|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.