All Smiles? Ardern’s political project is “a work in progress” – upon which the spotlight of public scrutiny (and the dubious boon of public acclaim) may have fallen too soon. It is simply not enough for a political leader to be in possession of high intelligence and finely-honed communication skills. A leader must also have something to say – and Ardern is still finding her voice.
EVER SINCE TAKING fourth place in the Preferred Prime Minister stakes (after John Key, Andrew Little and Winston Peters) Jacinda Ardern has been in trouble. Not serious trouble: at least, not yet; but trouble nonetheless. The NZ Herald’s DigiPol has swung the spotlight onto a work-in-progress much too soon. The political project called “Jacinda Ardern” is not yet finished, and, as we all know, it is most unwise to show fools and children unfinished things.
Which category Paul Henry and Graham Lowe fall into – child or fool? – I will leave for the reader to decide. But the upshot: Lowe’s description of Ardern as “a pretty little thing”; ignited a social media firestorm. Not far behind the Tweeters and the Facebookers came the NBR’s dynamic duo, Matthew Hooton and Rob Hosking – whose right-wing provenance only added to the shrillness of the Left’s all-too-predictable responses.
“I am sick to death of the ignorant, sexist bullshit that my friend and colleague Jacinda Ardern has had to put up with in the past few weeks”, thundered Labour’s Grant Robertson on Facebook.
Well, yes, there’s been plenty of ignorance and sexism, and loads of bullshit, spouted about Ardern – and not just in the past few weeks. When Ardern and National’s Nicki Kaye first contested the Auckland Central seat in 2011 a young Herald reporter by the name of Patrick Gower framed the political encounter as “The Battle of the Babes”. Sadly, Gower’s characterisation (as insulting to Kaye as it was to Ardern) stuck, and both politicians have been living with it ever since.
It is a measure of Ardern’s maturity as a politician that she has been able to make the “Babe” label work for her – rather than define her. In no other profession does Oscar Wilde’s bon mot: “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”, carry as much weight as in politics. To be called a “Babe” may transform a woman into an object of the male gaze, but if she is committed to constructing a successful political career, then Mae West’s wry quip: “it is better to be looked over than overlooked”; makes more than a little sense.
Because, of course, Ardern brings a great deal more than a set of regular facial features to the political table. Were this not the case, it is highly doubtful that the nation’s leading businessmen (shrewd judges of character – almost by definition) would have ranked her so highly in their assessment of the Labour Opposition. Hearing Ardern speak, it is immediately obvious that one is not only listening to a person of considerable intelligence, but also to a very experienced communicator. Combined with her open and affable disposition, these are formidable political assets.
Why, then, describe Ardern’s political project as “a work in progress” – upon which the spotlight of public scrutiny (and the dubious boon of public acclaim) may have fallen too soon? Because it is simply not enough for a political leader to be in possession of high intelligence and finely-honed communication skills. A leader must also have something to say – and Ardern is still finding her voice.
She cannot be another Helen Clark. The voice Clark perfected, to such extraordinary political effect, was the product of an era in which the values and purposes of social democracy required little, if any, definition or explanation – so ingrained were they in the New Zealand character. Ardern is the product of a very different historical period. Not one of Savage’s children, like Clark, but a child of Rogernomics and Ruthanasia. Losing the insidious accents of neoliberalism is no easy matter.
This is especially so when Labour’s psephological advisers continue to insist that the rhetoric and policies of undiluted social democracy (let alone democratic socialism!) will not be well-received by an electorate fed almost exclusively on neoliberal ideas. That the electorates in Greece, Spain and Italy have violently regurgitated these ideas does not impress these political “scientists”. Nor have they been moved by the huge crowds that are turning out for Bernie Sanders in America and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK.
That Ardern’s political career, to date, has been guided by such “Third Way” theorists has rendered her eloquence curiously ineffectual. One can listen to her speeches, and be impressed by the strength of their delivery, and yet, when they’re over, find it difficult to say with any certainty what they were about. Many people walk away impressed by Ardern, but nowhere near as many are inspired. Indeed, it is difficult not to agree with the NBR’s Rob Hosking when he argues that it’s not Arden’s sex appeal that matters “but the vapid, substance-free politics she has offered so far”.
That’s why the glare of the “Is She Up To Being Leader?” spotlight represents trouble for the Ardern Project. It has swung in her direction too soon. She is being assessed as a potential party leader well in advance of her settling on something more substantive to offer the news media’s relentless interrogation than a fetching physiognomy.
This essay was posted simultaneously on The Daily Blog and Bowalley Road blogsites on Monday, 31 August 2015.
