NZ Politics 2023 Year in Review: Jacinda, Luxon and whatshisname

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It began, as so many years do, in early January. Jacinda Ardern was Prime Minister: a rock star international leader heading a one-party government with a rock-solid majority and a rock-solid cabinet. Total political stability. The weather was glorious, the Covid was vanquished to a point no-one cared for the dozens dying of it every week relegated to a sentence in a news brief. Good times were to come – a co-governed bi-cultural Aotearoa was being carefully laid out on the nation’s table like a festive banquet where everyone was going to get gravy, even if they were vegetarian.

 

It ended, as so many years do, in late December. Christopher Luxon is Prime Minister: a CEO in the mould of David Brent heading a three-party government starting with a clown car of a cabinet. Total political instability. The weather is shit, Prof. Hendy is predicting a fifth wave of Covid. Bad times look certain – a tableau of white settler New Zealand’s phobic wish list was being spewed across the nation’s Christmas table like a racist uncle whose had too much gravy with his red meat and too much rum with his Steinies.

 

But what about the bit in between Jacinda’s glamour and uncle’s projectile vomiting? The part of 2023 where Chris Hipkins was PM will be a blip easily skipped in the nation’s story, a woeful tale, or likely footnote, in political history, on par with the low key personalities Rowling or Palmer. Hipkins has by all recent accounts learned nothing whatsoever from his enumerable personal failings and his government’s implosion and by implication will lead the Labour Party on this auto pilot directly into the same avoidable misfortune. No contrition, no self-awareness on his part and therefore there can be no forgiveness or emmpathy on our part. So any review of the year 2023 is really going to be an assessment cum indictment of the Hipkins ministry rather than any charting of heroism of those now in charge. Labour gave up and lost, National did not exactly win. What were the high points and achievements? No, I can’t think of anything either – it was all too little, too late, or simply nothing at all. The frame is negative to match the picture.

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We could take this post mortem chronologically, by person or party, or by subject or theme. I will attempt them all simultaneously. If it was a performance report beyond the political there might well be positive outcomes, like lower inflation, house prices and interest rates levelling off somewhat etc. but for every metric on which Labour has claimed victory it seems tarnished, underwhelming, undesirable, misleading or accidental.

 

As an overview the Hipkins strategy was insipid policy and the delivery was of Wellingtonian slowness: Fair Pay Agreements, raising benefit levels, housing – it all took too long and some of it still left uncompleted. The answer to this creeping pace is to speed it up – the answer from eternally lazy Wellington is a four year term to do three year’s work. Rather than cry about social media they could have used it like everyone else was. Blaming the last government is easier than solutions, even after six years. To see Labour activists in the last few weeks on television railing against the poverty and overwhelmed food banks, the housing crisis etc. – when their own Labour government was wholly responsible for all of it – is partisan sociopathy at its finest. And what of the lefty things that they never even tried to do: end the 90 day employment trials for small workplaces, end Voluntary Student Membership of student unions, end the 25 year old rule for student allowances? Labour had the backs of the big unions and whatever focus group of Karens that Clint and Neil reported on like they were the oracles of Delphi and fuck everyone else. So let us delve into the whys and wherefores.

 

The balling we saw from those caucus members after Jacinda announced her retirement was the only real emotion most of them have ever expressed on camera. They were stunned, they were real tears. Half of them knew – not thought, but knew – that they were also going to lose their seats.

 

Those that had taunted her about her planning an early departure (including TV3’s AM show which put it to her directly in late 2022 and which she denied emphatically) who based their prediction on the grounds she was weak and superficial and wanting to be a stay-at-home mum with a Netflix contract and not have to deal with all the haters anymore weren’t stunned of course, although the stunned commentariat pretended that everyone was as stunned as they were. Nevertheless it was quite logical that someone who had been on $500,000 pa for five years was a millionaire and might want the once in a lifetime opportunity to spend quality time with her daughter before the wee one developed fully all of Clarke’s mannerisms, characteristics, speech and mediocre dress sense. She could redecorate the beer crate wendy house that Clarke made for a start. So many things better to do with one’s day than gritting one’s over-sized teeth at Ryan Bridges barely suppressing a smirk asking another shitty question at 7:30am and still being expected to attend some meeting o’ crisis that might not end till midnight, in the back of her mind an impending election thrashing to be the taste in her mouth to end her political career? Why burn off any more political capital preserving the mana of inept and shady time-servers like Nanaia Mahuta and Stuart Nash when the favour would have inevitably been repaid by yet more scandal. So many reasons not to care. She “had nothing left in the tank”… so everyone had to get out and walk.

