|An Astonishing Rapport: Jacinda Ardern's "Politics of Kindness" raised so many progressive possibilities. Her own tragedy, and New Zealand's, is that so few of them were realised.|
MUCH WILL BE WRITTEN in the coming days about "The Ardern Years", some of it sympathetic and insightful, most of it spiteful and wrong.
For the moment, however, I shall limit my own response to these few observations:
No leader since Norman Kirk filled me with such powerful hopes for genuine change. In the first heady weeks of her leadership Jacinda was like the sun breaking through clouds heavy with rain. She exuded an astonishing sense of possibility that fired the imagination of millions of New Zealanders. Her elevation to Prime Minister, courtesy of Winston Peters, appeared to complete a political fairy-tale.
This, she told us, was a time for transformation. A time for the politics of kindness - and for action, too. On climate change, child poverty, homelessness.
It was the best of times.
And even when the skies darkened, she continued to shine. Her wonderfully empathic "They are Us" on 15 March 2019. The miraculous reality - at least for a while - of her "Team of Five Million" during the initial Covid-19 lockdowns. When Jacinda allowed herself to be guided by her heart her decisions were politically faultless. It was only when she ignored her instincts and followed her head that the poor decisions began to multiply.
She never appeared to grasp that announcing policy is not the same as implementing it. Press releases do not build houses. Speeches do not end poverty. In the end, it was Jacinda's constant failure to deliver that made it impossible for her to go on.
If you say "Let's do this!", then, Dear God, you have to do it!
This response is exclusive to Bowalley Road.
Well said Chris.
Very well put. As someone who disagreed with a lot of the policies, I still found myself wishing she would actually get something done. Very odd cognitive dissonance ! Wish her well. She will be sad but relieved. As will NZ.
Very fair analysis Chris.
I think she was an excellent leader in times of crisis (christchurch massacre) and during covid, primarily for getting the message out.
However she was as you note pretty inneffectual and if labour lose the next election I doubt she will have any substantial legacy to look back on, other than keeping the lights on.
I wish her and her young (and hopefully growing) family all the best.
She is an amazing person. She has led us through the most difficult times. We were the most envied country in the world. Saying that, at the moment, I would not vote for a Labour Government, not that I would vote for National. Not enough has been done for the people. I am now looking at TOP. Their policies are more in line of my way of thinking. Mind you if Labour adopted those policies too then I would vote for them both…
I think the Ardern government has been a disappointment to every left-leaning person. I think that like Jimmy Carter she is a decent person – for a politician anyway. Certainly much more personally decent than many who went before her.
I don't think she deserves the vilification she gets from the right though, particularly that section that can't put together a couple of sentences to explain why she's so bad. And there are plenty of those.
On reflection I'm not surprised she's gone. (Yes I know hindsight is easy:) ) She's had a couple of crises are would have tested anyone. And I can think of a good few who probably would have failed. She's got a young child who probably deserves a bit more of her than they're getting at the moment.
Perhaps she was too involved with the crises to construct a decent social programme. Or perhaps the Labour Party being what it is, doesn't even want one. But unlike you Chris I never expected her to take the party back to its roots. I've lost all confidence that anyone will ever do that. I haven't voted Labour for years now, and I'm extremely doubtful I'll ever vote for them again. Not without radical changes and Ardern simply wasn't/isn't a radical, in spite of being called a one by the lunatic fringe of the right.
Hope all her misogynistic detractors are happy.
Do you think it was being taken over by the Maori caucus that deflected her attention from all of us?
I think your last paragraph, Chris, has a lot of truth in it. H1 was said to under promise and over deliver. The current Labour government seem to over promise and under deliver, all while led under the watch of Jacinda. The classic has to be the 2017 election promise to deliver 100,000 affordable Kiwibuild houses over 10 years, even when there was no consideration of a plan or logistics on how to do so.
Chris you and I will never agree on the covid issue so I'll leave that on the table however I'd like some clarification on your statement that it was the best of times.
Anticipation of something is not something and all we got was the let down, much like spotting the "boobie boosters" in the bra on the way to the bedroom.
I realise your political leanings but passion aside, I'd like to see some objective analysis of those "achievements" you so admire.
As to the "misogynist" slur, disliking someone because they lie and are incompetent is not a gender issue in my opinion and the slur is merely a poor attempt at deflection. Professing kindness while at the same time refusing to own up and apologise for blatant mistakes is something more agin to hypocrisy than statemanship.
Patricia the problem is even if Labour were to adopt some of TOP's policies would you have any confidence they would implement them.
