The First Debate was lit up by the latest Colmar Brunton Poll (odd fact – Colmar Brunton blocked me on their Twitter feed????) that showed Labour with Jacinda had pulled off one of the greatest political comebacks we’ve ever seen.
Languishing at 23%, a mere month ago, under Jacinda she has Labour beating National by 2 points.
That’s just fucking incredible.
That doesn’t happen.
The last time anything remotely close to this happened, Don Brash had planted a burning cross on the ground outside the Orewa Rotary club.
We shouldn’t however be surprised at the volatility. The ocean of frustration and resentment was picked earlier this year up in the Stuff Massey Poll, where almost 50 000 NZers responded in detail as to how they felt going into this election. That data clearly showed that despite being told we had a Rock Star Economy, the frustrations, stresses and strains of our shared lived life experiences told us something very different about ‘success’ in NZ.
That deeply wound frustration had no where to go but with Jacinda it’s found a leader with the emotional intelligence to channel it and it has unleashed an eruption of hope.
She has connected with youth who felt left out. She has connected with Maori who felt left out. She has connected with Pacific Islanders who felt left out, women, workers, renters, first time home buyers, the poor and students – all of the people in society who aren’t winning under National.
Bill and National on the other hand have the ‘blue dragons’ (Chinese-NZ vote), Farmers, Banks, property speculators, angry white voters and the rich.
So the first debate was highly anticipated from all sides.
Between checking Jacinda’s baby making plans and wardrobe decisions, Mike Hosking did a fairly okay job at hosting despite the almost 80 000 strong petition that demanded he be stood down as the moderator. He was excellent in 2014 between Key and Cunliffe (most pundits gave those debates to Cunliffe) but this election you get the distinct feeling that Mike just doesn’t like Jacinda and thinks she’s a flake. When he went after her on details you could hear in his voice how much he meant the questions as if he had a personal and vested interest in the answer. When Mike took swings at Bill – and to be fair to Hosking, he did take it to Bill on occasion – he did it with a much more professional touch.
You know what was the most interesting thing about Mike hosting the debate? He sounded old, not in his delivery, but in the ideas. He suddenly reminded you he had been doing this for a long time and despite the perfectly coiffed hair and polished skin facials and tailored expensive suit, Hosking and his right wing view on everything and anything had been around for a very fucking long time.
Whenever there is a change of Government, all the State Departments, TVNZ included, all jump to show their new fealty to the new regime. For TVNZ, that means a reshuffle of hosts and new shows that align with the new Government’s broadcasting values.
If Labour win, I think Hosking will be the first to be moved on, his out dated and tired thinking will find no solace in the new voice Jacinda is bringing to the forefront.
Mike Hosking losing his 7pm TVNZ slot could be just the first of a cascade of wonderful things to come if Jacinda wins, which is looking more and more likely given her command performance in the first Leaders debate.
She was confident, she stood her ground, she sold her values. Bill on the other hand grinned inanely because he’s obviously been told to smile more by his media handlers.
That’s not to say that Bill didn’t have his moments or was a push over. He had some quick lines (“people can’t go shopping on your values”) and he had an answer to every question, but the thing that was most annoying was that Jacinda didn’t challenge him on some of the more bullshit defence lines he used.
I’ve watched Bill for years, so as a watcher you get the feel for the automatic spin lines he and the Government use, Jacinda was more focused on remembering and arguing her policy than undermining Bill’s, and she needs to change that for the next debate because winning the debate while great won’t win you the election because as the challenger you have to beat the champion to do that, not just win the debate.
How does she ‘beat the champion’? You have to over turn the champion’s argument, not just debate them. When Bill tried to argue that his Government had set a new national threshold that would help monitor water quality, rather than just allow Bill to have his say and then reframe the question to Labour Policy, Jacinda had to immediately spin around and challenge Bill on that statement, because what National actually did was lower the quality standards so that Farmer pollution wouldn’t look so bad. Claiming that National Policy has helped what was a rort to the current science wasn’t a solution by National, it was more of the underhanded manipulation National carry out monthly to hide the negative impact of their failed policies.
When Jacinda was challenged that she inherits a great economy, she needed to pull back the veneer of growth National have created and be far more critical of National’s claims.
It’s not enough to sell Labour’s policies, she has to actually knock out National’s responses.
Those are tests for the next Leaders debate, but for right now, Jacinda was boss and she commanded that debate.
If she keeps doing this, Labour at 46% or 47% isn’t impossible.