The problem with Jacinda

By   /   January 23, 2017  /   45 Comments

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People are often surprised when I say I am much less impressed with Jacinda. I’ve heard her speak in public many times and have shared the platform on various panels with her and others (in my case to represent MANA Movement while she represented Labour) to discuss issues such as child poverty, housing, inequality and the struggles of beneficiaries etc

People from across a wide political spectrum like Jacinda Ardern. Unlike most politicians, she comes across as personable and sincere and is often portrayed as the young face of a new generation of Labour politicians – heaven knows they need a new one.

It was Labour after all which left 175,000 children living in poverty in 2008 after nine years of government during a time of strong economic growth.

People are often surprised when I say I am much less impressed with Jacinda. I’ve heard her speak in public many times and have shared the platform on various panels with her and others (in my case to represent MANA Movement while she represented Labour) to discuss issues such as child poverty, housing, inequality and the struggles of beneficiaries etc

Jacinda is very skilled at empathising with questioners on any of these issues. “Yes, the figures are terrible aren’t they…”; “We can’t let this situation continue….”; “It’s just so awful…”; “As a country we must do better than this…” etc

However, there is never any concrete policy to deal effectively with any of these issues (although in housing Labour has begun to move strongly in the right direction – eg reforming Housing New Zealand as a government department)

To put it bluntly I think Jacinda has perfected the political art of sounding good while saying nothing of substance.

My opinion of her politics took a serious dive in 2011 when in the space of a short time she attended the launch of a book by Paul Henry – yes that Paul Henry – and then attended a presentation by none other than Tony Blair at Eden Park.

I was one of the protest organisers for Blair’s visit and while we had a good crowd outside calling for Blair to be arrested and charged with war crimes, Jacinda Ardern was inside with a bunch of big noters helping give credibility to him and his visit.

I emailed her about these things and her response was to the effect that she didn’t only speak to people she agreed with and that she had asked Blair whether he had changed his mind about the decision to invade Iraq.

I thought her reasoning was weak. Henry is a populist racist and misogynist and there was no need for her to bolster his image and ego by her presence. Meanwhile Blair should have been arrested by the NZ government and sent to the war crimes tribunal as a suspect for the most appalling of war crimes after he colluded with George Bush and “sexed-up” a dossier supposedly justifying the US/UK invasion of Iraq in 2003.

I’m happy to accept people make mistakes (I make plenty myself) and can learn and move on. I haven’t seen any evidence of that with Jacinda.
In my opinion Joe Carolan is the only candidate in the Mt Albert by-election who has the right ideas and the right approach.

Socialism is about people working together to solve the problems we all face and after three decades of Labour/National neo-liberalism we need a definitive, decisive break from the paralysing policies of the free market.

I lived in the Mt Albert electorate for over 30 years before moving to Christchurch. If I was there now I’d vote Joe Carolan.

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45 Comments

  1. Justice T. McGovern says:

    Couldn’t agree more. Another politician with empty words, this one coming from a party with empty policies.

    • Chris says:

      Her approach on these issues is consistent with Labour’s approach to beneficiaries, poverty and social welfare generally, which is say nothing about what they believe. When questioned people from Labour say “wait until we release our policy”, but they never do. This has been the case over the last eight elections. In the mean-time, when Labour happened to fluke nine years in government because they happened to have a “likeable” leader, they furiously went to work behind the scenes dismantling what ever bits of the social welfare safety net they could get away with. Most Labour supporters either don’t know about this or refuse to acknowledge it. That’s where the real shame lies.

      Labour even supported Key/Bennett introduced war-on-the-poor legislation in 2014 – one of the most despicable acts Labour’s demonstrated in recent times.

      The question now is whether Labour’s current agenda will mean more of the same. The outlook isn’t good. Labour’s renounced nothing of what it did between 1999 and 2008, or even voting with the nasty nats in 2014.

      Add this to Labour’s track record of failing to announce one jot of progressive social welfare policy before any of the last eight elections and a pattern emerges that’s set to continue.

      Despite close to 30 years to prove otherwise, including 9 years in government, and despite nothing but mealy-mouthed platitudes that Labour diehards continue to hopelessly cling to, Labour just keeps on showing us that it ain’t no friend of the poor.

      • Iain Mclean says:

        Chris;

        Agreed 100%. Very well worded.

        “Labour just keeps on showing us that it ain’t no friend of the poor.”

        That should read; “………ain’t no friend of the poor,and the country.!!

        Well done.

        Cheers.

