Written By: - Date published: 8:09 am, September 26th, 2018 - 102 comments
Categories: jacinda ardern, labour, national, same old national, Simon Bridges, trevor mallard - Tags: Mark Richardson, Patrick Gower
It has been an interesting week in Politics. Jacinda Ardern is overseas and she and Neve are wowing the world’s media. She is reportedly the first world leader to appear at the United Nations with child in tow. For an organisation that is future focused this sort of symbolism is important.
She has appeared on US television and gave an exquisite interview. It contains the perfect summation of her political philosophy. Here it is:
Host: You have talked about, I think this is interesting, kindness in government. Usually you do not see those two things together but when I see you talk about your family I sort of get it, but explain that:
Jacinda: I don’t think there is one rule book for leadership. And I really rebel against the idea that politics has to be a place full of ego and where you are constantly focused on scoring hits against one another. Yes we need a robust democracy but you can be strong and you can be kind and so we are building what I like to believe is a really compassionate government, one that is focused on lifting the well being of our people but one that is doing well economically too.
And here is the video.
Over at Newshub there is this priceless interview where Paddy Gower describes Jacinda as being a political phenomenon. From the Newshub website:
Newshub national correspondent Paddy Gower called Ms Ardern a “political phenomenon”.
“We’re just starting to see it on the international stage now,” he says.
“This is a bombastic arrival by a world leader. The Today Show – millions of viewers this morning with a New Zealand flag behind her talking about a positive message and about motherhood and leadership.
“I used to trail around with John Key where he would battle and fight for moments like this. It’s being handed to her on a plate. You can tell she’s enjoying it. You can tell Clarke [Gayford] is enjoying it. And I think it’s great and we’ve got to embrace it.”
Although Mark Richardson was not so happy.
But there was one person who wasn’t enjoying – or embracing – it.
The AM Show host Mark Richardson said that right now Ms Ardern’s “not doing a good job”.
“Excuse me for not getting carried away with that imagery. All I’m seeing right now is inactivity. I’m seeing knee-jerk reactions when they do make activity, and I’m seeing hopeless idealism,” he exclaimed.
“This is not the first time that a female that’s just had a baby’s been able to hold down or try to conduct a very important job.”
Can I suggest you watch the video if only to see the disgust on Mark Richardson’s face. It made my day he was so annoyed.
And Gower made the point that Ardern is the world leader who is the antithesis of Donald Trump. She has an important world role to play.
Meanwhile back in New Zealand guess what approach National is taking. You guessed it, they are trying to score political hits on her. The most recent attempt was their suggesting that she had misled Parliament. The claim is laughable. But National works on the basis that if you raise a smell often enough some of it will hang around.
The suggestion is that Jacinda misled Parliament by not mentioning that she had sent more than one text to Derek Handley.
Hon Simon Bridges: What did Derek Handley’s text message to her say?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Mr Speaker, I would have to go from my recollection. [Interruption]
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: But I can off the back—[Interruption]
SPEAKER: Order! Order! The Prime Minister will resume her seat. This is a matter of some seriousness. It’s a matter which I’ve had a number of representations on and I’m told that the House takes it seriously. I want to be able to hear the answer.
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Mr Speaker, I would have to go from my recollection. But my recollection is that he mentioned that the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) role had been mentioned to him. Again, as I said, I did not directly reply to that message, and it was received in April.
Hon Simon Bridges: Did she flat out ignore his text—not even an emoji?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Mr Speaker, I did not even send an emoji.
Hon Simon Bridges: Was there more than one text from or to Derek Handley from the Prime Minister?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The text that I received, again, as I said, was in April. I did not directly reply to that text message on that day or engage with him on the CTO role. On the CTO role, I did not engage with Mr Handley via text message.
Hon Simon Bridges: Well, were there any other texts between the Prime Minister and Derek Handley?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Mr Speaker, as I acknowledged the very moment I was asked this question, I have known Mr Handley for a number of years and have had correspondence with him for a number of years.
And the day before she had said this:
Hon Simon Bridges: Has she had any conversations, emails, or texts with Derek Handley since she’s been Prime Minister?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, to answer with some accuracy, I would want to go back. [Interruption]
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: My best recollection is that I received, some months ago, a text from Mr Handley mentioning the Chief Technology Officer role, which I do not recall directly engaging with, as that would not have been appropriate.
Notice she was working from her memory and mentioned the word “recollection” four times. She never said she only sent one text. She was perhaps mistaken when she said she directly replied to Handley’s mention of the CTO role although providing an email address is not directly engaging, rather it is providing a mechanism for information to be sent. And the context was so she could receive his ideas and thoughts on New Zealand generally, not specifically on the CTO role.
She also admitted that she had been in communication with Handley for a number of years.
Audrey Young thinks that Ardern has a case to answer. My legal impression, clearly biased, is that she is guilty of no more than using the English language and having far too much read into a short succinct answer.
My advice to Ardern is to just keep on being herself. This sort of crap will be thrown at her again and again. I suspect that out in the real world people will be more interested in having somewhere to live, someone to love and something to strive for. And they are tired of the mud slinging and yearning for future looking positive leadership. Which is exactly what Ardern provides.