Thursday, August 03, 2017

A good start

By pretty much anyone’s reckoning, Jacinda Ardern is off to a good start as the new Leader of the New Zealand Labour Party. The Party’s Facebook video, above, talks about some of that, but the media chatter has also been positive. I can see why.

I’ve watched Jacinda talking to reporters as any party leader does, and she’s always poised and confident, as you’d expect a party leader to be, but she’s also warm, friendly, and jokes appropriately with reporters. It’s like a breath of fresh air. Where former leader Andrew Little and National Party Leader (and prime minister) Bill English sound dry and even boring when talking to reporters, Jacinda sounds engaged and energetic. Where Winston Peters sounds like a smart aleck (and too often a bit of a jerk), Jacinda is genuinely funny. Where leaders of the minor parties further to the right can sound way too earnest and dry, Jacinda sounds passionate and committed, but escapes the dry over-earnestness of the other leaders with her warmth and humour.

The only party leaders who are in the same league in this regard are the leaders of the Green Party, who come across as similarly human. This is particularly fortunate because if Labour gains enough votes, Jacinda will become Prime Minister and lead a government in coalition with the Greens. Imagine having a government that’s fun again, as ex prime minister John Key could be on his good days, but a new government that restores the fun while putting ordinary Kiwis first. For the first time in years, this suddenly seems like a real possibility.

So, yeah, a great start for Jacinda Ardern, and real boost to the New Zealand Labour Party. Hopefully it’s the start of a trend leading to a change in government next month. This story has a lot of life in it yet.

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