I have been around the Labour Party for a while. I met Bill Rowling once when I was a 14 year old, and I have had various interactions with previous leaders David Lange, Geoffrey Palmer, Mike Moore, Helen Clark, Phil Goff, David Shearer, David Cunliffe and Andrew Little.
I spent Sunday campaigning with a large number of other people supporting Jacinda Ardern. We started off at the Avondale Market and then provided support for her when she had a walk through Lynnmall in New Lynn.
At the market we had dozens of supporters show up. Many of them I knew, but there were quite a few I had not met before and most of them were young. They were all keen and enthused and determined to help to change the Government.
In comparison National had just the one activist present. Three weeks out at one of the busiest markets at the Auckland region you have to wonder what is going on.
The legendary Miss Ribena was there doing her best to persuade people to party vote Labour.
Then Jacinda arrived. The plan was for her, Carmel Sepuloni and Deborah Russell to walk through the market and then give a short speech at an arranged stage near the food area.
Progress was slow. As soon as she arrived interested people approached her and asked for selfies. This is something that was repeated and repeated and repeated.
She responded with good grace and a smile and a kind word. No request was refused.
Her security hovered round, nervous at the proximity of so many people. But there was nothing to be afraid of because everyone, except for the lone National supporter, were happy to see her.
One of her security guards, a guy with a real craft beer drinking hipster beard, shadowed her. I did not really notice him at the time but when I reviewed my photographs he has this uncanny ability to appear in pretty well all of them.
Here he is hovering in the background.
He also appeared in this photo featuring the legendary Fala Haulangi and Jacinda.
After a detour to visit a long term labour activist who has run a stall at the market for decades we eventually made it to the speech area. Jacinda then spoke with passion and determination about the crises of homelessness and child poverty that the country is facing.
A number of candidates were present including Kurt Taogaga (Helensville), Naisi Chen (East Coast Bays), Shannan Halbert (Birkinhead) and Romy Udanga (North Shore). It is clear they are having a great time.
Then Jacinda posed for more photos including this one of a young woman who had made a JA4PM heart and had hoped to meet her.
After that she went to the policy launch for tenancy reform and then went to Lynnmall. The plan was to walk through and meet and greet.
The plan did not work as planned. As soon as she entered the food area people started to yell out to her. A family having lunch wanted her to sit down with them. We slowly made our way through what had developed into a rather big crowd.
And again numerous selfies were asked for and granted.
People of all ages and ethnic backgrounds flocked to see her.
Young people particularly young women thought she was great.
And even the babies were very happy to see her. She exudes this real sense of calm and happiness that is very infectious.
We only made it part way through the mall before time ran out and Jacinda had to leave.
I spoke with Annette King who is doing a very good job as Jacinda’s minder. We both agreed we had never seen anything like it except possibly during the time of David Lange in his heyday.
The Jacinda effect is real. Her EQ is extraordinarily high. She is a complex combination of intelligence, determination and principle. And people really, really like her.
A month ago at the time that Andrew Little resigned I frankly though the party’s chances this year were shot. I thought the party would be hammered in the election and would have to regroup and rethink things after the dust settled.
But now there is a real chance that Labour could form the next Government. And if this happens Jacinda Ardern will be the cause.