Jacinda’s Legacy: The Good, the Bad and the really really ugly

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It’s still numbing isn’t it?

It still doesn’t feel real.

Our Leader. Our Captain. Our Hope.

Our Jacinda.

How much of a pack of shit stains are we to burn out Jacinda’s kindness chip?

She must be thinking to herself, “I saved them from a mass death event, and yet they hate me and want to do terrible violence to my family”!

Trying to unpack the youngest Prime Minister who was the first  to give birth while in the role, a Prime Minister who is lauded overseas and threaten at home won’t be easy.

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Here’s a first draft from the week it happened.

The Good:

Jacinda reset leadership dynamics beyond the masculine. She made empathy, compassion and kindness political strengths, not weaknesses. Every women who matters to me walks 2 inches taller with pride at Jacinda’s leadership.

In moments of crisis like Covid and the Christchurch terror attack, she used that incredible emotional intelligence to navigate this country through some of the most extreme events outside war.

She instinctively knew how to care and lead an emotionally stunted culture like ours and we loved her for it.

90% of NZ complied with the lockdowns. When history asks which country dealt with Covid best, NZ can proudly argue that our open and transparent system made the case using best science to win over our citizens into doing the right thing rather than the authoritarian arm of compulsion.

Economically, Jacinda’s leadership was far better than the Right pretend it is

Shutting down the engines of growth

Greg Sheridan writing in The Australian wailed,

“All her economic instincts were bad, all her strategic instincts were bad. She had a great desire to undo productive economic reform and remove or shut down the engines of economic growth for what should be a nation of limitless opportunity.”

James Macpherson on the Bolt Report claimed

“Jacinda Ardern wants to be remembered for being empathetic and kind. Well, she won’t be remembered for building a strong economy.”

The Daily Mail’s Guy Adams opined that,

“Back in New Zealand, where this progressive superstar has never been quite so popular as she has overseas, voters are facing a cost-of-living crisis, spiralling crime rates and soaring inflation. Housing is increasingly unaffordable and the economy is on the verge of a recession …”

The Flat White column at The Spectator asserted,

“Labour is aware that a failing economy is bad for the polls, with Ardern previously overseeing a pay-cut in solidarity.”

We now have annual GDP growth for all 38 wealthy OECD members. New Zealand now ranks fourth, the highest ranking since records have been kept. See grey chart, below.

At 6.4 per cent, New Zealand’s annual economic growth, far from being “on the verge of a recession” is double the rate of the Netherlands, South Korea, Italy, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. It is three times that of the USA and four times Japan, Germany, France and Switzerland.

When Ardern became prime minister in October 2017, New Zealand’s annual GDP growth was a modest 3.0 per cent which ranked 19th in the OECD. 

Employment

The jobless rate has been at 3.4 per cent or lower since June 2021. Between September 2021 and March 2022, the rate was 3.2 per cent, the lowest since records have been kept.

That ranks fifth in the OECD, beaten only by Switzerland, Norway, Denmark and Japan.

Job participation had reached an all-time high of 71.2 per cent just before Ardern took office. She kept this within what seems to be an optimum band between 69.9 and 71.2 per cent throughout her tenure, until the third quarter last year, when it reached a new record high of 71.7 per cent.

Labour productivity was a modest 124.1 when Ardern took office. This has increased steadily since then, except for a blip during the Covid recession, and hit a new peak of 132.02 in the latest quarter.

Wages have increased satisfactorily from NZ$30.51 per hour in Ardern’s first quarter to NZ$37.93 in the last measure published. 

Further fun facts and figures

New Zealand’s current inflation rate is 7.2 per cent, just below the peak of 7.3 in the previous quarter. This is well below the OECD average of 11.6 per cent, ranking around eleventh. Given the global challenges, it is quite false to characterise this as “soaring”.

Ardern’s Government has shone in budget discipline, with healthy budget surpluses in 2017, 2018 and 2019. The pandemic recession year caused a deficit of 7.3 per cent of GDP, with that improving substantially in 2021 to just 1.3 per cent of GDP. 

Housing approvals

The Australian’s Greg Sheridan wrote:

“In substance, Ardern was a flop … She promised the government would build 100,000 homes, it built barely 1000.”

We read earlier the Daily Mail hack bemoaning “Housing is increasingly unaffordable …”

Well, according to Stats NZ, total housing starts have risen in every Ardern year and boomed over the last two. In the first five years of the previous National Government, housing approvals averaged 3.7 per year per one thousand residents. Through Ardern’s five years, they averaged 8.2 per year. See blue chart, below.

Economic Freedom

Finally, the rankings on economic freedom compiled by Heritage Foundation in the USA give the Ardern administration huge bragging rights.

