It was a weird scene last week as the Prime Minister granted time in what looked like her Christmas grotto to the parliamentary gallery journalists.
It looked festive but at the same time ever so slightly tragic.
The tree was decorated but not lavishly — so just a bit too much tree and not enough bauble, kind of like the country right now.
The idea is there, it’s just been a bit messed up.
Jacinda Ardern, as part of her Christmas message, wanted us to know next year is going to be different.
That’s just as well because if she carries on like this year she is not just going to lose the election, she is going to take a pasting.
The trouble of late for her is she has lost her confidence, and you can see it every time she is on the telly.
Ardern is mostly covering the cold, hard truth that this has been a disastrous year.
Capped off last weekend with the predictable byelection loss in Hamilton West, this has been the year where a number of ugly shortcomings have been badly exposed.
The Three Waters entrenchment saga, obviously, is the star of the show.
Either way, Ardern comes out looking dreadful.
She either knew and therefore lied about not knowing; or didn’t know, hence she should’ve sacked Nanaia Mahuta for attempted sabotage.
However, because she lacks any real authority in the Māori caucus, she didn’t.
So yet again she has to suck it up and try her best to make out that it’s not as big a shambles as it clearly was.
The clue as to how she’s worked out things aren’t going well is in the reset which she used her Christmas gathering to foreshadow.
She’s worked out that they’ve taken too much on and therefore need to dump some stuff next year.
The reality is they haven’t taken too much on, they’ve just not delivered anything — so it’s all piled up and makes them look like they can’t deliver, which of course they can’t.
Fortunately, for most of us, a lot of the stuff they haven’t delivered we didn’t want anyway, so when it gets dropped it will be a relief, and one more thing the Nats don’t have to undo as of November.
Ardern declared that some of the programme that would be jettisoned was not because it was ideological nonsense but because they wanted to “make the economy a priority”.
A Government making the economy a priority shouldn’t of course need stating, given it should be 1, 2 and 3 on the priority list on any given day anyway.
Sadly, the way she phrased it, once again just seemed to reiterate that they can really only concentrate on one thing at a time, and given economies make or break governments it’s probably wise to spend a bit of time on it, especially given they’ve wrecked it so badly the Reserve Bank thinks we are headed for a recession.
That, sadly, is what next year will boil down to, whether they’re prioritising it or not.
No Government wins a third term when you have shifted the economy into reverse.
Forget all the rest of the madness, the Fair Pay agreements, the new taxes, Three Waters, the income insurance, He Pua Pua, the TVNZ/RNZ merger, the labour crisis, the wage/price spiral, school absenteeism, the poverty figures, the ram raids and general violence, the emergency housing debacle, the light rail not started, taxing farmers, the trade deficit (I’m worn out writing it all down) - the economy is what makes or breaks all governments, and the grand irony here is the collaboration between Grant Robertson and Adrian Orr to print a blizzard of money so great it would bury us in election year cannot be lost on those of us who questioned the tactic for the past two years.
So, basically, they will lose next year because they’ve wrecked the joint — even Winston Peters won’t touch them.
They will work hard telling you it isn’t so, but as much as they may hope the sun shines over the summer break and we forget all about it, the die is cast.