      • And this is why, coincidentally, if you want any movement on those issues, you should vote for the Greens, who actually support strengthening social welfare policies, and will announce so officially and ahead of time.

        • Sam Sam says:

          They do that to huh?

          • Sam Sam says:

            I don’t mean to be crass, I just prefer a Greens platform that focus on a couple of core issues, I mean Green Peace is running ads that they should be piggy backing. IN my humble opinion

            • They do focus on a few core issues to campaign on, healthy rivers being one of them. There’s a fair amount of overlap in opinion between Greenpeace and the Greens, although living in a world of politics and compromise, sometimes the Greens don’t go far enough to satisfy Greenpeace.

              Despite that, they release their detailed policy plans on their website for anyone to read, so that if you care to know more than just their key issues, you can find it.

              The Greens support not only increasing benefits above starvation levels and making the experience of the benefit system less stigmatising, they already support a UBI in principle and want research done to determine how to best enact one.

              • Sam Sam says:

                Appreciate the reply. I haven’t looked into spin doctoring but my own impression is it’s making me dumber. I’ll say something like that’s not how neoliberalism works then a meme pops up outlining what a politician does all day like it’s meant to mean something and it’s keeping us divided. I don’t know what the solutions are but if Andrew Little wants to be leader of the New Zealand Left then he better start giving something in return, I digress.

                The thing about UBI is the majority don’t or won’t understand it ever, not on the level of a retail investor who use different but equally complex regulatory regimes. iTunes has an interesting way around regulatory regimes, globally, I think has merit here. Instead of uploading patches straight to files it goes straight into the app so the files stay in the back end, this means that the customer never see’s the code so customers don’t need to learn soft ware engineering before using the tool.

                I think if this area is explored we might find ways of fast forwarding the UBI debate

  2. garibaldi says:

    The trouble is your Mr Average (and Mr Below-average) always fall for a pretty face.

  3. jax says:

    Totally agree John and with Andrew Little today suggesting a revised look at the TPP and the belief that the war mongering US must take the lead in world peace so that other ‘tyrants’ of the world don’t, there is no hope for change coming for NZ from Labour.

    • Chris says:

      And courting Greg “give cops guns” and “string ’em up by the balls” O’Connor to stand for them this year says a lot, too.

  4. andrew says:

    I find myself agreeing with John Minto (How the hell did THAT happen?)

    Yep, Jacinda seems only capable of mouthing platitudes and party slogans.

    An intellectual lightweight

  5. saveNZ says:

    I am also not hugely impressed by Jacinda – she does need to have more substance! My concern is, that the Greens are falling into the same trap of identity politics before activist actions.

    I don’t care who anybody is, I just want to know what they actually do! Not what they say!

    Saying that Jacinda is by no means the worst politician in parliament in fact she is probably one of the better ones, that sadly does not mean much.

    • esoteric pineapples says:

      The Greens’s policies remain as staunch as ever which matches the basic argument of this opinion piece which is that you have to back up fine words with fine policies

  6. Doug says:

    I watched her at a protest meeting in Aotea Sq a few years back. The protest was to do with poverty. She arrived in her very expensive SUV, quickly spouted a few platitudes and zoomed off again. I remember at the time thinking that she seems like a person who wants to be a celebrity rather than a person helping out the less fortunate. I’m sure the Westmere and Grey Lynn crowd adore her.

  7. Jack Ramaka says:

    Looks like Winston and NZF are the only logical alternative, experienced politican with some intelligent MP’s evidently they have some good candidates standing in the 2017 Election and they are hoping for 15-20% of the party vote.

    • And seats at the Cabinet table.

      Make no mistake. The Party – ready or not – wants to be calling the shots after 2017 either by deciding who forms Government or outright the Cabinet table with other parties.

      Winston and other M.P.’s have said so themselves. To my face.

    • Quicksilver says:

      Jack, unless there’s a significant change in the polls, Winston will likely go with Nazional. The way I see it, as things currently stand, a vote for Winston will be a vote for Nazional.

      • There is no guarantee what he will do, which in a way is even worse, because NZF voters do legitimately risk supporting a National Government they may not like, AND people who want to change the government can’t point to any statement saying they will absolutely support National.

        I think recent signs have shown that NZF has a better relationship with the Opposition at the moment, but again, that’s no guarantee of anything.

        • Jack Ramaka says:

          Doubt whether Winston will go with National having been shafted once however can see previous National Party votes going to NZF in the 2017 Election

          • I’m inclined to agree with you that Winston knows that National aren’t a great deal for him. The question is whether he feels like Labour under Andrew Little are worth taking a punt on, and I don’t feel like I get Winston’s thought process enough that I’d want to bet on that.

