Jacinda and the Art of Saying Nothing


CORIN: They do need passion now. Cos now those who might have been hoping that you would be the politician that might finally deal with New Zealand’s issues with capital and taxing capital and fairness, and you’re not.

JACINDA: But I am still doing the work, Corin. And I will in government still make that decision, and if required legislate on that decision. The thing I’ve pushed out is the time it takes effect. Because that then means I can balance both the urgency I feel with the feedback that the public strongly gave me. And I had to listen to that, you know? And so in my mind, if it took just a matter of a few months to find that balance between the two, then that was the right thing to do.

CORIN: What else will you flip-flop on?

JACINDA: I haven’t. I’ve maintained that sense of urgency. And actually I still think there’s leadership in listening as well. And I know when I came out on this I was taking a risk. I felt strongly enough about it to take that risk. But if it was a question of simply a matter of months in order to be able to listen to people too, that seemed like it.

As an observer of political communications for well in excess of 30, almost 40 years, I have to say that’s just pure poetry.  It’s delivered with a concerned face and all the right gestures so we can “feel” her dedication.

Pity it says nothing at all.

John Key constantly got in trouble for saying exactly what he wanted to say.  But the voters forgave him many times because they felt the upside was that we would get a real answer from him.

Bill English isn’t like that, and this is why National have been sliding downwards since he’s been the party’s head-communications-head.

The problem for Jacinda is that election time is the only time people actually listen to politicians.  They don’t just go for ‘the vibe of it’.  They want actual answers.

This is why Labour might still fall short.  And they know it too.  The pressure on Labour supporters to do advanced voting is evidence of this.

More and more people are waking up and realising voting Labour isn’t the masterfully nice picture of the future that Jacinda managed to beam into their living rooms for the first three weeks.


– Q + A


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