There were a few more Jacinda Ardern columns over the weekend. Pearl Going wrote a piece in defense of her in the NBR. Grant Robertson stood up for her on Facebook. And there was much debate in the comments of the previous post.
- Ardern seems likely to be a significant presence in NZ politics. This is good news for her and also for National, I think, because Ardern’s positive qualities are mostly qualities that Andrew Little does not have.
- There will be a lot of ugly gendered attacks against her
- There will be an ongoing debate about her rise to prominence using soft media and a confused debate about whether this debate is an ugly gendered attack.
- Ardern’s defenders insist that she is very intelligent and hard-working, but do not point to examples of these qualities manifesting themselves. (Grant Robertson cites her policy work).
- One of the few ways MPs can distinguish themselves in opposition is through private members bills. You can wedge the government on a popular issue (like Sue Moroney with paid parental leave) or work to get your bill passed and make real change (like Louisa Wall). Ardern’s 2013 Care of Children Bill did neither. It was widely mocked across the political spectrum and seen as a disaster for cross-Parliamentary reform on adoption. It’s one of the major reasons she is, or at least was regarded as a style-over-substance lightweight among political circles.
- So I remain an Ardern skeptic but I am ever mindful that I thought David Cunliffe would work out brilliantly, so I am open to persuasion. If Ardern is as talented as her defenders claim Labour will be looking for opportunities to display this and I’m curious to see what they come up with.