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Leaders in the progressive government-in-waiting

Written By: - Date published: 6:28 am, August 14th, 2017 - 60 comments
Categories: election 2017, greens, jacinda ardern, james shaw, labour - Tags:


When I popped back to my old home town this week, we visited the fine folks who gave me my first job. Forever grateful to Grant and Carol Covich. Wonderful people who taught me some important lessons (and still make the best fish n chips in Morrinsville!)

Jacinda Ardern

Now more than ever we need a strong Green conscience in Government, to fix things that are hard to fix. That’s our job.

James Shaw

60 comments on “Leaders in the progressive government-in-waiting ”

  1. Adrian Thornton 1

    Can anyone clarify for me Jacinda Ardern’s role as senior policy advisor to Tony Blair 2003, what did this involve?, and why would she associate herself so closely with Blair post Iraq, is it true that she again aligned herself with Blair in 2011 while he visited NZ in a storm of rightful protest…..is her moral compass so out of aliment, or was this an example of her “pragmatic idealism”?

    Is Ardern a third way Blairite type neoliberal, or something similar?

    • Carolyn_nth 1.1

      Ardern was advisor to Blair, then Gordon Brown, from 2006-8: just before she came back to NZ to stand for the Labour Party. Before that, she did spend some time in new York, apparently working with the homeless for the International Union of Socialist Youth. Can’t find links that say that right now – could a week or so ago.

      But this article about Ardern by the World Socialist Website in March 2017 after she became deputy leader, is quite damning of her left credentials, and puts her firmly in the right wing of Labour.

      To claim that Ardern represents a departure from Labour’s right-wing, pro-market policies is absurd. She is a career Labour politician. The daughter of a police officer, Ardern worked in the offices of previous leaders Phil Goff and Helen Clark—both ministers under Lange. Goff, as tertiary education minister, was responsible for introducing New Zealand’s first university fees.

      From 2006–08 Ardern worked in London as a senior policy advisor to the Blair and Brown governments on small business policy and a review of policing. In 2008, she was elected president of the misnamed International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY), the youth organisation of the Second International which demonstrated its reactionary character more than a century before by supporting the First World War. The IUSY is a training ground for the international labour bureaucracy.

      The article says she has shown little interest social security or anti-poverty measures, and more interested in policing.

      • Bunji 1.1.1

        Yeah, pretty sure that website is going to have anyone with any connection with Labour as “right-wing”.
        She does have an interest in policing after growing up with her dad being the policeman in Murupara, and she was likely to have said a fair bit about policing as Labour’s Police spokesperson for a time.

        She’s also had plenty to say about child poverty and improving outcomes for children as someone who’s done a vast amount of work on Labour’s all-encompassing Children’s policy.

        She wasn’t an “adviser to Blair”, she was an senior policy adviser to the Cabinet Office and the Home Office in the UK. You could tarnish Jeremy Corbyn as right-wing for being a member of Blair’s government with as much authenticity. I don’t know what policy she developed while there, but she should be judged on that, not Blair’s action on going into Iraq.

        The writing-off of the International Union of Socialist Youth I think says more about the website than the IUSY as well… No-one’s going to be ‘left-wing’ enough. But at some point you just need to get on with getting into government and improving people’s lives and not worrying about labels.

        • Bill

          I reckon that labels, where they’re accurate, shouldn’t just be tossed aside Bunji.

          Whatever the slant of the linked website (and I agree those buggers tend to over-egg everything and have the expected range and vision of the most ardent ideological devotee – ie, not a lot), it seems pretty obvious even without reading it that Ardern is a career politician. From Goff and Clark to Blair might reasonably be held to be more about understanding the machinations of politics and power than about any heartfelt conviction, no?

          And this isn’t intended as having a go – just a musing or reflection on her relationship to perceived power/authority – I’d have thought there was a veritable feast of reasons to leave the Mormon church by or before the age of 25, besides or in addition to their take on homosexuality.

          Anyway. Have NZ Labour rowed back on their WFF policy and extended it to include jobless parents btw? (You mention NZ Labour’s “all encompassing Children’s policy” in your comment)

          • weka

            It’s a given that Ardern isn’t left wing enough. But I think it’s useful to differentiate between careerists and Rogernomes. I can’t see any reason why a careerist can’t start moving leftwards.

            • Bill

              Because having ‘studied’ machinations of power and established a position within a given milieu, energy will quite naturally be spent preserving that state of affairs and one’s position within it?

              • weka

                I didn’t say Labour or Ardern would/could jump massively left. I said that I can’t see why being a careerist can’t mean being a left moving careerist. If one’s position is enhanced by moving left then that’s a sensible career move.

