Fortune’s Favourite: The Rise and Rise of Jacinda Ardern

By   /   March 1, 2017  /   13 Comments

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The last conspicuous veteran of the plague years of the 1980s has bowed to the irresistible logic of Jacinda Ardern’s by-election victory and announced her retirement. Part of that logic, undoubtedly, was the reaction of Annette King’s caucus colleagues to her spittle-flecked outburst to the NZ Herald’s deputy-political editor, Claire Trevett.

SO, IT’S JACINDA. At last, Labour’s front-bench is beginning to look like the work of Andrew Little – rather than the cast-offs of David Cunliffe, David Shearer, Phil Goff, Helen Clark and (God help us!) David Lange!

The last conspicuous veteran of the plague years of the 1980s has bowed to the irresistible logic of Jacinda Ardern’s by-election victory and announced her retirement. Part of that logic, undoubtedly, was the reaction of Annette King’s caucus colleagues to her spittle-flecked outburst to the NZ Herald’s deputy-political editor, Claire Trevett.

Of the Old Guard, only Trevor Mallard remains, blowing softly on the pallid embers of his ambition. If he really means to become the next Speaker of the House, then he would be wise to remain as silent and solitary as the Sphinx for the remainder of the term.

Inevitably, there has been speculation that Ardern’s rising popularity could ultimately outstrip that of her leader’s – to Little’s acute embarrassment. What’s missing from this analysis is that up until 23 September, at least, Little remains Labour’s undisputed monarch. That the King’s younger sister is beloved by his subjects matters not at all – providing he leads them to victory in September.

Should he lose the election badly, Little will, almost certainly, fall on his sword. Few would now dispute that in such circumstances the leadership of the Labour Party would be Ardern’s to refuse.

On the other hand, should Little emerge from the September smoke of battle as the leader of a new government, who among his colleagues would dare to challenge him? It would take a Labour caucus of historic stupidity to reward the person responsible for liberating them from nine years of morale-sapping Opposition by organising a leadership-spill. This is not Australia, and there’s absolutely no sign that Labour’s MPs have been captured by the plot of Frederick Forsyth’s The Fourth Protocol.

So Ardern can become as popular as Princess Diana and it will still be no skin off Little’s nose. He’s auditioning for the role of New Zealand’s prime minister – not for the next series of The Batchelor. Besides, as every Labour Leader of the Opposition from Norman Kirk to Helen Clark has discovered: hitherto ground-hugging “Preferred Prime Minister” rankings have a habit of rocketing skyward the moment the mysterious mantel of national leadership is draped across their shoulders.

Not that Ardern has ever had to work that hard at being popular. Her career offers startling proof of Oliver Cromwell’s oft-quoted observation: “no one rises so high as [s]he who knows not whither [s]he is going.” Indeed, Ardern bears all the tokens of a political leader for whom “Dame Fortune” has developed a soft spot.

“Dame Fortune” (the medieval rendering of “Fortuna” the Roman goddess of luck) was often depicted as a winged (and sometimes blindfolded) goddess balancing lightly upon a ball. In one hand she carries the cornucopia of abundance and in the other the rudder by which men’s fates are steered. In medieval manuscripts, however, she is more often portrayed as the implacable mistress of “The Wheel of Fortune” – upon which, by turns, the ambitious are raised up and cast down.

It’s a powerful metaphor, capturing beautifully the strange and random contingencies of political life. A politician may appear to have everything going for him: intelligence, eloquence, diligence, good-looks; and yet make next to no impression on his fellow citizens. Another, meanwhile, may be conspicuously lacking in all of these qualities and yet, with the crucial blessing of Lady Luck, go from strength to strength.

And then there is the common English saying: “Fortune favour’s the bold.” Though lacking in the more obvious talents of statecraft, the politician who retains both courage and self-belief has every chance of securing an undeservedly long ride on Fortune’s wheel.

Jacinda Ardern could have stayed in Auckland Central and accepted another bout with National’s Nikki Kaye. Instead she “grabbed Fortune by the hair”, won the Mt Albert by-election, and in a few short days will be elected Deputy-Leader of the Labour Party.

Just how high Dame Fortune is willing to carry Jacinda on her wheel – and for how long – only the blind goddess knows.

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13 Comments

  1. frank says:

    and sometimes Dame Fortune is addressed as Miss….let us hope she remains titled.