    • Iain Mclean says:

      Jack Ramaka and others;

      Tell NZFirst to lift their game to aim at 30% and they may
      well be the Government.

      Tell them to engage with Steve Bannon for advice or study
      his tactics. He cleaned Trump up.

      Then we are cooking. Nationalist and Sovereignty to the core.

      Watch the MSM try to shut them out/down.

      New Zealandism NOT Globalism shall be our credo.!!

      Cheers.

      • Steve Bannon? The far-right racist, anti-semite, misogynist?

        I refer you to this from the Anti-Defamation League in the US;

        Many of the Breitbart headlines published under Bannon’s tenure illustrate the website’s virulently anti-Muslim, misogynistic, worldview, including: “Planned Parenthood’s Body Count Under Cecile Richards is Up to Half a Holocaust,” “Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism or Cancer?” and “Political Correctness Protects Muslim Rape Culture.” As Bannon’s defenders have pointed out, these headlines are designed to attract attention and readers, and are not necessarily evidence that Bannon himself is an anti-Semite, a misogynist or an anti-Muslim bigot.

        ref: http://www.adl.org/sp/stephen-bannon-backgrounder/bannon-backgrounder.html

        You’re suggesting he could be NZ Firsts’ “guru”?!

        I think that speaks volumes, Iain. You are either unaware of Bannon’s far-right “credentials” – or are accepting of them.

        • Iain Mclean says:

          Frank;

          He helped Trump win the election is all that matters.

          Attacks on Breitbart credentials is just that.

          Remember Hillary said she wanted them shut down.

          An Inconvenient Truth.

          Besides;the link itself you provided says Bannon is
          not antisemetic,never has been and Pieczenik says
          you could certainly not be working for Goldman-Sacs.
          Cheers.

  8. grumpystilskin says:

    Damn you John.
    I have to agree, once more you’ve changed my view on things.
    Thanks.

  9. Mike in Auckland says:

    “To put it bluntly I think Jacinda has perfected the political art of sounding good while saying nothing of substance.”

    Exactly! That is the same problem I have with Jacinda.

  10. Jenny says:

    Couldn’t agree more.

    Martyn Bradbury and Chris Trotter have put up several posts entitled Jacinda’s big launch. But not once in any of these posts has there been any reports of what was said at this launch. No policy. Nothing at all from Jacinda Adern in her owh words.

    What are we to make of all this?

    That Adern said nothing?

    That Adern said something but it wasn’t reported?

    That there were no reporters there?

    That there were reporters there, but Jacinda gave them nothing to write about, or report on?

    I sincerely hope, that if Jacinda Adern continues pouring out empty platitudes, devoid of policy, that Genter thoroughly Adern. May that be the impetus to push Labour to the Left and closer to the Greens and break, finally with the neoliberalism that is slowly killing them. And that holds Labour, (and Adern), back from properly addressing the issues that need to be addressed.

    Maybe then we will see a Labour led government.

    I disagree with Chris Trotter and Martyn Bradbury that a Genter win would be a bad thing for the Left. In contrary I think a Genter win would be a terrific victory for the Left. And a cause for celebration.

    It is almost like we are having the Sanders Clinton debate again.

    Just as Sanders would have been the best candidate to win the Democratic Party nomination, Julie-Anne Genter is the best candidate to win the Mt Albert seat.

    • The Daily Blog Martyn says:

      To the wider electorate it looks like the Greens and Labour are fighting – that perception could cost them the election, and if Genter wins it makes Labour look weaker and their vote collapse.

      You seem to be more focused on killing Labour than beating National. You can’t have both.

      • Jenny says:

        What you are overlooking here, Martyn. Is this:

        Many people are either thinking, ‘If Labour is the same as National why should we bother to vote?’

        Or, ‘If neoliberalism is so good, why not vote for the real thing?’

        And they have a point.

        I can understand your desperation in wanting to get rid of the Nats, Martyn, but really; Is laying down for Labour Party the way to go to ensure a Labour led government?

        And even if your strategy is successful, (which I doubt), what really is the point of a Labour led governent that is little different to the one it replaces?

        Any effort by the Green Party to bring Labour more to the Left should be welcomed and applauded. Not derided and attacked.
        As I said before, in my opinion you are following in the steps of the Hilarly Clinton supporters.
        In rejecting an arguably more Left candidate in Mt Albert, (who if she won would give the Green Party more political leverage to move the Labour Party to the Left), Just like the Clinton supporters you are gauranteeing a win for the Right.

