No pressure, Jacinda.

Many reasons have been given for the need for a change from Annette King to Jacinda Ardern as Labour's deputy.

Her popularity, her Auckland base and urban sensibilities against Little's more provincial and Wellington roots, she is female and young to Little's male and of a certain age, her outgoing, positive manner to Little's more serious outlook.

But they all boiled down to one: winning the election.


Ardern - whether she likes it or not - has apparently been appointed the silver bullet for Labour to take back the Government benches in 2017.

Those who have analysed her career in Wellington have sometimes dismissed her as hype without the substance, claiming she has few hits to her name for her nine years in Opposition.

She is not [yet] half the politician King was but her short term job is to get votes in the bank. The bank in question is the Bank of Auckland.

In Auckland none of that Beehive stuff matters. Aucklanders have a more instinctive reaction to MPs. Ardern, like John Key, has that indefinable quality that warms people to her.

Reporters on the ground for the Mt Albert byelection found a high regard for Ardern amongst voters across the board.

In the Herald's Mood of the Boardroom in 2015 and 2016, Ardern was highest ranked by the CEOs of all Opposition MPs - beating leader Andrew Little and finance spokesman Grant Robertson. Notably, 90 per cent of them also felt they knew her well enough to make a judgement.

1 Mar, 2017 5:17pm
2 minutes to read

Make no mistake, despite the claims of 'no vacancy' and 'no changes' from Little as media speculation soared in the immediate aftermath of the byelection, this outcome is exactly what he wanted.

The lack of Aucklanders in his leadership team was weighing on him and he knew he had a gem in Ardern. Her election next Tuesday will be a rubber stamping exercise by caucus.

Little has made his preference clear. King has also made it clear she wants the job she is giving up to go to Ardern.

While Phil Twyford is capable of running an issue such as housing strongly, he is a more abrasive character than Ardern.

Ardern is the face and Twyford is the fist of the party politically in Auckland.

In one fell swoop, Little (with King's eventual help) has managed to rectify the Auckland problem as well as give the face of his team a bit of a panel beating.

Ardern has been seen as the standard bearer for a new, modern Labour Party since she entered Parliament in 2008.

Now the training wheels have come off.