Does left-right matter?

Something that struck me when I first saw it, and has nagged at me since, is the imagery on the Labour website (and Facebook) of Andrew Little and Jacinda Ardern.

This is what they use.


And here’s a different version.


Here’s their billboard images:




How do those variations come across?

The Nation – Jacinda Ardern transcript

Jacinda Ardern is an important part of Labour’s election campaign, being promoted alongside Andrew Little as his deputy leader.

She has previously said she has no ambition to be Prime Minister.

Today in an interview on The Nation she effectively said that being Deputy Prime Minister doesn’t matter to her. She said it would be a fantastic outcome if she’s a minister but not deputy.

My relative position actually doesn’t matter to me. If we’re in government, that matters to me.

So if I’m not deputy prime minister, but I’m a minister, that is fantastic. That means that we’ve won, and we’ve got a progressive government.

When asked about the Social Development portfolio she said her ambition is to be Minister for Children.

Children. I’m happy to say that I would very much like to be the Minister for Children. I’m very happy to say that.

For Labour’s no 2 that is not a very big ambition.

Anne Tolley is ranked 10 in National’s Cabinet, and is Minister of both Social Development and Children, as well as Local Government.

The interview on The Nation, and the transcript:

Lisa Owen: Well, it’s nine weeks out from the election, and Labour’s released its alternative budget, saying it would scrap National’s tax cuts and put those billions into social services. But could Labour’s plans to cut immigration and the spending plans of its potential coalition partners through a spanner in the works? Well, Labour’s deputy leader, Jacinda Ardern, joins me now. Good morning.

Jacinda Ardern: Good morning.

Lisa Owen: You’ve got fiscal responsibilities rules, and this was party to help show that you are financially sound, financially as sound as National. But does that mean that your alternative budget has turned out, well, a bit same-same, inoffensive but not bold, not enough to make people change?

Jacinda Ardern: No. I would really dispute that. I think what we’ve presented to the public, to voters, is a really clear choice this election. We’ve rejected the idea from National that we can afford tax cuts right now when we have a situation where, for instance, the Salvation Army is telling us we’ve got the worst homelessness that they have ever seen, kids doing homework in cars, people not able to access health services. The choice that we’re presenting to voters is we need to invest in those social services, reject the idea of $20 a week and make sure that New Zealand is the prosperous nation that gives a good start to every child.

Lisa Owen: So why not go bolder? You have nothing to lose, looking at the polls, so why not make a bigger, bolder statement?

Jacinda Ardern: Cancelling tax cuts and saying now is not the time for tax cuts, we’re investing in poverty, we’re reducing inequality is bold, and exactly the kind of boldness and courage that I think New Zealanders want to see from an alternative government.

Lisa Owen: So you feel you went far enough?

Jacinda Ardern: I think what we have done is bold. Certainly, when we put out the families package and our choice to cancel those tax cuts and instead invest in families, particularly families on low incomes, yeah, we got a lot of criticism for that. I think people acknowledged that was a big, stark difference to choose to reduce inequality and poverty, rather than what National have done, which some people interpreted as being a bit of an election bribe. Yeah, that was bold.

Lisa Owen: Okay, well, let’s take a closer look at your fiscal plan. It is based on the current Treasury projections for growth, which are around 3%. But economists that we’ve spoken to said that immigration makes up a huge chunk of that growth, counts for 1%-2%. Your party wants to take a breather on immigration, so that means knocking off a considerable amount of income. How are the numbers going to balance out?

Jacinda Ardern: An interesting point there. I mean, you’ve actually just pointed out that National’s plans for growth was immigration and the rebuild off the back of crises that New Zealand has experienced. Our view is that our growth should come off the back of investing in regional economic development, becoming a smarter economy through things like research and development tax credits. You know, innovating instead of just simply saying carte blanche that we shouldn’t worry about the strain on our infrastructure that immigration in and in of itself was an answer. It’s not an answer.

Lisa Owen: But your numbers are built on the foundation of current immigration numbers and current growth projections. If you cut immigration, you might not have that money, and if you’re looking at a coalition with Winston Peters, who wants 10,000 immigrants a year, you could be looking at even less money, less growth in GDP.

Jacinda Ardern: I think if anyone looks at the immigration policy that we’ve set out, anyone who can demonstrate that they have a skill shortage in their area will not have a problem accessing migrant labour. That’s what we’ve been really clear on. So we won’t see, for instance—

Lisa Owen: I suppose it’s a bit different. What we’re talking about here is the GDP growth that is generated through population growth, and all through Treasury’s fiscal update in May, it talked about the fact that immigration is expected to underpin real GDP growth. Population is one of the key drivers in the economy, it says. Slowing immigration will risk slowing growth.

