Jacinda is unbeatable…

The government had another rugged week. The Treasury ‘hack’ scandal will not go away, and now she is rightly being criticised for not bothering to attend the celebrations for the 75th anniversary of D-Day in the UK. Lord knows, she practically never misses an opportunity to show off overseas, but maybe this occasion, where she would have had to take second place to nonagenarians who actually fought in a war, was just not sufficiently about her.

Nevertheless, her trusty henchmen in the media have come to her rescue. Martin van Beynen at Stuff has told us all how we must vote next year.

You might think this is a bit early to be talking about next year’s election but we’ve just had a mid-term budget and this week I was reading about John F Kennedy, the American president assassinated in 1963, and saw this memo written by his aide, Arthur Schlesinger Jr: “The character and the repute of President Kennedy constitute one of our greatest national resources. Nothing should be done to jeopardise this invaluable asset. When lies must be told, they should be told by subordinate officials.”

The thought of Jacinda dealing with a nuclear missile crisis fills me with both terror and hilarity. ‘God help us’ is all I can say. But think about the last line of the previous statement. “When lies must be told, they should be told by subordinate officials.” Jacinda does not lie – she told us so herself in the election campaign in 2017 – so they must be talking about someone else.

Before the election, commentators wrote about Ardern’s stardust and many expected it to dissipate in the trenches of daily political life. But it hasn’t, as her standing overseas attests. Her genuine and empathetic handling of the mosque shootings showed her leadership mettle and added to what can only be called her moral authority.

This is why I think it is a deliberate media puff piece. The mosque shootings are almost 3 months ago now. Tragic as they were, she cannot live off the glory of her handling of the matter forever, but the media cannot come up with anything better, so…

The Prime Minister’s role as a moral authority is particularly tough on National, which is not blessed with a similarly characterful politician. Her approach poses a terrible question for an opposition. The question can be put like this: “If I’m trying to make the system work better for those being left behind so we all benefit in the long run, what are you in politics for?” That is called the moral high ground. That irritates some people, especially those of my age, but not many.

Jacinda has the moral high ground? Oh yes… she is ‘bringing kindness back’. She is very kind to Simon Bridges, giggling at his accent in the House, and snarling at anyone on the opposition benches who dares to cross her. She is really kind to all those people who live in camping grounds or on the street that she promised to house last year. And don’t forget all those people needing cancer drugs that other countries fund… yes, she’s really kind to all these people.

This Budget was as radical as Labour is going to get. She has realised political graveyards are littered with politicians who do too much too soon. For instance Labour could have raised taxes in this Budget and increased benefits, hoping all would be forgiven by next year’s election.

Ha ha ha ha… excuse me while I laugh. She WOULD have done all that, except that Winston will not allow it. He wants to win another term, and whether or not he is successful, he knows increasing taxes is not the way to do it.

She has realised some things are not worth dying in a ditch for. The Capital Gains Tax made a lot of sense even if it just hindered speculation and made people who blatantly earned income from buying and selling assets pay their fair share but it looked like a tax on hard work and therefore unpalatable. Political capital is spent carefully.

Oh God, here we go again. People who earn money from buying and selling assets either pay tax on the proceeds or are tax evaders. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story, eh?

The sharemarket dip earlier this week was a reminder that a tanking economy where jobs are at risk and asset values plunge could easily derail even the chances of an Ardern-led party. Ardern’s moral authority would soon wither in the heat of a failing economy.

Yes. Jacinda’s popularity will melt like a snowflake in a microwave once the economy starts to tank, and with business confidence at low levels, that is going to happen sooner rather than later. Watch the stardust disappear once people realise we have no one at home in charge of the economy as it slows.

Ardern’s invincibility could still be undermined. A couple of internal scandals could expose her as just too nice to be a strong leader or show her as flawed and hypocritical like the rest of us.


There is the Treasury ‘hack’ scandal. Then there is the speaker calling an apparently innocent parliamentary staffer a ‘rapist’. Kiwibuild is a debacle. All of these things are scandals. She is getting away with it at the moment, but that cannot possibly last. Death by a thousand cuts often destroys governments. This one will be no different.

She did wheel the baby out for the commissioning of the Manawanui, but there was not much comment from the media – only a very short article in our favourite newspaper. I guess using the baby two weeks running to deflect the government’s poor performance is pushing it, even for them.

Baby Neve Clarke Gayford Jacinda Ardern PM

There is no doubt what is going on here. The government had another tough week. We can’t have that. So we have to wheel out an article that tells us how great she is, and how lucky we are… except that she is far from great, and we are not lucky at all. It will all come crashing down soon enough. Let us just hope that happens within the next 18 months. Otherwise, the damage will take decades to repair.