“People love Jacinda” and headline hacks

Praise piled on think for Jacinda Ardern:

People love Jacinda. National can’t understand it, but they do.

I can see what National was trying to do – get Ardern’s equal, Kaye, to lead the attack.

It is all routine attack politics but it may well be failing. It has let Ardern grab the moral high ground which fits with her brand of a “new style of politics”.

We will discover in the coming weeks and months just how popular Ardern is and how powerful Brand Jacinda can become.

You might think that can from The Standard or Chris Trotter or Martyn Bradbury, or from Labour Party PR, but no, it is from an ‘opinion’ piece of journalist Patrick Gower.

Major media (not just Gower) seem to be trying to talk Ardern up into some sort of phenomenon.

Is Arderrn an equal of Nikki Kaye? Kaye has beaten Ardern twice in what had been a safe Labour seat, Auckland Central.

The above quotes are cherry picked but there is more context, trying to portray National as panicked in fear of the threat of Ardern – something that has been claimed at The Standard  see Nats’ attack on Ardern backfires.

The way National has revved up its attack machine to take on Jacinda Ardern shows just how worried they are.

But what should be more worrying for National is that the attacks are backfiring and may be empowering Brand Ardern rather than weakening it.

First, Nikki Kaye had a go in Parliament saying Ardern was all show and no substance.

Then Paula Bennett tried to double-team Ardern on the AM Show this morning by saying she was “condescending” in her response to Kaye’s condescending attacks – which only served to make Bennett look condescending.

It is all a tactic of course. It shows us National is worried about Jacinda. And it makes them look more than a little desperate.

I’ve been around Parliament for a while and the “attack” by Kaye on Ardern wasn’t really up to much in my view – Labour called John Key out in a similar way for years for being all photo ops and no substance.

But it was the way Ardern’s supporters leapt to her defence which shows she potentially has that untouchable aura that National should recognise all too well – because John Key had the very same thing.

People love Jacinda. National can’t understand it, but they do. People loved John Key. Labour couldn’t understand it – but they did.

For years Labour and the left attacked John Key and it only made him stronger.

Now National faces the danger that its attacks on Ardern will only make her stronger.

It may just be that Brand Jacinda is the same as Brand Key – no wonder National is so panicked.

One thing about them is the same – their first names begin with ‘J’.

We will discover in the coming weeks and months just how popular Ardern is and how powerful Brand Jacinda can become.

Is Ardern really as big a threat to National as John Key was to Labour?

Key was elected at his first attempt (to a safe Helensville seat) in 2002. Four years later he became Leader of the Opposition, and in another two years in 2008 election he led National to victory.

Ardern lost her first election (in Waikato) in 2008, then lost two elections to Kaye in 2011 and 2014 but got in each time on Labour’s list. After eight years in Parliament she was appointed Labour’s deputy leader.

Do National fear the rise of Ardern? I’m sure they are wary of what effect she may have in this year’s election.

It’s not unusual for parties to criticise opponents, often far more than Kaye and Bennett have done this week.

Bennett herself has often been attacked and criticised, in part because she has been suggested as a possible future leader and Prime Minister.

Judith Collins has also been hammered by Labour – Phil Goff travelled to China to try to find dirt to use against her, and she started defamation proceedings against Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little in 2012 – see Judith Collins defamation case settled.

Collins had been seen as a prospective leader for National.

So the reaction against National by some political opponents, saying a bit of criticism in Parliament is unfair and panicky, should be viewed with a bit of ‘same old politics’ in a relatively mild way.

But why are journalists like Gower supporting the ‘poor Jacinda, Jacinda is great!’ meme?

It may be panic on their part – panic that Bill English and Andrew Little will be too boring for them, another meme some of the media keep pushing.

Perhaps that’s why they have chosen to promote Ardern – not so much as a politician but as a celebrity.

New Zealand politics is served poorly by headline hacks who confuse journalism with political activism.

Data modelling to estimate crime

Data collating and modelling is being used to try to predict “how many New Zealanders are at risk of committing or being victim to crime – and estimate the total future burden of crime on society”.

NZ Herald: Crime ‘crystal ball’ maps NZers’ risk of committing and falling victim to crime

A crime “crystal ball” is using big data to estimate the probability of New Zealanders committing or being victims to crime.

Cutting-edge computer data modelling is tapping into a powerful IDI database of Government information, which provides data from the tax, education, benefit and justice systems.

