Jacinda may steal back some Green votes, but they need a raid on National

by Bill Ralston / 12 August, 2017
RelatedArticlesModule - Bill

Bill English. Photo/Getty Images

All Labour is doing at the moment is rearranging the left’s deckchairs.

When I dreamily ripped open the curtains this morning and gazed out across the gently rolling waves of Hawke Bay, I was greeted by a spectacular bright-red dawn. “Gosh,” I thought, “that Jacinda has an amazingly inventive public relations and marketing team.” Then I woke up.

It was an understandable illusion. The last week or so has been a Jacinda-fest. The Jacinda Effect. Jacindamania. Jacinderella. The media have been deluging us with a tsunami of news stories.

The fact that journalists need only use her Christian name and we still know exactly who she is – like Madonna, Rihanna and Lorde – shows her massive brand power. Actually, I take it back about Lorde, as she wasn’t born with that name, but you catch my drift.

Jacinda is an excellent communicator, with a warm, approachable personality, a connector who manages to forge friendly relations with almost everyone she meets on the campaign trail. My only doubt about her taking the Labour Party leadership was that, unlike her deputy, Kelvin Davis, she has never really landed a blow on the Government in Parliament, which makes you worry about her political strength. She dispelled some of that scepticism by her accomplished first week in the job as she cheerily introduced herself about.

I don’t know what focus group Labour is using, but obviously the research shows her smile is a winner. Watching her be interviewed on television, I marvelled at how she can articulate so clearly while speaking with a smile stretched tightly across her cheeks. I tried the same trick and failed dismally.

Bill English, who for some bizarre reason Labour labelled “a rock”, can manage a wry, lopsided grin, but it soon dissolves into a downward contemplative curl as he mulls over whatever question he’s been asked. American actor and wrestler Dwayne Johnson is more famously known as “The Rock”, and there are a legion of young female fans who use the epithet as a compliment. But I think I speak for the nation when I beseech English, unlike Johnson, to keep his shirt on.

I am stranded, almost alone, in the barren no-man’s-land middle ground of politics. I once voted Labour but now tend to vote National. I am not tribally of any party, so I was pleased to see Labour suddenly make what could be a comeback from the depths of its polling. This, I thought, would make the election more interesting.

Labour will, inevitably, claw back much of the support it has lost to the Greens over the past few elections. It could be worth several percentage points on election day. Co-leader Metiria Turei and the Greens are helpfully contributing to this effect by burning their own party down.

I don’t particularly worry about Turei fiddling her domestic purposes benefit a quarter of a century ago, but it appears from at least one survey that three-quarters of the country disapprove of what she did. I object more to the fact that she has managed to reinforce the otherwise unjustified prejudice of many New Zealanders that most beneficiaries are cheats and can’t be trusted. That is cruelly untrue.

Although Ardern may be delighted by the return of Labour’s deserters from the Greens, the problem she now faces is that voters may worry that any government she could form will depend on the increasingly barking-mad Greens and the grumpy, thundering Winston party.

All Labour is doing at the moment is rearranging the left’s deckchairs. Its more important task is how to get some National voters to switch sides.

This article was first published in the August 19, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage

Latest

NZME-Stuff media merger saga goes to court
81581 2017-10-16 12:54:33Z Business

NZME-Stuff media merger saga goes to court

by Colin Peacock

New Zealand's two biggest publishers of news go to court today to try to overturn the competition watchdog's refusal to green-light a merger.

Read more
The living hell experienced by Rohingya Muslims
81556 2017-10-16 11:02:05Z World

The living hell experienced by Rohingya Muslims

by Kate White

Kate White, a co-ordinator with Médecins Sans Frontières, describes daily life for Rohingya who have fled to Bangladesh - and how you can help.

Read more
Why some people get wheezy when peeling potatoes
81550 2017-10-16 10:31:13Z Nutrition

Why some people get wheezy when peeling potatoes

by Jennifer Bowden

As if living with hay fever isn’t enough, many people with oral allergy syndrome also react to certain foods.

Read more
I almost punched a man in front of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre
81545 2017-10-16 10:11:56Z Travel

I almost punched a man in front of the Mona Lisa i…

by Joanne Black

It was hard to raise a smile at the Mona Lisa, but the rest of the Louvre more than made up for it.

Read more
Is New Zealand turning away from the welfare state?
81539 2017-10-16 07:37:07Z Social issues

Is New Zealand turning away from the welfare state…

by Philippa Tolley

MSD says its mission is to help people look after themselves - so why are there so many complaints about its lack of humanity?

Read more
Dunedin city councillors question $980k payout to power company CEO
81536 2017-10-16 07:20:46Z Business

Dunedin city councillors question $980k payout to …

by Emile Donovan

Grady Cameron received a $980,000 payout after resigning from his position, but the makeup of the payment is confidential.

Read more
How the toxicity of Twitter drove Duncan Garner and Sean Plunket away
81532 2017-10-16 06:43:06Z Social issues

How the toxicity of Twitter drove Duncan Garner an…

by Colin Peacock

Sean Plunket says Twitter brings out the worst in people - including himself.

Read more
Urewera raid pair Tame Iti and Rangikaiwhiria Kemara seek pardon
81529 2017-10-16 06:29:20Z History

Urewera raid pair Tame Iti and Rangikaiwhiria Kema…

by Mihingarangi Forbes

It's 10 years since Tame Iti and Rangikaiwhiria Kemara were jailed on firearms convictions, but it's the 'terrorist' label that haunts them.

Read more