Ardern adds details to timeline of becoming leader

Jacinda Ardern has adjusted the timeline on when she knew about taking over the Labour party leadership from Andrew Little.

At the time it happened Ardern claimed it had been suddenly sprung on her, but she now has given details that Little had been trying to talk her into taking over for a week before he stepped down. During the election campaign she admitted she knew 6 days in advance that Little wanted to step down.

NZ Herald:  Jacinda Ardern rejected Labour leadership ‘seven times’

Jacinda Ardern has revealed she held out for a week – refusing daily – before finally agreeing to replace Andrew Little as Labour’s leader.

Ardern said she was at a Rotary meeting in the capital on her birthday, July 26.

“I’m going to remember that day for a long time,” she said.

“Rotary gave me a great big birthday cake – and it was on that day that Andrew (Little) said to me ‘I’m worried about the polls and wondering whether you should do this job instead’.

“It’s two months, almost to the day, since that happened, and a couple of days later he made the decision to stand down and he nominated me as leader of the Labour Party.

“And I can tell you that from the 26th of July to the 1st of August, every single day I was asked and I said ‘no, no, no’.

“There were lots of reasons for that, but the moment when Andrew made that decision, then there was a role I needed to step into and there was no doubt in my mind that that was what I needed to do.”

That’s quite a different slant to what we were told at the time.

RNZ:  As it happened: Jacinda Ardern takes charge as Labour leader

Mr Little tells RNZ’s Morning Report on Monday morning he is “absolutely determined” to be the Labour leader. However he concedes, “at 24 [percent], you don’t get to form a government”.

Stuff:  Jacinda Ardern new Labour leader as Andrew Little quits

Ardern laughed, saying that she had just accepted the “worst job in politics” at very short notice.

“This was not planned, but it has not weakened my or my team’s resolve.”

“I want to be absolutely clear, the decision that Andrew made was Andrew’s decision.”

Sounds like she was right about that.

NZH:  Andrew Little quits: Jacinda Ardern is new Labour leader, Kelvin Davis is deputy

Ardern said she only found out about his plans on her taxi ride to Parliament this morning. She hasn’t yet had time to tell her parents, who live in Niue, or her partner Clarke Gayford.

“Mum and Dad are going to get a surprise.”

However two weeks ago, during the campaign, Ardern reveals Little asked her to take over leadership six days before resigning

Jacinda Ardern has revealed former leader Andrew Little first asked her to take over the reins six days before he resigned but she told him to “stick it out”.

At the Blackball ‘Formerly Hilton Hotel’ – the birthplace of the Labour movement – Ardern was questioned by a local as to why she had ended up in the job.

For the first time Ardern spoke of Little approaching her on July 26 – her birthday – and saying he didn’t think he could turn things around for the party and she should take over as leader. She refused and told him to “stick it out”.

Ardern has now expanded on that, saying he asked and she refused every day for a week before he forced things by stepping down and nominating her to take over.

Ardern’s accomplished performance at her first media conference had hinted that she was a bit more prepared for her  promotion than having found out an hour earlier.

Damian Light to lead United Future

Damian was deputy leader and the only visibly active member of United Future other than Peter Dunne so this is no surprise.

I’ve met Damian, he’s a nice guy, and intelligent enough to know how hard things are going to be for him and the party from here. But he and the party will have made arrangements to campaign so might as well at least have a go, and then reassess things after the election.

Curran wants union and party member roles ‘reviewed’

Clare Curran wants the Labour party to review the role played by unions and party members in selecting party leader.

Jacinda Ardern was installed as leader by the caucus alone because of a rule that allows this within 3 months of an election.

ODT: Selection review urged

The powerful new role played by unions and party members in selecting Labour leaders needs to be reviewed, one of the party’s Dunedin MPs says.

The system has delivered two leaders, David Cunliffe and Andrew Little, who failed to connect with the general public.

Dunedin South MP Clare Curran said a discussion was needed about whether unions and party members should continue having a say in who leads.

”I think we do need to re-look at the way we select our leaders, but that’s a question for after the election,” Ms Curran said.

Unions get a 20% vote share under the system introduced in 2012. It took some power away from MPs, who get a 40% say in the decision.

New Labour leader Jacinda Ardern was appointed in a simple caucus vote because it was less than three months before the general election.

After affiliated unions piled in behind Mr Little, he squeaked ahead of rival Grant Robertson in the 2014 selection by just over 1%.

Unions won’t be keen on this changing.

Bill Newson, a top union official, defended the unions’ role in propelling the former union boss into the role after just three years in Parliament.

”We knew Andrew closely and stand by that assessment; a very high sense of integrity and responsibility, a team player.”