Jacinda Ardern: And what we’ve said is that, actually, we’ve got a plan around economic development that isn’t simply reliant on population growth that we can’t meet the needs of. So instead, and we’ve been really clear in the fiscal plan that we’ve presented, which I should add that BERL that endorsed as being absolutely correct, that we’ll be investing in making sure that we diversify our economy and continue to stimulate it, but instead of just relying on population growth, saying we will have things like research and development tax credits, things like our $200 million regional economic development. Things that will generate jobs in New Zealand, also diversify our economy and innovate within our economy. That’s the kind of growth that New Zealanders want to see, rather than just saying the only way to see growth in our economy is simply through unvetted immigration that doesn’t necessarily meet the needs of migrants as well. They’re coming into New Zealand without even having the housing and infrastructure to have a decent life.

Lisa Owen: You raised jobs, so let’s go there. Labour’s aiming to get unemployment down from 5% to 4%. In real terms, how many jobs is that and how are you going to do it?

Jacinda Ardern: Yeah, we are, and we’ve talked about some of the specific ideas that we’ve had. For instance—

Lisa Owen: Sorry, how many jobs will that be in real terms?

Jacinda Ardern: Well, we’ve said we want to drop it down to 4% as a target. I can’t give you the specific number that that generates.

Lisa Owen: So about 25,000.

Jacinda Ardern: We’ve set 4% as a target, but we are a party that believes in full employment. I want to make that point. But some of the ideas that we’ve already set out, like, for instance, in Gisborne, where we have a large amount of unprocessed timber going off shore. We want to invest in that area to create a timber-processing plant that creates prefabricated housing that then helps us deal with our other major crisis in New Zealand, which is the housing crisis. We’ve looked in Whanganui, for instance. They’ve got jobs that will be generated if they have work done on their port. We’ve said we’ll invest there. We’re looking for ways that we can invest in our regional economies to try and generate jobs — real jobs — that they know right now, if they had a little bit of a boost, would make a real difference.

Lisa Owen: And I don’t think anyone would argue with the fact that job creation is a good thing, but under National, unemployment is on track to drop to 4.3% by 2021 anyway. So I suppose we’re circling back round—

Jacinda Ardern: And what specific plans—?

Lisa Owen: …we’re circling back round to the fact that your critics would say you’re not being that ambitious. We’re getting there anyway — 4.3%. You’re offering us 0.3%. Is that enough to motivate people to change, which is what you want them to do.

Jacinda Ardern: And as I say, we’ve set some targets, but, actually, we are a party, as I say, is ambitious enough to say that, actually, what we want is full employment. We will never be satisfied as long we have anyone—

Lisa Owen: But that’s not the target you’ve set in the short term. The target you’ve set is this, which is so close to National’s, it could be National’s.

Jacinda Ardern: We’ve set a target that allows us to make some projections around the kind of spending in investment in other areas. But, as I say, as much as we’ve got a number in this fiscal plan, our target is that as long as there is anyone who is unable to work because they cannot find employment, that isn’t supported, that doesn’t have the dignity of that work, we will not be satisfied. Yeah, we put a number on it. We believe in full employment. That’s bold. And I would love to hear Steven Joyce say the same thing.

Lisa Owen: You say you’re going to spend about $17 billion more than National over four years — 8 billion in health, I think it is; 4 billion in education; Super Fund payments. All of that means carrying a higher debt load for longer, which is a costly exercise. How much does a billion bucks cost you in interest?

Jacinda Ardern: Yeah, and let’s put that in perspective. Yeah, we’ve said that relative to what the government’s doing, we will take on a bit more debt. So our debt track will actually take us about two years to get down to where the government’s saying. But let me be really clear on what we’re borrowing on, because I think that’s actually the point.

Lisa Owen: No, but before we get to that, there is a price that you pay for that. So what is that price?

Jacinda Ardern: Well, on the market, of course it costs less for a government to borrow than it does an individual, right. But let me be clear on what we’re borrowing for. We’re talking $3 billion for the Super Fund. The return on the Super Fund, we’re looking at around—

Lisa Owen: Your fiscal plan says it’s about $10 million in interest a day, I think it was. So that’s an opportunity cost, isn’t it?

Jacinda Ardern: Let me just answer the question. Which is why we’re trying to get the debt track down to 20%, and we’ll be there at about two years later than the government. The reason we’ve said that we’re willing to wear those extra two years is this — we cannot sit by while children live in cars. We are not willing to have a country where we can get the debt track down at the same rate as the government, but people suffer. So we will borrow for KiwiBuild, but that’s the kind of borrowing that we need. That’s the kind of borrowing that is justified. The other borrowing — the most substantial other bit of borrowing — is so that we can restart contributions to the—

Lisa Owen: To the Super Fund?

