Jacinda Ardern has certainly been a breath of fresh air. And not, I think, simply because of what she might bring to the election campaign.

This is, after all, the time of Trump. The Trump presidency has emboldened bigotry, racism and misogyny across the world.

If the President of the United States can say it, then maybe, I too, can get away with a racist slur, a sexist remark, or have some absurd pride in ignorance.

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These ideas can spread through society like a disease, before you know it you've caught it yourself.

And so a finger point has never said so much, has never been welcomed with relief by people who want a different set of values to rule the world. It was great television theatre, so good you half wondered if it wasn't a set up and Mark Richardson is a closet member of the Labour Party.

Moments like this are reminder of why a free politics and a free media are so important.

Thanks to the questions, and thanks to Ardern's unequivocal and confident response, more people in New Zealand now know that it's not OK, illegal in fact, to ask a woman seeking a job whether she plans to have children. That's a positive for women in this country.

New Labour leader Jacinda Ardern and deputy leader Kelvin Davis, with Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson.
New Labour leader Jacinda Ardern and deputy leader Kelvin Davis, with Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson.

Which is also a reminder that identity politics do have an important place. It's not just political correctness gone mad, as some would claim. It's about advocating for human rights and defending those rights through mechanisms like the law.

This is not to say that as a society we get everything right, or that we can't have differences of opinion as to the best methods for achieving a social goal, or what laws and policies should be in place.

But we must resist against those who would shut down the debate or seek to roll back social attitudes to the time little Donald went to school. We can be better than that.
Nothing good for sure can come from the path Trump and his followers are on.

Which is why I hope the Labour Party under Jacinda Ardern moves away from the anti-immigration stance they had made central to their policy platform under Andrew Little.

There's so many positive ideas and policies they can bring to this election, if they choose.

And so to the Green Party. They're re-learning, in case they'd forgotten, that there are powerful forces in the media and the political establishment that don't want them to grow into a major political force. This includes the Labour Party, who could have supported Metiria Turei, but decided not to.

If the Greens are going to talk about social issues like benefit levels then they'll need multiple strategies and an acceptance that they're going to cop some flak. The worst thing the Greens could do now would be to sideline their social policies and fall back on an emphasis on clean rivers, as important as they are.

The party shouldn't, in my view, have allowed Metiria Turei to rule herself out of a ministerial post in Labour-led government. We need the Greens to continue to speak forcefully about poverty and the social costs that affect us all.

Backing their co-leader fully, regardless of Labour's behind-the-scenes threats, should have been part of that strategy. Let voters decide the rights and wrongs.

■ Vaughan Gunson is a writer and poet interested in social justice and big issues facing the planet.