The Easter break would have been a welcome respite from the political maelstrom that's confronted Jacinda Ardern over the past couple of weeks.

Ever since the Russian nerve gas attack in the sleepy English town of Salisbury at the beginning of last month Ardern's been looking over her shoulder, trying to control the troops, being forced to make statements that are patently ridiculous, such as, there are no Russian spies in New Zealand.

If there aren't then the bare-chest beating of Vladimir Putin's makes the bear look like a pet pussycat.

The Russian rumble was just the start of her troubles as she's struggled to control the troops. And other than the badly managed Clare Curran debacle, the trouble's come from her support partners.


The Greens being defiant and giving their hard-hitting questions in the parliamentary bear pit, not that they ever asked many, to their hitherto diehard enemy National. And then she had to front-foot New Zealand First being accused of using the Provincial Growth Fund as little more than a political slush fund.

If politics is about perception, Labour's been left looking like a general in control of a mutiny.

But spare a thought for Ardern. A year ago she wasn't even a political leader, let alone the Prime Minister - a job she wouldn't have contemplated in her wildest imagination last Easter and nor did she want it.

If you think John Key did a good job as Prime Minister, for him it was a walk in the park compared with the tightrope walk required by Ardern. Key managed a compliant school of reef fish, Act, United Future and his insurance policy, the Maori Party.

He had room to move whereas Ardern has to extract the feet from her partners' sizeable mouths.

Like Key, who has openly admitted it, Ardern likes to be liked - who doesn't? But being the Prime Minister isn't the sort of job that naturally lends itself to being universally likeable, particularly when dealing with those who're the closest to you.

Key found that out six months into the job when he forced his Cabinet minister Richard Worth to walk the plank, uncharacteristically saying if he didn't fall on his sword he would have been sacked.