And Shane I was extremely critical of both Jenny Shipley and Judith Collins just as I am of Jacinda. Does this make me misogynistic. Women politicians [especially when they are party leaders] have to be held to account just like their male counterparts.
The Maori Caucus must recognise its role in her and Labours demise . In the end it was their loyalty to each other and not the party which made her position on so many issues untenable
And let’s not forget the doses of anti Labour cyanide from our murdochian media daily drip feeding its reservoir of lies into the willing ears of the army of disaffected kiwi crack pots
No apologies to Bob...........
"There's fork tongues across the aisle been aimin' at you
Media hacks on your trail, they'd like to catch you
Blog authors too, they'd like to get you
Jacinda, they don't like your beacon to be so bright....."
Yes Chris but it all turned very dark as you yourself have documented. I particularly enjoyed your column "0800 STASI". And anyone who preaches to the world that free speech is a weapon of war" has no business leading a liberal democracy. I do not regret her going, that would be hypocrisy. She has done a lot of damage to this country. I can tell you also that people on the crowded beach I visited today let out a cheer when they heard the news.
Newstalk ZB, the Herald and Twitter destroyed her.
I agree almost entirely and well said.
The one thing I disagree on is that her politics of kindness spilt over to law and order. From her carefully selected Police Commissioner, her second term Police Minister, her Corrections Minister, to Little as Justice Minister, the entire programme was done to give criminal suckers an even break. This was entirely our Prime Ministers vision, in action, of a better world for criminals to be understood and dealt with in the least punitive way possible. The intent was genuinely well meant but naivity in the extreme. The results of the past 3 years speak for themselves. Faith in the justice system is waning, police who can't or won't attend to reported crime whilst plywood abounds in shops and centres and none of us feel safer.
Aside from the non delivery of Labour's promises, this one unpublished policy, never campaigned on but fully delivered, has been a political disaster.
I am not surprised our PM has resigned, one assumes the polling has become untenable. But from all sides Labour's own goals meant the walls closed in to the point where her position too became untenable!
I don't believe your 3rd para. You're not a fool. You knew who she and Grant were. Like all us old social democrats. You never mistook this CV person for Norman Kirk.
Over the last 2 years I have seen the NZ psyche in an embarrassing swirl of buyers remorse and survivors guilt. Having overwhelmingly electorally endorsed Ardern's Covid19 measures, a slim majority was then drawn to the loudest voices. Small and medium business that were kept alive through Government support decrying the government public safety measures that balanced that support with public need. Primary sector lashing out at their influence being propionate rather than dominant and the realities of 21st century NZ. Those afraid that moves towards Maori empowerment deters from their own privilege calling conspiracy on all government policy initiatives. Those that see compassion as undesirable. Those that see multiculturalism in terms of cheap labour. The people that think it is acceptable to openly display sexism if the PM is a young women.
When the delta variant of Covid19 hit NZ, we had slowed it enough to ensure vaccination and medical capacity. Thousands of the NZ elderly, medically vulnerable, disabled Maori and Pasifika live today that would otherwise have succumbed to delta. Many of those identified in my first paragraph would not be here to voice their opposition. We survived the worst of the pandemic minimalizing loss of life and our economy intact. Voters endorsed and acknowledged this, then a collective amnesia blamed Ardern for the leadership we had asked for.
I take the PM's comment as to nothing left in the tank as the truth. The national psyche has always had a tall poppy syndrome, an ability to turn against success and a reluctance to accept social change even when it has already happened. A denial of hegemony.
A time for the politics of kindness - and for action, too. On climate change, child poverty, homelessness.
After making us part of Asia
A nice person , full of hopes, dreams & aspirations but no plan, witness the mess she got herself into when bringing the country out of Covid .
I felt exactly the same 2017-2020.
However its what she never said she would do & then did that deservedly brought her down. Commencing to implement by incremental stealth the secret anti democratic He Puapua co government agenda she never put in front of the voters to get a mandate for was her hubristic character flaw.
Shakespeare covered this more eloquently.
Yes, Chris, she promised so much and delivered so little. In the 65 or so years that I have followed politics, I have learned not to expect too much of politicians. Politics is a difficult game. But I feel that Ms Ardern really cheated us.
I think you've hit the nail, Mr Trotter. For all that she, along with her Party, remained in thrall to the Milton Friedmanite Neo-claptrap notions promulgated by Roger Douglas and his acolytes, she presented a human face to policy, and I'll cut a lot of slack for anyone with a halfway decent social programme. That she had, at least in principle - in outline. Unfortunately it was not realised in practice.
One wonders if perhaps she was undermined - as Donald Trump was during his SNAFU-ridden administration in the US - by her own administration and the people charged with realising policy into action. I daresay future histories - if humanity lives long enough to have a future - will tell us more about 'the Jacinda Years.'
