Debate reactions

There seems to be fairly consistent reactions to last nights leaders’ debate between Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins.

1 News had done their best to talk the debate up as a much anticipated big event but it fell flat.

Collins did a bit better then expected and a bit better than Ardern but not enough to lift National much if at all from poor polls, 31% in the latest 1 News/Colmar Brunton poll.

Ardern was clearly below her best, she looked tired, and she chose to stick to wordy prepared talking points, and she failed to present her strength, an empathy with ordinary people. Too much political and bureaucratic jargon. But she was ok and didn’t do badly enough to change many if any minds.

John Campbell was poor. He tried to take the stage and speak for the leaders too often. He has been to long doing chat style TV shows where he gets to say what he likes.

Some fairly consistent responses from journalists:

Mark Jennings (Newsroom): The leaders’ debate: An unmemorable watch

The first leaders debate was expected to fire some life into a so far ho hum campaign. But, as Mark Jennings writes the Jacinda, Judith and John show fell flat.

To be fair to Collins, she was the one who gave it a go and scored a few hits.

Ardern’s lack of energy was unusual. Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that she was in the same building 12 hours earlier. Ardern had appeared on the breakfast show at 7am which means she was probably up at 5.30. Add in a campaign day and it’s hard to peak for a 90-minute debate that kicks off at 7pm.

The group of journalists watching in the Atrium all felt the debate had been underwhelming.

RNZ’s political editor, Jane Patterson: “I think it was one of the flattest debates I’ve seen. Jacinda had no energy…she is tired.”

The Spinoff editor, Toby Manhire: “Everyone is just knackered, just knackered. I think Collins won but not in a way that will move the dial”

Politik’s Richard Harman: “I thought this debate might produce a focus but there was nothing there. People expect Jacinda to be so good all the time – she can do better than she did tonight.”

Steve Braunias, writing for The Guardian: “I thought Collins did well but she is a funny old bird.”

Sam Sacdeva (Newsroom): Collins edges Ardern, but Labour’s formidable lead remains

There were no knockout blows in the first leaders’ debate of the 2020 election, and while Judith Collins may have just had the better of Jacinda Ardern, Labour’s continuing strength in the polls gives the Prime Minister some breathing space.

Neither Campbell, Ardern nor Collins brought their A-game, understandably so given the general sense of fatigue that has shrouded this odd campaign.

The National leader probably edged the encounter, in part thanks to the lower bar that attaches to being the underdog and in part to a spikiness that contrasted favourably with the passivity on show from the Prime Minister.

But it is hard to see many, if any, votes moving between the two major parties as a result of the muddled proceedings – and the minor parties may yet have some hope of peeling some support away in the coming weeks.

The National leader spent more and more time on the front foot, cutting into Ardern’s answers and audibly sharing her displeasure when she felt the Prime Minister had dodged a question or given a poor response.

That did not mean she was perfect, far from it. Collins’ answers to some questions were vague in the extreme – she said National would create jobs by putting a greater emphasis on the tech sector, but pressed by Campbell on how exactly that would occur, then claimed the jobs were already there.

But overall, she offered up a level of aggression commensurate with her party’s position in the polls without tipping over into needless hostility.

In contrast, Ardern seemed strangely defensive, even accounting for her role as the incumbent.

Ardern has largely delegated the rough and tumble of politics on the campaign trail to senior ministers like Grant Robertson, Chris Hipkins and Megan Woods who are more than willing to pick up the cudgel.

But they cannot tag in for her on the debate stage, and while she may have calculated she was better off not allowing Collins to drag her into a bare-knuckle brawl, she seemed disengaged as a result.

When Ardern did press the case for Labour’s re-election, it felt somewhat abstract.

Luke Malpass (Stuff): Leaders’ election debate verdict: Jacinda Ardern lost, but Judith Collins didn’t win it

Jacinda Ardern lost the first leaders’ debate, but Judith Collins didn’t win it.

Collins proved her worth to National tonight: it is unlikely she lost any votes.

Ardern, for her part, a now hardened political professional, seemed determined to avoid creating a viral Internet meme out of the night. If that were the intent, she achieved it.

