The evidence is in. Jacinda Ardern's appearance in Vogue magazine demonstrates that she is "emerging as a world class leader" and "communicates a radicalism that is part of the Zeitgeist." Welcome to Jacinda's wonderful world of politics without substance.
PRIME MINISTER Jacinda Ardern has struck a pose and appeared all glammed up and photoshopped in Vogue magazine.
As the Prime Minister of a country where the economic gap is ever widening and poverty ever-deepening, Ardern has decided to make a bold political statement. The trench coat she is wearing, by designer label Harman Grubisa, will cost you just a snip under $900. Sensibly-priced clothing for these tough economic times! Just the thing for those demonstrations in the middle of winter!
Displaying the same kind of adulation usually reserved for the likes of Britney Spears and Justin Bieber, Ardern's fans have been gushing. Canterbury University academic Bronwyn Hayward, for example, thinks this photo shoot is evidence of Ardern 'emerging as a world class leader'.
Given the low level of analysis on display, we can expect that some of the more dubious statements she makes in the Vogue article to go largely unscrutinised by a media besotted by the amazing fact that Ardern is a pregnant thirty-eight year old woman.
Ardern, when not appearing on the cover of women's magazines, often likes to boast of her 'progressive' credentials - even though she spent nine years on the opposition benches as a tediously centrist Labour MP who never once rocked the boat.
Although she was clearly comfortable being part of the political establishment, she tells Vogue that
“For too long, we progressives have seemed like part of the system. We need to start thinking about whether or not it’s delivering for us now.”
Here's some breaking news for Jacinda: some of us been thinking about how the system isn't delivering for us for many years now - like through the last three decades of neoliberal dominance overseen by both National and Labour governments. But, hey Jacinda, thanks for catching up!
And while Ardern might like to pose as radical, the actions of her government prove otherwise. Next month her government will sign the reheated corporate-friendly charter, the TPPA - despite the fact Labour opposed it in opposition.
And while it postures its concern about economic inequality and the housing crisis, Jacinda Ardern and her coalition government's policy response has been less than impressive. Jacinda Ardern, the 'progressive', is the same Jacinda Ardern who ran away from increasing taxes on the wealthy.
Vogue has labelled her the anti-Trump. Since most of the world is anti-Trump this is hardly a big deal. Interestingly though, this is a label that has been stuck on another determinedly centrist politician, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The Canadian corporate media have been swooning over his good looks and winning smile.
But it hasn't convinced everyone. Writer and activist Naomi Klein has regularly voiced criticism of the Trudeau-as-liberal-saviour narrative that has allowed him to get away with some decidedly unprogressive policy decisions. Given the present dribbling over Jacinda Ardern's appearance in Vogue, we appear to be heading down a similar road in New Zealand.