Espiner on Ardern

has done a profile on Jacinda Ardern for The Listener. I was one of those he interviewed for it:

Presumably Ardern will do that, too, if she wants to go all the way to the top. Blogger David Farrar believes that is possible. Yes, he’s a National supporter and National’s pollster, but he would “far rather have her leading the country than a lot of the others!” He has some words of caution, though. He believes her first-term record did not justify a No 4 placing – equivalent to Steven Joyce’s on the National benches. Farrar says if Ardern doesn’t get pushed too far too fast, she could be deputy prime minister or even prime minister one day. He chuckles at her leading the International Union of Socialist Youth because it’s so far removed from his politics. But he certainly doesn’t belittle the job. “You don’t get elected to a position like that if you are stupid – that is a seriously testing role with a lot of people involved.” Farrar says that given most of her experience has been in the state sector, she needs to broaden her horizons, be more pragmatic and learn that not all good ideas come from your own side. “If you don’t have it before you are an MP, you have to recognise your weaknesses and work hard to address that.”

All views and advice I stand by.

Ardern’s CV reads as if she has spent a lot of time thinking about a political career, although she insists she hasn’t. She worked for Helen Clark and cites the former prime minister as a major inspiration. Their early lives do share similarities. Like Clark, Ardern grew up in a small town with conservative parents. 

Ardern is like Clark in many respects.

Ardern rates Labour’s chances of regaining power in 2014 as 10 out of 10. “Look at the coalition possibilities for Labour – if we had an election tomorrow a Green-Labour coalition is a very strong prospect. 

I think this is unwise. Trevor Mallard has also said he expects Labour to win in 2014, 2017 and 2020. Claiming you are a dead cert to win can come over as arrogance.

There is every sign Ardern will one day do that. She has an honesty, a humanity and an engaging manner absent in most politicians. There is a freshness to her speech. Even when she’s grinding through the policy options on serious subjects like welfare reform or child poverty, the hint of a smile is there. This doesn’t undermine her credibility, but it lightens and lifts her above the hectoring bores who chew up time on digital recorders. It is late afternoon now. The cafe is preparing for the evening crowd and the quiet spot in the corner is under threat. It’s time to go.

Final question: how would she like to be remembered when her political career is over? “Can I say two things?” she says, not waiting for an answer. There’s a long list of policy goals. “I won’t bore you with all of them but broadly they are around wellbeing of kids and families. But ultimately I think I would just like to be remembered as someone who has integrity.” Wherever the journey takes her, it seems certain she will achieve that.

Time will tell. If Grant becomes leader, most people assume she will become the deputy to her former PM’s Office colleague. Clark staffers would be Leader, Deputy and Chief Whip!

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