The Dim-Post

August 27, 2015

Hang on a second

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 6:55 pm

So. The demeaning comments about Jacinda Ardern:

Rugby league legend Graham Lowe alarmed Jacinda Ardern after he described her as “a pretty little thing” when asked if she would make a good Prime Minister.

National Council of Women New Zealand chief executive Sue McCabe said the description of MP Jacinda Ardern as “a pretty little thing” was dismissive and condescending.

“Within the context, a woman’s appearance is irrelevant; rather the focus should be on her abilities as a politician and potential Prime Minister.

“By focusing on her appearance and describing a grown woman as ‘little’, the panellist showed a lack of respect for Jacinda.

“This comment is sexist. Often when people highlight sexism, the concern is dismissed. More often than not, it’s seen as a one-off comment and the person apologises.

“However, these comments are symbolic of the sexism that is entrenched in our culture.

“We call on New Zealanders to think about the language they use and make sure it reflects the equality of genders.”

But the context around Ardern’s surge in popularity complicates all of this a bit, I think. She isn’t popular because she’s an effective campaigner, or because she’s been breaking big stories or landing hits on the government in the House. She’s popular because she’s gotten glowing coverage in the women’s magazines over the last few months, appearing on the cover of Next magazine and being profiled in the Woman’s Weekly. I assume this is all being facilitated by Labour’s new comms director who is a former Woman’s Weekly editor and it is a level and type of coverage that any politician – even the Prime Minister – would envy.

Ardern’s popularity subsequent to that coverage tells us something very interesting about the power of that type of media, which is something that political nerds like me are usually oblivious to. But it’s also something that’s happening because she’s really pretty. And there’s something problematic about insisting politicians shouldn’t be judged on their looks when they do appear to be succeeding specifically because of their appearance.

Update: Accusations of sexism in the comments which were inevitable and may, I guess, be true. What I’d genuinely like to hear is a feminist perspective on politicians elevating themselves through the celebrity/gossip media instead of traditional media platforms. People like Clark and Key have appeared in these magazines, obviously – but after they’ve risen to prominence. Ardern’s use of them to achieve prominence is a new phenomenon in New Zealand politics, I think, and worth talking about. So it’d be a shame if it was just me pontificating away while everyone else declared it a taboo subject.

Another update: Hooton argues that Ardern’s popularity comes from an imitation of John Key’s mastery of soft media:

Much more important to Ms Ardern’s rise, as for Mr Key’s, are her regular appearances in the likes of the Women’s Weekly and Next and on Back Benches and Breakfast. She has well over 35,000 Twitter followers while Mr Little has yet to break 8000, and an army on Facebook and Instgram. We know her first cat was called Norm.

It was this activity – not her endorsement by chief executives or any portfolio work – that saw her enter DigiPoll’s preferred prime minister list, even if only at 4%.

153 Comments »

  1. Yep, you’ve nailed it. You can’t play to your looks and then complain when people comment on them. Especially if you’ve really got or done nothing else of note.

    Comment by artcroft — August 27, 2015 @ 7:10 pm

  2. Is she really that popular?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 27, 2015 @ 7:44 pm

  3. “And there’s something problematic about insisting politicians shouldn’t be judged on their looks when they do appear to be succeeding specifically because of their appearance.”

    Is it specifically because of her appearence? I don’t habitually read women’s magazines, but I’ve been led to believe that they sometimes include articles between the pictures. Has anyone who’s read these publications describe what sort of content is being published about her?

    Comment by izogi — August 27, 2015 @ 8:08 pm

  4. Is it specifically because of her appearence? I don’t habitually read women’s magazines, but I’ve been led to believe that they sometimes include articles between the pictures. Has anyone who’s read these publications describe what sort of content is being published about her?

    You can google, y’know: http://www.nzwomansweekly.co.nz/celebrity/jacinda-arderns-country-childhood/

    Comment by danylmc — August 27, 2015 @ 8:36 pm

  5. I don’t think they were aiming for “content”:

    Comment by tom hunter — August 27, 2015 @ 9:11 pm

  6. The thing is that after eight years of watching Obama on The View, Ellen and seeing him in GQ, I can’t dismiss this crap any longer.

    It works.

    Comment by tom hunter — August 27, 2015 @ 9:15 pm

  7. An encouragingly honest post ! In my mind at least, a significant failure of the “left ” to make in-roads in the polls, is because their dishonesty is SO blatant, that even the dimmest people see it for what it is . This post stands as a beacon of contrast to the regular drivel on for example “The Standard “. Spanish Bride on Whaleoil also had a good post tonight…worth reading too.

    Comment by Geoff — August 27, 2015 @ 9:15 pm

  8. Apparently women are far more likely to vote for Labour than men are. Not so with the Greens, or any other party either. Maybe it’s for historical reasons? I don’t understand the appeal myself of course.

    Comment by Korakys — August 27, 2015 @ 9:16 pm

  9. I am sorry, but Lowe describing her as a pretty little thing when asked about a poll concerning preferred PM, is just not acceptable. That is like if I turn up at the office wearing high heels and a glamourous dressed, if the boss is asked about how I would perform in a role answered by commenting on my appearance.

    Sometimes you guys just don’t get it……Your argument sounds like if she dresses like that she’s asking for sexiest comments………Warning women! Don’t dress in a certain way or you will get what’s coming to you…….

    Comment by anker — August 27, 2015 @ 9:32 pm

  10. “Within the context, a woman’s appearance is irrelevant; rather the focus should be on her abilities as a politician and potential Prime Minister.”

    About nails it, I thought.

    Comment by Lee Clark — August 27, 2015 @ 9:34 pm

  11. “Pretty little thing” still sounds patronising to me. I didn’t think you were supposed to call anyone that these days, even actresses or models or airline hostesses.

    Comment by gazzaj — August 27, 2015 @ 9:45 pm

  12. Hang on what? Did you just assume the readers like her because of the photos and didn’t read the articles? I can smell your snobbery from Auckland.

    Comment by Matthew W — August 27, 2015 @ 9:52 pm

  13. From back in 2011, this has to be some kind of high water mark on the creepiness scale.

    Comment by Joe W — August 27, 2015 @ 10:12 pm

  14. Matthew W: “Hang on what? Did you just assume the readers like her because of the photos and didn’t read the articles?”

    I think people like Graham Lowe and some commentators probably see her, or assume others do, according to how she looks because that’s most of all they know about her. Yet the stuff in Women’s Weekly (thanks for the link Danyl) and presumably Next is really a puff piece designed to give readers of that market far more reasons to like and relate to her than simply how she looks. The style of photos just come as part of publishing in that medium. If all you look at is the magazine cover then maybe that’s all you’d see, but in that case it’s probably also not targeted at you.

    Comment by izogi — August 27, 2015 @ 10:39 pm

  15. Put James Shaw in poka dots and he’d get on a few covers.

    I sort if see what you mean although Ardern herself doesn’t seem to have reacted that way.

    Comment by NeilM — August 28, 2015 @ 12:07 am

  16. So the contention here is that Lowe’s comments are not really so patronising or sexist because he probably read those Woman’s Weekly and Next magazines articles and gave consideration to Ardern’s purported “surge” in popularity being related to that?

    Makes sense.

    Also, it’s great to see you elicit the support of views such as those at comments 1 and 7. Enjoy the company!

    Comment by steve — August 28, 2015 @ 12:22 am

  17. “But it’s also something that’s happening because she’s really pretty”

    1) But you just said that it’s happening because of Labour’s new comms director. Which is it? And do you have any evidence to back up either hypothesis, or are you just making assumptions based on your own response to the way she looks?
    2) Lowe didn’t say she was a pretty woman or an attractive public figure, he said she was a pretty little thing, and the ‘pretty’ there was is the least bad part three word adjective-adjective-noun combo. Is this also happening because she’s little? or a thing? Taking the least bad part of the phrase and arguing that it might be accurate wouldn’t exonerate the phrase. Analogy: The PM claims that Nicky Hagar is a left wing conspiracy theorist. You ask why. He just talks about him being left wing, which is true. But do you leave it at that? It’s the ‘conspiracy theorist’ part that was the important bit.
    3) When Key gets airtime because he’s blokey, he doesn’t get called a “blokey little thing”, and handsome men don’t get called handsome little thing. Being attractive is not seen as a grounds for belittling men and this is why this is a problem. Saying “but she *is* pretty” is messing with false equivalence.

    Comment by greatleapingcrab — August 28, 2015 @ 12:48 am

  18. do you have any evidence to back up either hypothesis, or are you just making assumptions based on your own response to the way she looks?

    If you don’t think these magazines that are famous for their obsession with attractive people are focused on Labour’s most attractive MP because she’s attractive, why do you think its happening? Why aren’t more successful opposition MPs like Kelvin Davis or Poto Williams getting on the cover of Next magazine? And if Ardern’s sudden popularity isn’t down to her prominence in these magazines, why do you think it’s happening?

    Comment by danylmc — August 28, 2015 @ 5:13 am

  19. “Pretty little thing” still sounds patronising to me. I didn’t think you were supposed to call anyone that these days, even actresses or models or airline hostesses.