Heritage ranked New Zealand the top economy in the OECD in four of the last five years. Global ranking has fluctuated between second and fifth.

If the right wing media read these numbers when the Nationals were in office, they would have proclaimed them from the mountain tops.

…you can’t pretend that Jacinda didn’t have serious policy wins and strong results.

The Fair Pay Agreements are the greatest Workers Rights expansions in 30 years and her gun control measures and focus on online extremism in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack are all remarkable achievements!

In 2008, Ardern was elected president of the International Union of Socialist Youth and that range went from middle class kids in the suburbs to pipe bomb activists in the poorest neighbourhoods. She quickly learned that ideology would erode solidarity and so understood the importance of bringing everyone into the tent to make the decision, because that is where her authority as a leader came from, consultation with the people.

Her instinct was kindness.

The Bad:

Those crisis moments made her and saved us, but her incremental reform of the neoliberal Wellington Bureaucracy, her ‘Neo-Kindness’ is what robbed her of her strongest strengths leading a Government with an unprecedented MMP majority.

She didn’t expect to win the 2017 election, nor win an MMP majority in 2020 so had no 100 day plan to force change upon the self serving Public Service.

Jacinda’s aspiration didn’t meet the reality and in her interview with Jack Tame last year had the audacity to call any criticism of her aspiration unfair by arguing  it was better that she had high aspirations rather than not having any at all.

That’s her argument, sure we aren’t doing anything meaningful or transformative, but it’s important she had high hopes.

That’s neokindness.

At the end of 2017, 108 people said they lived in cars and John Key’s Government was torched for that.

Last year there were 480 people living in their vehicles.

A Million dollars a day is spent on motels for vulnerable people causing enormous social carnage with no real wrap around support services present and 26 000 are on emergency housing wait lists – we can’t solve those problems apparently but the Government can spend a billion dollars on consultants each year?

$1bn spend on consultants each year

“Labour’s spending on contractors and consultants has climbed to nearly $1bn a year, despite Labour coming to power suggesting that they would rein in this use of the private sector. Much of this is spent on the “Big Four” contractor firms – Deloitte, PwC, KPMG and Ernst and Young.”

What the hell happened to left wing transformative change?

You can not spend a billion dollars a year on the professional managerial class in consulting while 150 499 children live in extreme poverty, while we hand out 100 000 food packages each month while our mental health and suicide rates soar.

You can’t spend a billion dollars a year on consultants while so many are in material hardship.

Jacinda’s neokindness wasn’t enough,  if you aren’t forcing the Wellington Bureaucratic Elite into radical reform, they play you and stymie your agenda.

The difference between National and Labour is that National are full of Managerial sociopaths who have no issue bullying the Wellington Bureaucracy into action where as Jacinda wanted to have a hui with everyone with a vegan dinner, the menu in te reo and a side order of pronouns.

The Self serving bureaucracy never feared Jacinda and that’s why they continued building their glass palaces instead of service delivery to the citizen.

By refusing to tax the rich, Jacinda could never fully fund the public service infrastructure and was relegated to rearranging the Bureaucracy as solutions rather than increasing capacity.

She didn’t challenge neoliberalism, she merely managed it.

He ‘nuclear moment’ on climate change was as ineffective as standing down wind from a garlic factory while testing perfumes.

Her failure to deescalate the Parliament Lawn protests because she was offended at their language was a strategic blunder that has led to a radicalisation we will see for years to come.

The really really ugly:

The greatest irony of this image is that the feral right have no idea how excited we on the left would have been if Jacinda actually had been a Communist Witch!

Aloha Luxon originally thought online misogyny wasn’t worse for women in his RNZ interview…

Christopher Luxon initially ‘not sure’ if women face more abuse in politics, later admits they do

It’s no secret the Prime Minister faced vitriolic, often sexist, comments, but Jacinda Ardern denies misogynism fed into her decision to quit.

When he was asked about it Christopher Luxon said he didn’t believe women in politics face more abuse than men, but then quickly conceded that wasn’t true.

…by that afternoon (after being shouted at by Nicola Willis and every other female member of his Party), Aloha Luxon made a press statement acknowledging that gender abuse online was worse as he’d been subjected to an enormous amount of it since his RNZ interview.

I think the nation is reeling at the naked hatred so many Kiwis have shown with disgusting glee at Jacinda standing down.

The feral excitement by the new redneck Kiwi at celebrating Jacinda in a wood chipper is gasp inducing is it not?

…the radioactive bile that has been vomited up on her has been a shameful low in public debate.

There were many legitimate reasons to disagree with the Prime Minister, this blog did so on many occasions, but there is a difference between reasonable difference and that hate speech she and her family have been buried under.

