Ardern and the ‘COVID election’

In her speech launching Labour’s election campaign Jacinda Ardern emphasised it being ‘a COVID election’ – her published speech notes emphasised COVID (in capitals), mentioning it fifteen times. She also referred to a much promoted pandemic phrase ‘team of 5 million’ five times.

She and Labour chose to campaign on one of Ardern’s strengths, crisis her management skills, but also to use the pandemic as a focal point of their campaign. This is smart politics, but it is also cynical use of a crisis for political purposes.

I don’t believe conspiracy theorists suggesting that the Covid outbreak this week was a political set up, but Ardern and Labour have merged it with their campaign.

Ardern has emphasised that politics is inextricably intertwined with the Government and Ministry of Health Covid response.

She is insisting her governing right to front Covid media conferences, which gives her a considerable campaign publicity advantage – she fronted two media conferences that would have had great public interest yesterday.

This could be to her and Labour’s significant campaign advantage, but it has it’s risks.

Ardern’s Labour Speech: Labour Campaign Launch 2020 included:

Thank you for all your work over these last few months, which has made this gathering possible. In a COVID world, our team of 5 million has been a steady ship and I am so grateful for that.

Whether it was March 15, or Whakaari White Island, or even COVID-19 – these three entirely different events that devastated in very different ways – they drew out a response from kiwis that was the same.

They applauded Ardern’s handling of them.

Some have asked me whether this is the COVID election.

No one wants it to be.

Yet she has embraced it as her prime means of self promotion.

And so yes, there is no denying that COVID has changed New Zealand, and therefore it will inevitably change what we talk about this election.

And there is a lot to talk about.

There wasn’t a playbook for COVID-19. That means there was no pre-written plan for how a country should respond to a one in one hundred year global pandemic. But respond we did.

COVID has undoubtedly created many friends for us to worry about, and we know there are tough times ahead.

Our team of 5 million’s approach to fighting COVID means there is huge willingness in our business community to avoid unemployment rising by taking on new staff where they can, but many just need a little bit of extra support which this package provides.

It will act as a strong incentive to support those who have been hit the hardest by COVID, and provide additional support to businesses who might not otherwise be in the position to take someone on long-term.

It will act as a strong incentive to support those who have been hit the hardest by COVID, and provide additional support to businesses who might not otherwise be in the position to take someone on long-term.

Ultimately though, there is no costless response to COVID, but Grant Robertson’s excellent management of the books means we went into COVID with lower debt relative to GDP than almost any other OECD nation, and look to come out in a better position than Australia, the UK, Canada and the US.

And so, when people ask, is this a COVID election, my answer is yes, it is.

But that does not mean that there aren’t still choices to be made. It does not mean there aren’t ideas to be debated, or plans to be discussed, policies to be announced.

In fact, it’s the very reason why this is election is more important than ever.

It’s about the future. It’s about leadership and it’s about values.

It’s about whether we stop and change to another team, or whether we keep those we know and we trust.

Ardern has emphasised that politics is inextricably intertwined with the Government and Ministry of Health Covid response.

She is insisting her governing right to front Covid media conferences, which gives her a considerable campaign publicity advantage – she fronted two media conferences that would have had great public interest yesterday.

She is getting extraordinary publicity this week over the new outbreak, which is frustrating other parties who have had to suspend their campaigns due to newly imposed lockdowns.

While Ardern withdrew from regular Covid media conferences over the past couple of months she is fronting them again now big time, and insisting she has a right as Prime Minister to do this right up to the election despite protests by political opponents.

This could be to her and Labour’s considerable campaign advantage – not that Labour needs it, they are currently well out in front – ,but it has it’s risks.

If Covid turns to custard here, and if the election goes ahead as planned next month, Ardern and Labour could suffer a backlash. If there is too much bad news expect Ardern to distance herself and leave the delivery of that to Ashley Bloomfield and Chris Hipkins again.

But for now Covid gives Ardern a huge advantage, and she is using that for all it’s currently worth.

Previous Post
Leave a comment

30 Comments

  1. John J Harrison

     /  13th August 2020

    Pete, dead right.
    No one does cynical at election time as well as Labour.
    When both National and ACT requested that the election date be put back to November Ardern had the temerity to state “ that they should not politicize Covid.”
    Which is EXACTLY what she has done from day one.
    For her, daily press conferences, for the other parties – pay a fortune for advertising.
    I am picking Level 4 for AKL from Monday – if not the whole country.
    Confirmed additional cases coming through as I type.
    Like measles, dengue fever etc the sooner we accept that we have to learn to live with Covid and get on our lives the better.
    No doubt Ardern and her cynical comments will continue ad nauseum.

    Reply
    • duperez

       /  13th August 2020

      “No one does cynical at election time as well as Labour.”

      Are you going to list the examples? To make the comment you must have some sort of list – you know some sort of comparison chart.
      Maybe start with the 1976 election. 🤔

      Reply
    • Fight4nz

       /  13th August 2020

      Perhaps top of the list would be the numerous elections where National have introduced post election Tax cuts. If you consider blatant bribery cynical?

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  13th August 2020

        Giving money back to its owners is a bribe but giving it to someone else is not?

        Strange world you live in.

        Reply
  2. Gerrit

     /  13th August 2020

    Level 4 wont happen this close to the election, Instant and massive unemployment levels as business simply shut up shop. Wage support ensured some managed to survive but many, even with more payroll support, will not bother. Fixed overheads still need to be paid and for most that will be enough to close the door, lay off staff.

