IT WAS JUST last month that the Roy Morgan poll had Labour on 25 percent popularity, well behind National on 39 percent. In 2017 Andrew Little resigned as Labour leader after a series of poor poll results and the latest Colmar Brunton poll showing Labour on just 24 percent. He resigned, he said, for the good of the party and was replaced with Jacinda Ardern. With the Labour Party recording similar bad poll results as it did under Little, Jacinda Arden has opted to resign so she can 'spend more time with the family'. You can take her rationale on face value if you are inclined, but she's still left Labour in a precarious position. Whoever is appointed the new leader, and with the economy tanking, they are on a hiding to nothing. For Labour, this election is likely to be an exercise in damage limitation.
In 2017 Jacinda Ardern postured as a political leader proposing real change, and after nine years of a National or National-led government, the country was in the mood for change. But Ardern, despite her supporters taking her progressive credentials on face value, was always temperamentally and ideologically indisposed to slice open the neoliberal straitjacket the country has been trapped in for over three decades.
Despite being hailed in the international media as the 'great liberal hope', Ardern's philosophy - such as it was - revolved around an uninspiring centrism that prided itself on its 'pragmatism' but meant she did little to upset the political and economic status quo. Her political instinct was always to head for the middle of the road and stay there. Under her Government, New Zealand's level of inequality has never been greater.
I wrote in October last year that Ardern 'has been a career politician engulfed in the mindset of the status quo, doing everything possible not to disturb it. She is no Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the US socialist congresswoman that some Labour supporters initially likened her to.'
Her conservatism came to even disillusion her most ardent of supporters who naively believed all the hype surrounding 'Jacindamania'. These days they have little left to offer but to pathetically claim that Labour may not be up to much, but a National Government would be worse.
Although said she had 'nothing left in the tank' she led a Labour Government that looks like it has run out of steam and run out of ideas.
Although they would never admit it publicly Labour MPs know they are in trouble but are floundering as to what to do about it. They need to turn around popular opinion and fast but issues like the cost of living crisis and the ongoing housing crisis/catastrophe keep getting in the way. Not to mention the thorny issues of Three Waters, co-governance and the proposed merger of TVNZ and RNZ. Jacinda Ardern has decided that it's no longer her problem. When the going gets tough, the tough get going - or so the song says. In Jacinda Ardern's case, when the going got tough, she looked for the exit door.
In 2020 Jacinda Ardern campaigned for a second term on the basis of stability.
'These are uncertain times, but we’ve seen what we can achieve with a strong plan,” she said in campaign advertising. 'So, let’s stick together – and let’s keep moving.'
But with the election still some ten months away Ardern has decided that she doesn't want to stick around and she's moving out. And as for Labour having a 'strong plan', she's left Labour in political limbo.
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