Mr Newson, Etu union’s national secretary, acknowledged that Mr Little ”didn’t work out in the public eye”.

Mr Newson said Mr Little’s decision would have ”weighed heavily” on the former national secretary of the EPMU.

In 2014, Mr Little got 75% of the union’s 20% vote share. In the final result, he got 50.52% to Mr Robertson’s 49.48%

University of Otago public law specialist Prof Andrew Geddis said it was a matter for the party, but the unions’ involvement was problematic.

”The problem … is it’s not the members of the unions who [vote], it’s the officials within the unions. It’s not a popular choice by union members.”

The E tu Union donated $120,000 to Labour on 20 June 2017 (which may or may not be a popular use of members’ money). If they can’t play a part in choosing leader the union leadership may not remain this generous.

The party stands by it’s current system.

Labour Party president Nigel Haworth defended the system. It selected leaders in a ”very clear way”.

”The effort that both our previous two leaders have put into campaigning has been exceptional. The fact that they haven’t necessarily won elections can’t be sheeted home solely to them.

”The members very much wanted a new system in 2012. They will no doubt look at its performance and if they want to make changes they will,” Prof Haworth said.

A lot will depend on how well Labour do in the election. If they do poorly the members and unions may not be very happy.

Ardern promises “relentless positivity”

One promising aspect of Jacinda Ardern’s debut as Labour leader is her promise of “relentless positivity”.

Andrew Little, Labour MPs and Labour activists have all tended far too much towards negativity, barking at passing cars, moaning about the Government, attacking anyone who questions or criticises them.

So it will be refreshing if Ardern is relentlessly positive

And that will contribute to a better campaign. If Ardern and Labour are positive it will make it more difficult to attack them, and negative campaigning will contrast – take note Winston.

Moaners might get some protest votes but in general I don’;t think voters are attracted by relentless whinging.

1 News: Jacinda Ardern promises ‘relentless positivity’ as Labour leader in upcoming campaign

Jacinda Ardern says she’s just taken on the worst job in politics but she’ll bring “relentless positivity” to the party and next month’s election campaign.

“I will use the next 72 hours… to reflect and take stock of the campaign plan. We will be positive, organised and ready.”

We could do with a lot more positivity in politics, and if Ardern leads the way on this then good on her.

She will need substance alongside a positive message. If she nails that then we could be in for a better campaign, and that also rub off on the next government.

I am strongly in favour of anything and anyone that promotes more positive politics.

Statement from Jacinda Ardern

Jacinda Ardern
Leader of the Opposition
MP for Mt Albert

MEDIA STATEMENT
1 August 2017

Statement from Jacinda Ardern, Leader of the New Zealand Labour Party

I want to start by giving my thanks to Andrew. His announcement today and the situation we have found ourselves in is not what anyone expected or wanted
In my time working with Andrew I know one thing to be true. He is first and foremost loyal to Labour, and I thank him for the support he gave me to work alongside him and for his incredible work over the last few years; a sentiment caucus expressed to him also.

Following Andrew’s announcement, I was nominated to be Leader of the Labour Party. My nomination was unanimously accepted. Kelvin Davis was nominated as deputy, and this too was unanimously accepted.

The circumstances may not be what Labour has planned for this campaign, but that has not weakened my resolve or focus. Or my team’s. We are determined and steadfast, and I consider myself incredibly lucky to now call myself Leader, and equally fortunate to work alongside someone as committed and talented as Kelvin.

This team is about to run the campaign of our lives. Yes, we are an optimistic nation, but when you work at the coal face of politics, you have the chance to see every single day that as a country, we can do better than this. We can be better than this.

As a party, we have huge aspirations for New Zealand. A place where everyone has a roof over their head and meaningful work, where education is free and good ideas flourish, where children live surrounded by creativity not poverty, and where we build a reputation as world leaders on environmental issues.

At stake is the chance to build a New Zealand that is better than we found it. And to build a future to look forward to.

I will use the next 72 hours to reflect and take stock of the campaign plan, and additional policy announcements I would like to add to our programme. You will hear more from myself and the team on this in the future, but you will have no doubt over the agenda Labour is presenting this election. We will be positive, organised and ready.

I am privileged and honoured to be Leader of the Labour Party. I am looking forward to the challenge of the election campaign where I will get the opportunity to talk to New Zealanders about Labour’s plan for a better and fairer New Zealand. This is what Labour has always stood for and under my leadership, will continue to stand for and fight for.

NZ First succession plan

There has been a lot of speculation about what Winston Peters’ political plans are, which is all that can be done because he never says.

Included increasingly in the speculation is what might happen to NZ First after Peters retires, and whether there is a succession plan.