    General populace will have fewer option to; one, get a job and two, enjoy the same level of service and produce they enjoyed in the past.

    Robertsons’s $14 billion “rainy “day slush fund wont cover the cost of a level 4 lockdown, even for four weeks.

    Ardern simply must find a way to get New Zealand to learn to live with this virus. Such as spending the extra $40 Billion the Reserve Bank is printing, building better health care to treat patients.

    This virus is no worse than any other previous flu with only a 2% fatality rate in patients with other life ending illnesses so it is time to let the demon in, learn to address the issues it can cause and get on with life.

    Bottom line is how many level 4 lockdowns can one go though both as an individual and as a society before lockdown life is no longer worth voting for.

    Reply
    • John J Harrison

       /  13th August 2020

      Gerrit, hopefully you are right and I am wrong.
      Isn’t it cynical how we were not required to wear masks under Level 4 but now under Level 3 they are to be mandatory?
      Labour are very quickly going to learn that we cannot borrow our way out of Covid which is far less deadly than the common cold.
      Meanwhile, our economy will take a further body blow under this regime ensuring further business failures with all that this entails.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  13th August 2020

        Business failure means opportunity for those rapacious hounds,-debt collecters John…the not very noble vocation that trades on misery and despair.

        Reply
        • Gerrit

           /  13th August 2020

          Only if the business goes into debt. Most of my customers are not in debt but will still shut the doors. Have grown very risk averse.

          Reply
        • John J Harrison

           /  13th August 2020

          Blazer, yet another pathetic response unrelated to Pete’s post.
          Again you are dead wrong.
          Debt collectors, like lawyers are only employed because their clients have not been paid for the goods or services they have provided.
          If the debts were not collected from recalcitrant debtors then the client could go into liquidation or receivership with the resultant job losses and loss of homes ( in the case of an SME ) which were used as collateral for their bankers.
          In my experience debt collectors are an essential service, ensuring that companies and sole traders remain viable.
          Unfortunately you appear to be advocating for the owners of businesses to not employ their services which would ensure they are left in misery and despair.
          Pathetic !

          Reply
  3. Fight4nz

     /  13th August 2020

    If you live in a world where you in no way use or benefit from anything paid for by Tax, that is strange. But in that fantasy world you would be entitled to consider yourself the owner of that Tax.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  13th August 2020

      The Left always consider themselves the owners of that tax. Then they congratulate themselves on their generosity with other people’s money.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  13th August 2020

        I don’t believe they do…do you have any evidence Al..or is it ..just a ‘feeling’?

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  13th August 2020

          They accuse everyone else of being mean and selfish in contrast to their own generosity. That is exactly the message being played currently both above by F4NZ and by the Labour accusation National is cutting public services by $80B.

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  13th August 2020

            ‘National is cutting public services by $80B.’=fantasy…citation needed.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  13th August 2020

              if you think that link endorses Nationals approach…you need ..help.

            • Duker

               /  13th August 2020

              So it isn’t a fantasy? Goldsmith a well known economic guru…in practice he’s a historian who’s worked in PR and written paid for biographies…says he doesn’t get out of bed unless he cutting expenditure…the idea he can improve growth above the long term average is ‘fantasy’
              As well he double counts the Super Fund contribution of $20 bill over 10 years. We already have $40 bill in the fund from putting in $10 bill so far.
              Compound growth. The government debt is NETT, which means it’s offset against the government’s assets like Super Fund, ACC fund and EQC fund.

          • Duker

             /  13th August 2020

            Aren’t you in favour of cutting $80 bill over the next 10 years Wilco….on average $8 bill per year…maybe $5 bill in the early years and $10 bill per year later in decade.
            Isn’t having a plan and targets standard business and national party mantra?
            That’s what Goldsmith was telling ‘business leaders’ in a private meetings.
            https://www.newsroom.co.nz/nationals-80-billion-debt-hole

            The only wiggle room is ‘give or take’ in the target

            Go on admit it Wilco, you want the goal signed in blood!

            Reply
      • Fight4nz

         /  13th August 2020

        The Right consider themselves the owner of tax, having assiduously avoided paying any, they then get in government in order to distribute amongst themselves = tax cuts

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  14th August 2020

          Bonkers. If they don”t pay tax how can they benefit from tax cuts? You demonstrate why the Right think the Left are stupid.

          Reply
          • Fight4nz

             /  15th August 2020

            A gram of tax cuts is worth a kilo of avoidance.
            No wonder the Left is left snickering at the Right’s breathtaking self-delusion of competence.

            Reply
          • Own goal for FNZ, Alan. Tax cuts for someone not paying tax would be meaningless.

            It would be a generous gesture for those not in that fortunate position, of course, and a disinterested one as the advocates would not be gaining anything for themselves.

            FNZ may be confusing legal tax avoidance with ILLEGAL tax EVASION.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  15th August 2020

              Its black and white….either legal or not.

              The right make tax avoidance legal.

              They promote and condone tax havens….which only serve a small sector of society….the parasites.

  4. Jack

     /  15th August 2020

    I don’t believe conspiracy theories either. Nobody could make that stuff up. If groups tried, they’d stuff up.
    But certain individuals have a lot of power conspiritationally.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s