I have a feeling that come the re-entry of National into Governance we may be looking back with wistful nostalgia at 2017-23...
Ion A. Dowman
There have been various claims that negative or abusive comments caused, or contributed to, her resignation.
That's hard to believe, unless she's childishly thin skinned, that a few people nutting off on the internet would be a concern. Particularly so in light of the (equally nutty) adulation she has received in the legacy media - here and abroad. Sounds more like a constructed distraction from the manifold failures of her regime.
I suspect there is also some serious dissent within Labour centered around the cowardly capitulation to the radical changes promoted by the so called first fifteen Maori caucus and the electoral consequences of that. She has looked like someone falling apart, someone saying things they don't believe, for some time; that will drain your tank dry. Perhaps the dissent is really within herself?
Imagine you’re an NZ small or medium business owner hearing Ardern saying she’s got nothing left in the tank.
Ardern has had the biggest PM’s office in NZ history part of which is the biggest media management team in history.
She’s had guaranteed income & a guaranteed pension at some stage.
If Ardern has nothing left in the tank, imagine what the punter with real skin in the game has gone through since the start of 2020.
There is good and bad luck in politics, and good luck for a leader is when their strengths perfectly fit the circumstances. In Jacinda's case it was her empathy - or at least her perceived empathy (not knowing her personally and being aware of the fake personas usually adopted by politicians) - that fit with the 2019 mass shooting and then the C-19 pandemic.
In his TV series, A History of Britain, Simon Schama said the following of Winston Churchill in 1940:
The qualities which made him so impossible - his pig-headed obstinacy, his low boiling point, his romantic belief in British history - were now, in the black days of May, exactly what the country needed.
Something even Labour voters appreciated at the time. But in 1945 those were not the qualities needed and so he and his Tory Party got booted in a landslide.
Something similar here with Ardern, as alluded to in your last paragraph, and I think she knew it too.
But even with the empathy super power I think it began to turn against her with the announcement of the vaccine mandates. Not only had she said a little earlier that there would be no such thing, there was no empathy this time as there had been during the lockdowns. Not even a grim, reluctant admission that this was a terrible breach of civil liberties but something she felt necessary to do. Even in disagreeing with her, I would have appreciated that she at least saw the dangers.
Instead we got the breezy, almost amused, announcement that one class of citizens would have rights that others did not as a way of coercing people: the now infamous, “That is what it is.. so …Yep. Yep”. Even the reporter asking her had not expected that: in fact he hesitatingly suggests that she won’t agree with his take on creating two classes of people.
Since empathy was her main power it should surely have been significant in the eyes of the citizens when it was so noticeably absent at the very moment when it was most needed.
This Labour government will go down in history for bringing in the Healthy Homes Legislation.
Long after the pitfalls of unequal deadlines for govt landlords, and inaccurate heatpump calculations are forgotten, tenants will continue to be able to live in Healthy homes.
That's not nothing.
It will add to the list of defining social aspects that Labour have given NZ
"If Ardern has nothing left in the tank, imagine what the punter with real skin in the game has gone through since the start of 2020."
They got a great deal of help from the government for which they should be grateful. Naturally the numbers being what they are some people rorted the system as well. Doesn't speak well for business owners does it?
And very few businesspeople are followed onto school grounds by people screaming abuse at them, or have their cars forced onto the footpath by lunatics. Probably even fewer of them have people calling for their execution. Everyone had skin in that game not just businesspeople. Ardern almost certainly saved a lot of lives. The problem with conservatives is apparently – according to the science – that they don't care unless it's their close friends or family.
And I'm damn sure that some of the vilification was misogynistic and I'm damn sure it's not lazy to say so. When you think of the abuse heaped on Hillary Clinton, the sneering remarks made about Margaret Thatcher, female politicians in Finland, India, Ukraine – pretty much every country in the world.
I don't care what you perceive she's done to the country, you criticise the policies you don't hurl abuse at the Prime Minister. I think Margaret Thatcher was probably one of the most evil politicians ever to walk this earth, dictators aside – and yet I wouldn't follow her down the street waving a noose.
And there is at least some sort of evidence here, in the US: "On Facebook, female Democrats running for office received ten times more abusive comments than male Democratic candidates."
It's time we faced up to the fact that there are millions of men all over the world who can't face the fact that there are women in positions of power, and won't face up to their own misogyny. And not all of them are in Saudi Arabia.