Jacinda Ardern: To the Super, where, actually, we get a return of about 10%, which is well over what we’ll be paying and what we’re borrowing to do it. That is justifiable debt. And also, I have to say, we will not be lectured by Steven Joyce when it comes to debt. We left in office, after Labour, a debt net — Crown debt — that was at around 10%, and now we’re up around, what, 25%? We’ve got goals to bring that down, yes, but we have a track record that proves we will.

Lisa Owen: Okay. Let’s move on to the diverted profits tax, which was announced this week. Andrew Little says he’s going to claw back money from foreign corporates who are not paying their fair share of tax. So, what’s that going to be set at? What rate?

Yeah, well, we’ve originally started out by saying we’ve written to multinationals. We’ve told them that this is our intention if they don’t come to the table.

Lisa Owen: But how much are you going to after them for?

Jacinda Ardern: Well, at the moment, IRD’s predicted that we’re forgoing over, I believe, from three to four years, about $600 million. So our view is they’ve set a really unambitious target of collecting, you know, about $100 million. Our view is that we can do better than that through a diverted tax.

Lisa Owen: Yes. Using what percentage?

Jacinda Ardern: But that’s set by IRD, dependent on what—

Lisa Owen: But you have already accounted, in your fiscal plan, for gains of $200 million a year. That’s taken into your costings from this tax. So you must’ve used some figure to work that out.

Jacinda Ardern: Based on what IRD have predicted is the forgone tax revenue that we’re losing, the government’s then gone, ‘Actually, we think that we can only then recoup a certain percentage of that.’ Our view is we can recoup more of that by actually investing in IRD to be able to do that, so we’ve budgeted for investing in IRD to—

Lisa Owen: You can’t give me a ballpark of what the tax level would be? So, in Australia, it’s like—

Jacinda Ardern: Because the diverted tax regime is set by IRD, based on how much they think the company has forgone in revenues, so that then comes down to an IRD discretion.

Lisa Owen: All right. So, you’ve got $10 billion that’s unaccounted for spending in your budget — so, unallocated spending — looking at your potential coalition partners — New Zealand First and the Greens — what policies of those parties do you like and that you think would be worthy of consideration for unallocated funds?

Jacinda Ardern: And the reason we’ve done that is because all governments do that. That’s the way that you build a fiscal plan. Because, also, you have to take into account inflation adjustments for your spending.

Lisa Owen: But there’s obviously money in there, because you’re going to have to have friends in a government, and friends like their policies to be implemented. What policies do you like from the Greens and New Zealand First that you think are worthy of consideration?

Jacinda Ardern: I love this hypothetical, because, of course, this is talking through Labour forming a government afterwards. And, of course, that’s the position that we’re out there campaigning on, to be in that position to be able to do that. But, ultimately, as every election has generated, that’s the conversation you have after the election. We’ve put out a set of priorities—

Lisa Owen: So you don’t like any of their policies?

Jacinda Ardern: Oh, there are similarities in some of the policies.

Lisa Owen: So which ones do you like?

Jacinda Ardern: There’s some similarities in the Families Package and what the Greens have put out in theirs, because we’ve both targeted poverty alleviation and looking after middle income.

Lisa Owen: Yeah, but the Greens propose to spend more on a family package, so would you support some of their initiatives in spending more in those areas that they’ve suggested?

Jacinda Ardern: Oh, well, if you look, for instance, at what we’ve done with Best Start, which is about investing in children in their early years, they’ve got something that they’ve called a Child Benefit, and so there’s some similarities there.

Lisa Owen: But they are spending more, so is that a policy that you would support being implemented?

Jacinda Ardern: That’s all for negotiation. But even though they’ve spent more—

Lisa Owen: But voters want to know what exactly they’re voting for.

Yeah, and if they vote for Labour, they get our Families Package. If they vote for the Greens or any other party, then it comes down to a negotiation afterwards. But my simple message, Lisa, to any voter—

Lisa Owen: Let’s move on, because you, personally, want to eradicate child poverty — that’s what you’ve said — and the Children’s Commissioner says benefits should be tagged to wages, like Super. So why not commit to that? Why not make a bold move and commit to something like that?

Jacinda Ardern: Because the Children’s Commissioner has also talked about doing things like investing in the early years of a child’s life. In fact, we looked at some of the research and analysis, and it told us that, actually, the period of a child’s life where they experience the most persistent poverty is —

Lisa Owen: I know you’re giving a universal baby bonus in these winter payments. I’m asking you about this. Why not do that?