Collins came out with nothing to lose: swinging, heckling, interrupting and taking the fight to the Labour leader. In response, Ardern largely stuck to her talking points, emoted and generally reflected Labour’s risk-averse campaign.

The tactic from Collins seems to try to get under Ardern’s skin, while Ardern seemed to be trying to be relentlessly optimistic and nice – presumably to draw a contrast between the two. She consistently hewed back to Labour talking points.

Both leaders fell back to entrenched positions and didn’t answer a lot of questions.

This is more of a risk for Ardern, whose trademark is authenticity. She appeared both flat and unusually unenthusiastic. 

The Spinoff – Leaders’ debate #1, election 2020: the verdicts

Toby Manhire: Everyone is knackered

Given that most of the country, most of the Covid-battered world, is basically just knackered, is it any surprise that tonight’s opening debate felt a bit knackered, too?

Things never quite fired up. So the when Campbell, who did a good job at keeping things rolling, at one point observed, “You sound like you’re both on auto-pilot,” he was mostly right, except that would have required leaving the ground.

That sums up the whole election campaign to date.

Trish Sherson: Collins was pitch perfect

Morgan Godfery: Ardern is impossible to beat

It’s not worth quoting either of them.

Ben Thomas: Ardern was strangely hesitant

Ardern was strangely hesitant. National leader Judith Collins started off slowly, with the fixed smile she’s worn for much of the campaign. But she soon warmed to the task, and seemed to effectively niggle and provoke Ardern with more of her traditional toughness.

Collins won, as underdogs often do in the first debate of a campaign, but faces a long road ahead.

Justin Giovannetti: Who’d have been swayed?

Labour’s Jacinda Ardern found herself often on the defensive, forced to explain why her party hadn’t lived up to the promises it made three years ago. Her answers were often technocratic and lacked warmth. Someone who has been called one of world’s best communicators struggled to explain her vision.

National’s Judith Collins was the better debater and certainly the better interrupter. Going in tonight her party has been sliding in the polls. Voters who have dismissed Collins were introduced to someone who spoke plainly and clearly.

Your take on the debate might come from where you watched it. If you were in the comfort of a warm home you own and worried about losing your job, Collins may have spoken to you. If you were in a rental apartment you can barely afford, losing a battle with mould, she probably left you seething.

Madeleine Chapman: Mālō, Judith

Debates are where many, many words are said and only the zingers are remembered. Unfortunately tonight’s debate was, quite frankly, quite boring. The only line from Ardern that stuck with me was “John, if I may” and “if I may, John”.

And from Collins, “I’ll tell you what, John” and “John, I’ll tell you what”. In a huge loss for anyone under the age of old, both leaders argued about who could commit the hardest to not taxing property. In my mind, we all lost tonight. 

I don’t think we lost anything. We just didn’t win anything, nor did we gain much insight into Labour and National policies.

This was just the first of four leaders debates. Can we be bothered watching any more?

Leave a comment

57 Comments

  1. John J Harrison

     /  23rd September 2020

    Pete, don’t agree.
    I thought the debate was wonderful.
    Sure Collins interjected and tripped up Ardern but that is how a good debate should run.
    Campbell likes the sound of his own voice and slowed the whole thing down.
    What was abundantly clear is that Ardern is totally lost without her speech writers notes in front of her or Mallard protecting her, as he does in the House.
    Collins was the winner, looked and talked like a winner all the way through.
    Not only that she clearly enjoyed it.
    Ardern was like a rabbit caught in the headlights and couldn’t wait for it to be over.
    Meanwhile, Seymour cleaned up in Queenstown.
    Fantastic !

    Reply
    • lurcher1948

       /  23rd September 2020

      You will not feel to bad when National and Act are in opposition then

      Reply
      • graedad

         /  24th September 2020

        The thing is lurcher they may not be in opposition for more than twelve months as sooner or later this Government or the next version of it will have to walk the talk not just talk the talk. Their past promises and intentions won’t cut it.

