Brian Edwards Media

Posts Tagged 'Jacinda Ardern'

Is this Democracy?

As I write this Winston Peters may or may not have made up his mind whether to go with Bill or Jacinda. How many brain cells to you have to lose in order to regard MMP as a workable and satisfactory form of democracy. One egotist – I would have used a stronger term but my wife says it would be defamatory – one egotist is offered the keys to the kingdom and gratefully, if not graciously, accepts. And this is the third time it has happened.

This is not democracy; this borders on autocracy. Only the names of the powerbrokers change. When the leaders of the two largest parties in the country have to go cap in hand to the joker in the pack in order to govern, something is very amiss with the system. This might not be the case if the joker in the pack were motivated by altruism on behalf of the citizenry. But that really is stretching credibility.

It’s fun though. No denying Winston really is a hoot. So that’s all right then. Isn’t it?

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Labour’s New Tax Plan: A Helluva Lot to Ask

I’m a huge fan of Herald political commentator John Armstrong. His writing is superb, his analysis invariably astute and his objectivity beyond question. The proof of this is that he pleases and offends Right, Left and Centre in equal measure.

So I was surprised by his column this morning which is an unqualified assault on Jacinda Ardern’s announcement that she will not release Labour’s tax policy until after the 2017 election.

This morning’s column headline left little doubt of what was to come:

“HOW JACINDA’S CUNNING PLAN FELL APART”

And the subhead removed any doubt of what was to come:

“‘Let’s not do that’ becomes Labour’s motto as tax nips the party’s ankles.”

Armstrong begins:

“Like the sands through the hourglass – it has taken just four short weeks for Jacinda Ardern’s ‘campaign of our lives’ to become more akin to The Days of our Lives.

“Labour’s Wonder Woman has found herself cast in a long running soap opera – but not as a super hero.”

Read it here:

 http://nzh.tw/11922858

Well, in short, I think Armstrong is absolutely right. Given the relevance of taxation policy, directly or indirectly, to the lives of every man, woman and child in this country, it is simply outrageous to say, “Not telling! Not even a hint! You’ll just have to trust us till after the election. Long after!”

Well of course you could read their current policy. And that would be fine if the Leader of the Opposition could guarantee that it won’t change between now and the 2020 election. But she can’t/won’t do that either.

So here’s what this boils down to.

Jacinda wants you to make her Prime Minister of New Zealand this year. I’m assuming that she has some opinion in her head of our current tax system, whether it benefits or disadvantages most New Zealanders. For the answer to that question she refers us to Labour’s current tax policy which she says will not change without a mandate from New Zealanders at the next election in 2020. She’s saying, ‘Give me almost three years in office as Prime Minister before I even disclose my ideal tax regime. In the meantime here’s a taste.

Seems to me that’s a helluva lot to ask.

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Thoughts on the Newshub Debate

Jacinda Ardern  Bill English

I was standing in for Kim Hill on National Radio. On that morning’s guest list was the Leader of the Opposition Helen Clark. Her ‘preferred prime minister’ ratings at the time were dire. Towards the end of the interview I said to her, “You don’t look very happy.”

Not long afterwards I had a call from Helen’s office asking if I could come over for a chat. The possibility of Callingham & Edwards giving Helen some media advice was discussed. To my eternal shame my reply was that I was unsure whether she ‘could be fixed’.

My closest friend at the time was Michael Hirschfeld, then President of the Labour Party. We talked. Michael later brokered a one-off training session with Helen. We looked at tapes of several of her previous TV interviews. In most of them she was overly formal, spoke too loudly and barked.

We explained that the television interview is an intimate, close-up affair and suggested that she speak more quietly and in a more personal tone.

We had a second go.

We’ve trained a helluva lot of people. But Helen was/is the fastest learner by a country mile. She would have won the 1996 election were it not for Winston Peters.

I’m telling this story because I was reminded of those events as I watched last night’s debate between English and Ardern. English was his usual amiable self. He spoke quietly and calmly and showed virtually no sign of being fazed.

Jacinda was more abrasive, more combative, generally louder and occasionally shrill. A kinder interpretation would be to say that she was more passionate.

From a quick read of this morning’s papers the majority view appears to be that English won the debate. Ms Ardern doesn’t want my advice but here it is anyway: Even when you are debating in front of a large and sometimes voluble studio audience, the audience that really matters consists of small groups of people sitting at home in their living rooms distractedly watching the box. Television is an intimate medium. Treat it like a town hall meeting at your peril.

