The Andrew and Jacinda show – has anything changed?
Thought Labour leader Andrew Little might want Jacinda Ardern to hide her light under a bushell now he’s trailing her in the popularity stakes? Think again.
I think that particular thought was always confined to the minds of a very small number of right-wing conspiracy nuts. Sigh.
Where Little goes, Ardern goes. The Labour leader and his deputy have just wrapped up a heartland tour, sharing the stage from one end of the country to the other. Twenty one cities in 12 days, Ardern the warm up act to Little’s stump speech.
Either Little is more secure in himself and his leadership than many would be in his position. Or he is counting on Ardern’s popularity lifting not just Labour’s boat, but his own, before September 23.
Or both. Or neither. Or he isn’t much bothered by polls either way. Or (radical thought!) he’s just getting on with the job, positively and effectively.
In Little’s home town New Plymouth, local bar Our Place is teeming by the time Ardern stands to introduce her leader.
Former New Plymouth mayor and retired MP Harry Duynhoven is fizzing about the number of new faces. This is National Party territory – since Duynhoven lost the seat in 2008 it has turned well and truly blue.
“This is quite an astounding gathering for New Plymouth,” says Duynhoven waving around at the crowd. “There’s a lot of faces here I’ve never seen before. There are people asking questions. People asking ‘is this the right direction for New Zealand?'”
No-one is bothering to pretend that Ardern doesn’t have something to do with the newfound interest in Labour, even if it is just to hear what it has got to say. Duynhoven says there are a lot of women among the new faces. And young faces too.
Some of that crowd might be there for Jacinda, splendid! But there’s probably more there because they’re sick of nine long years of the “brighter future”. “People asking ‘is this the right direction for New Zealand?'” Anyway, read on in the piece if you fancy more about Little, Ardern, and their backgrounds.
Time to get involved in the campaign, and help change the government.