It maps the probability of New Zealanders committing or experiencing crime over their lifetime.

They are then assigned to a group – “vulnerable adults”, “career criminals”, “petty criminals”, “at-risk young people”, “vulnerable children” and “not at risk”.

The data is anonymised – officials are not working out how likely certain individuals are to commit crime in their lifetime.

Rather, the work is useful because it can give some idea of how many New Zealanders are at risk of committing or being victim to crime – and estimate the total future burden of crime on society.

The actuarial-type model – developed by PricewaterhouseCoopers – can then be used to estimate how that burden would change if more money is put into certain initiatives or policy.

Is this why police numbers are set to increase by about a thousand over the next few years? If so that suggests the crystal ball foresees an increase in crime.

Early work has resulted in judges being told that in certain cases a fine could be a better option than community work, after analysts found criminals getting the latter were more likely to reoffend and rely on the dole.

Offenders given community work were found to be 4 to 7 percentage points more likely to be reconvicted within two years, compared with offenders who were fined.

It does make sense to analyse what works and what doesn’t.

Justice Minister Amy Adams said the investment approach aimed to prevent people from being victimised in the first place.

Prime Minister Bill English has championed that work and has appointed Adams to the new role of Minister Responsible for Social Investment.

Labour’s justice spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern said evidence-based policy-making was something to aspire to.

The Government is not just aspiring, they are doing.

How it works

  • A model has been built that taps into a powerful database of data from the tax, education, benefit and justice systems.
  • The model estimates the probability of New Zealanders committing or experiencing crime in their lifetime.
  • It separates the population into groups with different levels of risk, such as “vulnerable adults”, “career criminals”, “petty criminals” and “vulnerable children”, and estimates the “total future burden of crime” on society.
  • The model can simulate how the burden of crime might change if investment is made in certain initiatives or policies.

If it ends up reducing crime and reduces the costs associated with crime – and they are many – then it is worth doing.

Kaye versus Ardern

If Jacinda Ardern thought she wouldn’t have to contend with Nikki Kay again after she moved to the Mt Albert electorate – they competed for Auckland Central for the last two elections – she was mistaken.

Today in Parliament Kaye took a major swipe at Ardern in the General Debate.

I think the phrase that I would give New Zealanders is: you have got one party of substance, of significant initiatives delivering for New Zealand, compared with a superficial cosmetic facelift. I want to talk about the deputy leadership of the Labour Party.

We lost Annette King. I want to acknowledge Annette King. She has been a brilliant member of Parliament. She is someone who has huge respect across the House. And we got Jacinda Ardern.

Now, I have been based in Auckland Central for 8 years. I struggle to name anything that Jacinda has done.

What I can say is that a great example is when Kevin Hague and I developed an adoption law reform bill. We spent a year on that bill; we put it in the ballot.

Jacinda Ardern did a one-line bill telling the Law Commission to write the law for her.

On her first day in the job as deputy leader, on one of the biggest issues confronting our generation, Generation X and Generation Y—on the issue of superannuation affordability—where was she?

She had made a whole lot of statements previously about the importance of raising the age, and Jacinda Ardern was nowhere to be seen. She had cut and run on the biggest issue facing our generation, and that is another example of what is a whole lot of photo ops—yes, she will be across every billboard, but she absolutely failed our generation on her first day on the job.

It looks like National have decided to try and unsettle Ardern, who may have thought everything was smoothly going to plan. Until today.

Kay continued later in her speech.

This is a Labour Party that thinks the only way that it can get into Government is to totally get rid of all of its policies and to make sure that has got some nice fancy new billboards and some photo ops—compared with a Government that is prepared to make the hard decisions, that is investing in infrastructure, and that is investing more than a third more in schools.

And again:

You have got significant investments happening across social housing, and you have got a Labour Party—the main Opposition—that thinks the way that it can win is to have no policy, to have a superficial facelift, and to have another person on the billboards.

I do want to acknowledge that this election will be fought on some of the big issues for Generation X and Generation Y, and in my view it is this side of the House that is confronting those issues, and that side that is failing.

Ardern wasn’t present but responded to media later.

NZ Herald: Gloves off: National MPs target Labour’s Jacinda Ardern in series of attacks

Ardern was not in the debating chamber at the time, but said she saw the debate on television.

She said her and Kaye had made an agreement when they ran against each in Auckland Central to only talk about issues and not make personal attacks.