    Like I said at the start it’s a demeaning thing to say. And we all know we’re not supposed to judge people based on their appearance – but then how are we supposed to respond when their success seems to stem from their appearance?

    Comment by danylmc — August 28, 2015 @ 5:21 am

  20. At least it’s better than the other go-to labels for a woman in politics, especially on the left: sour sisterhood, frigid feminazi, miserable man-hater (see Stuff comments for the rest, or any right-wing blog, of the kind that Geoff @7 would endorse).

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — August 28, 2015 @ 7:01 am

  21. “…but then how are we supposed to respond when their success seems to stem from their appearance..?”

    To my mind the clear difference is firstly one of common courtesy – after all, no one prefaces a comment about Graham Lowe with “ugly little fat guy”. Secondly you are getting perilously close to victim blaming country here – “it’s her fault, if only she hadn’t been so pretty, he wouldn’t have done it”. Thirdly – Danyl, would you openly gape at a pretty woman on the beach wearing a bikini? No? Why not? Because you don’t have her damned permission, that is why. And neither does Lowe to comment on Adern’s looks. Which brings us to the gossip mags and their photo coverage of her. To my mind, if Lowe had of said something like “well, I’ve no idea about her political skill but I’ve seen Next magazine and she is damn hot” he wouldn’t have crossed a line. But as the jumping crustacean put it up thread, “…the ‘pretty’ there was is the least bad part three word adjective-adjective-noun combo…”.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 28, 2015 @ 7:17 am

  22. Next (aka Nana) is a middle aged, middle of the road women’s mag with gently feminist principles that actually does have some relatively intelligent content.It doesn’t do royals and kardashians. Many female politicians have featured in it, and the focus is on their career rather than their love lives. Yes they do gussy people up for the shoot, and this can be cringeworthy when the stylists do their best with some ordinary looking person who ends up looking uncomfortable and overdone, but the focus is on celebrating success. It must’ve been nice for them to work with someone less old and lumpy for a change! And durrr it is a women’s mag, so it is female polys that feature, not Kelvin etc. Media coverage is the price of politics, and we’ve all seen the ghastly John and Bronagh at the beach in preppy pink poloshirt pics. By way of contrast, the All Blacks pose naked on enormous billboards at every intersection and noone says that this cancels their credibility or that they are trading on their looks. For men it is OK to be attractive AND be respected and known for other achievements. Being hot is the icing on the cake, not the sole focus. Graham Lowe would not comment that Dan Carter is a sexy little thing. It is the combination of little and thing that really makes this comment outrageous. If he had said “She’s attractive and…” it would not be so offensive.
    In Jacinda’s case, it seems that all the slightly earnest but intelligent things she has said in the media and the odd event I have seem her at are cancelled out by her looks or media coverage. Labour is absolutely in the woods, but she at least can speak in sentences and doesn’t ponce around with the smug and comtemptuous disdain that our government treats us ‘breathless children’ with. I don’t think she is suddenly popular – and a politicis nerd should know that as well as anyone. Love your work but this is a really disappointing post.

    Comment by strangejane — August 28, 2015 @ 7:32 am

  23. would you openly gape at a pretty woman on the beach wearing a bikini? No? Why not? Because you don’t have her damned permission, that is why. And neither does Lowe to comment on Adern’s looks.

    Hmmm I would have thought Lowe can comment on whatever he likes. Indeed, he’s permitted to comment on your comment without having to ask for your permission.🙂

    Comment by Ross — August 28, 2015 @ 7:47 am

  24. I can;t recall the last time I was on a beach in a bikini so it’s probably not fair for me to comment.

    Comment by Lee Clark — August 28, 2015 @ 7:51 am

  25. To be fair, Lowe also said that Ardern “speaks pretty smart I think. She just comes across as the right image”.

    He said John Key also had a good “television image”.

    “If she was Prime Minister at some stage, she’d look good. You’d see her and you’d think ‘Wow, she’s our Prime Minister’.”

    I think he was making it clear that, at least to him, she looks good but then so does John Key, apparently. And he indicated she has brains too! So not quite the throwback to Peter Griffin.

    Comment by Ross — August 28, 2015 @ 7:52 am

  26. But it’s also something that’s happening because she’s really pretty.

    That’s a matter of opinion. I hope the media don’t take this meme any further however as the sight of a glammed up Judith Collins in a dominatrix outfit would be a little hard to stomach.

    Comment by Ross — August 28, 2015 @ 7:59 am

  27. I got nothin’.

    Comment by Lee Clark — August 28, 2015 @ 8:11 am

  28. “…glammed up Judith Collins in a dominatrix outfit…”

    David Farrar just reached for the tissues.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 28, 2015 @ 8:21 am

  29. Thanks for your post strangejane. I did a google image search for Next magazine and most of the people on the cover are models or actresses or designers, most of whom are young and all of whom are beautiful. There was a Maggie Barry cover a while back. But Maggie Barry is pretty famous for her accomplishments outside of politics. Ardern isn’t. And she isn’t famous for her accomplishments inside of politics either. Like I said in my original post, Lowe’s comments were demeaning but the responses – that we need to take Ardern seriously as a politician and shouldn’t judge her for her looks – all point to an uncomfortable truth that her accomplishments are almost non-existent and her prominence is due to her success in celebrity/gossip magazines and breakfast TV, which is, frankly, down to being beautiful.

    If National were using an ineffectual but attractive politician and promoting them through the celebrity media I think there would be considerable cynicism on the left, so I don’t think we should pretend that isn’t what’s happening here just because Ardern is a Labour MP. Matthew Hooton has a column in the NBR today arguing that Ardern represents ‘post-MSM politics’ and that Labour are using her to fight back against Key and his success in this space, posing with puppies and kittens and/or Bronagh, and that this represents the future of political comms. It’s a depressing thesis. He’s probably right.

    Comment by danylmc — August 28, 2015 @ 8:38 am

  30. Or it could be that she is a hard-working MP, with solid values, who speaks will, and campaigns well.

    I’m not sure how you missed this. I wouldn’t accuse you of being basically sexist off the bat, but I would remind you that how attractive a woman is does not tell you how effective she will be in a role.

    Comment by Onsos — August 28, 2015 @ 8:38 am

  31. “. Ardern’s use of them to achieve prominence is a new phenomenon in New Zealand politics”

    Arden is a high ranking Labour MP who’s done a lot of work on select committees. People have been talking about her as a potential Prime Minister for years. I think it’s quite a stretch to say she owes her prominence to being on a few magazine covers.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 28, 2015 @ 8:49 am

  32. Lots of MPs do work in select committees. None of them show up in the preferred Prime Minister polls. Ardern is on the cover of a magazine cover that claims she’s our next Prime Minister and suddenly she is. You work it out.

    Comment by danylmc — August 28, 2015 @ 8:52 am

  33. “If you don’t think these magazines that are famous for their obsession with attractive people are focused on Labour’s most attractive MP because she’s attractive, why do you think its happening? Why aren’t more successful opposition MPs like Kelvin Davis or Poto Williams getting on the cover of Next magazine? And if Ardern’s sudden popularity isn’t down to her prominence in these magazines, why do you think it’s happening?”

    I’m sure this marketing push by Labour in Women’s mags very probably has something to do with her popularity, maybe more than her work, but to me that doesn’t exemplify that showing up in magazines targeted at a specific demographic of women is trying to play on her looks.

    @Strangejane said this better than I could, but I think you need to survey the actual readers of these magazines, instead of some guy whose main obsession is with a cover photo. You might find that in accordance with the articles that go alongside, the message they get is more about power and control and self-confidence as a woman than about wearing a sleeveless dress and showing cleavage to attract men.

    Comment by izogi — August 28, 2015 @ 8:55 am

  34. Matthew Hooton has a column in the NBR today arguing that Ardern represents ‘post-MSM politics’ and that Labour are using her to fight back against Key and his success in this space, posing with puppies and kittens and/or Bronagh, and that this represents the future of political comms. It’s a depressing thesis. He’s probably right.

    Shouldn’t you be applauding Labour for finally doing some effective comms?😛

    Comment by gazzaj — August 28, 2015 @ 8:58 am

  35. I’m sure this marketing push by Labour in Women’s mags very probably has something to do with her popularity

    This supposedly very popular politician hasn’t been able to win back what used to be a safe Labour seat, or even stop the party vote for her party from collapsing there. Using soft media seems to be a clever way for her to increase her popularity, but it’s definitely happening that way around, and not the other.

    Comment by danylmc — August 28, 2015 @ 9:01 am

  36. For what it’s worth…

    John Key is balding ungraciously, and I think this will have a deleterious effect on his public image.

    Comment by Moses — August 28, 2015 @ 9:11 am

  37. @Danyl: Has there really been a grassroots surge of support for Arden? I’ve seen little evidence of this. All I’m seeing is somebody who has been discussed as a potential PM for years prior to any magazine appearances still being discussed as one.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 28, 2015 @ 9:12 am

  38. “Using soft media seems to be a clever way for her to increase her popularity, but it’s definitely happening that way around, and not the other.”

