I’m becoming more and more impressed with Jacinda Ardern. No, I don’t think she should be leader of the Labour Party, they already have a competent leader (and no I don’t think that opinion polls should determine who gets to be leader of political parties, nor should we vote for the PM, so let’s not go there).
I just think Ardern is smart, good at explaining what she is thinking, and demonstrates a degree of social intelligence that we sorely need in our politicians. She’s also demonstrating that Labour are competent to govern the country, which is exactly what is needed for the left to win the election.
Here she is being interviewed by Lisa Owen. Most of the interview is Ardern doing the competent thing about the economy, then at the end the conversation shifts to who should be deputy Prime Minister in a Labour-led government (starts at 14mins 30).
Asked whether she saw a future in the role, Ms Ardern told The Nation she’d be happy just for Labour to be in a place to negotiate roles and would gladly give up the second spot.
“If we are the position where we are negotiating those positions, then that’s where I want us to be,” she said.
“My relative position actually does’t matter to me,” she said.
Ms Ardern said she’d be pleased to be the Minister for Children instead.
“So if am not Deputy Prime Minister but I’m a minister, that is fantastic. That means we’ve won.”
This is smart in terms of preparing for a coalition. It also came across as genuine. She’s going places as a politician, but ambition doesn’t appear to be the major driver.
Then there’s the thing here about being willing to work for the good of the whole, something I see as a strength in our current left wing women politicians. I’m so looking forward to seeing them in government together. Not only is it the antidote to the macho, ego-driven culture embedded in parliament, which let’s face it, has been undermining MMP since the start, but we might now get to see a move towards the real potential of MMP and the beginning of co-operative politics.
The Greens have long been leader on this, fantastic to see Labour on board. This is another very good reason to push for left wing votes to go to Labour or the Greens so they can govern alone.
Ardern was also asked about preferred coalition partners and made no bones about the fact that Labour have a Memorandum of Understanding with the Greens, and that Peters is a wild card who could go either way so if you want to change the government best not to party vote NZF.
Speaking of the MoU, what Ardern is doing here is showing that the MoU is strong and working well. She does this both/and thing, of pushing Labour’s policies and message to vote Labour, while at the same time making it very clear they are ready and willing to work with their preferred choice of the Greens. This needs rinse and repeat until it’s normalised that two parties can be separate, disagree with each other, have different policies and values, but still have lots of policy and values overlap, and can work together co-operatively. That’s socially intelligent.