“I’ve stuck to that,” Ardern said.

Newshub: Nikki Kaye launches war of words on Jacinda Ardern

Jacinda Ardern was surprised at the attack, and told Newshub “It’s certainly not a style of politics I’ve seen her use before”.

“Nikki and I have run against each other in Auckland Central for a number of years and usually pretty much stuck to the issues and avoided making it personal. I’m going to stick to that.”

“I’m going to stick with the way I like to do politics, and it’s making sure that you keep away from making it too personal. But each to their own.”

Electorate contests are more one to one and personal, especially when candidates campaign together as Ardern did with Green MY Julie Anne Genter in Mt Albert.

But Ardern should have been aware that by stepping up into a deputy leadership role, and promoting herself as the new face of the party, she was getting into a highly competitive high stakes level of politics.

Voters look for leaders who look like they can lead, not just look and be nice.

Kaye is stepping up to higher levels of responsibility as a Minister, and also as a party representative.

Ardern may need to toughen up and shape up.

English, Little, Ardern on abortion laws

1 News chose to make Bill English’s views on abortion it’s headline story from the Q+A interviews with English and Andrew little on Sunday.

English, Little at loggerheads over abortion law reform

‘Loggerheads’ is nonsense – English and Little have different views on abortion but neither sound interested in putting much priority on doing anything about our sham abortion laws.

English even indicated he had no inclination to change the current law – “I mean, it’s a law that’s stood the test of time.” He then diverted to other social issues he was more interested in dealing with.

Political editor for 1 NEWS Corin Dann asked Mr English about the issue on TVNZ’s current affairs show Q+A this morning.

Mr Dann mentioned that prime ministers tended to set the tone for conscience vote issues, and said Mr English’s vote would be quite significant in an issue like abortion.

“The Abortion Supervisory Committee has recommended an update of our abortion laws, they’re outdated and clumsy,” said Mr Dann.

“Would you stand in the way of that, given that you’re not in favour of liberalising abortions?

Mr English replied: “That’s right, I’m not, and I wouldn’t vote for legislation that did”.

The Prime Minister went on to say that it would be an issue dealt with in a parliamentary vote, and his would be one vote in 121. He hoped that others would vote with him.

Despite the headline there was no mention of Little, his views or his differences with English.

Here is the whole section of the interview:

CORIN But it’s a different story when you’re Prime Minister because we saw with John Key when he voted for gay marriage, that was a big impetus to that legislation. We’ve seen it with the smacking legislation in previous years gone by. Prime ministers set the tone, and if you’re socially conservative, what I’m curious about is how you behave around a social conscience vote is quite significant. For example, the Abortion Advisory Committee has recommended an update of our abortion laws; they’re outdated and clumsy. Would you stand in the way of that, given that, I’m presuming, you’re not in favour of liberalising abortions?

BILL That’s right, I’m not, and I wouldn’t vote for legislation that did.

CORIN What about a law that just updated it, modernised it, which is what they’re calling for?

BILL Well, I think what they mean is liberalise it, and we wouldn’t do that. I mean, it’s a law that’s standed the test of time. But, look, the Parliament has ways of working with this. They know how I would vote, but also they can— You know, I’m focusing on a whole wider set of issues, and many views that I think have traditionally been regarded as socially conservative turning out to be pretty useful. For instance, cracking some of our worst social problems is about trying to rebuild families that have been shattered by dependency, offending, abuse, and as a government we’re focusing on achieving that.

CORIN I think you’ll find the Abortion Advisory Committee does not think it’s standing the test of time and that it’s an outdated, clumsy, sexist piece of legislation.

BILL Well, look, they’re free to have their opinion. They know what my opinion is. The Parliament would deal with the issue, I’m sure, one way or another if it came up.

CORIN But would you stand in the way of it? You’re Prime Minister; you’re signalling that’s something you’re not interested in reforming.

BILL Well, I’m signalling that as a parliamentarian with one vote out of 121, and I hope others would vote with me.

CORIN Yeah, but the most important vote, isn’t it?

BILL Well, no, on conscience issues you are just one vote. I’ve seen this process work in the past, and I’d vote my way.

CORIN But it sets the tone, doesn’t it?

BILL Well, look, if it does, in that case, I’m quite happy that it sets the tone of not rushing into big changes in abortion law.

English remains opposed to abortion but seems unenthusiastic about changing how things work at this stage.

