New Zaland Labour changes leader just weeks before election

Written By: Murray Rowlands
Published: August 5, 2017 Last modified: August 5, 2017

The treatment of things New Zealand by the BBC is distinctly quirky. After ignoring the fact that hundreds of Kiwi soldiers were killed at Passchendaele in its extensive coverage of the battle’s 100th anniversary the change of Leader of the Labour Opposition in the country was given extensive coverage as a news item. This was because the new Leader Jacinda Ardern effectively turned on an interviewer demanding to know she was planning to have children.

The politics of the situation leading to the previous incumbent Andrew Little resignation were left unexplained. Labour was mired in low poll ratings which appeared to signal a ruling National Party victory would be a formality. Little was not convincing the electorate as a possible Prime Minister. In comparison Ardern is sharp, bright and a good media performer. Money and support now appears to be flowing towards Labour. At 37 with policies towards student fees and education she is offering a new direction to younger voters.

Her Maori Deputy Kelvin Davis is on the right of the Party and thus provides a balancing ticket for conservative provincial New Zealand. Against this there has have to have been desperate dismantling of planned billboard advertising. However there is now renewed interest in what will not be a shoe in election for The National Party.

Ardern will target National’s shambolic housing policy but with an electoral system based on proportional representation the maverick leader of the small New Zealand First Party Winston Peters may accept a bribe offered by National to become Foreign Secretary in a continuing National Administration.