The reasons Jacinda Ardern is in the mess she is over this alleged sex abuse scandal are several-fold.

One, she didn't own it. Two, she let it drag. Three, she didn't seem to want to know. Four, she showed no real direct concern for the alleged victims. Five, she seemed to think she and the Labour Party are two different things. Six, her strength is empathy - and that's been found wanting. Seven, when she finally got to it she hired someone to sort it, the QC.

I could go on, but the point is: this is not complicated, as far as the optics go. And it's even less complicated given they come to this scandal off the back of the summer camp scandal that bogged them down so badly when they first arrived in office.


How many alarm bells, red flags, call them what you want, do you need after something as disastrous as the summer camp for you to go nuclear when you hear of new and seemingly even more serious allegations against young members or volunteers of your party?

What leader doesn't immediately - more importantly, instinctively - reach for the fire hose? Call out all back up and hose the damn thing down?

A small rider here: Labour Party president Nigel Haworth, who surely, surely, surely, if he had any sense of responsibility I believe would have been well gone by now, still claims the allegations aren't of a sexual nature.

But it still leaves the question, given it's sexual or not, they are still clearly serious allegations, and the party still doesn't appear to have acted as it should have.

There is also the question of the police. As traumatising as it might be for a victim, sexual assault allegations are serious - and the police are the proper people to deal with it.

And you have to ask whether what is now playing out is any less traumatic.

But the damage here for the Prime Minister is the simple inability to see and own trouble, the lack of desire to understand warning signs, or any level of seriousness. The image she has increasingly earned, and is looking like she is now stuck with, is a hands-off operator, a person for the press release and photo shoot, not for the detail.

There isn't an issue that a report, working group, chinwag, or minister can't deal with.


And what makes this egregious, is this is her area of so-called expertise: empathy. Having won attention, and praise post-March 15, on a matter of a deeply personal and emotive nature within her own party, she seems to have completely missed the memo.

The revelations on our show that she had not phoned, hadn't talked to anyone, or had her people look into it. She had her people talk to Haworth - who is she, the Queen?

Ardern's strength, we thought, was the heart. In a matter in which it was sorely needed, it deserted her.

So once again, like too many other times, she's late to the detail, puts on the frustrated face, and hires someone to tell her what's going on.

This is a major blow to her credibility. If the internal polls Audrey Young wrote about this past weekend in the Herald were bad, it's only Wednesday and they won't have improved.