Little was asked about abortion in his interview:

CORIN Andrew Little, likewise, if you are Prime Minister, it will be you who sets the tone often with these issues. You’re not so keen on euthanasia, is that right? Where do you sit on the issues, these social issues that come forth if you are Prime Minister?

ANDREW I personally support euthanasia. I personally support Maryan Street’s bill. I just did not regard it as a priority for Labour when we just had an election where we got 25% of the vote. There were bigger priorities to deal with. On abortion, I support the recommendation to have an inquiry to update and upgrade that legislation. I support women’s choice.

CORIN What do you make of Bill English’s comments? He thought this was an attempt by the advisory committee at liberalisation. I mean, are you surprised that he would feel that way, that the law isn’t outdated in his mind?

ANDREW I mean, he is a social conservative. He’s deeply conservative on an issue like abortion. I happen to differ from him on that. I think that the advisory committee is right. The legislation has been around for the best part of 40 years. It does need to be reviewed and upgraded, and I agree with Jacinda. We should not have it in the Crimes Act. It is not a crime.

But as with his reluctance to put forward attempts to change the law on euthanasia (he canned a Labour private Member’s Bill on it)  Little is unlikely to make abortion law reform ‘a priority’.

Abortion was one issue that Jacinda Ardern showed some depth of knowledge and opinion on:

CORIN Jacinda, if we could turn to some of the social issues in that interview with Bill English. Where do you sit on this issue of abortion law? Does it need to be reformed?

JACINDA Yeah. And these are, as he rightly pointed out, all conscience issues. I think a lot of New Zealanders would be surprised to know that currently those laws are contained in the Crimes Act 1961. And so, for obvious reasons, that has been raised by the Abortion Supervisory Committee. So they’ve called for a review, and when you’ve still got abortion in the Crimes Act, that’s understandable, and it would be timely. But my position on issues like this has always been regardless of what my view is, why should I impose that view on others and remove their choice? I had the same view when it came to things like civil unions or marriage equality – that people should have that choice available to them. And is it our position as lawmakers to stand in the way of people accessing choice that should be there?

CORIN So if, for example, you were in a position where you were a minister in government, you wouldn’t pick up those recommendations; you’d leave it to a member’s bill? Is that what you’re saying?

JACINDA Look, I think those recommendations do need to be pursued. That’s my view, but it is a conscience vote.

As both Ardern and English pointed out it’s a conscience issue, so it won’t be a major party versus party election issue.

Corin Dan was trying to make a contentious story out bugger all.

Currently abortion is legal in New Zealand if two certifying doctors determine there is a risk of serious danger to the life or mental health of the mother (those signatures are easy to get in practice) , and in cases of severe mental or physical handicap of the fetus, incest, or severe mental subnormality of the mother.

Interview transcripts:

http://business.scoop.co.nz/2017/03/12/tvnz-1-qa-prime-minister-bill-english/

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1703/S00151/tvnz-1-qa-andrew-little-and-jacinda-ardern.htm

Q+A – English, and Little and Ardern

Today on Q+A:

Political Editor Corin Dann interviews Prime Minister Bill English in a wide-ranging and revealing interview – how different will National be under his leadership?

Also, Andrew Little and Jacinda Ardern – will they be a winning combination for Labour this year?

And our panel: Dr Raymond Miller, Steve Maharey, Hannah Monigatti with our host Greg Boyed.

It will be a good chance to compare English and Little.


Bill English:

No CGT, no asset sales (Kiwibank, TVNZ).

Doesn’t agree with ‘baby boomers’ not paying “their fair share” for Super.

“The economy is in much better shape” and that seem to be English’s key election strategy.

Fix working for families? “That will unfold through the year”, “we can have a crack at it through the next few years”

“Families on low to middle incomes” need to benefit more from the improved economy.

Will a tax cut be meaningful? Wait for the budget, have to look at a balance of tax cuts. Won’t put a figure on it. “I wouldn’t expect some big sugar shot in the middle to upper range”.

Sounds like tweaks to thresholds and more targeting at the low end.


Andrew Little and Jacinda Ardern

Labour seem to be really trying to sell a dual leadership package.

Ardern has already said several times she absolutely backs Andrew and he is absolutely the leader – but she is dominating the speaking so far.

If National adjusts tax thresholds Little would leave them. Little is committing to as little as possible.

Both Ardern and Little divert from questions and try to repeat their learned talking points.

