by Daphna Whitmore

For Labour’s 34 MPs the odds of becoming leader are quite high. Yesterday, for the fifth time in nine years, the party dipped into its talent puddle to present a new saviour. It was Jacinda Ardern’s turn to work some magic. Jacinda

In the press gallery expectations were not high as Jacinda stepped up for her first press conference as leader. The reporters seemed genuinely amazed when Jacinda showed she could speak fluently about nothing much, and could even inject humour into the void.

Four months ago she was elected to be Labour’s shiny new deputy leader. With her face beaming down from the hoardings alongside the last leader, what’s-his-name, she was to bring some X-factor. Somehow the magic didn’t happen and the polls fell further. That was yesterday; today Labour is optimistic.

Labour is the most optimistic party in town. Labour was optimistic when they ditched Phil Goff and replaced him with David Shearer. Shearer had a ‘back story’ that would excite people. No-one cared and Shearer struggled to string two sentences together. He was dumped before long and David Cunliffe got the job he desperately wanted. He was dumped after the party  won just 25% of votes in the 2014 elections. Andrew Little took up the leadership in 2014 and ‘stabilised the party’. Labour’s hopes really soared when John Key stepped down last year. Then there was a burst of optimism after Labour won Mt Roskill – a safe-Labour seat – in a by-election. That was followed by more optimism winning Mt Albert  – a safe-Labour seat – in a by-election.

Staring at polls of 24 and 23 percent the optimism feels threadbare.

Jacinda is a good choice for Labour. She doesn’t stand for anything you could put your finger on. She is pleasant, personable and has spent nine years in parliament barely making a ripple. She wants to represent children in a vague feel-good way. What has she promoted on rights for children? Pass. She is a woman, yay, but where has she stood on pay parity? Nowhere at the forefront. Or modernising the archaic abortion laws? Mute. Admittedly she has not been at the front with Phil Twyford leading the awful xenophobic ‘Chinese sounding names’ campaign; but nor has she condemned it.

She epitomizes nothing and this is the representation that Labour deserves. It is a party that exists simply for the desire of a relatively bland bunch of people to be the government. They stand for little different to National, or NZ First, or the Greens. Yesterday and today it is more of the same.

For further reading, see Redline articles on the Labour Party


  1. Phil F says:

    I think how well Labour do as a result of a change of leader will be a mark as to how gullible the voting part of the NZ population is. Will they respond to “Vote for me, I’m young, female, bubbly and vacuous”? I doubt anyone has lost money betting on the gullibility of the voting public in this country – they seem to love being humiliated by those they vote for and keep going back for more.

  2. Susanne K says:

    It’s stunning how the media went ga-ga over her on her first day. Politics in this country seems to be mainly about forms of style rather than substance. She hasn’t faced any serious questioning about politics at all. Political commentators here seem oddly non-political.

  3. Alan Scott says:

    The NZ ruling elite want Labour as the main opposition, because they what easy-beats they are – and if they do manage to win an election they’ll carry on doing the same as National anyway:

  4. Thomas CSS says:

    Closing paragraph is probably the most erudite couple of sentences I’ve seen in the first couple days of Labours big announcement-of-nothing