  2. WILD KATIPO says:

    Well , we can forget about the dribbling’s of the ‘ Wheel of Fortune ‘ , ‘ Dame Fortune’ or any other sort of romantic bollocks used to make an analogy …

    1) SO, IT’S JACINDA. At last, Labour’s front-bench is beginning to look like the work of Andrew Little – rather than the cast-offs of David Cunliffe, David Shearer, Phil Goff, Helen Clark and (God help us!) David Lange!

    The last conspicuous veteran of the plague years of the 1980s has bowed to the irresistible logic of Jacinda Ardern’s by-election victory and announced her retirement.

    A1) Well said.
    ——————————————-

    2) Of the Old Guard, only Trevor Mallard remains, blowing softly on the pallid embers of his ambition. If he really means to become the next Speaker of the House, then he would be wise to remain as silent and solitary as the Sphinx for the remainder of the term.

    2B) From the man who supports and expounds neo liberal political ideology and was more than happy to sabotage David Cunliffes leadership during a general election by wanting , – ” a Moa ,… just a small one, … one small enough that I could pat ”… and who has always been more concerned with retaining power in the Labour party than by winning a general election – so to you , Chris Trotter ?, – a great selection of words.

    I would prefer to see this neo liberal National – lite traitor with duct tape covering his mouth from here on in – better yet – to be among the crowd booing and hissing him for decades of malfeasance and subversion as he resigns from parliament altogether.
    ——————————————-

    3 ) Inevitably, there has been speculation that Ardern’s rising popularity could ultimately outstrip that of her leader’s – to Little’s acute embarrassment. What’s missing from this analysis is that up until 23 September, at least, Little remains Labour’s undisputed monarch. That the King’s younger sister is beloved by his subjects matters not at all – providing he leads them to victory in September.

    3C ) Exactly . This is not some child’s game of show and tell . This is a serious situation that will be determining this country’s near future and the future well being of its general population . And its a future that is now standing at the crossroads. We have been enduring 8 years and more of this destructive neo liberal National govt and they need to be outed – fast.

    No matter the cost . There is no room for sentimental bias or favoritism.

    It contains ALL of the basic elements of an unarmed foreign invasion in an act of war that has been going on every bit as long as some wars have that are being fought in the middle east. Its called ‘ take over by stealth ‘ – and it almost succeeded under the traitors John Key and Tim Grosser with the TTPA.

    It is now 33 years since 1984. The Roger Douglas years of Treason. It has taken 33 years for those subversives in both National and Labour to either retire, die off, or resign .

    There has not been any valiant purge , – more a long , drawn out and protracted 3 decade period of failed outcome compromise and the degradation of the quality and standard of living by hundreds and thousands of New Zealanders.

    Enough is enough.

    If we didn’t get a bold leader who would stand on principle and conduct a purge – at least we have finally been relieved of much of this odious political element by nature of natural attrition. And sadly in some ways that fact alone speaks volumes for the cowardice and gutlessness of the average NZ politician.

    Therefore this new opportunity cannot afford to be wasted like so many times prior.

  3. Quicksilver says:

    I won’t be cheering until we see policy announcements from Labour that repudiate the failed neoliberal ideology the working class and poor have endured for 3 decades. They can have Jesus, Mickey Mouse and Supergirl in their lineup for all I care. So long as Labour returns to representing those they turned their back on in 1984.

    • Michelle says:

      agree quicksilver they need to be true to their name labour party for the labourers otherwise change their name

  4. Mike in Auckland says:

    So here we have it, Labour being rediscovered by the MSM, and some trend observers, who feel, it is time for a change, hence the subtle or not so subtle suggestions after the Mt Albert by-election, that King may need to be replaced now, for fresher blood.

    That is what this is all about, this is just an image re-arrangement, if Jacinda should be supported by the caucus to become deputy leader of Labour.

    I have observed Ms Jacinda for years, and I have even some time ago sent her info of some use, but it was never really used at all.

    Jacinda is the modern version of a career politician who fits the third way breed of Blairites, nothing else. She did and achieved little when spokesperson for social security, it was only at times some words of concern, but Labour even supported some benficiary bashing new law changes that we have had over recent years, Jacinda was instrumental in all this.

    She may look nice on the front page of the Women’s Weekly, may entertain people when she acts as DJ, may appeal to the more liberally minded middle class, particularly middle aged and younger women that have good professions and secure jobs, and just like a new woman that they can cheer on in the political sphere.

    But Jacinda has been rather unclear about her beliefs, her principles and policies, she has been verbal in criticising the Nats in government, but otherwise has mostly staid silent. OK, she stood up for kids in poverty and so, but there is still a hell of a lot missing, and the same applies to Labour in general, what do they actually stand for?