Peters has been undisputed leader of NZ First since the beginning, way back in the last century.

Ron Mark took over the deputy leadership from Tracey Martin in 2015.

So what are the leadership options for NZ First? Peters is 72, his health has long been questioned (but never confirmed), and he seems to have lost his edge and enthusiasm in Parliament.

Duncan Garner: There’s an election looming and Winston Peters has got a succession problem to sort

… at 72 it’s no secret Peters will be thinking about what’s next for the party and with the momentum he has in the polls currently, this is the year to bring in the succession plan.

Take a look around the caucus and the options are a bit lacking – not because there aren’t any MPs successful in their own right. There’s business brains, legal brains and hard workers, but there’s no real X factor.

Mark seems to have ambitions but unlike Peters the media doesn’t give him self promotion opportunities.

In his sixties Mark is not a spring chicken himself, he’s more of an autumn rooster with more crow than peck.

The reality is nobody in the NZ First caucus wants to talk about the worst-kept secret in town – Shane Jones joining the party – because he’s the answer to the party’s prayers, but not necessarily their own.

Jones has spark, he’s clued-up, he knows how to work a crowd and people can’t help but like him.

The media seem to be doing their best to play the game for Jones but it’s yet to be seen whether headlines translate into votes. Peters has his wine box to show for his efforts, Jones is best remembered for his porn tab.

Only problem is – and it’s one Peters is well aware of – is his deputy Ron Mark’s place in the bromance.

Mark has been loyal to Peters and they’re mates – even if Peters knows his second-in-command still has a thing or two to learn about how to talk to voters without rubbing them up the wrong way.

The way the Jones game is being played suggests that Peters sees him as the captain to succeed him.

When Jones likely announces his candidacy in the next couple of weeks Peters is going to need one hell of a team-building day for his caucus before heading out on the campaign trail.

While Mark might say he “likes” Jones and plays rugby with him – you don’t have to look too far to find the opportunities he’s taken to have a dig.

Last year he complimented Jones on doing a “very good job” in his role as Ambassador for Pacific Economic Development – but in the same breath threw in the fact it was a job set up for him by then-Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully.

It does Mark well to point out that Jones, a former Labour MP, then moved on to take a cushy job with National and is now looking for a foot in the door with his old pal, Winston.

Just this week Mark was asked whether he thought he and his deputy leadership was under threat from Jones.

“To perceive there’s a threat to yourself you have to have some sort of insecurity about yourself and I am comfortable with the job I have and what I do for the party,” he shot back at reporters.

Mark may not roll over easily.

One thing in Peters’ favour is he has a disciplined caucus – although much of that is probably to do with the fact there’s a lot they simply don’t get told.

If Peters stands down so does that long standing discipline.

Internal polling isn’t shared with the caucus because it’s a distraction and Peters doesn’t want his MPs losing sight of the prize.

a) NZ First does internal polling despite the disdain for polls often expressed by Peters?

b) Peters doesn’t share polling with the NZ First caucus? If so, remarkable.

And if a NZ First MP gets heard or quoted talking about what they might get in any coalition government after the election they can be assured they’ll find themselves sliding down the party list, which is set to be announced in early August.

NZ First MPs have slid out of contention before, with an apparent helping boot up the bum from Peters.

Peters is adamant he’s got some big players joining the party list – names he says anyone in politics will recognise.

But if Peters wants to have more time at sea fishing then based on the current list, he needs Jones.

Given the blue movie controversy and dodgy citizenship deal jibes Jones is going to have to endure you have to wonder, what exactly has he been offered to seriously consider a return to Parliament?

If Peters wants NZ First to survive after he retires he has to help it with a succession plan.

Part of that plan may well be to get Jones on board, position NZ First on the cross benches after the election and both enable and prove a pain in the arse to whoever runs the Government, while giving Jones a chance to get set as leader in waiting. Peters may well retire during the next term.

But no matter how he plans things, and no matter how smoothly any leadership transition is, NZ First without Winston will find the going very tough – especially if  two cocks like Mark and Jones compete to rule the hen pecked house.

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.

Ardern’s ambitions

Prior to and since Jacinda Ardern’s easy win in the Mt Albert by-election there have been a number of suggestions that she should replace Annette King as Labour’s deputy leader.

From NZ Herald Labour’s Jacinda Ardern new MP for Mt Albert

There had been speculation that a strong byelection showing could lead to some within Labour questioning whether Ardern should be elevated to the deputy leader position, currently held by Annette King.

“There is no vacancy,” Little said when asked about that speculation. “I’m not planning on any changes.”

It would appear that King is not planning on any changes at this stage. She is stepping down from her electorate to become a list only MP with no sign of her not contesting September’s election.