Jacinda Ardern: If you just let me finish. He also pointed out that, actually, if we increase the payments for those early years, that’s going to make a really big difference to those low-income families and those ones in poverty. So we prioritise that—

Lisa Owen: So you don’t think you need to tag benefits to wages, is that what you’re saying?

Jacinda Ardern: We haven’t done it in this package, but we have acknowledged that those families who are on constrained incomes, who are on benefits, are doing it tough. And those are the areas where kids are suffering. What we’ve done goes to those beneficiary families as well.

Lisa Owen: Yes, but this is a step further, I suppose. And you’ve also said in the past that you think that the Commissioner needs to have more power, and you don’t get more power just through money. You get more power by implementing his suggestions or ideas.

Jacinda Ardern: Indeed.

Lisa Owen: So why not go with this one? Why not go with a big, bold—?

Jacinda Ardern: What will give him more power is, actually, greater independence, the ability to speak freely. And we want him to do that. We want any Children’s Commissioner in the future to have the ability to hold us to account.

Lisa Owen: Okay, so you’re not prepared to take that on, then?

Jacinda Ardern: But, to be fair, everything that we did in this package — the Winter Energy Payment, the Best Start payment, the increases to the Family Tax Credit, all go to families on benefits. In fact, by doing what we’ve done, we’ve got a big boost—

Lisa Owen: You’ve said that, and viewers will get that, but really the question is about whether it’s enough of an incentive, if it’s bold enough, if it’s dynamic enough to get people to change — which is what you want them to do.

Jacinda Ardern: And what I would say is that those families we have targeted, in the most need, end up being thousands of dollars better off. And that would even do more, in some cases, than what the Children’s Commissioner has suggested.

Lisa Owen:  Sorry to interrupt, but we want to get to a couple of other things. You’ve made it clear that you’re not keen to be Prime Minister; it’s not on your radar. How likely do you think it is that you’re going to be deputy prime minister?

Jacinda Ardern: Do you know, for me, if we’re in the position where we’re negotiating those positions, then that’s where I want us to be.

Lisa Owen: Come on, how likely? How likely is it?

Jacinda Ardern: My relative position actually doesn’t matter to me. If we’re in government, that matters to me.

Lisa Owen: Is the reason—?

Jacinda Ardern: So if I’m not deputy prime minister, but I’m a minister, that is fantastic. That means that we’ve won, and we’ve got a progressive government.

Lisa Owen: So you’re prepared to give up the opportunity of that role if one of the people you’re in coalition with—?

Jacinda Ardern: Yeah, because, as I’ve said, it’s never been about me. If we are in a position to be in government, that’s what I want. I don’t care about my relative status in that government.

Lisa Owen: Okay, so would you rather it be a Green or Winston Peters who held that position?

Jacinda Ardern: I’m loving this negotiation that we’re conducting here, Lisa.

Lisa Owen: Yeah, well, voters want to know what they’re getting. All right, let’s be fair, they want to know what they’re getting. So I’m asking you what your thoughts are.

Jacinda Ardern: And I agree with you. Voters deserve, in an MMP environment, to know, which is why we have the MOU. We’ve indicated that we’re going to work with the Greens. New Zealand First is a wildcard for voters. They could go with either Labour or National. If people want to change the government, the clearest way to do that is with Labour. Beyond that—

Lisa Owen: So, Greens is your preference, then?

Jacinda Ardern: Yes. We’ve got an MOU with the Greens.

Lisa Owen: And Greens is your preference for deputy prime minister as well?

Jacinda Ardern: I’m not saying that. That’s words in my mouth. What I’m saying is that, ultimately, there’s a range of things that will be on the table, but for me, it doesn’t matter to me.

Lisa Owen: You’ve mentioned a ministerial portfolio. So, social development — is that one that you’d like?

Jacinda Ardern: Children. I’m happy to say that I would very much like to be the minister for children. I’m very happy to say that.

Lisa Owen: Just before we go, if something should happen, as Winston Peters suggests, and your polling goes down and your leader is out, if it is a decision between stepping up for your party or not, will you do that?

Jacinda Ardern: Andrew Little is taking us to the election.

Lisa Owen: What about after the election?

Jacinda Ardern: Andrew Little is taking us to the election for victory. There’s no Plan B.

Lisa Owen: All right. Thanks for joining us this morning. Nice to talk to you.

Little concedes further

When Labour tied themselves and their election chances to the Greens last year in a Memorandum of Understanding it was seen as a major concession that Labour could no longer  compete head to head with National. That was seen as a very risky move, and it seems to have backfired.