                • Bill

                  I can see pragmatic decisions being made under pressure to the status quo. But paying lip service to left demands and shifting if and when necessary for the sake of self preservation isn’t moving left (it’s being moved left).

                  The “career” is predicated on maintaining a status quo. “Left moving careerist” comes across as a contradiction on two fronts – “left” doesn’t sit comfortably with “careerist” (the motivations being incompatible), and “moving” doesn’t accord with the careerist’s penchant to maintain a set of known and advantageous circumstances.

                • Carolyn_nth

                  the thing is, there is a lot of pressure from powerful vested interests to move more rightwards than leftwards when in power. We saw that during Clark’s 3 terms. Clark started off further left than Ardern, had to struggle to get any traction as leader (unlike Ardern), and still moved more to the centre when in power.

                  It was clear there were powerful vested interests at home and abroad on her: on trade and wars from US government officials; to drop the “closing the gaps” policy”, then the foreshore and seabed issue, etc.

                  The events of the last few years, and recent weeks, have made me quite cynical about the pressures and machinations to marginalise those campaigning for real changes.

                  I see the Ardern government as already colluding with those powerful interests. They will go for incremental changes, without doing anything to scare those with the most power.

                  I think only a strong flax roots movement can bring about any significant changes.

        • weka

          Thanks Bunji. The advisor to Blair clarification seems particularly important.

          One can make the same judgements about Shaw looking at his CV, but it’s his actions and beliefs that mean more to me.

        • marty mars

          Good comment – results is what I want with an alignment to visible values.

      • Sigh 1.1.2

        The World Socialist Web Site are an extreme communist group who condemn every left party in the world and every trade union as a right-wing front. They are not to be taken seriously. Jacinda worked as an economic adviser, not on wars or anything else.

        • Carolyn_nth

          Yes. that website does seem quite damning of Labour Parties in general.
          However, I used that website to show what Ardern did in her past.

          I had already decided that Ardern and her team are on the right wing of the current NZLP. When Ardern ruthlessly threw Turei under a bus, it also served to reinforce my perception that Ardern is a career politician, more comfortable with the centrist middle classes. She appears to put attaining power above strong left wing values.

          In the past I have not really seen Ardern being a passionate campaigner for those on social security or on low incomes. She pays lip service to it at times, but her strongest alliances seem to be elsewhere. She does indeed seem to be a career politician, rather than an activist or ardent campaigner for the least powerful.

          And the treatment of Turei also reinforced my perception that I would not trust her in government to put the interests of the least powerful before her political career.

          Being slightly better than the Nats has not served the left well in the long run – basically it means progressive political parties keep colluding with pulling dominant values, and the perceived political centre, to the right.

          • Draco T Bastard

            Being slightly better than the Nats has not served the left well in the long run – basically it means progressive political parties keep colluding with pulling dominant values, and the perceived political centre, to the right.


          • Marcus Morris

            I am finding it very hard to make any sense of your assertions about Jacinda Arden. She certainly isn’t National Light and everything I have seen and heard from her in the last ten days gives me great hope that at last we will see the end of this disaster of a National Government and their nine years of neoliberal mismanagement. The fact that she has pledged to invest again in the Cullen fund is reason enough to support her. The Auckland Transport plan is visionary and vital ( and if the Greens propounded it first so what. Of policies announced so far, list the elements that justify the aspersions you are casting. There are plenty of Tory trolls around who will be delighted to pick up on some of your comments. As for throwing Metiria “ruthlessly under a bus”, that is nonsense. I am very saddened by the misfortune of Metiria but it was her and her advisors mishandling of an issue that should have been a major support winner which caused her demise.

      • Paul Campbell 1.1.3

        “first university fees”? …. I’m pretty sure there have always been fees since there were unis in the 1880s, it’s just that for a while they were paid for by the govt provided you got good enough grades ….

  2. Adrian Thornton 2

    Thanks Carolyn_nth, I suspected that Ardern was just another defender of the free market status quo, you don’t get media love fests like the sickening ones that are performed daily between the press and Ardern, unless they can smell that you are one of their own.

    Although some friends on the left seem to bizarrely think this love from the press gives her credibility, which is true if you are ok with the sycophantic type of credibility that Key commanded in the press, but you can’t have it both ways I try telling them….

  3. Sabine 3

    but but ,

    she once worked at a fish n chip shop. So she knows.!

    this election is as bull as was the last one.

  4. savenz 4

    Whether Jacinda is left wing, third way or whatever, she’s turning Labour around and we all need to be thankful for anything that stops Bill the robot and National getting more power. 9 Years has been quite enough for many!