The only time Ardern sounded knowledgeable about a specific policy was on the sham of an abortion law that we still have in effect.

Little said that he supported both euthanasia and reviewing abortion law but as he says they are not a priority – he ensured a euthanasia private members’ bill was removed from the ballot – he doesn’t seem prepared to do anything about them.

Is the double act working? Not for me, just double poliparroting.

 

 

Who’s the game changing vote magnet?

Most people, especially younger people, don’t know very many politicians. I asked a 36 year old recently what they thought of Andrew Little and they hadn’t heard of him.

So Jacinda Ardern, having scooped up most of the paltry votes in Mt Albert, was promoted as the great game changer by media, and Labour had either fed them this message to repeat, or bought the message.

Ardern was supposed to be what Little wasn’t, attractive to voters.

So, instead of committing herself to becoming established in her new electorate Ardern has taken to the early campaign road with Little, to help draw attention to her leader.

It’s early days but it sounds like it hasn’t been a raging success, yet.

Lloyd Burr: Jacinda who? Labour’s new duo debuts at Victoria University

Labour’s new leadership team had their first ever public debut on Thursday – and it revealed Jacinda Ardern maybe isn’t as popular as everyone thinks.

Correction – Ardern isn’t as popular as some in Labour and some political churnalists think.

Even in the left-wing safe zone of Victoria University’s Kelburn campus, hardly any students knew who she was.

It was an eye opener for the new deputy leader, who’s been touted time and time again as bringing something to the table that Mr Little apparently lacked: popularity.

But not on Thursday among the hundreds of students celebrating Orientation Week.

Newshub randomly asked 17 students if they knew who Andrew Little was. Nine knew he was leader, five knew he was a Labour MP and three had never heard of him.

We did the same with Jacinda Ardern: 10 people didn’t know who she was, five knew she was deputy leader, one thought she was co-leader, and one knew she was an MP, but didn’t know about her promotion.

That doesn’t surprise me at all, especially in Wellington. Not many 20 year olds there are likely to read NZ Herald or Womens’ Weekly.

“Look, I wouldn’t expect everyone to know who I was,” Ms Ardern said. “Part of my campaign opportunity is to make sure I go out and get amongst all of the student groups.”

She calls it a ‘campaign opportunity’? Is that the sort of language that will gell with young voters?

Andrew Little was happy with his level of recognition. “It’s a very good sign and I’m very pleased,” he said.

But don’t get me wrong – from what I saw today, I believe the pair will be a force to be reckoned with when the campaign ramps up.

But Ms Ardern’s lack of recognition with students will be a little worrying for Labour’s hierarchy.

She’s meant to be the party’s shining star who can attract big crowds of young people, who overwhelm her with selfie requests.

She’s meant to be Labour’s golden girl who would instantly add popularity, charisma, humour and life to ‘Brand Little’.

Did Labour and media feed each other some bull and they believed each other?

Things could change as we get closer to the election, but really, media actually believed their own hype and can’t believe no one takes any notice of them any more, especially young people.

If she wants to be Labour’s vote magnet Ardern may have to try and be more than a platitude parrot.

Quiet Labour reshuffle

Andrew Little has have reshuffled his caucus’s speaking roles after David Shearer’s resignation and Annette King’s stepping down as deputy.

It seems that Jacinda Ardern’s elevation to deputy has not been matched with an elevation in speaking roles. She has been spokesperson for Justice, Arts, Culture and Heritage, Children, and Small Business Associate Spokesperson for Auckland Issues, none of which are heavy hitting roles.

Dunedin MP David Clark has been given King’s Health portfolio. Clark has been an MP since 2011 and was quickly rated as a good future prospect, but has not been prominent for some time. Health will be a step up and a big test for him.

According to NZ Herald Megan Woods has been bumped up from 10 to 5 in the pecking order.

Ardern has retained all her portfolios, including Children, Arts, Small Business and Justice.

She will also pick up the extra duties of deputy, although Little said she would not fill the usual mould of deputy and would instead help him campaign.

That starts immediately – Ardern will accompany Little on a series of public meetings this week, including in Wellington, Hawke’s Bay, and Auckland.

They are keeping these changes low key, with one Tweet but I can’t see anything yet on Labour’s or Little’s Facebook pages and the Labour website still lists King as deputy.

And their website home page does not list the reshuffle under ‘Latest’ nor under ‘Latest Headlines’. I had to hunt for information.

