Tuesday, 1 August 2017
The King is dead! Long live the Queen!
I have been calling for this for some time and while it is a risky (if not dangerous) move two months out from an election but the reality was Labour was dead either way so changing the guard now at least has the potential to bring about positive change.
And, I, for one, am happy with this.
Little was an albatross around the party's neck from almost day dot and it only ever got worse as time went on. The fact that I was calling this outcome a year ago might surprise some but it was all there for anyone who did not have their ideological blinders on*.
Ardern is untested by and large but she has something (call it the x-factor of politics) and whatever that is it has not had any negative effects on her or the party up to now.
The best barometer of this will be the next round of political polling and I can bet that National will now be looking over their shoulders at this change because it was known that they wanted Little in the role for his dullard ability, political ineptitude and the damage those things did to Labour's election chances.
Well not any longer, there is a new sheriff in town and there are two key tasks that Ardern must face if she wants to make this 60 day sprint for the prize work.
The first is sorting out the dissent in her own party, if the faction that opposed Little's rise to leader are not happy with her she either has to win them over or root them out, there can be no room for mercy here because if the public gets a whiff of the same old stale Labour infighting this will all have been for naught.
The second is running a variation on the campaign Jeremy Corbyn ran in the UK which is "new leader/new agenda". If Labour can make a clean break with its grotty past and make amends for the betrayal of 1984, by electing a new leader and a choosing new agenda, 60 days is plenty of time to sell this to the nation. This will be the harder of the two but a new leader out on the hustings selling her vision of a better NZ is something that many can get behind.
If Ardern can make these two work then it may just be enough to boost Labours poll numbers and draw in some of the undecided voters which are ripe for the picking.
One word of warning to her is that National will be gunning for her and they will be digging out the dirt file on her to see what can be turned into mud and slung at her.
Even if she looses in 2017 she has the potential to lead the party to victory in 2020, she is young and has the energy and the spirit of Norm Kirk is with her on this one.
The only real downside of Labour making the change now, when it was obvious a year a go that it needed to be made, is that this will a trial by fire election for her but this is the perfect opportunity for her to strut her stuff and show that she can hustle under fire.
The only other things to wonder about is will Labour have enough cash to change its billboards?
Finally as many other seem loath to make predictions I am going to put my money where my mouth is and say that this will be enough to get Labour the prize on September 23, given that things like the Maori Party extending the olive branch was an almost immediate response to Jacinda getting the top job but with the minor caveat as per my two points noted above.
This will be just the thing to energize the election, the electorate and the political parties (save National, Act and United Future) to put some more energy in and look at working with a Labour government.
Its almost enough to make me want to vote Labour.
Benediximus Jacinda, benediximus!
*-And for those that scoffed at me making this call six months plus ago (and there were a few of you): I am not going to crow about this or say that I was right and you were wrong but simply encourage you to examine why you failed to see the obvious when I did not.