I wonder if any male politician in this country would ever be described as doing well when they led with their heart (emotions) but unfortunately when they used their head (intelligence) … and that’s when it all went wrong. Most people realise that being led by your emotions is not a good idea. Being led by someone’s else’s emotions though … that’s something else entirely. I would never recommend that in a domestic situation - it’s called emotional abuse at a certain point.
Excellent piece of work, Chris.
A fair summation Chris, the Jacinda haters will emerge from their caves only to be struck by a blinding light that now she is gone and somehow the problems remain - so maybe it was not all 'her' fault after all. However, it could equally be said that she was 'more sizzle than sausage' and that in the long-run, people want to eat.
Thank you Chris, well said. There is, however, one thing I think Jacinda and Labour deserve more credit for than they have had. That has been the outbreak of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis. It's still possible to eradicate it, thanks to strict controls on stock movement, and culling infected stock. The Jacinda led government had to impose strict regulation on stock movement, but was prepared to pay a lot in compensation. The calculation was that letting the disease become established would cost even more than elimination. Public thanks from the farming community are non-existant, and most urbanites didn't notice, didn't care, or both.
But while that goes as an underappreciated plus in the "good in a crisis" column, the negative in the "useless at doing the basics" column that irritates me the most is the Waka Kotahi "Road to Zero". To set an ambitious goal, spend a lot on advertising it, and then ignore reality as the roads get worse, and the death toll goes up, sums up this government to me. It's apparently more important to rename agencies than have them working properly.
(And that's not just New Zealand, ahhhhhh, sorry, Aotearoa. All air traffic in the US was grounded recently, for the first time since 9/11. The creaky old computer systems used to issue NOTAMs to pilots, warning of anything that might affect flight planning, fell over. It took hours to fix. NOTAM traditionally stood for NOtices To AirMen, but was changed to NOtices To Air Missions. I'm sure that really helped make the inconvenience more bearable).
I've been pondering why people "hate" jacinda.
1. The image: "worlds greatest leader". What how and where?
I think to progressives she was the anecdote to Trump.
However progressives tend (these days) to be magical thinkers, summed up by John Lennon's "Imagine" (played at a Kensington Estate on a $20,000 Steinway piano).
The religion goes like this "thank you Lord for letting us live in this beautiful community" (Palm Springs as it happened). The religious observance requires one to be wealthy, have good housing, go on holiday and have your toes painted by diversity.
John Key is a progressive, he told Max there are three ways to get rich 1. Born rich 2. you have a talent like Steven Adams. 3. property. He told John Campbell he wants NZ to be a "more confident outward looking country; more multicultural" and formed a partnership with the Chows.
2. Jacinda is a globalist. Her moral compass weighs local needy against the giant populations overseas. Hence there is only scorn for people trying to protect the NZ lifestyle. Hence her government went ahead with the Slum Enabling Bill and Mediawatch copmplained about negative coverage.
3. Jacinda made the MSM a tool. Even if it's true that 56% think signage should be in English and Maori it smacks of propaganda/manipulation (waka kotahi FFS). Aotearoa, Aotearoa, Aotearoa, Aotearoa, Aotearoa. "The named was gifted by...".
To Stuff Editor: (head pensively to one side) "why would anyone NOT want to learn history?". Fiona Kidman: "these are very violent histories" whereas Michael King calls colonisation of Maori "decidedly mild".
4. Hegemony. Whatever has been brewing in the sociology departments (During says "NZrs will come to know themselves in Maori terms"; Spoonley says "Pakeha will loose hegemony") this has nothing to do with Jacinda Ardern. Things like this are "just happening"; "that's the way this country's moving". Aren't the institutions and the chief executive connected?
5. "Jacinda of Morinsonsville"; Jacinda of Socialist Youth and Tony Blair.
PS Simon Cohen
As for claims of misogyny during the Conservative struggle the alt-right [or whatever] were rooting for Kemi Badenoch (black and female).
There's an explanation for this from evolutionary psychology and it also explains why people react differently to a white robot and black robot in implicit bias tests.
Essentially human intuition assesses a strangers age, sex and whether they are an ally or not. Appearance is a proxy for ally but is relatively easily reassessed: Jacinda or Kemi Badenoch?
That was well put, I do agree. Very succinctly and correctly.
Well said, Chris, but I think there is one correction you need to make that may or may not be significant. Logically, the words "If you say let's do this, then,..." imply not "...Dear God, you have to do it" but "...Dear God, we have to do it". If this logical correction is significant then the failure to achieve anything lies not with the speaker but with all of those included in the 'we'. Since she was talking at the time about our 'team of 5 million' the 'we' refers not just to her government but to us all.
It was presumptuous of us, the electorate to think we had a role implementing those policies; and misleading, or perhaps just naive, of the PM to suggest we did.
