Labour supporters think they might have been dealt a full house with Jacinda Ardern. But this is personality politics, pure and simple.
ONE OF THE MORE incongruous sights of this general election is people who, for the past nine years, have consistently raged against the neoliberal polices of the present National-led government, enthusiastically embracing the neoliberal policies of the Jacinda Ardern - led Labour Party.
And, with Jacinda Ardern, offering the tantalising possibility of a Labour victory, the enthusiasm for Labour has become even more strident. This is none more than apparent than in the social media, where it can be difficult not to avoid yet another photo of Ardern shaking hands and kissing babies. And there's a desire to show Ardern with LOTS of people - as if she's at the helm of some popular nationwide movement. Which she isn't. In contrast photos are stuck on the net showing stodgy old Bill English speaking to a handful of reporters in a big empty warehouse.
Of course, none of this is particularly new. At every election it is always a case of accentuating the positive and minimising the negative. This time round though Labour supporters think they have been dealt a winning hand with Jacinda Ardern. They got dealt a whole bunch of nothing with Goff, Shearer, Cunliffe and Little - now they're hoping Ardern has dealt them a full house.
|Corbyn, Martins,Sanders:Unlike Ardern, campaign on left wing platforms.|
But this is personality politics, pure and simple. Unlike Jeremy Corbyn in the U.K. or Bernie Sanders in the U.S, or Caterina Martins in Portugal, Ardern is not campaigning on a progressive and left wing policy platform. Rather the reverse. Under the terms of Labour's 'Fiscal Responsibility Agreement' social spending will be constrained - and the slack won't be picked by taxing the wealthy more since Ardern has ruled that out. She hasn't displayed the same benevolence toward beneficiaries though, who can expect Labour to keep benefits at subsistence levels.
At another time with another less media -friendly leader, Labour supporters would be hauling out the creaky 'lesser evil' argument just about now. Yes, they would argue, Labour might not be up to much - but it is slightly better than National.
Of course, that argument hasn't worked for Labour over the course of three straight elections and, furthermore, it has seen more and more folk become disengaged from the political process. At the last election nearly 800,000 didn't vote - not because they were apathetic or ignorant but because they simply not believe that their lives would significantly change for the better under a Labour government.
Jacinda Ardern herself won the Mt Albert by-election with only 27 percent of the electorate bothering to vote.
This time Labour supporters are hoping that Jacinda Ardern will get them over the line. She's more marketable than 'lesser evilism' but, in terms of policy, she and Labour are offering the same old same old.