    I don’t disagree with this, but what you’ve been saying from the original post, unless I’ve misunderstood, is that she’s playing on some kind of sexual attractiveness thing and so that makes it okay for others to judge her on that. I don’t think the womens’ magazine coverage is meant to do this at all for the actual readers it targets. In contrast, someone said something quite objectifying about her, and to excuse it people are now pointing at cover photos of these magazines and screaming variants of “look she’s wearing a dress so she obviously asked for it!”.

    I note you’ve just added to the post, though, so I’ll stop here.

    Comment by izogi — August 28, 2015 @ 9:15 am

  39. This supposedly very popular politician hasn’t been able to win back what used to be a safe Labour seat, or even stop the party vote for her party from collapsing there.

    Wellington hasn’t changed in 25 years. However it’s different in Auckland. The “supposedly safe” territories underwent a huge shift in the last twenty years. A lot of money poured in and the surrounding burbs gentrified. Doorknocking apartment buildings is impossible (I’ve tried). Tizard took over from a rather pathetic Sandra Lee, and then did absolutely nothing of value for 12 years and squandered Labour’s residual favour.

    Ardern has done well to do as well as she did given those circumstances. If she can appeal to voters across the country as a brand/face (since that’s how MMP works) then more power to her.

    Comment by Moses — August 28, 2015 @ 9:19 am

  40. I find myself agreeing with Danyl.

    The magazine no doubt gives other reasons to consider Ardern a possible PM but the use of her image as a good looking person presented in a glamerous manner looks to be a deliberate choice.

    If it is part of her comms strategy then it’s open for discussion. Danyl wasn’t looking to justify Lowe.

    Comment by NeilM — August 28, 2015 @ 9:50 am

  41. John Key is balding ungraciously, and I think this will have a deleterious effect on his public image.

    This is true! Hair is a very important political attribute.
    Which brings us to Ardern’s tantalising locks….

    Comment by Gregor W — August 28, 2015 @ 9:53 am

  42. Ardern has done well to do as well as she did given those circumstances.

    I wrote about this shortly after the election. Labour people were all celebrating Ardern, even though her result was pretty terrible, but not MPs like Poto Williams who actually increased the party vote in her electorate. It is, as I said at the time, bullshit, and one of the major reasons (I think) why the left struggles is because we don’t celebrate and incentivise electoral success. Ardern’s opponent Nicki Kaye won a safe seat, increased the National vote and now she’s in Cabinet. Ardern didn’t but she’s shooting to the top of caucus anyway because she ‘tried her best’? Pfttt.

    Comment by danylmc — August 28, 2015 @ 10:00 am

  43. “…Which brings us to Ardern’s tantalising locks….”

    Putting her hair in a ponytail would certainly be a dangerous political risk in the house.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 28, 2015 @ 10:15 am

  44. Using such media like this, does hazard entering into that Millie Elders-Holmes and Kardashian territory – you know, where being famous for being famous appears to be an acceptable substitute for generating anything more tangible or productive.

    I’m not saying that Adern isn’t productive or hasn’t produced anything tangible, her record can speak for itself, can’t it?

    However, if she isn’t or hasn’t, then trying to bypass making actual political impact by appealing to peoples hearts and eye risks presenting her as someone more enamoured by her own sense of celebrity and fame, than being motivated by a desire to realise meaningful political improvements.

    Comment by Lee Clark — August 28, 2015 @ 10:22 am

  45. It is the combination of little and thing that really makes this comment outrageous. If he had said “She’s attractive and…” it would not be so offensive.

    I really don’t expect you’ll ever hear Lowe commenting on Ardern’s fine bone structure. He’s an ex-rugby league coach who has lived much of his life in Aussie. (That’s not a put down of rugby league coaches or Australians but does provide an explanation.)

    Comment by Ross — August 28, 2015 @ 10:23 am

  46. @39. Wellington hasn’t changed in 25 years. However it’s different in Auckland. The “supposedly safe” territories underwent a huge shift in the last twenty years.

    In the same timeframe there have been a couple of Auckland Council elections held with the same electorate. In 2010 Mike Lee won Waitemata & Gulf with 42% of the vote and in 2013 won with 47% of the vote.

    Two left wing politicians in the same electorate, courting the same voters. A winner with an increased share and a loser with a decreasing share.

    Comment by unaha-closp — August 28, 2015 @ 10:24 am

  47. You can’t compare ’11 to ’14 results – the boundaries were different! In particular, Auckland Central moved into Epsom, which would have hurt Ardern, will Christchurch East picked up chunks of Mairehau and Aranui which would have strongly favoured Williams. It’s a meaningless metric.

    Comment by Keir Leslie — August 28, 2015 @ 10:25 am

  48. The Greens managed to hold their Auckland Central Party vote at 22% from 2011 to 2014 . . .

    Comment by danylmc — August 28, 2015 @ 10:28 am

  49. Perhaps indicating that the Green vote is not as closely correlated with household income as the Labour vote is — something we already know is true?

    Comment by Keir Leslie — August 28, 2015 @ 10:31 am

  50. “Pretty little thing”: Women are not things. It is the very definition of objectifying her.

    But look at all the men in this thread proclaiming a little bit of sexism is OK. I wonder why women are still under-represented in parliament…

    “This supposedly very popular politician hasn’t been able to win back what used to be a safe Labour seat, or even stop the party vote for her party from collapsing there. Using soft media seems to be a clever way for her to increase her popularity, but it’s definitely happening that way around, and not the other.”

    “Used to be”, but demographics change, especially when house prices shoot up unstoppably, but even without this, have a look at how the electorate boundaries changed at the last election: Ak central lost a big chunk of Grey Lynn liberal and gained a big chunk of East City urban Nat supporters. She and Nikki are both strong politicians and that electorate is one of the most contentious in the country. Also the Greens tend to drag a decent chunk of left votes away from Labour while even when Seymour ran there in he didn’t take much from Kaye…

    Comment by nommopilot — August 28, 2015 @ 10:36 am

  51. Ardern’s opponent Nicki Kaye won a safe seat, increased the National vote and now she’s in Cabinet.

    Actually, Kaye won by a mere 600 votes in 2014 which hardly makes it a safe seat. Quite the opposite in fact.

    Comment by Ross — August 28, 2015 @ 10:36 am

  52. http://www.elections.org.nz/events/electorate-boundary-review/final-electorate-boundaries/2014-electorate-boundaries-key-changes

    “Auckland Central lost population to Mt Albert at Westmere and Grey Lynn and gained population in the Grafton area from Epsom.”

    Comment by nommopilot — August 28, 2015 @ 10:39 am

  53. Reading all this, I can’t wait to hear Danyl defending Haley Holt when/if she joins the Greens.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 28, 2015 @ 10:39 am

  54. It used to be a safe Labour seat. Or, left seat rather, viz Lee

    Comment by danylmc — August 28, 2015 @ 10:40 am

  55. I can’t wait to hear Danyl defending Haley Holt when/if she joins the Greens.

    Oh the Greens LOVE celebrity endorsements. They know I think they’re a waste of time.

    Comment by danylmc — August 28, 2015 @ 10:44 am

  56. Left wing women are horrible no matter what they look like.

    Comment by Redbaiter — August 28, 2015 @ 10:44 am

  57. The Greens managed to hold their Auckland Central Party vote at 22% from 2011 to 2014 . . .

    And Jacinda Ardern increased her share of the electorate vote (albeit marginally) from 2011 to 2014, even as Labour’s share of the Party vote in Auckland Central dropped by some 4%. Isn’t that something to be celebrated, consistent with your whole “the Left needs constituency candidates who can appeal to median voters” thesis (as expressed elsewhere)?

    I love statistics. You can prove anything with them.

    Comment by Flashing Light — August 28, 2015 @ 10:48 am

  58. This is stupid – John Key has played on his outward appearance as “the boy next door” to give a non-threatening demeanor, Winston Peters has used style to mitigate his appearance to go after the old white voters who hang on to 1950’s prejudices. Why is a women who is “pretty” judged on different standards.

    Comment by mjpledger — August 28, 2015 @ 10:48 am

  59. Depends on what the question is that Lowe (or Danyl) thinks they are answering.

    If the question is whether Ardern will appeal to voters and potentially win an election, then sure physical attractiveness is something potentially helpful to her. In the same way that being tall and have the right kind of voice is helpful for male candidates. Unlikely to be enough by itself however to win an election. The NZ public is not quite that shallow and feeble.

    If the question is whether Ardern has the goods to perform as an effective prime minister — in the actual governance / executive role. She might do, but physical attractiveness is utterly irrelevant to that question, and its demeaning (not to mention stupid) to think otherwise.

    Comment by RJL — August 28, 2015 @ 10:49 am

  60. John Key has played on his outward appearance as “the boy next door” to give a non-threatening demeanor

    Back in the early twilight of Brash’s leadership, Metro ran a Warwick Roger cover story prophesying Key’s inevitable rise to PM. Rather than “the boy next door” the tag was “National Velvet”.

