COMMENT:

No one likes to be associated with a loser - and it seems Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has wasted no time in cutting loose Wellington's outgoing mayor, Justin Lester.

"Justin ran as an independent," Jacinda Ardern snipped as she was being asked whether Labour should take any lessons from the one-term mayor's loss at the weekend.

Yeah well, right up until the campaign closed Labour - yes, Labour - was looking for donations for the party's Wellington campaigns with donors being asked to cough up up to $500 with the ad showing Justin Lester and his family sitting above the Labour Party logo on Oriental Bay beach smiling for the camera.

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The campaign ad with Justin Lester and his family sitting above the Labour Party logo. Photo / Supplied
The campaign ad with Justin Lester and his family sitting above the Labour Party logo. Photo / Supplied

Perhaps realising her mistake, although one can never be sure, Ardern said he was never overtly Labour - which actually compounded it.

Beaten after just one term, the first time that's happened in Wellington for more than 35 years, the fate of Lester should be giving Labour a smorgasbord of food for thought.

And while they're thinking they'd do well to reflect on the fact that the capital is a Labour city, its workers were out door knocking and for Lester to suggest that perhaps they should have knocked on a few more doors wouldn't have made any difference.

The Labour ticket was refunded and while they're counting the returns, they'd do well to contemplate in just over a year's time if the opinion polls are any indication, they could be suffering the same fate.

Last night's TVNZ poll would see National governing with Act but then that's dependent on New Zealand First being on the outside looking in and that's unlikely to be the case.

Labour's had a rough few months: KiwiBuild being left in splinters and sex scandals that the party ignored, claiming the scalp of its president.

Then there's Ardern's own performance, great on the international stage, but far from stellar on the home front. Her defence of Iain Lees-Galloway, on the abysmal Karel Sroubek on-again-off-again immigration decisions is unfathomable - but even worse was her dealing to the defiant Shane Jones.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones. Photo / Mark Michell
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones. Photo / Mark Michell

Ardern's flippant order for him to zip it and take the Cabinet rulebook on holiday with him to understand what's expected of a minister was like water off a duck's back, with Jones threatening utu the next day on those who'd squealed to the media about him.

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But rather than taking the rulebook, he took up arms while overseas, a military-style semi-automatic weapon at a firing range, proudly posting on Facebook a target to show what a great shot he was.

This at the same time Ardern was announcing another bureaucracy to keep an eye on internet nasties as a result of the same weapon allegedly being used in Christchurch.

The best Ardern could do to rebuke him was to say she wouldn't have done it herself, but adding she's not in the business of monitoring the activities of every minister when they travel abroad.

Ardern would do well to reflect where the smiling assassin John Key was at after his first two years in office, on around 52 per cent - compared to her rating of 38.