- Date published:
6:30 am, August 2nd, 2017 - 118 comments
Categories: election 2017, jacinda ardern, labour, leadership - Tags: election 2017, jacinda ardern, labour, labour leader, leadership
Changing leaders this close to an election was a political gamble for Labour, but it has already paid off. The commentary is almost universally positive, the reviews for Ardern are glowing, due in no small part to her excellent press conference (watch it if you haven’t already). Donations are flowing in. Activists are energised and people are talking.
Update: Kelvin Davis just said on Morning Report that since the leadership change Labour have received more than $110,000 in small donations, and 600 new volunteers.
Here’s a roundup of the reaction:
Ardern came out for her own announcement wearing a face brimming with determination and gravitas. She paid homage to Little, talked of the immensity of the task before her and then cracked on with the grins and laughs. She fielded every question with assurance. She made jokes. Manifestly, she was enjoying herself. She deferred to new deputy Kelvin Davis on questions relating directly to Maori, and when those questions came in te reo he answered in te reo. This was Ardern & Davis: The New Beginning. And how.
Ardern’s top-of-mind issues (literally, the things she mentioned immediately when asked), were “health, mental health, water quality, housing, education”. That’s an on-message list. She stayed on message when asked about other parties, talking only about what Labour offers and refusing to discuss coalition deals or anything else about the others. She reduced the assembled hacks of the press gallery to laughter, several times. She reduced ol’ hatchet man Paddy Gower to something you might almost call adulation. Imagine what that takes.
Maybe she won’t keep it up. We shall see. But what a way to start.
Powerful, composed, eloquent – and actually quite funny. Those are the words that sum up Jacinda Ardern’s first press conference as Labour leader. And the word that must sum up National’s feelings right now – frightened.
The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll was disastrous for Labour – but it was also bad for National, who cannot get a Government together without Winston Peters. Fifty-two percent of the vote in the poll is going to ‘change the Government’ parties. The change vote is there. Now there is Ardern – a fresh, 37-year-old woman running the show to chase it.
In a new Newshub poll, she is back ahead of Little in preferred Prime Minister ratings in polls, and would knock off New Zealand First’s Winston Peters with little effort if made leader. She matches Peters too, in being familiarly known by her first name — and being able to flash a smile that could burst a ballot box.
New Labour leader Jacinda Ardern gave a near flawless performance at her first big press conference. So good that her colleague Trevor Mallard called it a cross between Helen Clark’s policy depth and David Lange’s wit. Newshub’s Patrick Gower declared her “on fire”.
One press conference does not an election campaign make. But when it was over, I received a text from a non-partisan, usually unimpressionable observer at Parliament. It read: “Shit, she’s good. English might be in trouble here.”
Jacinda Ardern represents one thing that Bill English and National never can – change.
And if you can harness change, it is one one of the most powerful political weapons there is.
Bill English will go for “strong and stable”, casting Ardern as risky.
But the reality is he is also quite boring – and she is exciting.
The mood for change is strong. “We’re not going to come out of this election with 24 percent,” Ardern says. “There will nothing blanc-mange about this campaign.” That means it won’t be beige or insipid… she certainly isn’t.
And she can be firey too, asking a reporter “Would you like to tell me why you don’t think I can?” The question was about leading a three-way coalition involving the Greens and Winston Peters.
It is brilliant because in her first press conference as leader, Ardern (and Davis) radiated a brightness that has been absent under Little. Their debut appearance could hardly have gone better: Ardern was firm, unflappable, and – critically – funny.
It is brilliant because Jacinda Ardern is Labour’s greatest hope, a potential breath of fresh air, a vital contrast with the grey familiarity of prime minister Bill English.
New deputy leader, Davis, is a Maori firebrand well known for his solid work in the Corrections portfolio, in particular highlighting allegations of fight clubs in prisons, which ultimately led to a private prison operator losing their contract and the then-Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga losing his job.
Ardern’s popularity and charm currently fit the script our political drama writers have been pitching for some time: out with the old and dowdy, in with the young and funky, the people’s princess versus Dreary of Dipton.
The Maori Party has offered an olive branch to Labour’s new leader Jacinda Ardern, saying its members want it to work with Labour.
Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox welcomed Ardern and Davis into the new roles. “It’s the best practical move they’ve made in the last three years. The polling results haven’t changed significantly, they could have made the decision earlier, but this is a positive decision,” Fox said.
Politicians don’t often get a moment in the sun, but new Labour leader Jacinda Ardern certainly took the limelight today.
A smiling Ardern’s choice of language focused on positive adjectives – ‘incredible’, ‘fortunate’ and phrases – ‘the campaign of our lives’.
There is no doubt she presents a stark contrast with Bill English in every way that Little did not.
If nothing else Labour can console itself with one thing: It has got our attention.
Kirton said, in addition to donations, new members signed up to the party on Tuesday.
“Jacinda has got a really positive aspirational message about fairness and making New Zealand better.
“Those are her values and we’re going to be thinking about how we’re going to run that campaign to express those values.
“We have the campaign of our lives now.”
Jacinda Ardern has what the billboard promises: a fresh approach. She also has what they don’t promise – magnetism.
It was an incredibly confident and competent performance that showed she did not get where she is today on her good looks. She is serious about being an alternative Prime Minister and confident enough to joke about having a single malt with Winston Peters – a step up from Andrew Little’s description of him as a “blow hard” and “swinging dick”.
It is not inconceivable that Labour could be part of the next Government. The Newshub Reid Research poll gave New Zealand First, Labour and the Greens more support than National and its current support partners.
“Jacinda could well be the next Helen Clark.
“A lot of teachers will be voting Labour now, if talk in the staff room is anything to go by.”
Jacinda Ardern has only been the new Labour leader for a matter of hours, but already voters seem to be warming to her.
The latest nzherald.co.nz poll asked if the new line-up of Jacinda Ardern as leader, and Kelvin Davis as deputy, would make readers more likely to vote Labour. Out of more than 5300 votes, 43 per cent said they would now consider switching their vote to Labour.
The reaction on Facebook was even stronger. A nzherald.co.nz Facebook post asked readers if they would vote for Labour now that Jacinda Ardern was leader. Of the 3700 people who responded, 2400 said they would now vote for her, or 65 per cent. Only 1000 said they wouldn’t vote for her, or 27 per cent.
Neither poll is scientific.
And finally in a shocking surprise endorsement: Jacinda Ardern’s mum ‘very proud’ of her rise to the top
Jacinda Ardern has the unanimous backing of her party but it’s not just Labour that’s proud of her meteoric rise.
Following the news of Ardern’s appointment on Tuesday, her mother Laurell Ardern told RNZ she was very proud of her daughter’s rise to the top. “I can’t quite believe it’s happened. I’m still coming to terms with it because she’s just gone from the deputy and just won the by-election in Mt Albert, and now this has happened.
Highlights from Twitter:
— Newsroom (@NewsroomNZ) August 1, 2017
— Newshub Features (@NewshubFeatures) August 1, 2017
Like Winston, Jacinda can 'flash a smile that could burst a ballot box'…
— Tim Murphy (@tmurphyNZ) August 1, 2017
Labour has had more positive coverage in the past half hour than the past 12 months pic.twitter.com/kPb1msAcYc
— Chris Keall (@ChrisKeall) August 1, 2017
— Richard Hills (@richardhills777) August 1, 2017
Seeing lots of friends who don't talk about politics expressing excitement about Jacinda. Is this the beginning of the 'youthquake'?
— Lizzie Marvelly (@LizzieMarvelly) August 1, 2017
— Newshub Features (@NewshubFeatures) August 1, 2017
TWENTY SEVENTEEN pic.twitter.com/YJpJWbgJL4
— Sir Livi (@_snozzberry_) August 1, 2017
Friend says Jacinda was applauded by her flight and by people at Wellington airport this evening #nzpol
— Bennett Morgan (@bennettmorganHT) August 1, 2017
— nzherald (@nzherald) August 1, 2017
— Morning Report (@NZMorningReport) August 1, 2017
Have been underwater filming all day off Sunshine Coast, I miss anything? pic.twitter.com/GRONJ1uGZf
— Clarke Gayford (@NZClarke) August 1, 2017
Jacinda Ardern brings in $110,000 and 600 new volunteers for Labour https://t.co/HPMvnutGhW
— Stuff.co.nz Politics (@NZStuffPolitics) August 1, 2017