David Clark takes over health role

Dunedin North MP David Clark succeeds Annette King as Health Spokesperson as part of a minor reallocation of portfolios announced today by Labour Leader Andrew Little.

“David has been Associate Spokesperson for some time and has worked closely with Annette in this important portfolio so I’m very confident he will do well in this role.

“A Labour Government will reverse National’s health cuts and David’s skills and experience will be invaluable in communicating to the electorate how Labour will fix the health system.

“Stuart Nash takes over David’s Economic Development (including Regional Development) portfolio and David Parker picks up his Trade and Export Growth role.

“Megan Woods has been a strong performer in her Climate Change and Canterbury Issues roles and picks up Stuart’s Energy, Innovation and Science, Research and Development portfolios.”

Among other changes:

  • Peeni Henare gains State Owned Enterprises
  • Raymond Huo, who is expected to join the Labour caucus next week, takes over the Land Information Role
  • Adrian Rurawhe moves into the Shadow Cabinet
  • Annette King takes over State Services

“This completes changes triggered by Michael Wood’s election as Mt Roskill MP. Earlier this year Kris Faafoi was elected Senior Whip and Adrian Rurawhe, Caucus Secretary.

“The team I lead into this year’s election is strong and determined. We will be working hard to show New Zealanders that there is a better way that provides fairness and opportunity for all,” says Andrew Little.

Herald:

Raymond Huo is set to return to Parliament soon to replace Ardern on the list and will do the Land Information portfolio.

That gives him some work in the area of foreign buyers – Land Information includes the Overseas Investment Office, as well as data collected on foreign buyers by the Government.

Is this an attempt to dampen down the fallout from their controversial ‘Chinese sounding names’ debacle?

Ardern confirmed as deputy

Jacinda Ardern was unopposed and therefore confirmed as Labour deputy leader today, as expected so it didn’t get much attention.

Someone at The Standard – ‘Notices and Features’ – tried a ra ra post Congratulations Jacinda Ardern! but it got a lukewarm response with not many bothering to comment.

Here is Labour’s Facebook pic:

LittleArdernLabour

Meanwhile it was kinda funny to see that King has been featured in Woman’s Weekly:

How was that organised so quickly?

 

Generalising on Gen Y

Bradbury is now an expert on Generation Y and Candidate J.

The 2 things most political pundits are missing in their analysis of Jacinda becoming Deputy

Jacinda is the first political representation of Gen Y. The thing that makes her so unique is her total lack of Ego. She is conscientious to a fault, she’s part of a Generation that was taught empathy and compassion and consideration for others and recycling.

Always with the bloody recycling.

Put bluntly.

Baby Boomers – “Me, me, me”.

Gen Xers – “Why me, why me, why me”.

Gen Y – “Why you, why I, Why us”.

What generation is Bomber? Gen B? (The B being for bull rather than bomber).

By age I’m a BB but don’t feel me-me-me at all. This categorisation is like horoscopes.I don’t fit there either.

She’s part of a kinder Generation taught and brought up in a culture that was desperate to be inclusive of others and that ignoring inclusivity was the greatest sin.

This is why she is so widely popular. She brings with, she doesn’t talk down to, she is all about getting agreement to move forward because that was how decision making was being taught in our education system.

She is popular in some circles but ‘widely’ is way wide of the mark.

Jacinda is a product of her generation, and because most of the pundits are older than her, they judge her by their own generations combativeness and cynicism.

Which is why they don’t get her.

Why does Bomber think he suddenly ‘gets’ Ardern? Because he sees electoral revolution in her tea leaves?

I think her skills to quietly bring together and find unoffencive ways to work alongside each other for a common good came incredibly early for Jacinda.

Incredibly early? In her ninth year in Parliament?

Jacinda as a Gen Y brings a totally different skill set to the table and her popularity has to do with her reflecting those values on inclusivity.

Her ‘popularity’ is a myth, with some of the media and pundits like Bradbury and Trotter and Hooton trying to talk it up into something more than it currently is.

 

 

How ‘electable’ is Jacinda Ardern?

There have been many claims and assertions by media about how Jacinda Ardern will enhance Labour’s election chances.

Media either:

  • precipitated the retirement announcement of Annette King and the promotion of Jacinda Ardern as King’s replacement as Labour’s deputy leader
  • executed the promotion of Ardern (and demotion of King) as tools of either camp Ardern or camp Labour.