So what now for Ardern? She has achieved one of her ambitions, to become an electorate MP, in her fourth attempt in her third electorate.

“I’m absolutely clear about my ­ambition to be Minister of Children.” That, she says, is where she can make a difference.

And what about leader of the Labour party? No, she says.

Life, kids and being Jacinda

She keeps saying that. A deputy leader has to stand in for the leader, so why would she want to be deputy?

She doesn’t want to be Prime Minister. No, really, she doesn’t want to be Prime Minister.

The politics of life: The truth about Jacinda Ardern

Deputies have to stand in for Prime Ministers. Some of them are waiting for their turn at the top job.

Ardern will be busy setting herself up in a safe electorate. Her career as a celebrity MP looks assured for as long as she wants it.

She doesn’t appear to have the driving ambition to be a leader. Minister of Children and cover of Woman’s Weekly seems to be a self imposed limit, at this stage.

However ambitions can change.

But actually being an MP? “No!” On a school trip to Parliament, she left her classmates drinking orange juice in John Luxton’s office to ask his private secretary what she should study to become a private secretary.

“MPs? There were only 120 of those. No way was I going to become one of those.”

I suspect she will be happy to sit out this election in a safe seat, and perhaps do a few more ‘celebrity’ profile things. She appears to be working on a long term plan.

 

‘Secret ballot’ by social media drip feed

It seems quite odd to me that what I thought was supposed to be selection of a Prime Minister and a deputy Prime Minister by secret ballot next Monday have instead been a procession of pronouncements through the week by social media.

I guess National MPs can do their selecting and their voting however they like, but does anyone know if they have ever selected their leaders so publicly before?

Who remembers how John Key’s selection as National leader and leader of the opposition in 2007?

This is all the National Party constitution says about leadership selection:

PARLIAMENTARY SECTION
Constitution

81.The Parliamentary Section of the Party shall consist of the members of the Party elected to the House of Representatives. Should at any time a member of the Parliamentary Section cease to be a member of the Party he or she shall cease to be a member of the Parliamentary Section. Leader

82.  (a) The Parliamentary Section shall appoint its Leader as soon as practicable after each General Election.

(b) If at any time the leadership of the Parliamentary Section falls vacant, the Parliamentary Section shall appoint a Leader to fill such vacancy. Notwithstanding Rule 82 (a), the Parliamentary Section may at any time between General Elections confirm or change its Leader.

(c) The Leader of the Parliamentary Section shall, upon receiving the approval of the Board, become the Leader of the Party. The Board shall consider such approval as soon as practicable after the appointment by the Parliamentary Section of its Leader.

Maybe the secret ballot idea is incorrect and the National caucus just selects it’s leaders however they feel like at the time.

From the Herald:

If no clear winner between Bennett and Bridges is found by Monday – when a caucus vote will be held – it is understood both candidates will give speeches to the party before a private ballot takes place.

Who next for Prime Minister?

If things go according to John Key’s suggested time frame then the National Party caucus will choose a new Prime Minister within a week. Breathtaking. This is a very tight timeframe for all MPs other than Bill English to consider their near future ambitions and to decice whether they are willing to hand over their time and their privacy to the country.

A UMR poll done from 27 September to 14 Octoberasked about preferences for a Key replacement:

  • Bill English 21%
  • Steven Joyce 16%
  • Paula Bennett 11%
  • Judith Collins 6%

Others mentioned as possibilities are Amy Adams (she seems to have preferred to work hard out of the public eye) and Simon Bridges (too soon for him). Jonathan Coleman has also been mentioned.

Key has  said he will support English if his current deputy decides to put himself in the reckoning. English appears to be the only one who knew about Key’s intentions well ion advance.

One thing is certain – politics and the country will continue on next year without Key as leader, and those who rise to fill gaps will take over the media and Opposition heat.

Labour will be rubbing their hands together, thinking that Key gone straight after their Mt Roskill by-election success will give them a better chance in next year’s election. It will – but how much remains to be seen. Key’s resignation won’t fix Labour’s problems and it’s hard to see them getting a 10-20% boost.

When an English-Little contest was suggested on Twitter journalists lamented the lack of excitement. This is one problem with our media, the Prime Ministers and Parliament are supposed to be running the country with a minimum of fuss, intervention and disruption.

They are not supposed to be click bait entertainers.


Added – poll number cruncher with a leftish viewpoint, Swordfish (from a Standard comment):

Here’s my March 2016 overview of public opinion on a post-Key successor (Polls over the last 5 years)

http://subzpsubzp.blogspot.co.nz/2016/03/next-national-leader_14.html