Then earlier this year Andrew Little seemed to concede he didn’t have the necessary voter pulling power and allied himself with newly installed deputy Jacinda Ardern.

Recently Labour revealed that effectively they would be campaigning on a joint Little-Ardern ticket. All there promotions including billboards feature both of them.

So instead of the traditional Labour leader competing with Bill English the strategy had become Andrew and Metiria and James and Jacinda versus English. Voters looking for leadership Had either one choice or a lot of choices.

And Little has now conceded even further.

Newshub:  ‘I want Greens and NZ First in my Govt’ – Andrew Little

Andrew Little has revealed publicly for the first time that he wants and needs both the Greens and New Zealand First to form a government.

“We can form a good government and I want the Green Party to be part of that and the New Zealand First party to be part of that,” he told Newshub.

“We have a lot of common ground with the Green Party, we have a lot of common ground with New Zealand First. I think our three parties offer New Zealand the best chance of fixing the problems we know New Zealanders want us to fix.”

“I’m totally confident that I am capable of putting together if the numbers fall our way a government that will have a good solid programme of change involving up to three parties”.

“Well I’m very confident that Winston wants to change things that at the moment need to be changed that are not changing and won’t change under a National led government.”

That exudes anything but confidence in his and Labour’s chances.


This photo is from a campaign meeting Little had in Timaru yesterday (Stuff refer to it as ‘supplied’) – that picture paints many words about Little’s confidence.

Little is now relying on five leaders and three parties to succeed with a supposed ‘fresh approach’.

If Little and Labour are to avoid crashing and burning badly a real fresh approach is needed. Just painting “a fresh approach” on billboards won’t fool the voters, and neither will claiming confidence in a terrible position, not will his current body language.

Unless Little gives himself an urgent makeover and starts to be himself rather than a packaged party puppet things look like they may end badly.

It’s very late in the election game, it may be too late to turn things around, but going down with boldness and dignity would be better than the sorry slide we are witnessing now.

Q+A: Labour women in politics


When Q+A tweeted this yesterday I questioned talking about “women in politics” with just two women from one party featuring.

That’s ridiculous. One on one interviews with politicians of different genders from different parties is usually about specific issues.

I think a general sounding issue about women in politics should include different women and different politics. Annette responded “You are far too sensitive Pete!”

If Q+A called it “Labour women in politics” then featuring King and Ardern would be appropriate. But not a general “women in politics’.

I can only guess, but it looks to me like Labour have been given a spot on Q+A and chose to feature the ‘women’ theme with King (out with the old) and Ardern (in with the been around for a while).

This week Labour revealed that their election advertising would feature both Ardern and Little.

It will be interesting to see if the interview amounts to a probing look at Labour women in politics, or if it is a soft campaign promo.

What has changed since king has been in Parliament? “More women”. It is a much more representative place. It is now much easier for women to be heard.

Ardern says she has been well supported in the Labour caucus, but the external commentary is questionable.


Little and Labour MPs with interns

Andrew Little appears to have misled and not been honest about the extent of the Labour Party involvement with the Labour Party Fellowship scheme, also known as the intern scheme, Movement for Change and Campaign for Change.

Little said “people closely associated with the Labour Party were involved. Without without approval or authority or any mandate they went ahead and did stuff.”. But he admits:

This started out as an idea at the beginning of the year. I certainly became aware of it, um when it was raised with me.”

The next I became aware was about May this year when the party was getting messages from students about to arr… within days of arriving, um, ah, the party stepped in straight away to people associated with it saying what is going on, there’s no approval for this, this is not the party thing.

The party was given assurances, “we’ve got funding, we’ve got a programme sorted out, nothing to worry about”.

But it is obvious it was a party thing. And if the party stepped in straight away then Little hasn’t admitted it, he has denied it.

Some of the interns say in LinkedIn profiles they have been in the scheme since April. See Links between interns and Labour from April.

The right approach was once we got notification of complaints, or the party didn’t, I was told about it, I said we get up there straight away. The general secretary Andrew Kirton and his team did an outstanding job, he was there on Monday…

The party (Little and general secretary Andrew Kirton) didn’t step in until Monday 19 June.

There was, yeah, we got the complaints this week and the minute that happened, because we were aware that the Labour Party name was associated with it.

It’s not about legal technicalities. I take a very dim view of those who hide behind legality and say it is moral responsibility that is the most important thing.

There is a moral responsibility to be truthful and not to mislead. It was not just the Labour Party name that was associated with it.

Little, Jacinda Ardern, other Labour MPs, and Auckland candidates were associated with it.

