The criticism of Ardern’s government has started to look like a pile-on as it reels from one blow to the next – the war with business, one minister gone, a second minister under a huge cloud, the Abby Hartley controversy, and an emboldened NZ First looking like it’s running rings around Labour and Ardern.
Even the entirely predictable admonishment of a back bench MP, Greg O’Connor, for publicly criticising her handling of the Clare Curran affair turned into a bizarre headline about Ardern bullying her MPs.
All Governments have bad patches and that is what Labour has been consoling itself with as the relentless pressure on its ministers and Ardern shows no sign of abating.
But whether it’s a sign of the modern media and the plethora of commentary and opinion these days, or whether it’s a sign that things really are that shambolic at Labour HQ, the pressure being heaped on Ardern to make things right seems to be immense.
What is interesting is none of these mismanaged issues are particularly hard ones. Imagine a real crisis such as the GFC or the Canterbury earthquakes.
But something has changed since then and there is a growing perception that Peters is at the very least reining Labour in, or at worst, ruling the roost.
Ardern needs to push back before that perception becomes entrenched.
How? She can’t sack Winston but he can sack her.