Waiting in the wings has been a movement to transform society; those who believe "anything is better than what we have". Check out Te tiriti futures; CARE Massey.
With them has been the MSM child journalists schooled by the above. Can you believe an editor would right this?:
EDITORIAL: Most people will remember where they were and what they were doing when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced her resignation on Thursday.
That in itself speaks to the esteem in which Ardern was held by New Zealanders and the legacy she leaves.
that is the same newspaper that once wrote this:
Political correctness is the antithesis of free speech and a democratic society,. yet its tentacles reach into the very heart of New Zealand society through government departments, quangos and places of learning (The Press, 24 July 1993).
They have been waiting since the 1950's and since (as Sue Bradford confirmed - Care website) made their "march through the institutions".
So they chose their moment during the Jacinda phenomenon.
The public began to perceive a snake in the grass. As Jack Jone's (Dad's Army) remarked as another solder touched his inner thigh while helping him upwards: "HOY!. What's your game!"
We saw the terrorism hui with the self-assured Kate Hannah spouting post-colonial theory and the next one was private, open only to child journalists.
Egg on face also to RNZ, NZ On Air and TVNZ. John Campbell did everything he could to throw cold-water on He Pua-pua.
There are several reasons for Ardern's fall from grace - failure on many fronts, mandated medication and so on. The covert implementation of He Puapua is the big one as far as I can see.
I have previously used the Lebanon analogy to describe and warn about the Ardern led governments ethno-centric "reforms".
TD has a look at what that means in the real world.
"Then, suddenly, I had a flash of illumination: I had seen the future of the Western world, and it was Lebanonization!
In the Lebanon, everything depends on which religious community you belong to, even your water and electricity supply (both intermittent and unreliable). Overseeing the whole polity are corrupt, kleptocratic, oligarchic leaders of various religious, political, and territorial fiefdoms, who dispute hegemony among themselves but nevertheless display a certain class solidarity so that nothing should change fundamentally and they remain permanently in charge. Protests and revolutions come and go, but the elite go on forever.
The potential for violence is always there, and indeed often breaks out; but most of the population, accustomed to chaos and breakdown, has become adept at survival. Life for them is a question of overcoming everyday obstacles, combined with evading the conflicts around them. Meanwhile, the elite live well.
No analogies are exact, but Western societies seem to be fracturing into various confessional communities each of which, like the Maronites, Druzes, Shiites, Sunni, and others, claims its share of the politico-economic spoils. They struggle like worms or grubs in the tins in which anglers keep their bait, while an unchanging elite preside, or at least glide, godlike, over the whole. In the meantime, public administration deteriorates, infrastructure rots, and inflation rockets."
If it wasn't so serious you can't help laughing at the idiots that think Jacinda Ardern 'fell from grace'.
These idiots are the descendants of the same idiots that threw rotten tomatoes at people locked in public stocks in past centuries, just because they could.
Surely the author must be getting tired of these idiots by now....surely.
Thanks Kat, despite any angst you may be feeling there's no need for that. I guess it may be of some comfort to abuse and right off anyone you disagree with as somehow mentally impaired, morally bankrupt, beyond the pale. A bit like the townsfolk throwing rotten tomatoes?
BTW Kat; Jacinda has had a net favourability around +50% - since 2017, peaking at over +70% in May/June 2020. It has declined steadily since then to a net -1% in the last poll. I was being polite describing it as a "fall from grace"
If rotten tomato throwers were to actually look at the preferred PM polls for 2017-2020 they would see that Jacinda Ardern started at about 38% after the 2017 election, marginally above where she is now in the low to mid 30's, and maxed at about 45% before the covid pandemic.
It is ridiculous and idiotic to repeat that she "fell from grace" in that range when in reality she is only marginally down on what she got when she became PM.
Those figures are net favorability; that is the percentage of New Zealanders who tell our pollsters they have a 'favourable' view less the percentage who say 'unfavourable'. It's not a preferred PM poll.
It's worth noting that Luxon is also on net -1% but was never at the very high levels JA was - 72% in 2020 before her fall from grace.
You might add Kat that she has always been ahead of Luxon. Has he never achieved a state of grace? :)
Strange, Ardern's brilliant sudden crisis management (without which no 2 terms), and non-understanding of the Great Crisis. Not so strange.
Splattering all over the place but not the main thing, let alone the people who needed 'be kind' the most. For whom the phrase was often a slap in the face. Let alone my interested middle-class moniker. The hypocrisy was blase some days. I got very angry on those days.
The needy are New Zealand's soul. Neglected for 40 years.
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