Ardern “absolutely not” for Prime Minister but…

Labour MP Jacinda Ardern was asked about her Prime Ministerial aspirations on NBR’s ‘Ask Me Anything. She said “absolutely not” but confirmed she still had an interest in being deputy (she stood as potential deputy for Grant Robertson’s leadership bid).

During her AMA session, Ms Adern confirmed her interest in the deputy role.

But, perhaps surprisingly, that’s the limit of her ambition.

Asked, “Do you want to be Prime Minister, one day?”, she replied, “No. Absolutely not.”

She added, “I think I was very lucky to have the experience back in the 2005 election of working in Helen Clark’s office and that really opened my eyes to what a difficult job it is. I’ve always believed the things I want to achieve in politics I can do without being in that kind of role. So I’m happy being a senior member of the Labour team. Not everyone wants to be the top dog.”

This is an odd ambition, if it is accurate and honest.

If Ardern becomes Labour’s deputy leader, and if Labour gets to form the next Government, and if Winston Peters or Metiria Turei or James Shaw don’t negotiate a second in command coalition position, then Ardern would become Deputy Prime Minister.

Under normal circumstances that would mean that Ardern would sometimes fill in for the Prime Minister when he was unavailable, so would be Acting Prime Minister.

And if something incapacitated the Prime Minister than Ardern would be expected to step up and take over.

So how can Ardern want to be deputy leader, which presumably means she wants to be Deputy Prime Minister, but limit her ambition to that and not want to be top dog?

Surely anyone wanting to be deputy leader of Labour (or National) aspires top being at times at least the acting Prime Minister.

Either Ardern hasn’t thought this through or she’s not being honest about her ambitions.

Tracey Martin fed up with male dominated NZ First

An odd article by Jo Moir at Stuff where ex-deputy leader Tracey Martin makes a vague claim of sexism within NZ First and accepts this may earn her a career ending place on the party list next election. It seems that she has just woken up to the obvious – NZ First has always been male dominated – by Winston Peters.

NZ First MP Tracey Martin accepts she could be gone at the next election.

Ousted NZ First deputy leader Tracey Martin is pushing back at her party’s disregard for women and accepts that could see her gone at the next election.

“I was asked by a reporter in Warkworth that said, why aren’t you deputy leader anymore, what did you do wrong? I’m not aware I did anything wrong so my flippant answer was, I was probably born the wrong gender. It’s an answer but it’s an unprovable answer,” says Martin.

That sounds like a general ‘poor me’ lament without anything specific to back it up.

In July Martin was rolled from the deputy leadership by “assertive and aggressive” Ron Mark and while she says he has the credentials for the job she also believes her gender played a part in her fall.

Martin doesn’t know which MPs chose Mark over her but she says in her experience “suits stick with suits” and with a majority male caucus she didn’t have much chance.

Or maybe her caucus colleagues detected an attitude problem when deciding to demote her.

“I was number two on the list in 2014 because I was deputy leader but I could easily be number 30 in 2017.”

“By (then) they might think she’s more trouble than she’s worth.”

Almost sounds like she’s inviting that. The voluntary martyr.

“If you’re 40 and younger and you’re attractive men will stop and listen to you, actually they won’t, they’ll stop and look at you while you’re talking, and that gives you an opportunity to be listened to.

“One of the hardest things to be is a 50-plus woman because you haven’t got that leeway of youth that can catch the eye of men in positions of power…”

Perhaps it’s just hard for anyone in politics who feels hard done by because of perceived prejudice. Perhaps she shoukld face up to her competence and effectiveness as an MP regardless of her gender.

Martin was hopeful after the 2011 election she could get party policy on womens affairs but “at this stage I feel like I’m on my own trying to push that point”.

She seems to be committing political suicide so she won’t even be on her own pushing anything.

Martin’s time in Parliament could be tied to Peters – she says that if she was still there when he retired she would question whether she could stay on with another leader.

“I don’t know until that person presents themselves and I’ll make that decision for me.

“Winston holds the heart and the soul of the party I suppose. His values are the core of the party, that’s what they were built on and the rest of us share those.”

As for the rest of the party, Martin wouldn’t go out on a limb for any of them and she says they shouldn’t expect her to.

“This is my workplace, it’s not a place I expect to have friends.

“I need to do my job well and I need for the people who are on the listing committee to believe that I’m worth bringing back to represent NZ First but part of this push of mine could affect that.”

Martin says she enjoyed being deputy leader and thought she was good at it.