    • McFlock 4.1


      And who knows – maybe having Ardern as PM will be the thin end of the wedge, and be followed by someone who meets teh interwebz socialists’ approval

      • weka 4.1.1

        lol. It’s going to be bloody interesting to be on TS once the government changes 😈

        • Sabine


          if the support for Labour comes mainly from the Greens voting and NZ First aka ‘disaffected labour’istas voting for Labour to inflate their numbers, thus weakening the Greens and NZ first as a potential coalition partners how is the government going to change?

          take the last poll, Labour 33% and the others around 6% each that would be 45%. Not enough to beat National.

          so unless and until Labour is actually gaining support either among the unhappy National voters and the non voters, nothing is happening and the government has a good chance staying were it is.

          I have no personal issue with Jacinda Ardern other that i don’t find her exiting. She might be eloquant enough to appease the media for a while, but is that enough?

          Sofar the only thing that has happened is that labour is canibalising the vote of its potential coalitian members.

          tell me how i am wrong please.

          • weka

            I have no problem Labour getting NZF voters. But afaik it’s also going after soft National voters, and I would expect some of those to choose NZF over Labour. Greens will pick up non-vote and left vote.

            “take the last poll, Labour 33% and the others around 6% each that would be 45%. Not enough to beat National.”

            Single polls are useful for campaigning. I don’t put much value on them for predicting the election result. Trends are better, but this election has a lot of volatility in it so I think we could see some big changes or a very tight election.

            • Sabine

              you word in the ear of god/goddess/universe and such. Cause i have a hard time seing it.

              i was called a National supporter the other day for voicing my reasoning for voting for the Greens by a Labour supporter. Yep, that is a thing. lol. Never mind we have a system where we can form coalitions to form a government.

          • Bill

            First (and only?) thing NZ Labour did policy wise by way of a ‘re-launch’ was to triangulate two headline Green Party policies. Water and Auckland transport.

            So no. I won’t be saying that you’re wrong.

        • Anne

          ..it’s going to be bloody interesting to be on TS once the government changes.

          Yes, and with all the relentless positivity about ( 😛 ), does that mean Matthew Hooton wil be allowed back on the Standard? 😯

      • garibaldi 4.1.2

        Yes but it’s only happening because Jacinda has the “establishment ” seal of approval ,and that means more of the same old same old. Better than National ,but disappointing to say the least.

        • McFlock

          oh, “bollocks”.

          Bollocks on approval, and bollocks on same-old same-old.

          Especially if we can get the Greens bigger than NZ1 – and preferably make them the only party Lab can coalesce with to govern.

          • garibaldi

            Face it McFlock, at the moment the Greens are damaged goods and have lost most of their credibility, thus I would be very surprised to beat NZF now.

            • McFlock

              Polls giveth, and polls taketh away. Blessed be the name of the polls.

              Nine-point fluctuations in one week? Two weeks? These be interesting times.

            • left_forward

              Damaged a little garibaldi, but certainly no loss of credibility. Standing up for a more caring society is tough and challenging in the NZ political environment – but this experience makes us stronger – so look out mate, here we come.

      • marty mars 4.1.3

        Yep – it is a lot better that way than just about any other scenario.

    • adam 4.2

      You can set your watch to it, out comes the fluff brigade.

      “national BAD, labour GOOD” –

      “You’ll just nasty for pointing out labours faults”





      and the attacks keep on coming.

      Yeah sorry for me for not wanting to live anymore years under the yoke of liberalism.

      • McFlock 4.2.1

        What are you doing to end it?
        What better options do we have in September?

        • marty mars

          Yeah I’d like to know too adam – actions speak louder than words – what things have you done that we could copy or emulate?

          Edit. That one above is your first comment on this thread – I don’t get where you’re coming from.

          • adam

            I’ve told you what I do marty mars on more than one occasion, so the very shortest of responses.

            Working within, and on the creation of co-operatives. Try looking here to get some inspiration.


            • marty mars

              Okay sure. Thanks.

            • McFlock

              Cooperatives will do nothing about living under the “yoke of liberalism”. If they were to become a threat to the status quo, the government of the day will tweak them and make them trivial. Look at unions and students’ associations.

              You know that the yoke is only the bit that bears the load, it’s not the bit that keeps the animal burdened? You don’t just throw off a yoke. The bows or straps need to be loosened first. If you want to do that, you need to be in control. You also can only do it one strap at a time.

              • adam

                Are idioms lost on you?

                As for attacks on Cooperatives, yes it’s happening by this government.

                • McFlock

                  okay, so is there a voting option for september that will result in a weaker attack on cooperatives?

                  • adam

                    But attacks none the same…

                    • McFlock

                      If you get your choice of attacker, take it. Only an idiot waits for the worst foe to step forward, rather than picking the weaker foe.