        Reply
    • I didn’t see the debate. Mrs Collins experience means that without a written speech to fall back on she should be a better debater. Personally, I think Miss Ardern’s communication skills are overrated; without a written speech to back her up, she is weak. But who was the kindest, alas that is what matters most nowadays.

      Reply
    • duperez

       /  23rd September 2020

      Did Seymour have any ethnic Indians in his entourage seeing as people from that part of the world are not welcome down there? Or did he rely on some extremely wealthy American refugee to boost him?

      Reply
      • John J Harrison

         /  23rd September 2020

        Duperez, even for you that comment is beyond pathetic.
        Seymour took Robertson to the cleaners.
        View it , if you dare !
        A total disaster for Labour.
        Love it !

        Reply
      • duperez

         /  23rd September 2020

        I’ll take that as ‘no’ then.

        I guess the guy in the audio from this week when Seymour wanted bailing mega rich Americans down south, who didn’t want people from India moving in, will be happy. The guy, like his MP I suppose, was just ‘reflecting the views of the electorate’ and it just happened to dovetail into Seymour’s scheme.

        Not that Seymour would play to the good southern racists for a vote of course.

        Reply
        • That is inane and an insulting generalisation. There are a number of Indians and other Asians in ACT.

          You are distorting David Seymour’s views. How surprising.

          Reply
          • duperez

             /  23rd September 2020

            Stable time is over soon and the riders will get off their high horses.

            John J Harrison: Pathetic is obviously in the eyes of the beholder. Like beholding blindness. The tones of racism in that part of the world have been clear lately. Seymour being hooked in to that, or hooking himself into is discernible.

            Kitty: Clearly I haven’t distorted Seymour’s views. Maybe you mean I said something which you have put a sinister reading on and taken it from there. If I have achieved that David would be pleased that I have learned from him. 🙂

            Reply
            • Duker

               /  23rd September 2020

              Seymour didnt like a small Housing NZ apartment block in Grammar zone either… something about ‘The zone’ having to shrink in size….. again just “reflecting the views of the constituents”…..blather blather …Choice

            • John J Harrison

               /  23rd September 2020

              Duperez, I am sure Seymour, being part – Maori would greatly appreciate your racist insult.
              Pity you have zero credibility or intelligent criticism to offer.

            • duperez

               /  23rd September 2020

              Oh my God. “He knows a Maori, he has Maori blood he can’t be racist.” Wow!

              If people down south show racist attitudes that’s their business.

              If any MP, like Hamish Walker, use that and opportunistically the media uses a similar situation when locals express a wish to not have Indians down there but Seymour suggests American super rich are welcomed and needed, and gets support, that is not a racist insult about Seymour.

              He is just another opportunist politician who will bend any principle, capitalise on any chance to get a vote.

              It seems that what I’m getting at and intelligent criticism is beyond your blind patronage of Seymour. (A probably anything not Ardern.)

  2. Blazer

     /  23rd September 2020

    The general public aren’t really interested in debates.

    I expect Adern to perform alot better in the next one.She was very cautious,almost apprehensive that Collins had a ‘gotcha’ up her sleeve.

    Jude and Gerry represent a dinosaur age in NZ politics…Jacinda is a …breath of…fresh air.

    Reply
    • John J Harrison

       /  23rd September 2020

      Blazer, correction, lefties are not interested in debates when their “ talking head “ is absolutely trounced.
      Don’t believe me – read the on line polls.
      Or, is that yet another right wing conspiracy?

      Reply
    • David

       /  23rd September 2020

      Putting aside being an MP Ardern has been in politics longer than most, probably longer than Collins who did manage to forge quite a CV from humble background and in a world and career which was heavily male dominated.
      Fresh she may look but she is far from it.

      Reply
      • Blazer really likes the breath of fresh air cliche !

        Reply
        • MaureenW

           /  23rd September 2020

          You would be surprised how many people think that thought Kitty. I watched the debate with two others who think exactly that. Judith scrubbed up alright too I thought, although I did see a picture of her and Gerry Brownlee together the other day and they looked like a pair of dinosaurs in contrast.

          I have to confess that I cannot think of anything National could or would have done better /different, when you take into account the countries suffering under second waves. Apart from the economy fallout which it probably yet to hit us, NZ has come through this ok (at this stage).