The week before Little claimed to have acted immediately:


As well as interns, included in the photos:

  • Labour leader Andrew Little
  • Labour deputy leader Jacinda Ardern
  • MP for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis
  • Labour candidate for Rodney Marja Lubeck
  • Labour candidate for Northcote Shanan Halbert
  • Labour candidate for North Shore Romy Udanga
  • Labour candidate for East Coast Bays Naisi Chen


That shows a Labour party banner, interns (with Movement for Change ribbons around their necks), and Labour candidates Halbert, Lubeck and Udanga.

@youngnzlabour and MPs @raymondhuo and @Damien O’Connor liked the tweet.

Shanan Halbert retweeted the tweet. “Shanan Halbert has been selected as the Labour Party candidate for Northcote in the 2017 Election. Authorised by Andrew Kirton, 160 Willis St, Wellington.”

He also tweeted:

Little wasn’t taking responsibility for the Labour Fellowship Scheme. He was avoiding responsibility for the scheme prior to last Monday, but he, Ardern, Labour MPs and Labour candidates were all associating with the interns.

Like this:


Little needs to show actual leadership and take full responsibility for and some ownership of Labour’s involvement in the scheme. Some questions could do with answers.

Why did Little say that in May he discovered “people closely associated with the Labour Party were involved  without approval or authority or any mandate” but say he took no action until 19 June?

Why did Matt McCarten suddenly announce on 11 June that he had ceased working for Little in May?

Why did Little say the first time he did anything with the interns was on Monday 19 June when he attended a Labour Party event with the interns the previous week?

Why did Little say of the intern scheme “this is not the party thing” when it is obvious that the interns have been working with Labour candidates in Auckland in a number of electorates?

There’s nothing wrong with using foreign students to assist with campaigning (apart from a bit of hypocrisy), but there does appear to be something wrong with Little avoiding taking responsibility for a scheme that had some minor issues with intern complaints.

The much bigger issue is what Little and Labour appear to be trying to hide.

McCarten has been dumped on by Little, Kirton, and by Clayton Cosgrove – seeCosgrove bus follows Labour over McCarten.

Certainly McCarten seems to have driven the scheme, but it has been suggested that he is a “voluntary scapegoat”.

His sudden departure from the Labour Party job was before the intern complaints happened – he says it was in May. Why did he leave, whether it was in May or in early June when he announced it?

McCarten launched the supposedly non-partisan ‘Campaign for Change’ that also involved Mike Treen and according to himself Martyn Bradbury, people associated with the far left and not with Labour.

This was launched on Saturday 17 June – New Zealand launches ‘Campaign for Change’.

Little says he stepped in to deal with problems two days later.

I don’t think Little has been straight on Labour’s involvement in the fellowship/intern scheme, with his own knowledge of the scheme, and what went wrong that led to McCarten’s sudden departure from his Labour job and sudden intervention by the Labour leadership and head office even though Little, MPs and candidates were involved with the interns and they were clearly involved with the Labour Party in far more ways than using the name.



Ardern bubble burst

Jacinda Ardern’s promotion to Labour’s deputy leadership and her campaigning alongside Andrew Little was touted by some as a game changer by some, and Ardern seemed to bump up in popularity, but her party remained unmoved and she seemed to disappear from the lime light.

Whether Ardern’s fading from view has caused it or was because of it, her popularity has declined in Newshub’s latest poll – Jacinda Ardern’s popularity plummets

‘Plummet’ is a bit over dramatic, but it is a significant change. Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Andrew Little 7% (down from 8.3%)
  • Jacinda Ardern 6.6% (down from 10.5%)

Andrew Little’s decline barely rates a mention as the rest of the article is about Ardern and her latest magazine cover promotion.

The poll result comes the same day as Ms Ardern graces the front cover of Nextmagazine, where she opens up about the toll her new role is taking on her private life and her mental health.

“I do live in constant fear of what might be. Clarke really tries to pull me back from the precipice of anxiety a lot, but it’s just who I am,” she says.

That sounds like even deputy leadership is not really her thing, at this stage at least. It is unlikely to help Labour’s election chances.

That seems to be the only poll results Newshub has released so far, no mention of Bill English and Winston Peters ratings. I guess they will drip feed into several stories to maximise the headlines from some fairly boring numbers.

The Newshub-Reid Research poll was conducted June 2-12. 1000 people were surveyed, 750 by telephone and 250 by internet panel. It has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.

Another theory on Winston’s ambitions

Theories about the ambitions of Winston Peters are a staple of New Zealand political discourse. Matthew Hooton added his own in his NBR column.

Mr Peters knows that if he can get his party up another five points at the expense of Labour, Mr Little – a list MP – will not even be in parliament. The result might be something like 23% for Labour, 17% for NZ First and 12% for the Greens.