    Comment by Joe W — August 28, 2015 @ 10:56 am

  61. Why is a women who is “pretty” judged on different standards.

    I guess that’s the whole point I’m trying to make. Normally they shouldn’t be. No one seriously thinks Ardern’s opponent in Auckland Central is being promoted based on appearance, because her political accomplishments are very impressive. And if anyone says she is then the traditional feminist critique that they’re being sexist and applying double standards is entirely correct. But what’s interesting and problematic about Ardern, I think, is that she undermines the traditional feminist critique.

    In some ways it’s a new phenomenon. In others it isn’t. Politicians like Key use this soft media to promote themselves as having ‘family values’ because that’s very attractive to voters. But the downside to that is that it can make their marriage and values political targets when they otherwise wouldn’t be. Maybe comments about Ardern’s appearance are the equivalent to that?

    Comment by danylmc — August 28, 2015 @ 11:05 am

  62. “It used to be a safe Labour seat. Or, left seat rather, viz Lee”

    Ardern is not responsible for either the demographic or _very_significant_ boundary changes in Auckland Central.

    Comment by nommopilot — August 28, 2015 @ 11:05 am

  63. Well, hang on, Ardern was a senior staffer in the PMO, worked as a senior civil servant for the UK Cabinet and Home Offices, was the President of IUSY, is popular among Labour Party members, is reputed to have a high work rate, and is good with the media. Those are impressive political accomplishments by any measure! I’m not sure why you are premising this on the idea that Ardern is a lightweight — as far as I can tell, Ardern’s accomplishments look a lot like those of any good politician who has never been in Parliament while in Government.

    Comment by Keir Leslie — August 28, 2015 @ 11:12 am

  64. “I think, is that she undermines the traditional feminist critique.”

    because she’s a “pretty little thing”?

    Comment by nommopilot — August 28, 2015 @ 11:16 am

  65. Ardern is not responsible for either the demographic or _very_significant_ boundary changes in Auckland Central.

    Don’t bother, Danyl is going to ignore these in order to make a point.

    Comment by Moses — August 28, 2015 @ 11:27 am

  66. “Like I said in my original post, Lowe’s comments were demeaning but the responses – that we need to take Ardern seriously as a politician and shouldn’t judge her for her looks – all point to an uncomfortable truth that her accomplishments are almost non-existent and her prominence is due to her success in celebrity/gossip magazines and breakfast TV, which is, frankly, down to being beautiful.”

    Yep

    Comment by Tinakori — August 28, 2015 @ 11:29 am

  67. I’m not sure why you are premising this on the idea that Ardern is a lightweight — as far as I can tell, Ardern’s accomplishments look a lot like those of any good politician who has never been in Parliament while in Government.

    We can measure her directly, by seeing how well she responds to the Government’s attempts to deal with its massive failing in child protection, and its upcoming release of policy designed to reshape the care of children into a for-profit sector.

    Tolley is an incompetent communicator and not particularly bright for a Minister (smart enough, but we could do a lot better), and despite the considerable support she has in her large advisory and PR team, she’s defeatable. Let’s check back in a couple of months.

    Comment by Moses — August 28, 2015 @ 11:34 am

  68. Ardern is not responsible for either the demographic or _very_significant_ boundary changes in Auckland Central

    Politicians who are powerless in the face of change aren’t really who I’m looking for to take back the government. Politics tends to be tribal and people tend to circle around their MPs, but we on the left seem to have mostly mediocre MPs and very poor systems for selecting and promoting them.

    Well, hang on, Ardern was a senior staffer in the PMO, worked as a senior civil servant for the UK Cabinet and Home Offices, was the President of IUSY, is popular among Labour Party members, is reputed to have a high work rate, and is good with the media. Those are impressive political accomplishments by any measure!

    I just don’t agree. I don’t care about any of these achievements. I want opposition MPs to win votes, break stories and damage the government. That’s pretty much it.

    Comment by danylmc — August 28, 2015 @ 11:40 am

  69. Mate Key gamed women’s magazines every election he was in. They’re actually a really good indicator of popularity with “middle nz” . Little has started early and got his own feature that showcased his sister it’ll only become more prominent as 2017 draws closer.

    Comment by Reece — August 28, 2015 @ 12:03 pm

  70. And Andrews sister – was she called ‘The Little Woman’?

    Comment by Lee Clark — August 28, 2015 @ 12:26 pm

  71. @danyl: “I just don’t agree. I don’t care about any of these achievements. I want opposition MPs to win votes, break stories and damage the government. That’s pretty much it.”

    You should also want to be (somewhat) confident that the MPs will be good at the jobs required when they eventually become government MPs rather than opposition ones.

    Obviously, not a relevant criteria for Green MPs. But it is for some other parties.

    Comment by RJL — August 28, 2015 @ 1:13 pm

  72. I want opposition MPs to win votes, break stories and damage the government. That’s pretty much it.

    Presumably she’s appearing in magazines in an attempt to win votes?

    Comment by gazzaj — August 28, 2015 @ 1:38 pm

  73. You should also want to be (somewhat) confident that the MPs will be good at the jobs required when they eventually become government MPs rather than opposition ones.

    Well, that’s just most of the global left right now, isn’t it? Unable to win a campaign if our lives depended on it but smugly confident that we’d be amazing in government, somehow.

    Comment by danylmc — August 28, 2015 @ 1:59 pm

  74. “Politicians who are powerless in the face of change”

    She’s not powerless. She performed very strongly despite the challenges before her and a very strong opponent, while playing on a very tilted playing field. But this is not the point of your original post which seemed to be that it’s OK for some old man to refer to her publicly as a ‘thing’ because she was put on the cover of a magazine while not looking dowdy.

    You may not be aware of her individual achievements (I’m not particularly), but from what I’ve seen of her in the house she is a very sharp, capable spokesperson who can hold her own against Nat frontbenchers (even in the face of sexist jibes). And she’s one of, if not the most, engaged Labour MPs on social media (which is a low bar, but) which is important for the future of Labour (if there is one). She is certainly competent which is more than can be said for many of the long time MPs on both sides of the house.

    It is not Jacinda Ardern who is undermining teh ‘traditional feminist critique’.

    Comment by nommopilot — August 28, 2015 @ 2:02 pm

  75. Agree that demographic change has played a big role in the Labour losing this seat. It is now a very rich electorate.

    Interested to know what you think Nikki Kaye’s impressive achievements are — I hardly hear a thing from her and certainly nothing about the most serious problems facing Akl at the moment.

    Comment by David — August 28, 2015 @ 2:14 pm

  76. @Danyl: “Well, that’s just most of the global left right now, isn’t it? Unable to win a campaign if our lives depended on it but smugly confident that we’d be amazing in government, somehow.”

    Sure. But the original question was whether Arden would be a good Prime Minister. Not whether she’d be a good Opposition Leader.

    Comment by RJL — August 28, 2015 @ 2:19 pm

  77. *Ardern

    Comment by RJL — August 28, 2015 @ 2:20 pm

  78. “Well, hang on, Ardern was a senior staffer in the PMO, worked as a senior civil servant for the UK Cabinet and Home Offices, was the President of IUSY, is popular among Labour Party members, is reputed to have a high work rate, and is good with the media. Those are impressive political accomplishments by any measure!”

    They are all politically related that’s for sure including the UK ones which, for someone barely out of university,
    look suspiciously inflated in importance. Coupled with her ability to gain a high list place while living overseas they suggest she has the most important skill for a modern Labour politician here and in the UK and Australia, the ability to manipulate your party colleagues to ensure your own preferment. It is an inward rather than an outward focus and might explain why she has has had less success at electoral politics.

    “But this is not the point of your original post which seemed to be that it’s OK for some old man to refer to her publicly as a ‘thing’ because she was put on the cover of a magazine while not looking dowdy.”

    You mean the post where Danyl described Graham Lowe’s description of Ardern as demeaning

    Comment by Tinakori — August 28, 2015 @ 2:38 pm

  79. >Ardern didn’t but she’s shooting to the top of caucus anyway because she ‘tried her best’? Pfttt.

    I guess. But you try winning the first 2 million dollar suburb and it’s surrounding near-2 million dollar suburbs back to Labour. Good luck with that, frankly. Having grown up there, and my parents still living there and associating with the locals, I can tell you it’s a very different place now. When I was a kid in St Mary’s Bay, we were one of the few white families and the place was effectively a slum. Now, it’s property gold, professional whitebread central. It’s the new Remuera, and that’s been safe National since forever.

    Sure, Ardern could have pulled a massive rabbit out of a hat and won it back against a right wing tide that shows no signs of abating at all. To have decreased Kaye’s lead was quite an acheivement, even with the boundary changes, and it seemed she worked hard for it. Most people I know who live in the area had been personally approached at home by her during the election year, and came away with an impression of a competent politician, whether or not they voted for her. When I met her myself, that was my impression too. Not a bimbo.

    It was a bit embarrasing really, because I saw her at a party, had no idea who she was, but recognized that Facebook had been pushing her on me for about a year, and sought to find out who it was that we knew in common. LOL. Um…dude…it’s pretty much everyone you know. She clearly had her head fully around innocent victims like me and defused it rapidly without making me feel like the silly egg I had been. One of the more natural users of social media for self-promotion, probably on account of being a digital native. If she’s using her good looks too, well, I would, if I was her.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — August 28, 2015 @ 2:58 pm

  80. “You mean the post where Danyl described Graham Lowe’s description of Ardern as demeaning”

    Shhh. You’re killing their buzz.

