the oft-touted future Labour leader. Even if she’d just been chucked in as a filler as the last speaker in a largely abandoned chamber – it was basically just babble – she was terrible.

          Reply
  7. Gezza

     /  5th March 2017

    “One thing that Ardern has succeeded at is getting media on her side. They (quite a few journalists) are giving her a lot of help. Like Murphy.”

    For what, though? Photo ops mainly. After 9 years in Parliament, we got to see & hear about her house & home renovations during the by-election campaign, with a photo of her sitting in a chair, grinning like some smug latte-sipping yuppie, FFS. Getting her to front on anything meaty would gut her chances at leadership, maybe even deputy leadership. She might be a brunette but frankly she couldn’t come across as any more *blonde* to me. 😳

    Blimey, Labour are desperate for talent, aren’t they?

    Reply
    • PDB

       /  5th March 2017

      That’s a bit harsh Gezza – plenty of photos of her taken during her boring everyday life like these for instance…..

      Farming…

      Eating…

      Picking fruit………

      Reply
      • All she needs is one in a swimsuit and she’s a shoo-in for Ms Pony Club 2004

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  5th March 2017

          Jacinda in a swimsuit or Paula in a swimsuit……I’ll leave it to Corky.

          Reply
          • patupaiarehe

             /  5th March 2017

            Reply
          • Keyloggers4U

             /  5th March 2017

            Ironically Blazer, Jacinda has received similar insinuations regarding her appearance as yours about Paula. Nasty little minds write nasty little comments.

            Reply
            • patupaiarehe

               /  5th March 2017

              Interesting isn’t it, KL4U, how looks seem to win over intellect, especially in the case of female politicians. That comment may sound a little strange, considering what I’ve posted above, but If I thought that PB was good at her job, I wouldn’t pick on her. She was ‘sponsored’ by the taxpayer for several years on the DPB, and still is, as a politician. At least she now gets a ‘living wage’. Which might explain why she looks fatter, every time I see her on the news..
              As for Jacinda, well she is an unknown quantity. All this talk in the MSM, about how attractive she is, has me a little stumped. WTF does it matter??? She can either do the job, or she can’t.

            • Keyloggers4U

               /  5th March 2017

              You’re worse than Blazer. Nastiness dressed up with reasonableness.
              Also a bit of hypocrisy in there regarding politicians. I have no problem with you believing Paula is useless. You wouldn’t be the only one.

            • Blazer

               /  5th March 2017

              your insinuations…are all your own…work.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  5th March 2017

              @KL4U
              Am I? Please elaborate more…

            • Keyloggers4U

               /  5th March 2017

              No need to elaborate. You have done that well with words and pictures.
              Time for me to move on.

      • Gezza

         /  5th March 2017

        Good to see her fruit-picking overalls are as down home & practical as all the other fruit pickers’ from the islands. 👍

        Reply
    • Nelly Smickers

       /  5th March 2017

      If you say so, Geez….

      Reply
    • Blazer

       /  5th March 2017

      I hope you are not applying any double standards Gezza.We have had 8 years of ‘photo ops’…crusher standing on cars,Smith standing in paddocks,Keys kids farting,Bennett in her leopard skins and Womens magazine stories galore.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  5th March 2017

        Crusher’s actually done things that have resulted in some action or result of note, Blazer, whether you like them or not.
        So has Smithy, poor bastard.
        Also, so has John Key. And Max, & Cherry La Loopo or whatever her artist’s name is – can’t be bothered checking what it is.
        So has Bennie, besides wearing fake leopard skin clobber (quite some time ago now; why are you still living in the past about that?).

        What’s Jacinda actually achieved or done – apart from claim to have done some home renovations to her own swanky pad, with no actual evidence of her swinging a hammer or using a drill or anything. Bennett’s even done more for the homeless than she has, and that’s saying summat. Didn’t see anything about Jacinda letting some homeless people camp in her spare room, or garage, or back lawn. Did you?

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  5th March 2017

          I mean, Christ, even if Penny Bright is the world’s stingiest ratepayer, at least there’s actual video evidence on EweCheb somewhere that she knows her way about a water meter & an angle grinder 👛 💪

          Reply
        • Blazer

           /  5th March 2017

          ‘Bennett’s even done more for the homeless than she has’….are you talking about the …’flying squads'(the invisible ..ones)?

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  5th March 2017

            Nope, she found funding for that Auckland Marae to assist, also funding for other emergency accom. Far from ideal, but at least addressing the immediate problem. This is one area where Labour & the Nats should go head to head this year & it will be interesting to see who the public think have the best solutions.