The crisis in the Labour Party would be readymade for Mr Peters to step in, declare that he will be prime minister, Ms Ardern his deputy, Mr Robertson finance minister, Mr Jones foreign minister, Phil Twyford transport and housing minister, and James Shaw climate change minister.

Ms Ardern would then become prime minister after 18 months and Mr Peters would retire, to be replaced as NZ First leader by Mr Jones, Ron Mark or Tracey Martin. Like his namesake Sir Winston Churchill in 1952, Mr Peters would see himself as mentoring his young queen as she grew into the role.

Under the circumstances towards which Mr Little appears to be leading them, why on earth wouldn’t Ms Ardern and her colleagues go for it?

It’s hard to know whether Hooton is being serious or mischievous.

My prediction – someone will be right about NZ First’s result in the election, and someone will be right about the eventual coalition arrangement. And given the variety of predictions, most people will be wrong.

Ardern’s Congress speech

Jacinda Ardern has given the key Saturday speech at Labour’s election year Congress, and has announced new policy on mental health.

Labour on Facebook:

And today, Jacinda Ardern has announced that we’ll deliver comprehensive health services to every state secondary school. These services have been shown to reduce the risk of suicide by two thirds.

We’ll make mental health an absolute priority.

It’s great to put more priority on dealing with mental health issues – in the shorter term this may put more pressure ion the Government to take more action.

But I question this claim: “These services have been shown to reduce the risk of suicide by two thirds”.  There’s no way of knowing in advance what degree of success it might have.

Ardern’s speech:

A curious personal intro to her speech by Ardern, trying to appeal to a social media audience.

Stuff reports: Labour promises a nurse in every secondary school

An emotional Jacinda Ardern has spoken about her grief at losing a childhood friend to suicide.

Speaking to Labour’s election year congress, Ardern put youth mental health on the political agenda, with a promise to place a nurse into every public secondary school.  Schools will also get the support of a GP.

“Evidence around existing services shows where students had more time with on-site professionals there was significantly less depression and suicide risk. Depression and suicide risk were up to two thirds lower in schools with comprehensive health services. Early intervention works.”

Ardern revealed that as a 13-year-old in Morrinsville, her best friend’s brother took his own life.

“I had just started high school and was waiting for class to start when I heard the news, I can remember exactly where I was standing, just outside the science block.

“I went straight to my friend’s home and spent the next few days with her as her and her family went through the unimaginable grief of losing their only boy, grief that was felt by everyone that knew him, and was captured in the handwritten notes and messages from his classmates that hung around the walls at his funeral. Every single thing about it seemed unfair and still does to this day.”

Ardern said school based health services were introduced by Labour in 2008  but were currently only funded directly for nurses in decile 1-3 public secondary schools, teen parent units and alternative education facilities.”

Under Saturday’s announcement, the average secondary school would have a full time nurse and also the support of a GP.

The cost would be around $40 million a year, funded out of Labour’s commitment to reverse National’s $1.7 billion of health cuts.

That doesn’t sound a lot in the whole scheme of things. The question to ask is whether it’s the most effective way to deal with a big problem.

Personal experiences can be a powerful driver of change that matters.

Full text: Jacinda Ardern: Labour Congress Speech

Ardern at the Press Club

Jacinda Ardern spoke at the Wintec Press Club yesterday. Time Murphy (@tmurphyNZ) tweeted as it went.

Jacinda Ardern addressing the after-lunch Wintec Press Club – reading (!) about 10 typed pages of anecdotes/observations. A surprise.

To a question on Peters: ‘Is he a racist?’ Long pause. ‘I think Winston knows what he’s doing.’

On Peters: “If the electorate delivers a result meaning would we negotiate with him? ‘Yes'”
Audience member: ‘Could you not?’

On outpolling Little: ‘Andrew tends to focus on the party vote’. Because of my unusual name ‘I tend to pop up a little’.

That’s an odd claim. I haven’t heard anyone attribute the publicity she gets to her ‘unusual name’.

Question to Ardern:’Does Little tend to dull your shine?’
‘No. Part of my job is standing alongside Andrew helping people get to know him’.

I don’t know how her presence helps people to get to know Little, unless she attracts people to meetings who wouldn’t go just to ‘get to know’ Little.

Ardern: ‘Trevor Mallard is much more sensitive than you know. He feels things deeply. And I’ve learned – you just don’t let em see you cry.’

Fairfax’s Tony Wall: Do you sometimes feel like you’re a winner in a loser party?
Ardern: long answer on left parties overseas

On being a professional politician – and her view on outsiders like Trump: ‘What – so you elect a professional arsehole, instead?’