    Comment by danylmc — August 28, 2015 @ 2:58 pm

  81. the most important skill for a modern Labour politician here and in the UK and Australia, the ability to manipulate your party colleagues to ensure your own preferment.

    National politicians are generally pretty good at that too.

    Comment by Moses — August 28, 2015 @ 3:25 pm

  82. “You mean the post where Danyl described Graham Lowe’s description of Ardern as demeaning”

    Shhh. You’re killing their buzz.

    It might be exciting for you to ignore reality and posit that Ardern is a marshmallow on the basis that she knows how to work a magazine cover.

    But perhaps you might acknowledge the talent of an MP who comes within a few hundred votes of winning an electorate that contains NZ’s richest suburbs despite their party having its worst election on record, and who does a pretty good job in her portfolios.

    But I know that you like data, and that you’ve thrown out that provided about her electorate as unreliable. So do a count of stories on CYFS, and see how many of them feature the minister, and how many feature Ardern.

    After all, presence in the media is pretty much the measure of an MP in this day and age.

    Comment by Moses — August 28, 2015 @ 3:31 pm

  83. It’s the new Remuera, and that’s been safe National since forever

    Judith Tizard came incredibly close to winning Remura for Labour in 87!

    I’m not saying Ardern is a bimbo – not even remotely, no matter how desperately and perversely people in this thread want me to say that. I’m sure she’s very smart. But loads of opposition MPs are real smart and none of them are showing up in the women’s magazines and she is, because she’s also attractive. And that’s made her into a popular politician, which I think is a new and interesting thing. That’s what I’m saying, and although people have furiously denounced various things I haven’t said, there hasn’t been much discussion of this original point.

    Also, someone in Labour informs me that Ardern is regarded – apparently without irony – as a ‘high end retail politician’. Make of that what you will.

    Comment by danylmc — August 28, 2015 @ 4:07 pm

  84. This new media strategy is a highway to the Danger Zone.

    Comment by Simonsays — August 28, 2015 @ 4:19 pm

  85. “I’m not saying Ardern is a bimbo – not even remotely, no matter how desperately and perversely people in this thread want me to say that. I’m sure she’s very smart. But loads of opposition MPs are real smart and none of them are showing up in the women’s magazines and she is, because she’s also attractive.”

    Ardern has been mentioned as leadership material much longer than her recent surge in popularity or appearance in the ragmags. People were practically begging her to run against the swathe of Daves and etc in Labour’s leadership contests. And yes it may help that she’s relatively young and attractive because it’s natural for humans to relate more easily to people they find attractive. This can be as much a blessing as a curse because no matter how hard you work someone will come along and attribute your success to your looks and ignore what you’re doing and talking about ie.:

    “there’s something problematic about insisting politicians shouldn’t be judged on their looks when they do appear to be succeeding specifically because of their appearance”

    _____________________

    “You mean the post where Danyl described Graham Lowe’s description of Ardern as demeaning”

    …and then went on to attribute her success to her looks, yes.

    Comment by nommopilot — August 28, 2015 @ 4:52 pm

  86. Maybe if you want a feminist opinion, you could discuss why there are still only ~30% women in parliament with little change over decades? Maybe attractive female politicians would be less a source of wonderment and perplexity if there were a few more of them?

    Comment by nommopilot — August 28, 2015 @ 4:58 pm

  87. What exactly are you wanting anyway, Danyl?

    That she have plastic surgery? That she turn down media opportunities on the basis that she might accidentally be perceived as attractive? That she not try so hard to look nice?

    Appearance is very important for every politician. You’re a representative of a party and a constituency so you have to always appear your best. Part of her job is to present herself as well as she can, but that is “problematic” now, apparently.

    Comment by nommopilot — August 28, 2015 @ 5:09 pm

  88. “I just don’t agree. I don’t care about any of these achievements. I want opposition MPs to win votes, break stories and damage the government. That’s pretty much it.”

    That may be the case, but I think people can disagree with you on what makes a good opposition MP for reasons other than physical beauty.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 28, 2015 @ 5:20 pm

  89. As a point of comparison, has Julie Ann Genter done any magazine covers and general soft sell stuff? She would fit the criteria (young, female, attractive) but I’ve only seen/heard her do serious politics – and she does it as well as anybody. One of the more articulate and impressive MPs (though there are sadly few competitors).

    I think that Danyl *is* getting close to a fair point here: it’s not only that Ardern does puff and fluff, that’s an inevitable part of modern media. It’s more that there’s precious little else these days. Labour/Ardern seem to be accepting that, and joining the game. Probably smart politics, but sad that it has come to this.

    John Key’s legacy to NZ isn’t a flag, it’s a media lobotomy.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — August 28, 2015 @ 5:23 pm

  90. “I want opposition MPs to win votes, break stories and damage the government. That’s pretty much it.”

    This.

    Ardern seems to be a capable technocrat. The jury is out IMO as to whether she’s a capable politician.

    You need to have the former to have a shot at being PM.

    You need both to be electable.

    Comment by Gregor W — August 28, 2015 @ 5:24 pm

  91. Sorry, electable into the role of PM.

    Comment by Gregor W — August 28, 2015 @ 5:28 pm

  92. I can’t speak for what Danyl is wanting here, but what I want is that if Jacinda decides to appear in a glamour shoot on the cover of Next I don’t want her supporters then going medieval on some 69 year old guy who says she’s a pretty little thing – or for that matter, on young leftish guys who “objectify” her with comments about how hot she looks.

    The bad news about garnering attention via image is that you can’t control the form that attention will take. Trying to do so just reinforces an already awful look for the average Left-wing politician – that they’re control freaks of speech, looks and everything else – and takes the emphasis away from grabbing that attention and making something more of it. After all, Mr Lowe also stated that Jacinda sounded fairly smart, so perhaps he could be persuaded to vote for her and her party.

    Which is really what it’s all about.

    Comment by tom hunter — August 28, 2015 @ 5:31 pm

  93. “I think that Danyl *is* getting close to a fair point here: it’s not only that Ardern does puff and fluff, that’s an inevitable part of modern media. It’s more that there’s precious little else these days. Labour/Ardern seem to be accepting that, and joining the game. Probably smart politics, but sad that it has come to this.”

    In a world where Mike Hosking and Paddy Gower are the arbiters of serious political commentary for the masses, I think Jacinda Ardern’s failure to refuse soft media opportunities in order to preserve her good standing and reputation is the very least of our worries…

    Comment by nommopilot — August 28, 2015 @ 5:32 pm

  94. “I don’t want her supporters then going medieval on some 69 year old guy who says she’s a pretty little thing – or for that matter, on young leftish guys who “objectify” her with comments about how hot she looks.”

    “Going medieval” is not the same thing as calling out sexist fuckwittery. Judging a person’s professional performance based entirely on their looks _is_ objectifying them.

    Comment by nommopilot — August 28, 2015 @ 5:41 pm

  95. “Going medieval” is not the same thing as calling out sexist fuckwittery.

    In these days of Facebook Flash mobs I think it is, and there are a few destroyed people to testify to that.

    But you keep clubbing an old man across the head in public. Just means more votes for my side of the fence.

    You can hold off wailing on Danyl though – at least until I get more popcorn.

    Comment by tom hunter — August 28, 2015 @ 6:08 pm

  96. As a woman, I consider calling an adult woman a “pretty little thing” sexist and patronising . Pointing that out is not “clubbing an old man across the head in public”. That’s a pathetic attempt to try and make Lowe some sort of victim, which he is NOT.

    Not sure how many of the other commenters on this thread are female, but I have heard decades of patronising, sexist comments and am so over having to listen to the pathetic excuses made by men when someone calls them out for making them.

    Comment by Corokia — August 28, 2015 @ 6:29 pm

  97. “Not sure how many of the other commenters on this thread are female, but I have heard decades of patronising, sexist comments and am so over having to listen to the pathetic excuses made by men when someone calls them out for making them.”

    Hey now, the men here are daring to ask the questions nobody’s ever thought to ask before – what if centuries of sexist stereotypes about young women succeeding based on sex appeal rather than brains were correct? Checkmate, feminists.

    Coming soon – what if Maori people really are lazy and spendthrift?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 28, 2015 @ 6:43 pm

  98. ” and her prominence is due to her success in celebrity/gossip magazines and breakfast TV, which is, frankly, down to being beautiful”

    I don’t know how attractive you personally find her Danyl, but she is hardly a smoking hot scantily clad model. I.e. I seriously doubt she is appearing magazines purely because of her beauty.

    Comment by Matthew W — August 28, 2015 @ 6:45 pm

  99. “what if centuries of sexist stereotypes about young women succeeding based on sex appeal rather than brains were correct?”
    hoping that was meant as a joke??
    Or yet another example of a sexist comment and if a woman calls it out as such she gets told her problem is she doesn’t have a sense of humour.