 

It was Me time, not WE time. She got it all her own way. Locked in an earlier election date to suit her walking out on her electorate too, locked in a damehood as the corrupt patronage system allows, locked in not having to account to Maori at Waitangi as she had promised to do. A majesterial exit at everyone else’s expense. It had nothing to do with succession or policy, just I’m too nakered to keep bailing out a boat I don’t want to be on even if it does happen to be the lifeboat holding the caucus. Supremely selfish, flaky as fuck, but you have to respect the making of such a difficult decision and the finesse of the departure.

 

Less enamouring and problematic is her narcissistic spin lines justifying her selfishness and tiredness and letting the team down as some sort of role modelling for women. There is an incongruity over this that women entertain and in which men acquiesce: a woman can have everything like have a baby and keep working and also can suddenly quit because they’ve got a child and are tired. It’s a privileged position though isn’t it. We all should be fully conscious that her job is one of a kind and allowed her the privilege of quitting when most working parents aren’t in that situation, but more importantly it proves the opposite: actually in real life you can’t have everything, that sacrificing is inherent, she had to give up one to have the other and no, ultimately she couldn’t have both and so chose motherhood. How many men watched her trite explanation and thought them a contradiction – nothing more than a string of sopping wet platitudes hung out to dry on a flimsy line of feminism – and precisely the reason not to hire a woman? We will never know how many because in 2023 men are not permitted to wonder this aloud in public discourse, but I’m guessing it would be in the millions. Good on her – but don’t pretend things. Don’t pretend. Don’t pretend as though the trajectory she faced was anything other than a Labour defeat. If Labour was on a course to win the election does anyone, other than the most credulously delusional links of the same Mt Albert LEC daisy chain that was beguiled by the heinous Helen White, believe she would have thrown it in? Would she have been tired and wanting to be a stay at home mum if Labour were polling in the 40s? C’mon now. There is no question her own confidence, energy and Labour morale would have carried her on had they been projected to win a third term. Child neglect and death threats had been tolerable if polling was in the high 30s, not so much in the low 30s going into an election year – these are just facts. The electorate could see the captain abandoning the ship for what it was – Labour knew they were doomed.

 

Jacinda may have been a fair weather friend, but it seems obvious now that she had herself been following John Key as a role model of self interest and reputational survival. He too was a winner. Once your reputation is winning you can’t lose because there goes part of your identity. Key orchestrated his resignation well however and his replacement went on to carry the party to a very creditable 44%. Jacinda simply left them in the lurch with no obvious successor and a very crappy 27% result.

 

My instinct tells me that Jacinda’s evaluation on her future over the holiday break was influenced by Grant Robertson putting the succession issue on the table in terms of him being the it and the when being in the next term. Brown did the same thing to Blair as she would have witnessed first hand on the PM’s staff when she was at No. 10. She knows how this rolls out from the inside.

 

How much can you give when your 2IC is now openly doodling a new PM’s office lay out on his desk pad and pencilling on the calendar when he wants to take over your job? It’s not even a plot – it became a plan as soon as she had agreed to the concept of it. So, hey little girl she was thinking, going into Christmas, comb your hair, fix your make up: even on the outside chance we scratch together a coalition and remain PM it will merely be interim until Robbo takes over. Soon he will open the door. Two paths leading out the same gate, and fast approaching. Win the election and be a lame duck leader, or lose the election and resign. Don’t think because there’s a ring on your finger. Meanwhile the daughter’s speech and vocabulary is noticeably descending into a flurry of Clarke’s infuriating verbal idiosyncrasies and the only way to make her Jacinda’s mini me is to clock in the hours. That you needn’t try anymore. I would guess the amounts of fucks given by any PM to their position after five years regardless of gender or anything else would very suddenly fall to near zero contemplating this political euthanasia. For wives should always be lovers too, run to his arms the moment he comes home to you. Oh, and better marry thingo. I’m warning you.

 

So being used as Robertson’s human shield to take the election hit wasn’t that appealing after taking three weeks off to think about it. That would have been the decider – nothing else and most certainly not policy! Christ no! Labour was helping the big unions, Mahuta’s mates and enacting the Wellington bureaucracy’s tail chasing – what policy would any of them die in a ditch for? They were all other people’s policies, Labour didn’t have any – caucus members had to submit those into the private bills biscuit tin and pray. They were so bereft they came out with policies of things they promised not to do. They revelled in a bonfire of Maori aspiration once Jacinda left, but then denied the event, the kebab sticks, burnt tin foil, ashes in a pile and posts on instagram. Jacinda’s child poverty climax, her legacy achievement, of one out of a dozen other measures not being negative was not a Princess Diana flack jacket in the minefield moment she would have hoped for the biopic. Quit while you can claim you were at least slightly ahead on something. She is currently our greatest export. The domestic market will need some time to recover and should do so in the next three years as nostalgia sets in for a stable, coherent government with an intuitive leader.