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She Gave Him His Due

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Who won? Well, I’d give it to Ardern. But not by much. And not really because her arguments were more telling or she scored more points. Sporting analogies aren’t really my thing. I’m my own sports free zone. But for once I can’t find anything more apt to say than that, throughout the debate, Jacinda played the ball and not the man. And more than that, she was generous to her opponent. She gave him his due. SHE GAVE HIM HIS DUE! Wow! That’s not just new, that’s revolutionary. And inspiring. And probably unanswerable. Bring on the next debate!

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On Relentless Positivity

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The new Leader of the Opposition has undertaken to be ‘relentlessly positive’ between now and the Election in September.

If her appearance on yesterday’s ‘Q & A’ with Deputy Leader Kelvin Davis is anything to go by, his role is to be ‘relentlessly negative’.

‘Relentless’ is generally a negative term: ‘relentless rain, relentless suffering’ etc. One would not commonly refer to ‘relentless good weather’ or ‘relentless happiness’. The same is true of ‘relentlessly positive’. It sounds incongruous, fake.

To illustrate her relentless positivity, Jacinda Ardern smiled relentlessly during her interview with Jessica Mutch on yesterday’s Q &A. That seemed incongruous too, with ‘fake’ not far behind.

Between now and September Jacinda will be relentlessly feted by her adoring supporters. It will be tempting for her to hear little else. I would counsel against that. That dry, laconic, southern man currently running the show comes pretty close to the Kiwi version of the ideal joker. He wouldn’t have looked out of place in the front passenger seat with Barry Crump.

Cheers.

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You Can’t Win, Baby.

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It’s been interesting, if not exactly cheering, to note that, within hours of her winning the job of leading the Labour Party, the possibility that Jacinda Ardern might conceive a child while in office has been advanced as an impediment to her ability to be an effective Prime Minister.

Precisely the opposite argument was advanced by the Right about Helen Clark when she entered Parliament and as she rose to prominence as a potential party leader. Her choice not to have children was not only held against her but interpreted and expressed in the most cruel fashion as evidence that she was an unnatural woman and, in all probability, a lesbian.

One might have thought that Helen’s subsequent career might have put paid to this level of chauvinistic prejudice but it seems not. As the French have it: Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. The more things change the more they remain the same.

You can’t win, baby!

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Why my money’s on David Parker. And why Labour’s should be as well!

OK, eventually you have to put your money where your mouth is. So who, of the four declared contestants – Nanaia Mahuta, Grant Robertson, Andrew Little and David Parker –  should, in my opinion, win the Labour leadership contest? And let’s be clear: the only criterion for the job is that that person should have at least a snowball’s chance of beating John Key in 2017.

Nanaia Mahuta has already conceded that she’s unlikely to win the race and she is to be admired for her honesty.

Of the remaining three I’m going to discount Andrew Little first. I simply don’t believe that the country is ready for a grim-faced former union leader to be Prime Minister or to be this country’s envoy overseas.    Read the rest of this entry »

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The Labour Leadership: TV or not TV

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Following my earlier post, in which I argued that the ability to communicate effectively on television is a sine qua non for any politician hoping to occupy the highest office in the land, I thought it might be worthwhile to rate the current pretenders to the Labour leadership with particular –  but not exclusive –  reference to how they perform on the box. To assist in this exercise I’m using the Television Compatibility Matrix or TVCM (My own invention!) to place the prospective leaders on a scale of 1 to 10, one being ‘totally hopeless’ and ten being ‘makes Bill Clinton look like an amateur’. So here goes: Read the rest of this entry »

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A Sort Of Open Letter to the ABCs in the Labour Caucus

A good mate pointed out to me that it wasn’t very smart to heap abuse on the heads of people whose opinion you hoped to change. He was referring to my most recent post On the extremely rare danger of overestimating Labour Party Stupidity, in which I called the ‘Anyone But Cunliffe’ brigade ‘numbskulls’.

My good mate is right. It wasn’t very smart and you aren’t all numbskulls. But I was angry with you. Very angry.

I’m still angry with you because, though I’m not a member of the Labour Party, that’s where my political sympathies lie – left of left. Like you, I want Labour to win the next election. I want to see the back of a government that rewards the rich and powerful and punishes the poor and powerless. So I’m unlikely to have time or sympathy for anyone whose words or actions make that Labour win unlikely.  That is what you are doing by supporting either Grant Robertson’s or Shane Jones’ bid for the leadership. Robertson can’t win for Labour and Jones is a harmful distraction.   Read the rest of this entry »

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The Three Graces of Auckland Central (after Rafael)

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