Media coup of Labour leadership

It looks like media driven ‘Celebrity Leader’ is on to episode two.

Having just at least helped engineer the dumping of Annette King and promotion of Jacinda Ardern to deputy leadership of Labour media have quickly moved on – to a total leadership coup.

Claire Trevett: Labour leader Andrew Little weeks of cunning plans

Bringing Ardern in was a gutsy move because there is a risk she will overtake Little as preferred Prime Minister.

That does not appear to have spooked him or put him off advancing Ardern, which is to his credit. He cannot afford to let his own ego get in the way.

But it will inevitably spark attempts to paint Ardern as a potential threat to Little.

That will not come from Ardern herself. Ardern has repeatedly insisted her ambitions do not lie in that direction.

She also said her ambitions didn’t lie in deputy leadership, until Little paraded her on Annette King’s political grave.

Ardern may well want to actually have a life that is not politics. She might want a family. She will want to wait to see what else life might have in store for her before deciding on her ultimate ambition.

Alas, poor Jacinda – within a week she has found herself with an electorate she never expected to have which was held by two former leaders as well as a deputy leadership role she didn’t put her hand up for. She may find the fates are conspiring against her.

Or for her, if ‘fates’ is rerplaced with ‘media’.

Duncan Garner: Little makes a bold move – but Ardern is the new leader in waiting

What she is known for is flashing a big smile, DJing at dance parties and being active on social media (she has 61,400 followers on Twitter, Andrew Little has a mere 12,500).

Ardern’s greatest asset is she’s fresh, at 36 she’s young, she’s cool and she’s Auckland. And she’s about to officially become Labour’s new deputy leader after a caucus vote on Tuesday.

She doesn’t bring baggage. She’s hardly fatigued by climbing Labour’s toxic totem pole.

Ardern’s been handed a safe electorate in a non-contested, non-event of a by-election; now she’s been passed the deputy’s role as a result. All without breaking a sweat. The reality is that it’s an indictment on Labour that this ascent was so easy and unchallenged.

It’s certainly a dream run, but politics is all about timing. And she’s aced it.

Ardern’s pleasant, cheery, likeable, largely positive, she smiles and she’s attractive.

Little wants to give Labour the best possible chance of winning.

He got his way and showed ruthlessness to get it. It was well-managed and King went gracefully. She’s a truly decent person. I hope she is looked after with a future appointment. She’s proved to be a rare politician who put her party’s interests before her own.

But here’s a little hurdle Little might face: What happens if Ardern goes past him in the preferred prime minister rankings? It’s entirely possible. She’s a brand, he’s not.

Cross that bridge later. Little is taking this party into the election. And it’s clear he’s serious about winning.

But here’s the sobering news for Little – deputies don’t win elections, leaders and parties do. They don’t have televised deputy leader debates. Andrew Little, this is still your fight. You’ll only get one shot at this.

Should he fail, he just picked his successor. Ardern is Labour’s leader in waiting.

This was exactly predictable, and just what Labour doesn’t want, unless their real intent is to change leader before the election.

Because if voters buy the media meme that Ardern is ‘leader in waiting’ they are likely to wait until she is leader.