The Puff Pieces Are Coming Thick and Fast Now

Did you ever see the movie “Groundhog Day”? Where exactly the same things happened every day? The hero was caught in some weird time warp, forced to relive the events of one day over and over, until finally, the time warp vanished, and he was set free… into the arms of the woman he loved.

Well, it has been a bit like that here in New Zealand recently and it probably isn’t over yet.

Cheese scones have just come out of the oven, but Ardern and Gayford are quick to confess they didn’t cook them – they were delivered by the previous journalist through Ardern’s door, broadcaster Hilary Barry.
After making herself busy poking around our camera gear Neve has been taken off for a walk and Gayford has disappeared somewhere after making himself a hot drink.

Interesting that the world’s greatest stay-at-home Dad was not the one to take Neve for a walk. Let’s not bother pretending that they don’t have a team of nannies and minders at their beck and call.

The interview is to mark the half-way point in the election cycle for the Ardern government – a catch up and a progress report on what’s been achieved so far, and what might be Labour’s unfinished business.

The thing is, I’m sure I’ve read all this before… very recently. Am I in a time warp? Is Bill Murray on my doorstep?

I covered this article written by Tracy Watkins two days ago… and yet, we have another article by Watkins on the very same topic, on Sunday.

Is there really nothing else to write about? How about the increasing numbers on the dole? The worsening housing crisis? Child poverty reaching new depths?

Following on from Hilary Barry’s sycophantic interview with Jacinda on Seven Sharp last week, it is obvious what is going on. The media are desperate to bolster Jacinda’s ratings, by emphasising her popularity, her role as a mother and how nice and normal she is. Watkins even mentioned how Jacinda was wearing slippers for the interview like no one has ever worn slippers before. There has never been such a deliberate campaign to keep a woeful prime minister in her job.

Every article mentions her pregnancy, the fact that she is only the second premier to give birth while in office (big deal), the Christchurch massacre, and this one also echoes Barry’s interview where questions are asked about Jacinda moving on to greater things.

But Ardern vigorously denies that.

“No, no, no. Absolutely not. No. I didn’t join the Labour Party to do anything other than be involved in politics in New Zealand.

“I joined because I’ve always seen politics as a place where you can do good and where you can make change for New Zealand. And of course regardless of what happens beyond our shores, none of that matters to a New Zealand voter, you know?

“They don’t care. Nor should they. They just want to know what I’m doing for New Zealand.

This is a cynical move to counter those claims that Jacinda has been offered a job at the UN. The media wants to make sure we all know that she has not got too big for her ill-fitting boots, in case her popularity at home starts to wane.

There is a new angle in this puff piece though.

There’s still work to do, for instance, addressing the concerns of the “squeezed middle” – a group that Ardern concedes might be feeling passed over by a Government that has been so focused on so many other priorities; poverty, family health, sexual violence, mental health.
Many feel like they are doing it harder as living costs rise; wages might be rising, but for some, it feels like they’re treading water.

Ardern says the Government has made some moves in their direction – the families package, for instance.
“But I accept there are people who feel those policies may not have touched them in the same way. We know there’s that constant pressure on them. It’s something as a Government that we’re giving continual thought to.”

The families package did little for middle New Zealand. The only thing she can do for them is to give tax cuts… and hell will freeze over before a Labour government does that for ordinary New Zealanders.

If she returns to New York for the next UN General Assembly in September, as she presumably will, balancing her celebrity status against the demands of a domestic audience will be difficult to impossible.


I cannot believe a New Zealand journalist wrote that. She is not a celebrity; she is our prime minister, and she is a very poor one. Tracy Watkins seems to have forgotten that Jacinda gave an impassioned speech to a mostly empty hall last year at the UN.

The article is a long one… a couple of thousand words that show that she is devoid of anything meaningful. It is all about the feels, not the substance.

Cartoon credit SonovaMin

She’s done nothing and promises to deliver even more of it. But hey – there is a glimmer of hope. If the media have to push this hard, her polling must be dreadful. Can’t wait for the next poll, which must be out soon. Why else are we having to suffer this rubbish day after day?

I must go and find that groundhog.