Either way (some) media were willing political activists rather than journalists. This isn’t good for democracy in New Zealand.

And this quickly escalated into promoting Ardern as leader of Labour – see Media coup of Labour leadership.

Tim Murphy is “Reporter, Editor – . ‘If you chase two rabbits, you will catch neither’ – Russian proverb”. Yesterday he tweeted, and I responded:

I presume Murphy had his opinion hat on when he tweeted that, and not his reporter or editor hats.I note that ‘facile’ means “ignoring the true complexities of an issue; superficial”.

How ‘electable’ is Ardern? The future is unknown, but the past doesn’t back up Murphy’s facile assertion.

  • She lost the safe National electorate, Waikato, by about 13,000 votes but got into Parliament via a remarkably high list placement (20) for a new candidate.
  • She moved to Auckland Central in 2011 and lost what had been a long time Labour seat up until 2008 to Nikki Kay by 717 votes, despite what looks like thousands of Green party votes shifting to her in the electorate vote.
  • In 2014 she lost in Auckland Central again to Kaye, this time by 600 votes. She was also helped substantially by Green tactical voting.
  • She stood as Grant Robertson’s deputy in Labour’s leadership contest in October 2014. They lost.
  • She moved to Mt Albert, one of Labour’s safest seats, for the 2017 by-election and won easily but with no National opponent and with favourable media coverage, and she got about half the voles David Shearer had got in the 2014 election and several thousand fewer than Shearer got in the 2009 by-election.

So apart from being gifted high list placings and being gifted a safe Labour electorate last month Ardern doesn’t have a record of electability.

Ardern is likely to win again easily in Mt Albert in this year’s general election but that is not due to her particular electability – Andrew Little could also probably win a safe Labour seat like that easily if he chose to stand.

But Ardern is now being promoted as enhancing the electability of Labour. Under MMP the party vote is all important.

How has she helped Labour in the past? Not a lot by the look of party voting in Auckland Central:

  • 2008 – Labour 34.55%, Greens 15.47%
  • 2011 – Labour 25.11%, Greens 22.79%
  • 2014 – Labour 21.67%, Greens 22.17%

Greens had the same candidate in all three of those elections, Denise Roche.

Look at the number of party votes for Labour in Auckland Central:

  • 2008 (Tizard) 12,166
  • 2011 (Ardern) 8,590
  • 2014 (Ardern) 6,101

So Labour’s party vote has halved since Ardern stood in Auckland Central.

Her history of enhancing Labour’s electability doesn’t look good.

Of course things are different now. Ardern is in her ninth year in Parliament, under her fifth leader. She has worked on her public profile. Perhaps she can enhance Andrew Little’s electability. That appears to be the plan, and what media have taken to promoting.

One thing that Ardern has succeeded at is getting media on her side. They (quite a few journalists) are giving her a lot of help. Like Murphy.

As many have pointed out, this promotion of Ardern without any history of electoral success to support it, has risks for Labour.

The voters may not share the same enthusiasm as some journalists for Ardern’s as yet unfulfilled potential (although the media promotion of Ardern as a celebrity politician is likely to have some effect).

Deputy leaders are generally virtually ignored in elections – all the attention is given to the leaders. Of course the media are indicating that this may change with Ardern because they seem to have given up on Little already.

Another problem is also apparent – if Ardern continues to be promoted as Labour’s next leader this could get chaotic in an election campaign.

Would Labour bow to media pressure and dump Little before the election? That is more likely to be disastrous rather than strategic genius.

If Ardern is made more popular than Little this could get very awkward for Labour and  could reduce the party’s electability. Voters may choose to wait until Little’s Labour loses, expecting that that will result in his dumping in favour of Ardern.

Of course the media may not care about how unelectable Labour might become.

Their obsession with personalities and with celebrity politics, and their drive to put news website clicks ahead of fair and sensible democratic processes may dominate their coverage of Ardern and Labour this election.

There were already signs last year that some media and pundits were writing off Labour’s chances under Little’s leadership.

This seems to be a factor in the media moves towards celebrity politics. Ardern may benefit, but democracy will suffer – especially if the end result is Labour crashing this election.

Ardern may remain ‘electable’ in the safe Mt Albert electorate, but Labour are at real risk here.

Politics and government dominated by one party is not good for democracy, nor is it good for the country – and it won’t be good for political media either, because the likely result is further loss of public interest in politics.