        The National Government are in terror of a Genter win.

        For what it signifies.

        Labour Party establishment are also apprehensive, they know a Genter win mean that they will have to move more Left. Possibly even beyond their current comfort zone.

        Let the debate begin.

        PS. Why the hell is there stilll not a word at all, of what was said at Jacinda Adern’s “Huge launch”.

        If you weren’t there, why can’t you link to some report from someone who was?

        With Jacinda’s “Huge launch” apparently a non-event, do you really think that Jacinda Adern should be allowed to sleepwalk to victory in Mt Albert without ever having to front up about Labour’s policies?

        • The Daily Blog Martyn says:

          So what you are saying is that your preference is to lose the 2017 election to National + NZ First while Labour bleeds out so that the Greens are in a position to lead a 2020 Government? I just want to understand your end goal here Jenny because while we all dislike Labour, do we like National in for a fourth term more?

          • The Daily Blog Martyn says:

            PS – I think your analysis is just so out of touch Jenny. If the Greens won, Labour would punish them by going with NZ First and leaving them supply and demand as the only option and the Greens would have no choice but to take it.That you of all people Jenny seem to think Labour would what, reward the Greens for killing Jacindas political career? They would reward the Greens would they? By forming a Government? You think that do you?

            That is if the framing of Labour vs Greens doesn’t kill off the middle voters Greens and Labour need to win.

            • mikesh says:

              For Labour to “punish” the Greens for tea leafing a seat that “rightfully belongs to Labour” would be in breach of the MoU. And in any case would Labour be so petty.

            • Jenny says:

              On current trends, Martyn, I think you will get your way.

              The Greens will pull their punches.

              Jacinda Adern will win Mt Albert.

              National will win the election.

              ergo, BAU

          • Jenny says:

            “May you live in interesting times”. Is supposededly an ancient Chinese curse.

            In such times Business As Usual, (BAU) is not an option.

            Bernie Sanders failed in moving the Democratic Party to the Left. And so left an opening for the extremist Right.

            If the Green Party don’t succeed in moving Labour to the Left. The same will happen here.

            Mark my words Martyn. The BAU course you are suggesting is not up to the needs of the time. And will deliver us another National Bill English led government, that will be worse than anything that has preceded it. In the wake of the TPPA collapse, witness Bill English still desperately trying to hock off this country’s sovereignty to any interested party.

            Witness the climate crisis that neither National or Labour refuse to address.

            As I have mentioned before Martyn. If Andrew Little does not announce the withdrawl of Labour’s support for deep sea oil drilling off our coast, the MOU is a dead duck.
            And the first ever Joint Labour/Green Policy launch, will be the last ever Joint Labour/Green Policy launch.

            You might think that is a little extreme. But think about it.

            There are no jobs in it. (all the oil workforce come from overseas).

            There are no votes in it. (80% of New Zealanders are opposed to deep sea oil drilling.)

            Apart from being a slap in the face of the vast majority of the scientific community that say we need to cut back on fossil fuel production.

            Labour”s fanatic commitment to deep sea oil drilling, in the age of climate change, is symbolic of Labour’s continued attachment to Neo-liberalism.

            ie if you enrich the investors and big corporations there will be a trickle down to the rest of society.

            Yeah right. But with the added negative impact on the biosphere.

          • Jenny says:

            You are truely out of touch Martyn if you think that the Greens will lead a government in 2020. As Chris Trotter once said, and we have seen demonstrated a number of times, Labour would rather keep control of the losing side, than lose control of the winning side. I think we can forget about that little fantasy. But even if it was possible, the damage done in the meantime, by an English National led government doesn’t bear contemplating.

            Our best hope is for a Labour led government in 2017, one that meets the peoples thirst for real change. BAU is no longer good enough. If Labour can’t meet this thirst for real change, and the Greens don’t challenge Labour to meet this thirst for real change, then the extreme Right will be more than happy to oblige. But it won’t be good change. You can count on that.

            As John Minto points out Jacinda Adern is a polished political party machine poltician. Happy to mouth platitudes but of no real substance. And at one time she would have been good, but the polished party machine politician is no longer where politics are at.

            So let’s have the debate. Let the people of Mt Albert decide whether they want an Adern or a Genter, whether they want a Clinton or a Sanders!

      • Chris says:

        There’s a difference between wanting to kill Labour on the one hand, and forcing them to abandon their neo-lib/nat-lite approach to everything, particularly to the poor, on the other. If that means embarrassing Labour into action then so be it. So far nothing else has worked. If Genter takes Mt Albert, or even if it’s close, then surely that must send a clear message to Labour that it needs to sort itself out and rediscover what it means to be the Labour Party.

