Every trick in the book

In a new book, gloriously entitled Stardust and Substance, Jacinda Ardern tells the story of her meteoric rise to fame and stardom on the back of her first hit record, Let’s Do This. Just ahead of her second world tour promoting her latest album, due to kick off in New York later this month, she tells how 2017 was an incredible year for her, how it all started on her birthday, in July and how she has never looked back since…

Oh. That’s not what the book was about. Strange. That’s what I thought it was about.

Stardust and Substance?really doesn’t sound like a book about the premier of a western country though, does it?

As far as I know, there was only one book written about Sir John Key. Written by John Roughan, it came out in early 2017 – several months after he had stepped down as prime minister.

Biography: John Key

Isn’t it usual for books that are written about politicians to be published after they have actually achieved something?

Helen Clark has had 4 books written about her. Admittedly, Brian Edwards’ book, Portrait of a Prime Minister?was published in late 2001, when she had been the PM for 2 years. Ian Wishart’s Absolute Power?was published in March 2009, after her electoral defeat, Inside Stories?was published in 2016, and her latest, Women, Equality, Power?was published this year.

Somehow, it does seem more fitting to write books about politicians either later in their careers, or better still, once they have stepped down. Books like these are better seen as part of a legacy of achievement, rather than a publicity stunt.

Most of the books written about Tony Blair were written either towards the end of his career or after it ended. Ditto Margaret Thatcher. Barack Obama actually wrote a few books about his politics before he became President and Donald Trump had also published a number of books before he even entered politics, so those two don’t count.

I haven’t been able to find any books written either by, or about, either Bill English or Jim Bolger.

Stardust and substance. Certainly, there has been a lot of the former, but absolutely none of the latter. Jacinda may express her rise to the leadership of the Labour party in any way she sees fit, but everyone knows that after 3 unsuccessful leaders and polls that were going through the floor seven weeks out from an election, Labour had to find someone (anyone) with even a shred of personality to take over the leadership. Jacinda really was all they had.

She gave them a boost, in the same way, that a visit from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will help tourism in New Zealand, but once the stardust had worn off, it rapidly became obvious that there was nothing else.

Less than one year on from the election, the coalition government is fractious, Jacinda is showing herself as being weak and indecisive, and everyone is talking about how soon this government will fall over.

Not much substance there, then?

But exactly why Jacinda thinks she should write a book at this stage in her career, when she has done nothing and achieved nothing is a question that only she can answer.

Actually, this is the second book published about her recently. Let us not forget about the other one.

But this one is much more up her street, don’t you think?