 

The next major event in 2023 of any historical consequence following Jacinda’s well earned/deserved resignation was the election of the egg man, the walrus coo-coo-cachoo. The National+Act+NZFirst coalition deal was a reactionary list of Pakeha insecurities, more tripartheid than tripartite. Winston ran fractals around both Luxon and Rimmer if we compare the bilateral agreements the Nats reached. The trio in a few short weeks of the 54th parliament then demolished the big Labour projects that had consumed so much of their efforts in the 53rd: Fair Pay Agreements, Spatial planning, 3 Waters etc, all gone, all for naught.

 

Ahead lies an unresolvable tension of Nikki Kay’s annointed liberals, Bishop and Willis, trying to stake out a viable centre ground against Act and NZF pulling to the extreme right socially and economically with a hapless Luxon unfixed by ideology focussed on the team dynamics and not outcomes allowing issues to drift and possibly beyond control. Luxon has yet to face a crisis, but his over-egging of the coalition talks indicates David Brent level self awareness. It helps a bit that Luxon isn’t evil in the way the other two leaders are.

 

That’s 2023. That’s political history. And Hipkins doesn’t appear, he’s in no way important to the national story is he. He had no impact on anything except for losing ten points worse than Jacinda would have. He cost them 5% and the rest of the cabinet the other 5%. Yes, the back benchers were also dismal: special mention to Helen White’s outreach programme (to Jacinda’s electorate) that showcased her personality was so very, very impactful she personally lost 20,000+ votes. In nixing a wealth tax amid other bourgeois flexes Hipkins had detoured so far from traditional Labour working class interests and values that he was rumoured to have spent weekends during the election campaign glamping with Toni in the upper reaches of Karen’s rectum.

 

Just a brief word then on the worst cabinet meltdown since the second term of the fourth Labour government. It resolves to a lack of respect – not only towards the rules but towards the leader. Evidently none of them minded disappointing Chippy. Nanaia was never straight, Nash was never straight, Woods was actually straight, but a pussy-whipped whimp with no control over his own affairs, Kiri Allen was off her trolley when she should have been on the wagon, and Tenetti was the school principal turned Minister of Education admonished for not turning in her homework. Robertson and Parker ambushed Chippy when he was in the Baltic licking the boots of NATO and publicly disagreed with him over a wealth tax, followed by every other member of caucus (Chippy’s new Revenue replacement after Parker quit in disgust could only say she was ‘neutral’ on it). Andrew Little was perhaps the most overrated and the least successful of all, kiboshing the cannabis referendum on the Beehive website before the specials were in, permitting appalling travesties in the Treaty settlements of Whakatohea and others, and right before the election allowing in migrants for stop-go men, labourers and other unqualified jobs to flood the country. The two best things Angry Andy ever did in politics was resign as leader and resign as an MP. It was, all of it, self inflicted.

 

Hard to say how big the footnote will be for the ginger drop-kick from the Hutt, but probably shorter than English (who is easily overlooked after just six years). How will he be remembered? – maybe not all. I once held up the Auckland regionals of the pub quiz disputing the answer to a question: ‘who was the Prime Minister before Jim Bolger?’ The answer they gave was Geoffrey Palmer. Ah, hang on, it’s Mike Moore, so I objected. How could they get this wrong? More alarmingly no-one seemed to be backing me. After five minutes of officials running around I thought this is a dream, like a nightmare. Was Mike Moore never the Prime Minister? But he was, so does that mean this is a dream? It was surreal. Did I imagine that he was, maybe in an alternate reality? Like Sapphire and Steel, I’m in a pub with over a hundred minds and none of them recall this? Everyone was pissed off – but they were all wrong. It shows how even a character like Mike Moore cannot connect with the Prime Ministership if they don’t get an original mandate or a lengthy innings. There seems no way Hipkins will be remembered in the public pantheon in a decade.

 

Hipkins was put in to steady the ship… so it could collide with the iceberg at a worse angle as it transpired. Astoundingly (to future historians) he was seen as the best choice at the time. My gut says Robertson being a careerist has just done what he has always done in coveting the top job – undermine, like with Cunliffe. Robertson knew he would only be PM for ten months and tainted thereafter if he took over from Jacinda when she quit, so he will bide time and then execute Chippy closer to the next election. Hipkins is just Robertson’s doormat. Rather fitting that Hipkins will be the victim here given Hipkins was part of Robertson’s ABC hit squad on Cunliffe. No mention of policy again, of course, it doesn’t seem to matter to them in the Wellybubble.