          I personally find Adern’s style tedious and teethy, but she has a good advantage over challengers right at the moment.

          Reply
          • Tedious and teethy 😀 (teejus and teethy?)

            Blazer keeps repeating the old breath of fresh air saying as if it was original.

            I find it odd that we have done so badly as far as the blow to GDP goes (we are worse than many countries like the US) when we have had so few cases of C19. I had forgotten until I saw the David Attenborough thing that the PM doesn’t recognise GDP as a measure of a country’s success. Absurd.

            Reply
            • Duker

               /  23rd September 2020

              Thats because , say compared to Australia , tourism and foreign students is a bigger share of GDP
              Do you remember the reasons why the National ACT government in 2008 couldnt stay out of recession like Australia under Rudd/Gillard ? We were supposed to ‘catch up’ too .
              Let me guess, your mind is a complete blank,as anything sensible is out of your league

            • Blazer

               /  23rd September 2020

              Perhaps you can elaborate on how GDP is a measure of….success.

            • Duker

               /  23rd September 2020

              Its a measure of ….GDP, generally more GDP PER CAPITA means a much wealthier country
              Ask Norway….

            • Blazer

               /  23rd September 2020

              directed at..KC.

  3. Corky

     /  23rd September 2020

    Interesting responses from journalists. They seem to have a problem being decisive and saying Judith won convincingly. One chap Kate Hawksby interviewed this morning, would only say Judith ‘walked away the happier of the two.’

    It’s what has not been said that I find interesting. And it just reaffirms my bias that the media is bias.

    I’m expecting a fired up Jacinda at the next debate.

    And what will these same journalists report???!!

    ” Much better showing by Jacinda. She took the front foot and answered most of Judith’s criticisms. A win for Jacinda.”

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  23rd September 2020

      *biased

      Reply
    • Corky

       /  23rd September 2020

      Example:

      ‘Steve Braunias, writing for The Guardian: “I thought Collins did well but she is a funny old bird.”

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  23rd September 2020

        Did you even read the whole Guardian story…?
        I tried to find it, but the news ( not opinion section) led with ‘Why Misogyny should be a hate crime’ so I gave up…its become a left wing parody of Fox news

        Reply
        • Perhaps it should, but the concept has become so weakened that people use it far too loosely. It really means hatred of women, but the most casual criticism of a woman now can be greeted with cries of misogyny.

          Reply
      • Duker

         /  23rd September 2020

        That phrase doesnt appear in the original …maybe its been since edited out ?
        https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/22/first-tv-debate-jacinda-ardern-judith-collins-avoids-being-horror-show
        The closest is
        “Only one of the leaders came to play. Collins was animated, hooting and scoffing hither and yon, but Ardern was tranquil as a lake, and just as flat.”

        ““I tell you what, John,” she kept saying, and one of the things she told him over and over is that she had experience as a small business owner. ”

        That old small business thing …No its not the engine room of the economy, anyway she spent much more time as a wellington tax lawyer

        Collins closing words in the standups after the debate
        <b.“I tell you what,” she began, and proceeded to tell them she won the debate

        Reply
  4. David

     /  23rd September 2020

    Ardern is a great communicator when she has spent hours and hours writing a speech or when its an interview that lasts 5.5 minutes or when its a casual catch up with a friendly journalist but anyone who has observed her career wont be surprised at last nights performance.
    She doesnt do detail she does spin, she is not a deep thinker and she has never had to get into detail on anything in her career ever so doesnt have that skill set of obtaining deep knowledge of a subject. Its not where her skill set is and its amusing to watch the commentators saying she was flat etc etc. whereas it would have been a surprise if she was all over the details.
    Putting aside Covid her administration has been terrible at delivering anything that involves more than throwing money at something. She has a crap cabinet but she is hardly a demanding boss because she isnt that demanding of herself.

    Reply
    • duperez

       /  23rd September 2020

      “She is not a deep thinker and she has never had to get into detail on anything in her career.”