“I thought I gave the party balance but it’s ok not to be the deputy leader too – life doesn’t end because you haven’t got a title”.

Sounds like she has lost the will to be an MP. Why doesn’t she resign and let someone take over who has drive to do something regardless of the hurdles.

So NZ First will become more of a blokes club – the next three on their list are male (followed by Asenati Lole- Taylor).

Of their current twelve MPs three are female – Martin, Barbara Stewart and Ria Bond who came in earlier this year when Peters won Northland. NZ First had five females on their list of 25 in 2015.

Has Martin only just worked out that the Peters led party is male dominated? It has always been dominated by one man, the only significant change is the promotion of another man to deputy, the ambitious Mark.

Martin’s apparent lack of drive and ambition has probably counted against her far more than her gender.

Will Annette King stand aside?

When Annette King became deputy to Andrew Little last year it was said to be an interim one year position.

Little unveils new Labour caucus
(November 2014)

As expected Annette King will be his interim deputy leader…

Little said King, who was effectively acting leader during the leadership run-off, had shown how crucial her wisdom and strength were to Labour.

Former party leader David Cunliffe has been demoted from the front bench and is ranked 14, but Little has Jacinda Ardern, seen as a future deputy leader, at nine. She also takes over Justice from Little.

He said the deputy leader’s role would change after a formal review of roles in a year and he wanted to nurture the next generation of talent in the meantime.

Someone seems to have been nurturing Ardern. She was Grant Robertson’s preferred deputy in his failed bid for leadership last year. And she is now rated as a potential leader. Audrey Young (NZ Herald) reported last month:

Jacinda Ardern’s star still rising

The rising popularity of Labour front bench MP Jacinda Ardern is evident in the latest Herald DigiPoll survey with her now being the fourth preferred Prime Minister among general voters.

She is also almost equal favourite with veteran MP and deputy leader Annette King to take over the Labour leadership, were anything to happen to current leader Andrew Little.

There is no suggestion that anything is on the cards but the Herald polls on leadership succession from time to time

Preferred Prime Minister

John Key 63.7 (down 0.9)
Andrew Little 13.3 (down 0.6)
Winston Peters 11.6 (down 0.4)
Jacinda Ardern 3.9 (up 3.4)

Q: If Andrew Little were to step down as Labour leader during this term, who do you think would his best replacements as Opposition leader?

Annette King 21.8
Jacinda Ardern 20.1
Grant Robertson 18.0
Phil Twyford 4.0
None of the above 10.5
Don’t know/ refused 25.7

The poll of 750 eligible voters was conducted between August 14 – 24.

On Saturday Young wrote:

Audrey Young: No bubbly but Little is lifting Labour’s game

Given the party’s record, Andrew Little has already been a successful leader.

The party is functioning more like a competent Opposition than it has for some time.

Little has a strong sense of himself and his party and his own leadership. He takes on John Key with confidence.

He is authentic, and that is harder than it looks when you have a team of advisers telling you what they think you should do.

Little has made the odd slip-up but most people – party members, the media, the public – are in a forgiving frame of mind.

Little still hasn’t proven his leadership but hasn’t slipped up badly and the caucus or party knives seemed to remain sheathed for now.

And King must take some of the credit for this. Until Little took over Labour has had a poor record of unity and support of it’s leader since Helen Clark stepped down in 2008.

With Labour MPs doing their jobs properly, and Annette King doing what good deputies do and helping to manage the caucus, Little has been left to get on with setting some strategic direction for the party.

King’s appointment was for a year only, allowing the party to settle after a bruising four-way leadership contest that Little won with union support. The sudden appearance of Jacinda Ardern as fourth in the preferred Prime Minister polls has led to speculation that she would be the logical choice to replace King in November and complement Little – young, female and from Auckland.

Being deputy, however, is not just a titular role and with King’s standing so high in the caucus and the party, she will undoubtedly be lobbied to stay on.

She has always been a natural bridge between Labour’s factions – while denying that they exist.

King is widely respected and has no doubt made Little’s job easier.

David Farrar has asked Will King stay on?

I understand that it is becoming more likely King will stay on as Deputy Leader, simply because there is no one else up to the job – or at least able to do it as well as her.

One Labour MP told me that the gap between Annette and all other female MPs in Labour is so huge you can hardly measure it.

