COMMENT: By Andrew Dickens
I find myself this morning wondering what would happen if Steve Price, the Australian broadcaster and commentator, came upon a magazine with Jacinda Ardern on the cover?
Would he scowl, sigh and then turn the magazine around?
I say this because Price has launched into a remarkable tirade about our Prime Minister on the Australian programme The Project that would make him a prime #TurnArdern disciple.
He was commenting on a positive story about Ardern's holiday to Queensland potentially boosting post-bush fire tourism to Australia. He didn't like it at all. Why didn't she holiday in New Zealand he fumed, comparing her trip with Scott Morrison's Hawaiian holiday disaster.
"She should be in her own country and spend money in her own place. Typical virtue signalling from Ardern. I get sick and tired of that woman!".
And there we have it. Ardern did nothing wrong. In fact she did something right - but Pricey just doesn't like "that woman".
It was a ridiculous thing for a smart man to say but his visceral dislike for Jacinda Ardern is shared by a surprising number of people. Even though it's a little irrational. It's a little sexist and it's a little misogynist.
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Jacinda is just too empathetic, she's just too young, she dared to have a baby in office, she's too polite and to cap it off her teeth are just too big.
But on the other hand there are many people who love the very things Pricey and his mates hate.
It's why Labour ended up where it is leading a government. Combined with National alienating New Zealand First.
So it's election year and the question is: can Jacinda and her mates do it again?
Take into account the haters of her virtue signalling like Steve Price. Take into account the year of (non) delivery. Take into account the ethical scandals. Take into account the deputies that also infuriate conservatives and the centre right (Iain Lees-Galloway, Phil Twyford, Julie Anne Genter). Take into account the vocal opponents of any form of socialism, no matter how diluted.
Will this be a one-term Government?
Matthew Hooton is prepared to nail a prediction to the door. In this month's Metro magazine he writes that Labour will win this year's election.
He argues that the Government's missteps are par for most governments' course. He argues that this year's infrastructure spend will lift the nation's mood. He also argues that National is hoping that the country will come to their senses and vote them back in.
But at the end of the day all MMP elections are razor-thin close. Left versus right is very balanced in this country and the difference in making up a government is the physical parties that exist on the day. The Māori Party saved John Key. They were the tail that wagged that dog. Last time New Zealand First saved Labour.
Nothing has really changed from 2017. Winston still hates National and despite National's fervent desire the economy is refusing to tank and the Greens are refusing to self-destruct. Meanwhile Jacinda Ardern is still there infuriating Steve Price and Colin from Christchurch but enchanting the people who like hugs.
Hooton's not wrong. It's going to be close.
* Andrew Dickens is a Newstalk ZB host.