    Comment by Corokia — August 28, 2015 @ 6:57 pm

  100. Corokia – I’m pretty sure kalvarnsen was angling for irony, not sarcasm.

    Comment by Gregor W — August 28, 2015 @ 7:34 pm

  101. Matthew W – the key element of Danyl’s point is that she is appearing in “celebrity/gossip magazines and breakfast TV” not based on her political ability. His hypothesis is that she is featured as a politician in said formats as a natural result of her looks rather than her political skills, or more explicitly, as a result of marketing her looks as a tactic to garner political credibility.

    We’re not talking about Ardern featuring in Vanity Fair talking about her political aspirations or anything.

    Saying that, I’m not the Venn Diagram showing Vanity Fair readers intersecting with people who give a shit about Jacinda Ardern would be that persuasive, so props to her comms people for pitching at the tabloid & glossy formats to spruik their lady.

    While it does show that her (and her people) are adopting successful tactics, it doesn’t follow that she’s necessarily good at her job, unless her job of course – right now, anyway – is to be popular rather than a good politician.

    Comment by Gregor W — August 28, 2015 @ 7:55 pm

  102. Gregor, how have we ascertained it is about looks? John Key has been in plenty of woman’s mags, is he marketing his looks?

    Comment by Matthew W — August 28, 2015 @ 8:01 pm

  103. “But you keep clubbing an old man across the head in public. Just means more votes for my side of the fence.”

    I’m glad you can empathise with an old dude whose feelings, I’m very sure, are smarting with considerable as he reads my every comment. Maybe you could try and empathise with Jacinda being publicly patronised and objectified by an old man before a large audience.

    “You can hold off wailing on Danyl though – at least until I get more popcorn.”

    I agree with Danyl most of the time, but not this time.

    Comment by nommopilot — August 28, 2015 @ 8:10 pm

  104. “hoping that was meant as a joke??”

    For the record, yes it was.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 28, 2015 @ 8:32 pm

  105. @Gregor W: Danyl’s hypothesis is essentially that being popular is the same thing as being a good politician – or at least, being a good opposition politician.

    There is a fundamental contradiction in what Danyl’s saying. On the one hand, he wants opposition politicians to make winning votes an absolute priority, but on the other hand, apparently certain ways of winning votes (like this hypothetical exploitation of beauty) are off the table, or at least, off the table if you want to avoid the kind of crap Lowe was dishing out.

    Somewhat tangential, but does anybody remember the Greens’ highly successful* “I only date boys who vote Green” campaign in 2008?

    *I am adopting the Danyl McLaughlan metric of success, in which it’s considered successful because the Greens increased their vote during that election.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 28, 2015 @ 8:36 pm

  106. Hi, you are right, old nana has got a bit sexy lately. But I scrolled down and found a dolled up Helen Clark
    so we are both right.

    Comment by strangejane — August 28, 2015 @ 8:45 pm

  107. That’s a pathetic attempt to try and make Lowe some sort of victim, which he is NOT.

    And neither is Jacinda. She knows exactly what she’s doing.

    Maybe you could try and empathise with Jacinda being ….

    Oh god. You really don’t get any of this do you? No wonder your lot have lost three elections in a row.

    Comment by tom hunter — August 28, 2015 @ 9:13 pm

  108. At 40:

    – “I find myself agreeing with Danyl.”

    You surprise me.

    – “Danyl wasn’t looking to justify Lowe.”

    It did read like he was trying to mitigate him, though. He quoted the coverage of the comments he called demeaning, then immediately wrote:

    “But the context around Ardern’s surge in popularity complicates all of this a bit…”

    The more Danyl expands on what he was trying to say, the more I wonder why he even connected this issue with Lowe’s comments.

    Comment by steve — August 28, 2015 @ 10:25 pm

  109. “I wonder why he even connected this issue with Lowe’s comments”

    Because that’s the angle that the mainstream media has picked up, and he wants his post to be accessible to people who don’t know anything about the situation except what they’ve seen there.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 28, 2015 @ 11:00 pm

  110. “And neither is Jacinda. She knows exactly what she’s doing.”

    I’m sure, like many women, she’s well used to being patronised, belittled and then told that it’s not sexist and even if it is it’s OK because he’s from a different generation.

    How would you respond to being treated that way, Tom?

    Comment by nommopilot — August 28, 2015 @ 11:16 pm

  111. 82. Moses: “But perhaps you might acknowledge the talent of an MP who comes within a few hundred votes of winning an electorate that contains NZ’s richest suburbs despite their party having its worst election on record…..”

    Gor Blimey, you’re pushing it a bit, aren’t you mate ? Like a lawyer using a series of unrelated half-truths to present the best possible case.

    (1) Auckland Central is certainly NOT the wealthiest seat in NZ (from memory, Wellington Central is – and its Labour MP has a sizeable majority)

    (2) You seem to be conflating Party Vote with Candidate Vote here. You should be aware that Labour’s Candidate Vote held up relatively well across the Country in 2014.

    (3) “who comes within a few hundred votes of winning”: You make it sound as if Jacinda massively cut Kaye’s majority at the last election (in fact the maj fell from 717 in 2011 to 600 in 2014).

    I appreciate people wanting to express opposition to sexism here but the degree of emotional upset underlying some comments has me wondering if some of the blokes have become just a little mesmerised by our Jacinda. All of which puts me in mind of The Young Ones.

    In a “highly-articulate outburst”, Viv has just verbally attacked 70s BBC comedy ‘The Good Life’ and, in particular, “Richard Sugar-coated Briers” and “Felicity Bloody Kendal”…….

    Rik: Well you can just about blimin well shut up ! Because if you’ve got anything horrid to say about Felicity Kendall then you can just about blimin well say it to me first !!!

    Viv: Rik, I just did

    Rik: Oh you did, did you ? Well, I’ve got a good mind to give you a ruddy good punch on the bottom for what you just said, you’re talking about the woman I love !!!

    Comment by swordfish — August 28, 2015 @ 11:55 pm

  112. @Matthew W – No, I would think its not about Key’s looks (though who can be sure!)

    I would think however, that it’s about Key’s equivalent non political talents that make him so PM like and attractive as an older male to the magazines audience – his wealth, his home and garden pad, his family, his have-a-beersie/do-you-like-my-Pinot-ness etc.

    That is, Key represents he trappings of alpha male success that are also grist for the glossy mag mill, but are the middle aged white male equivalent of young, plucky, winsome, earnest girl-Friday which seems to be Ardern’s angle.

    Comment by Gregor W — August 29, 2015 @ 12:09 am

  113. But it seems to me that there isn’t anything in that mainstream media angle that usefully relates to the point he was really trying to make. That is, unless he was trying to mitigate Lowe’s observation; yet he doesn’t seem to like that suggestion either.

    Comment by steve — August 29, 2015 @ 12:15 am

  114. Comment at 113 in reply to 109. Also, mark-up text fail.

    Comment by steve — August 29, 2015 @ 12:20 am

  115. @kalvarnsen – I didn’t get this from Danyl’s piece that the stratagem is “of the table” at all.

    More that we should be prepared to recognise it for what it is, and for the LP and fellow travellers not to pretend that it isn’t, accepting that what Lowe said is pretty much entirely predictable given who he is – a white, well-to-do, ageing rugby league star of the 80s, with somewhat antiquated views towards younger women and who, to be frank, shouldn’t really be regarded as a reference point for any political analysis anyway.

    The old boy’s a dinosaur. Don’t expect him to confirm to today’s nomenclature. What’s the point in being dreadfully offended by it? It’s not like he’s culturally relevant. Most people under 35 would be hard pressed to even know who he is.

    Comment by Gregor W — August 29, 2015 @ 12:30 am

  116. Gregor: you have made the point better than Danyl, as at least you portrayed a “package” that Ardern might represent that is a little more than simply “she’s pretty”. But it raises the question: if she’s the young plucky white female equivalent of Key’s middle-aged white alpha-maleness, and he’s *really* popular and clearly a successful politician, then why is she an example of what Danyl sees as the problem with the Left?

    Remember, Danyl’s problem with the Left isn’t that they might be smart, capable people who may run the country well if elected; his problem is that they’re smug, aren’t popular and won’t get elected.

    Comment by steve — August 29, 2015 @ 12:45 am

  117. Ignoring all the posts pretending to care about Jacinda or not but really just waving party flags, I haven’t seen her do much except get in the media in context of leadership roles.

    there is a reason she is called show pony.

    Comment by Richard Williams — August 29, 2015 @ 7:13 am

  118. she’s well used to being patronised, belittled …

    How would you respond to being treated that way, Tom?

    Pfffft.
    Stock-standard shit if you’re a right-winger mixing with left-wingers. The only difference is the lack of sexism, which I’m sure makes all the difference in the world to you.

    but I have heard decades of patronising, sexist comments and am so over having to listen to the pathetic excuses made by men when someone calls them out for making them.

    If only we could build a world where Jacinda does not have to photoshoot the cover of Next in order to make her way forward. Perhaps woman could stop the process by refusing to cooperate.

    Oh wait! You want it both ways! She gets to play Grace Kelly, and with the breathless punchline, Why she’s Our Prime Minister in Waiting and she has you to tell people to shut up unless they comment about her in the context of the message, rather than the image.