      Total speculation, absolutely unable to be proven and highly likely to not be true.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  23rd September 2020

        As the Left likes to say, perceptions are everything.

        Reply
        • duperez

           /  23rd September 2020

          I realise you probably wrote that with a wry smile.

          Is it a ‘left’ or a ‘right’ perception that has it that someone who gets to live for a while, got to travel around the world, got a job, got to be an MP got to be a PM has ‘never had to get into detail?’ Or just suggesting that whatever direction shit comes from it what it is?

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  23rd September 2020

            When you live by the sword you often die by it. Jacinda’s popularity is based on perception (not reality as Farrar’s list of abject delivery failures showed) and different perceptions will likely end it.

            Reply
            • duperez

               /  23rd September 2020

              Not indicating that other politicians’ popularity is not based on perception and myth to smaller or larger degrees of course. Like Trump or Johnson or Collins.

          • Duker

             /  23rd September 2020

            Yet when someone like Muller , who had all the right cred, worked for Bolger, then the family company ( as they do) before climbing the corporate ladder ending up as a senior executive at Fonterra.[but away from the ‘hard detail’ stuff like marketing, finance or production]
            Couldnt even be Leader of the Opposition for much more than 30 days.
            Key was famously “oblivious to the details” and over delegated ( that he left up to English and Joyce), so now its Arderns job to be detail oriented ?

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  23rd September 2020

              No, it’s Ardern’s job to float like a guardian angel above it all showering empathy and security on the grateful masses. Until inevitably it all goes wrong and they turn on her. Enjoy it while it lasts.

            • Duker

               /  23rd September 2020

              English has gone , Bridges has gone, Muller has gone, not too long before Collins gone and you come up with the squirrel of ‘enjoy it while it lasts.
              Its gonna be another 6 years ……

      • David

         /  23rd September 2020

        Seriously she hasn’t. 9 years in opposition and not a single bill or any contribution.
        Her deliverables on givernmemnt have been near non existent.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  23rd September 2020

          Detail Fail. Just goes to show how you just failed your own test
          2012
          https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/bills-and-laws/bills-proposed-laws/document/00DBHOH_BILL11615_1/care-of-children-law-reform-bill

          and again 2010
          “Concern about changes to schedule 4 conservation land that open up protected land to mining has led Labour MP Jacinda Ardern to lodge her first Private Members Bill.”
          https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1004/S00373.htm
          Theres bound to be others

          and no theres not a Lost Airport Luggage Bill amounst them, the nonsense National backbench Mps have written for them

          Nor was there the jobs on the Side like Goldsmith did the book on Alan Gibbs ‘glorious life ‘ ,that he got paid to write

          Reply
          • David

             /  23rd September 2020

            The bill Duker was a copy and paste with a covering letter. Widely ridiculed given that this was the reason she gave for being in politics.
            The care of children bill was just an instruction for a government department to write one, even the Greens voted against its introduction, it was a single piece of paper which sadly sums her up.
            Lovely lady but her impact in politics is not a lot more than being nice and likeable.

            Reply
            • Duker

               /  23rd September 2020

              Soo you admit your comment was a falsehood -“not a single bill or any contribution.” instead you offer some possums
              It wasnt some highly original thought you suddenly came up with, its was the usual misinformed blather which circulates on Kiwiblog and Slaters blogs.
              Yet did anyone ask what John Keys bills he came up with during his 6 years in opposition, his financial tour de force ? In those days before around 2011 there was hardly any effort by opposition MPs and they only needed a title and not any draft bill .
              The truth was he wasnt a ‘parliamentarian’ and neither is Ardern, compared to say English and Helen Clark

    • John J Harrison

       /  23rd September 2020

      David, wrong.
      Ardern does not spend hour and hours writing speech.
      Her many speech writers do that for her.
      That is why she was totally out of her depth last night.
      Knew nothing and proved it with her responses.
      An empty suit.

      Reply
      • duperez

         /  23rd September 2020

        Keep it coming! 😊 She is the first PM in our history to have a team of people in behind her doing paid jobs like writing speeches.

