The TV debates between Jacinda and Judith matter more than ever this election and they remain the last chance of Judith breaking Jacinda and because the campaign has been so amputated and people haven’t had the normal chances of meeting their candidates.
NZ is herdism enough to stampede when they are spooked and right now, more New Zealander’s are fearful, anxious and depressed than possibly any other time in modern history.
These debates matter because so far Jacinda has been able to glide over the enormous challenges in front of us as she becomes a Presidential crisis manager.
The simple truth is that the Government have been too busy desperately protecting NZ from the pandemic to forge new policy let alone something transformative.
The naked reality is that if NZers give Jacinda a majority Government, they will be expecting her to use it to be transformative enough to protect us from the Pandemic and rebuild it in a way that lifts us and is just.
The problem is Jacinda is so good, she has to do more than just beat Judith, she has to super nova it.
Protecting us from the pandemic isn’t enough, Jacinda must articulate a vision that can overcome our collective fear and anger where as all Judith has to do is play to those triggers.
John Campbell is hosting and he won’t allow Jacinda to get off without challenging her on the lack of transformation while he will crucify Judith’s criticisms with the 9 years of their failures. It will be the most watched debate and it will also have the added impact of having the latest TVNZ Political Poll which is breaking tonight at 6pm.
Damien Grant & I will watch the debate live and post our reaction Podcast 9pm tonight.
Jacinda’s media briefings may have created a false sense of complacency. Live debates have an energy and life of their own, there certainly isn’t the respectful silence Jacinda will have become accustomed to, sure the Press Gallery Journalists pile on afterwards, but that civility to explain won’t exist with Judith and it’s in that far more intimate setting that can cause mis-step and look like floundering.
Jacinda has to acknowledge the sacrifice and fear NZers have been through. She has an almost super power skill to engage empathetically with people so she must talk over the host and Judith and speak directly to the camera and connect with them.
She also needs to dominate the headlines by announcing new policy on the night live during the debate. This policy has to be populist and big vision stuff that she connects the acknowledgment of pain with so that she is offering a solution.
She has nothing to lose while Jacinda has everything to lose, so Judith will be coming with every dirty trick in the book. The best bet for Judith is to attack Jacinda from a position she is not used to defending from so expect Judith to suddenly care about inequality, suicide, homelessness, housing and poverty.
Judith is likely to be executed by National the moment she loses the election so a desperate Collins might attempt to unleash white fragility and culture war triggers in the debates as an Orewa Speech Hail Mary.
She could play a straight bat and simply attack Jacinda on the credibility of their pandemic management or economic rebuild but unless there is a significant outbreak between now and the debates, Jacinda simply has to point to the numbers as proof Labour outperformed the world in pandemic response and most Kiwi’s now see Labour as better economic managers.
So that leaves desperate gambles for Judith and that’s when she is at her most dangerous.
UPDATE: Wow – Jacinda destroyed Hosking this morning – if she brings half this fire to the Leaders debate, Judith is dust
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