Herald on Clark

The NZ Herald does a performance review of :

  • MOTIVATION:As strong as ever, perhaps even stronger.
  • VISION: Improving after a lean patch earlier in current term.
  • LEADERSHIP: Has increasingly polarised the public the longer she has remained in power.
  • JUDGEMENT: Still sound, but occasional lapses.
  • MANAGERIAL STYLE: Basically unchanged.
  • COMMUNICATION: Still all over the media when it matters – and often when it doesn’t.
  • OVERALL PERFORMANCE: Still a prime minister very much in her prime, while other long-serving colleagues are starting to fall by the wayside.

I think the is being too generous in a couple of areas. I have always said that Clark is skilled in many areas, but would question their reasoning on leadership and judgement.

The Herald said:

Rating as preferred prime minister remains extraordinarily high for such a long-serving premier – around double the level of Jim Bolger and Jenny Shipley prior to them losing the keys to Premier House.

Not true for Jenny Shipley. One News Colmar Brunton poll had Shipley at 30% on 11 November 1999. Helen Clark incidentally was at 24%. The latest One News Colmar Brunton had Clark at 31% and Key at 40%.

So Clark is at the exact same level Shipley was just before the election. The big difference is the Opposition Leader (Key) is around two thirds higher than Clark was as Opposition Leader in 1999.

The Herald also said:


Still sound, but occasional lapses. Cautious and conservative, she always consults widely before making critical decisions.

Experience has taught her to hold nerve and avoid panic responses to fleeting crises as the public memory is short.

Politically costly reluctance to heed majority view on anti-smacking legislation was driven by personal wish to pass legislation which might help halt child beatings.

Seeming blind spots on Labour’s pledge card heist and flawed Electoral Finance Bill.

Also got herself in a muddle over Owen Glenn twice in one year. Should have wiped her hands of Phillip Field far earlier but was worried about losing Pacific Islander vote.

More lenient to Winston Peters than his behaviour warranted, but she was wary of the damage he might inflict had she ditched him completely.

I contend that is more than an occassional lapse. On almost every major issue this term Clark has made the wrong call. In the first two terms she had generally sound judgement, but her third term has been misjudgement after misjudgement – the pledge card, attacking the Auditor-General, refusing to pay it back until forced to, the anti-smacking law, the defence of Taito Philip Field and Yes Minister type inquiry designed to find no fault, the Electoral Finance Bill, not ditching Benson-Pope earlier, allowing Winston to get away with lying and false evidence, not delivering tax cuts earlier.

Put it like this, what major issues did she make the right call on?

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