        If she were a real PM, capable, she’d sack the lot of them, call herself Kim Jacinda-ung and just give orders to do and despatch. Then again if she were a real PM, capable, she wouldn’t have people to do those, she’d do them herself.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  23rd September 2020

          Nicola Willis now an MP , gives some of her time as a party cadre – “writing speeches for John Key”

          Love this ‘John key speechwriter random quote generator

          “Ordinary Kiwis know it’s called “chequebook activism” and New Zealanders know it well because they’ve seen it before. New Zealanders will be able to make up their own minds on that.”
          or
          “With all due respect we remain one of the best places to do business. There are a range of options.”

          hehehehehe
          https://insights.nzherald.co.nz/article/john-key-speeches/

          Reply
      • She has been caught out in press conferences and had to fall back on ‘I was unaware of that.’ if she can’t pretend not to have heard the awkward question.

        Reply
        • duperez

           /  23rd September 2020

          If our greatest PM ever had a common line, “I do not recall … I do not recall … I do not recall…” I’m sure you’ll cut the worst ever some slack.😊

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  23rd September 2020

            Key and English used the ‘I havent had any advice on that’ line all the time, its common for all PMs who are expected to have definitive answers.
            National would circulate the talking points to Ministers and Mps all the time , so they are all singing from the same Nicola Willis written song sheet

            For a political person KC is surprising naive, par for the course as well as ignorance to be an ACT supporter. Some call them swivel eyed loons

            Slip reveals PM’s PR secrets

            Email accidentally reveals to radio reporter details about killing and secret UN junket
            The Prime Minister’s office has been left-red faced after John Key’s personal briefing notes were accidentally sent to a reporter, revealing details about a killing that were not yet public.
            The email, sent to the Newstalk ZB newsroom, also mentioned a secret, taxpayer-funded visit by United Nations ambassadors to Queenstown as part of New Zealand’s UN Security Council bid and gave candid details about Mr Key’s talking points for media on a wide range of issues.
            It was sent by one of Mr Key’s four press secretaries before a media conference yesterday afternoon, and was also addressed to chief of staff Wayne Eagleson and the Prime Minister’s foreign affairs adviser, Ben King.
            The email showed Auckland police had briefed Mr Key’s office about the suspects in a homicide in Henderson yesterday morning.

            The words are written to be ‘put in his mouth ‘
            “Our condolences go out to the family of the person killed”, “Clearly this is a terrible tragedy”, and “People will be shocked that the suspects are so young”.

            Mr Key was advised to say: “I’ve not talked to Tony Abbott about this” and to emphasise New Zealand’s record on climate change policies.

            One of his talking points was“This Government takes climate change seriously.”

            I cant believe the primary school level of some commentors, that PMs and most Ministers have speeches written as well as OFF THE CUFF REMARKS

            https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11271474

            Reply
  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  23rd September 2020

    Can’t John Campbell get a nice job at the UN where he can emote to people who care?

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  23rd September 2020

      If the hat comes around, I will definitely contribute. I will also arrange for a genuine Maori sendoff.

      Reply
    • Duker

       /  23rd September 2020

      Whats the bet thats where Nikki Kay is headed…. and not the UN of Sudan or Aghanistan but the UN of Paris, New York, Geneva
      You lot forget these sort Commonwealth, OECD or UN jobs are plums for the cast offs from national Too…remember Simon Upton

      Reply
      • duperez

         /  23rd September 2020

        Will she beat Shane Jones there? (Accepting she may have had a head start in looking.)

        Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  23rd September 2020

      Bob Jones:
      That said, I was staggered to read Mike Hosking’s report, specifically his criticism of the moderator John Campbell.

      Hosking wrote, “If John Campbell learned to stop thanking people over and over – and over again, if he trimmed his question from a lengthy tedious dissertation and stopped summing up each section with a lot of “this is a good debate,” “gosh it’s good to have you here…” they could have saved 22 minutes”.

      Mike must have been drunk when he wrote that. It was the equivalent advice to asking Campbell, who has developed unctuousness to an art form, to pull out a knife and hack his legs off.
      https://nopunchespulled.com/2020/09/23/the-alleged-debate/

      Reply

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