    Building 10thousand homes a year for ten years may sound good, but that is not going to solve the housing affordability crisis, especially if these homes are built for middle class first home buyers, who have jobs that pay well already. They have committed damned little for social housing, even Labour does only hesitantly mention the words state housing.

    On welfare Labour is only a bit less draconian than Nats, NO talk about increasing benefits, for instance those long term sick and disabled on benefits, nothing. There is also ambiguous talk about the environment. Yes, they want to have better health care, but only found out that mental health care is neglected, after conducting various surveys of people they have email addresses of.

    Annette King deserves to retire now, with some respect, she may have been right of centre within Labour, but was mostly professional and did work hard most the time. About her political beliefs we will argue, but will Jacinda be any improvement?

    What does she stand for, apart from her talk about need for change, what change and what policy, I want to know.

    It appears to me that it is only due to lack of talent, skill and experience, that there has been no other Labour woman MP suggested for the deputy role, perhaps another lady may yet step forward or get proposed?

    I dismay with Labour, if Jacinda will be the new kind of “leader”, thank you, I will simply go for another party that has more to offer.

    Of course Chris here feels obliged to make it all sound and look somewhat promising.

    • Nick says:

      Mike, this is not about a “Leader” it is about winning. And it is ALL Andrew Little. Relax.

      Jacinda will only become Leader if she is up to it. In the meanwhile, let’s get this election won.

  5. Pete says:

    Did Claire Trevett deserve a spittle-flecked outburst?

  6. Mike in Auckland says:

    Well, I do have to give Chris some credit, for this diplomatic and well worded bit:

    “And then there is the common English saying: “Fortune favour’s the bold.” Though lacking in the more obvious talents of statecraft, the politician who retains both courage and self-belief has every chance of securing an undeservedly long ride on Fortune’s wheel.”

  7. Grant says:

    Well the romantic notion of Jacinda becoming Labour leader or Prime Minister any time soon is just that ; a romantic notion.
    The brain dead commentariat have been rabbiting on for God only knows how long about what a fantastic Prime Minister she would make.
    Like they would know….
    They said the same thing about Key and look at the terrible legacy that he’s left for his hapless sidekick to muddle along with.
    What a stupid , stupid suggestion and clearly other motives are at play.
    Practical reality check…
    At just 35 years old and apparently wanting to start a family soon she is definitely not ready to take on the extreme hours that the Leadership or Prime ministership roles demand.
    It is good that she is warm caring and sincere, but I suspect that she would need at least 5 years to 10 years of the deputy role and a tablespoon of iron filings every morning for breakfast to put some steel in the back and get used to the blow torch that will burn white hot most days.
    Clearly the Espiners , Garners and Gowers are pushing for her as they can sense easy prey and malleability .
    Little is a tough cookie and they don’t like it !!
    Finally , to be a leader, the diction and voice have to be good . Key got away with the slurring and the bad grammar because the dark forces wanted a ‘wide boy’ in there at any cost.
    While Jacinda is articulate , a good public speaker and has a nice voice , the ‘vocal fry’ , (think frog with laryngitis) has been creeping into her vocal chords of late , especially when talking empathetically and it’s very grating.
    She also uses words like ‘yeah’, (too casual), instead of ‘yes’ and has replaced the ‘t’s with ‘d’s’, saying for example words like impord’n instead of important.
    Sounds very picky I know , but it’s the small things that add up to the big things and you have to get it right .
    Little has a few things to sort out in that area as well … For example, just as he’s about to make a crucial point when being interviewed, he nearly always throws in a , ” you know “. It instantly depowers the point being made.
    Nothing however that a few elocution lessons and practice won’t sort out.
    Having said all that , they do have the makings of a very formidable team and you just get the feeling that they are riding a wave to success at the next election !

    • Samwise says:

      I prefer to judge a person by their policies and actions.

    • Strypey says:

      “She also uses words like ‘yeah’, (too casual), instead of ‘yes’ and has replaced the ‘t’s with ‘d’s’, saying for example words like impord’n instead of important.”

      If this is something that started recently, I would suspect speaking more casually is something she’s been advised to do. We live in post-Key age where a ranting pillock like Drumpf can be POTUS. Maybe the people running the focus groups have concluded that people want to vote for leaders that speak in the same rambling, slang-infused, casual way they do, rather than leaders who speak like BBC announcers from the 1950s?