Jacinda on the BBC

To mark the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote in the UK, BBC Radio aired a special edition of it’s Today Show (the equivalent of Morning Report) live from the House of Commons.

The programme’s hosts and guests that day were all women, among them Ms Ardern who was in a prime slot in the rundown after the 7am news.

She was asked the questions that she’s become accustomed to answering: all about how she will balance the demands of leadership and parenthood, and coping with the carping of critics.

But she had to improvise when she was probed about New Zealand’s trade and diplomatic ties with a Brexit-era UK.[…]

[…]No-one reported that here, or anything she said to the BBC that day.

Maybe it would have been different if the BBC’s women in charge that day had pressed her on when she conceived and whether we can expect a boy or a girl – rather than asking questions about actually running the country.


To save you all the pain of listening, Whaleoil has taken one for the team and transcribed the interview from 6 February. The transcription is as accurate as I could make it, complete with convoluted run-on sentences that actually don’t make a lot of sense.

Since no other media outlet has run this – here, for your enlightenment, is a Whaleoil exclusive:

We are broadcasting from the Houses of Commons this morning to mark the centenary of women first getting the vote. In 1918, Britain was following in the footsteps of New Zealand, it was the first country in the world to give women the vote in 1893.

The Prime Minister there today, Jacinda Ardern, is their third female Prime Minister. She announced last month that she was pregnant. It makes her the second elected world leader to give birth while in office, the first was Benazir Bhutto, almost 30 years ago.

When I spoke to Jacinda Ardern, I asked her if it was a shock to discover she was pregnant.

Ah, yeah it was, and before anyone thinks, you know, did I not listen in my biology classes, the reason that that was a shock to us, we’ll talk not a lot in huge detail because of course you want to maintain some semblance of privacy, was the fact that, you know, my partner and I had been told that we would struggle to have kids on our own, and so yes, it was an  exciting surprise for us.

Any mother in any role knows that having a baby kind of turns your life upside down, it’s exhausting it’s time consuming, it’s at times bedlam and you’re going to be running a country, I mean you must be nervous about that?

I’ve got a normal levels of, ah, nervousness about that and just knowing that we will just have to make things work but at the same time I am very aware that I am in a lucky position. My partner is a broadcaster but has some flexibility so he is able to be our primary caregiver. We have wonderful family and friends around us so I, relative to some of my friends or even the women I see around me, there is a support network there that will lighten my load considerably

Do you feel that you have to prove that it’s possible as well because there will be many people who think it’s just not doable however with the best will in the world it’s just not doable you are going to be compromising too much?

I am aware that people will be looking at me to prove that but I feel like that actually plenty of women have proven that already, I’m not here to demonstrate that through all these years it’s everything could be juggled and there’s no compromise and no woman has to feel guilt. Those are just givens. It is hard and I’m not going to pretend that it won’t be.

Question not actually answered. “I feel like that actually plenty of women have proven that already.” What? Run a country whilst pregnant and with a first new babe. Plenty of women? Really? I think there was only the one, Benazir, and it was her second child not her first.

And given that it is 100 years since women and working men got the vote in the UK, longer, as we say, in New Zealand. We’ve come a long way since that first vote but do you feel that there is still a long way to go?

Yes, and I am constantly mindful as well, that whilst it is, you know, wonderful to be a woman in a leadership position, that shouldn’t mask what I perceive to be the, you know, fundamental need to get the basics right. In NZ we have a gender pay gap as many others do, we also have more women in low-paid work and we have high levels of intimate partner violence so for me, you know, you can have those roles filled by women but until we see women in everyday work in everyday walks of life seeing the benefits of that leadership then there is a lot more to do.

You have got a lot on your plate ahead, I wonder what priority you are giving to sorting some sort of trade deal with the UK after it leaves the EU?

Well we, of course, multi task. Yes, there’s a lot on our plate but I see that as a significant priority. We’ve certainly put our hands up. We know that priority from the UK’s perspective of course is the Brexit negotiations themselves but beyond that we are here ready and willing and really willing to model what those future, ah, free trade agreements from the UK’s perspective could look like, so when you’re ready, we are.

How on earth is NZ going model what future free-trade agreements look like from a UK perspective? Why would the UK want NZ to even do that? What tosh!

Have you talked to the British Government about a post Brexit trade deal?

Yes, many times. We’ve said we are willing and ready partner, many times.

How do you see it looking, when you say you are ready to model it?

Excellent question!

Speaking more generally, you know, we as a new government, are very mindful of the fact that there has been increasing scepticism about free trade agreements. We have a passing (?) increasing sense of financial insecurity and some people blame increasing globalisation for that perhaps we could say that, that may have bubbled up and at least become part of the conversation, from what I have observed, at least from a distance around Brexit. We want to demonstrate that, actually, these trade agreements should be modelled on the values that you have as a nation so we want them to be progressive and inclusive. Ah, we’ve talked about how we do that with our EU FTA which we are hoping to have the ability to negotiate soon and I can’t see why the UK couldn’t demonstrate that as we work together as well and, of course, our relationship is deep and longstanding.

Oh goody, a “conversation”.  We need progressive and inclusive free-trade agreements? No we don’t. We want ones that are good for the NZ economy.

Can anyone actually translate that answer?

And would you encourage the UK to join the Trans Pacific Partnership?

You know, from, ah, the perspective of a small country, ha ha, we rely on these multilateral agreements, they are incredibly important to us, bilaterals as a small nation. They are often difficult  to be prioritised so, you know, it’s what we fought for in the new Trans Pacific Partnership has been hard fought. It’s not a perfect deal, but certainly for us it’s, ah, on balance has been enough for us to want to be a part of it.

What are we talking about? Multilaterals or bilaterals? And, she forgot the new name. Labour hated the TPP but now love the CPATPP. Please do keep up!

And, of course, I note you saying how hard it is as a single country to negotiate bilateral deals, is that something that you think the UK will find?

(Ummm… how can a single county negotiate a bilateral deal? I would have thought that two countries were needed…) Never mind. What’s the official NZ response to the question?

As a small country (heheheh) I see ourselves being a unique position in the way of course we’re perceived but I think the UK wouldn’t necessarily face the exactly the same experience as us but there is benefit in multilateral institutions and agreements, no doubt.

Which means precisely what?

Jacinda Ardern, thank you very much.

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WH is a pale, stale, male who does not believe all the doom and gloom climate nonsense so enjoys generating CO2 that the plants need to grow by driving his MG.

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