    The whole don’t judge me by my looks feminist angle really has become exhausted in the wake of men observing that they don’t see many woman shacked up with guys who are shorter, uglier and poorer than they are – which is what the whole Jacinda-is-pretty / Key-is-wealthy crap is all about on these magazines. I don’t expect to see Key on the cover with a sweatpant-schlub look any time soon.

    “hoping that was meant as a joke??”

    For the record, yes it was.

    ”she gets told her problem is she doesn’t have a sense of humour.”

    Corokia – I’m pretty sure kalvarnsen was angling for irony, not sarcasm

    I’m sure your sense of humour will be better the next time round for having had the joke explained to you this time.

    Comment by tom hunter — August 29, 2015 @ 7:28 am

  119. None of you have any sense of humour as far as I can see.

    My riposte (@24) about wearing a bikini was pure comedy gold. It was left to die like a baby lamb in the snow.

    Dare I also raise the suggestion that Lowe’s observation was his satirical jab at the post-feminist condition – made in the full knowledge that it was inflammatory, but in the belief that people were sophisticated enough to ‘get’ when an old duffer has the wit to satirise himself, and play to others’ expectations of him?

    Old guys do this all the time. It is a way of amusing themselves at the vanity of youth, who by their very condition are incapable of understanding the joke. When you get older you’ll fight strenuously with your inner angels (or demons) not to do this in such an obvious way, but I promise, you’ll do it too..

    Comment by Lee Clark — August 29, 2015 @ 8:18 am

  120. “…My riposte (@24) about wearing a bikini was pure comedy gold. It was left to die like a baby lamb in the snow…”

    If it is any help, it annoyed me a bit.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 29, 2015 @ 8:55 am

  121. Now you’re talking…

    Comment by Lee Clark — August 29, 2015 @ 9:11 am

  122. “Stock-standard shit if you’re a right-winger mixing with left-wingers.”

    Well at least you’re breaking free of the stereotype of sexist smug right wing arsehole.

    Comment by nommopilot — August 29, 2015 @ 10:40 am

  123. I think that Ardern has appeared in the PM popularity polls around the time she appeared in women’s magazines looking attractive, says everything about the level of awareness people have about what is happening in the country. Unfortunately people are not paying attention to the real stories.

    The other issues with this is what has NZ “journalism” come to when we get an ex rugby league player commenting on politics…..ffs

    Comment by anker — August 29, 2015 @ 12:14 pm

  124. Well at least you’re breaking free of the stereotype of sexist smug right wing arsehole.

    Hardly, that stereotype always hangs, Damocles-like, above our heads, because it’s never far way from being deployed in debates by left-wingers with nothing else to say.

    Which is okay, because nowadays the response is pretty much to shrug the shoulders and move on in the argument – or even just embrace the stereotype with a grin and a wink, much as leftists do when accused of being communists.

    It happened just the other day in the US, with Hillary comparing the GOP to ISIS, as part of the whole War-On-Wimen thing, and then doubling down the next day by talking about the GOP shoving illegal aliens into boxcars!

    Boxcars – geddit – hyuck, hyuck. How to non-Godwin the debate while still getting the central idea across: the epitomy of Left-wing smoothness and sophistication in the 21st century. Plouffe’s tactic of “stray voltage”.

    The response, even from the right, was as I described above, largely a shrug of the shoulders: of course she’d say this; her campaign’s in the shit and she increasingly sounds like the shrill loser she’s always been.

    Did I say “shrill”: TRIGGER WARNING.

    So – possum-in-headlights-with-Magoo-glasses-and-lip-vegetation – what’s your response to being patronised and belittled? Does it involve the use of the word, “arsehole”?

    Actually scratch that, let’s get back to Jacinda twirling her way to Prime Ministership amidst the demeaning catcalls of little known, old, white men. This is the state of politics in NZ, and perhaps the whole Western world, if Obama’s Soft-Media strategy is anything to go by.

    And as I said earlier, it works.

    Comment by tom hunter — August 29, 2015 @ 12:25 pm

  125. great rant dude. you’ve shown me the error of my ways. no, really…

    Comment by nommopilot — August 29, 2015 @ 1:01 pm

  126. Part of her job is to present herself as well as she can, but that is “problematic” now, apparently.

    Nothing wrong with a little style, but substance has always been more important.

    Comment by Ross — August 29, 2015 @ 4:38 pm

  127. You’re so angry and sad aren’t you Tommy? What “friends” you do have ridicule you, and those who would appreciate your “wit”, well they’re really not your kind of people are they? What a bind.

    Comment by Judge Holden — August 29, 2015 @ 5:14 pm

  128. you have made the point better than Danyl, as at least you portrayed a “package” that Ardern might represent that is a little more than simply “she’s pretty”. But it raises the question: if she’s the young plucky white female equivalent of Key’s middle-aged white alpha-maleness, and he’s *really* popular and clearly a successful politician, then why is she an example of what Danyl sees as the problem with the Left?

    Yeah, that’s also the point Matthew Hooton made and it is pretty much what I was trying to say. Quoting the stuff about Lowe in the original post was a mistake since it distracted the debate away from what I was interested in: Ardern’s use of soft media, and why she gets to use it. Although it did give quite a few people the thrill of their lives denouncing me. So that’s something.

    Comment by danylmc — August 29, 2015 @ 5:42 pm

  129. little known, old, white men. This is the state of politics in NZ
    Well-connected old white men’s real fuckups stay little-known because they get name suppression.

    Comment by Joe W — August 29, 2015 @ 5:44 pm

  130. Danyl, I have not read any comments yet but you asked for “a feminist perspective on politicians elevating themselves through the celebrity/gossip media instead of traditional media platforms.”

    Labour’s Deborah Russell obliges:
    https://beefaerie.wordpress.com/2015/08/28/pretty-little-things/

    Comment by Sacha — August 29, 2015 @ 5:49 pm

  131. “No one seriously thinks Ardern’s opponent in Auckland Central is being promoted based on appearance, because her political accomplishments are very impressive.”

    Danyl, Kaye’s party is in government. Achievements in opposition get less publicity and tend to be more about leading policy development or forging useful relationships.

    Comment by Sacha — August 29, 2015 @ 6:19 pm

  132. “Although it did give quite a few people the thrill of their lives denouncing me.”

    You know, you spend a fair bit of time denouncing others, and presumably you do this because you genuinely believe in what you’re denouncing, not because you get some kind of adolescent thrill out of demonstrative moral superiority. It wouldn’t be massively charitable to assume the same of others, and it would also do quite a lot to encourage debate.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 29, 2015 @ 6:20 pm

  133. “I don’t care about any of these achievements. I want opposition MPs to win votes, break stories and damage the government.”

    Ah, so Kelvin Davis is your man. Caucuses need a wider variety of skills than head-banger to take into government.

    Comment by Sacha — August 29, 2015 @ 6:26 pm

  134. Lowie has done Jacinda a HUGE favour with his quip….. bringing even more attention to her candidacy for the Labour Leaders role… her media handlers can not have expected such a bonanza, when lining up the soft sell messaging via the womans magazines.

    The tough part now is providing the substance and results that will keep her in the spotlight as heir apparent to Mr Little….. does she have the toughness, drive and ability?

    Comment by dave1924 — August 29, 2015 @ 6:46 pm

  135. Why does the government and its media/PR pals want us to discuss Jacinda’s prospects?

    Comment by Sacha — August 29, 2015 @ 6:53 pm

  136. @sacha – possibly because, Icarus like, she can be found wanting and sent crashing earthward before she becomes an actual threat / seasoned politico.

    Just spit-balling here…..

    Comment by Gregor W — August 29, 2015 @ 9:22 pm

  137. why is she an example of what Danyl sees as the problem with the Left?

    I think it was Vernon Small who wrote – although now I can’t find the article – that her inclusion in the Herald Digipoll makes Ardern is a ‘political heavyweight’ (which it does), before conceding that she is not especially respected in the gallery. She’s been in Parliament for seven years and hasn’t really done anything. That’s not unusual, especially with our current crop of opposition MPs. Most of them do nothing while somehow convincing themselves that they’re hard-working martyrs for their party. So it doesn’t mean Ardern is dumb, just ineffectual.

    But people insist that Ardern is very intelligent and hard-working, so much so that she should be party-leader and then Prime Minister. My argument is that if she’s so talented where’s the proof, and that she’s actually being promoted because of her media-genic appearance.

    Hooton’s argument, which I can’t link to because of the NBR paywall is more perceptive, I think. Ardern has been cunning, he would say, and far from ineffectual but she’s been doing so outside of the traditional political media environment. She is the only MP competing with John Key in the soft-media space.

    And I guess he’s probably right and that this is the sort of thing that left-wing politicians should be doing, and that the future of left-wing politics is less about ideas and policy and holding the government to account and more about cat photos. As banal as right-wing politics under Key. I don’t really like it, though.

    Comment by danylmc — August 30, 2015 @ 7:06 am

  138. Well, like it or not, as this post attests, she does have a rare talent for getting screeds of attention for saying and doing basically nothing.

