Ardern not openly election ‘politicking’ (but slyly doing it anyway)

I think that through her ongoing Covid-19 PR Jacinda Ardern has obviously got one eye on the election, but she has claimed she ‘her mind hasn’t been focussed’ on the election.

Henry Cooke (Stuff): Jacinda Ardern looks to stay above electoral politics – and Judith Collins

After a speech setting out how New Zealand would respond if another Covid-19 outbreak was to occur, the Prime Minister was asked about the front-page news of the day: Judith Collins.

Jacinda Ardern demurred, offering neither congratulations nor commiserations for the National Party and its new leader.

“I’m spending more time about New Zealand’s response and economic recovery from Covid-19.”

“I accept there will be politicking this year. I accept we have an election. But if I’m being brutally honest, my mind hasn’t been focused on that to date.”

“I absolutely accept that there is an election this year – and there is no avoiding that – but at the moment it’s taking up a bare minimum of my attention.”

Yeah, right.

This is a bit of a change from her message when National last changed leaders two months ago. At that point Ardern sent barbed commiserations, saying the party was “recovering” and was “not the party of Key and English any more”.

It’s also quite an odd way of putting it. Ardern doesn’t have the choice to “accept” whether there is an election this year. Elections are the means by which the Government has legitimacy and power; not minor inconveniences on the path to Covid-19 recovery.

The election this year is as important – and vital for democracy – as ever. Ardern is not above elections.

This kind of language plays into a wider strategy that is emerging from Ardern and Labour to basically pretend there isn’t an election. With the global pandemic continuing to dominate the news cycle it makes total sense to stick to governing, or at least look like you are.

“Politicking” is something other parties who are in trouble do, what with their leadership changes and leaking drama, you just get to govern. After all, people like Prime Minister Ardern much more than Labour leader Ardern, and the best campaign is a well-governed country.

So to an extent at least it is a smart strategy.

Another part of Ardern’s strategy is to frequently personally present information and ‘good news’, but to leave the not so good Covid news to others. I think this clearly has the election in mind.

But it can be taken too far. Thus far Labour has released a single election policy, which deals with afforestation of farmland and seems mostly engineered to give Kieran McAnulty a good shot in Wairarapa. When you ask about other policy areas, MPs either say “maybe soon” or point to wider government policy on an issue.

But the Government is not the Labour Party, it is a set of compromises between Labour and two parties with wildly different views.

Kiwis can’t vote for “the Government” – much like they can’t vote for Ardern herself. They can vote for a party, and they deserve a coherent set of values and promises to make that decision on.

Maybe Ardern and Labour will eventually front up with some policies and priorities if the get back into Government next term.

Collins is not likely to stick with the vague business-speak.

I suspect this is why some people seem to be frantically trying to discredit Collins. With Collins leading National Ardern is more vulnerable to be called out for a lack of policies and details.’

Collins promised to not underestimate Ardern as a foe. Ardern is unlikely to be underestimating Collins in return. But she can only float above the partisan fray for so long. At some point she will need to dig in and fight a real ideological battle with the National Party – especially as its leader is now making promises to “take our country back”. That’s what elections are for.

And it is important for the people of New Zealand that a decent election battle is fought, on substance rather than just on ‘celebrity’ status.

I hope Collins forces Labour into doing justice to the campaign. And I hope Ardern steps up and argues over far more than her current popularity.

And I hope the capabilities of both the Labour and National front benches in particular get a lot of scrutiny, as well as the potential effects of any coalition arrangements.

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19 Comments

  1. John J Harrison

     /  16th July 2020

    Typical graceless socialist.
    At the very least Ardern should have taken the opportunity to congratulate Collins on her appointment as the National leader.
    QT in the House cannot come quickly enough for this retiree.

    Reply
    • duperez

       /  16th July 2020

      A great parody.

      The big tough assertive independent bold people who want to run the world getting upset because Ardern didn’t immediately pat Collins on the head or slap her on the back saying, “Well done.”

      And didn’t do it and then text or Facebook the world saying “Look what I did!” Which denied those big tough assertive bold independent people of scorning her for playing PR games.

