Continuing from last post... Labour are 4-0 down with ten minutes to go. They haul off under performing central striker and captain Andy Little and bring on "super sub" Jacinda Ardern. It's all or nothing for Labour but can Adern deliver when it counts? Labour have everything to play for and everything to lose.

APART FROM the usual criticisms and jibes from the usual suspects (David Seymour, Mike Hosking, Matthew Hooten, etc), Jacinda Ardern's selection as Labour Party leader has been generally well received. But, given that Andrew Little was so horribly the archetypal grey man in a suit, Ardern only had to show up on time, not knock over the furniture and deliver her lines. And that she did with confidence, including batting off silly and offensive questions about whether or not she could be a leader of a political party and still have children.

Of course, those Labourites desperate to cling to anything that might suggest that Labour isn't looking at a fourth straight election defeat, have descended into the kind of near hysteria usually reserved for Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift. Jacinda Ardern is Labour's new saviour...after its last new saviour.

In the end though Labour's fate will be sealed on substance rather than style. It'll come down to a little matter of policy rather than the fact that Ardern likes to spin the vinyl or that she is a favourite with the editors of the women's magazines.

In an interesting interview with Guyon Espiner on Morning Report, Espiner asked Ardern whether she considered herself to be a democratic socialist. She fudged her reply and said that she liked to describe herself as a 'pragmatic idealist". Which could mean anything. And this should raise alarm bells given her long held admiration for a 'Third Way' exponent like Helen Clark.

If Ardern's intention is to simply "cherry pick" which policies that Labour should emphasise while leaving the logic of market capitalism unchallenged, then this will not be the "bold" Labour she says that she wants. It will not shift Labour from its failed centrist path and present the electorate with a clear poltical and economic alternative.

As Labour Party member Stephanie Rodgers  observes:

"There is an opportunity here for Labour to redefine themselves and get the kind of resurgence that Don Brash achieved by dogwhistling to our worst instincts as a country - but they must do it by appealing to our best. That's what Labour is meant to do.

The strategies of triangulation, reaching for the mythical centre and pulling "soft National" votes is deeply entrenched in the Labour Party right now, and its advocates will be pushing hard to keep it that way.

They must be overcome, or Ardern/Davis are going to take the fall for another historic election defeat, and then the question is not who will want to take the reins, it's how many people will literally die on decade-long waiting lists and starvation wages in cold, damp houses until a viable progressive alternative can be rebuilt."

Of course given the election is less than two months away, and with voting beginning on 11 September, the question arises whether Ardern can - or wants - to redefine Labour in the way that Rodgers describes. We shouldn't have long to wait to find out what the answer is.


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