I think she understands herself that her time is not yet come - at 35 she is an intelligent, articulate and caring person with a lot to offer. However, she has not yet developed the mongrel within, so necessary for survival in the world of politics. I'm sure she will over time and being pursued so enthusiastically by the dogs of the MSM will probably help this process.
She obviously doesn't want to be Helen Mach 11, but glacial stares and sound bites could help the cause. Some of the problem, I think, is that she talks as though her listeners are intelligent adults who really want the answer. Unfortunately that's a bit like giving a talk on the facts of life to a 2 year old who asks where he comes from when 'Mummy's tummy' will suffice
I do not want to be rude but Jacinda Ardern is a lightweight. Who-ever sees her as a future leader of the Labour party have rocks in there head and not know her. She is pleasant and has ambitions but that's it. Many of her front bench efforts are cringe worthy.
So what if she's pretty fit? Anyone with half a brain can appreciate that and at the same time separate that from her considerable political ability. So she has great hair. So does Dunne.
She is definitely not a lightweight, she is a very intelligent politician and I would not underestimate her what so ever
But I bet she can spell!
Henry fool or child? If I had to choose - child. Like Trump he ain't no fool. Populist bullshit artist beats both.
She does pin up and interviews with womans magazines, where does all the extra income go ?. I bet its not to the children charities she is always carping about.
For those like Chris Trotter who dabble on the dark side, Black fish has reproduced a fairly damning piece from the NBR (http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2015/09/rob-hosking-on-jacinda-ardern-and-her-flakiness/#more-206552) and its worth quoting the hard but sadly true bits:
What I do give a damn about is the vapid, substance-free politics Ms Ardern has offered so far.
Her joint run for Labour’s leadership last year, with friend and colleague Grant Robertson, was an empty void.
Ms Ardern has thus far failed to win a seat in a general election and, for all her supposed star quality, has failed to make any significant progress against National Party ministers, in Parliament or outside it.
She went head-to-head against then-Social Development Minister Paula Bennett during the 2011 Parliament: Mrs Bennett batted her aside with ease.
The point made here on Saturday remains the same: it is too early to dismiss Ms Ardern as a lightweight.
It is not too early to conclude she has shown us nothing to demonstrate she is a political heavyweight.
Not very flattering from Rob Hoskins, I remember seeing Bennett tear her a new arsehole and telling her to 'zip it sweety' and all I could think was please zip it sweety you are cringe wothy and contemptible.
I hate to say it but if Jacinda was half as ugly as me she would never have even made the labour list.
Sadly this beautiful and vacuous little princess may one day lead the labour party, Im not sure if she will be taken seriously enough to win an election - but who knows, Bush won two in the states, so you dont need brains or ability to do it.
So what has Ardern actually accomplished in Parliament? As far as I can tell her greatest achievement is getting slaughtered by Paula Bennett.
"She cannot be another Helen Clark. The voice Clark perfected, to such extraordinary political effect, was the product of an era in which the values and purposes of social democracy required little, if any, definition or explanation – so ingrained were they in the New Zealand character. "
I think we now see the Clark aftermath?
Last night I listened to Jane Kelsey on Iceland: "and what did they do". "They did all the things they should do: "they introduced a minimum wage, they brought in a gender advisor, etc, etc" ..... and the got voted out.
Its a bit of a joke to call this decrotative fashion plate, Jacinda Arden a politician. my mother became a political activist in the late 1930's because her mothers business importing fashion clothing from the US had been put out of business by import licensing and her other business running seamstresses was threatened by the skill of refugee immigrant from Vienna and Berlin. My mother was a bit of a Nazi at the time which was not unusual in the US and UK at the time. She told me she was at all Von Luckners meetings in Wellington 1938. Living on the same road as the Russian embassy she had ferocious opinions on the Russians that were not nice. In a different post war life in teh South Island she had one unusual characteristic, if you ever mentioned the Palestine issue, out of nowhere she exploded into anti Jewish israel speech of the sustained Ferocity of Hitler speaking. The tragedy was since she knew nothing about politics in New Zealand after the 1962, the speech sounded identical to a Moana or Valerie stemwinder. She knew nothing about Israel. I never heard her speak about the 35 Labour Government or John a Lee, but if she had ever made a public speech, it would have been a coherrent blast of full power at Churchill level of contempt.