 

Happy New Year.

 

46 COMMENTS

  1. Adern quit at precisely the same time she was pushed. You want to know why she was pushed as she was quitting? Ask the 14 multi-billionaires, the 3118 multi-millionaires with individual wealth at above $50 million nett each and the four foreign owned banks stealing away with $180.00 nett every second 24/7/365?
    Adern was far too popular and popularity leads to the confidence to ask searching questions, questions that must never be answered.
    The pathetic gaggle of right wing throne room Jesters we have to endure in parliament now are precisely what is needed to keep the multi-billionaires, millionaires and the banks safe and happy and fuck us. Who cares.
    You want to know where having The Three Stooges comprising the prime minister and his cohorts will take us?
    Watch this if you dare.
    David Attenborough. A life on Our Planet.
    Netflix
    https://www.netflix.com/browse?jbv=80216393

    • The reason she may have been pushed was her own popularity was tanking. The public, the voters, were turning against her, and that related to policy timidity and failure, not some imaginary dark forces gathering against her.

      • I expect anyone with power and control take those responsibilities seriously. We have to look at results here. Woman are fatter than ever. Woman take more anti depressants of they drink and do more drugs than ever. So do female politicians do the hard thing and design policies or do they do the easy thing and resign. And so what do the men do. Do men go to the gym and get secound jobs? Wh

          • If I am correct then the argument for the Youngest and most healthiest Prime Minister in New Zealands history and possibly the world, to resign, is that she was “gassed,” tired. Overwhelmed by all the online people. So no worse than doing a sit down with Mike Hosking’s. (These Muppet just have to hear it). In the course of executing a Prime Ministers duty there’s this trend now that says if you can’t be nice then I can’t be Prime Minister.

            In a deeper sense Kiwi Prime Ministers wake up one day and say to themselves wouldn’t it be nice if I didn’t have all these responsibilities. In a much deeper sense the rights, responsibilities and duties are only as good as what you are capable of doing. Prime Ministers have no responsibilities for the poverty that happened in the 1980s because they can’t do anything about them but they do have responsibilities for the things that they can influence. In an egalitarian society there isn’t much we can do because of all the reputation destruction, HR issues and terminations but in a free society with free speech and so on, there is lots to do.

            So voters assign Prime Ministers rights, responsibilities and a duty that no Prime Minister can escape. You can say my tanks empty but what you can’t say is I refuse to execute the duties of a Prime Minister. Refusing to execute the duties of a Prime Minister is a choice. It’s not some fucken marathon. And everyday those who fail to execute the duties of a Prime Minister have to look themselves in the mirror each day. I suspect people like Sir Goefry Palmer and Jim Bolger wake up every morning with the mana you get when being asked to comment on recent affairs because they’ve got something to say, yknow here’s my record and I’m proud of it and voters make there choices.

            I’m no saint. I can’t help as many people as a Prime Minister of New Zealand can but I do devote a significant amount of my time doing things, that I think contribute to a very substantial amount of moral duty and I think a lot of other people do to and I think it’s lead substantially to the amount of progress being made otherwise I think we’d all be living in gulags, interment and re-education camps. Or just shot.

            The biggest mistake coming from The Prime Ministers Office is waiting to get involved in climate change firstly. Progressive taxation. There’s a number of big mistakes I think cutting defence spending and filerbusting a return to full capability is synonymous with Government ideology.

            I’ve been speaking to expat kiwis looking to migrate to Australia Railway Workers, weilders, tradespeople all sorts I had this one guy he was 21 years old do a stainless steel test (weilding two stainless steel tube together) exhibiting skills of a 40 year old. You could see in his work how dedicated to his craft he was. I don’t know if he could have made an effect on kiwi progress but you should have seen how he held the stick and torch in each hand and stepped left and right while tracking the weild up or down and so clean just clean like usually you’ll see scorching on the threads and and even a little flaring on the weilds from someone that young but it was clean. Now I’ve seen some shit, the Pyrimids, eifle tower whatever. No one is machining weilds by hand like that kid.

            Now I don’t know if this kid could have made a difference in New Zealand but you got to atleast give these guys a go.

          • Yep, but Key left when his party was still polling well as opposed to Captain Ardern leaving the sinking ship as Tim’s piece superbly articulates.

            • She left because the vile scum were becoming threatening. The guy arrested at Picton who was threatening to kill her the best example. He was hard right..
              And no, Key left as he and his party were tanking.

              • Having realised what a mess she had created,both financially and more so socially she quit.
                She now mingles with the rich and famous.