There is an enormous distance between being critical and abusive. The easily triggered woke have lowered that threshold to such ridiculously subjective levels the outrage olympics that follow seem embarrassingly trite while at the other end of the spectrum, the feral antivaxxer Qanon race baiting redneck confederacy that endlessly threatens violence and sexual assault are as common as hashtags.

We burnt out a good person as our Leader and part of that burn out was the feral manner in which debate via social media has deformed into a battlefield of spiteful threats and abuse.

Cheering the destruction of your enemy because your abuse has worn them down is a shallow victory for the cruel.

Many of the swing voters who are 50+ white tertiary educated and female will have seen the tsunami of social media vilification from the Right and I don’t believe they will want to reward that type of malice.

A new feral redneck Kiwi has been born of the post Covid spite and they revel in their animosity like book burners dancing manically in front of the library bonfire.

Jacinda’s Legacy:

A tourist once said to me, “I know Kiwis hate being asked if they know such and such because it always reminds Kiwis how small they are, but do you know Jacinda”.

I was agreeing with his statement, right until he asked if I knew Jacinda, and I laughed and said, ‘she’s marrying my mate and she baby sat my daughter’.

Kia kaha Jacinda. You helped lead us in frightening times and you tried so damned hard to cast light in a dark world.

You have earned our respect, our admiration and gratitude.

Rest Comrade.

A Prime Minister who reset leadership dynamics while juggling national emergencies with an emotional intelligence that will echo down the corridors of history.

Jacinda’s personal legacy will be a never ending security detail decades after she leaves Office because of fears some feral lunatic will attack her or her family.

Let that sink in.

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37 COMMENTS

  1. “She must be thinking to herself, “I saved them from a mass death event, and yet they hate me and want to do terrible violence to my family””
    Hopefully @ Martyn, she’ll just be thinking ‘thank Christ I woke up when I did and got myself out of that cesspit’

    Time will tell how it will all pan out, but it’s probable that this little team of 5 million will need to go through an era of shit, embedded apathy and complacency, insecure little egos, people trying to show how bloody clever they are, self-imposed hardship, and all the rest of it before they get a dose of reality.

    Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition that I have NO debt and already passed on my worldly goods to the next generation and their descendants. Shame I don’t like popcorn

  2. Ardern’s legacy will be the destruction of consensus politics in New Zealand. Trying to ram through policies such as 3 waters and hate speech legislation that weren’t campaigned on. That is her legacy. The online trolling will reduce to almost zero within 6 months as Jacindamania sinks without a trace.

    • Perfect summary Tank. Thank goodness we now have a PM who…OMG folks hear this…who has a sense of humour!

    • Jeez Frank, you Krauty and new view et al are the most ungracious, smug,small minded little men that unfortunately the rest of us have to share this country with. We have lost a truely exceptional young leader and as a nation we’ll be the poorer for it. So come on you three and the others of your ilk, step up , lead us out of the swamp she created ( according to you) let’s hear the policies, the exceptional strategies, the dropping of those weak concepts of kindness and empathy into the bin where they belong and let’s make this country a place for old men…

      • KJ. Any leader could have won the election in 2017 with the list of promises JA campaigned on. The NZ public, who were sick of treading water with National believed her. Even me. When she refused to pursue CGT because of its threat to her popularity I believed she was fake. Nothing has changed my mind. since then. Sorry you don’t like my opinion.

      • So because we don’t agree with your view of the world we are somehow less? Once the name calling starts you lose the argument. By all means argue on the basis of Ardern’s performance (or lack there of) but when you resort to petty insults you fail.

        In a ironic twist you have proven my points.

        • Frank, I’ve been reading your posts on issues for years and in the main when referring to the PM there’s been a subtle denigration of her in your writing. Like New View I’m also disappointed that there’s no CGT and the application of a National lite form of administration amongst other things. However, it’s only fair to acknowledge the achievements, the elevated status of New Zealand in world affairs, the free trade deals, the pay increases particularly in sectors that have been neglected for years, the number of houses being and been built because market conditions after years, finally favoured construction. All I’d ask is a consideration of balance and reasoning. Smart one liners are not debate.

  3. I still maintain her legacy is being part of the 2010s wave of slick, ‘model liberal leaders’ produced by the Euro-American establishment: Macron, Trudeau, Gavin Newsom.

    However, such ‘neoliberal continuity’ was not the big news story of the 2010s.

    What will be remembered is the return of popular revolt. Much will be written about Trump, Farage, Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn, J.L. Mélenchon, and Yanis Varoufakis.

    And of course, even more will be written about the rising world powers: Xi, Putin, Modi, Lula, the Iranians.

    Would David Cunliffe have been more likely to appear on that list? I’m highly doubtful, but the current Prime Minister certainly seemed concerned enough to attack him.