she was never officialy involved in politics, but went to the political meeting for Roger Douglas in Sth canterbury in 1985, and immediately invited into a seperate execcutive session with Douglas and I think the photo together, mearly went into the NZ Herald. When Tranz Rail was privatised she immediately offered to put 50,000 in, but I explained to her I had wriiten all the articles, to achieve a sort of rigged model to artificially demonstrate spectacularly succesful private operation to lead to privatisation of more promising railways for privatisation like the Australian ssytem. The point about that is Richwhite is that he is tolerated by railway because he runs railways lie the US Rail capitalist titan in which passenger trains have absolute priority regardless of economics, he puts the Southerner through between Christchurch and Dunedin in 5hrs and 30 minutes and all the trains run flat. Richwhites British rail freight is actually mainly just a histrical rail freight passenger express freight which carries the Royal Mail behind the new Richwhites rail express locomotives. Richwhite knew the mail was the profitable rail business and what paid for huge rail operation till 1967. Late in her life she was even contemplating a final investment of a very large nature to sustain Pike River as an operational coal field.
I don't know much about Ardern, and in Labour I am interested in Andrew Little and I suggest that Labour supporters should take that line also. He appears to have sterling qualities but perhaps they need regular polish. Possibly one of the problems with commitment to a leader these days is that there are too many career politicians jockeying for position. Give them a two-term electorate win and then back to list, so they can never get too fat, and end up troughing.
Comparing Ardern to Helen. I heard Helen speaking the other day and her voice appears to have dropped an octave. She adopted a no-nonsense steady speaking style which fits to leader-expectations well and doesn't get belittled about being 'a pretty little thing'. I am sure she is doing well in the UN.
I thought when here she was interested in systems and structure which would suit them very well. But I hoped also to see here a tilting of the goalposts slightly to allow shorter players a chance to score. Did she then, does she now try intensive work with the strugglers, helping with thousands of micro individual businesses running on a shoe-string for people who once didn't have shoes, and setting up small Grameen banks all around, I don't know?
If she believed in helping the strugglers help themselves, then I didn't think she did enough to attending to egregious money lending schemes, and hire purchase pushers and rorter vans in the poor suburbs. If thre was solid effort that got noticed and rewarded. with government, suitable businesses and regular work for the young, plus time at tech learning something of interest to them, crime and punishment would go down. How about setting up a charter school for WINZ unemployed where they are treated as great human beings looking for a way to earn and develop skills for the future. Half our problems would be solved then and the worker base would be enlarged, spending would go up and housing of any sort would be taxed to cost if sold within two years for any reason, and taxed hard if sold within five years.
If Ardern could leave the intelligentsia briefly and help each week at a different lunch truck serving snacks to the hungry it would be a good look to illustrate that her heart isnt steel meshed.
greywarbler, jacinda is far to busy writing twitter/ facebook or earning money doing photo-shoots and paid interviews than doing anything like you suggest. Get real.
Don't Ardern's credentials include having worked in a soup kitchen in New York, or some such?
I think it's unfair to call Jacinda a lightweight. She's a middleweight but (and here's the rub) will never, I suspect, be anything more. Moreover, there are many other good, competent but pedestrian people of whom the same can be said.
Auntie Helen was a heavyweight through and through. I can't see anyone in her league around in any party at the moment, although Winston has not totally lost his capacity to surprise and Grant Robertson shows occasional promise, as does Amy Adams.
Intelligence and articulation only count for so much Chris.
There are plenty of 21-25 year old Uni graduates who are bright and can speak but are nothing more than empty vessels. The wisdom that comes from the school of life experience has yet to hone their abilities.
At age 35 what has Ardern achieved? Some dubious work experience working in a fish and chip shop - not in itself bad but not exactly designed to strain the practical skills envelope.
A Bachelor of Arts degree, a period of time heading the International Union of Socialist Youth and working as a political researcher?
Perhaps a good apprenticeship for someone aiming to be a life long political animal but not exactly suitable training for a leader with suitable gravitis and genuine leadership qualities to aspire to lead the nation.
Leaders also need to be successful - Ardern so far has struggled (like Little) to achieve local Electoral Success. If you cannot succeed to win at a local level how are you going to convince the whole nation to elect you to the beehive?
No mistake that Politics is competitive. To become PM you have to win against the enemy and against your own. Getting into Parliament by smoozling your way through party processes is no guarantee of success.
I just don't see a life experience package that Labour's voting base can relate to. I don't see the streak of ruthlessness needed to overcome competitors. Obviously she is pleasant enough as a person but just not PM material.
I remember seeing Bennett tear her a new arsehole and telling her to 'zip it sweety'
Yes, that is what passes for an argument from Ms Bennett, whom I know for a fact to be not very bright (as if it wasn't obvious). Yet another one of National's minister well out of her depth, and yet another person from the "party of personal responsibility" who is where she is because of state largesse, having done her best to screw up her own life prospects. That's "the party of personal responsibility" for you.