That’s believable. Labour’s top ranked women:

2. Annette King
4. Nanaia Mahuta
7. Carmel Sepeloni
9. Jacinda Ardern
13. Megan Wood
19. Ruth Dyson

I don’t see how Mahuta can rise to deputy, she seems virtually unheard of. Sepeloni and Wood don’t stand out, and Dyson should retire.

The problem is that Annette entered Parliament in the 1980s. At the next election she will be a 33 year veteran of Parliament and be 70 years old. That is why she was meant to be the temporary deputy only. It will be a vote of no confidence in the rest of caucus if she carries on.

It could be seen as an admission that the talent nurturing hasn’t been as successful as hoped.

The other issue with Annette carrying on is that the top three Labour MPs are all from Wellington City, in a classic beltway capture. It’s hard to appeal to the country, if your senior leadership is all from the capital city.

Little has twice stood (unsuccessfully) in New Plymouth, in his home turf in Taranaki.

As concerning for Labour as Wellington dominance is their lack of strength in Auckland. From their rankings:

5. Phil Twyford (Te Atatu)
7. Carmel Sepeloni (Kelston)
9. Jacinda Ardern (List, stands in Auckland Central but ex Waikato)
11. Su’a William Sio (Mangere)
14. David Cunliffe (New Lynn)
16. David Shearer (Mt Albert)
17. Phil Goff (Mt Roskill)

Ex leaders Cunliffe, Shearer and Goff are unlikely to rise again. That leaves Twyford, Sepeloni, Sio and Ardern to fly the Auckland flag for Labour.

It’s easy to imagine them as deputy having difficulty keeping the likes of Mallard, Cosgrove and O’Connor in check.

Labour may need a clean-out of their cranky conspiring old dead wood before they can risk replacing King as deputy.

Little may decide that it’s too risky to replace King this year. And next.

But how will a Little-King team appeal to Auckland, the South Island and the North Island provinces in 2017? Even Little’s home territory of New Plymouth has shunned Labour since he has been a candidate there. New Plymouth results:

  • 2008 Harry Duynhoven 47.88%, Labour 31.42%
  • 2011 Andrew Little 40.41%, Labour 25.82%
  • 2014 Andrew Little 31.56%, Labour 21.10%

Little may do better in New Plymouth (if he stands there again) with a leadership profile but he needs support from a strong leader. Apart from King (her Rongotai electorate is in Wellington) it’s hard to see where that would come from at the moment.

This is also a interesting depiction of Labour’s list MPs, from their ‘team’ website:

  • Andrew Little – Labour List MP
  • Jacinda Ardern – Labour List MP in Auckland Central
  • David Parker – Labour List MP
  • Clayton Cosgrove – Labour List MP in Waimakariri
  • Sue Moroney- Labour List MP in Hamilton

Ardern strongly contested Auckland Central for the last two elections (in 2014 she got 43.63% personal votes but Labour got 21.67%, down from 25.11% in 2011 and 34.55% in 2008).

Parker didn’t stand in an electorate in 2014.

Cosgrove strongly contested Waimakariri personally in 2014, virtually hiding Labour in the process and misleadingly implying he was the MP for Waimakariri  – see The Clayton’s photo…

Moroney campaigned more for the party vote – see the Contrasting Labour hoardings.

Little presumably wants to present himself as overall leader rather than associated with his electorate. It will be interesting to see if he stands in an electorate in 2017. He may want to avoid risking failure in New Plymouth, and it probably won’t be in Auckland.

List only? He probably can’t afford to lose King by trying to take over her Rongotai electorate.

Peters can’t name his deputy

Today Winston Peters coudn’t or wouldn’t name the deputy leader of NZ First. That’s bizarre.

There seems to have been a flare up of a battle for the deputy position, with claims that Ron Mark has challenged Tracey Martin for the leader-in-waiting slot in the NZ First caucus.

Peters was asked after the meeting who his deputy was. NZ Herald reports in Winston Peters: No comment on coup:

He was asked repeatedly by media who his deputy leader is and whether he could confirm Ms Martin would remain in that position.

“I cannot discuss caucus business, that’s confidential. I am restricted by that. We do not discuss caucus business outside of caucus,” Mr Peters said.

Sure he can’t discuss abacus business out of caucus. But not naming and refusing to confirm who the party deputy is seems nonsensical.

Martin sat beside Peters in the deputy’s seat in Parliament soon afterwards, so refusing to comment was a futile refusal to open.

Afterwards, most NZ First MPs refused to comment, but Denis O’Rourke confirmed that Ms Martin remained deputy leader.

Why couldn’t Peters confirm that? It should have been an automatic response.