            Czech exit. I’ve been MIA all week apart from early morning Trump Twitter reports, doing a summer’s worth of manly projects in the one week of summer weather we’ve just had in Welly. Those who maintain situational awareness will have noticed I’ve hardly been here at all for the last week. I want to catch up on Missy’s reports & some of the more interesting debates I’ve glimpsed but been too knackered to stay awake for & read.

            Reply
    • patupaiarehe

       /  5th March 2017

      Now, now G, be nice 😀
      My ataahua wahine mentioned earlier today, that she had been discussing Jacinda’s recent ‘win’, with her friend who went to school with her. She reckoned that Jacinda has brains, as well as looks. Mind you, that was at Morrinsville College, so I don’t imagine ‘the bar is too high’ there, if you know what I mean… 😉

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  5th March 2017

        nice to see you have a SOH…..Good For….You.

        Reply
        • patupaiarehe

           /  5th March 2017

          As I’ve said before, the friend of my wife who went to school with Jacinta, reckons she is one of the nicest & most down to earth people you could ever meet, & is pretty clever as well. I think she should be given a chance, before she is written off as a dumb bimbo. Maybe she hasn’t achieved much during her time in ‘Te Whare’, but to be fair, it’s hard to achieve anything from the opposition benches.

          Reply
      • Gezza

         /  5th March 2017

        She reckoned that Jacinda has brains, as well as looks. Mind you, that was at Morrinsville College, so I don’t imagine ‘the bar is too high’ there, if you know what I mean… 😉

        Shouldn’t even have bars in schools. 😡 How are the kids gonna learn anything if they’re sitting there getting pissed at lunch breaks? 😳❓ I’m surprised the ERO wasn’t called in tbh. Is Morrinsville East Coast or something?

        Reply
        • patupaiarehe

           /  5th March 2017

          Don’t play silly buggers with me G, you know what I meant by that 😀 . Interestingly enough, Morrinsville College has been in the headlines recently, for all the wrong reasons…
          http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11608449
          Would have been nice to have a PE teacher like that, when I was at high school… 😉

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  5th March 2017

            Four years difference in age at that level is negligible. Heck, at 18 I was leaving school in a month if not already gone. Some of these cases are posturing crap IMO.

            Reply
            • patupaiarehe

               /  5th March 2017

              They would have been fine Alan, if his jilted ex hadn’t got wind of it…
              I’m not going to post a picture of her here, out of respect for her privacy, but let’s just say that she is ‘quite fetching’.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  5th March 2017

              BTW Alan, I left at 16. Work paid me, & school didn’t…

  8. PDB

     /  5th March 2017

    Reality check…..

    Reply
    • patupaiarehe

       /  5th March 2017

      Are we going to go down ‘that road’, Pants???

      Reply
      • patupaiarehe

         /  5th March 2017

        I reckon we should just ‘play nice’. Both of them are lovely women, just ask their husbands.. 😉

        Reply
        • PDB

           /  5th March 2017

          I think you miss the point Patu…..Jacinda trades on her ‘good looks’ (ahem), Paula Bennett………doesn’t.

          Reply
          • I wouldn’t say that Ardern trades on her appearance. She and whoever has managed her have worked hard on her media profile. Looks aren’t an essential, although Winston might claim that they are.

            In fact the Jacinda machine is playing on her “it’s not her looks, it’s a bunch of other attributes, particularly her popularity and smartness and…”

            A carefully cultured image.

            Reply
            • patupaiarehe

               /  5th March 2017

              Exactly Pete, in politics one needs to make themself appealing to the voters. The uneducated masses, as well as the few who actually take an interest in politics. Looking good, & being nice, will appeal to the majority. As for the rest of us, well IMHO, the jury is considering it’s verdict…

            • PDB

               /  5th March 2017

              If you think Jacinda is some sort of ‘innocent bystander’ then I’ve got a bridge to sell you……..a political lightweight but she isn’t dumb in regards to the only avenue for her to further her career.

          • patupaiarehe

             /  5th March 2017

            No Pants, the MSM trade on her alleged good looks, and Paula Bennett is getting tubbier every day, while her mouth is ‘at the trough’.

            Reply
  9. Tom Bobkins

     /  27th July 2019

    I bet you guys feel dumb now

    Reply
  1. How ‘electable’ is Jacinda Ardern? – NZ Conservative Coalition

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