      Ardern gets treated like shit by the big tough assertive independent bold people and doesn’t smile and tell them they are wonderful and honourable? Typical graceless socialist cow. And tell them how lovely it is they are trying everyone they can to find the most effective at leading and furthering their fetid campaign?

      Mind you I always thought it weird that those who would eye-gouge and stomp all over your face to damage and maim you would want to shake hands after the game and swap, “Good game old chap.” The big tough assertive independent bold people are good at dishing it out but have difficulty handling what they discern as an intolerable rebuff when the hand is rejected.

      Don’t panic. Ardern will congratulate Collins (if she hasn’t already) and all will be right with the world. All the big tough assertive bold independent people who know how to run the world will be able to rest easy.

      Reply
      • John J Harrison

         /  16th July 2020

        Duperez, while I cannot claim to be a medical professional I strongly recommend that you have a cup of tea and a lie down.

        Reply
        • duperez

           /  16th July 2020

          Do you think I’ll need as long a stint doing that as needed by those in their states of discombobulation that Ardern might not have congratulated Collins?

          Or will they need to be up and busy, sweating other small stuff and searching for other nits to pick? 🤔

          Reply
        • Corky

           /  16th July 2020

          Stop teasing the socialists, JH. 😄

          Reply
        • Blazer

           /  16th July 2020

          Worked well for Muller didn’t it?
          Has he got out of…bed yet!

          Reply
          • I agree that a simple congratulations message would have looked good.

            When Jenny Shipley became PM, Helen Clark’s response was that it didn’t count because she hadn’t been elected as PM. Sour grapes, anyone ?

            Mike Moore’s reaction to losing was also very ungracious.

            It’s not in the same league, but I admired a man I knew who just missed out on being on the City Council when the special votes had been counted. He congratulated the winner sincerely and warmly.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  16th July 2020

              stop being tedious and dredging up the past.

  2. David

     /  16th July 2020

    Pretty much everything Ardern does is political, with the exception of her personal life, so this comment can literally be interpreted as “oh shit its Judith, this campaign is going to be a whole lot harder than if Simon or Todd was the opponent”.
    Ardern has her fingers in her ears and her eyes tightly shut at this turn of events hoping it will all go away.

    Reply
    • duperez

       /  16th July 2020

      Everything all politicians do is political. It’s 2020 so technology and media sees to that. Any tweet or Facebook entry is the start. Dan Bidois or Simeon Brown do something and not many notice, care or investigate.
      Ardern breathes though and the magnifying glass and microscopes are out.

      Reply
    • Corky

       /  16th July 2020

      Remember John Tamahere’s comments on Labour? Words to the affect of: ”while the rest of us are getting the kids to school and sports practice, they ( Labour hardcore) are in a cafe scheming. That’s all they do.”

      John is a wasted Tory.

      https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10119834

      Reply
  3. Blazer

     /  16th July 2020

    ‘but slyly doing it anyway’….

    The National party circus is not a priority at this point in time…C19 is.

    Reply
    • Not in NZ. No community transmission, and once Labour finally pulled their fingers out and began isolation, all cases are in quarantine. The PM ignores the blatant stuff-ups and failures, of course.

      Reply
  4. duperez

     /  16th July 2020

    And you know that nothing happens or has happened unless it is in headlines. And if something is in headlines where Ardern hasn’t done something heinous, it’s just so she can get PR.
    I reckon it’s pathetic when some supposed adults get all tetchy and precious because they think someone in some political party hasn’t congratulated someone in some other party. When the prevailing tone has been of sneering at Ardern for suggesting people be nice not nasty it’s even more pathetic.

    Ardern might not have said ‘well done’ to Collins so grown men are crying in the streets. They should just calm down and be grateful they’ve got the tough Collins to look after them now. She’d probably give them a clip round the ear and tell them to stop being sooks.

    Reply
    • John J Harrison

       /  16th July 2020

      Duperez, your rant is confirmation to me that you have not taken my sage advise this morning to have a cup of tea and a lie down.
      I am extremely disappointed!

      Reply
      • duperez

         /  16th July 2020

        Which leaves room to ponder of course that disappointment should be the least of your worries.

        Reply
  5. Harry

     /  17th July 2020

    “the best campaign is a well-governed country” Where can I find one?

    Reply

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