      • Ah… I missed the other Ar. Thank you for poingting that ouwt too mee @ see’r
        I miss spell the Greek surname ‘Giannakopoulos’ to when I must spell it. I’ve literally been shot at while runningeg by an angury Greak as eye’ve shoutid back at hyme ” You pedantic fucking wanker! ” See? That last bit I can spell.

      • Ah… I missed the other Ar. Thank you for poingting that ouwt too mee @ see’r
        I miss spell the Greek surname ‘Giannakopoulos’ to when I must spell it. I’ve literally been shot at while runningeg by an angury Greak as eye’ve shoutid back at hyme ” You pedantic fucking wanker! ” See? That last bit I can spell.

    • Hey cuntryboy,
      I see that, although many years have passed, you are still dropping the first ‘r’ in Ardern.
      Your posts are enjoyable but it is looking very deliberate that you continue this insult.
      I have posted a short comment to you about this error a couple of times before. You probably missed them.

      It is very easy to insult people in this way.

      • Spelling and grammar are not strong points in the comments by countryboy,he considers himself above such trivia.

  2. I agree 100% .

    Labour is not labour and if the left really want real change voting Green and Maori party is thew only way to go Labour is a lost cause.

    I predict Christchurch Central and or Dunedin Central will be the Next Labour seat to go Green in 2026.

  3. Salty, but largely warranted and humorous. Better to finish the year with a laugh.

    Also, arguing about Mike Moore in a pub quiz has shades of David Brent insisting that Dr Spock is half-Vulcan, half-human.

  4. Ardern was a “one trick pony” so when Covid became less relevant she had nothing left.

    If the party hadn’t put up the crazy schemes like light rail and the new harbour crossing, and had done a better job of selling three waters they may have had a chance.

  5. A most accurate summary of Ardern’s departure imho. Yes it was selfish, but that would have been fine had she been honest about it.

    • To “be honest about it” would have been out of character for Jacinda Ardern. Although she was capable of making accidental confessions. Like the time she said that she went to work for Tony Blair because she “needed a job” – and Blair paid his accomplices in crime much more than she could get as a waitress at the local greasy spoon cafe.

      • Honesty is being in Hawaii or was that Te Puke?

        Had she been a waitress at the local greasy spoon cafe, I’m sure Key would have tugged her ponytail…no wonder she went with Blair.

          • Truth hurts Aaron. And why is it a deflection?
            Now was Luxon in Hawaii or Te Puke?
            The big lie and even worse, a Christian!
            What lie did she tell Aaron?

            What is clear is you did not like her, that’s your fault not hers.

        • Good to see your personal view Aaron although completely void of the truth. Innuendo much.

        • Aaron everyone now knows what a manipulative teller of lies Jacinda Ardern was and like all liars it caught up with her.

  6. Another refreshing article from Tim and refreshing in that it cuts through all the bullshit that acts as a ready-made template for almost everything in the woke-judicated santicised joyless shitshow world we now find ourselves in.

    • Harsh, but hilarious. An almost sadistic pearl with the one necessary element: a big grain of truth.

  7. You sounded like the apostle Paul with this line “Actually in real life you can’t have everything, that sacrificing is inherent” Christianity started with people denying themself to serve others but that vision was lost millennia ago. While the Labour Party’s demise was more recent than that you have to go back to 1972 to find the last time they had a comprehensive plan to actually improve the country.

  8. One year with Chippy felt the same as 5 with Jacinda. So very disappointing.

    They came, they saw, they talked some shit, did fuck all and left the place in a worse state than they found it, just like politicians have always done.

    No more or less what Clusterfuxon will do or the next cab off the rank.

  9. To be fair – Ardern was a reluctant PM. She stepped up early, amidst all the medocrity, and delivered for her party. As Luxon has now done. The difference being, Luxon has an agenda and wanted the PM’s role ASAP. I’m suspicious of his agenda, and given his background and woeful lack of detail, we should all be.

  10. The fact that Treaty thief Little would rather employ wealth transferring foreigners meant he didn’t want to grow New Zealanders or the country. Good riddance to Angry and his Harry Potter glasses. I wonder if his new WINZ case manager (his gatekeeper hero) will ask what he has been doing in the last six years to deserve his jobseeker benefit, whether he will simply say ‘Nothing’.

  11. The fact that Treaty thief Little would rather employ wealth transferring foreigners meant he didn’t want to grow New Zealanders or the country. Good riddance to Angry and his Harry Potter glasses. I wonder if his new WINZ case manager (his gatekeeper hero) will ask what he has been doing in the last six years to deserve his jobseeker benefit, whether he will simply say ‘Nothing’.

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