Female looks and male ‘beer test’ competing with substance in 2019 politics

Political PR presents politicians in ways they think will appeal to voters, but ultimately substance should be a primary focus in 2019 in New Zealand.

Too much fluff and illusion can eventually backfire if the PM, Ministers and the Opposition don’t deliver.

Stacey Kirk (Stuff):  No amount of photoshop will paste over broken promises or scandal in 2019

Problems arise though, when the photoshopping – both metaphorical and literal – is carried out with a bit too much gusto.

Just ask Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who found himself the butt of ridicule when his staff botched an unnecessary photoshop job, by pasting hip new sneakers over his tired old kicks.

(Funny – see Scott Morrison Photoshopped shoes)

More seriously, the gaffe served to highlight the level of detail a leader’s army of press secretaries will go to, to control their image.

New Zealand’s politicians are no different in that regard.

Whether it’s Clark Gayford breaking a month-long Instagram hiatus to poke self-depracating fun at his “christmas belly”, National leader Simon Bridges guzzling a beer in a floral shirt, or Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern signing on for a round of soft media in the gossip mags.

None of this PR appeals to me (and I successfully avoided “christmas belly”, I have no desire to have a beer with Bridges, and my recent experiences at The Standard and Kiwiblog cannot be described anything like soft social media).

Sadly, in the case of women, it’s more closely aligned to the subject’s looks. But as it applies to male political leaders, it could perhaps be more accurately described as the “beer test”, as in “he seems like a good guy to have a beer with”.

Hence the beer gut, the drinking shot, and myriad softly-lit photo shoots.

But that only gets a politician so far and this is the year where the rubber hits the road for the leaders of both major parties.

The matey drinky PR spin does nothing for me. Simon Bridges will probably be battling to keep his job as National leader this year. He has to smarten up his media image, and come up with some policies and positions that will appeal to mainstream voters.

So far he has tended towards more conservative (and less popular) stances on current issues like drug law reform, euthanasia and abortion – all of which could be included in referendums alongside the general election next year.

This is the year that Jacinda Ardern and her Government will have to come up with some substantive progress on pressing issues.

The Government’s stalled as long as it can with sundry working groups. The trouble with appointing experts to these things is that they’re incredibly earnest in their responsibilities to come up with solutions.

Solutions which cost money, of which the Government has plenty but still not enough to fulfil the promises it’s made.

Kiwibuild will have to look like thousands of houses that wouldn’t otherwise have been built (without Government investment) are at least in progress.

An actual plan for progress on climate change will be needed to show that James Shaw and the Greens can go beyond vague targets and ideals (Shaw doesn’t seem to do the PR poncing though).

Health, mental health, education reform, justice reform, public service pay, climate change and tax issues are all crying out for bold decisions and tankers of cash.

They were crying out for that a year ago.

A lot will depend on the budget in May – a number of Ministers seemed to be stalling, waiting for a commitment of money from Finance Minister Grant Robertson, who was prudent last year, but will have more pressure on him this year.

Leave a comment


  1. Griff.

     /  13th January 2019

    Some one seems very confused. .
    Clark Gayford is not a politician.
    Stacey Kirk should stick to writing fluff pieces for woman’s mags as that seems to be her perspective.
    I dont read gossip on line or watch any TV so the entire fluff genre is filtered out totally from my world view.
    As there really any need for radical change in NZ ?
    I see opportunity for some shifts in focus but no need for reforms like we had in the 80’s.

    • “Clark Gayford is not a politician.”

      No, but he is a partner of a high profile politician, and either he is a deliberate part of the Prime Minister’s PR, or is an opportunist attention seeker. Quite possibly a bit of both.

      • Griff.

         /  13th January 2019

        If he is I do not notice Pete.
        I really do tune out all the personally and fluff piece media pr rubbish.

        • I avoid it too but it was mention in the Kirk piece. I had seen one article a few days ago, this is what Kirk was probably referring to:

          NZ Herald: Clarke Gayford’s ‘sexy’ photo of his latest catch

          However, the photo has attracted attention for more reason than one, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s partner pointing out that the cameraman had failed to notice his “Christmas stomach” sticking out.

          “I’m not sure what’s the sexiest part of this photo,” he said in the post.

          Whatever Gayford is trying to achieve that’s quite cringey.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  13th January 2019

            Christmas stomach be damned, it will be a beer belly. People gain weight all over when they put on weight.

            Cringe-making rather than self-deprecatory, I think.

            What happened to the stay-at-home dad that we heard so much about ?.

  2. Blazer

     /  13th January 2019

    Bridges needs to don a black T-shirt,a pair of gumboots and a can of Speights.

    Floral shirt and Emmersons doesn’t cut it.

    Key wouldn’t drink Steinlager , and nearly choked on his…hotdog.

    Abbott biting into an oinion probably wins the gold medal.

  3. thespectrum

     /  13th January 2019

    So happy I gave up watching Tv 6 oclock news in 1975.
    Tv 6 oclock news is nothing more than propaganda for idiots.

    • PartisanZ

       /  13th January 2019

      Have you got this comment on some kind of “loop” thespectrum?

      I’ve got nothing to talk about either …

      • thespectrum

         /  13th January 2019

        @PartisanZ. “Have you got this comment on some kind of “loop” thespectrum”?
        Yep sure have.
        6 clock TV news for idiots because it is.
        The 6 oclock “news” has been running the same “news stories” the same way for 50 years and I’m just pointing that out. The faces and names may have changed but it’s the same middle aged middle class white male view of NZ running on an endless loop.
        Hooten or what ever his name is saying news is not news its commentary
        or political propaganda.
        Well finally Hooten figured out what
        I figured out by ’75.
        Way ahead of ya Hoots.

        • Gezza

           /  13th January 2019

          it’s the same middle aged middle class white male view of NZ running on an endless loop

          Not any more it’s not. Nearly all Current Affairs and over half the 1ewes at 6 is now light-touch, touchy feely once-over-lightly, short. female-oriented women’s magazine and female talk show item crap.

          I rarely watch nz current affairs becoz I’m a bloke and I wanna know who’s shooting who, where, and why & suchlike, and watch the 6 o’clock news only to see what the main events in NZ were (often trivialised) & then compare that to Aljazeera, which has more world news, more frequent in-depth, intelligent analysis of news, more male/female interest-balance – and regular docos on current, important world or regional issues.

          NZ has featured on their news and in documentaries at times.


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