I really have no dog in this fight. All I know of her is what I heard on national radio at various times. But I wonder if some of the things said about her in these posts would be said about a bloke. After all various right wing heroes sell their lives to the tabloids. Paul Henry is always in them. And some Gnat MP's.
It seems to me though that working in a soup kitchen would give her a better idea of the problems facing many people in our society than being a farmer or a lawyer.
The thing with Jacinda is she presents herself as a beauty or professional manager. Being a professional manager is not the criterion for serious political leadership, which is high level warfare and intelligence operating. Being beautiful is the entry qualification and essential criterion in Australian politics, Australia being a country where sex and sport are the most important things for most people, New Zealand is an asexual society into egalitarian sport. Even if Jacinda became PM it would only be as a front for Maoist hard left leaders like some supposedly right members of the Palmer Cabinet.
The key point in modern politics is a systems approach dosent work. In Primary Colours Klein says this is a crucial issue, but my take is Klein is so hard left, that whatever the text says and positions, Hillary Clinton she could believe in either systems or the necessity for high quality leadership as essential or in reality both are hard left believers in Systems. Its true Clark and many of the other Labour hardies are great believers in changing the settings, changing laws, censorship, education without any real knowledge of the effects in half a dozen disciplines or even where the critical setting points and how much you can move them at all at certain points. Even if settings are correct them they are useless if not applied. John Lehman said the first requirement for high level command as an Admiral or General is to understand both history and the hard science, preferably physics at a very high level even if only Arts or Science is pursued at university. The truth is that the Maths and Physics are completly different types of intelligence. Maths is usually Calculus although the best statistics manipulators like McNamara are also highest level thinking.
Greywarbler, al the ludicrous left wing educational ideas of the NZ educational department and the educational idiocy that has been introduced since Russel Marshall the Red Reverend, was education minister, were tested thoroughly in Soviet Russia between 1917 and 1928. Stalin and the Portbulio concluded the whole modern education ideas, were totally destructive of education and any ability to build a high level society. At the same time have similarly tested the idea of raising the more hard core proloteriat and peasantry to be technical or professional experts was impossible. At that point in 1929 Russia abandoned Communism completly, the schools reintroduced all the middle class teaachers and reestablished the the old syllabus and decided to leave the Army and Navy under high level aristocrat control of non communists as long as possible. All the five Marshalls that lead the Russian Army are aristocrats and Turnovsky is the highest level Russian aristcrat,a bot socially equal McArthur. Even during the WW2 the Russian Army is led by two of the five Marshalls Zurkov and Rossalinsky who are both Polish White Russian Aristocrats who were Tsarist calvary oficers. Many other of the WW2 Generals restored to command as Generals in WW2 for Russia aristocrats, and in the Navy no more than half were ever eliminanted. Unfortunately in the early part of the twentieth centry Marxist Revolutionary models into Germany, Britain and the South Seas at French Revolutionary settings. Both the Soviet Union and the United States smashed traditional farming outside the farm states in 1929. In most of the USA the way traditional farming was smashed in reality was at mind blowing level of social violence.
"Being a professional manager is not the criterion for serious political leadership, which is high level warfare and intelligence operating. "
Jesus wept - then what qualifications WOULD you advocate for someone wanting to engage in serious political leadership. Most of our 'serious political leaders' are lawyers or farmers or some other sort of profession – as in "manager."
"Being beautiful is the entry qualification and essential criterion in Australian politics"
Oh – I must tell John Howard and Pauline Hanson that.
"Zurkov and Rossalinsky who are both Polish White Russian Aristocrats who were Tsarist calvary oficers. "
Do you mean Zhukov and Rokossovsky? Zhukov came from a very poor family, was conscripted into the army, and ended up – ENDED UP - a very junior officer at the end of World War I. Rokossovsky was aristocratic I admit.
Stalin and the Portbulio concluded the whole modern education ideas, were totally destructive of education and any ability to build a high level society.
Words fail me. Do you guys write the first thing that pops into your heads just because you have access to a computer? I might come back to the education thing later, but at the moment I have to go bang my head against a fucking wall.
RF You are fascinating in your beliefs and experiences. Jacinda and your mother are definitely not alike. Perhaps you could write an essay on your mother as a prototype of the zealous female political NZ citizen. She makes the rest of us seem bloodless. Are you very much on the right? There's a test to see if you're a fascist - F scale on google at anesi.com. You might be wondering I think.
It seems that the concept of Jacinda is that she may be perfectly formed for looks, but can she put that aside and concentrate on developing her
relevance to the people muscles.
Post a Comment