By Mike Hosking

So is Jacinda the answer?

That depends on how much weight you place on leadership when you vote.

But more on that in a moment.


The big issue here is that Labour yet again has got all the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

From the fish and chip brigade, to the Michael Cullen stand-off with Helen Clark to the Mike Moore insertion in 1990, this is a party that simply doesn't know how to tough stuff out.

Andrew Little should never have quit.

But then he should never have talked about quitting.

He put himself in a hopeless situation.

Jacinda Ardern, if she really wanted to be leader, would have been better to wait until after the election. If they'd lost she would have had three clean years to sort things out.

But ... it is what it is and we have the new team.

Which ironically isn't the team of course - Kelvin Davis is new.


Which is the problem for Jacinda - she was supposed to help Little as the new fresh look of Labour.

Clearly that didn't work.

If it didn't work then, will it work now?

Which brings us back to the value of leadership.

Very rarely do we see a leader that's a vote magnet. Generally speaking you vote for a party and the party's policies.

This election you will vote for the economy not Bill English.

David Lange was different. John Key turned out to be different.

It's possible Clark pulled votes as a result of her gravitas.

But will you vote for Labour because Little has gone and Ardern has been promoted?
My guess is no.

She's promising new policy but it will have to be dramatically different than what they've already rolled out and judging by her opening comments in her first press conference, it was the same old stuff: closing gaps, more money, an inclusive society.

That's laudable but it's not new and it hasn't got them support.

She also has a credibility issue.

She's never been in Government, never been in Cabinet, never run anything. She potentially goes from an Opposition MP to Prime Minister. That's quite the leap and quite the risk.

It's not an age thing, it's an experience thing. Great leaders tend to have been places, done things, lived a life.

I am not sure how relatable she is to middle New Zealand.

But that wouldn't be the first time that's been said about a Labour MP.

But for the next 50 odd days, she has no choice. When she says she'll run the campaign of their lives, that's good given she's never actually run one before at all.

The deep end which is where she is now, is the bit where you sink or swim. She's no worse than Little; I say that with confidence. Whether she's a saviour though is a massive question mark.