It's rich of the Prime Minister to accuse the opposition of playing politics with Covid-19 when her government's own response to the crisis is dripping with it.
This is not to criticise the government's response or to suggest that anything other than public health is its priority, but it can chew gum and walk at the same time.
Strategists appear to be using the crisis to frame the PM as a strong, decisive World Leader. Nothing says World Leader quite like a live-on-TV national address from behind a desk with a flag in the background.
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Actually, there might be one other thing that says World Leader almost as well and that would be appearing on the TV news climbing off an Air Force plane commissioned for a very important task. Both happened this week.
Yesterday's White House Address From the Beehive was also strange. The actual content of the speech was something of an anticlimax. Yes, of course, it's important that the public fully understands the new Covid-19 alert system, but was that urgent enough for the TV and radio schedules to be cancelled and the PM wheeled out? Could that not have been left to the trusted and competent Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield, then complemented by a series of adverts across all platforms?
The Government might be advised to consider only wheeling the PM out for live-to-the-nation messages when it's absolutely necessary. If it happens too often, the public may get bored and stop tuning in, which would be counterproductive.
Then there are the other more obvious examples of making political hay during a crisis. Running social media ads trumpeting the government's response with Labour Party branding all over them. Using a business continuity package to hand money to beneficiaries, which will play well with Labour's traditional support base. Refusing to reconsider the looming minimum wage rise, which again, plays well with that support base. The PM constantly parroting the phrase "decisive decisions".
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National's not blameless, either. Simon Bridges deserves the flak he's copping for his beneficiary bashing. Complaining about the government giving beneficiaries a $25 rise was nitpicking at best, divisive at worst. It's tone-deaf and out of step with the country's current collective sense of pulling together.
Playing politics is risky for both leaders right now. Bridges blew the chance to look like a leader in waiting. He just looked desperate to criticise. His performance in the House on Tuesday must've cost him votes from the public, and support from the caucus. He should realise National doesn't need to bash the government's response. At the moment the shock at the speed of this unfolding crisis might inoculate the government against too much criticism, but the tougher the restrictions get and the longer they go on for, the more that will wear off.
The Prime Minister runs the risk of irritating voters by too obviously playing up the Strong World Leader thing. The image-management this past week has been too clumsy and too obvious, and could probably be toned down a couple of notches for greater effectiveness. Sometimes you don't need to keep telling everyone you're making "decisive decisions". Sometimes actions just demonstrate that.