Mr Mark also said he was not the new NZ First deputy leader, but would not comment on whether he had made or planned a challenge.

Mark could also confirm  he wasn’t deputy without breaching caucus confidence.

Radio NZ NZ First quiet on rumoured coup attempt:

Ms Martin herself refused to talk about anything that may have happened in caucus, saying she had no comment.

Not confirming she was still deputy also seems bizarre.

They all refused to comment, citing caucus confidentiality – including Mr Peters.

“I’m restricted by that, which we’ve had as a rule for 22 long years.”

He was asked by reporters why he could not just confirm there had not been an attempted coup.

“Well look, excuse me, I just gave you an answer, which is total if you follow it slowly – we do not discuss caucus business outside of caucus.

Sounds like blanket evasion.

Patrick Gower reported on 3 News that a coup attempt failed after Peters stepped to support Martin. Martin’s mother is reported to be close to Peters and is party president.

Tracey Martin oblivious to NZ First ironies and contradictions

Stuff has an interesting profile of NZ First deputy leader Tracey Martin, who is a low profile contrast to Winston Peters. Her party leadership profile may step up a notch or two if Peters becomes committed to spending time in his Northland electorate.

So Tracey Martin – in Winston Peter’s shadow may have to change.

There’s significant Martin family involvement in NZ First, with Martin’s mother on the board of directors and Tracey’s sister works for her.

And there could be more as the NZ First board will decide on Monday who will ‘choose’ to take up Winston’s vacant list position. If Ria Bond at next on the list turns it down then Martin’s Mataroa Paroro, who is married to Martin’s sister-in-law, will get the opportunity to be instructed by the board to become an MP. That’s the board that includes Martin and her mother.

The profile paints a partial positive picture of Martin.

Living in the shadow of NZ First leader Winston Peters would be a cold place for many and while deputy Tracey Martin is no threat to his popularity she is successfully carving herself a place in Parliament.

Martin is consolidating a reputation in Parliament as one to watch, including nipping at the heels of Education Minister Hekia Parata.

But it also illustrates some irony and contradiction.

“We talk about bullying inside of schools, the abuse the Greens take, in particular Hekia and the abuse she gives Metiria [Turei] in te Reo most of the time is bullying we’d never accept inside a classroom and it’s in Parliament.”

Martin says she’s never formally met  Hekia Parata but is critical of the way she treats other MPs.

“We talk about bullying inside of schools; the abuse the Greens take, in particular Hekia and the abuse she gives Metiria [Turei] in te reo most of the time, is bullying we’d never accept inside a classroom and it’s in Parliament.”

Accusing another MP of Parliamentary ‘bullying’ and sledging while serving in Winston’s shadow is cute – Martin can often been seen laughing and cheering when Peters is in full fight in the House.

At the age of 50, Martin has found herself in a position of power that she never asked for and would walk away from tomorrow – a surprising claim from an MP only six months into her second term in Parliament.

In 2008 she was 13th on the party list and had no hope of making it to Parliament but when the listing committee, including her mother, met in 2011, she leaped up to second place. ntsG came out as number two. nte

“I deliberately said to my mother if she had any influence at all don’t make me number two because there was a certain group of people who were a bit anti the Martins anyway.”

Has she really not sought some level of power? She wasn’t promoted to second on the list and deputy leader by accident. If she hasn’t tried to get there she has been put there. It’s more likely a combination of both seek and having a hand up, despite her claims.

Martin is a self-professed feminist in the true meaning of the word.

She once asked her daughter what she thought a feminist was, she responded, “a woman who thinks she’s better than a man”.

Martin was quick to correct saying, “no, a feminist is a woman who believes she’s equal to a man. A woman who thinks she is better than a man is Mum”.

Regardless of whether she’s referring to herself or her mother as ‘Mum’ that’s an odd statement.

Better female representation is a long-term goal but for Martin the job is only a three-year commitment.

She’s in her fourth year in Parliament.

“I could happily go home tomorrow and do what I love to do which is raising money to help my community.

“I’m not desperate to stay here and that’s because I think the absolutely worst kind of politician is a person who is desperate to keep their job because they’ll do and say anything to keep it.”

Again that’s from someone serving as deputy to Peters, the king of saying anything to keep his job and do anything to keep it – as happened in the Northland campaign, where it seems the media is so used to Peters making outlandish promises they don’t take him to task for it.

Martin comes across as oblivious to the ironies and contradictions she illustrates.