With Jacinda Ardern now elevated into the political limelight many contrasting opinions have been expressed on her strengths and weaknesses.
Rachel Smalley: Ardern’s test starts now
What I do think Ardern has that is rare in politics, is authenticity. What you see is what you get.
What I usually see is the pitter patter of political palaver.
David Shearer had it too when he came to the leadership, but he had some poor advice. He was told to roll out the party line at every media opportunity, and he lost his way. It wasn’t him. He lost his realness, if you like. And, well, the rest is history.
I had hopes that Shearer would rise to the position but he stumbled and fell when his minders tried to mould him into something he wasn’t.
Ardern, though, has it in spades. She just needs to hang on to it.
The difference for Ardern is she has already been moulded. Is that all we will get, or can she break the mould and make an impression?
And while I think she already has political credibility, she does need to develop that further. She comes across well in the media as a spokesperson for justice, and a spokesperson for children.
Really? When did Ardern make an impression on Justice or on Children?
Remember, for example, when she appeared on the cover of next magazine? She was described as the country’s prime minister in waiting. And in a tv panel, former rugby league coach Graham Lowe agreed saying she was – quote – “A pretty little thing”.
And columnists went on to analyse her. She was labelled ‘vapid’ by one. ‘Pretty vacant’ by another.
I think that Ardern is yet to prove there is substance behind her carefully crafted image.
Never mind the politics. Lets focus on the aesthetics.
Ardern can’t fight that. She can’t change old minds and an old way of thinking. She’s been in politics for some time now, and has worked as a senior policy adviser in London. She’s got the goods. She’s got the intelligence and the leadership potential. All she can do now is prove herself in the role. Prove to the country that she is a leader.
It’s true. She is untested. But that test starts now.
I don’t think it’s possible to say whether Ardern has “got the goods” or leadership potential, something that has been talked up with little to substantiate it.
Smalley is correct saying that Ardern is untested as a leader and as a party promotional figurehead.
That test starts now, and it won’t be easy for Ardern, especially if she doesn’t measure up to media expectations.
Ardern needs to shed her moulders and minders and sell herself, not her pitter patter package. That will be a major test of her abilities.