Ardern risks being hoist by her own celebrity PR petard

Jacinda Ardern has received international attention since becoming Prime Minister. Some of this is legitimate news, but some of it seems to be jacked up PR, usually more personal pap than political analysis.

This probably shouldn’t be unexpected, international media seems more interested in superficial celebration of so-called celebrities generally, and there is usually little interest in New Zealand politics.

But what is Ardern trying to achieve? She is receiving attention, but she risks being entrenched as a superficial celebrity without political substance.

She should try to sort out her leadership and Government in New Zealand before taking on the world.

Ardern seems to have favoured status at the UK Guardian which at times seems to be a PR arm of Ardern’s office. here are some recent efforts:

Is she planning on standing for election in the United Kingdom?

And not just Ardern, her partner Clarke Gayford is amping the PR as well.

And, suggested by some as preparation for a trip to the United States, Ardern has featured in a New York Times promotion:


Lady of the Rings: Jacinda Rules

Jacinda Ardern, one of the young, progressive leaders countering Donald Trump, talks about being only the second world leader to give birth.

Global hype continues to paint Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as a cliche

Jacinda Ardern was an MP for nine years before becoming Labour’s saving grace.

Yet a new piece the in New York Times was still focused on her shorts-wearing partner and the happiness club she founded when she was eight.

Well-known for her coverage inside the Trump White House, columnist Maureen Dowd labelled Ardern as “Lady of the Rings”.

In an instant, Dowd meshed together a retrograde label with a 15-year-old movie reference and proved we haven’t moved past the shallow caricatures that have come to define us as a nation.

It just seems the international media can’t get past our leader’s novelty value.

Dowd presents our PM as having perpetual sunniness and being someone who would call Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then yell: “OMG, Justin! Are you seeing this?”.

But where is the political meat you would expect from sit-down interviews with an international leader?

The real “Jacindamania” is not the rush of enthusiasm that swept her into leadership.

Rather, it’s the permanent psychosis that has taken hold of global media, preventing real debate of our country’s policies and role in the world.

It leaves Ardern battling a caricature of herself and New Zealand still stuck at the kids’ table where we are described through the lens of a “hip” liberal leader and, inevitably, a few Lord of the Rings references.

Based on the myriad of international media coverage, she is just that unwed working mother representing the “anti-Trump” in the Trumpian age.

Reporters with extraordinary access like Dowd should use that privilege to ask real questions to inform.

Everything else is a disservice.

So why would Ardern go along with this sort of lightweight coverage?

Gayford is a willing partner in this:

 In a sartorial triumph, Ardern wore a feathered Maori cloak to meet Queen Elizabeth at a black-tie dinner in London.

“It was highly coveted among the princesses at the dinner,” Ardern’s partner, Clarke Gayford, told me. “They made a beeline for her, and I’m surprised she managed to leave wearing it, to be completely honest.”

The boyish and charming Gayford, the 40-year-old host of a TV fishing show who smiles with delight no matter how many times he is asked “Is Jacinda your greatest catch?” would be the stay-at-home dad who would show the way for modern men.

She calls Gayford Huckleberry Finn, because he often wears shorts, even for interviews, and wanders around with a fishing pole.

On another day, when I came to interview Gayford, Ardern’s mother, Laurell, is there, helping with the baby.

President Trump will be presiding over the United Nations Security Council when the General Assembly meets in New York later this month. The prime minister will be trying to combine mothering and traveling again, this time hopefully with less ludicrous commentary. She will be juggling more than 40 events in seven days, with Neve and Gayford as part of the entourage.

Gayford also appears to be embracing the celebrity style coverage.

She (Dowd) gets what? She gets how Ardern and Gayford want to be seen, as a modern celebrity couple and parents who manage to fit in a bit of running the country when not being interviewed by sycophant reporters?

Like a significant number of Americans will support Trump no matter how crazy he seems, Ardern is sure to keep a solid level of support in New Zealand based on her celebrity (Woman’s Weekly) style coverage.

But if she continues to look subservient to Winston Peters, and fails to deliver on her promises to deal to child poverty and other ‘revolutions’ that are little more than empty rhetoric so far, and if she fails to live up to her claims of being open and transparent (she has been severely challenged on that lately), she may find that her party’s popularity doesn’t hold up as well as her celebrity status.

Ardern may find it difficult to move from celebrity saccharine to serious leadership. She may end up being hoist by her own celebrity PR petard.

Winny horsed by his own petard

I was going to do a detailed post on the many ironies of Winston’s racehorse ownership – for example of Oravida was damaged by all Winston’s attacks and went broke would that get Judith Collins off the hook. But it seems to have been well covered.

Two major embarrassments in two days must be a bugger when you’ve got the flu, on top of having a nag that made no money.



Shearer’s rookie chickens coming home to roost

Foxes to the right, foxes to the left, are Shearer’s rookie chickens coming home to roost?

As suggested in Shearer’s ‘gotcha’ karma David Shearer is copping flak from the right and from the left on his foreign bank account disclosure.

He is being defended (by a few), like Tom Gould at The Standard:

Don’t be silly. It’s hardly a rort. No harm done. No advantage gained. The Standing Orders say:

20 Errors or omissions

(1) Any member who becomes aware of an error or omission in any return previously made by that member must advise the Registrar of that error or omission as soon as practicable after becoming aware of it.

(2) The Registrar may, at the Registrar’s own discretion, publish amendments on a website to correct errors or omissions advised under subclause (1).

(3) Nothing in this Appendix requires members to advise the Registrar of changes to their interests that have occurred since the effective date of their last return.

But this is countered by Colonial Viper:

Note to the Shearer Bearers: more seriously, this is another reason why you don’t put 1st term back bench MPs in as Leader.

As an ordinary backbencher you are still learning the rules and the ropes; something like this would simply have been a beginners fuck up in the back pages. Happened, sort it, walk away lesson learnt.

But when it goes down as Leader, it becomes a real issue and makes you look too rookie to be PM.

And predictably Whale Oil waves his own flags at Shearer’s hoist petard…

Shearer advised IRD of his hidden off-shore bank account, but wants us to believe he “forgot” to tell parliament


The Memory Hole – Banks v. Shearer

…in which he compares Shearer’s criticism of John Bank’s ‘memory lapses’ with Shearer’s.

I’ll await David Shearer falling on his own sword. It is the right thing to do, he has demanded it so often of others, perhaps he should honour his own demands for a high ethical standard.

I don’t expect that to happen.

And it won’t be long before Shearer’s comments on John Key’s memory get thrown at back at him.

Shearer may be a relative rookie but he seems to have learned one thing quickly – “Do as I say, not as I do”.

Joe Bloggs at The Standard:

Shearer has been shown to be lacking in integrity and honesty.

This helps explain why Shane Jones has been brought back to the front benches of the Opposition… when serious questions are raised about the judgement of a senior caucus member, Shearer can no longer use his own behaviour as the measure of what is right and good. His moral compass is unreliable.

The rules on filing pecuniary interests are clear. Filing a false statement, a statutory document, not once but repeatedly, requires a full investigation. It’s important to hold members of Parliament to account. That’s what Parliament does – that’s parliamentary democracy in action. Bring it on.

In the meantime Shearer must be stood down – as Mallard said of Finlayson in much less serious circumstances, “he needs to go to the sin bin and not be allowed out until he can prove that each of his declarations have been factual”

Not holding breath – but note that Mallard is neither a chicken (poultry type) nor a rookie.