Who is in charge, exactly?

Can you imagine Jim Bolger coming out and defending John Key? Key would have been mortified. You can say a lot of things about John Key, but he was no weakling when it came to leadership, and running his government his way.


Helen Clark says it’s “unbelievable” that Jacinda Ardern was not told about sexual assault allegations at a Young Labour camp before they surfaced in the media.

“Jacinda was let down. She should have been told immediately, actually, then events would have taken a different course.

“And I cannot understand why she wasn’t told. Unbelievable.”

Well, I think most of us would dispute that she didn’t know about it. But, leaving that aside for a minute, how is it that Jacinda needs her Mum to come out and defend her? Can’t she look out for herself?

Asked if there should be ramifications for Andrew Kirton or those in party management, Clark said: “If you get out the book and ask what would Helen have done, well, draw your own conclusions.”

“She’s done her best to repair it after the event, but leaders never like to be blindsided.”

In other words, he would have been walking a very short plank off a boat into very deep water, wearing a pair of concrete Allbirds.

But why does Helen Clark have to butt in? Does anyone really still want to hear from Helen? After all, she was voted out of power in 2008. Why is she still here?

Clark made the comments during a trip to Wellington this week to announce the results of a survey around youth smoking rates by independent organisation Action for Smokefree 2025 (Ash), for which she is patron.

It is quite worrying that Michael Cullen is in charge of the Tax Working Group and Helen Clark clearly has an advisory role to the government. Both are yesterday’s news, but both are clearly wielding some considerable influence on the current government. And don’t forget: this time around they haven’t been elected, so they do not have to worry about re-election. It is often concerns about keeping their job that keeps governments from doing some of the more radical things, such as introducing a wealth tax to stick it to those ‘rich pricks’.

It was interesting that most of the comments on the Stuff article were telling Helen that she should go away. Clearly, most people have well and truly had enough of her. But, as she is in a back office role, it is impossible to tell how much influence she has on the current government. I think we can assume it is quite a lot.

Helengrad is alive and well. She may be keeping a slightly lower profile than before, but every now and then she pops out of her box and shows the world who is really in charge here. It is fair to say that you can bet your sweet life she is the one really running the country. And Jacinda is just a puppet dancing to her tune.


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Accountant. Boring. Loves tax. Needs to get out more. Loves the environment, but hates the Greens. Has been called a dinosaur. Wears it with pride.

To read my previous articles click on my name in blue.

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