  4. Three terms would have been too much under those circumstances. I know Jacinda Ardern was falling in the polls but I believe she would have been elected to a third term if she so desired it. Her competition paled in comparison.

  5. ” She didn’t expect to win the 2017 election, nor win an MMP majority in 2020 so had not 100 day plan to force change upon the self service Public Service ”

    Why not ?

    They were in opposition for nine years. Helen Clark was in opposition from 1990 -99 and despite the polls in 1999 she was not entirely convinced that she could defeat Shipley but had a small amount of confidence but they had a plan albeit a timid one and the Jim Anderton led Alliance provided the more left leaning policies that Helen and Michael Cullen would tolerate after 15 years of market economic direction had redefined the economic landscape from her memory of pre 1984.

    They had a plan so why not Jacinda after three defeats and numerous leaders who came and went.

    Bomber that statement that you keep repeating is no excuse and shows how hollow the 21st century NZLP actually is.

    If you are wanting to achieve government and deliver for your constituency you have a plan and policies and quite frankly not expecting to win tells me that they were not electable in 2017 and that it was only Winston who happen to change the course of political history as we were staring down the barrel of the continuation of the shyster , Dipton and the other criminals a further three years in office.

    “The difference between National and Labour is that National are full of Managerial sociopaths who have no issue bullying the Wellington Bureaucracy into action where as Jacinda wanted to have a hui with everyone with a vegan dinner, the menu in te reo and a side order of pronouns ”

    The Self serving bureaucracy never feared Jacinda and that’s why they continued building their glass palaces instead of service delivery to the citizen ”

    ” By refusing to tax the rich, Jacinda could never fully fund the public service infrastructure and was relegated to rearranging the Bureaucracy as solutions rather than increasing capacity ”

    ” She didn’t challenge neoliberalism, she merely managed it ”

    Bomber that is failure and utterly disingenuous and is an affront to all of the massive underclass she and her colleagues solicited votes from in 2017 after nine long years of deceit and corruption in all in the name of the rich , corporate vested interests while so many were enslave in economic chains. That was the brighter future at work.

    The NZLP what do they actually represent and who in the 2020’s ! the last time I looked it is not the people the party protected and stood for for 68 years until 1984 and has all but abandoned the many when we needed protection and support in the hellfire of unregulated capitalism and the destruction that has wrought and from people like the current Nasties that NACT represent.

    You can see why many people just like me are cynical but are now seeing through this continuation of arrogance and deceit and quite literally taking the most vulnerable for granted that they will continue to vote for Jacinda’s brand of neo kindness when it in reality it is a million miles away from real progressive long lasting action , protection and change that they keep promising.

    ” I was agreeing with his statement, right until he asked if I knew Jacinda, and I laughed and said, ‘she’s marrying my mate and she baby sat my daughter’ ”

    Well that clears that one up … Bomber no wonder you seem to be promoting her one minute but deeply offended at her failure to address the many crises that you draw attention to on this blog and seem so committed to.

    What a conundrum !

    ” She instinctively knew how to care and lead an emotionally stunted culture like ours and we loved her for it ”

    If only she and her colleagues like Grant were not interested in proving what a better economic manager he was and instead focused on all the other citizens of these Island’s who are not part pf the propertied class , or the salaciously wealthy , or the many vested interests who govern this country by stealth not withstanding the foreign corporate sharks that siphon so much of our money into the pockets of Australian gentry when so much of that misappropriated wealth could be held and distributed here as a independent proud sovereign nation that we once used to be.

  6. Is it really surprising that Ardern copped “gendered” abuse, considering her 2017 statement about her three priorities: climate (understandable), inequality (about time) and women (wot??).

    Jacinda announces that women need to be prioritized over men. This in a country where boys are falling further behind girls at school, where young men are topping themselves at record rates, and where men account for 89% of workplace deaths.

    How would that 3rd priority of hers have sounded to a man who’s just been made redundant?

    Jacinda was good at handling crises, but clueless when it came to policy. And not quite as “kind” or empathic as she’d like to think she is.

    • Jacinda would not be able to state you what a ‘woman’ is. The Self ID lobby to which they are beholdend would not allow her to state anything but ‘ anyone who feels like they are a women’ aka males who self id as women and then the other people on this planet that were not born males.

  7. Jucinda took the celebrity path and the MSMedia supported her too much:
    she fell into the trap of believing her own propaganda, surrounding herself with advisors and media communicators and received for years no effective criticism pointing out the weakness in the policy planks she was promoting, had they done their job properly Lobours policies would have been modified to a level they may have been achieveable.
    The MSM hastened her downfall by being staffed with liberal left supporters unwilling to criticize their saint.

    • Post of the year Artemis.
      In 2 paragraphs you have described perfectly the Prime Ministership of Jacinda Ardern.

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