On being labelled a ‘Show Pony’?’
‘If you rally against that too hard you’re treated as humourless. So I’ve chosen not to react’

Ardern’s grilling continues, from young journo: ‘You have a man above you that you’ve refused to roll? What does that say about you?’

MC Braunias: ‘We have time for a couple more questions’
Ardern: ‘Do we have to?’

Stunning raw politics at Wintec Press Club – pack questioning after a severe introductory roast: Ardern did better as it went on.

Final Q on Winston answer
Ardern: ‘I’ll tell you why I paused – I truly do have to ask is he genuinely racist. I don’t know him well enough’

Peters is one of, if not the, best known politician in New Zealand, so it’s odd for Ardern to claim she doesn’t know him well enough.

She joined the Labour Party at a young age, and became a senior figure in the Young Labour Party. After graduating from Waikato University, she spent time working in the offices of Phil Goff and of Helen Clark as a researcher.

After a high placement on Labour’s party list for the 2008 election (her ranking at number 20 virtually guaranteed a seat in Parliament) Ardern returned from London to campaign full-time. She also became the Party’s candidate for the Waikato electorate. Ardern was unsuccessful in the electorate vote, but was elected as a List MP.

She is now 36 and has been involved in politics most of her late teen and adult life. This is her ninth year in Parliament. She must have at least observed Peters a bit by now. It’s hard not to notice him in Parliament.

If Labour want to negotiate a coalition deal Ardern might need the start getting to know Peters better.

It’s interesting that the Wintec Press Club invited Ardern to speak. Some of the media seem to like giving her attention, more so than for Andrew Little.

Immigrant to Little, Ardern…

An immigrant who owns a restaurant in Auckland and knows both Andrew Little and Jacinda Ardern has a public message for them via The Spinoff: Andrew Little is a regular at my restaurant. Here’s what I’d like to say to him about immigration

Israeli-born Yael Shochat is the owner of much-loved Fort St institution Ima Cuisine. She writes about the essential role immigration plays in her restaurant – and why the Labour leader’s vow to slash immigrant numbers by ‘tens of thousands’ has her deeply worried.

To Mr Andrew Little, and to dear Jacinda, whom I consider a friend: you’ve been to my restaurant, Ima Cuisine, many times. You’ve shared my company and enjoyed my most beloved dishes – immigrant food from all over the Jewish diaspora, and Palestinian food, the indigenous cuisine of my country. What are we going to say to each other next time you come in? Are you going to give “compliments to the chefs”, half of whom are not welcome here under your immigration policy? Am I welcome here? I certainly don’t feel welcome now that you’ve promised to cut “tens of thousands” of immigrants.

Your immigration policy (and the policy of the Greens and the National party) is based on racist tropes and stereotypes. Anti immigration sentiment is built on myths that don’t add up. We migrants are “lazy”, sucking up resources and putting a strain on the welfare system, and at the same time we work too hard – we are “stealing” jobs from “ordinary New Zealanders”.

This is false. Immigrants are largely young (considering we have an aging population this can’t be a bad thing), fit, and keen to work to better their lives. They are good people, they are healthy and they are paying tax. They are not a drain on society, they are holding it up! The jobs they are “stealing” are usually the ones Kiwis don’t want – low-paying and physically demanding. This unfortunately makes migrants more easily exploited by employers; that was certainly the case for some of my staff before they came to me.

She explains what she thinks Little’s suggested slashing of immigration will do.

Right now I, my friends and peers in the restaurant industry are all crying out for kitchen and wait staff. Stopping immigration – while refusing to actually address the underlying causes of problems in the job and housing market – will mean I won’t be able to hire anyone. I won’t be able to cook for you anymore. Many other industries will also suffer.

Stopping immigration won’t solve our problems but it will create more. Stopping immigration will divide our country and make it less safe.

Policies such as yours are dog whistles, mostly inaudible messages of demonisation and othering used for political gain.

If today it is the case that even the left can be covertly racist, we are emboldening more overtly racist individuals, leaving them more space to spread their hatred and their violence.

I understand that you are desperate for more votes this election, and sure, blaming immigrants for the ills of society is an easy way of getting them. So shift the blame on us as many have done before you. I just hope you’re ready to face the consequences.

I hope Team Little-Ardern do what they can to avoid the consequences by rethinking their stance on immigration and coming out with some actual policy that doesn’t harm those who have already come here and added value to New Zealand.

And more than Little and Ardern – immigration without discrimination and ostracisation is necessary for New Zealand to thrive as a compassionate and thriving multi-cultural country.