                    • adam

                      And there is key difference, in our thinking. Not saying your wrong, just saying we differ.

                      I’m no fan of letting bullies be the big and nasty, or milder in demeanor – dictate anything in this world.

                    • McFlock

                      Who’s a fan?
                      Whether you like it or not, there’s an election in September.

                      Whether you like it or not, the next government will be national and it’s allies (lol) or Labour and its allies. If it’s Labour, then the Greens would be a better ally better for poor people than NZ1.

                      Whether you like it or not, on September 24 NZ will still be a largely capitalist nation.

                      Whether you like it or not, there will be reductions in poverty under a labgrn government. That’s a real-world effect. Less want, better health, better housing, better education, better environment. None of it perfect, but all of it better than under the nats.

                      So are you going to bite the bullet and vote against national for a party that will be represented in parliament, or are you just going to feel superior, but ever so oppressed, regardless of who wins?

                    • adam

                      I’m not going to stop no matter who wins. I haven’t up till now.

                      It will be a little better when green’lab govern, until they lose office. Then the cycle begins again, with the Tory madmen grinding down people again.

                      I’m arguing from the outset, change the economics, change the game. That’s the only real world effect I’m interested in.

                      Edit: need Dinner – have a nice night.

            • weka

              Nice one adam.

        • adam

          To want the end of liberlism?

          If that is your question McFlock, then none via the current political model.

          • McFlock

            So we’re all dooooooomed.

            In that case, be honest about it and vote national.

            • adam

              Oh goody, somthing new to add to the list.

              Why can’t you be honest and accept the economic truth about the labour party? Too soon?

              • McFlock

                It’s got nothing to do with whatever label you want to sling around. The only truth that is relevant is “which party is worse for the country”. You might think the differences between the lab and nat parties are trivial, but it’s actually a measurably improved standard of living for thousands of people currently in poverty.

                The perfect truly is the enemy of the good.

                • adam

                  Nice try at a non answer, and attempt to blaming me via the purist argument.

                  But it’s not what I’m arguing, and you know it.

                  I’m arguing that liberalism/capitalism is the enemy, it has always been the enemy. And if your a socialist of any ilk, you’d know that too.

                  So yeah I have a problem with you pushing conservative incrementalism and austerity with a nice face.

                  It’s always been about economics, it always will be about economics.

                  So when will you be honest about the labour party and their position on economics?

                  • McFlock

                    What you’re arguing is that this election you plan to do nothing to lower the poverty rates in this country because Labour aren’t socialist enough for your taste.

                    Oh, you might form a cooperative to make yourself feel superior, it might even get off the ground as a going concern. In 15, 20 years time someone might even use it as an example of how things can be done better. And we’ll still have tory governments that make Lab5 look like banner-waving communists.

                    Or we can try to have a government that isn’t a complete pile of shit, and might even consist of coalition partners that do more in three years than you will manage in 20.

                    So go wank on your cooperative and talk about how you’re a much better socialist that the poor schmucks who try to make a human-sized, incremental difference in the real world. But don’t kid yourself: failing to vote against national is almost as good as a vote for them.

                    • adam

                      The Labour party are not socialist at all, and that’s the point.

                      Hence my arguments about economics, but then again you did the degree in politics, so the broad house of socialism includes managing hard right capitalist economics now does it?

                      Like I’ve said to you, any many others – I’d take a labour party that was even Fabian at this point. A Social democrat party would be better, with full blown Bolivian Socialist being better again. But not this, becasue in economic terms, capitalism does not help working people.

                      So I think at this point, rather than bang my head on floor, I’ll end my conversation with you.

                      Have a good day. Enjoy dinner.

                    • McFlock

                      lol “even Fabian”.

                      Anyway, we all know the Labour party isn’t perfect. Your point is irrelevant to my question, which is “what are you going to do on september 23: Vote for the lesser bad, or completely fail to oppose the bigger bad?”

                      Because that’s the choice we have.

                    • adam

                      I really loath the lesser evil argument, I find it demoralising, and verging on amoral.

                      And because of it we are left with not much of a choice.

                      I won’t vote Tory. Neither will I vote labour, especially as my local labour MP is a right plonker – who runs a inaccessible electoral office.

                      Who I’d like as my local MP will get my vote. She is a pretty decent MP, even though she has not been there long. Plus she did well with a very hard issue I threw at her in the second or third week in the job.

                      Fabian, well sixties pop stars…

                    • McFlock

                      Are you going to list vote for a party that’s likely to get into parliament?

    • Marcus Morris 4.3

      Thank goodness. A sensible comment.

  5. We got this. So lets do this.

    English ,…. Seymour ?

    Your services are no longer required ,… so take a hike.

    A very , very long one.

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