    Comment by Lee Clark — August 30, 2015 @ 7:28 am

  139. I don’t really like it, though.

    Back around 2001 the newly elevated Australian Democrats leader Natasha Stott Despoja attracted the attention of the Crosby Textor clobbering machine when she appeared more than willing to be groomed as a youth-friendly focus for the vague demographic that had presumably become disenchanted with fuddy old John Howard. Appearing on a TV panel discussion she was attacked by fellow Senator and serial Howard Minister Amanda Vanstone over an innocuous beach photo where she’d had the temerity to be wearing a swimsuit.

    Vanstone not only resembles Gerry Brownlee in drag, she has the same chortling disregard for cultivating personal appeal. By directly and very personally accusing Stott Despoja of exploiting her appearance she attempted to provoke a gotcha-style meltdown. It was gloating and ugly, and while Stott Despoja didn’t respond in kind, her apparent reliance on her relative youth and media-friendly looks began to look as contrived as her “Not Happy John” t-shirts.

    Ardern’s probably too smart to be provoked into appearing to presume upon her surface appeal. Judith Collins has already tried goading her, with her “My little pony” sniping.

    Comment by Joe W — August 30, 2015 @ 8:07 am

  140. I thought ‘Zip it Sweetie’ was a better one of those. . .

    Comment by Lee Clark — August 30, 2015 @ 8:45 am

  141. As banal as right-wing politics under Key

    I don’t like the soft-media approach either, but almost all media is effectively soft now, in the sense of providing a shallow coverage of issues. And that’s as much a reflection of how society treats politics and government nowadays as anything the media itself has chosen.

    The days when Gallery could hit hard and drag ministers on the carpet live on TV, were also days when this was novel and also when people thought it really mattered. I don’t know if there were ratings figures done in the days of a single TV channel, but current affairs shows seemed to punch above their weight, in the sense that they were regarded as important even if people back then might also have preferred to watch something lightweight. Brian Edwards claimed that when Labour was at its most moribund in the late 1960’s, that Gallery effectively was the opposition. But that was only possible because more people cared what the government did from day to day – and in those days of micro-control over large swaths of NZ it mattered a lot.

    John Campbell obviously tried to run that play as well, and for the better part of a decade he succeeded, but the audience began to fall away steadily. It may be that what a government does day-to-day – what politics does – simply does not weigh as much on people’s minds now, so why watch a show that is all or even mostly political and which claims to hold a government to account.

    And is that not part and parcel of the Left’s problems across the board? If people are not engaged with politics and the power it wields through the state, don’t believe it will help them, or worse, actually despise and dismiss all that, then what headway can be made by people who passionately believe in such things?

    In any case, why subject yourself to gotcha questions based around whatever subject the media has decided to thrash for 48 hours, when you can do cover spreads or appear on The View. Jacinda’s playing it smart, and the only question that remains is whether she’s a Helen Clark – disdainful or even inwardly disgusted by the whole stupid process, but willing to play the game in order to win – or a show pony for whom the medium is truly the message.

    Comment by tom hunter — August 30, 2015 @ 9:44 am

  142. “Jacinda’s playing it smart, and the only question that remains is whether she’s a Helen Clark – disdainful or even inwardly disgusted by the whole stupid process, but willing to play the game in order to win – or a show pony for whom the medium is truly the message.”

    Or, and here’s a novel thought, she could do both like John Key before her and be an effective opposition MP (and Opposition Party leader) in the traditional sense and use soft media as well. Key bested both Cullen and Clark – Labour’s top performers – in standard political combat before he became the PM.

    Comment by Tinakori — August 30, 2015 @ 10:26 am

  143. Key’s populism is however an expression of his personality not a product of comms staff.

    He didn’t take part in uni politics unlike so many in Labour, he came to it later in life and hence with quite a different political style.

    Trying to consciously adopt his tactics might ring a bit hollow.

    Comment by NeilM — August 30, 2015 @ 10:34 am

  144. “this is the sort of thing that left-wing politicians should be doing, and that the future of left-wing politics is less about ideas and policy and holding the government to account and more about cat photos. As banal as right-wing politics under Key. I don’t really like it, though.”

    The thing is, Danyl, any time somebody else tries to comment on an aspect of opposition tactics that isn’t restricted to getting votes and/or upstaging the government, you poo-poo them as ineffectual theorists with no understanding of the gritty realities of modern politics.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 30, 2015 @ 10:45 am

  145. Labour can’t do populism as well as Peters, pragmatism as well as National or purity as well as the Greens.

    In Britain they’ve gone for Corbyn, in NZ for cats.

    Right back at the time Labour were sent into opposition I thought the most obvious role model for reinventing themselves was the newly elected Obama. He managed to present a liberal message without the “I care for the children, you don’t” sanctimony.

    Comment by NeilM — August 30, 2015 @ 11:05 am

  146. TBF Tom, the current GOP is divided over things like whether or not there should be rape or maternal health exclusions from their standard ban on abortion. That’s pretty telling really about their attitude toward women.

    And their current front runner, whom the establishment can;t seem to knock off*, is saying that his policy towards undocumented migrants is to simply deport them all, and their families. Maybe that won’t mean ‘boxcars’, but I doubt he intends to fly them all down first class. If he won’t give the logistical details for simply deporting millions of people, it’s fair for his opponents to assume the most obvious.

    *they can’t shake him for the reasons you allude to. The GOP has trained it’s base to react to claims that someone is being a bigoted ridiculous arsehole very well. Double down and never apologise, shrug it off. Trump is playing that hand very well, his opponents are running out of weapons to hit him with, and weakening their credibility with the base the GOP built.. Eventually, they will have to offer him something.

    Comment by shakingstick — August 30, 2015 @ 12:13 pm

  147. >And that’s made her into a popular politician, which I think is a new and interesting thing.

    On that, Danyl, I fully agree. I’m not saying you’re being a sexist. Just adding one more anecdote to the question of her overall competence.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — August 30, 2015 @ 12:14 pm

  148. >Also, someone in Labour informs me that Ardern is regarded – apparently without irony – as a ‘high end retail politician’. Make of that what you will.

    Gut feeling is that it means she’s being groomed for a diplomatic position. The “high end” being the biggest prizes of all, the cooperation of other nations.

    >Saying that, I’m not the Venn Diagram showing Vanity Fair readers intersecting with people who give a shit about Jacinda Ardern would be that persuasive, so props to her comms people for pitching at the tabloid & glossy formats to spruik their lady.

    I think it’s hard to generalize who Vanity Fair readers even are. It’s the kind of mag that sits on coffee tables, and people can read without buying, as such. Even without any sales, being on the cover of it means getting a big glossy picture that’s on ten thousand shop shelves, and a whole lot of people might pick it up, read only that article, and put it back. Even without picking it up they get a big part of the subliminal messaging “Labour does have at least one attractive young woman in a high position”.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — August 30, 2015 @ 12:23 pm

  149. >John Key has been in plenty of woman’s mags, is he marketing his looks?

    I think he is. He’s not unattractive, as middle aged men go, and the look is not just about physical attractiveness, it’s also about approachability, and the sense of relaxed fun. The whole “I could imagine chatting with/having a beer with/hiring/tapping/working for .. that” comes into play.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — August 30, 2015 @ 12:34 pm

  150. John Key in woman’s magazines, is marketing his image, which is not quite the same thing as his looks. And that image fits with the whole alpha-male-as-successful-provider-and-protector that is the flip-side of the woman-using-her-looks-to-get-something.

    One other aspect that amuses me is the new take on woman’s magazines. The 1st wave feminism (and even 2nd wave), that I encountered years ago, lectured sternly about woman’s magazines being simply another example of the patriarchy keeping woman in line through the objectification of their looks, as well as other aspects. Now however we have this, courtesy of Sach’s link above:

    Those “women’s magazines” are in fact very important avenues for discussion and discourse. They are gossip in the best sense of the word, passing on information and ideas, exchanging views, connecting with a community. Women connect with each other through them, get and pass on information, in an environment of equals. By working with women’s magazines, Jacinda Ardern is making a big effort to connect with a much wider community than just the standard political circles.

    I’ve no doubt that’s true – but did “the feminist” take on these magazines change because the original analysis was wrong – or because it was grudgingly realised that Helen Clarke (and now Jacinda) and other email politicians had to play this game?

    Comment by tom hunter — August 30, 2015 @ 12:50 pm

  151. @shakingstick
    All debatable assertions which will have to await a US election thread by Danyl. I only introduced Hillary as an example of a standard line of attack that is always ready to be dropped on right-wingers, irrespective of the context, facts or “fairness”, and that fully matches with the “how would you feel about being patronised and belittled? question thrown at me by nommopilot.

    Comment by tom hunter — August 30, 2015 @ 12:58 pm

  152. You have your facts and debatable assertions round the wrong way, Tommy. No wonder you feel patronised and belittled, not to mention confused.

    Comment by Judge Holden — August 30, 2015 @ 7:12 pm

  153. “Also, someone in Labour informs me that Ardern is regarded – apparently without irony – as a ‘high end retail politician’. Make of that what you will.”

    I think to me it just says that Labour still has factions which can’t figure out how to get along with each other, or at least shut up about each other when in front of people who are likely to tell the world.

    Comment by izogi — September 2, 2015 @ 10:59 pm


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