  11. Shona says:

    She has never impressed me favorably.I agree with you John . Shallow and self serving like all neo liberals.

  12. Jacinda is NOT an intellectual lightweight. She is the ONLY politician who organised and travelled it to give locked out Wairoa workers a Xmas last year, apart from Meka Whaitiri. While people pontificated on their keyboards, Jacinda did something. As did the Labour Party. Never saw Mana near this dispute. Or the Maori Party for that matter. This is what matters. Doing something.

    • Sure, Jacinda is willing to get on the front lines. She is a valuable part of the Labour leadership team. But whether you think she’s a lightweight or not, what’s difficult to argue against is that she’s clearly not a policy heavyweight, and honestly, that’s a skill any politician heading in to Cabinet should at the very least be cultivating, if not arguably be a prerequisite.

      Jacinda tends to make emotive arguments rather than talking about what works. This is excellent campaign rhetoric, but it doesn’t bode well for actually governing. I hope this is just a sign that she’s got her priorities right about how one acts in opposition. But the signs that the rest of Labour respect those who understand policy and governing aren’t there. Look at how they’ve treated Loisa Wall, who organised cross-party support for the civil rights issue of our time. She’s still treated like a back bencher while Claire Curran is promoted into cabinet.

    • Mike in Auckland says:

      That is good of her, of course, but to most of us she comes across as vague and throwing around general kinds of slogans. I note there are some individual battles fought here and there, where some Labour MPs take a firm and good stand, but the overall policy package and commitment to Labour’s traditional values lack substance, and are unconvincing for too many potential voters, I fear.

  13. Andrea says:

    Well. OK. But what’s her track record as a local MP?

    Has she been effective? Has she supported whoever was the local MP? Has she spoken out in parliament – general debate or questions in the House – on parochial issues? Has she made good use of her list position to strengthen and keep her party’s stance front facing?

    Have people found her delivering the answers and removing the blocks that afflict ordinary citizens?

    If not – she’s still a junior backbencher who needs a mentor and a solid stint of grunt work.

    If she has – let her proceed.

    Though I agree she is unready to go further at this point. She’s not yet a Jeanette Fitzsimons nor an Annette King as to values or honest grit.

  14. Iain Mclean says:

    John;

    It takes someone like you to write something of balance in regards to Jacinda.

    And thanks to The Daily Blog to allow you to do so,highlighted on the front page.

    I find myself in agreement with all your points,well done. Thanks.

    I used to be a big fan of Jacinda right up to the point of election of Cunliffe.

    When we saw her join the Any One But Cunliffe Brigade,against the wishes of
    the clear majority of her very own party, to me, she showed her true colours and
    from that point on, could not be trusted.

    Your quote;
    “To put it bluntly I think Jacinda has perfected the political art of sounding good while saying nothing of substance.” Exactly.

    I think she sees herself as a career politician (maybe in the mould of Helen Clarke) that one day may have the opportunity to become PM.

    We saw Helen keep a low profile with the rolling out of Rodgernomics in 1984
    (ducking for cover in my book) and her tinkering around the edges of the deeply
    damaging Contracts Act, even when she had the power to make major changes.

    In my opinion, Jacinda would do the exact same things. ie;follow the lobby of
    the Shadow Gvt that has in their control ALL the major parties in this country,
    as well as the rest of the Commonwealth and West. (Greens included.)

    The ‘Illusion of Democracy’ is not something that (use to?) happens in America.

    I am sure Jacinda will not do or say anything that would put her out of favor
    with TPTB which would only jeopardize any further promotion.

    Very few of our politicians seem to strive for their own, or the people’s agenda for
    that matter, but one of the Globalists.

    They can say all the nice words but both National and Labour have shown they
    have carried out the programs of the above since the 1980’s and do not look like they are about to change any time soon.

    To address the comments above about no policy discussion, I fear we are
    headed in the direction of the American elections where all the MSM wants to
    focus on is the cult of personalities. And we know who the MSM represents.

    For that reason,we cannot vote for any of them, but those that truly represent
    National Interest and real Sovereignty.

    “New Zealandism NOT Globalism shall be our credo.”!!

    Cheers.

    Keep up your good work.

    • Mike in Auckland says:

      Helen is coming back home, who knows, she may be Labour’s last chance now, she could get some Nat voters convinced, due to her “leadership skills”.


 
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